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Kentucky Baptists During the Civil War
1860 - 1865
By Frank M. Masters

      The Baptists of Kentucky were in a prosperous condition at the beginning of 1860. This happy state was largely due to the policies and work of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky during nearly a quarter of a century in conserving and developing the churches. The revival which began in 1858 came to full fruitage at the beginning of this period. The results of the revival were especially manifest in two of the largest district associations in the state. The Elkhorn fraternity reported 1522 converts baptized during the two years, and a total of 7760 members; while Bethel Association reported 1415 baptisms and 7312 members.

      The Baptists of the state which co-operated with the General Association in 1860 numbered forty-four district associations, 880 churches and 84,403 members. The Anti-missionary Baptists reported twenty-six associations, 271 churches, and 10,356 members. The population of Kentucky in 1860 was 1,155,684 inhabitants. All the Baptists together in the state aggregated 94,759 members, or one Baptist in every twelve of the population. The Methodists at the same time, reported 173 circuits and stations, and 56,815 members, and no divisions in their ranks. The Presbyterians claimed about 10,000 members. No statistics were available for the Cumberland Presbyterians, nor for the Disciples.1

      The political situation in the state and nation had become intense. The secession spirit, caused by slavery, was in the air. For ten years fuel had been added to the flame, which was becoming a conflagration. In 1850, it might have been possible to have subdued it, but in 1860 the fire of passion had spread beyond the power of man to extinguish it.


      The General Association met in a four days' session in Elizabethtown on Friday, May 4. Messengers from nineteen associations and forty-four churches were enrolled. Elder James S. Coleman, pastor at Beaver Dam, Ohio County, was re-elected Moderator, and Elder W. L. Morris, Hodgenville, was again chosen Clerk. Elder S. P. Forgy, Trenton, Bethel Association, preached the introductory sermon, "which was able, impressive, and delivered with feeling."

     Article 5, of the Constitution was amended, by striking out the word "Home" and inserting the words, "State," "Domestic" and "Indian" Missions, so that the entire Article would read: "The business of this Association shall be to promote in a special manner, State, Domestic and Indian, and Foreign Missions, and the circulation of the Holy Scriptures." At the next annual session, the Article was again amended by adding, "Bible and Book Colportage, Establishment of Sunday Schools, and to the hearing of Reports upon the State of our Colleges and Theological Seminaries." The General Association had thus so enlarged the scope of work as to include all the causes then fostered by the Baptists in Kentucky.

      Elder M. T. Sumner, Corresponding Secretary of the Board of Domestic and Indian Missions, Marion, Alabama, addressed the body on the report of Domestic and Indian Missions. This report showed that the states composing the Southern Baptist Convention had contributed for the year ending April 1, the amount of $33,226.75 to Domestic Missions, and $22,334.05 to Foreign Missions, making a total of $55,690,80. Of this amount Kentucky gave $877.19 to Domestic Missions and $1,134.07 to Indian Missions, a total of $2,011.26; besides Kentucky contributed $5,047.41 to Foreign Missions during the same period.

      Elder A. Broaddus, who had been chosen General Agent and Corresponding Secretary of the General Association at the session of 1859, continued to serve until February, 1860, when he accepted an agency in Alabama to represent the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, then in its first session in Greenville, South Carolina. After the resignation of Elder A. Broaddus, the Board of Managers in a meeting in March, separated the duties of the Corresponding Secretary from the duties of the General Agent. Henceforth, it would be the policy for the General Agent to confine himself "entirely to the collection of funds," and to be able to avoid the loss of time and expense of attending the monthly meetings of the Board. Accordingly, Elder B. T. Taylor, pastor at New Castle, Henry County, was chosen General Agent, and Elder J. M. Bennett, Pembroke, Christian County, was appointed Corresponding Secretary.

      The Committee on the Bible Cause made its report on the last day of the meeting, recommending that a Board be located in some central point in the state, "whose special duty it should be to attend to the matter of providing for the wants of our people respecting books, not only the Bible and doctrinal works, but Sunday School libraries, and that that Board should employ suitable agencies to secure the end of this appointment." Accordingly, a Board was then appointed to be located in Lexington, composed of fifteen members, to be known as the Bible and Colportage Board. Some of the most prominent brethren in the state were placed on this Board, which was organized at once for work, with Elder William M. Pratt, Lexington, as Corresponding Secretary.

