Baptist History Homepage

Kentucky Baptist Historians and
Their Histories

By Jim Duvall
      The following is a list of noted Kentucky Baptist historians.

      John Taylor (b. 1752 - d. 1835) A History of Ten Churches, (Frankfort, KY, 1823); reprint (Cincinnati, Art Guild Reprints, Inc., 1968), 300 pages; [Available @ ]. Eight of these churches are in Kentucky.
      Taylor was the first pastor at Clear Creek Baptist Church, Woodford County, in 1784. He was the "stated preacher" at seven other churches in northern and central Kentucky, but did not pastor any of them. He was involved in the first two revivals in frontier Kentucky. His work is very descriptive of frontier life and he is noted for often being blunt in his views.

      Chester R. Young was a professor of history at Cumberland College [now University of the Cumberlands], Williamsburg, KY. He did an annotated third edition of Taylor's book. He has valuable genealogical information about most of the persons mentioned in Taylor's work, explanation of archaic words and phrases and other helpful information. He titled his work: Baptists on the American Frontier: A History of Ten Baptist Churches of Which the Author Has Been Alternately a Member, Annotated Third Edition, (Macon, GA, Mercer University Press, 1995).

      Samuel H. Ford (b. 1819 - d. 1905), editor of The Christian Repository Magazine, published "History of the Kentucky Baptists," in serial form - 23 chapters, 1856-1858. [Available @ ]
      Ford, born in Bristol, England, was a pastor, editor and prolific writer. His Kentucky Baptist history series is on microfilm located at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Archives. His wife, Sally Rochester Ford, is noted for her historical novel: Mary Bunyan, the Blind Daughter of John Bunyan.

      John H. Spencer (b. 1826 - 1897) History of Kentucky Baptists, 2 volumes, (Cincinnati: J. R. Baumes, 1885); reprint, CHR&A, Gallatin, TN, 1984. A CD edition is available @ Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. Paris, AR; also [Available @ - ]
      Spencer was a pastor and widely traveled evangelist in Kentucky, with a deep love of history. He spent nine years collecting material and preparing this history of Baptists from 1769 to 1885.

      William D. Nowlin (b. 1864 - d. 1950) Kentucky Baptist History - 1777 - 1922, (Louisville, KY, Baptist Book Concern, 1922), 16 chapters, 196 pages. Paperback reprints are available @ [Also available @ ]
      Nowlin collected many historical documents and turned them over to W. J. McGlothlin of Southern Seminary. When McGlothlin left the state, he turned the documents back over to Nowlin who then prepared and published his history. Nowlin was pastor of FBC in Greenville, KY when he finished the book.

      Frank M. Masters (b. 1870 - 1959) A History of Baptists in Kentucky, (Louisville, KY, Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, 1953). The work builds on the history of J. H. Spencer, There are 39 chapters, 639 pages. [Available @ ]
      Masters, former pastor and Bethel College [Russellville, KY] President, spent more than three years researching and writing his history. He was nearly 80 years old when he finished the manuscript in 1949.

      Wendell H. Rone (1913 - 2003) Though he wrote no general history of Kentucky Baptists, he wrote A History Of The Daviess-McLean Baptist Association (1844-1943), A Short History of the Graves County Association (196 pages), in 1973, The Problem of Baptist Succession, The Baptist Faith and Roman Catholicism and other related studies.
      Rone pastored several churches in the Owensboro area and other areas of Kentucky. He wrote several other local church histories, as well as additional doctrinal books and essays emphasizing historic Baptist doctrines.

      Leo T. Crismon (1906 - 1986) editor, Baptists in Kentucky - 1776-1976: A Bicentennial Volume, (Kentucky Baptist Convention, Middletown, KY, 1975). Crismon enlisted fourteen authors to write on fifteen various aspects of Kentucky Baptist life; Crismon wrote two chapters. The book was mailed free to all SBC pastors in the state - 320 pages.
      Crismon was the long-time Librarian at SBTS at the time and very interested in the Heritage of Baptists in the state.

      Ira (Jack) Birdwhistell (b. 1946 - d. 2014) Kentucky Baptists: 150 Years on Mission Together, (Kentucky Baptist Convention, Middletown, KY, 1987). This paperback is an abbreviated history with many pictures, especially of more recent leaders and properties of the KBC. It has six chapters, with four appendices, 150 pages.
      "Doc" Birdwhistell, as he was known, was a professor at Georgetown College and wrote some local Baptist histories, as well as the one mentioned above, including: The Baptists of the Bluegrass: A History of Elkhorn Baptist Association, 1785-1985. He died unexpectedly February 14, 2014.

      James D. Bolin (196_ - present) Kentucky Baptists 1925-2000 - A Story of Cooperation, (Southern Baptist Historical Society, 2000). The book covers the last 75 years of the 20th century, eight chapters, 317 pages.
      Bolin is a professor of history at Murray State University. He is a deacon at First Baptist Church, Murray, KY.

Baptist History Homepage