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A History of Baptists in Kentucky
By Frank M. Masters

Chapter XXII
A Decade of Baptist Operation
1850 - 1859

      The beginning of this decade marked politically the dawning of the most momentous period in American History. This was the time of the gathering of the clouds before the coming storm. The events of these ten years were slowly but surely tending toward an inevitable conflict which would involve every state in the Union. Slavery was the one absorbing question, which would become the occasion of dividing the nation. The anti-slavery movement had already grown to tremendous proportions in the North and was extending into the slave states of the South.

      The abolition movement was well on its way into Kentucky in 1845, when a strong anti-slavery paper was established in Lexington. The slavery question was pervading every phase of society and the churches did not escape the agitations. Pages were devoted to the discussion of the subject in the Baptist Banner, and other denominational papers. In 1849 the Constitution of Kentucky was revised for the third time since admission into the Union and after a long heated discussion in the Constitutional Convention, provisions for the continuation of slavery were made. Elder John L. Waller was a member of this Convention, and made a pro-slavery speech, to the dissatisfaction of many of his brethren who opposed slavery. The United States Census of 1850 gave the population of Kentucky as 982,405 inhabitants of which 210,981 were slaves.l

      However, the Baptists of the state were highly prosperous at the beginning of this period and continued to make encouraging progress from year to year. They had few internal interruptions to impede their forward movement. The long controversy of twenty years over Campbellism, and anti-missionism was then in the past, and the one important task was to correct any defects in the policies of the General Association, that the cause of missions might -be more successfully promoted. In 1850, the main body of Baptists comprised forty-three district associations, seven hundred fifty-seven churches and 615,489 members. The anti-mission faction was gathered into twenty-five small associations, embracing two hundred sixty-six churches, and 9476 members. Altogether there were sixty-eight associations, 1023 churches and 74,965 members.2


      The thirteenth annual session of the General Association was held with the Baptist church at Covington, commencing on Monday, October 23. Rev. W. W. Gardner, pastor at Maysville in Mason County, preached the introductory sermon, and Daniel G. Hatch was chosen Moderator.

      Elder A. D. Sears served as General Agent part of the year and spent most of his time in holding protracted meetings in destitute places and with weak churches. In his final report, he gave some interesting and important information concerning some of the places visited. He thus reports concerning the Salvisa church, located in the northern part of Mercer County, "I remained and preached fifty sermons for them. The Church became greatly revived. Seventy were received into its fellowship .... In and around Salvisa, nearly $40 per year, for five years, were secured for the General Association. Fifty dollars were raised to finish their Meeting House. A pastor was called, for two Sabbaths in each month, and $200 promptly pledged for his support."

      His report continues, "The first week in January, I visited Henderson, where I continued and preached seventy sermons to the Church and con-gregation; during which ninety professed religion, about forty of whom were baptized, and united with the Baptist Church .... The first week in April, I visited Hopkinsville, and preached fifty sermons to the Baptist Church. Forty were baptized, and the final result determined my location as the Pastor of the Church."

      The report continues, "I tarried in Greenville seven days, and preached fourteen sermons; and also organized a Baptist Church of 26 members. Greenville is a pleasant village of 600 inhabitants - the county seat of Muhlenberg County. The Presbyterians have a fine female school at this place. The little church, constituted by me, has pleasant prospects ahead .... They have already secured the services of Brother H. B. Wiggin, as Pastor .... The Hon. Mr. Rumsey has given the church a lot in a favorable position, and considerable progress has already been made, in obtaining subscriptions, in order to build a meeting house." It is well to note in this connection, that though material had been placed on the ground for the erection of the meeting house, the enterprise was abandoned for the want of means, and the church dissolved on August 20, 1853, and the ground was returned to the owner. Another Baptist church was organized in Greenville nineteen years later on June 12, 1869.

      Elder Sears reported in the Baptist Banner June 26, 1850, that the towns of Madisonville and Morganfield "have always been without Baptist churches; . . . nor do they know much about us or our doctrines. We visited . . . them . . . and are satisfied that in each one visited a Baptist church might be constituted." Speaking of Madisonville, Sears says, "We think few villages in Kentucky can produce a more intelligent, and even fashionable congregation than Madisonville."

      Elder Sears closed his work as General Agent and became pastor at Hopkinsville. In his final report he made a suggestion that in choosing a General Agent, "more attention ought to be paid to his qualifications to make good impressions than to his ability to obtain liberal collections." He also suggested that "the Board adopt a rule, requiring at least a recommendation from a majority of the churches in the Association before the missionary go forth under the authority of the Board. Such a course will invariably secure the confidence of the District Association as well as induce the affection of the churches."

      A definite program of policy to secure the following desirable ends was adopted.

"1. The awakening anew of general interest among the Baptists of Kentucky, in the objects of the General Association.
"2. The representation of every district Association in Kentucky, in the General Association.
"3. The establishment of a Baptist Church in every County Town in Kentucky, and the sustaining of missionary labor in destitute places of our State.
"4. The circulation of Baptist literature throughout the State."

To accomplish these new duties it was "Resolved, that it shall be required of the General Agent:
"1. To visit the district Associations, and endeavor to secure their representative cooperation.
"2. To survey the destitution of the State, and recommend to the Hoard, from time to time, suitable men to act as Missionaries for these destitute parts.
"3. To have supervision of the Colporteur system.
"4. And to act as circumstances may dictate, as Agent, General Mis¬sionary, colporteur, etc, etc."

