Editor's note: The following bios are not listed in alphabetical order in the essay. They are listed here alphabetically to help you locate them easier. - Jim Duvall
Bainbridge, Absalom - Blackburn, George - Boulware, Mordecai - Bourne, Ambrose - Burrows, Lansing, D.D. - Cave, Richard - Chambers, James - Corban, Lewis - Craig, William G. - Creath, Jacob, jr. - Darnaby, Edward - Dudley, Richard M., D.D. - Duval, Maureen - Ficklin, John H. - Fishback, James - Gates, Guerdon - Henderson, Thomas - Hewett, Joseph - Kenney, John W. - Lewis, Cadwallader - Lucas, John - Pitts, Younger R. - Pratt, William M., D.D. - Sedwick, George C. - Seely, Lyman W., D.D. - Sims, James - Smith, Rhodes - Smith, George Stokes - Smith, John L. - Stackhouse, Thomas C. - Toler, Henry - Varden, George, D.D., Ph.D., L.L.D. - Waller, Napoleon B. -
Biographies from the Elkhorn Baptist Association
A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer
Sketches of the lives of a number of the ministers of this Association have been given elsewhere. But several other preachers who have been active laborers within its bounds, may be briefly noticed in this connection. It is regretted that a number of others, equally worthy, must be omitted for want of information concerning them.
GEORGE STOKES SMITH, a younger half brother of George Smith, one of the early emancipation preachers in Kentucky, was a native of Powhatan county, Virginia. He was raised up to the ministry, in Powhatan church; during those times of persecution that tried men's souls. After preaching some years, in Virginia, he came to what is now Garrard county, Kentucky, at a very early period. When John Taylor arrived in that county, in 1783, he found Mr. Smith a preacher in Gilbert's Creek church, Lewis Craig having moved to the north side of Kentucky river, and raised up South Elkhorn church. When William Hickman moved to Kentucky, in 1784, Mr. Smith received him, with his wife and nine children, into his cabin, and entertained him till he could build a cabin to move into. Of this circumstance Mr. Hickman writes to the following purport:"I had written G. S. Smith to meet us, but he failed to get the letter as soon as I expected. The night before we got in, we concluded to stop and rest. There were 500 in our company. My friend Smith rode up, inquiring for Hickman's camp. He came loaded with bread and meat. The next morning we started, and got to his cabin about an hour by sun, November 8, 1784. Wet and dirty, poor spectacles we were, but, thank God, all in common health. The Lord was with us through the whole journey [which occupied eighty-five days]. The next day, being Sunday, there was meeting at Brother Smith's; and, unprepared as I was, I had to try to preach, though there were three other preachers present. I spoke from these words, found in the fourth Psalm: 'The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.' I was followed by Mr. Swope, a Methodist preacher. Old Brother William Marshall was there. There was a church at Gilbert's Creek, but I had no inclination to join so soon after I moved there. We lived in Brother Smith's family. Brother John Taylor came from the north side of the river, and preached at Brother Robertson's. His text was. -- 'Christ is all in all.' I fed on the food; it was like the good old Virginia doctrine. Wm. Bledsoe was there. We built a cabin near Brother Smith's, where our families lived very agreeably together."
Mr. Smith labored in the region around South Elkhorn, with Hickman, Taylor, Craig and others, till Mt. Pleasant church, in Jessamine county, was raised up, in 1801. Of this church he was chosen pastor, and continued to fill that position with eminent success till the master took him home, about the year 1810. Mr. Smith was raised up in the Episcopal Church, by wealthy parents, and was a citizen of considerable prominence, among the early settlers of Kentucky. He was a member, from Fayette county, of the convention that formed the first constitution of the state, in 1792. John Taylor, one of his co-laborers in the ministry, speaks of him as follows:"George S. Smith was a man of great respectability as a citizen, and was much of a doctrinal preacher. Simplicity and plainness attended his whole course. His preaching operated but sparingly on the passions of his hearers; for though his voice. was strong and sonorous, it lacked softness and melody. As a Gibbeonite in the house of God, he was better calculated to hew wood than to draw water."RICHARD CAVE was one of the pioneer preachers of central Kentucky, and was very useful among the early settlers. He was the son of Captain Benjamin Cave of Orange county, Virginia, where he was born not far from the year 1750. At an early age, he was led to Christ, under the preaching of the famous Samuel Harris and James Read, and united with Upper Spottsylvania church. He was set apart to the ministry, by this church, while he was quite young. After preaching a few years in his native county, he followed Lewis Craig, whose sister he had married, and his brother William Cave, who had moved the fall before, to the wilderness of Kentucky, in 1782. He settled in Garrard county, where he united with Gilbert's Creek church. This was the same church he had first joined, but now, in a new location, and bearing a new name. He remained at Gilbert's Creek some two years after Lewis Craig, the old pastor, had moved away, and, with George Stokes Smith, supplied the church with the ministry of the word. In the spring of 1785, he moved to Woodford county, where he went into the constitution of Clear Creek church. Here he was associated in the ministry with John Taylor, John Dupuy, James Rucker and, soon afterwards, with John Tanner and the venerable John Sutton. He was regarded as a man of great piety, and was very zealous and useful, especially during a great revival that commenced under his ministry at Clear Creek, in 1800. The church received 326 by baptism, during one year, and was increased to 558 members. This was the most useful period of Mr. Cave's ministry; for not long afterwards, he fell into the pit that has ineffaceably spotted the garments of multitudes of good men. He contracted the habit of drinking too freely. When reproved for this sin, he repented bitterly, and could never again be induced to taste spirituous liquors. His zeal for the cause of Christ was undiminished, but his usefulness was much impaired. Not long before his death, he arose to close the exercises of a meeting he attended, but was overpowered by a flood of tears and compelled to sit down. He died of a protracted diarrhoea [sic], in July, 1816. A few days before his departure, he expressed great serenity of soul, and a patient acquiescence in the divine will. He had been a teacher of music, and was an excellent singer. A little before his last breath, he sang in a loud voice, the words: —
"O for an overcoming faith
To cheer my dying hours;
To triumph o'er the monster death,
And all its frightful powers."
