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A History of Baptists in Kentucky
By Frank M. Masters

Chapter XXVI

1866 - 1876

      Baptist Progress in Kentucky during the years of recovery, following the long destructive war, was slow and difficult. These were years of "peril and poverty." The one great task confronting the depleted churches of Kentucky and of the South was "to build the waste places of Zion." While Kentucky had suffered much from the effects of the war, it was not in comparison with some of the southern states, which were prostrate economically.

      Dr. John A. Broadus, then one of the professors in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, located in Greenville, South Carolina, gave a description of conditions in the deep South during the years immediately following the close of the War. He says, "Almost all those who had been wealthy before the war were now really poor, many of them burdened with old debts which formerly seemed a trifle, but now, with accumulated interest, were a millstone around the neck of the impoverished planter or merchant. The whole labor system was broken into fragments as by an earthquake, and no man could calculate on the business future. There was no currency in circulation until the cotton, which planters had kept on hand, could perchance be sold. Numerous families, formerly prosperous, or at least comfortable, had not a dollar of money for many months after the close of the war. How could it be deemed possible, in such a situation, and amid all the social and political uncertainty, that people would contribute thousands of dollars during the next twelve months to support an institution of higher education, (like the Seminary)?"1

      The Southern Baptist Convention had not met since 1863 at Augusta, Georgia, and it was found impossible to hold the next biennial session, which was due to meet in 1865. The leaders were anxious to make provision for a session in 1866. Bethel Association in Kentucky, led by her strong ministry and wealthy laymen, came to the rescue. At the meeting of that Association in May 1865, Dr. W. W. Gardner, pastor at Russellville, introduced the following resolution which was unanimously adopted: "Resolved, unanimously, that this association earnestly requests the Southern Baptist Convention to hold its next meeting at Russellville, {mediately before the meeting of the General Association of Kentucky, which commences (in Russellville) on Friday before the Sabbath in May, 1866."2


      When the General Association of Baptists of Kentucky was called to order by Moderator James S. Coleman on Friday morning May 25, in Russellville, the Southern Baptist Convention had been in session in the same town since Monday, May 21, and was still in session. Moderator J. S. Coleman announced "that he had conferred with Rev. P. H. Mell, President of the Southren Baptist Convention, and that they had agreed that the two bodies should hold alternating sessions - one occupying the forenoon, the other the afternoon. The arrangement was ratified by the Association."3

      The meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Russellville was the second time the Convention had met in Kentucky, the first meeting having been held in Louisville in 1857. This session was composed of 244 messengers, representing nine of the southern states. One messenger came from Louisiana, one from Florida, one from North Carolina, and two from Texas. Fourteen messengers were enrolled from Georgia, eighteen from South Carolina, and the largest number from Kentucky. A small number of messengers and visitors came from Virginia and Maryland. "The Big Four," J. P. Boyce, J. A. Broadus, Basil Manly, and William Williams, then composing the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina, were among the messengers from that state. J. B. Jeter, J. William Jones, James B. Taylor, and George B. Taylor were among the messengers from Virginia. Some of the messengers from Kentucky were George C. Lorimer, W. W. Gardner, J. M. Frost, Sr., J. S. Coleman, J. B. Moody, George W. Norton, Nimrod Long, and a number of others.

      In the organization of the Convention, P. H. Mell of Georgia was chosen President the second time; George B. Taylor, Virginia, and W. Pope Yeaman, Kentucky, were Secretaries. Dr. Richard Fuller, well known pastor in Baltimore, Maryland, preached the annual sermon. In the early history of the Convention there were only two major Boards - the Foreign Mission Board located in Richmond, Virginia, James B. Taylor, Corresponding Secretary; and the Domestic Mission Board, Marion, Alabama, M. T. Sumner, Corresponding Secretary. The small Sunday School Board was then located in Greenville, South Carolina, but was moved the following year to Memphis, Tennessee, with C. C. Bitting, Corresponding Secretary. The young Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which was a child of the Convention, had reopened in October 1865. The Seminary was greatly encouraged at Russellville, when over ten thousand dollars was subscribed to be paid in five installments, and $1,203.50 was paid in cash to Dr. J. P. Boyce, which was the first cash received after the close of the war.4

      One of the special features of the General Association in 1866 was the revision of the Constitution. The committee appointed for that purpose stated "that the present Constitution was not in harmony with our newly adopted plan of operations." Article one was amended so the name of the body would read: "This body shall be called the General Association of Kentucky Baptists," instead of "Baptists in Kentucky." Article two on membership was adopted as follows: "The payment of Thirty Dollars constitutes a life membership. Annual members may take seats upon the pay-ment of one dollar. Churches and associations, auxiliary to this body, by contributing to its objects annually, are entitled to representation." Article three on the "Business of the Body" was amended to read: "The business of (.his body shall be to promote State, Domestic, Indian and Foreign Missions, Bible and Book Colportage, Sunday Schools, and Literary and Theological Seminaries in the State, and to collect and preserve our denominational history of Kentucky." Article six was amended to read: "At each annual meeting, the body shall appoint an Executive Board, consisting oT nine members, ... to conduct its business during the intervals between its annual meetings. They may appoint a Treasurer, a Corresponding Secretary, an Agent or Agents, and Missionaries and Evangelists; shall fix and |>iiy their salaries, and report their doings annually to this body. They shall be competent to fill vacancies in the Board." This sixth Article was amended at the next annual meeting to "appoint an Executive Board, con-aisting of fifteen members (five of whom shall constitute a quorum)." This new Executive Board was located in Louisville, and henceforth the state leader in denominational work was to be designated "Corresponding Secretary." The old Executive Board for the past years, located in Lexington, with Rev. R. L. Thurman, Superintendent, and Rev. W. M. Pratt, Corresponding Secretary, was highly commended for "the just and valuable services rendered to the General Association and the cause of Christ."

