Baptist History Homepage

A History of Baptists in Kentucky
By Frank M. Masters

Chapter XXIII

1841 - 1861

      During this period twelve associations were constituted, auxiliary to the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky. These were Liberty, Greenup, Bay's Fork, Freedom, North Concord, Daviess County, South Kentucky, Nelson, Lynn, Irvine, Clear Fork and Crittenden.


      The Liberty Association was constituted at Mt. Tabor Church near Glasgow, July 31, 1840, of messengers from the following churches, which had withdrawn from the Green River Association: Mt. Tabor, Bowling Green, New Hope, Three Springs, Salem, Mt. Olive, Glasgow and Liberty Hill. Elder Jacob Locke was chosen Moderator, Richard Garnett, Clerk, and J. M. Pendleton, pastor at Bowling Green, preached the opening sermon. The Union Chapel Church was received into the union and the messengers seated. Correspondence was solicited by vote with Barren River, Bethel, Russell's Creek, Gasper River, and Goshen Associations - all missionary bodies. The claims of the American and Foregin Bible Society were presented, and a collection of $31.30 was taken up to promote its objects. The recommendation was adopted that each church in the Association hold a protracted meeting during the ensuing year.

      The next session of the Association was held with the Salem Church in Barren County, beginning on August 14, 1841. The number of churches had increased from eight to eleven which reported 225 baptisms and a total of 908 members. A Board was appointed consisting of fifteen members to conduct the missionary affairs of the Association. This Board reported to the session of 1842 that Elder Moses Aiken had labored six months in mission work, and Elders John Jones and James Locke six weeks each, and that, after paying these (brethren for their labors, a balance of $23.00 was left in the treasury. Moses Aiken was appointed to continue as missionary for the following year, at the close of which he was elected by ballot at a fixed salary of $300 per annum to be supplemented by whatever amounts might be received from his field of labor.

      In the session of 1843, the Association recommended that the churches "observe the first Saturday in January and July, as days of fasting and prayer of God, that he would continue his blessings, pour out his spirit more copiously on the churches." The churches were especially urged to pray the Lord to send laborers into his harvest.

      The subject of Sunday schools was brought before the Association, in 1844 stating by resolution, "That the best interests of our churches and our country may be greatly promoted by the organization and fostering of Sunday schools." A brief report was submitted in 1856 stating. "There are but few schools in operation in our Association." A resolution was adopted in the same session, requesting the pastors to established a Sabbath school in every church of the Association.

      In 1846, the churches were advised to support their pastors "that they might give themselves wholly to the work." Each preacher present was culled upon to subscribe the number of days of labor among the destitute that he would be able to perform during the ensuing year. The subscription amounted to 257 days of preaching. According to the records this plan worked well and was carried on about ten years. In 1856 Elder John G. Durham was appointed missionary to work under the plan of the General Association, which was to send an agent into the field to collect the necessary funds with which to pay the missionary.

      Liberty was a missionary Association and prospered from the beginning. In 1850, there were 29 churches with 1772 members; in 1860, 25 churches with 1797 members; in 1870, 31 churches with 2787 members; and In 1880, 50 churches with 3872 members. From the constitution of the Association in 1840, to the session of 1882 there were baptized into the fellowship of the churches 7401 converts.1 In 1948, there were 40 churches and 7559 members. The Glasgow Baptist Church was the largest reporting 1314 members and Dr. Bradford Curry, pastor.2

      During the 108 years of history, many well known brethren have served as moderator a number of years each. J.M. Pendleton, while pastor at Bowling Green, was Moderator six successive years, 1843 to 1849, and again in 1855. Elder N. G. Terry was chosen Moderator in 1865, and was re-elected twenty-six times. W. J. Puckett served nine years, T. F. Grider five years, and the late J. A. Gaines, while pastor at Glasgow, served from 1930 to 1936. The present Moderator, Rev. Leon Larimore, long pastor in the Association, was elected the seventh time in 1948. T. F. Grider, the present clerk was in his twenty-first year of service in 1949.


      This Association, located in the extreme northeastern part of the state, was constituted in the later part of 1841 in the meeting house of the Palmyra Baptist Church. Elder John Young may be considered the father of this Association. He was born in Virginia, June 24, 1764, and came to Kentucky, after the close of the War of the Revolution and united with a church in the adjacent border of Ohio. Brother Young later induced this church to extend an arm in Greenup County, Kentucky, on the Little Sandy River, about ten miles above the mouth of that stream. Under the leadership of Elder Young, this arm became an independent church in 1824 under the name of Palmyra. Two other churches, one of which was called Union, were raised up in nearby communities, and these three churches united with the Ohio Association, which was constituted, in Lawrence County, Ohio, November 11, 1820. In 1841, these three churches were dismissed from that body to form the Greenup Association.

      The ministers who went into the new organization were John Young, Thomas Reynolds, Thomas Abrams and John Howell. Elder Thomas Abrams was chosen Moderator and served in that honored position until 1857, a period of sixteen years. He was licensed to preach in the Palmyra Church in 1837 and was known as a faithful preacher. In the session of August 1845, the Association was comprised of the following churches: Palmyra, East Pork, Union (Unity), Liberty, Chadwick's Creek, New Bethel and New Salem, all of which aggregated 369 members. In March of this same year the General Association sent Elder H. F. Buckner to labor in the territory of the Association. He was cordially received. He was requested to take collections for the General Association, and each church was advised to appoint a solicitor of funds for that purpose. After two years' labor in this great destitute section, Elder Buckner left Kentucky for his life work among the Creek Indians in the West.