ABSALOM BAINBRIDGE, of whose early life we have no account, but who is supposed to have been a native of Maryland, was raised up to the ministry in Town Fork church, in Fayette County; Ky. He was a licensed preacher in that church as early as 1798, and three years later he was an ordained minister in the same church. Soon afterwards he became a member of Boone's Creek church, in the same county. In 1806, he preached the introductory sermon before Elkhorn Association. When Elkhorn Association split, in 1809, he adhered to the party that formed Licking Association, and was for some years a prominent member of the latter fraternity, acting as its Clerk, from 1814 to 1817, and preaching the introductory sermon before it, in 1813, 1815 and 1817. About the last named date, he moved to Todd county. In becoming identified with Licking Association, he had left the general union of Baptists in Kentucky. However, he succeeded in getting into West Fork church, in Todd county, this church being a member of Red River Association, which was, at that time, in the general union. Mr. Bainbridge soon began to foment strife among the churches, about certain abstruse points of doctrine. The breach continued to widen, till the Association divided, in 1824. Bethel Association was formed of the minority, the next year. Mr. Bainbridge is doubtless referred to among others, in the following extract, from an account of the origin of that Association, published in its minutes of 1826:"The nature and extent of the Atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ, then became a matter of controversy, though not serious, until certain Baptists from the upper Counties of this State, settled among us. At first, they manifested an appearance of friendship and fellowship towards our churches and ministers, which led us to suppose they were desirous to return into the general union again. We therefore, upon their application, received them into our churches. But, alas! some of them, so soon as they obtained a standing among us, manifested a party spirit, which soon found its way into the Association. Things now became serious; a want of brotherly love and Christian forbearance was soon manifested in the deportment of a number of preachers and lay members, especially at the Associations, held from year to year. Instead of meeting in love, for the mutual edification and comfort of each other, and to preach the glorious gospel to sinners, it became a scene of contention, which reflected on us, as a religious society, and greatly injured the cause of God among us."
Mr. Bainbridge, of course, adhered to Red River Association, which soon left the general union, and has since continued to wither. After this, we find no further mention of Mr. Bainbridge. He is believed to have been a man of fair abilities and a good moral character. But it is feared that, on account of his contentious disposition, he did the cause of Christ more harm than good.
LEWIS CORBAN, son of William Corban, was born in Culpeper county, Va., April 4, 1754. He was raised up on his father's farm, receiving a very meagre [sic] education. His father's family were all irreligious, and he gave no attention to the interest of his soul, till he was about thirty years of age. At this time, he became deeply impressed with the importance of eternal things. After a long struggle, he obtained hope in Jesus, and was baptized by John Pickett, in 1786. He began immediately to speak to the people about the blessed peace he enjoyed through the Savior, and gave such evidence of a call to the ministry, as induced his church to have him ordained the same year. Soon after his ordination, he was called to a church over the Blue Ridge, where he continued to preach till he moved to Kentucky. In 1797, he was called to the care of Grassy Lick church, located about seven miles north-east from Mt. Sterling, Ky. During the great revival of 1801-2, he baptized 127 into the fellowship of that church. Among these, were his son Samuel, and a little girl named Polly Colver only eight years old.
About 1804, he moved to Bourbon county, settled near the mouth of Pretty Run, and took charge of Stony Point church. He lived at this place about twelve years, when, having lost three sons, from disease which he supposed to have been caused by an adjacent mill-pond, he moved his residence to the lower end of the county, but still retained the care of Stony Point church. His charge enjoyed a very moderate degree of prosperity. In 1825, it attained a membership of 69, after which, like most of the other churches in Licking Association, it gradually declined. Mr. Corban continued the pastor of Stony Point church till old age necessitated his resignation. Towards the close of his life, he was much afflicted with "gravel." He died from the effects of a fall, April 1, 1840.
Mr. Corban was a man of strong mind, and was well versed in the sacred Scriptures. He was very successful in his early ministry. But, becoming identified with Licking Association of Particular Baptists, the system of doctrine and practice held by that fraternity, cramped his genius and chilled his zeal, so that the remainder of his ministry was comparatively fruitless.
AMBROSE BOURNE was brought into the ministry at Marble Creek -- now East Hickman -- during the great revival at the beginning of the present century. Soon after he commenced preaching, he moved to Madison county, and gave his membership to Tate's Creek church. After remaining there a short time, he moved to Fayette county, where he united with Mt. Gilead church, about 1810. About 1817, he moved to Todd county and became a member of Mt. Gilead church, which he probably raised up. Under his ministry at this church, the distinguished John S. Wilson was brought into the ministry. The time of Mr. Bourne's death is not known. He appears to have been a good man of quite moderate talent.
HENRY TOLER was a native of King and Queen county, Va. The date of his birth has not been ascertained. In youth, he received only a common school education. He was early converted, under the ministry of John Courtney. Almost immediately after his baptism and union with Upper College church. he began to exhort sinners to repent. His church gave him a license to exercise his gift, and he exhibited such talents as induced a very wealthy Baptist, known as Counsellor Carter, to tender him the means of procuring a better education. He accepted the generous offer, and spent three years under the tutor-ship of Dr. Samuel Jones, in Pennsylvania. Having returned to his native county, he was soon ordained. He now gave himself wholly to preaching. In 1783, he commenced preaching in Westmoreland county. Here he gathered Nomini church, which was constituted of 17 members, April 29, 1786. He was pastor of this church more than twenty years. When he resigned, it numbered 875 members, and was the largest church in Virginia.
