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A Narrative of Surprising Baptisms
from A History of Kentucky Baptists

J. H. Spencer, Volume I
William Marshall

      William Marshall, if not the first, was among the first preachers that became permanent residents in the new country. The exact date of his arrival is not known. John Taylor says he moved to Kentucky "in 1779 or '80." He appears to have settled first in what is now Lincoln county, and afterwards to have located in Shelby.

      William Marshall was born low down in the Northern Neck in Virginia, in 1735. His family was of eminent respectability, and he was raised in affluence. He was an uncle to the distinguished Chief Justice Marshall, and a brother to Col. Thomas Marshall, who was distinguished among the Kentucky pioneers, and whose descendants have been so noted for brilliancy of talent, in Kentucky, from its first settlement to the present time. He spent his youth in sport and social gayety. "In youth," says J. B. Taylor, "he was remarkable for his devotion to the fashionable amusements of the day. His tall, graceful form, dark piercing eye and engaging manners rendered him the pride of the circle in which he moved." This vain and thoughtless course of life was continued till near middle age; but having married the sister of Elder John Pickett, he was brought under the ministry of that faithful servant of Christ and other Baptist preachers. In 1768, some of the zealous Separate Baptists visited Fauquier county, and Mr. Marshall was converted and baptized. John Taylor, in his biography of William Marshall, speaks of him thus: "He soon began to preach, and a flaming zealot he was. His preaching was of the loud thunder-gust kind. His labors were mostly employed on the waters of the Shenandoah river, west of the Blue Ridge. It was not long before the people became marvelously affected, and their cries would often drown Mr. Marshall's voice while preaching. To see one or more thousands of people gathered at a large meeting house, lately put up, without room to receive them, and in the dead of winter, the people standing in the snow for hours together to hear the word, and hundreds at once crying out for mercy, or loudly rejoicing in hope - and all this was so new that the spectators would be apt to think the end of the world was come, or to say, 'We have seen strange things to day.'" At this time Mr. Marshall had not been ordained. Many people were converted to the Lord. Samuel Harris traveled about two hundred miles to baptize them. Fifty three were immersed the first time, and a larger number afterwards. This was the first baptism ever performed in Shenandoah river. It occured in 1770. South River church of Separate Baptists was constituted the same day. During these meetings held by Mr. Marshall, Joseph and Isaac Redding were converted. John Taylor was converted soon afterwards. These three men became useful preachers among the pioneers of Kentucky. They will occupy their appropriate places in our future pages.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 14-15.]


Lewis Craig

      Lewis Craig was born in Orange county, Va., about the year 1737. He was raised on a farm, receiving a very limited education, and, in early life, was married to Betsy Landers. He was first awakened to a sense of his guilt and condemnation, about the year 1765, under the preaching of Samuel Harris. Of his struggles while under conviction, John Taylor says: "Mr. Craig's great pressure of guilt induccd him to follow the preachers from one meeting to another. And when preaching ended, he would rise up in tears, and loudly exclaim that he was a justly condemned sinner, and with loud voice warn the people to fly from the wrath to come, and except they were born again, with himself, they would all go down to hell. While under his exhortation, the people would weep and cry aloud for mercy. In this manner, his ministry began before himself had hope of convertion, and after relief came to him, he went on preaching a considerable time, before he was baptized, no administrator being near, many being converted under his labors."

      Very soon after Mr. Craig's conversion, and before he was baptized, he was indicted by the grand jury, "for holding unlawful conventicles, and preaching the gospel contrary to law." When the jurymen by whom he was being tried went to a tavern for refreshments, he treated them to a bowl of grog, and, while they were drinking it, got their attention, and spoke to them to the following purport:

      "Gentlemen: I thank you for your attention to me. When I was about this courtyard, in all kinds of vanity, folly and vice, you took no notice of me; but when I have forsaken all the vices, and am warning men to forsake, and repent of their sins, you bring me to the bar as a transgressor. How is all this?"
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 28.]