      Rev S. F. Thompson, pastor at Shelbyville, was chosen Corresponding Secretary. He was a native of North Carolina, but entered the ministry in Kentucky, graduated from Georgetown College, and was soon called to be pastor at Shelbyville. The new Corresponding Secretary entered upon his duties July 1, 1866, and found an empty treasury. The difficulties in the way of promoting the missionary enterprise were never greater than in 1866-1867.

      When the Constitution was amended, and thus it became the business of the General Association "to collect and preserve our denominational History of Kentucky," plans were at once adopted to make effective this distinct task. A committee was appointed, consisting of six members, including a Corresponding Secretary, "whose duty it shall be to collect and keep, subject to the further orders of this body, all items of our history in this State, that they may be able to obtain." Rev. W. Pope Yeaman was chosen Corresponding Secretary to serve without pay. This committee was located in Covington.

      Some of the distinguished leaders in Baptist affairs in Kentucky passed away during the year.

      Rev. Duncan R. Campbell, President of Georgetown College, died August 11, 1865, in the forty-ninth year of his life. Dr. Campbell was a native of Scotland, and was reared in the Presbyterian faith. He was educated in the University of Glasgow, and became pastor of a Presbyterian Church. He was convinced by reading the Scriptures that the sentiment of his church on infant baptism, also on the subject and mode of baptism, was wrong. With a disturbed mind he came to America and was baptized and ordained to the ministry in the First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia. In his obituary, read before the General Association, it was stated: "No Baptist minister ever lived in Kentucky of more varied talents, abundant labors and usefulness than Dr. Campbell. While Professor (of Hebrew and Biblical Criticism in the Western Baptist Theological Institute at Covington, and President (of Georgetown College) ... he ... was as successful as most pastors." He succeeded in his own individual effort in raising over $100,000 on the endowment of Georgetown College.

      Elder Thomas J. Fisher died on January 11.5

      Elder Alfred Taylor, who had spent nearly thirty years as pastor, missionary and evangelist, died October 9, 1865, near Bowling Green, Kentucky, at the age of fifty-seven years. His son, W. C. Taylor, became a noted preacher, as did his two distinguished grandsons, the late H. Boyce Taylor, and W. C. Taylor, missionary to Brazil. James S. Coleman, Moderator of this session, was won to Christ, baptized and led into the ministry by this great pioneer preacher. Brother Taylor led in the constitution of the Morgantown Church, Butler County, with 18 members, as a result of a meeting which began on January 21, 1840. He was pastor at Owensboro and three times pastor of the church at Beaver Dam. He served both as Financial Agent, and as State Evangelist of the General Association.6


      Moderator J. S. Coleman called to order the General Association in the First Baptist Church at Henderson on Thursday morning at 9 o'clock, May 2. Rev. B. T. Taylor was pastor of the church.

      During the ten months of service Secretary S. F. Thompson had discovered some startling facts. He found only three churches located in the City of Louisville proper with not over 1200 members, while the population of the city was estimated around one hundred and forty thousand. The question was "Shall the cause of Christ keep pace with the rapid increase of the population of the city?" On motion the following was adopted, "Resolved, That in view of the startling statement, as made by competent authority, that there are so many (about 400) Baptist churches in Kentucky without regular pastors and also in view of the fact that large districts of the state are languishing in spiritual poverty - the first half hour of each morning session during the sitting of this Association be spent in devotional servces with the special object of petitioning the Lord to send forth more laborers into His harvest, and of revisiting His plantation during the present year." The State Mission receipts during the fiscal year were $5,761.65.

      The work of the Domestic and Foreign Boards of the Southern Baptist Convention was paralyzed for the lack of funds. The economical conditions were thus described: "The general failure of crops has brought our Southern brethren almost to the verge of starvation. Gaunt famine has followed in the wake of desolating war." But they were "putting forth every energy and beyond their power, to keep the Foreign and Domestic work alive." Kentucky reported $6,897.45 for Domestic Missions and only $1,594.50 for Foreign Missions. Elder S. F. Thompson, the Corresponding Secretary, in view of the missionary needs of the southern states, recommended by resolution "that the pastors and churches will try to raise this year $25,000 for Home Missions."

      During the preceding year seventeen state missionaries had been employed for only part of the time, and six missionaries had been assisted in some of the associations. These workers preached 1959 sermons and reported 1500 baptisms. The Sunday School department suffered a great loss in the death of Rev. W. S. Sedwick on September 27, 1866. During nearly four years as Superintendent of the State Sunday School Work he brought it new day to this department. He only labored four months during the last year of service, yet he reported twenty-eight Sunday schools organized, 138 Sunday school meetings held, besides having distributed tracts, testaments and papers. He was cut down "while in the strength of manhood, and in the midst of a career of usefulness."7


      The General Association composed of 158 messengers met with the Baptist church at Danville on Thursday morning, May 21, where Elder Henry McDonald was pastor. Reference was made to the absence of the former Recording Secretary, Elder W. L. Morris, who had died during the year. Professor J. W. Rust, the retiring president of Bethel College at Russellville, was chosen Secretary. The following brethren were seated as visitors: Elders M. T. Sumner, D.D., Correspondnig Secretary of Domestic and Indian Mission Board, Marion, Alabama; G. W. Given, Agent of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina; and A. B. Cabaniss, and D. B. Ray, Tennessee, both to become well known in Kentucky. The Rules of Order were amended to provide for the appointment of two additional committees - one for Kentucky Baptist History, and the other on the Evangelization of the colored people.

      Corresponding Secretary, S. F. Thompson, reported an enlarged program of State Missions above that of the previous year. Forty-four missionaries had been employed, though the majority of them for only a part of the year, because of the lack of funds. They reported 2750 baptisms, and additional territory occupied. The expenditure for State Missions amounted to $8,452.78. Rev. N. C. Pettit, Superintendent of the Sunday School Department, who had been employed to succeed the lamented W. S. Sedwick, reported eighty-six new Sunday schools organized, and 23,800 pages of religious books and tracts distributed.