      The Baptist Banner and the Western Baptist Review were both strongly recommended "as highly deserving the patronage of our ministry and people."3


      The Association met in Hopkinsville on Monday, October 20. Honorable J. P. Campbell, a member of the entertaining church, banker and U. S. Congressman, was chosen Moderator, and Elder R. T. Anderson of Bethel Association preached the opening sermon. Early in the year Elder Wm. W. Gardner was chosen General Agent and entered upon his duties in April.

      This distinguished minister was born in Barren County, Kentucky, October 1, 1818, was licensed to preach in 1839, and graduated from Georgetown College in 1843. His first pastorate was at Shelbyville, 1844-1847, and he was pastor of the Mays Lick Church in Mason County ten years, except a portion of 1851 when he was in the position of General Agent.

      His report to the General Association in October influenced that session to make some important changes. He says: "When I entered upon my duties as your General Agent, it was my intention to continue one or more years .... But I soon learned that the state and tendency of our benevolent operations in Kentucky were very different from what either the Board or myself had supposed, and I was convinced that a change was greatly needed. Wherever I went, I found that the Agents of other Societies had preceded me, and done what could be done; and that the Pastors and Churches were complaining of the number and expense of agents, while some of the ablest churches either had, or were talking of adopting some plan by which they might keep agents out. Under such circumstances, ... I resolved to abandon the work, believing that we were doing more harm than good, with so many agents in the field."

      Brother Gardner then suggested that all the Societies operating independently be combined with the General Association. He further states: "I have conversed with a large number of ministers and laymen, and they all approved of the plan, and it is believed that as much more money may be raised, . . . and much more saved, than can be done with the present arrangement .... Allow me to name Brother V. E. Kirtley as a suitable man for such an agency." After receiving this report of the Agent, and adopting the report of the Board, the General Association adjourned at 4 P. M. to the call of the Moderator, to give place to the meetings of the other Societies.

      The Kentucky and Foreign Bible Society was called to order Monday, 4 P. M. October 20 by the President, Rev. John L. Waller and the following resolution offered by Elder A. D. Sears, Hopkinsville, was unani¬mously adopted: "Resolved that this Society be now dissolved, and that our Treasurer and Secretary are hereby directed to transfer the funds and papers of the Kentucky and Foreign Bible Society to the Treasurer and Secretary of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky.
     "John L. Waller, President.
     "I. T. Tichenor, Secretary."

      The Kentucky Foreign Mission Society was called to order at 4. P. M. Monday, October 20 by Rev. James M. Pendleton, Chairman, and the following resolution was adopted: "Resolved, that this Society be now dissolved; and that our Treasurer, and Secretaries are hereby directed to transfer the funds and papers of the Kentucky Foreign Mission Society to the Treasurer and Secretaries of the General Association. Adjourned until the next meeting in course.
     "James M. Pendleton, Chairman.
     "V. E. Kirtley, Secretary."

      After the adjournment of the Societies, the General Association was called to order by the moderator. A resolution was unanimously adopted, recommending that the Board of Managers appoint Rev. V. E. Kirtley as General Agent. He served until May, 1854. This successful Baptist leader was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, April, 1818. He was converted and united with the Pitman Creek Church at the age of nineteen, was licensed to preach two years later and entered Georgetown College. He was ordained at Frankfort in 1841, and was pastor of a number of churches, including Owensboro, and Bardstown. Brother Kirtley was eminently a practical man, and was connected with the denominational life of the Baptists of Kentucky through the years'.

      In 1850 John L. Waller again became editor of the Baptist Banner and in May, 1851 the name of the paper was changed to the Western Recorder. The first issue of the renamed periodical appeared June 4, edited by John L. Waller, with R. L. Thurman and A. W. LaRue on the editorial staff. The paper was recommended as "eminently worthy of the patronage of our denomination" and it was

"Resolved, That our ministers be earnestly requested to use their influence to extend the circulation of the Recorder." Also the Western Baptist Theological Institute, Covington, Kentucky, was recommended as furnishing "ample facilities for acquiring a Theological education," and it was "Resolved, That our young Ministers should, as far as possible, avail themselves of these facilities, that they may become able Ministers of Jesus Christ."4

      The death of the venerable Jacob Vanmeter occurred on December 12, 1850, in Meade County, at the age of seventy-eight years. He was the last survivor of the original band that went into the organization of the Severn's Valley Church on June 18, 1781, under a sugar tree then stand¬ing at Hynes' Station about one mile from Elizabethtown.5


      At the meeting of the General Association at Glasgow, on Friday, October 15, Rev. John L. Waller was chosen Moderator, and Rev. A. R. Macey, Clerk. Rev. J. B. Taylor, Corresponding Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia, and Rev. T. F. Curtis, Corresponding Secretary of the Home Mission Board, Marion, Alabama, were invited to seats in the body. A series of sermons was delivered by various ministers on Home Missions, Bible Operations and Foreign Missions. This was the method of presenting these great causes. Ten sermons were preached in various places in Glasgow on Sunday, including one to the Negroes.

      By resolution the churches were requested "to commence a regular system of operations for the purpose of sustaining the Bible cause, the Foreign, Domestic and Indian Missions, and that each pastor be requested to bring one of those benevolent institutions before his churches every three months, and take up a collection for each during the year, and forward the amount collected for each to the Treasurer thereof." The object of this policy was to place more responsibility on the pastors in gathering funds in the support of the various interests.