"The labors of Mr. Toler," says J. B. Taylor, "were not confined to Westmoreland county. He traveled extensively in the upper counties and below the Northern Neck, as well as between the York and Rappahannock Rivers." "Few preachers," says Mr. Semple, "having families, have been more indefatigable in proclaiming the gospel than Mr. Toler." After preaching in Virginia, with preeminent success, about forty years, he moved to Kentucky, about the year 1816. He settled in Woodford county, and united with Clear Creek church, which he served about four years. His superior talents caused him to be much sought after, in the new country; but he appears to have been discontented and unsuccessful. About 1821, he took charge of Griers Creek church, to which also he gave his membership. He induced this church to so change its constitution as to take the name of Particular Baptists. This was made a condition of his serving them, as pastor. His object was to induce the church to withdraw from Franklin Association, and unite with Licking. Several members had been induced to leave Clear Creek, and join Griers Creek, without letters of dismission. When the vote was taken, as to whether the church would change its associational connection, it was decided not to change. The church also resumed its former name of United Baptists. This so offended Mr. Toler that he drew off a faction, constituted them a Particular Baptist church, at Versailles, and induced them to join Licking Association. This occurred in 1822. To this little church at Versailles, Mr. Toler ministered, during the brief remainder of his life. He died, February 3, 1824.
Henry Toler was a preacher of superior abilities, and great power in the pulpit, and few men have used their gifts to better advantage than did he, while he remained in his native State. But after he came to Kentucky, he seems to have become soured in his temper. He was unsuccessful at Clear Creek, Griers Creek and Frankfort, having preached at the latter place one year. About 1820, he wrote a pamphlet titled "Union -- no Union," in which he condemned Elkhorn Association, and defended Licking against the charge of schism, in violently breaking off from the former fraternity. With all his fine abilities, his unspotted character and his former success, it is probable that he did more harm than good, in Kentucky.
JOHN H. FICKLIN was born in Spottsylvania county, Va., February 17, 1771. He came early, probably with his parents, to Kentucky, and settled in Scott county, near the present village of Stamping Ground. In 1791, William Hickman commenced preaching in Mr. Ficklin's barn, and a church was soon raised up, then called McConnel's Run, but now known as Stamping Ground. Among the early converts in this settlement, was John H. Ficklin. Soon after his union with this church, he moved his membership to North Fork. Here he was licensed to preach, about 1805. He was ordained to the full work of the ministry, in July, 1807, by William Hickman and William Buckley, both of whom, like himself, had declared themselves on the side of the Emancipationists. Mr. Ficklin was called to the care of North Fork church, where he ministered several years. Not far from 1815, he moved his membership to Hartwood, where he remained till 1825. About this time he became, it is believed, connected with Choctaw Academy, in some capacity. This Academy, located at Blue Spring, in Scott county, was a school for educating young Indians, brought from the West for that purpose.
Mr. Ficklin had a limited education, but he possessed a strong intellect and was regarded a good preacher. His emancipation principles rendered him somewhat unpopular, but his piety was undoubted. No account of his latter days has been obtained, but it is probable he spent them in Illinois, as it is known that one of his sons was a respectable lawyer at Charleston, in that state.
JAMES FISHBACK was a native of Virginia, but the exact time of his birth has not been ascertained. His mother being an Episcopalian, he was christened by a minister of her church, in his infancy. While yet a small child, he was brought by his parents to Fayette county, Kentucky. Here, after receiving the rudiments of an education, he was sent to Transylvania, in 1793, where he finished his literary course, under Henry Toulmin, a Unitarian minister of superior ability. He then went abroad to obtain a medical education. Returning home, in the fall of 1801, he commenced the practice of medicine at Lexington. Although he had been raised by pious parents, and had been the subject of strong religious impressions, from his youth, he now became skeptical. He entered into an extended investigation of the Bible, which ended in a firm conviction of its truth. In 1809, he published a pamphlet, in support of the views he had arrived at. Something more than a year after this, he professed conversion and united with the Presbyterian church, of which his parents had previously become members. After a few years, he fell into doubt about the validity of his baptism. An investigation of the subject resulted in his uniting with the Baptist church at Bryant's Station, where he was baptized, by the renowned Jeremiah Vardeman, the fourth Saturday in November, 1816. He was licensed to preach the following month, and was ordained to the pastorate of the newly constituted church at Lexington, by Jeremiah Vardeman, Jacob Creath and James E. Welsh, August 22, 1817. The church at Lexington prospered under his ministry, till 1825, when it numbered 153 members. About this time, he began to advocate some of the doctrines of Barton W. Stone -- especially the rejection of "Sectarian names" for the churches of Christ. Being unable to bring his charge to accept his new views, he drew off about 40 members, in 1827, and organized them, under the style of the church of Christ, on Mill Street. Alexander Campbell had numerous adherents in the Baptist churches around Lexington, at this period. By means of these, together with his own personal influence, Dr. Fishback hoped to have his church received into Elkhorn Association. He had miscalculated, however, and its application was rejected. He now ministered to the little "church of Christ on Mill Street," about nine years. Finding that it was not prospering, and becoming weary of isolation from the general brotherhood, the little band, with its discouraged pastor, returned to the body from which it had seceded, and a happy union was effected, in 1836. This year, Dr. Fishback was a messenger to Elkhorn Association, for the last time. He was soon afterwards called to give an account of his stewardship.