      The Committee appointed by the Ministers' Meeting to raise funds for the erection of a monument at the grave of the lamented John L. Waller, did not make its final report until this session, after six years. The committee reported that "the whole amount contributed ... is $539.90; amount disbursed $531.25; balance in the Treasurer's hands, $8.65." The committee also reported that the orphan children of Brother Waller were in needy circumstances, and "mainly dependent upon the cold charities of the world for their daily bread." To this end the Committee stated that it had caused to be made a thousand impressions of the monument with a good likeness of Brother Waller, which were to be sold for $1.00 per copy. This picture would be a token of the memory of the service of a faithful preacher, and at the same time help to provide for the needs of the orphan children.2

      This memorable session of 1860 adjourned after thanks were "tendered to the Board of Directors of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad for their courtesy in passing the messengers and visitors on their road for half price"; and also "to the brethren and sisters, and citizens of Elizabethtown and vicinity for their generous hospitality and kind regards for our comfort during our sojourn with them."

      On May 16, nine days after adjournment, the Republican party held its National Convention in Chicago, Illinois, and nominated Abraham Lincoln as a candidate for the President of the United States on a positive platform that slavery was a moral and political evil, and should be permitted to spread no further, and that Congress should prohibit slavery in the territories. Threats of dissolving the Union began to be made, should Lincoln be elected. The result of the "battle of the ballots" fought out in November, was that Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

      On December 20, South Carolina seceded from the Union, and in less than one month was followed by four other southern states. On February 4, 1861 the Government of the Southern Confederacy was founded and located in Montgomery, Alabama, with Jefferson Davis as President. A Constitution was adopted on March 11 one week after Lincoln was inaugurated President on March 4.

      A Kentucky historian has said, "It is a curious coincidence that the two men who were destined to take the political lead in the great conflict of the nation were born in Kentucky within one year of each other." Jefferson Davis was born June 3, 1808 in the part of Christian County, which afterwards became Todd County. Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in a log cabin in that part of Hardin County, which afterwards became Larue County.3


      On April 12, less than a month before the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky met in Lexington, May 3, the Confederates had fired on Sumter in South Carolina, which was held by Federal soldiers. War now seemed inevitable. After enrollment of messengers, Elder James S. Coleman was elected Moderator for the third time, and Elder W. Pope Yeaman, pastor at Nicholasville, was chosen Clerk. The Moderator addressed the meeting "in a few very appropriate remarks, touching the peculiar circumstances under which the General Association convened; our once happy nation now convulsed and distracted with civil war." Elder William Vaughan led in prayer. Much important business was transacted during this session, and from all indications from its proceeding, there must have keen considerable discussion.

      The Bible and Colportage Board formed on the last day of the Association one year before, and located at Lexington, made a very encouraging report. This Board adopted the following program of operation at the beginning of the year:

"1st. To engage in circulating the word of God, religious works - especially those of our denominational literature and tracts, and to awaken an interest in the churches respecting Sunday schools.

2nd. To employ agents to obtain money for carrying out these purposes.

3rd. To secure the services of suitable men as colporteurs . . . in visiting, talking and praying with families and individuals; and in selling and donating Bibles and other religious works, and in organizing Sunday schools and Bible classes."

Elder Wm. M. Pratt, the Corresponding Secretary, had brought into the treasury of the Board $1,341.81, which was above the cost of the agency in collecting the money. Ten colporteurs appointed at the beginning of the year, reported 595 days of labor, 3388 families visited, 163 families without Bibles, over 2000 religious books and Bibles given away, valued at about $1000, and 55 professions witnessed.

      The Executive Board of the General Association had employed a number of missionaries who reported 743 baptisms, but sufficient funds had not been received to compensate them for their labors. An indebtedness of $500.00 was reported and an empty treasury. The Board stated very definitely in their report that "unless some favorable change can be effected, . . . the field must ... be abandoned during the coming year . . . our present system of operation is somewhat embarrassing in its nature, . . . we advise the annual meeting to take this subject under prayerful consideration."