      The report of the committee on "Schools and Colleges" contained a fuller account of the Baptist educational situation, than hitherto given. Georgetown College, Dr. N. M. Crawford, President, reported seventy-six students in the college proper, forty-two in the academy, and twenty-nine young men studying for the ministry. In addition to the classical collegiate courses, partial courses were offered in Hebrew and Doctrinal Theology for the benefit of ministerial students.

      Bethel College, Russellville, reported that Dr. Noah K. Davis, had entered upon his duties as President in February, 1868. The total number enrolled in both College and Preparatory School was one-hundred and seventy, of which number sixty were in the college proper. There were eighteen ministerial students, who were being instructed in Theology by Dr. W. W. Gardner, head of that department.

      Bethel Female College, Hopkinsville, Rev. M. G. Alexander, President, had enrolled about ninety young women in the present session.

      Lynnland Baptist Institute, located in Hardin County, about ten miles from Elizabethtown, on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, was in the first year of its existence. Rev. G. A. Coulson, Glendale, Kentucky, was the Principal and over one hundred students were in attendance.

      The Lexington Baptist Female College was opened for students in February 1868, with Rev. A. S. Worrell, Principal, and with an enrollment of about forty-five.

      The Eminence Male and Female Academy, Rev. J. C. Freeman, Principal, reported eighty students.

      Georgetown Female iSeminary, reported sixty-five young women in attendance, and J. B. Tharp, Principal.

      Bardstown Female College, Elder V. E. Kirtley, Principal, reported a student body averaging sixty in attendance.

      Kentucky Female College, located in Shelbyville, reported Rev. George W. Goodman, Principal, and number of students about fifty.

      Danville Female Academy, Rev. Henry McDonald, Principal, reported forty-four students.

      The Female School located at Bowling Green, reported Rev. T. H. Storts, Principal, and sixty students in attendance. This was later designated Green River Female College.

      Concord Male and Female College located in Liberty, Owen County, B. F. Duncan, Principal, reported seventy students matriculated.

      The Committee closed their report by stating, "There are many schools and academies in the state, from which no account could be received. It is suggested that a systematic effort should be made to secure a statistical statement of the condition of all our literary institutions in the State. Many of them are in an eminently flourishing condition, and it is only needed that the Baptists in the state should feel the importance of sustaining their own schools and confining their patronage to them."

      A deep sympathy was expressed by resolution for "the Trustees and Faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Greenville, South Carolina, in their present embarrassments; and that it is the duty of the denomination, with reference to the impending dangers of the future, to combine in some earnest action for the immediate relief of the institution."

      The report on Baptist History read by the Chairman of the Committee, Elder J. H. Spencer, gives some vital facts on the subject as follows: "The (General) Association, at the session in Russellville in 1866, directed the organization of a Board, whose duty it should be to collect and hold to the order of this body, such materials as it might be able to procure, from which to compose a history of the Baptist denomination of Kentucky. Such Board was located in Covington, with Elder W. Pope Yeaman, Corresponding Secretary.

      "Bro. Yeaman reported a good degree of success for the first year, but having left the state since our last meeting and leaving no successor, we have been able to obtain no further information, except that the historical liniird has had no regular meeting since its organization.

      "It is feared that little or nothing has been accomplished since our lust meeting, and there is little hope of accomplishing anything very important through the present plan. It is neither reasonable nor to be expected that any brother will accomplish this very laborious and difficult task of collecting materials for our history without compensation.

      "It is therefore recommended that the Executive Board be instructed to employ a suitable man to give his time to the especial work of collecting materials for a history of Kentucky Baptists; or that the General Association locate a board as near the center of the state as convenient, the duties of which shall be to collect funds, and employ such agencies, as will accomplish this work."8


      The thirty-second session of the General Association was held with the Walnut Street Baptist Church in Louisville, commencing on Thursday morning, May 20. The Committee on Credentials reported 258 messengers had been enrolled. For the tenth time Elder James S. Coleman was chosen Moderator. J. W. Rust, of the Western Recorder, was elected Recording Secretary. Elder James M. Dawson, a pioneer preacher in Daviess County Association, delivered the annual sermon.

      Elder S. F. Thompson, the Corresponding Secretary, recommended in his report a five-point State Mission Program which was adopted as follows:1. The importance of promoting a more intimate relation between the General and District Associations. This means "to obtain reports from the district boards of work done in their bounds, facts respecting destitution, and recommendations of suitable men to supply it." 2. The need to establish "a more direct and intimate relation and cooperation between the churches and the general Board." The cooperation of the churches "lies at the foundation of all success."3. The appointment of a number "of our experienced ministers as state evangelists." By this type of work "the friends of the general Board have been greatly multiplied and their friendship has been shown in a substantial way by the liberal offerings, sent up by the churches to our treasury." 4. The importance of rendering "assistance to feeble churches in support of their pastors." 5. The necessity of continuing to cultivate "the extensive destitute regions in the mountains, embracing about twenty-two of the largest counties, lying on the Virginia and Tennessee borders, and among the mountains of the Cumberland range."

      In the Sunday School Department, Brother J. V. Riley had labored the past year as the General Superintendent. Under his leadership, seventy-six new Sunday schools had been established with an average attendance of thirty, making a total of 2280 pupils.

      The needs of the colored people were continually increasing and demanding additional help. Elder Henry Adams, the President of the State Convention of Colored Baptists, appeared before the body and said, "We are suffering very much from the want of a more enlightened ministry for our churches"; and for "the want of competent teachers for our schools - both the day and Sunday schools." Out of the meagre income of State Missions, the Executive Board was giving all the help possible to the colored Baptists in their distressing needs. A resolution was adopted looking to the establishing of an institute in Louisville for the training of their preachers.