Dr. Fishback was a fine scholar, an excellent speaker, and an easy, fluent writer. But he was unstable in all his ways, ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. Otherwise, he bore a good character for piety and morality.
MORDECAI BOULWARE was several years a preacher among the churches of Elkhorn Association. He was licensed to preach, in North Fork church, as early as 1813, and was ordained not long afterwards. He succeeded John Ficklin in the pastoral care of North Fork church, about 1816. He continued to minister here till 1825, after which we have no account of him.
MAREEN DUVAL united with McConnel's Run church -- now Stamping Ground in 1807. He had a fair education, and was a devoted and useful church member. He was advanced in life when he was ordained to the ministry, about 1824, and appears never to have become very active in his holy calling. It is probable he was never pastor of any church. He died December 21, 1844.
JOHN LUCAS was a member of the same church, and was also advanced in life when he was set apart to the ministry, about 1830. His gifts were very meagre [sic], but he was much loved by his brethren, for his deep toned piety and earnest devotion to the cause of Christ. He was ever ready to do what he could in the Lord's vineyard. He died, at an advanced age, in March, 1848.
RHODES SMITH, one of the "constituent members" of McConnel's Run church, although not a preacher, was, for many years, one of the most valuable members of Elkhorn Association. He was liberal, intelligent, and of great integrity and devout piety. He was a member of the State Senate eighteen consecutive years, and was always a leading member of that body. Near the close of his long and useful life, he selected the following words, from which he requested his pastor, James D. Black, to preach, at his funeral: "Unto you, therefore, which believe, he is precious." He died at a ripe old age in October, 1845.
JAMES SIMS was a native of Virginia, and was born about the year 1768. He moved with a large family to Bourbon county, Kentucky in 1812. Here he united with the church at Paris. He afterwards joined Lower Bethel church, where he was an ordained minister as early as 1822. He was cut off from the Baptists with the Campbellite faction in 1830. After this he moved to Oldham county, where he died, April 26, 1856, in the 88th year of his age. Of his life and ministry little is now known.
GUERDON GATES was born in New London, Conn. in 1796. At the age of sixteen he started to go South, but being detained on his journey by a slight accident, he entered Washington College, where he graduated with honor. He afterwards studied theology, but at what institution is not known. He then filled a professorship in the college from which he had graduated, two or three years. Having been set apart to the ministry, he moved to Bourbon county, Kentucky, about 1823, and was soon afterwards called to the care of the Baptist church in Paris. Here he preached and conducted a female seminary about ten years. In 1833 he moved to Mayslick in Mason county, where he remained two years. In 1835 he moved to Louisville. After this, he only preached occasionally. He maintained an exalted Christian character, and was prominently connected with the benevolent institutions of the city more than twenty years. He was a man of great simplicity of manners, arid was much loved by a large circle of acquaintances. He died about 1858.
GEORGE BLACKBURN was one of those men, whose strong plodding minds develope [sic] slowly. He was a member of Big Spring church from its constitution in 1813, and was one of its first messengers to Elkhorn Association. He was ordained to the ministry in 1825. Soon after his ordination, John Taylor wrote of him:
"He is a pretty good preacher; his delivery is not quite so ready as that of some men, but his ideas are very good." He continued to develope his powers till he came to be regarded a strong preacher, and was one of the leading ministers of his day, in Kentucky, in the benevolent enterprises of his denomination. He was chairman of the meeting that organized the Kentucky Baptist Convention in 1832, and was a member of its first executive board. He continued to act as a member of the board till the convention was dissolved, but his ministerial career was brief. The General Association, at its first meeting in October, 1837, adopted the following preamble and resolutions:
Whereas, We have learned with emotions of sorrow, that Elder George Blackburn has finished his course and has gone to receive his heavenly reward, Therefore
"Resolved, That we affectionately cherish the memory of our deceased brother, and retain a vivid recollection of his zealous and successful labors in the cause of God.
"Resolved, also, that we sympathisingly condole with the family of brother Blackburn, in their melancholy bereavement, and with the churches formerly enjoying his pastoral supervision, in their deprivation of his efficient ministerial services."
EDWARD DARNABY was the son of John Darnaby, an early emigrant from Virginia. to the Western wilds, and was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, April 28, 1793. He received a very limited education, and was very thoughtless concerning the interests of his soul till about his 36th year, when he was awakened from his slumbers under the preaching of Ryland T. Dillard. He was approved for baptism in March, 1829, and was baptized by Jeremiah Vardeman into the fellowship of Bryant's Station church, the following month. He was licensed to exercise his gift in June, 1838, and was ordained at Bryant's Station, by Ryland T. Dillard, James M. Frost and Josiah Leake, July 10, 1839. He was now in his 47th year, but he devoted himself to his holy calling with the ardent zeal of a young man. Being chosen pastor of Bryant's Station church, he continued to fill that position till he was called away from earthly cares. He also preached to the churches at Paris, Providence, Upper Howard's Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Indian Creek and Mt. Olivet for different periods. In addition to his pastoral work, he labored extensively among the destitute. His ministerial life was an extraordinarily busy one, and was full of good fruits. He accomplished more in the gospel ministry in the brief period of about thirteen years, than many a preacher of equal advantages has wrought in a ministry of two score years. He died of paralysis, May 14, 1852.