      The committee on State missions submitted the following plan of future operation, which was adopted:

"1. The union of the Board of the General Association and of the Bible and Colportage Board into one Board, which shall be called the Executive Board; and that the whole of our Missionary, Bible and Colporteur interest be committed to this one Board.

2. This Board shall be located at Lexington.

3.The Board shall elect, at its earliest convenience, a Superintendent.

4. It shall be the duty of the Superintendent to endeavor to secure the co-operation of all the district associations in selecting and sustaining one or more missionary colporteurs within its respective bounds, as well as in parts beyond. It shall be his duty also, to take the supervision of the work of the Board, in executing and carrying into effect the plans of operation.

5. It is exceedingly desirable that all the district associations should be represented in the General Association and co-operate with this Board."

      Article 7 of the Constitution was so amended that the number of the members of the Board of Managers was reduced from "fifty" to "twenty"; and it was also amended to give the Board of Managers authority to appoint an Executive Board of seven members to be located in Lexington, and also to elect a Superintendent of Missions and Colportage, and a Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer.

      Rev. R. L. Thurman, then agent of Foreign Missions in Kentucky, was appointed Superintendent of Missions and Colportage, but did not enter upon his duties until the following August. This beloved brother was born in Washington County, Kentucky, November 19, 1815, graduated from Georgetown College in 1842, and was ordained pastor of the Severn's Valley Baptist Church, Elizabethtown, July 25, 1843. In 1851, he was agent for Georgetown College. In 1855 Elder Thurman was appointed agent of the Foreign Mission Board, Richmond, Virginia, for Kentucky and continued until 1861, when he became the first Superintendent of Missions in Kentucky.

      Elder Wm. M. Pratt, the Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer of the Board, was then in his sixteenth year as pastor of the First Baptist Church at Lexington, and he served one more year. He was known as an excellent preacher, and he rendered invaluable service to the General Association.4

      The political conditions of the country caused great concern in this session at Lexington for the future of missions and education, in case the threatened conflict involved Kentucky. A committe was appointed by the Ministers' Meeting to prepare a memorial to present to the legislature then assembled at Frankfort is [in] a special session, which besought the members of that body "to preserve the State in a condition of honorable peace with all our neighbors on every side." The main point in the memorial was that Kentucky be kept out of the coming conflict, and have no part in it, but maintain a strict neutrality. The Legislature was endeavoring to maintain this desired neutrality. Governor Magoffin and the Legislature "issued a proclamation, setting forth the fact of Kentucky's neutrality, and likewise warning and forbidding any State, whether the United States, or the Confederate States, to enter or occupy Kentucky with armed force."

      The Legislature had directed that the state should be armed for her own protection, and necessary funds were immediately raised and arms and ammunition were procured for the State and Home Guards. All this was done for the sole defense of Kentucky against invasion by the forces either of the North or South.5

      Soon after the messengers had returned home from the General Association, great events were rapidly transpiring. On May 20, the Confederate Government was set up permanently in Richmond, Virginia, and by June was composed of eleven seceded states. On July 21, the first major battle of the war was fought at Manassas Station in Virginia. By early fall Kentucky had been invaded by both Confederate and Federal armies. The continued distraction of that conflict at close range, made it impossible for Bethel College at Russellville to open in September, 1861. The main building was used for a hospital the following winter for the wounded Confederate soldiers brought from the field of battle in and around Bowling Green.6


      The political and war situation had become tragic, when the General Association met in Owensboro on May 2. There were enrolled ninety-one messengers, fifty-one ministers and forty laymen. Among some of the pastors and other ministers enrolled as messengers were, viz: Rev. D. R. Campbell, President of Georgetown College; Rev. John Bryce, pastor at Henderson; Rev. W. E. Powers, pastor Long Run Church, Long Run Association; Rev. W. M. Pratt, pastor at Lexington; Rev. J. H. Spencer, Long Run Association; Rev. Alfred Taylor, Gasper River Association; Rev. Cleon Keyes, pastor Lewisburg Church, Bracken Association; Rev. R. M. Dudley, pastor East Baptist Church, Louisville; Rev. Joseph M. Weaver, pastor at Taylorsville; Rev. George Hunt, pastor Stamping Ground Church, Elkhorn Association; Rev. A. B. Miller, pastor at Owensboro; Rev. W. H. Felix, Sulphur Fork Association, and others.