South Fork Baptist Church

      South Fork Baptist Church, originally called No-Lynn, was, according to tradition, constituted in what is now La Rue county, in the summer of 1782, by Benjamin Lynn and James Skaggs. The late venerable Elder John Duncan took much pains to learn the history of the church, and had conversations with at least two men who claimed to have been present when it was constituted. They stated that Lynn had been preaching in the neighborhood for some considerable time, and several persons had professed conversion. The church was constituted under the boughs of a large oak tree, where it continued to meet the remainder of the summer. Immediately after the organization was effected the church sat to hear experiences. Seven persons were approved for baptism. The times were troublous. It had been only a few weeks since the supposed massacre of Elder John Gerrard, in an adjoining neighborhood, and the Indians were now lurking in the surrounding forests. The candidates for the sacred ordinance were guarded to the water by armed citizens, and baptized by Elder Lynn, in No-Lynn [now spelt Nolin] river. If this account be true, it is probable that these were the first persons baptized in Kentucky.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 33-34.]


Limestone Baptist Church

      Limestone Baptist Church (now Washington) was another body of the kind organized on the soil of Kentucky in 1785. It was gathered by William Wood. It was constituted of nine members whose names were as follows: "William Wood, Sarah Wood, James Turner, John Smith, Luther Calvin, Priscilla Calvin, Sarah Starks, Charles Tuel, and Sarah Tuel." The church was located at or near the present town of Washington in Mason county. This was the oldest settlement in this region of the State. It is claimed that Simon Kenton raised a crop of corn here, in 1775, the same year that Boonesboro and Harrodsburg were settled, and the town of Washington was laid off ten years later, by Elder William Wood and a man of the name of Arthur Fox.

      At the constitution of Limestone church, William Wood became its pastor, and represented it at the formation of Elkhorn Association, in the Fall of 1785. The first general Revival that occurred in Kentucky, and which commenced on Clear creek, as related in the preceding chapter, reached Limestone in the Summer of 1788. The first baptism that occurred in Mason county, was administered in the Ohio river, in front of the present city of Maysville, in August of that year, by William Wood. A large number of people was present, and a crowd of Indians gathered on the opposite shore. The following persons were baptized: Elizabeth Wood, John Wilcox, Ann Turner, Mary Rose, and Elizabeth Washburne. When Washington became the county seat of Mason, the church changed its name to Washington church.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 67.]


Brashears Creek Baptist Church

      Brashears Creek Baptist Church was the next church after Cox's Creek, raised up west of Frankfort, and was the first in what is now Shelby county. It was constituted of eight members, some time during the year 1785, in Owen's fort, near the present town of Shelbyville. Seven of the eight original members were Martha Whitaker, Col. Aquila Whitaker and his wife, Mary, Peggy Garret, Nathan Garret, Col. James Ballard, and Rebecca, a colored woman. Soon after the church was constituted, the Indians became so troublesome that it did not meet again, for about two years; nor did its members hear a sermon during that period. In the winter of 1778-9, William Hickman of the Forks of Elkhorn visited Owen's fort, at the request of two of Bracket Owen's sons. Mr. Hickman gives the following account of this visit: "William Major, Benjamin Haydon and a lady (Mrs. Pulliam) were to go (with me). We dined on the turkey (at Mr. Pulliam's in Frankfort,) and crossed the river one at a time, and swam our horses by the side of a canoe. When we all got over and put our saddles on, the moon shone. We then had twenty miles to go, in the night. Sometimes it was snowing, and then the moon shining. We crossed Benson nineteen times at some fords the ice would bear us over: at other fords some steps would bear us, the next step break in. We continued this disagreeable road till we fell on the waters of what was then called Tick creek. We passed a number of evacuated cabins. The owners had either been killed, or driven off, by the Indians. It was a very cold night. We had no watch along, but we judged it must have been two o'clock in the morning when we called at the fort gate for admittance. The old gentleman was not at home, and the old lady had all barred up. It was sometime before we could convince her who we were, as she was afraid of a decoy, but at last she let us in. The weather being so cold, she had given me out. But she soon had a good fire raised, and got us a warm supper, or rather breakfast, put all to bed and covered us warm. Early in the morning she sent out runners to the different forts, and about noon collected one of the rooms nearly full of people. About two years before, a small church was constituted by two old ministers, brothers William Taylor of Nelson and John Whitaker of Jefferson, I believe eight in number. The Indians were so very bad among them that they scattered and kept up no government. They could not meet together, and nobody preached to them till I went, as above named. I preached on Saturday night and Sunday to nearly the same people, and knew none of them but what went with me. On Sunday night, I went about a mile to another fort, and I hope the Lord did not send me there in vain. On Monday morning I was to start home. This short visit attached our hearts to each other. They insisted very hard for me to leave them another appointment before I left them. At last I consented to come again. I set a time in March, but it was with difficulty I could leave my people at home, but I went to the time, on Friday, and continued with them till Wednesday, day and night, at three or four different stations. They still urged harder for a continuation of my attendance. They promised if I would attend them they would send me several loads of grain, and would, every time, send a guard to the river to meet me and guard me back. I thought I would consult my family and the church, whether it would meet their approbation, and I would send them word. I did so; they had no objection; I sent word, and, in May, went down and staid longer. In that tour they came together and agreed to stand as a church on the old constitution, and I baptized one member. The next month I baptized another. Brother James McQuade stood by me from the first, and was my singing clerk. A little after this Brother Gano baptized him and two or three others. I repeated my visits to them, and baptized a number. The church grew. While going from meeting to meeting, sometimes twenty or thirty in a gang, we were guarded by the men. It looked more like going to war than to meeting to worship God."