      The report of the Board of Managers indicated that the concentration of all the state societies under one Board, with one Agent, at the last session, seemed to meet the approval of the denomination generally, and promised to be more systematical, and to produce a larger amount of useful labor for less expenditure of the scanty means usually obtained for missions and Bible purposes in our state. The General Agent, Rev. V. E. Kirtley, reported that he had "traveled 4702 miles, and obtained on subscription and otherwise, $5018.33; preached on various subjects, and was cordially received, as your General Agent by all those with whom I had the pleasure of meeting." He was continued for the ensuing year at a salary of $1000 and expenses. The motion prevailed that "the missionary and colporteur features shall hereafter be combined in the labors of the mis¬sionaries of this body." The supply of the religious destitution of the state was adopted as "an object of first importance."

      The Western Baptist Review had changed its name to the Christian Repository and together with the Western Recorder was recommended as worthy of extended support and a needed increased circulation.6


      The sixteenth annual session was held with the Baptist church at New Castle, the county seat of Henry County, and opened at 2:30 P. M. Thursday, October 13. Two well known ministers were chosen Moderator and Clerk, S. L. Helm, and S. H. Ford. Brother Helm, the Moderator, was pas¬tor at Owensboro, and a brother of the late John LaRue Helm, the twenty-fifth Governor of Kentucky. He was born in Hardin County, May, 1816, and was in the thirty-seventh year of his age. S. H. Ford, the Secretary, at that time was associated with Elder John L. Waller in the editorship of the Western Recorder and Christian Repository, but at the death of Editor Waller the following year, Brother Ford became the sole editor of the Christian Repository, later changed to Ford's Christian Repository, of which he continued as editor through his long life. There were three classes of members of the General Association in the session at New Castle, which was the result of the amended constitution; first, elected messengers from Baptist churches and associations; second, life members, composed of those who paid $30.00 into the treasury of the body, and third, annual members, who paid in one dollar. The record showed twenty members from fourteen district associations, seven from five churches, 62 life members, of whom eight were women and twenty annual members. By resolution, it was declared that the interest in the Western Recorder and Christian Repository would be greatly increased "by more frequent con-tributions from the brethren, and earnestly we call their attention to this subject." Also the editors of these periodicals were respectfully requested "to place the merits and claims of our educational and missionary organiza¬tions more frequently and prominently before their readers." In a report made concerning the Western Baptist Theological Institute, it was stated by resolution that the trustees of said institute had agreed to divide the property equally between the trustees acting for the Western States and those acting for the Southern States with the opening "of two Theological Seminaries, one for the North and one for the South, instead of one central one as heretofore contemplated; and, whereas, the present acting board have definitely dissolved, and appointed committees to obtain the sanction of the Kentucky Legislature at its next meeting to such division, and also to locate the Institute for the South at Georgetown, instead of Covington." The General Association, then by resolution heartily approved the idea of locating the Institute for the South at Georgetown, and that they would "lend their influence to consummate this aim of the Trustees." It was then resolved "That this Association shall always regard the Institute as the enterprise of the Southwest, and not of Kentucky alone; and we shall insist on its being always conducted as an Institute of all the States properly interested in its benefits." The Institute failed to thrive at Georgetown College as was expected. A strong report was presented on Temperance, condemning the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage, and as an enemy to "all moral reforms and defies the spirit of progress." The report says: "The making, selling and drinking of all intoxicating liquors, as a beverage, by professed Christians, is a barrier and hindrance to a proper growth in the Christian graces, in¬consistent with Christian character, degrading to the cause of Christ; and that it should be so held up and condemned by all ministers before all the churches .... we hail it (the present Temperance movement) as an open¬ing field of great usefulness, in which all good men can serve God and their country, in extermination of this great evil from this, our beloved land; and to this end, by the grace of God, we will labor and pray." This report showed that the Baptists of Kentucky condemned the liquor business a cen¬tury ago, when the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage was interwoven with the social habits of the people. The Board of Managers in their annual report said: "Perhaps in no year since the organization of the General Association has more missionary labor been performed than the present." Rev. V. E. Kirtley, General Agent, reported that he had secured in cash and subscriptions the amount of $6288.14, of which $3072.19 was in cash. He had traveled 3569 miles and raised for all purposes between eight and ten thousand dollars. Eight state missionaries had been employed. They made encouraging reports. For ten years the Board of Managers had been located in Georgetown, but a re¬solution was adopted removing the headquarters to Louisville, and the name, Board of Managers, was changed to the term Executive Board, and Thursday after the first Lord's Day in November was set as the time for the annual meeting to be held in Louisville.7


      Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, was the place of meeting of the General Association which convened on Thursday at 10 o'clock, October 12, when a total of 137 messengers were enrolled. Elder William Vaughan delivered the annual sermon, and Elder S. L. Helm, pastor of the East Baptist Church, in Louisville was continued Moderator. The plan was adopted to appoint committees to report on each of the various causes. During the sessions, reports were presented by committees on the following interests: The Claims of the General Association, The Importance and Plans of Systematic Benevolences; Domestic Missions, Foreign Mis¬sions, Bible Cause, Education, The Religious Press, Sunday schools, Indian Missions, and German Missions. The term Home Missions designated the work in the district associaton and in the state at large. By motion it was "Resolved, That Home Missions are of paramount importance, and de¬mand the cordial and united support of the Baptists in Kentucky."

      Elder Jacob Weller was appointed a missionary to the German people in and around Louisville in December, 1853, and a German Church was reported organized on April 23 of the present year with eight members. Brother Weller reported a Jewish Rabbi and wife had been converted and baptized, which brought the number up to ten members.

