Reuben Cottrell was born in Henrico county, Va., in 1792. Here he grew to manhood, receiving a fair English education. After his marriage, he emigrated to Kentucky, and settled in Shelby county, in the fall of 1815. In the following February, he united with Buck Creek church, in that county, and was baptized by George Waller. He was ordained to the ministry by George Waller, Zacheus Carpenter, John Holland and Wm. Stout, the same year in which he was baptized. Soon afterwards, he was invited to preach once a month to Buck Creek church. About this period the subject of missions was agitated in Long Run Association, and Mr. Cottrell was engaged to labor as missionary, within the bounds of that fraternity. Louisville and Jeffersonville were points at which he preached. During these labors, he became deeply imbued with the spirit of missions, which led him to visit many points of destitution, on both sides of the Ohio river. In 1832, he made a tour down the Ohio river as far as the “Yellow Banks.” Next year he moved to Daviess county, and settled on a farm. He accepted a call to Bethabara church. A revival followed almost immediately, and 80 were added to the church. In 1834, he was called to Bells Run, Blackford and Union churches. About this time, he was invited to deliver a sermon at a barbecue, to be given on the 4th of July, at Owensboro. He accepted the invitation, and afterwards continued to preach there, until he raised up a church, to which he ministered till it could procure a pastor. In 1837, Little Bethel Association sent a letter and messengers to Goshen Association, asking correspondence. The corresponding messengers from Highland Association opposed the petition, on the ground that Little Bethel believed in missions. Mr. Cottrell, with others, warmly advocated the reception of the correspondence, and it was finally granted. The missionary spirit became very active in the lower part of Goshen Association. A convention of messengers from 13 churches was held, in 1838, and it was resolved to employ two missionaries to labor in the region around Owensboro. Mr. Cottrell and Samuel Anderson were appointed, and a great revival prevailed under their labors. From this period, the work of missions was prosecuted in this region, Mr. Cottrell always being a prominent actor, both in the council and in the field, until his strength failed. For several years before his death, he was too feeble to leave his home, and was constantly anticipating his departure. On the 29th of May, 1863, the summons came, and he went to his reward, after a very successful ministry of 47 years.
[From John H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. II, 1886; reprint, 1984, p. 572-573. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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