JACOB CREATH, JR., a nephew of the eloquent pioneer preacher of the same name, was a Baptist minister within the bounds of Elkhorn Association, several years. He had a fair English education, with some knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. He commenced preaching quite young, and gave promise of usefulness. After preaching a year or two, during which time he served South Elkhorn church, he left the State, in 1826. In the Fall of 1828, he returned to Kentucky, having fully imbibed the sentiments of Alexander Campbell. He gave his membership to the church at Versailles, and commenced preaching one Sunday in the month at Clear Creek church, George Blackburn being the regular pastor. This arrangement resulted in a division of the church. In 1830, Mr. Creath, with the aid of his uncle, constituted a church of the faction he had led off, and then served it as pastor. About the same time, South Benson church divided on the subject of Campbellism. The Campbellite faction was formally constituted a church, and called Mr. Creath to its pastoral care. By this time, he had become the leading champion of "the Reformation," in that part of the State. "He was distinguished," says John A. Williams, in his Life of John Smith, "for the boldness and severity of his character." He was exceedingly active, and traveled extensively among the churches, proclaiming the doctrines of Mr. Campbell. Meanwhile, early in 1830, he became co-editor of the Christian Examiner, a Campbellite paper, conducted by a Mr. Norwood, at Lexington, and, in connection with the same gentleman, established a quarterly magazine, styled the Budget, also published at Lexington. The latter periodical was made the vehicle of the most bitter, personal invective, against such Baptist preachers as opposed Mr. Campbell's innovations. It is probable that no other man in the State stirred up so much bitterness and strife among Christians, during that stormy period, as did Jacob Creath, Jr.
At the beginning of the eventful year 1830, memorable in the religious history of Kentucky, the three leading champions of Campbellism, in the central part of the State, Jacob Creath, Jr. Jacob Creath, Sr., and Josephus Hewett, were members of the Baptist church at Versailles. But as it was anticipated that Elkhorn Association would take some action in regard to the prevailing heresy, in the churches of which it was composed, these shrewd leaders of the budding "Reformation" deemed it prudent to represent a larger constituency in that body. Accordingly Jacob Creath, Jr., and Josephus Hewett obtained letters of dismission, and the former unied with Providence church, while the latter joined South Elkhorn. Jacob Creath, Sr. remained at Versailles. Each of these three churches sent ten messengers to the Association, at its meeting in the fall, contrary to an express ordinance of that body, enacted the year previous, allowing only three messengers from each church. The Association refused seats to the supernumerary messengers. On conviction of heresy and disorder, the churches at Versailles and Providence were dropped from the fraternity. That at South Elkhorn was laid under censure, for the present, and dropped the next year. This resulted in a general separation of the Campbellites from the Baptist churches, and the former became a distinct sect. Jacob Creath, Jr., became one of the leaders of the new denomination. After preaching several years among his brethren in Kentucky, he moved to Missouri, where he established a periodical, styled the Christian Pioneer, which he conducted for many years. Though at a good old age, he was still living, when last head from.
JOSEPHUS HEWETT was raised up to the ministry, in the church at Versailles. He was ordained about the year 1825. His education was neglected in his childhood; but having a sprightly mind and a commendable ambition, he acquired a fair English education after he attained his majority. He was a young preacher of good abilities; but being intimately associated with both the Creaths, who early adopted the religious system of Alexander Campbell, he also fell into that heresy. In company with the Creaths, he was active in dividing churches, and in constituting churches of factious minorities. In 1830, in accordance with the plan referred to in the sketch of Jacob Creath, Jr., he took a letter of dismission from Versailles church, a united with South Elkhorn. In the fall of that year, South Elkhorn church was laid under censure" for having depart from the faith and constitution of the Association, and for having disregarded her rule, relative to an equal apportionment of representation in this body." The following year that church was dropped from Elkhorn Association. From this time Mr. Hewett was identified with the Campbellites, among whom he was active preacher.
YOUNGER R. PITTS was born in 1812, and raised in Kentucky. He united with Great Crossing church, in Scott county, then under the pastoral care of Silas M. Noel, in 1833. He was licensed to exercise his gift, in July, 1836, and was ordained at Great Crossing, by R. T. Dillard, B. F. Kenney, W. G. Craig, J. D. Black, Howard Malcom and J. M. Frost, November 17, 1841. He was immediately called to the care of the church in which he had been ordained, and served in that capacity four years, when he resigned. What churches he served afterwards does not appear. He acted as missionary within the bounds of Elkhorn Association for a short time. About 1860, he moved to Howard county, Missouri. Here he took a more active part in religious affairs than he had done in Kentucky, where he had unduly hampered himself with the affairs of this life. He took an especial interest in the educational institutions of the Baptists in his adopted State. As agent, he raised near $10,000 for Mt. Pleasant College. He was several years a member of the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College, and had accepted an agency to raise money for the completion of the endowment of that institution, when he was called away from his earthly labors, while attending the General Association of Missouri Baptists at Clinton, in 1871.
WILLIAM G. CRAIG was a son of William Craig, and a grandson of Toliver Craig, a brother of the famous Lewis and Elijah Craig, and was born in Scott county, Kentucky, October 10, 1803. When about three years old, he was so disabled in one of his legs by a severe illness, that he walked on crutches the remainder of his days. He was educated at Rittenhouse Academy, in Georgetown, with a view to the practice of law. While pursuing his literary studies he read the writings of Tom Paine and Voltaire, and became for a time a confirmed infidel. But the power of God overturned what he deemed his impregnable fortress. During a most wonderful revival at Great Crossing, under the ministry of Silas M. Noel and Ryland T. Dillard, during which 359 were baptized into the fellowship of that church within one year; Mr. Craig yielded to the power of the Spirit and was baptized by Mr. Noel, April 20, 1828. He abandoned his former purpose to practice law and gratefully gave himself to the service of that God who had "snatched him as a brand from the burning." He was licensed to exercise his gift in July, 1836, and ordained by J. D. Black and John Lucas, in 1840. He was immediately invited to preach, one Sunday in the month, at Great Crossing church, of which he was a member. This he did for about five years, giving the remainder of his time to neighboring churches. He afterwards moved his membership to Buck Run church in Franklin county. At that church, and others in the vicinity, he continued to labor in the gospel till the Lord took him home on the 8th day of September, 1853.
