Side and front views of Forks of Gunpowder
The Cincinnati Times-Star, August, 29, 1933.
To understand the beginning of a Baptist Church in Boone County, Kentucky in 1812 at the Forks of Gunpowder Creek, it is important to know something about the condition in the state, which gave rise to this movement.
Daniel Boone, referred to as "the most famous of the American Pioneers" was the first successful explorer of Kentucky. Daniel Boone was born November 2, 1734 in Pennsylvania. His father moved the family to North Carolina about 1750. In 1761, Daniel Boone led his first hunting party. Faint rumors now reached Virginia and North Carolina of the fertile land beyond the mountains. In 1764, Daniel Boone had been employed by a party of land speculators to lead them into the Cumberland River country, within the present boundaries of Kentucky. In 1769, John Findley piloted Daniel Boone and four companions into the country which he had visited a few years before. The new explorers had very difficult times, because of their conflicts with the Indians, who had lived in this territory for many years.1
Many years before this, the Mound Builders had lived in the territory, now known as Kentucky. In 1670, LaSalle, a Frenchman, in search of a great American river, passed through a portion of Kentucky. Possibly he was the first white man in this territory. Several explorers and surveyors came, but did not stay. At this time the colonial settlers along the Atlantic Ocean, knew practically nothing about the vast wilderness country beyond the seemingly inpenetrable mountains, later known as Kentucky. This unexplored territory formed a widely extended hunting ground on
which Indians of the North and the South lived and hunted wild game, including the buffalo and elk; and they often met each other in bloody conflicts.2
On the 4th of July, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, and in December of 1776 Kentucky County was established by Virginia. Now the people had a voice in the government of the state. Permanent settlements were made at Harrodsburg, Logans, Boonesboro and some other places under the direction of the Virginia Colony. At that time Boonesboro and Harrodsboro were supposed to be the only places of safety for residents and travelers, and subsequent experiences demonstrated that they were not altogether safe.3
In 1780, Kentucky County was divided into three counties: Fayette, including territory north of the Kentucky river; Jefferson, territory west of the Kentucky River; and Lincoln, including the rest of the territory. In 1788, Woodford County was created from Fayette County. It was the last county created before Kentucky became an independent state. On June 1, 1792 Kentucky was admitted into the union of the United States, as an independent state. In 1794, Campbell County was created from Woodford County. In 1798 Boone County was created from Campbell County; in 1840 Kenton County was created from Campbell County.4
The great migration from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, which began in 1799, increased yearly following the war. That the trials of the early settlers were "manifold and severe" was evident from several viewpoints. They all suffered alike the perils and hardships of the long journey from their native states to the then far western wilds of the Kentucky country. Those from northwest Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland came down the Ohio River in flat boats, landing at points where
Maysville and Louisville would be located. This route was long and hazardous because of the slowness and danger of the flat boats, and because day and night, the river was watched by the Indians to plunder and kill. Then when the pioneers would arrive at the landing places, they would have to make their way through the unbroken wilderness to the locations, where settlements were to be made.5
Those who migrated from eastern and central Virginia and North Carolina entered through Cumberland Gap, and by pack horse, over mountains and plains, would finally reach their destinations, after traveling hundreds of miles. There were no roads cut through the great forests, with the dense underbrush, nor bridges across the streams, and no protection from the rain and cold. After they would arrive at the places of settlement, they found no houses to live in, no fields cleared for planting, and no kind of supplies to be obtained in the wilderness.
It would seem that the first settlers in Kentucky were religious and brought the church with them. Different denominations came but the Baptists were the first to settle churches in Kentucky. One of the most fascinating stories in connection with pioneer religion in Kentucky is that of the "Traveling Church." The congregation of the Upper Spottsylvania Baptist Church of Virginia migrated in a body to Kentucky. They left Virginia in September, 1781. According to their plan, some of them were to locate in the Dix River region, while others were to settle in what is now the Blue Grass region. Lewis Craig was the religious leader of the expedition, and Captain William Ellis was the military leader.6
The company after suffering many hardships moved forward through Cumberland Gap. They journeyed northward, exposed to the cold and rain of the winter, and arrived in December in what is
now Garrard County and they settled on the south side of the Kentucky River. On the second Lord's Day in December, 1781, after their arrival, they met in the first service as a Baptist Church of Christ on Gilbert's Creek, about two and a half miles from the present town of Lancaster. There were about 200 members, including four preachers.7
John Taylor and Joseph Redding were two of the pioneer preachers, who brought their families to Kentucky in 1780 and began their ministries in Kentucky. John Taylor was a member of Gilbert's Creek Baptist in 1783-1784.