      In the session of 1849, there were nine cooperating churches aggregating 386 members. Through the feeble efforts of the Association and with the continued aid of the General Association, mission work was carried on in this vast destitute territory, but with meagre results for several years. The crying sin among the churches was the intemperate use of intoxicating drinks. Elder Thomas Reynolds labored earnestly against this great evil, but made little headway and, becoming discouraged in his efforts against this fixed habit, left the Association in 1846. His son, Elder Thomas K. Reynolds, seems to have kept up the fight against the drunkenness in the churches. As a result of the discussions there was a division in the Greenup Association. Four churches withdrew with 10© members and constituted the Friendship Association on December 29, 1850, with Elder Reynolds as Moderator.

      The new fraternity set forth the reason for the division in the following paragraph in their circular letter: "We being the minority of the body (Greenup Association), could not induce her by any entreaties that we could bring to pass, nor any action we could enforce, to expel drunkards, or those that dealt out intoxicating drinks, so much so, that the sin lay not in the lay members only, but that the ministry was engaged in the sin of habitual drinking, and the moderator has frequently taken too much of that bowl." This temperance association reported at its first anniversary in 1851, five churches, three preachers, 59 baptisms and 221 members. A few months later an occasion of division arose, and in 1854 the body dissolved, and the churches returned to the Greenup Association, which still did not prosper, though the breach had been healed.

      In 1860 the eleven churches reported 455 members, but in 1867 the number of churches had been reduced to eight with only 320 members. But a revival began in 1868 and continued for several years, the result of which was that the number of churches increased to thirty-one with 1581 members in 1876. Eight churches were dismissed to form the Enterprise Association on the southern border, which was constituted in November, 1876.

      At this time there was confusion over alien baptism. The Mt. Pleasant Church had received such baptism, which was the occasion of adopting the following resolution: "Resolved, That we will not correspond with other associations who will receive alien immersions." To the session of 1880, twenty-three churches reported 1761 members.

      When the 50th anniversary was held in 1891 with the Palmyra Church, twenty-five churches reported 1856 members. Sixteen of these reported Sunday schools, and fifteen were contributing regularly to missions. In September, 1941, the centennial session was held with the Unity Church, Ashland, Rev. L. H. Tipton, pastor, who presented the "History of the Greenup Association, 1841-1941"; and the centennial address was delivered by Rev. W. K. Wood, then pastor of the Pollard Church, Ashland, on "Baptist Peculiarities."

      In 1946 the Association was composed of thirty-eight churches with 7248 members. The largest of these churches, at that date, was Pollard in Ashland, reporting 1391 members, and Rev. Donald Wells, pastor; while the second largest was the First Baptist of Ashland with 1228 members and Rev. Carroll Hubbard, pastor. Unity Church, Ashland, constituted in 1837 was the oldest.3


      The Bays Fork Association was constituted in 1841 of Bethel and Trammels Fork Churches in Allen County, and Rocky Spring, in Warren County, which were dropped from the Drake's Creek Association in 1840 for being too closely allied with missionary bodies, through their pastor, Elder Jesse L. Hickman. These three churches sent messengers to meet at Rocky Spring Church in 1841, and organized themselves into "The Drake's Creek Association of United Baptists." Elder Younger Witherspoon, the only preacher among them, was elected Moderator and J. W. Whitten, Clerk. The next meeting was held in 1842 with the Trammels Fork Church, and the number of churches had increased to five. The third session was held with Bethel Church, Allen County, in 1843, when three additional churches were received and a total of 543 members was reported. At the fourth annual session, held with the Hanging Fork Church in Barren County, Elder M. F. Ham, who had been ordained a short time before, preached the introductory sermon. In 1845, the Assopiation met with the Rocky Spring Church, and was composed of messengers from seven churches with 594 members. On motion at this meeting the name was changed from Drake's Creek, to "Bays Fork Baptist Association."

      M. F. Ham, who was to become a leader in the Bays Fork Association in the years ahead, professed conversion in 1838 and was baptized by Elder Jesse L. Hickman, and became a member of the Trammels Fork Church. He was licensed to preach January 1, 1842, and was ordained to the ministry April 1, 1843. He joined hands with Elder Younger Witherspoon, the Moderator of the Association, who at that time was the only preacher in the bounds of the Association. In 1848, Isaac McMurray and John Durham were ordained. These four preachers labored earnestly to cultivate the large field, where the antinomian and anti-missionary teachings were prevalent.

      A new day began to dawn. A gracious revival commenced and con-tinued until 1851, as a result of which, the number of churches increased from seven with 667 members to ten, with 1086 members. Spiritual prosperity continued during the decade ending in 1861, when seventeen churches reported 1756 members. A loss in membership occurred in the severance of the colored members during and after the Civil War, which had not been regained in full in 1876; notwithstanding over 1600 members had been received by baptism into the churches during that period. In 1880, twenty-one churches were represented, and reported 2216 members, while in 1882 twenty-three churches reported 2235 members. From its organization in 1841 to the meeting of the session in 1882, 4040 converts were baptized into the fellowship of the churches.

      Elder M. F. Ham was a leader in the Association for half a century. He was chosen Moderator in 1848, and was elected at intervals twenty-two times down to 1891. He became pastor of Trammels Fork Church at his ordination in 1843 and continued forty-five years, and was also pastor of the Bethlehem Church about forty years. He served the Scottsville and Bethel Churches twenty-five years. He baptized hundreds of people during his long ministry.4

      At the meeting of the Bays Fork Association with the church at Scottsville in 1913 "upon motion, it was ordered that the name Bays Fork be dropped and Allen be substituted as the name of this Association." From that time the name "Allen Baptist Association" became permanent. At this same session, Elder J. S. Meador was elected Moderator, and H. T. Tracy, Clerk, the thirteenth time. The introductory sermon was preached by W. D. Powell, then Corresponding Secretary of the State Board of Missions.