William G. Craig was not a great man, in the ordinary meaning of that term. His mind was sprightly and well cultivated, and his gifts, though scarcely above mediocrity, were used with a zeal and dilligence [sic] that made them effective in the accomplishing of much good. His death was peculiarly triumphant. On the third day of his last brief illness he spoke to his family and some friends that were near his death bed to the following effect:
"I have come to the conclusion that the Mighty Architect of this machine (his body) intended it to run only fifty years; and as that time has nearly expired, it cannot be wound up again. It must stop. It has run after a fashion -- halting, defective, irregular -- many times during a half century; but now it must stop. But glory to God in the highest for the implantation of the blessed hope, that it is going to that brighter world, to partake of that higher nature. When in the presence of God and the Lamb it will run on forever and ever. My beloved wife, the companion of all my joys and sorrows, baptized together with me in the beautiful Elkhorn -- my dear boy -- my aged and afflicted mother -- all, all must be left. But, oh! delightful thought, left only for a few brief moments to be reunited forever around the throne of God." Referring to an absent friend, a few moments before he expired, he said: "Tell him all is right. I am going home. All is well; I am not afraid to die."
GEORGE C. SEDWICK was a native of Virginia, from whence he moved to Zanesville, Ohio. Here he conducted a religious periodical, styled the Baptist Miscellany as early as 1829. Where, or at what time, he was set apart to the gospel ministry is not known. After preaching some years in Ohio he moved to Frankfort, Kentucky in 1837. He represented the Frankfort church in the convention that formed the General Association at Louisville in October of the same year, and was an active member of that body during his stay in the State. In 1840 he took charge of the Baptist church at Paris in Bourbon county. In 1843 he moved to Georgetown, where he remained a brief period and then moved back to Zanesville, Ohio. Here he spent the remainder of his days. He was a good preacher, and was active in the benevolent enterprises of the denomination. His son, W. S. Sedwick, was a well known Sunday school missionary, in Kentucky about the close of the late civil war.
NAPOLEON B. WALLER, son of Elder Edmund Waller, and brother of the distinguished John L. Waller, was born in Jessamine county, Kentucky, March 24, 1826. He was educated at Georgetown College, with a view to the ministry, having professed religion and united with the Mt. Pleasant church, in his native county, in early youth, of which church his father was pastor. He was licensed to preach about 1849, and soon gave evidence of extraordinary talents. But God chose not to use him long in his vineyard below. He had recently finished his education, when the church at Owensboro invited him to visit them, with a view of becoming their pastor. He was on his way to that point, when, on arriving at Nicholasville, he found his brother ill, and deemed it duty to remain with him. Within a few days he was attacked with cholera. He died within a few hours after he was taken, August 1, 1855.
THOMAS HENDERSON was long a minister among the churches of Elkhorn Association, and appears to have been a man of good standing and fair preaching talent. It is regretted that materials for a more extended sketch of his life have not been obtained. He was a preacher in Great Crossing church, occupying the pulpit on the third Sunday in each month, while James Suggett preached on the first, not long after 1812. This position he continued to fill till 1827. In 1829 he went into the constitution of Pleasant Green church in Scott county. About this time, he had an epistolary correspondence with John Smith, commonly known as Raccoon John Smith, touching the tenets of Alexander Campbell. Pleasant Green church seems to have been dissolved after a few years. After this, Mr. Henderson was a minister in Center Ridge church, in Grant county, as late as 1842.
JAMES CHAMBERS moved from North Carolina to Jessamine county, Kentucky, about 1804. He was called to the care of Clover Bottom church, to which he ministered not more than two or three years. After this he returned to his native State, to take charge of a church which had invited him to its pastoral care. His children all being in Kentucky, he returned to this State, after two or three years. About 1818, he moved to Indiana, where he died at a great age. He is said to have been a good preacher, and a man of high respectability.
THOMAS SUITER was a good old brother, who was many years a member of Big Spring church in Woodford county. He was ordained to the ministry, about 1834, and was a preacher in that church as late as 1844.
JOHN W. KENNEY was a young man of fine talent, and was much beloved for his sincere piety. He united with the church in Paris, Bourbon county, in 1840, and was licensed to preach in April, of the following year. He was ordained in December, 1842. The following February, he was called to the care of the church in Paris, to which he ministered till the Lord bade him cease from his 1abors. He died June 6, 1852.