      After Mr. Hickman ceased his regular visits to Brashears Creek church, Joshua Morris, of whom something has been said elsewhere, settled among them, and continued to serve them as pastor till about the year 1800. This church joined Salem Association in October, 1787. At this time it contained only seven members. This was before its renovation by Mr. Hickman. The next account of it we have was when it united in forming Long Run Association, in 1803. It then embraced 101 members. It is probable that James McQuade, sr., succeeded Joshua Morris in the pastoral care of this church, and ministered to it till his death, which occurred May 23, 1828, in his 68th year. During the revival of 1810, it reached a membership of 112. In 1843, its membership had increased to 123. About this time its name was changed to CLEAR CREEK. After this the neighboring churches that had sprung up around it, and especially the Shelbyville church, absorbed its members till sometime after the year 1858, it ceased to exist.

      This was the mother church in this region of the State and from it sprang all the early churches of Shelby county. It served well during its period, and left behind it a numerous and prosperous offspring.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 76-79.]


John Tanner

      As early as 1695, and a number of years before we have any direct historical account of any Baptists in Virginia, there were many individual Baptists, scattered along the eastern coast of North Carolina, supposed to have been driven out of Virginia by the intolerant ecclesiastical laws of that colony. They were General Baptists, and very ignorant of the true nature of Christianity. They had something of the form of godliness, but knew little of its power. By the year 1752, sixteen churches had been gathered, which met annually in "a yearly meeting." About this time, they were visited by John Gano, and, a year afterwards, by Benjamin Miller and Peter Vanhorn, from Philadelphia Association. These eminent ministers found them in a deplorable condition. They preached among them. Many of them confessed that they knew nothing about experimental religion. They "openly confessed they were baptized before they believed, and some of them said they did it in hope of getting to heaven by it. Some of their ministers confessed that they had endeavored to preach, and administer the ordinance of baptism to others, after they were baptized, before they were converted themselves; and so zealous were they for baptism (as some of them expected salvation by it) that one of their preachers confessed, if he could get any willing to be baptized, and it was in the night, that he would baptize them by fire-light, for fear they should get out of the notion of it before the next morning." Many of these people, how ever, could give a good account of their conversion before their baptism; and some of their preachers were pious, evangelical men. Of these, the missionaries formed Regular Baptist churches. Such as had been converted after baptism, were required to be rebaptized. Some of them dissented, and were refused membership in the new churches. After this renovation, there were three or four churches, and as many preachers, that refused to submit to the reformation, and remained on their old grounds. Their doctrine and practice seem to have been substantially the same that are now held by the Campbellites. In a few years they became extinct.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 97-98.]


Mrs. Dawson's Baptism

      The new churches, formed by the missionaries, on the doctrines of the Philadelphia Association, united with four other churches, one of which, at least, was under the pastoral care of John Tanner, and formed the present Kehukee Association of United Baptists. At the time of this union, 1777, the association contained ten churches, with an aggregate membership of 1,590.9 Mr. Tanner traveled and preached extensively, not only in the bounds of this association, but also in Virginia. He endured much persecution, and at one time came very near losing his life for his faithfulness in the gospel of Christ. Elder Lemuel Burkitt, who was present when the surgeon dressed Mr. Tanner's wound, relates the circumstance as follows:

"A certain woman by the name of Dawson, in the town of Windsor, N.C., had reason to hope her soul was converted, saw baptism to be a duty, and expressed a great desire to join the church at Cashie, under the care of Elder Dargan. Her husband who was violently opposed to it, and a great persecutor, had threatened that, if any man baptized his wife, he would shoot him. Accordingly, the baptism was deferred for some considerable time. At length, Elder Tanner was present at Elder Dargan's meeting, and Mrs. Dawson applied to the church for baptism, expressing her desire to comply with her duty. She related her experience, and was received; and, as Elder Dargan was an infirm man, he generally, when other ministers were present, would apply to them to administer the ordinance in his stead. He therefore requested Elder Tanner to perform the duty of baptism at this time. Whether Elder Tanner was apprised of Dawson's threatening or not, or whether he thought it his duty to obey God rather than man, we are not able to say. But so it was, he baptized Sister Dawson. And, in June following, which was in the year 1777, Elder Tanner was expected to preach at Sandy Run meeting house, and Dawson, hearing of the appointment, came up from Windsor to Norfleet’s ferry, on Roanoke, and lay in wait near the banks of the river. When Elder Tanner, in company with ElderDargan, ascended the bank from the ferry landing, Dawson, being a few yards from him, shot him with a large horseman's pistol, and seventeen shot went into his thigh, one of which was a large buckshot that went through his thigh. In this wounded condition, Elder Tanner was carried to the house of Mr. Elisha Williams, in Scotland Neck, where he lay some weeks, and his life was despaired of. But, through the goodness of God, he recovered."
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 98-99.]


John Gano

      John Gano was the most learned and distinguished of the pioneer Baptist preachers of Kentucky. And, although he was far advanced in life before he came to the West, and had but a few years to labor among the Baptists of Kentucky, his matured wisdom, long and varied experience, and eminent piety and consecration, made him of incalculable benefit to the cause of the blessed Redeemer, in the new country. He had spent his youth and the prime of his life in building up the cause of Christ along the Atlantic slope, from Rhode Island to South Carolina, and few men were ever better fitted for the work of a pioneer preacher. He was well educated and well skilled in the gospel. He was easy and agreeable in conversation, his wit and humor were rarely at fault, he could readily accommodate himself to any grade of society, and any contingency, his courage was dauntless, and, above all, he loved the cause of Christ, his brethren in the Lord and the souls of men, with an unquenchable ardor. He brought all these excellent gifts and graces into requisition among the pioneers of Kentucky, according to the measure of physical strength, which still remained to him. He visited and encouraged the young churches and preachers, hastened to adjust difficulties among the brethren, went far to attend the new associations, guided their counsels and corrected the crudities of their doctrines, and pushed out into the very remotest settlements in the midst of fierce Indian wars, to lift up and establish the feeble infant churches. It is notwonderful that he was greatly loved and much lamented by the Baptists of Kentucky.

      John Gano was born at Hopewell, New Jersey, July 22, 1727. His father was of French extraction. His great-grandfather, Francis Gano, fled from France in the night, to avoid martyrdom. On his arrival in America he settled at New Rochelle, a few miles above New York City, where he lived to the age of 103 years. His son, Stephen Gano, raised six sons (Daniel, Francis, James, John, Lewis and Isaac) and three daughters. Daniel married Sarah Britton, by whom he raised five sons, (Daniel, Stephen, John, Nathan and David), and three daughters. Of these parents, both of whom were eminently pious, the father being a Presbyterian and the mother a Baptist, John was the fifth child and third son.

      In early life John Gano professed conversion, and was strongly inclined to unite with the Presbyterian church; but, doubting the scriptural authority for infant baptism, he entered into an elaborate investigation of the subject. He read many books on the subject, and had many conversations with Presbyterian ministers. He only became more and more convinced of the truth of Baptist principles. Finally he had an extended conversation with the renowned Gilbert Tennant. At the close of this interview, Mr. Tennant, seeing he was not convinced, said to him: "Dear young man, if the devil cannot destroy your soul he will endeavor to destroy your comfort and usefulness, and, therefore, do not be always doubting in this matter. If you cannot think as I do, think for yourself." Some time after this, having obtained the consent of his father, who had had him "christened" in infancy, he united with the Baptist church, at Hopewell, and was probably baptized by Isaac Eaton, who established the first school for educating young men for the Baptist ministry in America, and whose descendants have been so conspicuous as preachers and educators in this country. Soon after he was baptized Mr. Gano became much exercised in mind on the subject of preaching Christ to dying sinners.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 116-117.]