      In 1922, the Allen Association met with the Bays Fork Church, in Warren County, and the afternoon devotion was conducted by Elder M. A. Cooper, pastor at Scottsville. Elder J. S. Meador was chosen Moderator and W. T. Nichols, Clerk. Rev. M. M. McFarland was given time to speak in the interest of the General Association. The session of 1931 was held with the Big Spring Church. Elder W. T. Steenbergen was elected Moderator, and Berlin W. Law, Clerk. Frank M. Masters, Jr., a student in Bethel, conducted the devotional in the afternoon session, and Dr. C. L. Niceley, Educational Secretary of Bethel College, prepared and read the report on Christian Education. In the session of 1941 twenty-seven churches were represented and reported 92 baptisms, and 3872 members.

      In 1948, the twenty-eight churches reported 4355 members. Dr. A. Earl Meadors was chosen Moderator the eleventh time. For twenty-five years he had been a leading pastor in the Association. He has served as pastor of nine of the churches in the Association, and many churches in adjacent territory. Through the years he has held from ten to fifteen revival meetings per year. The church at Scottsville, the county seat of Allen County, is the largest church and reported 404 members. It has full time preaching. Rev. C. W. Devine is pastor. The churches are all rural except Scottsville and have only part time preaching.5


      The Freedom Association was constituted in November, 1843 of six churches, which had been cut off from Stockton's Valley Association, because these churches refused to submit to the anti-mission policies of that association. These six churches located in Cumberland and Clinton Counties, Mill Creek, Cumberland River, McFarlands Creek, Skaggs Creek, Caseys Fork, and Renox Creek, later Salem, each sent messengers to convene at the Beech Grove meeting house for the purpose of forming a new association. Elder Thomas Scrivner preached the introductory sermon and was elected Moderator and Elder Rice Maxey, Clerk. The organization was named "Freedom Association of United Baptists." A circular letter was prepared setting forth the reason for forming a new association, and it was attached to the minutes.

      The session of 1844 was held with the Renox Creek Church (Salem) near Burkesville in Cumberland County. At the time of the constitution of the Association there were only two preachers supporting it, Elders John and Jesse Savage; but in the session of 1844 John S. Page and Derby H. Morgan were added to the number. Protracted meetings were appointed to be held during the coming year in seven of the eight churches of the Association. All available preachers were requested to attend these meetings.

      The question of alien baptism was introduced into the session of 1846 and answered by resolution, advising the churches "that they had better not receive members from other denominations without administering baptism." A committee was appointed to receive contributions from churches and individuals, and to secure the services of a suitable minister to labor in the destitute section. Elder R. T. Gardner was employed and performed much missionary labor for several years. In 1847 the pastors in the Association subscribed 206 days of missionary labor in the destitute portions of the large territory. The Association also began to contribute small amounts to the Kentucky and Foreign Bible Society, and to Indian Missions.

      In 1852 there were fourteen churches with 701 members. The Association continued to advance until the Civil War when the twenty-one co-operating churches reported only 638 members, due to the loss of the colored people, and the interruptions of the war. In 1879 there were twenty-one co-operating churches with 1338 members. The Association has continually been hindered in its progress by the lack of preachers.

      In 1897 fiften churches reported 877 members, and in 1935 there were thirteen churches represented which reported 1240 members, with W. C. Stearns of Burkesville, a layman, Moderator. In 1948 the eleven churches reported 1294 members. The church at Albany, the county seat of Clinton County was the largest, reporting 338 members in 1948; and Stony Point, a rural church, was the second largest with 293 members. Rev. O. G. Lawless was pastor of both churches. The church at Burkesville, the county seat of Cumberland County, reported seventy-seven members and Rev. W. O. Mers, pastor, who was also Moderator of the Association.6


      The North Concord Association was constituted in 1843, of churches dismissed from the South Union Association. The records of the session of 1844 reported eight churches, located in the extreme southeastern part of the state, in the counties of Knox, Whitley, and Bell. The growth of this body was slow until the close of the Civil War. This Association was fully committed to missions, educational institutions and Sunday schools from the beginning. The third article of the Constitution shows the attitude of the body to these causes. "The business of this body shall be to promote Home and State Missions, and supply destitutions; also Bible and book colportage, Sunday schools, literary and theological schools, and Colleges in southeastern Kentucky, and to collect and preserve our denominational history."7

      An attempt was made in 1876 to build a Baptist High School, and a charter was obtained, but the efforts failed. As early as 1872 a move was made to establish iSunday schools in all the churches of the Association, and some interest was aroused, but it soon subsided. In 1881, the committee on Sunday schools reported that there were "no regularly organized Baptist Sunday schools" in the territory of the Association. In 1873, the subject of alien baptism was up for consideration, but the sentiment of the Association was expressed in the following resolution: "Resolved, That we will not receive, nor fellowship churches that do receive members from other denominations without rebaptizing them."

      In 1864, the North Concord Association reported twelve churches with 627 members; and 1871, eighteen churches with 640 members. In the session of 1880, twenty-four churches were reported with 1468 members, but the following year, the number of churches was increased to twenty-seven with 1678 members.

      In 1946 there were forty churches with 5172 members. The Barbourville Church, Dr. H. C. Chiles, pastor, was the largest in the Association with a membership of 1150. In 1948, forty-one churches reported 6116 members, and the church at Barbourville showed 1212 members and Rev. Fred Tarpley, pastor.8


      The Daviess County Association of United Baptists was constituted, November 1, 1844, in the meeting house of the Bethabara Baptist Church in Daviess County, and it was composed of nine churches dismissed from the Goshen Association of United Baptists two months before, to form a new Association. These churches were as follows: Rock Spring (later Yelvington), Buck Creek, Green Briar, Bethabara, Bells Run, Pleasant Grove, Owensboro, First, Mount Liberty, and Fredonia, aggregating 1021 members. After the organization was completed, Elder John G. Howard was chosen Moderator, and George W. Triplett, Clerk.