      After the enrollment of messengers, Rev. James S. Coleman, pastor at Beaver Dam, was again elected Moderator, and Rev. W. Pope Yeaman, pastor of the East Hickman Church, was re-elected Clerk. For the fourth time Rev. Wm. Vaughan preached the opening sermon of the Association. He was then in his seventy-seventh year. The sermon was "an able discourse, preached to a large and attentive audience."

      The report of the Missionary Board by the Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer, W. M. Pratt, gave an insight into the conditions under which the work was carried on. "The past year has been one of great embarrassment, in our Missionary operations, in all of its departments. At the first meeting of your Board, the question was seriously discussed, whether it would not be best to suspend our operations for the time being, as the prospect of effecting anything was so slight." The report states that Rev. R. L. Thurman, who was elected Superintendent of all the mission work at the first meeting of the Board, did not enter upon his duties until August, but he "has devoted himself with his usual energy and faithfulness to his new position". The new Superintendent collected on the field, in voluntary contributions, and for sale of books, the amount of $2,619.15. Thus all the Board's indebtedness was paid, and six missionary-colporteurs were supported directly, besides a number of workers in the district associations were aided indirectly.

      There was great concern about foreign missions, as there was no way to transmit funds to the Foreign Mission Board, in Richmond, because of the war. In order to carry on the mission work in Kentucky, the Superintendent, R. L. Thurman, made an earnest call for voluntary labor, urging upon all the pastors and other ministers "to engage in voluntary mission labor in destitute places." In response to this call twenty-seven preachers pledged to give one month each during the coming year.

      The report on Georgetown College stated that the Theological Institute connected with the College was suspended at the close of 1861, "owing to the disarrangement in its pecuniary affairs, originating in the troubles of the country." The college had been in operation through the year with nearly one hundred students in all departments. It stated that ten young men would graduate at the next commencement in the regular classical courses. There were only six students, who were pursuing their studies with view of the ministry.

      In the closing moments of the session "a comforting fraternal feeling" prevailed. The Moderator spoke "a few touching parting words." Peace and harmony had characterized the entire meeting. The parting hand was given and the body adjourned to meet with the Shelbyville Baptist Church, in May 1863.7


      Before the messengers gathered in Shelbyville for the General Association on May 1, the political excitement reached its highest pitch, when President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, liberating the slaves in the seceding states. Though Kentucky was not a seceding state, yet the slave holders and their supporters were enraged at the action of the President, and regarded it all unconstitutional.

      The messengers to the session of 1863 were limited to the northern section of the state. The large associations in the southern part, including Bethel, Liberty, Russell's Creek, and others were not represented, due to the war conditions. .Rev. James S. Coleman, Moderator of the previous sesĀ¬sion, being absent, Rev. A. B. Knight, pastor in Elkhorn Association, was elected Moderator, and Rev. W. Pope Yeaman was again chosen clerk. Rev. George C. Lorimer, pastor of the Walnut Street Church, Louisville, preached the introductory sermon "to a full and attentive audience."

      At the session at Shelbyville, foreign missions was more extensively considered than any other subject before the body. Rev. W. M. Pratt, the chairman of the committee of Foreign Missions, led in the discussion. Rev. R. M. Dudley delivered "a thrilling and interesting speech", emphasizing "our neglect of duty to the heathen and of our missionaries among them." At the request of Rev. S. L. Helm further discussion was suspended that all might join in prayer in behalf of foreign missions, led by President D. R. Campbell, Georgetown College. A collection was taken for foreign missions, amounting to $225.45 which was in the hands of the Executive Board with instructions to remit all money in the treasury for foreign missions to Isaac M. Smith, New York, for the purpose of reimbursing him for funds advanced to the missionaries then on the foreign fields. It was then recommended that the sub-board of foreign missions in Baltimore be notified of this remittance. So great was the interest in foregin missions that Rev. George C. Lorimer offered a resolution, which was adopted: "That the General Association instruct the Executive Board to take into consideration the expediency and propriety of employing an agent for Foreign Missions, to traverse the State and collect funds for these Missions." Elder J. M. Crawford, pastor of Mt. Vernon Church, Elkhorn Association, was chosen Agent for this great cause. He was a brother of Rev. T. P. Crawford, then a missionary in China. The Executive Board also reported money in hand for Indian Missions, which could not be transmitted to the Indian missionaries, and recommended that this money be used for foreign missions, until such time as it could be used in the Indian work.8

