Early Boone County (KY) Baptist Preacher
By James R. Duvall
In June of 1794 when the Bullittsburg Baptist Church was constituted Lewis Deweese was one of the seven charter members.1 Spencer calls him "a licensed preacher and a man advanced in age, when he went into the constitution of Bullittsburg church.2 He was elected to act as moderator of the church, along with John Taylor, in July, 1795.
Nancy Deweese was received in the church by letter in February 1796.
John Taylor described Lewis Deweese as "young in the ministry, though a man in years...." He describes the ordination of Lewis Deweese in the following manner,About this time the church took up the subject of brother Duease's [sic] ordination, at my request. I think there were about twenty free male members in the church, and their seats seldom vacated at church meetings. In no similar case did I ever see members act with so much plainness, faithfulness and friendship as in this. For each one was asked his or her mind on this ordination, to the best of my recollection, not one was willing to ordain him, and their reasons given. I remember one of the objectors, as if in the presence of God, and with the utmost friendship to the man in question -- he had known and been intimate with him from the time he began to preach, which had been several years -- he could not see that he had improved any from the beginning, that he was now getting old, and he did not look for improvement hereafter - others had similar reasons, but all agreed that he preached sound doctrine; last of all I was enquired of, I also objected to his ordination, but not from the same source that others did, my objection lay in an over backward-ness, when he was called on to preach. -- But the whole church encouraged him to continue preaching, himself under all the investigation seemed meek as a lamb, believing as the church did, that he ought not to be ordained, but the voice of the church to go on, gave him fresh activity, I do not recollect that he ever said, No, after this when I asked him to preach.3That church meeting is described in the Minutes on November, 1796: "The ordination [of] Lewis Deweese [was] taken in[to] consideration and after much conversation on the matter, [we] agreed to pos[t]pone [his] ordination, with encouragement to Bro. Deweese to go forward as a preaching man."
John Taylor continues, "A few months after this the church took up the same subject, and without a dissenting voice ordained him...."4
More is given on his ordination. The church Minutes of August, 1797 state: "[It was] Motioned that the ordination of Lewis Deweese and James Lee, be taken in[to] consideration, which was taken up, and refered to next meeting."
The following month with John Taylor as moderator, the first item of business was: "The reference concerning the ordination of Bro. Deweese, [was] taken up, and Unanimously consented to, which is to take place on the third Sunday in October at the meeting house."
Taylor tells us Lewis Deweese "became one of the most acceptable preachers in Boon[e] county. After this he moved over to White Water [in Indiania], and is now [1830s] generally the moderator of White Water association."5
Lewis Deweese must have developed as a preacher as he was chosen to be the associational moderator and to preach the annual sermon for the association in 1804 and again in 1808.6
Deweese was not a large slave holder. He previously owned a slave woman named Filliz; she was received into the Bullittsburg church in 1818 for baptism -- "a free woman of colour."
Lewis and Nancy Deweese left the Bullittsburg church in October, 1810.
1 Bullittsburg Baptist Church Minutes.
2 Spencer, History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, 295.
3 John Taylor, History of Ten Baptist Churches, 81-2.
4 Ibid., 83-4.
5 Ibid., 84.
6 North Bend Baptist Association Minutes.
7 The 1810 Census shows him having three slaves. [The third and fourth columns of the Boone County 1810 Census no doubt have the statistics reversed because they show almost no one owning slaves and many having free coloreds living with them. - jrd]
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