      Elder Howard, the Moderator was born in North Carolina, November 9, 1792, emigrated to Kentucky in 1816, and settled in Daviess County, where he spent the remainder of his life. He professed faith in Christ in 1818, was baptized by the pioneer preacher, Benjamin Tolbert and united with the Buck Creek Church. Brother Howard was ordained to the ministry, September, 1840, by the First Baptist Church, Owensboro, to become its pastor. He began his public Christian labors by serving Green Briar Church, as clerk, superintendent of the Sunday school, deacon, and he was licensed to preach by it. He was Moderator of the Goshen Association from 1841 to 1844, and served in the same position in the Daviess County Association from its origin in 1844, until 1859. He was pastor of many churches in the the Association, and led in the forming of many new churches. This faithful preacher died on April 16, 1874, at his residence in Owensboro, at the age of 82 years. George W. Triplett, the first Clerk, was born in Franklin County, Kentucky, February 18, 1809, and came to Daviess County in 1833. He was a layman and held many political positions in county and stute.

      The new Association was a missionary body, and from the beginning favored the various benevolent objects of the General Association. In the Hussion of 1845, a Bible Society was approved and organized. The Indian Mission Association was also approved, and the churches were encouraged to form auxiliary societies. The Daviess County Indian Mission Society was organized, and a small collection taken for its support. At this same session the great destitution existing in the bounds of the Association was recognized and the churches were requested "to send up their contributions next year, for the purpose of employing a missionary in our bounds."

      In the session of 1846, an Executive Committee was appointed, composed of John G. Howard, M. J. Whayne, J. S. Ford, C. T. Noel, and James Miller, to conduct the mission work of the Association. Elder William Head was chosen missionary to labor in the territory of the body. This system of association mission work has been maintained during the years. There was considerable discussion of alien baptism in this session. A resolution was offered, declaring the reception of such baptism to be disorderly, but was rejected, as the Association desired to "exercise no ecclesiastical authority over the churches."

      Alien baptism was up before the session of 1847, when three churches requested advice on the subject. As an advisory council, the Association gave the advice desired by these churches ias follows: "Resolved, That, while we disclaim all rights to make laws for the government of the churches, we return as answer to Buck Creek and Station Churches, that we advise the churches not to receive members from Pedobaptists or Reformers, upon their baptism." The subject of alien baptism was again brought before the Association, in 1871, which was answered by adopting the following resolution: "Resolved, That this Association does not consider any person baptized, unless he has been immersed in water in the name of the Trinity by the authority of a regularly organized Baptist Church." The question was again before the body in 1876, when the following was adopted: "Resolved, That immersion in water, under the au¬hority of a gospel church, is essential to Christian baptism, and prerequisite to membership in a gospel church; that no one has the right to recognize any organization or body, as a gospel church, the members of which have not these qualifications"; and "that membership and fellowship in a gospel church are essential prerequisites to a seat at the Lord's table."

      The question of alien baptism was not before the Association again, according to the records, until 1915, when it was reported that the First Baptist Church, Owensboro, had received alien immersion. A committee with Rev. A. S. Pettie, as chairman, was appointed to look into the matter and report to the Association the following year. Dr. Pettie reported for the committee that the First Church, Owensboro, had received two persons into her membership from the General Baptists, who had received no other baptism. The report of the committee was adopted, and then a resolution was also adopted as follows: "Resolved, That it be the sense of this body that the reception of baptism at the hand of other religious bodies out of harmony with us be irregular and unscriptural, and we recommend to our churches that they reject such baptism."

      The subject of education was first raised in the Association, in the session of 1855, when it was resolved to secure funds to send young J. M. Dawson to college, but he declined the offer and the matter was dropped. The first committee on Sunday schools was appointed in 1858, consisting of Elders A. B. Smith and K. G. Hay. Their report deplored; the fact that a majority of the churches had no Sunday schools; that only a few of the twenty-four churches in the Association had Sunday schools. The committee also expressed the hope that the churches would employ means of accomplishing this work assigned to them.

      The churches, which did have Sunday schools, had shown very little discretion in the selection of books to be used in the schools, some of which were "detrimental to the truth as Baptists believe it." The committee recommended securing the Question Book, recently published by Elder A. C. Dayton; and also resolved that "the effort now being made toward the organization of a Sunday School Union, the object of which is to supply a suitable denominational literature for Sunday schools, meets our entire approval, and the brethren at Nashville, and elsewhere, engaged in this undertaking have our earnest sympathy."

      In the session of 1858, a communication was received by the Association from the Spottsville Female Home Missionary Society with a con-tribution of $12.10. In the following year the Spottsville Society reported a contribution of $12.75, and a similar Society in Owensfooro sent in the amount of $13.00 for the same cause. These two societies functioned for some time, but finally the women abandoned the work, as they evidently received very little encouragement.

      In 1860 the subject of what was called intercommunion was agitated among the churches of the Association, led by Elder B. T. Taylor, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Owensboro, who took the position that each Baptist church should confine the observance of the Lord's Supper to its own members. The great ability of Elder Taylor so influenced the Association for a time that it declared in favor of his views and advised the churches "to examine the Scriptural authority for this practice." The churches generally were not convinced of the correctness of this position and the former practice of intercommunion among the churches "of the same faith and order" has been continued. One author says, "The question revolves around the Baptist Principle that the ordinances are in the custody of each local church, and that the church is to exercise a faithful stewardship in the administration of the ordinances." But whatever may be the practices of the churches on this subject, the question has never been a bar of fellowship among Baptists and should not be.