      The first report on Sunday schools ever presented to the General Association was read by Elder J. W. Warder, the chairman of the committee. The report outlined the Sunday school situation in Kentucky at that time among the Baptists. It stated that "... a very small proportion of the Churches probably not one-fourth have Sunday schools, and many of them in a very sickly condition, scarcely maintaining an existence; that one of the greatest difficulties in maintaining such schools is the want of pious and devoted teachers, who are willing to sacrifice a little ease that they may instruct little children; that such schools, properly sustained, may be instrumental in leading thousands to Christ; that the average attendance of the Sabbath iSchool of the Walnut Street Baptist Church in this city is about one hundred and sixty, and might be greatly increased with the proper effort, that the number of children in this city not in Sunday school will probably number five thousand."

      The report of the Committee on the Religious Press was the occasion of more concern than any matter presented, as the report set forth a general dissatisfaction of the Baptist papers then existing. It was claimed that the Religious Press did not give the churches and people the necessary information. "Your Committee, without wishing to censure any particular paper, or editor, are [is] compelled to report that, in our opinion, the Religious Press does not at present meet the wants of the denomination. We have papers enough, but we have not the power of the press. Our papers discuss ably and well the peculiar doctrinal questions of our de¬nomination; they give sufficiency of local views. Yet we feel convinced that much of that censorious spirit, violent denunciation or invective, that finds its way into the Religious Press, is hurtful to the cause of Christianity, and should be supplanted by earnest appeals to brotherly love and charity.

      "This difficulty could be removed by editors, under the present system, if they would only learn that Baptists love peace more than strife; and gentle words, rather than a railing tongue."

      The committee made a supplemental report that a proposition had been made by Brother Samuel H. Ford, the proprietor of the Western Recorder, to sell the paper at cost to him, to "a joint stock company, for the purpose of purchasing the Western Recorder, and directing this periodical enterprise, for the benefit of the Baptist denomination." Measures were at once adopted for the attainment of this end.

      The report of the missionaries laboring in different sections of the State under the direction of the Executive Board are all interesting and encouraging, but only one will be mentioned. Elder James H. Brown, missionary in Long Run Association preached thirty-one sermons in Portland, near Louisville and organized a church with fourteen members, and raised in subscriptions $704.45 for building a house of worship. Brother Brown reported a lot had been secured "by six noble brethren of the Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville for the benefit of the Baptists in Portland." The records show that this old historical Church, Walnut Street, with W. W. Everts as pastor, after having made a large outlay on their own building, had contributed during the year to outside causes $2,036.36, including $300 on the lot for the Portland Church.8

      Elder V. E. Kirtley, who was chosen General Agent in November, 1851, served in that capacity to May, 1854, when he resigned "from a sense of duty to a helpless family and for the cause of Christ in another field." It was "with reluctance" that the Board accepted his resignation, so successfully had he led as General Agent during the three and one-half years of service. Elder J. H. Brown, then missionary pastor at Portland, was chosen General Agent the following August and served sixty-four days. During this short time, he traveled over 600 miles; visited thirty-three churches and three associations; preached fifty-one sermons and collected for the causes of the General Association $400.15.

      On October 19, two days before the meeting of the General Association, John L. Waller, then editor of the Western Recorder, passed away. "His health had been, during the last ten years of his life, in a precarious condition; and, on several occasions, his recovery from sudden and severe attacks of illness had been despaired of."9

      In the Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting in session on Friday, October 11 in Louisville, a committee was appointed "to devise some plan in reference to the services to attend the interment of J. L. Waller, LL. D., in the Frankfort Cemetery." This committee reported, "The committee appointed to report suitable service to be had on the occasion of the removal of the remains of Rev. J. L. Waller, LL. D., to the Cemetery at Frankfort, for final interment, beg leave to report: That they have conferred with the immediate family of Brother Waller and find that some suitable ceremonies on the occasion of the removal of his re-mains would be grateful to their feelings. We therefore, recommend the following as a suitable exercise for the occasion: That the mortal remains of Brother Waller be removed from this city to Frankfort, on the morning of Friday, the 27th day of October; and that the following brethren be appointed a Committee to superintend the removal, viz: Elder William Vaughan, S. H. Ford, J. D. Black, R. T. Dillard, S. W. Lynd, D. S. Colgan, T. J. Fisher, J. M. Pendleton, D. R. Campbell, Y. R. Pitts, W. W. Everts, W. M Pratt, A. D. Sears, S. L. Helm, James H. Brown, V. E. Kirtley, W. W. Gardner, T. J. Drane, C. Lewis, E. G. Berry, Thomas M. Vaughan, R. L. Thurman, A. W. LaRue, Andrew Broaddus, and Smith Thomas; and that Elder William Vaughan be requested to preach on the occasion, at the arrival of the corpse at Frankfort, after which voluntary addresses will be made; and that the proceedings be published in the Recorder, with the request that other papers in our State copy this report."

      The committee reports the following:

"Resolved, That a subscription be now opened and circulated throughout the West, and South, asking for contributions of one dollar and upwards, to purchase a lot, and erect a suitable monument over Brother John L. Waller's grave.

"Resolved That whatever, if any, may be left after the expenses of said lot and monument are paid, be given to Brother Waller's orphan children." A committee was appointed to recieve the money, purchase the lot and superintend the erection of the monument. Committees were also appointed in the counties of Kentucky and in other 'States to solicit subscriptions, and to remit the money as soon as possible.