      No money could be sent to the Foreign Board in Richmond, because of the blockade. Neither could the brethren in Richmond remit funds to the foreign fields, and furthermore it was difficult to obtain and use the money on hand in Richmond. A letter from Dr. Richard Fuller, pastor in Baltimore, dated September 13, 1863, to Professor J. W. Rust of Bethel College, Russellville, which was published, gave the foreign mission situation at that date.

      Dr. Fuller says:

"Two years ago we were cut off from the South entirely, so no funds could be transmitted from Richmond. By some trouble, I procured permission to send to the Board, and received $2000. With this and subscriptions here, we managed to sustain the cause. This year I visited Washington and wrote again, but received nothing. The currency at the South, could not purchase exchange to England, except at a ruinous loss. So the brethren authorized seven of us ten to borrow. This, however, we were unable to do, except in the last extremity. A meeting was held in March, in our church. The First and other churches attended, and the citizens sympathizing with us. We took up nearly $3000. I have received from noble Kentucky, some contributions and many cheering words. I have written our missionaries in China to seek some occupation, as Paul resorted to tent making, and they answer, with the most heroic spirit, that they will work, and live, and die, for the cause. In Africa, our missionaries are mostly colored, and they can get along very well, I hope. Our white brethren there must be aided. It used to cost $30,000 to support the missionary interest annually - We shall be able to do with much less, as we are doing the work of correspondence here at no charge. But we beg our brethren to come up to the help of the Lord. At present this great enterprise - its honor - its existence - is with us in the border states. Let us, dear brethren, esteem it a high privilege, that to us it is given to do, and sacrifice for Jesus. We thought of sending an agent to you, but . . . the brethren from Kentucky write that they have appointed an excellent brother to that work."9
      Digests of written statements of ministerial work, made to the Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting, were very valuable in revealing the spiritual condition of their fields. Rev. G. C. Lorimer reported that "Walnut Street Church, Louisville, has been by Divine grace, brought out of distracting trials, to a comparative degree of peace and harmony . . . No recent additions. The church has paid off her entire indebtedness, amounting to about $7,000. Has redeemed the Portland Baptist meeting house from claims in chancery, and now holds the property . . . Has a large and growing Sabbath School."

      Rev. R. M. Dudley, pastor of East Baptist Church, in Louisville, reported, that previous to his pastorate, the church had long been without a regular pastor. There were no baptisms, but they were relieved from all financial embarrassment, the bulk of the indebtedness having been paid off. The pastor was preaching twice a week, and holding regular prayer meetings.

      Rev. A. C. Graves, pastor of the Jefferson Street Church, Louisville, reported that he had been pastor since March last. He stated: "Notwithstanding the troubled condition of all church interests, the membership seem hopeful and disposed to work. Congregation and Sabbath School gradually growing, the latter a source of much encouragement."

      Rev. G. W. Welch reported that he had "been pastor of Blue Spring Church, Barren County, Liberty Association, for six months; has baptized two." He says, "Very little religious interest felt in this section of the country".

      Rev. D. N. Porter, Sulphur Fork Association states "No active discord in the churches, but a great poverty of Christian fellowship". Rev. W. Pope Yeaman, pastor at Covington, states that he began his pastorate August last, and that the church had been for a long time without a pastor, and had suffered much from that and from other causes. "A great spiritual dearth prevails in Covington. Has baptized six persons. The church has a prosperous Sabbath school, regular prayer meetings. Good Sabbath congregations."