CADWALLADER LEWIS, LL. D. was the son of John Lewis, an eminent educator, and was born in Spottsylvania county, Va., November 5, 1811. He was raised by Presbyterian parents, and educated by his father, who conducted a classical school at Llangolen, Va., many years. In 1830, he entered the University of Virginia, where he finished his course in ancient and modern languages and mathematics. He came to Kentucky in 1831, and taught a select school at Covington. In the spring of the following year, he took charge of the preparatory department of Georgetown College, then under the presidency of Joel S. Bacon. In 1844, he commenced the study of medicine; but his health failing, he went on a farm near the Forks of Elkhorn, in Franklin county, which he occupied the remainder of his life. During the same year that he moved on the farm, he made a profession of religion, and was baptized by B. F. Kenney, into the fellowship of Buck Run Baptist church. Very soon afterwards he was licensed to preach, and was ordained by Abner Goodell, James E. Duval, B. F. Kenney, Y. R. Pitts, and F. H. Hodges, in September, 1846. The succeeding spring he was called to the care of the church at Frankfort. He refused to leave his farm, but agreed to serve them till they could procure a pastor. He preached to them till the following October, when the church secured the services of James W. Goodman. In 1848, he succeeded Wm. F. Broadus as pastor of Versailles church, and John L. Waller, as pastor of Glens Creek, both in Woodford county. He preached to each of these churches, two Sundays a month, till 1858, when he gave up one Sunday at Glens Creek, in order to supply Providence, a church recently constituted near his. home. The last named church, he served until his death. He served the other two till the 25th of December, 1865, when his right thigh was broken, near the hip-joint, by a fall of his horse, on ice, as he was going to Versailles to preach. This injury compelled him to give up pastoral labor. As soon as he was able to walk on crutches, he was elected Professor of Theology, in Georgetown College. He filled this position four years. Having sufficiently recovered from his injuries to be able to travel, he resigned his professorship, and accepted a call to the pastorate of Great Crossing church, in connection with that of Providence, which he had not relinquished. At the end of three years he was called from Great Crossing to succeed L. B. Woolfolk as pastor of Mt. Vernon church, in Woodford county, where he continued to minister till his labors on earth ceased. He died suddenly, of heart disease, at the house of a friend, near Mt. Vernon, where he expected to preach the next day, on the 22d of April, 1882. He had with him notes of the sermon he expected. to preach, on the text: The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, I Cor. 15, 26.
Dr. Lewis was a model preacher, of the highest order. He was a finished scholar, a close student, and a superior logician. As an elegant, forcible and instructive speaker, he had few superiors. The eloquent preacher and barrister, John Bryce, regarded him the first orator in the Kentucky pulpit. He was a mode! pastor, as well as preacher. His health was feeble during his entire ministry. He wrote comparatively little for the press, but enough to prove himself one of the ablest critics and logicians in the State.
LYMAN W. SEELY, D. D. was born in Scott county, Ky., November 21, 1814, but was raised in Lexington. He was educated at Transylvania University, and afterwards taught in the preparatory department of that institution. In 1834, he made a profession of religion, and was baptized by James Fishback, for the church of Christ on Mill Street, in Lexington. He was licensed to preach soon after his union with the church; but was not ordained for several years, on account of his being compelled to teach school to aid in supporting a widowed mother. He, however, preached as opportunity was afforded. In 1840, he was elected professor of Latin in Georgetown college, but resigned the following year. In 1842, he was ordained to the pastorate of Mt. Vernon church, where he ministered ten years. In 1852, he moved to Maysville, where he taught a classical school, about three years. During this period, he was pastor of the churches at Washington, Lewisburg and Flemingsburg, in Kentucky, and Aberdeen, in Ohio. In 1855, he accepted a call to High Street church in Baltimore, Md. While serving this church, he was one of the four learned editors of the Christian Review. In 1857, he took charge of the second church in Richmond, Va., which he served seven years. After this he filled the chair of English in Hollin's Institute, about two years, preaching to a neighboring church, meanwhile. Afterwards he was pastor of a church, a short time, in Fincastle county, Va. In 1867, he returned to Kentucky, after which he was pastor at different times, at Cane Run, in Fayette county, and Frankfort and Buck Run, in Franklin county. He was Private Secretary to Governor Leslie in 1873. In 1878, he became so nearly blind as to be unable to read. This, together with other bodily afflictions, has rendered him unable to engage in active labor, since that time. *[fn - * He has recently gone to his final reward.]
Dr. Seely is a man of profound learning and extensive reading. He is classed among the most critical Greek scholars in the country.
WILLIAM M. PRATT, D.D., now one of the oldest active ministers in Elkhorn Association, was born in Madison county. N. Y., January 13, 1817. He finished his education at what is now Madison University, taking a course of four years in the collegiate, and two years in the theological department, graduating in 1839. He was married the day after he graduated, and within two weeks started to his field of labor at Crawfordsville, Ind. Here he conducted a female school about a year, preaching as he could make opportunity. After this he spent about four years in preaching and building up churches, in what was then a comparatively new country. In 1845, he moved from Indiana to Kentucky, and accepted a call to the First Baptist church in Lexington. He labored as pastor of this church, seventeen years, resigning in 1862. After this, he moved to Louisville, and, in addition to discharging the duties of Corresponding Secretary of the General Association, supplied the pulpit of Bank Street church, in New Albany, and, afterwards, at different times, those of Broadway and Walnut street churches in Louisville. In 1871, he took charge of the church in Shelbyville, where he ministered several years. Subsequently, he moved to Lexington, where he now resides. He is still (1885) actively engaged in the ministry.
Dr. Pratt is not only an excellent preacher and pastor, but he is also a superior business man. He has been a prominent actor in the benevolent enterprises of the Kentucky Baptists, and has rendered invaluable service to the denomination, in the various capacities, in which he has served it.
RICHARD M. DUDLEY, D.D., a great grandson of the famous old pioneer preacher, Ambrose Dudley, was born in Madison county, Ky., September 1, 1838. He entered Georgetown college in 1856 with a view to educating himself for the bar. In the spring of 1857 he professed religion, and was baptized by A. W. LaRue, then pastor of the Georgetown church. During his college course he became impressed that it was his duty to preach the gospel. As soon as this impression deepened into a conviction, he abandoned his purpose to study law. He continued his studies at the college, but now, with a view to the gospel ministry. He graduated in 1860, and, in the spring of 1861 accepted a call to the East Baptist church in Louisville. He ministered to this church about four years, when he resigned on account of a diseased throat. In 1865, he became editor of the Western Recorder, and conducted that journal with satisfaction to the public about six years. In 1871, he accepted a call to Davids Fork church, in Fayette county. In 1872, he accepted a professorship in Georgetown college, still retaining the pastorate of Davids Fork church till 1873. At this date he accepted a call to Stamping Ground church, in Scott county. In 1877, he resigned his position in the college, that he might give himself wholly to the work of the ministry. In 1878, he succeeded Henry McDonald, as pastor of the church at Georgetown. The following year, he was elected chairman of the Faculty of Georgetown college, and, on the 9th of June, 1880, was elected president of that institution. The .latter position he bas filled with much satisfaction to the denomination and the general public to the present time (1885). "If I should make any comment at all upon my life," said he to the author. "it would be this: I have been honored by my brethern [sic] far beyond my deserts, and with each additional honor, I have been more and more painfully conscious of my unworthiness." The author takes pleasure in adding that his life long friend, Dr. Dudley, has filled well every position with which he has been intrusted.