The Committee on Obituaries "feel that in an ordinary obituary they are incapable of doing justice to the memory of Rev. John L. Waller, LL.D. His wide spread fame, well established reputation, and preeminent talents, demand that the ablest mind in the denomination should be selected to write a suitable history of his life ... A great man has fallen and our denomination has lost an able advocate, and the Baptist ministers one of their brightest ornaments." It was further resolved "that we tender to the bereaved family and relations of our deceased brother the warmest sympathies of our hearts; and assure his orphan children that their interest and happiness will ever be dear to the Baptist ministers of Kentucky."10


      On Thursday, November 8, 1855, at 11 o'clock, the General Association met again in annual session, with the Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville. Letters were read from twenty district associations, and twenty-one churches, and the messengers were enrolled. The names of thirty-one ministers and twenty-seven laymen were enrolled as life members of the Association, who had paid $30 into its funds. Elder S. W. Lynd, D. D. professor in the Western Baptist Theological Institute at Georgetown was chosen Moderator, and President D. R. Campbell, of Georgetown College, preached the opening sermon. Hereafter missions in Kentucky will be designated by the term State Missions.

      Rev. A. M. Poindexter, Richmond, Virginia, delivered "a thrilling address" in 'behalf of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, after which an offering of $651.50 was taken up for Foreign Missions. Immediately a strong resolution was adopted expressing "devout gratitude to God" for the success that was attending the labors of the Foreign Mission Board.

      It was "Resolved, that we recommend to the Trustees of Georgetown College to enter upon immediate measures to raise one hundred thousand dollars as an additional endowment fund, and that we pledge to them our hearty cooperation and influence." It was also recommended that President D. R. Campbell be appointed "their agent to raise the endowment fund and that he be requested to take the field for that purpose."

      The Report on Education brought "the cheering news from the Bethel High School, located in Russellville, in the southern part of our State", that arrangement had been made to change the Bethel High School to Bethel College. A number of Female Schools was reported to be in a flourishing condition. Among these were Georgetown Female Seminary, Bethel Female College, Hopkinsville; New Liberty Female College; Maysville Female College; Kentucky Female Institute, Louisville; Eclectic Female High School, Columbia; Glasgow Female High School; Lafayette Female College and Henry Female College. Besides these, some Baptist High Schools for both male and female, located over the State, were reported in a flourishing condition.


      The Baptist Almanac of 1855, as quoted in the Minutes of the General Association, showed the strength of the Baptists of the United States as follows: Number of associations 687; churches, 14,193; ordained ministers 9,492; licentiates 593; baptized in 1854, 64,924; and total membership, 1,190,609. These figures fall far short of our actual numbers because of the missing minutes of the district associations.

      In February, 1855, the Headquarters of the General Association was located in the Walnut Street Baptist Church, 4th and Walnut Streets, where rooms were fitted up for that purpose. Also the offices of the Western Recorder and the Christian Repository, were removed to the same building.11

      A young minister, R. C. Buckner, pastor at Albany, Clinton County, in Freedom Association, was a messenger, who, in the years ahead, founded the great Buckner Orphan's Home, near Dallas, Texas.


      The General Association met at Henderson on May 9, according to the change of date made in the Constitution at the last meeting. The number of messengers was very small, representing only ten associations and nine churches in the entire state. The number of life members present was reduced to the minimum, and many of the leading brethren were not in attendance. Two causes probably contributed to the small representation. Only six months had intervened since the last session of November 8, 1855; and also it was reported that the preceding winter was "unprecedented in this country for its duration and cold."

      Elder John Bryce, pastor of the entertaining church, was chosen Moderator, and the annual sermon was preached by Elder Henry McDonald, pastor at Greensburg. A large number of messengers was appointed to represent the body in the Southern Baptist Convention, to be held in Louisville in May, the following year. The building of a Baptist College at Columbia, Kentucky was warmly and heartily approved. After a sermon by Elder A. M. Poindexter, Richmond, Virginia, on Sunday at 3:00 P. M., a collection was taken for Foreign Missions, amounting to $69.45.

      The names of twenty ministers were enrolled in the Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting, which convened on Thursday, May 8, in the Baptist church in Henderson. A resolution was adopted "That, hereafter ministers who enroll their names as members of this body, shall be so considered until they are dismissed by request or vote of the Annual Meeting; and that any member who shall absent himself from the Annual Meeting of the body without sending a communication or otherwise showing good cause for absence, shall be voted out of the membership."12


      The twentieth annual session was held with the Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, commencing at 10 o'clock, Tuesday morning, May 5. Messengers from seventeen associations, and fifteen churches, besides forty-nine Life Members, were enrolled. Brother E. B. Bartlett, a laymen, Covington, was chosen Moderator, and Brother J. M. Cooper, another layman, Stanford, Clerk. A letter from the Female Baptist Missionary Society of the Henderson Church was read, and Elder John Bryce, pastor, was entered on the list of delegates, as their representative. Later in the session Elder Bryce offered the following resolution, which was adopted: "That we recommend to the pastors of all our churches to use their best efforts to form Female Missionary Societies in their respective churches, for the purpose of raising funds by monthly contributions in aid of the General Association, to be forwarded to the Treasurer of this body by their delegates, or otherwise; and we also request all our Missionaries to form such societies in churches destitute of pastors, in their respective fields of labor."

      The Committee on Order of Business called for four hours to be given to the consideration of State Missions. The lengthy report of the Executive Board expressed the approval of the plan adopted at the last session a year ago, of employing four General Agents, located in four districts covering the entire state instead of one General Agent. The claim was that these four General Agents would be in closer touch with the mis¬sionaries in the district associations, and would have a more definite knowledge of the needs of the fields. The total receipts for all missions during the year, including State, Domestic, Foreign and Indian were $6067.33.