On May 28, 1785, Great Crossing Baptist Church was constituted by Lewis Craig and John Taylor. Joseph Redding was the second pastor of this church. One of the original members was William Cave, who was a member of the Traveling Church that came from Virginia in 1781.8
In 1794, John Taylor, Joseph Redding and William Cave had migrated into northern Kentucky and helped seven members constitute the Bullittsburg Baptist Church, in what is now known as Boone County. The members of this little church, at the time were the principal residents of the infant settlement on the margin of the Ohio River in what was then Bullitts Bottom. This was the first Baptist church in Boone County. This church was constituted upon the doctrines of the Gospel set forth in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. Churches that adopted this doctrine were known as Regular Baptists.9
John Taylor, in his book, A History of Ten Baptist Churches, speaks of the opening of the year 1800 as a time of gloom and discouragement and it was apparently so. What is known as the Great Revival, which reached its climax in Kentucky during the years of 1800-1803 was the most wonderful spiritual
event of modern times. During the years preceding the Great Revival of 1800 and 1801, Bullittsburg Church was in a formative state. Her enlargement was almost exclusively from migration. For six years she had only four additions by baptism. This was a period of toil and trials, of sowing in tears and walking by faith; yet one of the most important periods in her history. Her membership, coming from different parts of the country, were in the general, an excellent class of people, chiefly from Culpepper, Orange and Madison Counties in Virginia. A few from North and South Carolina and a few from the state of New York. Many of these brethren possessed a good practical knowledge of Scripture truth; and as Taylor remarks in his history, "were good old peaceable disciplinarians" in the churches to which they formerly belonged. Yet coming together from so many different communities, and under a new class of circumstances, it was of great importance to the peace, prosperity and existence of the church, that the constantly increasing material should be rightly harmonized, and that all should be molded into one common mind and spirit.10
The Spirit of the Lord moved upon the hearts of the preachers, the few members of the church and the people of the settlement. From June 1800 to the close of the year, seventy-nine were received by baptism. During the year 1801, fifty-seven were received by baptism; in 1802 sixteen; and comparatively few in the following years, till the commencement of 1811. Prominent among those added to the church during this period of prosperity were Jameison Hawkins, James Cloud, William Cave, Jr., George Gaines, Michael Clore, Christopher Wilson, Lewis Conner, Asa [a colored brother], William Montague, Abraham Depew, Beverly Ward, John Ryle, William Brady, Thomas Allen, James Ryle, Daniel Mosby. Also Joseph Graves, Elijah Hogan, James Graves, Moses Scott, Uriel Sebree, and by letter Robert Garnett. Five of these brethren became ministers of the Gospel, including the
colored brother, Asa. Others filled prominent places in this and other churches. And most of them have left a numerous posterity; many of whom have stood usefully with this and other churches as the years went on.
When Bullittsburg Church was organized in 1794, it was received into the Elkhorn Association located in Fayette County, approximately one hundred miles away. Messengers from Bullittsburg Church traveled this wilderness journey to attend the annual meetings. In July, 1803, Bullittsburg Church united with nine churches located in northern Kentucky at the Dry Creek Baptist Church and organized the North Bend Baptist Association. Bullittsburg had assisted in the organization of most of these churches, as well as churches in Indiana. One of these churches was Middle Creek [Belleview] in Boone County. On March 12, 1803, twenty-one members were assisted by Bullittsburg in the constitution of Middle Creek Church. Christopher Wilson was one of this number.11
In 1807, Bullittsburg Church ordained Christopher Wilson and John Goss to the work of the ministry. At the close of 1810, the church had two ordained ministers, three licentiates and four deacons and comprised a membership of one hundred and seventy one persons - one hundred and forty-four having been dismissed principally for the purpose of colonizing. At the close of 1810 two females were received for baptism, the first fruits of the great gathering of 1811. During the revival time one hundred seventy persons were added, making a total of three hundred nineteen. Among the prominent male members received were James Garnett, Elijah Hawkins, William Garnett, James Gilmore, Whitfield Early, Landon Robinson, Cave Montague, Lewis Webb, William Whitaker, Rowland Botts, Robert Kirtley, Willis Graves, Peter Lowsutter, James Dicken, Reuben Graves, Benjamin Watts, and Michael Cristler. These were subsequently leading and
representative men, six of them became ministers of the Gospel; and with but few exceptions the others were deacons and clerks in this and other churches.12
On April 4, 1812, residents of the neighborhood of the Forks of Gunpowder, sent a request to Bullittsburg Baptist Church, by Bro. William Underhill for liberty to form themselves into a constitution and also for the church to send helps for that purpose, on the fourth Wednesday in the present month. The church took up the motion and agreed that all the members that lived most convenient to that place have the liberty to constitute and also Bro. Matthews, Bro. Henderson, Bro. Absalorn Graves and Bro. McIntosh attend them as helps and make a report at the next meeting.13
On April 11, 1812, a request to the Middle Creek Baptist Church meeting was made by Bro.Canton Isaac - a member of Middle Creek for help by brethren to meet at the Forks of Gunpowder on the last Wednesday in the present month to assist some brethren in constituting a church, was attended to and Brethren Gannett, Smithers and Scott were approved accordingly.14
The Forks of Gunpowder was about 12 miles southeast of Bullittsburg in Boone County. For some years past this had been held as an outpost for preaching, and had been cherished and looked after with care. In this location Gunpowder Creek divided, forming a fork and an island was in this fork. It was on this island that the meeting house was located. Thus the name Forks of Gunpowder. I have not found any written accurate accounts of the description of the original place of worship. There are indications that there was a stone structure there. The structure has been referred to as a fort, but I have not found any documentation to verify that. In those days some buildings were built with openings near the eaves, as lookouts for Indian invasions. Often there was
like a courtyard in the center, open to the sky, so that bonfires could be built for warmth. This was 1812, approximately 25 years after the first settlers stopped at Tanners Station in Boone County, so the location was still pretty much wilderness. There has been some reference that the early building was also used as a school. I do not have any definite documentation on this information.