      The Executive Board reported: "This has been a year of peculiar trial to our denomination in Kentucky, and the condition of our country has been very unfavorable to missionary operations . . . Our work has been, moreover, seriously affected by the protracted sickness of our most excellent Superintendent, Brother R. L. Thurman." This kept him off the field the greater part of the year.

      The reports on Colleges showed only forty students in Georgetown, and fifty at Bethel, Russellville. The Western Recorder had been discontinued, and could not be resumed until "the national affairs will justify it, and the co-operation of the brethren will encourage the attempt." The committee on correspondence reported: "The same spirit of sadness and gloom, which pervades our own hearts, is breathed upon us by the churches from all parts of the State."

      One of the joyous occasions of this session was when the messengers and visitors joined with the Baptists of Shelbyville in the dedication of "their spacious and elegant new house of worship" on Saturday, May 2. "The large audience room was crowded to its utmost capacity", to hear the dedication sermon, preached by Dr. William Vaughan from Galatians 6:14, ". . . the audience listened with marked attention."

      Before adjournment of the body, the Executive Board was instructed to pay Brother W. M. Pratt $100 for his service rendered during the past year as Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer; and also to pay Rev. W. Pope Yeaman $25.00 for his service as clerk, in preparing and printing the minutes.10


      The messengers to the General Association met in the Baptist meeting house in Bardstown on Friday morning, April 29. Messengers from thirteen district associations and from thirty-nine churches were enrolled, making a total of eighty-seven messengers. Elder J. S. Coleman was chosen Moderator, and Elder W. Pope Yeaman, Secretary. The annual sermon was delivered by Elder S. L. Helm, pastor of David's Fork Church, Elkhorn Association. The minutes state: "A large concourse assembled to hear the annual Sermon, which was an able discourse, and well received." Early in the session, the motion was made and carried as follows: ". . . the Secretary of this Association was directed to write the prefix 'Elder' to the ministers' names which shall appear in the minutes . . . of this body." The prefix "Rev." had been appearing before the names of ministers in the minutes for the past two years.

      The Executive Board reported that "During the first four months of the . , . year, your Board was unable to prosecute the Missionary work, with the exception of sustaining two or three Missionaries, for the simple reason, we had not the money in the treasury to do so." Furthermore, the Superintendent, Elder R. L. Thurman, "was hindered from sickness and other causes, in the work of making collections." It was also stated in the report of the Board that Elder J. M. Crawford, the Agent for Foreign Missions in Kentucky "has not been able to accomplish the half, which he could have done, but for" . . . "the disturbances in the country." It was also stated that "Nearly all the money that has been sent from America to these missionaries, since the war broke out in this country, has gone from Baltimore and Kentucky."

      The financial report of the Board showed that at the beginning of the year, there was in the treasury a balance for state missions of 8388.15, and for foreign missions $402.05. The amount collected in addition for state missions amounted to $3,259.54, for foreign missions, $2,503.45; and for books $264.48, making the total receipts $6,027.47. Fourteen state missionaries had been employed during the later part of the year, who reported 219 converts baptized.

      The report of the "faithful and laborious servant of Christ," Elder J. J. Edwards, showed that he had closed fifteen years of service, as state missionary in Estill and adjoining counties. During this period he had labored 2649 days, preached 3270 sermons and added to the churches 2032 persons. He traveled 19,092 miles, and over 6000 miles of this distance was on foot. He often labored under financial embarrassment, when the Board had no money to remunerate him.

      Practically all the funds contributed by the churches were secured by the Superintendent, Elder R. L. Thurman and other agents. This is illustrated in the Superintendent's partial report. He visited First Church, Lexington, Elder W. H. Felix, pastor and received $144.25. At David's Fork Church, Elder S. L. Helm, pastor, collected $133.40. From old Mt. Pleasant Church, Elkhorn Association, Elder W. M. Pratt, pastor, over $100 was collected. Elder Thurman visited East Hickman and Great Crossings Churches, where President D. R. Campbell, Georgetown College, was pastor, and he received $150 and $113, respectively. This was the method of gathering mission funds, as only a few churches would make any contributions to the mission causes, unless visited by the agents and public offerings taken. Great concern was expressed about the destitution in the mountain section of the state, due to the fewness of the workers for that region.