      A great many prominent brethren were seated as visitors and corresponding messengers from other State Organizations, due to the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville on May 8, the day following the adjournment of the General Association. This was the first meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Kentucky, which had a larger number of messengers than any other state, with Virginia coming second, and South Carolina, third. R. B. C. Howell, of Virginia, was re-elected President and William Carey Crane, Secretary. Some of the men, who were leaders in the work of the Convention, were: A. D. Sears of Kentucky, J. B. Jeter, J. A. Broadus and J. L. Burrows, Virginia; J. P. Boyce, and Basil Manly, South Carolina; J. R. Graves, Tennessee; and some others. J. B. Taylor was Corresponding Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia, and Russell Holman, Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Domestic Missions, Marion, Alabama.13

      The report on Temperance to the General Association revealed the distressing conditions that prevailed in Kentucky, in the popular use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage. The report says in brief, "The use of intoxicating liquors, as a beverage, has ceased to be made a secret . . . It is becoming frequent, as in days of old, to use them at the private table, to offer them upon the side-board to the casual guest ... It is assigned a throne in the social hall, . . . Again, fashion is very powerful; even in vice it has its cycles - dancing, horse racing, drinking, etc."

      The report further states: "The next thing tending to the increase of intemperance may be set down to the fault of the ministry; not, however, to the exemption of the laity . . . They preach salvation by grace, but wink at a continuance in sin ... they preach doctrine, but forget reproof, correction . . . even ministers think a temperance lecture in a church on Sabbath evening, or a discourse against gambling; going to the theatre; covetousness, or any known sin is altogether inconsistent with their duty, as if these things might not be pointed out as dishonoring to God, . . . and injurious to men. This results in a laxity of discipline upon the part of the churches. Members are permitted to drink to intoxication, and no kindly effort made to reclaim them."14


      At the meeting of the General Association at Georgetown, on June 18, a number of names appeared on the reports for the first time. Among llirso were Elder George C. Lorimer, pastor at Harrodsburg, Elder J. H. Spencer, Bays Fork Association, Elder C. Keys and Brother H. Yancey, Lewisburg, Mason County, and M. T. Sumner, newly elected Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Domestic Missions, Marion, Alabama. Elder William M. Pratt, pastor at Lexington was chosen Moderator, Brother J. M. Cooper, Standford, Clerk, and Elder S. L. Helm, pastor at Covington, preached the opening sermon from Romans 10:1.

      The Executive Board reported according to the instructions of the last session, that they proceeded to divide the state into six districts and secure General Agents for each. Only two men were employed - Elders J. Waldrop, and B. C. Branham, but "both of whom soon became discouraged and resigned, the former continuing but a few days, and the latter only about two months." "We regret very much our failure to supply the districts with Agents, for we believe that this is the only method by which our operations can be carried on successfully." Elder Andrew Broaddus was Corresponding Secretary. His only duty was to keep the records for the work done by the missionaries. He issued a request, in the absence of any General Agents, to all the pastors in the State "to take up collections in their respective congregations". But this effort resulted in receiving less than one hundred dollars "which confirms us in the belief that Agents must be sent to visit the churches and press our claims upon them".

      The offerings for the year for all mission causes amounted to $4,344.92. The report on Domestic Missions showed that all the states had con¬tributed $36,345.67 for both Domestic and Indian Missions; of this sum Kentucky Baptists contributed $514.17 for Domestic Missions and $619.45 for Indian Missions, making in all $1,134.46.

      The following resolution was adopted "That it shall be the duty of the General Agent to endeavor, the coming year, to ascertain, as accurately as possible, the number of our churches in the State, the number destitute of preaching at least once a month, and the number that have preaching twice a month; and also ascertain the number of ministers in the State, ordained and licentiates; and the precise fields most destitute of the Gospel ministry, and the kind of ministers needed to supply them". And also to obtain "correct information as to the amount of missionary labor and money expended throughout the State, especially through the Dis¬trict Associations, and secure such information for publication in our next annual report".

      The Western Recorder was highly approved "especially as far as it is free from the personal and unchristian bitterness, which often characterized the religious press." Fifty ministers were enrolled in the Kentucky Minis¬ters Meeting, and a strong program was enjoyed.15


      The Association met in Bowling Green for the third time, commencing on Friday, April 29. Elder James S. Coleman, pastor at Beaver Dam, Ohio County, was elected Moderator, and Elder William L. Morris, pastor at Hodgenville, Clerk. Elder A. B. Smith, LaGrange, preached the introductory sermon from Matt. 28:19, 20. "The sermon was able and Baptistic throughout."

      The Executive Board reported, that on account of the lack of funds the number of missionaries appointed had been limited. "If we had possessed the means of supporting them, instead of eighteen or twenty Missionaries employed during the year, we believe there might have been double that number in active service. So that we have lacked means rather than men to do the work." The cause of the decrease of funds was stated. "A great many will not inform themselves as to the objects contemplated by the General Association, as they might do, by incurring1 the small expense of taking and reading our religious periodicals. Ignorant of what we are doing, and cherishing suspicions as to the honesty of those whom we send out as agents, they are afraid to make investments, lest they encourage impostors and throw away their money upon unworthy objects. We believe that there are honest hearted brethren, who really believe that the whole missionary en-terprise is a trick, contrived to fleece the churches for the purpose of feed¬ing hungry agents . . . Great forbearance should be exercised, therefore, towards this class of brethren and all pains taken to remove their unfounded prejudices."