      Brethren J. P. Boyce and A. M. Poindexter delivered addresses before the Association on "the importance of sustaining the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which addresses were listened to with the most profound attention by a large audience." After the addresses subscriptions were taken in behalf of the seminary.9


      The Walnut Street Church in Louisville was again the meeting place of the General Association, which convened on the morning of May 2. At the last session Paducah was selected as the place for holding the next meeting, but before adjournment, the announcement was made that the Southern Baptist Convention would be held in Louisville in May, 1870. The following resolution was then adopted: "Resolved, that we now rescind the order appointing our meeting for 1870 at Paducah, and appoint the same with Walnut Street Church, Louisville, beginning three days preceding the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention."10

      Over three hundred messengers were enrolled, the largest number in the history of the Association. Elder James S. Coleman, D.D. was again chosen Moderator; Editor J. W. Rust of the Western Recorder, Secretary; Elder James A. Kirtley, pastor of the Bullittsburg Church, North Bend Association, preached the annual sermon. Elder S. F. Thompson, was continued as Corresponding Secretary of the Executive Board. The largest number of visiting brethren in the history of the body was seated due to the early arrivals to attend the Southern Baptist Convention to meet on Thursday, May 5.

      The effort to organize in Louisville a school of Theology for training of the colored Baptist Ministry had failed. Elder Henry Adams, Moderator of the newly organized General Association of Colored Baptists, addressed the Association. He seems to have been discouraged in the failure to make provision for the better training of the colored ministry. He said, "Another year has passed away and nothing has been done in the way of the education of the colored ministry for our churches. Neither has there been any missionary labor performed among the colored churches of the State."

      A strong force of State evangelists had been put in the field the previous year, including such men as J. S. Coleman, J. H. Spencer, A. B. Miller, and S. L. Helm. Elder J. S. Coleman served as evangelist the last six months of the year and reports some matter of historic value. He says, "I have set my heart on our interests in towns where we have little weakly churches or none at all. There are, in southern and southwestern Kentucky dcveral county seats where there are no Baptist churches, as Morganfield, Mndisonville, Hartford, . . . Morgantown, Hardinsburg and others." Brother Coleman held a meeting at Greenville in the fall of 1869 and organized "a, prosperous church, which now has our excellent brother, J. F. Austin, pastor for one-fourth time, at a salary of $300; an eligible lot in a good portion of the town was purchased, on which to erect a house of worship, and a club of new subscribers to the (Western) Recorder obtained." Later, he held a meeting in Franklin, Simpson County, which was reported on January 1, 1870. Brother Coleman says, "Finding our cause here surrounded with almost every element of apposition, I at once apprehended the importance of securing to our church the whole time of her pastor, Rev. E. Petri, and succeeded in getting the church to raise his salary to $1,000.00 for all his time." A number was added by baptism to the church during the meeting. The following February, this noted exangelist conducted a meeting in Madisonville, the county seat of Hopkins County, resulting in the organization of a church, which soon grew to fifty-five members. Later Brother Coleman held a meeting in Hartford, the county seat of Ohio County, and organized a church there.

      During the year forty-five evangelists, missionaries, and Sunday school workers were employed, but most of them for only part of the year. These laborers reported 1462 baptisms, 13 churches and 17 Sunday schools organized, besides assisting in raising the money to build six houses of worship at a cost of about $15,000. The amount of $11,558.75 was received for State Missions.

      Encouraging reports were submitted from the two senior colleges, vhich showed that "the present condition ... is better than at any previous time during the last ten years." Georgetown College, Rev. N. M. Crawford, D.D., President, was reported out of debt, and the literary department sufficiently endowed to meet all expenses and the theological department sufficiently endowed. The request was earnestly made in the Association that President Crawford complete his Commentary on the Gospel of Mark as soon as he was able. Bethel College, at Russellville, Dr. Noah K. Davis, President, reported 105 students enrolled, of whom fifteen were preparing for the ministry. A theological Professorship had been established during the year filled by Dr. W. W. Gardner. The College was out of debt and the endowment increased. The new book by Dr. W. W. Gardner entitled Church Communion was highly commended. The Trustees of Bethel College were requested by resolution to have published in pamphlet form "the able and chaste address delivered by President Noah K. Davis before this body."

      The Committee on Kentucky Baptist History submitted a lengthy report, emphasizing the importance of collecting additional historical material; the selecting of some suitable person to prepare a History of the Baptists in Kentucky; and the organization of a Historical Society to have charge of all historical matters.

      A resolution was presented and adopted on "the propriety of establishing a 'Baptist Ministers Aid Society'; and also the importance of establishing a 'State Baptist Normal School' and to expedite the work in these directions, and the better to enable the special committee appointed by this Association to report ... at its next meeting."

      There was deep sympathy expressed by resolution for the Baptist church at Cave City, whose house of worship had been completely destroyed by a recent tornado and the members themselves were seriously injured. A helping hand was recommended "thus enabling them to rebuild their house at an early day."11


      The General Association was called to order by the Moderator, James S. Coleman at 10 o'clock Wednesday morning May 24, in the First Baptist Church, Georgetown, where "the eloquent and scholarly" Henry McDonald was pastor and professor in Georgetown College. The Committee on Credentials reported two hundred and twenty-nine messengers enrolled. Elder C. E. W. Dobbs, pastor of East Hickman Church, Elkhorn Association was chosen Secretary and Elder A. T. Spalding, pastor Walnut Street Church, Louisville, preached the introductory sermon, theme: "Paul in Corinth".

      The churches had begun to recover from the effects of the Civil War, and a general revival in evangelism and missions prevailed throughout the State for the next three years. Thirty-four missionaries and evangelists were employed during 1871 under the leadership of the efficient Corresponding Secretary, S. F. Thompson, who reported 1624 baptisms, and seven churches and 47 Sunday schools organized. The amount of $9,351.81 was received for State Missions, and $5766.18 for Foreign Missions. All the State workers were paid for their services, leaving a small balance in the treasury.

      The Committee on Sunday schools in their report, claimed the Sunday school department was not receiving sufficient funds to maintain the work and recommended that "a separate Board of nine be appointed to control the Sunday school interests," which was approved by the body. This Board was appointed, consisting of nine members, which was organized for work on the following June 13, by choosing the usual officers, who lived in or near Georgetown, where the Board was to be located. Elder L. B. Fish, who had recently come to Kentucky and brought with him "a fine reputation as a Sunday school worker," was chosen State Superintendent of the Sunday school department, and entered upon his duties on the first day of the following August.