      Elder J. S. Coleman, Moderator, introduced the resolution which was adopted stating that "many of our people are patronizing schools in the interest of those who hold and inculcate doctrines and practices antagonistic, as we believe, to the principles of the Gospel, and subversive of our religion," and that "we recommend the schools under the control of our denomination and those conducted by our brethren and sisters, to the prayerful consideration and uniform patronage of the Baptists of Kentucky." In this connection the report of Georgetown College was that the institution was recovering from "the temporary reverses" caused by the war, yet the number of students in attendance was not as large as before the conflict began. Bethel College, Russellville, Dr. George Hunt, President, reported sixty students in attendance, library increased to over two thousand volumes, and that the endownment was being wisely used. There were no reports from the number of other Baptist schools then in operation.

      A resolution was adopted as follows: "That a Committee of two be appointed to correspond with the Missionary Committee at Baltimore, auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention, to ascertain whether something cannot be done by which those places in sections of the country in the Southern States, now abandoned by the Domestic Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, may be supplied with the preaching of the gospel; and that this body stand pledged to aid and co-operate in any support tending in that direction." The Committee on Domestic Missions reported,

". . . that Elder J. P. Kefauver, from East Tennessee, has presented an application for aid in his preaching the Gospel in the field laid desolate by the armies that have passed to and fro. Your Committee have examined the credentials of Elder Kefauver, and he comes accredited by persons in whose judgment we have confidence, and we would recommend that he be permitted to visit the churches of Kentucky, for the period of two months from this time, and to collect not exceeding one thousand dollars, and report his collections to your Executive Board ..."
      The Executive Board received instruction to employ Elder W. S. Sedwick for state Sabbath school missionary, if practicable. Ten sermons were delivered during the session in and around Bardstown. The publication of the Western Recorder had been resumed during the past year and recommended to "the patronage and prayers of the denomination". Elder W. M. Pratt was elected by the Executive Board as Corresponding Secretary and Treasurer, and Elder R. L. Thurman, Superintendent of Missions and Colportage. Sixty-four ministers were enrolled in the Kentucky Baptist Ministers Meeting; Elder W. M. Pratt was Moderator, Elder D. N. Porter, Secretary and the annual sermon was preached by Elder J. H. Spencer.

      This session at Bardstown adourned "after a warm and hearty shaking of the parting hand" to meet with the First Baptist Church in Covington, on Friday before the Fourth Sabbath in May, 1865. This date of meeting had been moved forward nearly a month.11


      Before the General Association met in Covington on May 25, the long bloody war had come to a close on April 9, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General U. S. Grant in the city of Richmond, Virginia. Both armies soon dissolved and began to return to their homes to face the task of rebuilding a nation almost destroyed by the ravages of war, which was especially the condition in the South. At least thirty thousand soldiers from Kentucky in both armies lay dead upon many battlefields in ten or twelve states and also in the burying grounds of prisons and hospitals, where they died of wounds and disease. Hundreds more returned to their Kentucky homes, crippled or injured in health by their long and exacting service.12 Both Federal and Confederate soldiers, who went out to battle to destroy each others' lives, were received with a welcome accorded to friends come home, and as kindreds returned to their own.

      Dr. J. H. Spencer, who was then active in the ministry, at the age of forty-three years, thus describes the spiritual conditions:

"Many active and valuable church members were lost in the fearful conflict that desolated our homes, our hearts and our churches. Some that survived were sadly demoralized. A few preachers, who had gone into the army, had fallen before the temptations incident to camp life. There were apostasies at home, as well as in the armies. Many were the breaches that needed to be repaired, before the armies of the Lord would be ready to march against the enemies of the cross of Christ."13
      The number of messengers, who made up the session of the Association at Covington was not large. Twenty-four district associations were not represented in any way. Boone's Creek, Bethel, Goshen and South Kentucky were represented with only one messenger each. Chestnut (formerly Jefferson) Street Church in Louisville was represented by J. M. Weaver, who served as pastor of that church forty years.