      The Association, in the session of 1866, designated the first day of the following January, "as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer to Almighty God for a revival of His Grace." There is no record as far as we know of any other day of fasting and prayer having been appointed by the Association. In the session of 1870 Elder J. S. Coleman was elected Modera-tor and served twenty-nine years, though the years of service were not consecutive. Elder George Howard, the first Moderator, continued in that position sixteen years, while J. A. Bennett served from 1915 to 1925, a period of ten years. Since the last date, the term of the moderators has been limited to two years of service. The name of the Association was changed from Daviess County to Daviess-McLean in the session of 1926.9

      The growth of the Association has been even and rapid. The membership almost doubled during the first ten years of its existence. In 1860, it numbered 26 churches with 2783 members; in 1870, 34 churches, 3639 members; and in 1882, 34 churches with 4317 members. In 1946 there were reported 47 churches with 14,815 members, and in 1948, 15,776 members. The largest church in the Association in 1948 was the First Baptist, Owensboro, Dr. R. E. Humphreys, pastor, numbering 2317 members; while the Third Church of the same city, stands the second largest, reporting 1787 members, and Rev. H. B. Kuhnle, pastor.10


      The South Kentucky Association was constituted in the fall of 1845 of seven churches located in Garrard, Lincoln, and Casey Counties, as follows: Concord, Caseys Creek, Drake's Creek, Gilbert's Creek, Greasy Creek, and Union. Elder Jesse C. Portman, who was "one of the most popular and efficient preachers" in that part of the state, led in the forming of this Association. He was born in Casey County, Kentucky, September 2, 1805, was converted at the age of twenty-two years, was baptized and became a member of the Hurricane Baptist Church, which was a member of the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists. When Elder Portman was ordained to the ministry, Campbellism was "a raging fanaticism" in that part of the state. The Separate Baptist churches, which had failed to go into the Union with the Regulars, in 1801, were easy prey to Mr. Campbell's doctrine. They were loosely held together without any standards of faith. Elder John Steele, leading preacher among them, went off with the Reformers, soon to be followed by two other preachers, which completely demoralized the churches.

      In the meantime Elder Jesse Portman, who had gained the confidence of many of the Separate churches, as pastor, became a convert to the principles and policies of the United Baptists, which constituted the regular Baptist denomination at that time. This faithful preacher succeeded in winning about nine churches to his views, and led them in forming the new Association, known as South Kentucky.

      The following principles were adopted, and became a part of their constitution: "The leading objects of this Association, ... shall be to devise ways and means for spreading and sustaining the gospel, at home and abroad, but especially to supply the destitute churches in the bounds of this Association with preaching." Furthermore it was stated: "No church shall be considered in good standing in this union, that will encourage, by laxity of discipline, or otherwise, the making and vending of ardent spirits, as a beverage." In accordance with these principles, the South Kentucky Association became quite active in missions within the bounds of its own territory. In the session of 1846, two new churches, Providence and Rocky Ford, were added, making nine with 711 members. The Association kept employed one or more missionaries, throughout the early history, either by her own effort or by the aid of the General Association. Some of the most active missionary laborers were Elders J. C. Portman, Daniel Buckner and the distinguished H. F. Buckner, later missionary to the Indians.

      The General Association, in 1866, apointed Elder Thomas H. Coleman, to labor in the territory of the Association. He succeeded in organizing the churches for better work. A book fund of $50.00 was raised, which proved an efficient means of diffusing knowledge among the churches. Elder Cole-man reported that 242 volumes had been distributed during the year in con-nection with his mission work.

      In the session of 1867, correspondence was withdrawn from the South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, with which correspondence had been maintained for several years. The following strange resolution was adopted at this session: "Whereas, we believe that the Association has the right to name the subject she desires shall be discussed in the introductory sermon, and that the minister appointed to preach the introductory sermon should, in the obedience to the Association, preach on the subject assigned him. Therefore, Resolved, That this Association do disapprove of the conduct of one of her members, in disobeying the rules of the Association, by laying aside the subject assigned him by the Association, from which to preach the introductory sermon, and selecting a new subject." The occasion of this resolution was that Elder J. O. Southerland had been appointed to preach the introductory sermon before the session of 1867 on the subject of "Church Fellowship," but he ignored the subject assigned him at the previous Association, and preached the sermon on another subject, which was contrary to the order of the body.

      In 1866, the Association adopted the following: "That ... no minister ought to baptize an individual, who has not been approved for the ordinance by a regularly constituted church; and also that we disclaim any succession, as a denomination, from the church constituted by Roger Williams." The first part of this resolution caused so much dissatisfaction, that the controverted points were referred to the churches, but they failed to agree and the matter was dropped. Elder Lansing Burrows, who was to become a distinguished minister, was appointed missionary to the Association in 1868 by the General Association. He was ordained soon after.

      The first consideration given to Sunday schools was in the session of 1869. The Sunday school work was "heartily" recommended to the churches, and the importance of encouraging their organization and sustaining them was emphasized. The report on Sunday schools in 1874 was very encouraging. It stated: "All our churches have Sunday schools. All are Baptist schools but one. There are also connected with our churches four mission Sunday schools. The number of officers, teachers and pupils in all these schools is about 700." It was also reported that Elder T. H. Coleman had been employed as missionary at a salary of $1000, and that "his labors were being greatly blessed." In 1871, the report showed eight churches with 854 members. A resolution was also adopted favoring foreign missions.