      The Board also states: "Another obstacle to our success is the want of proper regard for the Home Mission (State Missions) enterprise especially. Many argue that, inasmuch as all in Kentucky might hear the Gospel if they would, there is no obligation to send it to their neighborhoods and what they give, they appropriate to Foreign or Indian Missions." During the previous year, $1,670.38 was contributed to Foreign Missions, and $729.57, to Indian Missions, a total of $2,399.95; while $4.602.45 was contributed to the work in the State. This report caused "a very interesting discussion . . . and on motion the further consideration of the report was postponed" to 10 o'clock the following day. A special committee was appointed with Elder George Hunt, pastor of the Stamping Ground Baptist Church, as chairman, to report on "the Report of the Executive Board," at the hour appointed. This report was very lengthy and only added confusion to the mission situation, and never became effective.

      A tract by Dr. W. W. Gardner on Communion was cordially commended to the Baptists of Kentucky and also the Works of the late John L. Waller, recently published. There were enrolled sixty-four ministers in the Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting in Bowling Green, the largest number in the history of the body.16

      During this period under consideration, the term "Landmark" first found a place in the Baptist vocabulary and became the occasion of a widely extended controversy. The term "Landmark," or "Old Landmark," first appeared in 1854, when Elder J. M. Pendleton, pastor at Bowling Green, wrote a series of four articles to the Tennessee Baptist at the request of the editor, Elder J. R. Graves, on the question, "Ought Baptists to Recognize Pedobaptist Preachers as Gospel Ministers?" Elder Pendleton says . . . that the "four articles . . . were afterward published in pamphlet form under the title 'An Old Landmark Re-Set.' Brother Graves furnished the title, for he said the 'Old Landmark' once stood, but had fallen, and needed to be 'reset.'"17

     14 These four articles, entitled "An Old Landmark Re-Set", were limited to one subject, viz: "Ought Baptists to Recognize Pedobaptist Preachers as liospel Ministers?" One authority considered the title appropriate "because I here had been a time when ministerial recognition and exchange of pulpits between Baptists and Pedobaptists were unknown. This was an old landmark, but in the course of years it had fallen. When it was raised again it was called 'an old landmark reset.' Hence the term 'old landmarkism'; and of late years, by way of abridgement, 'landmarkism.'"18

      The gist of the arguments of Elder Pendleton in "An Old Landmark Re-Set" is: "The unwarranted substitution of sprinkling for baptism of itself invalidates the claim of Pedobaptist Societies to be considered churches of Christ. But there is another fact which renders their claims utterly worthless. It is the element of infant membership in those societies. . . . Pedobaptists, then, so far as an overwhelming majority of their subjects of baptism is concerned, have no baptism. They have improper subjects, even if the action was right. But the action is wrong. They sprinkle or pour water, refusing to do what Christ commanded.

"If Pedobaptists fail to exemplify the precepts of the New Testament in reference to the subjects and action of baptism, they have no churches of Christ among them. ... If Pedobaptist Societies are not churches of Christ, whence do their ministers derive their authority to preach? Is there any scriptural authority to preach which does not come through the church of Christ? And if Pedobaptist ministers are not in Christian churches, have they any right to preach? That is to say, have they any authority according to the gospel? They are doubtless authorized by the forms and regulations of their respective societies. But do they act under evangelistic authority? It is perfectly evident to the writer that they do not. . . .

"Now, if Pedobaptist preachers do not belong to the church of Christ, they ought not to be recognized as ministers of Christ. But they are so recognized whenever Baptist ministers invite them to preach or exchange pulpits with them. As to calling on them to pray, it is a different matter; for men ought to pray, whether they are in the church or not.

"It is often said by Pedobaptists that Baptists are inconsistent in inviting their ministers to preach with them, while they fail to bid them wel¬come at the Lord's table ... It it a flagrant inconsistency . . . Let Baptists cease to recognize Pedobaptist preachers as ministers of the gospel, by inviting them to preach, and the charge of inconsistency will be heard no more.

"Our refusal to commune with Pedobaptists grows out of the fact that they are unbaptized, and out of the church. We say they have no right to commune as unbaptized persons. Pedobaptists, however, have as much right to commune unbaptized, as they have to preach unbaptized. That is to say, they have no right to do either.

"And another thing follows: the official acts of Pedobaptist preachers have no validity in them. Their falsely so called baptisms are nullity - their ordinances are a nullity. Immersions administered by them ought to be repudiated by Baptists."

      In conclusion Dr. Pendleton states that he had said nothing of the Reformers, otherwise known as Campbellites "as they reject infant baptism they cannot be placed in the same class of Pedobaptists." But he says, "... ministerial and religious intercourse between Baptists and Campbellites would be utterly unjustifiable. They differ fundamentally in their views of repentance, faith, regeneration, justification, the influence of the Holy Spirit, the design of baptism, etc., etc. They are not 'agreed' and cannot 'walk together.' An attempt to do so would involve deep hypocricy, and culpable sacrifice of principle."19

      A number of leading Baptists and some Presbyterians took issue with Elder Pendleton's positions. John L. Waller, editor of the Western Recorder replied in an editorial, Sept. 20, 1854. J. L. Burrows, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia, replied to the Landmark tract in the Baptist Memorial, February 1855, of which he was editor. S. W. Lynd, pastor at Georgetown, replied in the Western Recorder, January 10, 1855.