GEORGE VARDEN, D.D. PH.D. L.L. D., was born in Norfolk county, England, December 9, 1830. He was raised up in the church of England, but while attending an academy, he experienced a change of heart, and was baptized by John Williams, into the fellowship of a Baptist church. He had received a good primary education, and was licensed to preach at the age of eighteen years. Soon after this, he came to the United States. After traveling two years, he entered Georgetown college, where he graduated in 1858. He immediately took charge of the church at Paris, in Bourbon county, where he still resides He has been pastor at different periods of the churches at Colemansville, Mayslick, Falmouth, Florence and Indian Creek. Dr. Varden has devoted himself enthusiastically to study, and is one of the leading scholars of the country. He has written extensively for the leading periodicals of the country, and is well known in Europe, as well as in the land of his adoption, as a scholarly author.
THOMAS C. STACKHOUSE is of French extraction, and was born in Louisiana, July 2, 1840. Losing his parents, he came to Kentucky at the age of fifteen. He was educated at Georgetown college, where he graduated in 1858. He professed religion while attending college, and was baptized into the fellowship of Georgetown church, by A. W. LaRue, in March, 1857. He was licensed to preach at Stanford, while studying theology under A. W. LaRue, March 10, 1860. He entered the theological department of Georgetown college, the following fall, and was ordained to the ministry at Mt. Gilead church, in Green county, in August, 1863, by Henry McDonald and John James. He was pastor of the churches at Mt. Gilead and Greensburg, in Green county, and Columbia, in Adair, a number of years. He took charge of the First Baptist church in Owensboro, about 1876. After preaching here several years he moved to Fayette county. He declined a call to the First Baptist church in Lexington on account of that church's tolerating its members in selling whisky. He afterwards took charge of the churches at David's Fork, in Fayette county, and Winchester, in Clark county, preaching two Sundays in the month to each, which position he is still occupying (1885). Mr. Stackhouse is a fine pulpit orator, and is held in high esteem by his people.
LANSING BURROWS, D.D., a son of the distinguished John L. Burrows, D. D., was born in Philadelphia, Pa., April 10, 1843. He was taken by his parents to Richmond. Va., where he was brought up, and received his early education. He professed religion in the spring of 1858, and was baptized into the fellowship of the First Baptist church in Richmond. He entered the Sophomore class in Wake Forest college, N. C., and finished his collegiate course in 1862. After leaving college he engaged in journalism for a time. He then came to Kentucky, and taught in a seminary at Stanford. While thus engaged, he yielded to a long felt impression to preach the gospel. He was licensed to exercise his gift, by the church at Stanford, November 10, 1866, and was ordained to the work of the ministry, July 7, 1867. After serving the church at Stanford one year, he was called to the church at Lexington, Mo., where he ministered two years. He was called to the church at Bordentown, N. J., which he served from 1870 to 1876. From the latter date; till 1879, he served the North church at Newark, N. J. From thence he came to Kentucky, and took charge of the First Baptist church in Lexington, where he ministered much to the satisfaction of his charge till 1883, when he was called to Augusta, Ga., where he still remains.
JOHN L. SMITH has been a prominent preacher in South District and Elkhorn associations more than a quarter of a century. He was born in Garrard county, Ky., May 18, 1821. In his infancy he lost his father, and his mother was left a widow with six children and very limited possessions. Under these circumstances his early opportunities for acquiring education were very poor. But having a good native intellect, and being ambitious to learn he used his few opportunities to good advantage. He made a profession of religion and united with Forks of Dix River church, being baptized by John S. Higgins in 1839. Not long after he united with the church he was ordained to the deaconship. After serving in this capacity a short time, he was licensed to preach. Keenly feeling the need of an education, he moved to Danville in 1845, where, notwithstanding he was a married man, he attended school and college six years. After finishing a theological course at the Danville Presbyterian Seminary, he was ordained to the ministry, in 1853. About this time he was brought into intimate relationship with that godly minister, A. W. LaRue, to whom, and to the example of a very pious mother, he acknowledges great indebtedness. Soon after his ordination, he was invited to the pastoral care of Shawnee Run church. This call he declined; but agreed to supply the church temporarily. In 1855, he was called to Nicholasville and Mt. Pleasant churches, in Jessamine county. The latter he served about six years. Besides these, he has been pastor, at different periods, Of the churches at Mt. Vernon, Hillsboro and Clear Creek, in Woodford county; South Elkhorn and Athens, in Fayette; Winchester and Mt. Olive, in Clark, and New Providence, in Boyle. The last named he has served many years, and is still its highly esteemed pastor [He has recently resigned.]. His labors have been blessed of the Lord; so that he has baptized over 1,090 persons. He was also instrumental in gathering the churches at West Point, in Boyle county, and South Elkhorn, in Fayette. His health has been declining for some years past, but he is still engaged with what strength remains to him, in the Master's service.
[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 2, 1886; rpt. 1984, pp. 21-44. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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