      The committee appointed last session to consider the question of a Kentucky Baptist Ministers Aid Society recommended the appointment of a committee of seven, who were "to make the very best arrangements possible, and put the matter into operation." The formation of such a society was found impracticable and the Committee made no report at the next session.

      Elder R. M. Dudley offered a resolution, looking to the removal of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary from Greenville, South Carolina to this State, which was referred to the committee on schools and colleges, which recommended that "A. T. Spalding, J. S. Coleman, S. L. Helm, W. W. Gardner, W. H. Felix, N. M. Crawford, R. M. Dudley, Henry McDonald, G. Varden, G. F. Bagby and J. M. Weaver, be appointed a committee to cull a meeting in Louisville as soon as practicable to bring the subject more definitely before the denomination, in order to ascertain the desirableness and feasibility of its removal to this State". Rev. F. H. Kerfoot, who was pastor of the Forks of Elkhorn Church, was Agent for the Seminary, and represented the institution in an address.

      During the year the Western Recorder had passed from R. M. Dudley and J. W. Rust, as editors and proprietors, to A. S. Worrell and A. C. Caperton, as editors and proprietors, with Dr. W. W. Gardner, and Rev. G. Varden, associate editors. Two monthly publications were being edited in the State at that time. These were the Baptist Sentinel, Lexington, conducted by A. S. Worrell and D. B. Ray; and the Prophetic Key, published in Versailles by "our own worthy and esteemed brethren, Elders P. S. G. Watson and A. P. Baker."

      The Baptist Orphans' Home established in Louisville, June 30, 1869 was presented and its claims and conditions discussed by a number of brethren. Many friends of the new Home handed in contributions. Miss Mary Hollinsworth, a native of Todd County, was the efficient matron and manager of the Home.12


      The messengers composing the General Association assembled in the meeting house of the Baptist church at Bowling Green on May 22, and were called to order by the Moderator, James S. Coleman, who read thei 23rd Psalm, and W. W. Gardner led in prayer. Elder S. F. Thompson resigned his work of Corresponding Secretary early in the year, which was not anticipated, since the workers for the year had been appointed and the work laid out for months ahead.

      On December 1, 1871, Elder A. B. Cabaniss was chosen Corresponding Secretary, and filled out the associational year of five and one-half months. The new Secretary was born in Virginia, March 12, 1821, and was in his 51st year. In 1852 he went out as a missionary to China and remained until 1859, when he returned home on account of his health and that of his family, but when the Civil War came on he returned to China. After his separation from the Foreign Mission work, this servant of the Lord devoted a greater portion of his remaining life to denominational work.

      Elder Cabaniss entered upon the duties of Corresponding Secretary in great earnest, and he began at once to visit churches during the severe winter, which brought on pneumonia, confining him for about a month. However, during the short time of service he brought some important facts to the Executive Board, which were reported to the General Association. The report showed that through the years, emphasis had largely been placed upon the work in the country, to the neglect of the rapidly growing towns, which were becoming a grave problem.

      The report of the Board in part was: "Since the war, many of our excellent farmers, on account of scarcity of labor, have either sold or rented their farms and gone to live in some town. Thus the old towns are growing and new ones are springing up, with people from the country. Many of these are Baptists. If they find no Baptist churches in the towns where they settle, they will attend meetings of some other denomination, and their children will go to their Sabbath schools, and in a few years become members of their churches. Thus these families will be lost to our denomination, as many have been in the past. In the country the Baptists outnumber any other denomination . . . but in the towns others frequently outnumber us ... We ought to endeavor to establish a Baptist church in every town of any size in Kentucky, so that when a Baptist settles there, he may find a Baptist home."

      The Sunday School Board presented a very informing report of the work and new policies of the Superintendent, L. B. Fish. The plan or organizing a Sunday School Convention in every district association in the State had been put in operation as the best method of securing the co-operation of all the churches in the Sunday school work. Already nine such conventions had been formed by the Superintendent, and also the plan of holding two or three days' Sunday school institutes in various localities was introduced by Elder Fish, which proved to be of great benefit to individual schools.

      The new Superintendent reported, that according to information obtained, there were not more than 125 Sunday schools, kept open all the year, in the State, and not more than one-third of the churches had Sunday schools. He reported 19 new schools had been organized, and that many churches complained that "their pastors take no part in the Sunday school enterprise." The committee on Sunday schools stated that "the selection of Elder L. B. Fish as State Superintendent of the Sunday schools is a happy one; his large experience, absorbing interest in the work, and peculiar adaptation to it, and the success, which has crowned his labors, proved him to be the right man in the right place."

      Earnest consideration was given to the question of removing the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to Kentucky. The committee on loca-tion, appointed the last session, reported that they had received instruction from the Trustees of the Seminary on removal, as adopted in Raleigh, North Carolina, a few days previous. Some of the instructions were: That the removal of the Seminary should be "to some point convenient of easy access, and offering advantages for its permanent establishment"; also that it would be proper "to avoid all complications with existing and proposed institutions of learning." The Board of Trustees further stated that "no mature and definite offer of the places under consideration had been made to justify the Trustees in making a positive selection of sites."

      The cities requesting the location of the Seminary were Louisville, Nashville, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. "The Trustees deemed it highly important that the sum of at least $300,000 be secured in the City or State, where the Seminary shall be placed. The question of selecting the location was to be left open until next August, that those desirous of having the Seminary in or near the cities requesting it, may have full opportunity to complete their subscriptions and put in legal form their proposals to the Trustees." It was agreed that the next session of the Seminary would be held in Greenville, South Carolina, and then formal notice of any change would be given.

      Georgetown College and the Baptists of Kentucky suffered a great loss in the death of President N. M. Crawford on April 4, 1872. He came to Georgetown from the Presidency of Mercer University in Georgia, his native State. Professor Basil Manly of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Greenville, South Carolina, was chosen President of Georgetown to succeed the lamented N. M. Crawford. Later the Board of Trustees reported that Dr. Manly's labors "are giving universal satisfaction to the friends of education."

