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Rev. George Eve
Virginia & Kentucky Frontier Baptist Minister
By Jim Duvall

     George Eve was a Baptist minister in Boone County for nearly three years and was called a "a good preacher." He was "noted chiefly for his warmth and zeal in exhortation..." He "exercised his ministry with much acceptance and usefulness...."

      Eve was a well-known pastor in Virginia, "He pastored Prethis Creek BC [also called Preddie's Creek] in Albemarle County, Virginia for many years before leaving for Kentucky." Eve was chosen moderator of Culpepper Baptist Association in 1793 and generally acted as moderator until he left the state.

      While George Eve was still pastor in Orange County, Virginia. He along with John Leland and other Baptist pastors sought a guarantee to religious freedom and threatened to not endorse the ratification of the Constitution if this were not included. They finally agreed to ratification, but sought a number of amendments to more clearly express the rights of citizens. Eve sought clarification on the matter from James Madison and this is the letter he received from Mr. Madison in 1789.

      In the Rapidan Baptist Church "Rev. George Eve, one of the most successful preachers in these parts, was raised up, and about 1775 was ordained to the care of the church. During the years 1776 - '77 - '78 they were much revived; as many as 130 or 140 were added under the ministry of Mr. Eve. By removals, deaths, &c., the church was again considerably reduced, but in 1788 a heavenly work commenced and went on until 1796, when, after having been about twenty-one years under his pastoral care, the church relunctantly gave Mr. Eve a letter of dismission, he being about to move to Kentucky." It is probable that he pastored both churches at the same time. [Robert B. Semple, History of the Baptists in Virginia]

      Absalom Graves, who was such an important man in Bullittsburg Baptist Church's early life, was converted and baptized under Eve's ministry. Graves had earlier moved to Boone County, Kentucky and is believed to have influenced Eve and his wife to move there.

      In April 1797, George Eve was received by letter into the Bullittsburg Baptist Church. His wife Elizabeth was received by letter the following month. We are not told whether she came to the area later than him, or if she was sick or had some other hindrance that delayed her applying for membership. Eve soon assumed a leadership role in the church. In June of that year he was elected as a moderator, to act "in turn" with three other men. He, along with John Taylor and William Cave, was chosen as a messenger to the association that first year he was in the church. Also, Eve and two others were chosen to write the church's letter to the Elkhorn Baptist Association. He served the church for the first time as moderator in August, 1797.

      George Eve and four other men were appointed by the Bullittsburg church to answer a request from Dry Run [near present-day Edgewood] and they attended a meeting on the third Saturday in September to see "if they are ripe [ready] for Constitution." The Dry Run Baptist Church was organized. Bullittsburg approved the ordination of James Lee at Dry Run (Lee had been a member at Bullitsburg); George Eve and John Taylor, being the only ordained preachers in the area, were "appointed to perform the work."

      Even the smallest of details was decided by the vote of the church, so we read in May 1798: "Appointed Bro. Eve to purchase a Blank Book for the purpose of recording therein the proceedings of the Church." In August 1798 George Eve presented the book to the church.

      In 1798 Eve, along with two other brethren, was appointed as a messenger of the church to the August associational meeting at the Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church near Lexington.

      George Eve took part in the disciplinary action of the church. In May 1799, "A Complaint [was] brought in by Bro. Eve against "W. S." for taking a bill of sale from his Creditors, and after a full investigation of the matter, he failed to give Satisfaction, was Suspended."

      In July 1799, Eve was again appointed, with two others, as a messenger to the association meeting at Great Crossing BC near Georgetown.

      Why did George Eve not stay any longer in Boone County than he did? Was it because of John Taylor? John Taylor had been appointed a minister [but not pastor] of the Bullittsburg church in May 1795. He was generally thought of as the primary preacher of the church. In January 1800 the church agreed to consider the propriety of calling a pastor. The matter was taken up and continued. At the next month's meeting, "The reference of calling a Pastor was taken up investigated, and thought unnecessary at present." Two other items of business came before the church, then we read, "Granted to George Eve and Sist'r Elizabeth his wife a Letter of Dismission." The church made an appeal through John Taylor to try to persuade Bro. Eve "to continue with us - which was by the moderator perform'd accordingly." Eve had relations in Boone County; it seems unusual that he would leave on such short notice, unless he was provoked by some person or event - and John Taylor blocking his desire to pastor at Bullittsburg may have been the reason.

      Bro. Eve had pastored for many years and may have left the county because he saw there was no way he could become pastor as long as John Taylor was in the church. Taylor was willing to be the "stated preacher;" he earlier had a bad experience at Clear Creek Baptist Church in Woodford County and resigned as pastor there; and did not want to pastor the Bullittsburg church. From a close reading of the Churchbook, it appears that Taylor did not want Eve to be the pastor either. When John Taylor left Boone County in 1802, he was the "stated preacher" for several churches he united with in his several moves, but he never was a church's pastor.

      When Eve left Boone County, he moved near Frankfort, and was active in the Great Crossing Church. On May 2, 1801, he and William Hickman (one of the earliest Baptist preachers to come to the state) helped constitute the North Fork of Elkhorn Baptist Church with nineteen members near Eve's residence. Later that year and every year up to 1805, we have records showing Eve was an Elkhorn Associational messenger from the North Fork Baptist Church.

      He wrote a Corresponding Letter to the Bracken Association and was on the committee, along with three other brethren, to arrange the business for the 1805 Associational meeting. Eve was to prepare the Circular Letter for 1806. Anyone given this assignment was considered dependable and orthodox.

      When the Northbend Association organized, Eve attended in 1804, 1805 and 1814 as a messenger from the Elkhorn Association. Each year that he attended, he was invited to preach at the meeting.

      The Virginia historian Robert Semple sums up Eve's life, "Elder Eve settled in Boone County, Kentucky in 1797, and joined Bullittsburg church. He subsequently moved to Franklin County and united with Great Crossing church. Possessing great gifts for exhortation and song, many were led into the churches through his labors. North Fork church was constituted by him and William Hickman. His latter days were sadly clouded, and he died in exclusion from the church for repeated intoxication."

      Cave Johnson, his brother-in-law, wrote that he died in the 1820s.


[In case you missed it, here is the James Madison Letter to George Eve, 1789.]


[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, vol. I; James Kirtley, History of Bullittsburg Baptist Church; the "Graves Hymnal;" Northbend Baptist Association Minutes; W. W. Sweet, The Baptists: "Elkhorn Association Records;" and Col. Cave Johnson,"The Early Days of Kentucky."]

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