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A History of Baptists in Kentucky
By Frank M. Masters


      One hundred and ten years had passed since the first Baptist church was planted on Kentucky soil, and the Baptists of the State had become a great denomination, before a history of their activities was written and put in permanent form. By the action of the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky in the session of 1876, the request was made that Rev. J. H. Spencer, D. D., proceed at once to prepare a History of Kentucky Baptists, "as he is enabled from facts, and documents now in his possession, and what others he may be able to procure, and that fee report his progress to the next meeting of the General Association." Dr. Spencer after nine years of toil and sacrifice presented the manuscript to the General Association in 1885; which was soon published in two large volumes, covering the period from 1769 to 1885.

      Sixty years passed since 1885 and nothing had been done officially to bring this great History by Dr. J. H. Spencer up to date until 1943. At the session of the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, on December 7 of that year, a motion was made by Dr. S. L. Stealey, Professor of Church History in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and unanimously passed that, "A Memorial be prepared and presented to the next session of the General Association to consider the bringing of the History of Kentucky Baptists, by J. H. Spencer up to date." Accordingly the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society presented to the General Association in 1944 the following:

"Whereas nothing has been officially done by the General Association to bring the 'History of Kentucky Baptists,' by J. H. Spencer up to date;

"Therefore be it Resolved that the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky in this session take such action as seems to be most advisable looking to the completion of Spencer's History for the period of 1885 to date.

"Be it resolved furthermore that the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society be commended and encouraged in the effort to gather and preserve all kinds of Baptist historical data, so necessary to the History of Kentucky Baptists covering this period of sixty years."

      In view of the above resolutions, Dr. Leo T. Crismon, President of the Kentucky Baptist Historical Society, and Librarian of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, made the following motion in the session of the General Association in 1945:
"That a Committee be appointed by the Moderator of the General Association: (1) To determine the extent of material available; (2) To name a historian with whom the members of the committee are to work in closest co-operation; (3) Looking forward to the expenditures of sufficient funds to present to the General Association a general estimate of the amount involved to bring up to date, from 1885 to the present, Spencer's History, or to rework the earlier period, 1769-1885, using Spencer's History as a basis, and to write up the period from 1885 to the present."
      A. T. Siler, the Moderator, appointed the following committee: Leo T. Crismon, Chairman, S. L. Stealey, and Wendell H. Rone. This committee reported to the General Association of 1946 as follows: "The members of the Committee in co-operation with the Executive Committee of the Executive Board of the General Association propose that Dr. Frank M. Masters, who has done extensive work in this field, be engaged for the task."

      The author accepted the responsibility of the great task assigned and entered upon his duties December 1, 1946, and devoted all his time and energy to the undertaking. He soon found it advisable to make his own out-line in chapters of the History of the Baptists in Kentucky without any reference to the plan of Dr. Spencer in his two volumes, but to utilize the part of his valuable material desired, revising such sections as could be revised with satisfactory results. After three years of tedious and prolonged research work, the manuscript was completed in October, 1949.

      The author expresses his deep appreciation for the valuable historical material furnished by interested men and women in every part of the State. Histories of churches and associations, and biographical sketches were sent in without solicitation. The highest appreciation is expressed to the Historical Committee for their co-operation and help, with whom the author was permitted to work in the most harmonious relations. Mention is made of Mrs. Catharine Masters Rosser, who typed and retyped 1400 pages of the manuscript. Words cannot express my appreciation to Dr. W. C. Boone, General Secretary of the General Association, and to his Executive Committee in providing the financial support to make the writing of the History possible.

      The author is also greatly indebted to the First Baptist Church, Princeton, Kentucky, and its pastor, H. G. M. Hatler, for providing office space in the church building, where the material for the history was compiled and written.

      The first cash pre-publication subscription for the History was given by James W. Moffitt, Associate Professor of History in Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, whose father was a life-long friend of the author.
      F. M. MASTERS
      October 5, 1949. Princeton, Kentucky


      Frank Mariro Masters was born on July 28, 1870, in Franklin County, Texas. He was educated at Calhoun College, Oklahoma Baptist University, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has served as pastor, college president and denominational worker in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky; author of "State Mission Catechism," "History of Ohio Valley Baptist Association of Kentucky," "History of Bethel Association of Kentucky," and "A History of Baptists in Kentucky."


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

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