      There were seventeen churches in the South Kentucky Association in 1878 and 1315 members, and in 1883, 14 churches with 1224 members. In 1948, eleven churches reported 1614 members. The Middleburg Church, was the largest with 251 members.11


      The Nelson Association was constituted, September 28, 1849 of churches dismissed from Salem Association on August 15, as follows: Cox's Creek, Bloomfield, Bardstown, Mill Creek, Little Union, New Salem, Mt. Washington, Shepherdsville, Hardin's Creek, New Hope and Rolling Fork. Messengers from all these churches, except Hardins Creek, met at Cox's Creek, and constituted a new Association, which was styled Nelson, after the name of the county where most of the churches were located. Elder Wm. Vaughan, pastor at Bloomfield, preached the opening sermon, after which Elder Spence Minor was chosen Moderator, and Elder P. B. Samuels, Clerk. The latter continued in that position until 1865. The Chaplin Fork Church was received, making eleven churches, aggregating 1625 members. Only two ordained preachers held membership in the Association, Elders Wm. Vaughan, and P. B. Samuels, and one licenciate, W. G. Hobbs. The body voted to become auxiliary to the General Association, to appoint a solicitor to collect funds, and to invite Elder A. D. Sears, Agent of the General Association, to take collections for his agency.

      In the session of 1850, the Hardins Creek Church was received into fellowship. An offering was taken for the General Association, and a resolution was adopted, recommending Georgetown College, and the Western Baptist Theological Institute, at Covington, Kentucky. In 1851, contributions were made during the session for the General Association, the Indian Mission Association and to the Kentucky and Foreign Bible Society, amounting to $91.30 for these causes.

      In 1854, the Association requested the churches to take four offerings during the year - one for the General Association, one for Indian Missions, one for Foreign Missions, and one for the Bible causes. Up to this session, the Association had depended on the General Association to supply the destitution of its territory, as sufficient funds could not be secured from the churches to carry on the mission work within its bounds; but it was now resolved to perform the task without further aid. Accordingly a meeting was called to be composed of mesengers from all the churches to convene at Cox's Creek on Wednesday after the first Sabbath in November to devise means to carry out the missionary purpose. Elder William Vaughan was named to preach a sermon, suitable to the occasion. The Nelson Home Missionary Society was then formed and approved by the Association the following year. This Society, however, failed in its purpose and dissolved.

      In the session of 1857, a new method of work was adopted as shown m the following resolution: "Resolved, That . . . funds in the treasury of society to be subject to the direction of an executive board, to be hereby appointed by his body, . . . consisting of P. B. Samuels, Abner King, S. Wills, J. H. Taylor, and D. H. Cox, . . . whose duty it shall be to select a missionary, fix his salary, and recommend him to the Board of the General Association for ratification of his appointment, with a request that the agent of the 'General Association visit our churches, collect money, and pay it over to the treasurer of our executive board, to be appropriated to the payment of said missionary's salary."

      Elder J. T. Hedger was then employed by this Board as missionary at a salary of $400 per annum and was kept on the field for two years. His report showed that during the two years, he traveled 5,662 miles, preached 272 sermons, delivered 163 exhortations, witnessed 141 public professions, baptized 45 converts, and sold 793 books. The Nelson Associa¬tion continued to keep one or two missionaries employed at least part of the year, and perhaps "no organization of the kind in the State has cultivated the field of its operations more thoroughly."

      No reference was made to Sunday schools in the Association until 1865, when the following was adopted: "... we, the Nelson Association, sympathize with the objects of the Sunday school enterprise, and will cordi-ally co-operate with Elder W. S. Sedwick, the Agent of the General Association, and with Elder J. V. Riley, Sunday school missionary in our bounds and recommend semi-annual Sunday schools (meetings); one of which shall be held with this body." The records show that a Sunday School Convention was organized in the Association and the enthusiasm engendered spread so rapidly, that the Committee on iSunday schools made the following report to the session of 1874: "The Sunday School Convention of this Association is still doing its work. All our churches have Sunday schools. We have now four mission schools in a very flourishing condition, and doing a notable work."

      The revival spirit seems to have prevailed in Nelson Association during and after the War between the States. In 1860 Elder J. H. Spencer assisted in a meeting with the New Salem Church, resulting in 77 additions; in 1864 and 1871 Elder Spencer assisted in two other meetings in which 32 and 60, respectively, were added to the church. Elder J. M. Harrington conducted a protracted meeting in 1868, in which over one hundred persons united with the church. While the Association manifested an interest in every phase of work fostered by the General Association, there was always a silence on the subject of Temperance according to the records, and it hardly seemed strange since such "immense quantities of whiskey was manufactured within its bounds, if not by its own members."

      Many distinguished brethren, well known in their generation, have served at great length of time, as Moderators of the Nelson Association. In the ses-sion of 1850, Elder William Vaughan, was chosen Moderator and served until 1865, with the exception of one year. (He was succeeded by Elder P. B. Samuels, who had served fifteen years as the first clerk, and then filled the office of moderator from 1865 to 1871. This beloved brother was the most prominent leader in the business affairs of the Association. His entire ministry was given to the service in the positions of clerk and moderator. He died in 1872.12

      Elder Thomas Hall was chosen Moderator in the session of 1872 and continued in that position until 1900 with the exception of one year, making twenty-eight years of service. This distinguished minister was born in Charleston, .South Carolina, June 29, 1828, and was brought up in the Kpiseopal faith. He was converted to Christ, under the preaching of Dr. Richard Fuller and was led into the Baptist position -by reading his Greek New Testament. He was baptized in Washington City and ordained to the ministry in Anderson, South Carolina. He came to Nelson County, Kentucky, in 1869, to succeed Elder William Vaughan, as pastor of the Bloomfield Church.