William Hickman

      William Hickman, the founder and first pastor of Forks of Elkhorn church, was among the most active, courageous and useful of that noble band of pioneer preachers that brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the great Valley of the Mississippi. He was, in the true sense of the term, a servant of Jesus Christ. He made preaching the gospel the business of his life. He conscientiously avoided that worldly speculation which involved a number of our early preachers in much trouble, and greatly marred their usefulness. Refusing to entangle himself with the affairs of this world, he looked unto the Lord, and steadily pursued his holy calling, from the time God called him into the ministry, until he finished his course with joy, at a ripe old age. He served the Lord with diligence and zeal, in his youth, and realized the fulfillment of the promise made to the righteous: "They shall bring forth fruit in their old age."

     William Hickman was the son of Thomas Hickman. His mother's maiden name was Sarah Sanderson. He was born in King and Queen county, Va., February 4, 1747. His parents died young, leaving him and one sister, their only surviving children, to the care of their grandmother. He gives the followlowing account of his youth and early manhood:

     "My sister and myself were taken by a loving old grandmother, who did her best for us. She tried to impress our minds with a solemn sense of eternal happiness and the torment of hell. These things bore heavily on my mind, and more so on the death of our parents. Thinking of my father, and fearing he was miserable, deprived me of hours of sleep. I hoped my mother was in glory. With these thoughts, I determined not to be wicked, and especially to keep from evil words. My opportunity for learning was very poor, having little time to go to school. I could read but little, and barely write. My sister also had very little opportunity to learn, for we were two little orphans.

     "At about fourteen years of age I was put to a trade. The family I had lived with since the death of my parents were orderly, but without any real knowledge of true godliness. They all depended upon their works to save their souls. None of us knew any better in those days. I had not lived long at my new habitation before I fell in with the evil habits of the family, for master, mistress, children, apprentices and negroes were all alike in their wickedness. I left off saying prayers, and learned to curse and swear; for sinning will make us leave off prayer, and real prayer will make us leave off sinning. I lived at this place seven years. I went often to church to hear the parson preach, when he was sober enough to go through his discourse. Towards the last of the seven years I heard of a people called Baptists, though at a great distance. I was told that they would take the people and dip them all over in the water. I was sure they were the false prophets. I hoped I never should see one of them, nor did I for several years after that.

     "In the ninth year of my apprenticeship I married my master's daughter. Both of us were poor, careless mortals about our souls. My wife was fond of mirth and dancing. In the year 1770 the Lord sent these Newlights near where we then lived, in Buckingham county, Virginia. Curiosity led me to go some distance to hear these babblers. The two precious men were John Waller and James Childs. When I got to the meeting the people were relating their experiences. There was such a multitude of people that I could not see the preachers till they were done. At last they broke up. The two preachers sat together. I thought they looked like angels. Both of them preached, and God's power attended the word. Numbers fell, some were convulsed and others were crying out for mercy. The day's worship ended. The next day they were to dip, as they called it in those days. I went home, heavy hearted, knowing myself to be in a wretched state. I informed my wife what I had seen and heard. She was much disgusted, fearing I would be dipped. She begged me not to go again; but I told her I mast see them dipped. I went, and an awful day it was to me. One of the ministers preached before baptism. Then they moved on to the water, near a quarter of a mile. The people moved in solemn order, singing:

'Lord, what a wretched land is this
That yields us no supply.'

     Though it was a strange thing in that part of the world, I think the people behaved orderly. A great many tears dropped at the water, and not a few from my eyes. The first man brother Waller led in had been a dancing master, to whom brother Waller said he had given a gold piece to teach him to dance. I think eleven were baptized that day."

     "In the fall of the next year I moved to Cumberland county. There I shook off the awful feeling I have named above, yoked in with a gang of ruffians and took to dissipation, but with a guilty conscience. The Lord sent his servants in that part, and pretty soon a number of our dear neighbors were converted to God, and among the rest, my wife."

     On the conversion of his wife, Mr. Hickman's remorse of conscience greatly increased. His wife offered herself to the church, and was approved for baptism, when he was absent. This greatly irritated him. He kept her from being baptized several months. He persuaded her to attend the Episcopal church, and strove to convince her of the validity of infant baptism. For this purpose, he studied the New Testament closely. This investigation led him to the conclusion that infant baptism was not taught in the Bible. He finally consented to his wife’s being baptized. Under the preaching of David Tinsley -- that eminent and faithful witness for Jesus, and for times a prisoner of the Lord, in Virginia jails -- Mr. Hickman became deeply overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and condemnation. He closes a relation of his experience as follows:

     "I saw sin enough in my best performances to sink me to hell. When I heard the truth preached, it all condemned me. I often wished that I had never been born, or that I had been a brute that had no soul to stand before the holy God. For months I tried to pray, but thought I grew worse and worse, till all hopes of happiness were almost gone.