      The committee on Foreign Missions announced the death of James B. Taylor, who for twenty-six years had served as Corresponding Secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, located in Richmond, Virginia. His was soon followed by the death of Dr. A. M. Poindexter, who for several years had acted as Assistant Corresponding Secretary of the same Board, with Dr. Taylor. Rev. H. A. Tupper, was selected Corresponding Secretary to succeed the lamented Taylor, in carrying forward the work of foreign missions. It was reported that the churches of Kentucky had contributed $8,922.29 to Foreign Missions for the year ending April 1, 1872.13


      The thirty-sixth annual session of the General Association was held in the Baptist Church at Paducah, commencing on the morning of May 16. This was the first meeting of the Association in the extreme western part of the State. Only 104 messengers were enrolled, and few visitors seated. Dr. James S. Coleman, who for thirteen seisions had served as Moderator, was not present because of impaired health. Special prayer was offered "in reference to the afflictions of Brother J. S. Coleman and family". Dr. S. L. Helm, then pastor of East Baptist Church, Louisville, was elected Moderator, and President Basil Manly, Georgetown College, and President Noah K. Davis, of Bethel College, were chosen Assistant Moderators; and Elder C. E. W. Dobbs, Secretary.

      The Committee appointed at the last session on the location of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary reported that the Trustees "have finally decided to locate that Institution at Louisville, Kentucky, and have called upon the Baptists of the State to raise the quota assigned to Kentucky." Two resolutions were then adopted: "Resolved, That the General Association (of Baptists) of Kentucky recommend to the Baptists of the State to contribute liberally toward raising the sum of $300,000, the amount necessary to be raised by this State to secure said location. Resolved, That inasmuch as the Board of the Seminary have already begun the work in this State through their Agent, James P. Boyce, the Association prefers that the Board shall continue the work, and does, hereby adopt said Agent, or any other whom the Board may select, as the Agent of this Association." On motion, J. P. Boyce, J. A. Broadus, J. O. B. Dargan and P. W. Eason, accredited representative of the Trustees to this body, were invited to address the Association. At the close of these addresses, Dr. Basil Manly of Georgetown College led in prayer.

      The report of the Executive Board gives some conceptions of conditions then existing, which in part are as follows: "The past has been a difficult financial year. There was great scarcity of money in the fall of 1872; the winter was one of unparalleled continued severity; and the epizooty among the horses for a time almost stopped work in the country. In addition to which the decline in prices of everything the farmer had to sell, all tended to depress and dishearten the people. This made it necessary to use extra efforts to raise funds necessary to carry on our work. The Secretary has traveled upwards of seven thousand miles, visiting the churches and trying to interest them in the mission work. This was imperatively necessary, as the majority of our churches have no regular time or system for missionary collections. If the Secretary goes and presents the subject, they give; if not, nothing is contributed." Corresponding Secretary A. B. Cabaniss said that he had written a large number of letters to pastors, where he could not go, requesting them to take collections for the cause, but only a few responded. Most of them did not. He said the general reply was, "The times are hard and my people won't do much unless you come."

      Only a small number of missionaries was appointed, consisting of about ten. The offering for the year for State Missions was $5,499.35; and only $4023.30 for the missionaries appointed and supported by the Boards of the District Associations. The Sunday School Board continued Elder L. B. Fish as Superintendent of the State Sunday school work, but raised only $974.54 for the support of this department. The Superintendent stated that it became necessary for him to turn aside from the Sunday school work to collect funds to carry on. He reported twenty Sunday schools organized and ten conventions constituted in the district associations.

      A special committee was appointed relative to holding a Centennial Anniversary of Kentucky Baptists in 1876, commemorating the first Baptist preaching in Kentucky, at Harrodsburg.14


      Frankfort was the place of meeting of the General Association, which convened in the Hall of the House of Representatives on the morning of May 21. Elder Green Clay Smith was pastor of the Frankfort Baptist Church. The Committee on enrollment reported 248 messengers present. The Honorable Preston H. Leslie, Governor of Kentucky, was chosen Moderator, Elder R. M. Dudley and M. B. Wharton, Assistant Moderators, and Elder C. E. W. Dobbs, pastor at Bowling Green, Secretary.

      The effects of the panic of 1873, "the greatest ever known in the nation," continued to retard the mission work. Twelve missionaries were employed for part time during the year. The collections for State Missions amounted to $7,920.62, which lacked $799.78 meeting the current expenses. Twelve missionaries had been employed by the district associations. This combined force of twenty-six workers reported nine churches and fifteen Sunday schools organized, and 1109 members received into the churches.

      J. P. Boyce, Agent of the General Association to raise $300,000 in Kentucky incident to locating the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, reported $111,820.00 secured. Dr. Boyce said in his report, "I am pleased to say that during my work for this summer, I have the assistance of my colleague, Rev. John A. Broadus. He will travel with me and aid me in my public meetings and private appeals".

      The committee appointed at the last session of this Association in regard to the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Baptists of Kentucky recommended that a special committee be appointed whose duty it shall be "to prepare a full program and select the place and time of holding said memorial celebration, and report the same to the General Association at Louisville in 1875."

      The State Sunday School Board sustained a great loss in the resignation of Rev. L. B. Fish, the Superintendent, on September 15, 1873. He had accepted a position with the American Baptist Publication Society, to labor in another State. Up to the present session no one had been secured as his successor.15


      The Broadway Baptist Church, Louisville, constituted in 1870, entertained the 38th Annual Session of the General Association, which was called to order on Wednesday morning, May 19, by Assistant Moderator R. M. Dudley. Rev. J. B. Hawthorne, a gifted young minister, was the popular pastor. During his pastorate, "a beautiful church edifice" was erected, costing $160,000, which was dedicated free of debt.