      W. W. Everts, pastor of the Walnut Street Baptist Church, wrote a series of three lengthy articles which appeared in the Christian Repository in the January, April and May issues of 1855. To all these J. M. Pendleton replied. Pastor Everts expressed his regret of what he termed an "ill timed or unnecessary controversy" and that it was a bad policy "to widen unnecessarily the disaffection between religious denominations" instead of uniting "in a grand crusade against Paganism, . . . Romanism, . . . and Infidelity." Brother Everts held that baptism was prerequisite to communion and fellowship, but took issue with Elder Pendleton that "the right to pray and preach is our individual right, anterior to church relations or ordinances properly developed . . ."20

      The occasion of John L. Waller's reply to the Landmark articles grew out of the charges of the Presbyterian Herald stating that the Baptists were High Churchmen for holding such views. The editorial in part is as follows: "This invidious charge is based solely upon the fact that Rev. J. M. Pendleton, pastor of the Baptist Church at Bowling Green, Kentucky, in a series of articles in the Tennessee Baptist, has undertaken to defend the position that Pedobaptist ministers, nor ministers of any persuation, except Baptist, are gospel preachers, and that they should not be treated as such. Now, while we admire and love Brother Pendleton for his earnest piety, eminent usefulness, and profound varied scholarship, we insist and charge that ... it is not honest - in our opponents to seize upon the views of one of our brethren, standing solitary and alone, no matter how honored and how beloved he may be, and use them to bring reproach and odium upon the whole Baptist denomination. Our opponents well knew that the views of Brother Pendleton are not the views of Baptists, past or present. These views are something new under the Sun. They are published as 'New Issues.' . . . Brother Pendleton is a single and solitary advocate, of all our distinguished men, who has stepped forth in defense of such ultra sentiments."21

      This editorial was written one month before Brother Waller's death, and is contradictory to what he wrote in the Christian Repository, January 1852 on the "Reformation." His conclusions at that time were, "If the Rlomish Church was the true Church, then the founders of the Reformed Churches were deposed and excommunicated; and if she was not (the true church), then they (Reformed churches) have no ministry, no ordinances, no ecclesiastical existence. If she was not the Church of Christ, then they are not the Churches of Christ, themselves being witnesses."22

      "An Old Landmark Re-Set" was put to the test in the Southern Baptist Convention at Montgomery, Alabama in 1855. Dr. John A. Broadus thus describes the scene: "After the organization, (of the Convention) some one offered, as usual, a resolution inviting ministers of other denominations to sit with us and participate in our deliberations. This was at once sharply objected to, and there arose a debate which lasted a whole day. Presently the words 'Old Landmark' were used; and some of us from the distant portions of the South, upon asking what in the world that meant, were told that Rev. J. M. Pendleton, of Kentucky, had published in Nashville a tract entitled 'An Old Landmark Re-Set.' In this he was said to have maintained that it was a former custom of Baptists not to give any invitation or to take any action which might seem to recognize ministers of other persuasions as in a just sense ministers. These were also the views of Rev. J. R. Graves, editor of the 'Tennessee Baptist,' published at Nashville. These honored brethren, and a number of others from that part of the country, maintained these 'Landmark' views with great earnestness and ability. After the day's discussion, it was proposed to end the matter by letting the resolution be withdrawn, upon the understanding that those who saw no objection to its passage would concede thus much to the views of their brethren, who objected so strongly. Some present thought already that there was no such extreme difference of opinion among us as appeared to exist. The controversy in the next few years rose high, and in same quarters threatened division. But it has now long been felt by most brethren that we could agree to disagree upon the matters involved, and that the great bulk of us were really not very far apart."23

      There was no division among the Baptists of Kentucky over the pamphlet "An Old Landmark Re-Set." On January 1, 1857, Dr. J. M. Pendleton left the pastorate at Bowling Green, and moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where the became the head of the new Theological Department of Union University. The year following, he became joint editor of the Tennessee Baptist with J. R. Graves, retaining his college position. Being strong for the emancipation of slavery, and opposed to the Confederacy, Dr. Pendleton broke politically with Dr. Graves and the College, and moved to Upton, Pennsylvania, where he spent a greater portion of his life. The position of Dr. Graves on Baptist polity and practice in the years ahead will be considered only as related to Kentucky Baptist history.



1. Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 1, p. 695, 703; Collins, Lewis, History of Kentucky, revised by Richard H. Collins, 1874, Volume 2, p. 260, 261.
2. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 1, p. 694-697.
3. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1850, p. 3-11.
4. Ibid., 1851, p. 3-9, 19, 31; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 740.
5. Haycraft, Samuel, A History of Elizabethtown, Kentucky and its Surroundings, p. 14, 130-132; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 1, p. 20.
6. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1852. p. 3-9, 15, 19.
7. Ibid., 1853, p. 3-11, 17.
8. Kimbrough, B. T., The History of the Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, p. 83; Rone, Wendell H., A History of the Daviess-MicLean Baptist Association in Kentucky, p. 506.
9. Sprague, Wm. B., Annals of the American Pulpit, Volume 6, p. 844; "Memoir of John L. Waller," by S. H. Ford, The Christian Repository,1856, January, Vol. 5, p. 37-42.
10. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1854, p. 3, 4, 7, 13, 18-20, 22, 29, 44-47.
11. Ibid., 1855, p. 3-5, 11, 27, 45.
12. Ibid., 1856, p. 3, 4, 8, 9, 11, 30-32.
13. Minutes of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1857.
14. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1858.
15. Ibid., 1858.
16. Ibid., 1859, p. 6-8, 18, 24, 36, 37, 41.
17. Pendleton, J. M., Reminiscences of a Long Life, p. 103, 104.
18. Cathcart, Wm., The Baptist Encyclopaedia, Volume 2, p. 867.
19. Pendleton, J. M., An Old Landmark Re-Set, Second Edition, 1857. p. 1-23.
20. The Christian Repository, January 1855, p. 20, 21, 33.
21. The Western Recorder, September 20, 1854, p. 2.
22. Page 14.
23. Broadus, John A., Memoirs of James Petigru Boyce, p. 98, 99.


[From Frank M. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 295-311. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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