      Elder J. S. Coleman and Elder W. Pope Yeaman were re-elected Moderator and Secretary respectively. Rev. Samuel Baker, D. D., then of New York, and Rev. J. M. Pendleton, D. D., of Hamilton, Ohio, former member of that body, were seated as visitors, and also Rev. R. B. C. Howell, Nashville, Tennessee. Rev. George C. Lorimer moved "that the action of the Kentucky Legislature, respecting the establishment of a University at Lexington, Kentucky, be considered by the Committees on our Colleges, and said Committees report to this body." Later in the session, Brother Lorimer offered the following which was adopted:

"Whereas, the Kentucky Legislature, at its last session, passed an act, placing in the hands of a single denomination of professed Christians, the control of certain funds provided for the State by the General Government, for the establishment of a Commercial College in Kentucky; and

"Whereas, All the other Christian organizations of this State, who represent a large portion of the population thereof, have had great injustice done them by said legislation; therefore, be it

"Resolved, That this General Association appoint a Committee consisting of the following ministers of the Gospel: R. T. Dillard, D. D., D. R. Campbell, LL. D., W. M. Pratt, D.D., James S. Coleman, and R. M. Dudley; who are requested, in behalf of this body, to present to the Legislature of Kentucky a memorial, setting forth the facts in the case, and to call upon them for such legislation, as will correct the evil done".

      On recommendation of the Committee on State Missions a sufficient number of the leading ministers was appointed to visit the annual meetings of thirty-six district associations in teams of two or more to each meeting and present the claims of the denominational causes. One of the strongest appeals made before this session was in behalf of the crying needs of foreign missions. A report from Dr. R. H. Graves of Canton, China, made at the close of 1864, was read. This was in part as follows:
"This year . . . began with four laborers in the missionary field, and has ended with but one. In January Sister J. G. Schilling was removed by death ... In March, Brother Schilling sailed for America with his motherless little ones and in December (1864), my dear wife . . . fell asleep in Jesus, after a protracted sickness of five months. Two of our native assistants . . . have been removed. Truly clouds and darkness surround the throne of God. His ways are past finding out."
      The story from the African Mission is "equally sad to that of the Canton Mission." Two deaths were a severe blow to the work in Africa. The report says,
"That most excellent man, Rev. J. M. Harden, . . . is dead," and "Rev. J. B. Dayton was drowned, accidentally, . . . on the 12th of December last." The Corresponding Secretary of the Provincial Committee at Baltimore reported the receipts for China and African Missions during the past three years amounted to $10,594.84, "a little over $3,000 a year, a very inadequate sum, especially considering the high price of exchange".
      The closing exercises of this session of 1865 at Covington were very impressive according to the records. "All hearts present were rejoicing at the harmony and fraternal feeling which distinguished the entire session. A hymn was sung in the spirit, the parting hand was given, while many tears bespoke the holy emotion of every heart. An appropriate and feeling prayer was offered by Rev. J. M. Frost, when the Association adjourned to meet at Russellville, Friday before the 4th Sunday in May, 1866". This was the first time the General Association had arranged to meet in the southern part of the state since 1859, because of the war situation on the southern border.14


1 Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, p. 721, 722.
2 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1860, p. 3, 8-11, 20-29.
3 Kinkead, Elizabeth Shelby, A History of Kentucky, p. 161.
4 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1861, p. 6-11, 17, 24.
5 Kinkead, Elizabeth Shelby, op. cit., p. 169.
6 Minutes of Bethel Baptist Association, 1862, p. 5; 1863, p. 12; Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1863, p. 21; Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 732.
7 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1862, p. 6-9, 12, 21, 22.
8 Ibid., 1863, p. 8, 9, 27, 28; 1864, p. 23.
9 Minutes of Bethel Baptist Association, 1863, p. 9, 10.
10 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1863, p. 10, 14, 21, 22.
11 Ibid., 1864, p. 7-12, 19-25, 40-43, 46-52, 7-12, 19-25, 40-43, 46-52.
12 Thompson, Ed Porter, A Young People's History of Kentucky, p. 263.
13 Spencer, John H., op. cit., Vol. 1, p. 743.
14 Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1865, p. 8, 9, 13-15, 31-33.


[From A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 329-341. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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