      Elder J. A. Booth served as Moderator fourteen successive years, from 1901 to 1914. He was succeeded by Rev. W. H. Moody in 1915, who served three years, but was chosen to that position again in 1931 and continued until 1945, a period of fifteen years, when he left the Association to be¬come pastor at Columbia in Russell Creek Association. Other brethren, who served as Moderators for shorter terms were Elders C. K. Hoagland, three years; J. R. Kyzar, four years, and W. G. Potts, three years.12

      The Nelson Association has had a steady growth throughout its history. In 1850, it numbered 12 churches with 1678 members; in 1860, 12 churches with 1766 members; in 1870, 13 churches with 1761 members; in 1880, 17 churches with 2145 members; and in 1883, 18 churches with 2266 members. The Association reported in 33 years, 3364 baptisms.l*

      In 1946, there were 25 churches with 6306 members and in 1948 the same churches reported 61741 members. The church at Bardstown, con-stituted in 1815, was the largest, having 635 members in 1948, and Carman Sharp, pastor. The church at Lebanon Junction was the second largest with 484 members, and Joe Canzoneri, pastor. Some of the oldest churches in Kentucky are located in the bounds of this Association.15


      The Lynn Association was constituted November 8, 1856, in the meeting house of the South Fork of Nolin, of churches located in the counties of LaRue, Hart and Taylor as follows: South Fork with 150 members; New Market, 79 members; Rolling Fork, 69 members; Three Forks of Bacon Creek, 300 members; Good Hope, 73 members; Dover (Aetna Grove), 116 members; Union Band, 45 members; Mt. Tabor, 54 members; Aetna Union, 20 members and Bathabara, 41 members. After the organization of the Association for business, Mt. Moriah Church, 17 members, and Mt. Pisgah, 64 members, were received, making a total of 12 churches with 1028 members.

      The following ministers went into the organization of the Association: Elder William M. Brown, who was the first Moderator, Elder J. T. Miller, the first Clerk, Elders J. P. Bryant, John Ingraham, E. L. Jaggers, D. J. Logston, John Duncan, David Miller, John Miller and S. P. Skaggs. A Mission Board was appointed to meet quarterly, and each church was requested to send a messenger with a contribution to each meeting of the Board. This plan proved so satisfactory, that it was made permanent. The Association at this first meeting advised the organization of a Ministers and Deacons' Meeting.

      At the session of 1858 with Mt. Tabor Church, the following resolution on the subject of Temperance was adopted: "Whereas, the church of Christ was set up as the great moral light in the world, and as such, it becomes her duty to suppress every apparent evil; and knowing as we do, that the use of ardent spirits has proved a curse both to the church and the world, therefore be it Resolved, That we recommend the churches to suppress the evil, by disapproving the making and use of the same."

      In 1859, the Association by resolution deplored the lack of gospel dis-cipline in the churches and urged a stricter enforcement of discipline. In 1860, a resolution was adopted, recommending to the churches the im-portance of "a more fervent, united prayer to God to send forth more laborers into the harvest; and also the propriety of seeking the gifts they have and encourage them in preparing themselves by study and other mental training, to become workmen that needeth not to be ashamed." At the same session, the churches were requested "to exercise greater care in the reception of excluded members from sister churches that the reception of such members will be considered a declaration of war against the union."

      In the session of 1868 the district mission board was requested "to instruct each missionary to organize Baptist Sunday schools, wherever practicable, and report the labor done in that department each quarter." A query was sent by the Mt. Tabor Church to the session of 1871, "Is feet washing an ordinance of the church? If so, is it to be observed in connection with the Lord's Supper?" The following answer was given: "We believe that each church is an independent body and has the right of deciding upon the doctrine as set forth in the Scriptures." In 1872, the Baptist Orphans Home in Louisville was recommended "as one of our benevolent objects, and worthy of our liberal support." In 1887 the association declared "That we believe the ordination of the deacons consists in the election by the church, and the acceptance by the candidates, and that they should be set apart by prayer and the imposition of hands by the ministry, as a public declaration of their appointment."16

      Many of the ministers of Lynn Association have served as Moderator during its history, as follows: Elders William M. Brown, John Miller, J. P. Bryant, W. T. Gaddie, W. L. Ramsey, D. J. Brown, R. W. Cave, A. J. Whitley, W. J. Puckett, J. R. Hankla and J. B. Durham. Elder W. T. Parrish has the honor of serving the longest time in that position. He was chosen Moderator at the session of 1914 and served continuously until 1945, a period of thirty-one years. He was born in Hart County, Kentucky, August 27, 1854, and died September 5, 1946, at the age of 92 years. He united with the Boiling Springs Church by baptism July 23, 1877 and remained a member until the end of his life. He was ordained to the ministry in the same church, October 23, 1896. In a great revival in the Boiling Springs Church in 1914, which continued six weeks, eighty-four converts were baptized at the close of the meeting.

      The Lynn Association has been one of the most prosperous in the state, though composed entirely of small town and country churches. The church in Munfordville, is the only one located in a county seat. Twenty-nine churches out of thirty-seven are located in the open country. In 1860, the Association numbered 17 churches with 1421 members; in 1870, 20 churches with 2073 members; in 1880, 25 churches with 3073 members; and in 1883, 29 churches with 3219 members. The history written in 1891 states that "... in thirty-five years we have increased from twelve to thirty-one churches and from 1028 members to 4304."