      Over three hundred messengers were enrolled, and a number of visitors seated. In the absence of the Moderator elect, Governor P. H. Leslie, Assistant Moderator, J. P. Boyce, assumed the chair. Elder J. Pike Powers, pastor at Mt. Sterling, had been chosen by the State Sunday School Board, Superintendent of the Sunday school work to succeed L. B. Fish. Elder Powers had served eight and one-half months and made a very acceptable report.

      At the close of the last meeting of the Association, the Executive Board was nearly free from debt, and resolved to enlarge greatly the missionary operation. After about eighteen missionaries had been appointed, a severe drought set in and continued for months, preventing the farmers from planting any tobacco, and cut all crops short. Feed for stock was greatly reduced. One missionary dispensed with his horse and traveled afoot; reporting that he could not expect the people to feed his horse, "who have nothing for their own stock". Twenty-six district associations kept forty-five missionaries in their respective bounds for only part of the year at very meagre salaries. Only $7,003.82 was received for State Missions, which left an indebtedness of $789.07. The entire mission force reported 1843 members, 29 churches constituted, 35 Sunday schools organized, and three church buildings erected. All the Baptist churches of the State reported 8,167 baptisms.

      The committee on Schools and Colleges gave an account of a number of Baptist Schools, not before reported.

      The Liberty Female College at Glasgow, was a new institution, which was prepared to open in September 1875, with Professor James H. Fuqua, formerly of Bethel College, Russellville, President.

      The Maysville Literary Institute reported an attendance of 50 male students, Professor M. H. Smith, Principal; while Miss J. R. Parks was head of the Female Institute of Maysville, with an average attendance of above fifty.

      Clinton College, Hickman County, Professor T. N. Wells, President, reported fifty-eight students matriculated.

      Fairview Male and Female School in Simpsonville reported seventy-two matriculated and Rev. H. F. Jordan Principal.

      Bagdad Seminary reported Professor T. G. Scarce, Principal, and seventy-five pupils matriculated.

      Dr. J. P. Boyce, Agent for the endowment of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, reported that $185,000 had been specifically contributed thus far "to bring the Seminary to Kentucky". He said: "My Board has directed the prosecution of this work to completion, within the coming year, so that the Seminary may be removed to Louisville by September, 1876", but later developments made this impossible.

      The problem of evangelizing the colored people was constantly before the Association for solution. The following was finally adopted: "We recommend the propriety of abandoning the idea or plan of evangelizing the colored people but suggest another more feasible work - that of aid and co-operation, wherever, and whenever, our colored brethern may request it. We believe they are better qualified to accomplish this work than we are; yet we feel it a duty to help them, whenever called upon".

      Little or no progress was being made by the committee on Kentucky Baptist History. No successful plan had been devised to gather the materials for the History, neither had the person been found "with the taste, skill, and leisure to combine and arrange these materials into the living form of History."

      There was great concern manifested about the Program of the Centennial of the "Beginning of the Gospel in Kentucky", which was to be put on in every section of the State, preparatory to the final centennial services to be held in the next session of the General Association. Accordingly all necessary committees were appointed to arrange great centennial mass meetings in all the district associations, and besides such meetings were to be conducted in all the leading towns. Historical and other addresses were to ibe delivered at all these gatherings, and the Baptists of the State were to be requested to show their gratitude to God for his mercies and blessings to contribute to "A Memorial Fund" to be applied to such benevolent objects, as the donors should elect. The people generally, as well as Baptists, were much enlightened in regard to the history, doctrines, policy and purpose of the Baptist denomination.

      There was some controversy as to the place for holding the Centennial session. Elder W. P. Harvey read an invitation from the Church at Harrodsburg, where he was pastor, but on motion by Elder S. L. Helm, the Association adopted Walnut Street Church, Louisville, as the next meeting place, beginning on Wednesday morning before the fourth Sunday in May, 1876.16


      Assistant Moderator J. P. Boyce called to order the Centennial Session of the General Association in the Walnut Street Baptist Church on Wednesday morning, May 24, and conducted the opening religious exercises. The body was composed of 374 messengers, the largest number yet enrolled in any previous session. Governor P. H. Leslie was reelected Moderator and Elders Green Clay Smith and James S. Coleman were chosen Assistant Moderators. Elder C. E. W. Dobbs was elected Secretary for the sixth time, and Elder B. W. Seeley, Assistant Secretary. Dr. T. G. Keen, pastor at Hopkinsville, preached the introductory sermon, which was in harmony with the spirit of the meeting.

      The second day of the Association, May 25, was given to the Centennial exercises. J. H. Spencer, who was present, said: "The house was densely packed, and the Centennial address was delivered by Elder Lucian B. Woolfolk, and the great audience was moved to tears and enthusiasm. It was a time of thrilling joy, of grateful praise, of glad remembrances and of hope - inspiring anticipations." At the night session of the same day President Basil Manly of Georgetown College, according to program, delivered a great inspiring address on "The History of Kentucky Baptists of the Past Century." The Centennial committee arranged with Editor A. C. Caperton of the Western Recorder to have the two addresses of Brethren Woolfolk and Manly and the sermon by Brother Keen published "in elegant, substantial form." The Association, then, by resolution recommended "that the brethren mentioned be requested to furnish Brother Caperton with their addresses for publication," and "that we promise to use our influence in the circulation of said books."

      The Centennial Memorial Fund could not be completed at this session because of the financial panic then on, but the report in 1878 showed $12,664.65 had been raised, besides unreported amounts were secured for special objects, especially on the Seminary endowment. The distressing financial condition of Kentucky was given in the report of the Executive Board as follows: "In consequence of the entire loss of the tobacco crop by the drought of 1874, and the loss of one-half of the wheat by the continued rains of 1875, and the financial pressure throughout the entire country, the past has been a very hard year to collect money for benevolent purposes in Kentucky." In view of this being the Centennial year, the Executive Board employed Rev. E. H. Maddox, Greenville, Kentucky, to assist the Corre-sponding Secretary, A. B. Cabaniss, in collecting funds, but he soon became discouraged and resigned.