     "One cold and gloomy afternoon, the 21st of February, 1773, I went over a hill to try to pray. When I got to the place, I put myself in every position of prayer. I must have been an hour in that dismal condition. It was so cold that I returned to the house and sat awhile before the fire. I thought hell was my portion. About the setting of daylight I got up and walked out about fifty yards. All at once the heavy burden seemed to fall off. I felt the love of God flow into my poor soul. I had sweet supping at the throne of grace. My sins were pardoned through the atoning blood of the blessed Savior. I heard no voice, and no particular Scripture was applied. I continued there sometime, and then went back to the house. I made no ado for fear of losing the sweet exercise. That was one of the happiest nights I ever experienced. The next morning when I rose and looked out, I thought everything praised God, even the trees, grass and brutes. In the month of April, I was baptized by that worthy servant of God, Reuben Ford, who had baptized my wife the fall before. We both joined the church after I was baptized."
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 152-155.]


John Dupuy

      John Dupuy, a son of Bartholomew Dupuy, and a descendant of the bold Huguenot, was born in Powhatan county, Virginia, March 17, 1738. He received a good education for that time, and began in early life to devote himself much to religious exercise. He belonged to the Church of England, and possessed a good estate. Being a good reader, and having a pious disposition, he began to collect his neighbors, and read to them from the church service the sacred scriptures, or printed sermons. He was invited to hold meetings at the houses of his neighbors. In a short time be had established three weekly appointments at the houses of three poor but pious old widows. These people being too poor to furnish candles, he read by the light of fires made of pine knots. He gradually fell into the habit of exhorting the people, after reading the Scriptures.

      Much interest began to be manifested at young Dupuy's meetings. Under his warm exhortations the people would groan and weep, and give other indications of strong religious feeling. At one of these meetings, while Mr. Dupuy was exhorting, and the people were exhibiting much tenderness of feeling, a son of the widow at whose house the meeting was held, rose up and cried out angrily: "John Dupuy, you must stick to the rules of the Church of England. You shall not preach here." Mr. Dupuy now began to study the Bible, and soon became convinced of the duty of believer's immersion. At this time he had probably never heard a Baptist preach. Some time after this, hearing that Samuel Harris and Jeremiah Walker had an appointment to preach, about forty miles from where he lived, he went to hear them. He was so well pleased with their doctrine that he related to them his Christian experience, and was baptized, June 16, 1771.

      The seeds Mr. Dupuy had sown in his Bible readings and exhortations were ripening for the harvest. He induced William Webber and Joseph Anthony to visit the neighborhood. The Lord blessed their labors. A church, called Powhatan, was constituted the same year. This was the first Baptist church in Powhatan county. Mr. Dupuy built them a substantial meeting-house, a part of the wall of which is still standing; but the building has been greatly enlarged. Soon after this church was constituted the famous John Waller and the Craigs visited the neighborhood. A great revival ensued, and a large number was added to the church.
[Spencer, KY Baptists, Volume 1, 167-168.]


David Barrow
Early Virginia Preacher

      In 1778, Mr. Barrow was invited to preach at the house of a gentleman, living on Nansemond river, near the mouth of James river. A preacher of the name of Mintz accompanied him. On their arrival, they were informed that they might expect rough usage. And so it happened. A gang of well dressed men came up to the stage, which had been erected under some trees. As soon as a hymn was given out, the persecutor sang an obscene song. They then seized both the preachers, and dragged them down to a muddy pond, saying to them: "As you are fond of dipping, you shall have enough of it." They then plunged Mr. Barrow into the mud and water, holding him under till he was almost drowned. They then raised him up and asked him derisively if he believed. In this manner they plunged him the third time, asking him each time if he believed. He finally said: "I believe you will drown me." They plunged Mr. Mintz but once. The whole assembly was shocked. The women shrieked. But none dared to interfere; for about twenty stout fellows were engaged in this horrid measure. They insulted and abused the gentleman who invited them to preach, as well as every one who spoke in their favor. Before these persecuted men could change their clothes, they were dragged from the house and driven off by these outrageous churchmen.

     Such were some of the persecutions the Baptists had to endure, only a hundred years ago, for no other crime than that of preaching the gospel. And let it not be forgotten that the persecutors were members of the Episcopal church. Let no one entertain a vindictive, or even unkind, feeling towards the church, under whose auspices these horrid outrages were committed. But it would surely be unwise to forget that the principles which led to these monstrous cruelties, in the past, would lead to the same results again, should their adherents ever gain sufficient power.