      Thirty-seven churches reported 7958 members to the session of 1948. The Buffalo Church was the largest, reporting 521 members and D. T. Jones, pastor, who was succeeded by W. W. Johnson in April 1949. Boiling Springs was the second largest, reporting 455 members and Noble Cottrell, pastor; and Pleasant Hill was the third in size, reporting 426 members and J. M. Priddy, pastor.17


      The Irvine Asociation was constituted on the third Saturday of October, 1859, at the Drowning Creek meeting house in Madison County of the following churches: Providence, Drowning Creek, Clear Creek, Woodwards Creek, Cow Creek, Irvine and Salem, which aggregated 270 members. Elder S. V. Potts was chosen Moderator and Elder James Richardson, Clerk, who were the only preachers in the organization of the body. A resolution was adopted, recommending Sabbath schools.

      At the session of 1860, a board was appointed to be located in Irvine, the County seat of Estill County, and Elder S. V. Potts was chosen missionary to labor in the territory of the Association. In 1862 Elder J. J. Edwards was appointed missionary, and, with the aid of the General Association, was kept on the field seventeen years. He was born of poor parents in Virginia, December 30, 1824, and was ordained to the ministry in 1850 and moved to Kentucky about 1858. During a ministry of thirty years, he baptized over 5000 converts. He and Elder S. B. Potts were success¬ful missionaries. In 1866, Elder N. B. Johnson was employed as missionary and continued on the field for fourteen years. Through the efforts of these hard working missionaries, the work greatly prospered.

      The Irvine Association increased from seven churches with 270 members in 1859 to thirty-three churches with 1251 members in 1870. The territory of the Association was divided in the session of 1870 and 17 churches were dismissed to form the Booneville Association. A stand was also taken at the same session "to oppose intemperance and the use of ardent spirits as a beverage." Eight years later in 1878 a resolution was adopted "not to retain or receive any church that permits its members to make, sell or use ardent spirits as a beverage." A circular was also issued against receiving alien immersion.

      In 1880, twenty-two churches reported to the Irvine Association 1320 members, though several churches had been dismissed to form two associations adjacent to its territory. In the session of 1883, the number of churches stood at 24 with 1430 members. These churches then were located in Owsley County, in Rockcastle, in Madison, in Clay, in Estill, and in Jackson Counties. In 1948, eight churches reported 1014 members, of which the largest was Wind Cave, with 222 members and Rev. D. A. Cole, pastor.18


      The Clear Fork Association was constituted in 1860, of five churches located in Logan, Warren, and Simpson Counties, as follows: Providence, Shady Grove, Pleasant Hill, New Gasper and Pleasant Prospect, with 420 members. In 1861, the following year, Liberty, Strong Point, Friendship, Center and Moats Lick churches were added and with them, came five preachers, viz: Elders Robert Woodward, J. H. Felts, J. J. Felts, Isaac Barrow and G. B. Dunn. The Association then numbered ten churches with 853 members, and seven preachers. At this time, a missionary board was appointed, Sunday schools were endorsed and the organization of a pastors' and deacons' meeting was advised.

      This Association took no interest in missions outside of its own territory. There were only three Sunday schools reported in the 29 churches in the session of 1881 having a membership of 2510. The Association dissolved in 1903 and in 1904 the churches went into the organization of the Logan County Association, which embraced the northern part of that county.19


      The Crittenden Association was constituted October 12, 1860, at the Crittenden meeting house in Grant County of seven churches with 403 members. Elder Martin Lummis was chosen moderator and presided over the body for about ten years. The Association was missionary in sentiment, and endorsed the work of the General Association, but was deficient in liberality.

      In the session of 1880, the Committee on Sunday schools reported that such schools were in all the churches except one. A resolution on females being sent as messengers to the Association was adopted as follows: "Whereas, There seems to be a disposition upon the part of some churches to appoint sisters as delegates to the Association; . . . Resolved, That none but brethren be appointed by the churches as messengers, in the future."

      The growth of the Crittenden Association was slow during the first decade, but it has made quite rapid progress since that period. In 1870, there were reported nine churches with 573 members; in 1880, fifteen churches with 1307 members; and in 1883, fifteen churches with 1388 members.20 In 1946 there were 24 churches with 3414 members, but in 1948, these churches reported 3840 members. Dry Ridge Church, Elder G. R. Benson, pastor, was the largest with 465 members in 1948.21



1. Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 2, p. 514-522; "History of Liberty Association," Minutes of Liberty Association, 1881, pp. 13-19.
2. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948, p. 140, 141.
3. Tipton, L. H., History of Greenup Association, p. 1-6; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, pp. 546-548, 603, 604.
4. Minutes of Bays Fork Association, 1899, p. 10; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, pp. 530-588.
5. Minutes of Allen Baptist Association, 1922, 1931, 1941, 1948.
6. Minutes of Freedom Association, 1897, 1935, 1948; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, pp. 557-560.
7. Minutes of North Concord Association, 1880, 1883; Spencer, John H., op cit., Volume 2, pp. 563-565.
8. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1946, 1948.
9. Rone, Wendell H., A History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky, pp. 27-35, 68, 69, 270, 271, 352, 476, 477; Minutes of the the Daviess County Baptist Association, 1858, 1915; Spencer John H., op. cit., Vol. 2, p. 565-569.
10. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1946, 1948.
11. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, p. 580-585; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1948.
12. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, p. 594-597; Nelson Baptist Association; a Short History, 1849-1948.
13. Minutes of Nelson Baptist Association, 1950; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, p. 602.
14. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, p. 597.
15. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, l946, 1948.
16. "History of Lynn Association," Minutes of Lynn Association, 1891, pp. 13-16.
17. Minutes of Lynn Association, 1948.
18. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, pp. 610-614.
19. Ibid., Volume 2, pp. 614-615; Minutes of Clear Fork Baptist Association, 1903; Minutes of Logan County Association of Baptists, 1904.
20. Spencer, John H., op. cit., Volume 2, p. 617-619.
21. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1946, 1948.


[From Frank M. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 312-328. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Kentucky Baptist Histories
Baptist History Homepage