      Secretary Cabaniss labored with all his power that the state work might keep pace, at least with former years. This energetic preacher travelled over six thousand miles, "preaching and lecturing and making personal appeals from house to house, where he could not get a congregation." The amount of $6,288.37 was raised for State Missions, which was $775.45 less than the year before.

      From the first to the last of the year, twenty-one missionaries were employed including the Corresponding Secretary, but at the close of the session of the General Association, there was a deficit of $1,592.60 on their salaries. Twenty-two district associations employed forty-five missionaries to labor in their bounds, many of them for only a short period of time, and all at a very meagre support. The combined report of these sixty-six missionaries, both State and District, showed ten churches and seven Sunday schools organized, two church buildings erected, the church building at Cynthiana completed and dedicated and 1334 additions to the churches.

      The statistics which had been carefully gathered for this Centennial Session, gives the numerical strength of the Baptists in Kentucky in this memorable year, 1876. These statistics show 58 district associations, 1241 churches, 676 ordained ministers, and 7212 baptized during the past year. All Baptists, white and colored, numbered 143,920. The following statement accompanied, "We really have more than that. Some churches failed to report their numbers." According to this membership every ninth person in the state was a Baptist, which showed that the membership of Baptist churches had increased more rapidly than the population since 1842, when only every thirteenth person out of the population was a Baptist. All Methodists combined, including Southern, Northern, and colored, came second to the Baptists, numbering 99,285.

      J. P. Boyce reported that up to the present time there had been raised about $225,000 of the $300,000, which was the amount requested from Kentucky to locate the Seminary in Louisville. Dr. Boyce read a communication from the recent action of the Trustees of the Seminary, which stated that it was of vital interest to the Baptist denomination and to the Seminary, that the endowment be completed in Kentucky by June 1, 1877 at the latest, and that the amount to be raised outside of that State, be completed by June 1, 1878, and that in the event the whole $500,000 should not be secured at the time, in land, bonds, subscriptions, and cash, the Seminary should be closed until said amount had been received.

      A Centennial Committee of Fifteen was appointed, composed of leading brethren, to go over the whole program of work of the General Association and report one year hence; and also to make a special effort in connection with the Treasurer of the Seminary to secure the Kentucky por-tion of money. It was also resolved that from this Centennial year of the origin of Baptists in Kentucky, that "We will endeavor to advance our various mission, Sunday school, and educational interests."

      At this session definite action was taken concerning the proposed History of Kentucky Baptists, which had been before every session of the Association since 1866 - ten years. The regular Standing Committee on Baptist History reported through their chairman, Rev. Green Clay Smith, first their regret of "the utter and continued failures heretofore to procure facts, and any person or persons to accomplish an end so desirable, as a History of the Kentucky Baptists, your committee do not feel inclined to continue the work in the hands of Associational Committees, but would most respectfully transfer this whole matter into the hands of Rev. J. H. Spencer, D.D., with the request that he at once proceed to prepare such a History of Kentucky Baptists, as he is enabled, from facts, documents, etc., now in his possession, and may be able to procure, and that he report his progress at the next meeting of the General Association." At that time Dr. Spencer was employed by the Board as State Evangelist.

      Rev. F. H. Kerfoot read the report on Sunday schools and recommended full cooperation with the Board in the successful prosecution of the Sunday school work. He emphasized the motto "A Baptist Church in every community and a well organized Sunday school in every church." The first general expression in favor of Female Missionary Societies was made in the report of State Missions as follows: "To further this work (of State Missions) we would recommend to our churches the formation of female missionary societies, or the employment of such other means as shall enlist the sisters." Missionary Societies had already been organized in Bethel Association, in the Elkton, Franklin and Russellville Churches.

      On the third day of the session, business was suspended to join in a Memorial Service for Dr. James M. Frost, Sr., who died during the session of the body. Elder W. M. Pratt, in the memorial address said "that it is a very striking coincidence that three of our most distinguished ministers had died during the session of this body. Silas M. Noel died while the Association was in session in Lexington, in 1839 or '40. In 1855, the body of John L. Waller was brought into this house during the sitting of the Association (in Louisville), and now comes the sad news of the death of our beloved Frost." This distinguished brother attained unto the age of sixty-three years, and had been one of the most devoted men to the Baptist cause in Kentucky. His distinguished son, J. M. Frost, Jr., was then pastor of a recently organized church in Lexington.17


1. Broadus, John A., Memoir of James Petigru Boyce, pp. 198, 199.
2. Minutes of Bethel Association, 1865, p. 18.
3. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1866, p. 10.
4. Minutes of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1866, pp. 1-16; Broadus, John A., op. cit., p. 205.
5. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1866, pp. 13-16, 69.
6. Taylor, W. C., Biography of Elder Alfred Taylor, pp. 9, 59, 117, 119; "Elder Alfred Taylor," by J. W. Rust, The Western Recorder, October 21, 1865, p. 2.
7. Minutes of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, 1867, pp. 8, 9, 15-21.
8. Ibid., 1868, pp. 5, 9, 12, 13, 22, 33-25.
9. Ibid., 1869, pp. 1, 5-8, 11, 12, 23, 27, 33, 43, 44.
10. Ibid., 1869, p. 44.
11. Ibid., 1870, pp. 1, 5-10, 14, 21-26, 30, 33, 41-43.
12. Ibid., 1871 pp. 10, 14, 17, 18, 20, 24, 26.
13. Ibid., 1872, pp. 10, 15, 16, 22, 23, 30, 31, 34.
14. Ibid., 1873, pp. 16, 20, 31, 41.
15. Ibid., 1874,p p. 10'-12, 18, 20, 29.
16. Ibid., 1875, pp. 4, 11, 14, 20, 23, 26-28, 33, 35, 40-44, 51.
17. Ibid., 1876, pp. 1, 10-20, 23, 25-27, 29, 30, 34, 35; Spencer, John H., A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 1, p. 765.


[From A History of Baptists in Kentucky, 1953, pp. 353-371. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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