     But in the case related above, he who said: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay," avenged his servants, speedily. Three or four of these persecutors died in a distracted manner, in a few weeks, and one of them wished that he had been in hell before he joined the company.
[KY Baptists, Volume 1, 194-195.]


Walter Warder

     Walter Warder, the fourth son of Joseph Warder, and the fifth pastor of the Mays Lick church, was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, in 1787. He came with his father to Kentucky in his 20th year, where he at once engaged in teaching school. His education was very limited, but by means of close application while teaching it was much improved. He and his brother William entered into a covenant to seek the salvation of their souls, in the latter part of the winter, in 1807. Soon after this William set out on a journey to Virginia. On his return the brothers met with great joy. They had both found peace in Jesus. They were both baptized by Robert Stockton into the fellowship of Dripping Spring church, the same day in April, 1807. Walter came up out of the water a preacher. He immediately began to declare what great things the Lord had done for his soul, and to exhort sinners to turn to Christ and live. December 7, 1808, he was married to Mary Maddox, daughter of Samuel Maddox, of Barren county. In 1809 he, with most of his father's family, went into the constitution of Mount Pisgah church. He was soon afterwards licensed to preach, and about the same time was sent as a corresponding messenger from Green River to Elkhorn Association. In a letter to Edmund Waller, dated "Near Mays Lick, March 5, 1836," and just a month and one day before his death, he says:

     "When I was a young man, and was under very many doubts whether it was required of me to endeavor to preach or not, I came from the Green River Association as a corresponding messenger to Elkhorn, and there, for the first time, was introduced to Brother [John] Taylor. After having been together several days, through his management, it was my lot, at night meeting, to endeavor to preach. With fear and trembling the task was performed. The state of feeling was pleasant in the congregation. An exhortation and some delightful songs followed; and the time had arrived, as we supposed, for dismission, when the old Brother arose and remarked, that when Paul came to Jerusalem, and Peter, James and John saw the gift that was in him, they gave him the right hand of fellowship. And then observed that, though neither Paul, Peter, James nor John was there, yet there were several old preachers and other brethren present; and he thought they perceived the gift that was in their young brother, and that he proposed they give him the right hand of fellowship as a young minister. Very soon his venerable arms were around me, imploring the divine blessing to rest on me, which was followed by others in a very solemn manner. I felt like 'a worm and no man,' and could not hold up my head. Yet, if it was ever my lot to preach, this was one of the best occurrences of my life. The mind of the Lord is apt to be with his people, and in my desponding moments the recollection of that scene increased my strength, and aided in keeping me from sinking under my own weight.

     Soon after this occurrence, perhaps in the year 1811, he was ordained and became pastor of Dover church, in Barren county. After preaching here and in the surrounding country about three years he accepted a call to Mays Lick church, in Mason county. On his way to Mays Lick, in 1814, he met with Elder William Vaughan. The acquaintance of these two noble men of God soon ripened into a warm and life-long friendship.

     Mr. Warder found the church at Mays Lick small and feeble, as were all the churches in Bracken Association at that time. But he at once, with that earnest, well-tempered zeal that marked his whole life, entered upon the duties of his holy office. The church soon felt the power of his consecrated labors. This influence spread rapidly, and the whole Association felt the power of his zeal. The church began to prosper immediately, and continued to increase in number till 1829, when it is said to have numbered over eight hundred members, and was probably the largest church in the State. In the year 1828, Mr. Warder baptized 485 into the fellowship of Mayslick church, and more than a thousand within the bounds of Bracken Association.

     But his pastoral work formed only a small part of his labors. Alone or in company with his brother William, Wm. Vaughan, or Jeremiah Vardeman, he traveled and preached extensively over the territory of Elkhorn and Bracken Associations, and the contiguous parts of Ohio.
[Spencer's KY Baptists, Volume 1, 202-204.]


Abraham Cook

      Abraham Cook was one of the early pastors of Christiansburg church. A sketch of his life will carry the reader back to the earliest religious operations in Franklin county, as well as to the horrid scenes of Indian warfare. Abraham Cook was born of pious Baptist parents, in Franklin county, Virginia, July 6th, 1774. In 1780, his parents moved to the wilderness of Kentucky, and joined some half dozen families in forming a settlement at the Forks of Elkhorn, in what is now Franklin county. Here the father died only a few months after his arrival in the new country, and left the mother with a large family to struggle with the pinchings of poverty, and the hourly dangers of frontier life. When the settlers had increased to the number of seventy-five or one hundred souls, they began to feel the need of a preacher among them. Accordingly, the leading citizens of the little colony held a council, and commissioned John Major, a pious old Baptist, to go to the settlement on South Elkhorn, and, on behalf of the settlers, tender William Hickman a hundred acres of land on condition that he would settle among them. He reached Mr. Hickman's cabin late at night. It was in December, 1787, and the weather was very cold. "When he came in," says Mr. Hickman, "on being asked to sit down, he replied: 'No, like Abraham's servant, I will not sit down till I have told my errand.' He then told me what had brought him to see me, and gave me till the next morning to return him an answer. We passed a night of prayer. It was a night of deep thought with me, for I wished to do right." In February, 1788, Mr. Hickman moved among them, and in June following, constituted a small church called Forks of Elkhorn. A religious revival broke out in the settlement, and continued more than a year. "I think in the course of the year," says Mr. Hickman, "I must have baptized forty or fifty. I baptized nine of old sister Cook's children, and among the rest, that well known Abraham, now the minister of Indian Fork church, in Shelby county."

      This devoted christian mother's heart must have overflowed with joy, at seeing so many of her loved ones embrace her Savior. But an overwhelming flood of sorrow awaited her in the near future. About Christmas, in the year 1791, two of her sons, Hosea and Jesse, having married, and one of her daughters having married Lewis Mastin, the three young families, together with three or four others, settled three miles lower down on Elkhorn, in what was called Innis' Bottom. Here they remained undisturbed more than a year. But on the 28th of April, 1792, the settlement was attacked at three different points, almost simultaneously, by about one hundred Indians. The two Cooks were shearing sheep. At the first fire of the Indians, one of them fell dead, and the other was mortally wounded. The wounded man ran to the cabin, got his and his brother's wife, and their two infants, and a black child into the house, barred the door, and fell dead. The two Mrs. Cooks were now left to defend themselves and their babes against the blood-thirsty savages. They had a rifle in the house, but could find no bullets. One of them finding a musket ball, bit it in two with her teeth, rammed one piece down the rifle, and, putting the gun through a small aperture in the wall, fired it at an Indian who was sitting on a log near the cabin. At the crack of the rifle he sprang high in the air and fell dead. The Indians tried to break the door open; failing in this, they fired several balls against it. But it was made of thick puncheons, and the balls would not penetrate it. As a last resort, they sprang on top of the cabin and kindled a fire; but one of the heroic women climed up in the loft and threw water on the fire till she put it out. Again the Indians fired the roof, and, this time, there was no water in the house. But when did a mother's courage or resources fail when the life of her babe was at stake? Still remaining in the loft, though an Indian had shot down through the roof at her, she had called for the eggs which had been collected in the house. These she broke and threw on the fire till it was extinguished. Once more the baffled and infuriated savages kindled a fire on the cabin roof. This time there was neither water nor eggs. But another expedient was soon found. The jacket, thoroughly saturated with blood, was taken from the body of the murdered man, and thrown over the newly kindled fire. At this moment, a ball from the Indian's rifle passed through a hank of yarn near the woman's head, but did her no harm. The savages at last retired, and left the young mothers to weep over the bloody corpses of their husbands. Lewis Mastin was killed about the same time. The Indians were pursued, but they all escaped across the Ohio river, except the one killed by Mrs. Cook and one other.
[Spencer's KY Baptists, Volume 1, 432-434.]


South Elkhorn Baptist Church

     At South Elkhorn, the oldest church north of the Kentucky river, the meetings during the revival were conducted by John Shackelford,, who was the last survivor of that noble band of christian heroes who preached the gospel through prison grates in Virginia. In 1800, the church numbered one hundred and twenty-seven. During the revival period, three hundred and eighteen were baptized.

Bryants Station Baptist Church

      At Bryants Station Church, in Fayette county, the practical and conservative Ambrose Dudley was pastor. In 1800, the church numbered one hundred and seventy. During the revival period, four hundred and twenty-one were baptized. This was the largest number baptized in any one church.


Great Crossing Baptist Church

      Great Crossing is in Scott county. In 1800, it numbered one hundred and seven. Joseph Redding was the pastor. Four hundred and seven were baptized.
[Spencer's KY Baptists, Volume 1, 540.]


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