The earliest document about the church property that I have found is a deed recorded in the Boone County records - Deed Book F, page 265, dated June 18, 1825. It states that: "Lewis Crisler, in consideration of the sum of one dollar lawful money, in hand paid by the appointed trustees of the Forks of Gunpowder Church namely: Darned Honshel, Abraham Vaughn, Elijah Kirtley, Thomas Cushman and John Crisler, bargain and sold a certain lot or parcel of land lying in said County of Boone on Gunpowder Creek and including the whole of the island on which the Forks of Gunpowder meeting house stands. Beginning at an oak and sycamore near the mouth of the [t]race of Carters Mill thence up said [t]race etc."
There were three periods in the life of the Forks of Gunpowder Church. From 1812 - 1840 the church was a member of the North Bend Association and was considered to be Regular Baptists. In 1840, the group left the North Bend Association and declared themselves Predestinarian Baptists and joined the Salem Association. They stayed until 1897 when the church was abandoned. In 1902, it was re-organized and became a member of the North Bend Association again. At this time they were known as Southern Baptists and remained until 1936 when the church was again abandoned.
John Uri Lloyd has written [ca. 1901] several books about events in the location of the Forks of Gunpowder Church. The period that he wrote about was during the 1860s - the Civil War
time. At that time the church was Predestinarian Baptists.
Gunpowder Baptist Church, built in 1851.
Ruins of the old stone church in the rear.
John Uri Lloyd, Warwick of the Knobs, p. 51.
This is a picture of the church, taken ca. 1901. Lloyd states that it was built in 1851 and the rocks in the background were from
the old stone church. Note the two front doors, which were typical of all churches in that period. The women entered one of the doors and were seated on that side of the church. The men entered the other door and were seated on that side of the church. This custom was still practiced in the 1920s.
Baptismal pool in Gunpowder Creek, by the
side of the old stone church on the island.
John Uri Lloyd, Warwick of the Knobs, p. 291.
In his book Our Willie, Ca. 1901, John Uri Lloyd writes of a party held on the big flat rock, that extended far over the great pool that was beside the old church, on the island in Gunpowder Creek. Tradition relates that before the days of Daniel Boone or any other white pioneer, this flat stone was one of the spots sought by the Indians when performing their most solemn ceremonies during a war invasion. The church on the adjacent island where Kentucky pioneers worshiped their God was protected by the great cliff that towered above the church, stone and pool. Although the Indian with his prayers and ceremonies had disappeared; although the white man's church has been twice built on the island; the large flat stone is still there. The pool was used by the church to baptize their members. This pool was still used by the church in the 1902 - 1936 period of worship there.
[Picture of Aunt Georgia Hammond Gulley being baptized.]
At the May 1812 meeting of the Bullittsburg Baptist Church, the brethren who were appointed as helps, to constitute a church at the Forks of Gunpowder, on the 29th of April last reported that they had proceeded and constituted the church. The following members were dismissed from Bullittsburg to go to the Forks of Gunpowder: Christopher Wilson, Lucy Wilson, John Ellis, Polly Ellis, William Conner, William Underhill, Jess Fitchanell, Samuel Hamilton, Michael Christler, Christian Icenoggle, Willis Warrell, Joseph Courter, Benjamin Cave, Asa Horn, Milton, Casy Shafer, Betty Shafer, Polly Carlton, Patsy Hamilton, Sally Hamilton, Betsy Sturgeon, Polly Underhill, Sally Christler, Katy Crisler, Alse (black man of Christopher Wilson), Nancy Courter, Jan Icenoggle, Polly (a black woman belonging to Bro. Christler). Approximately 27 other people from Middle Creek and other churches helped in the constitution and became charter members of Middle Creek. Williams Rogers and his wife Sally were charter members of Middle Creek and he is listed as a messenger from Forks of Gunpowder to the North Bend Association in 1812.15 He was a help from Forks of Gunpowder to constitute San Run Baptist Church in 1819. Thomas Carter and his wife Nancy were charter members of Middle Creek.16 In Boone County Records - DEED book C1, page 195, Thomas Carter purchased land in December 1827 from Lewis Crisler that surrounded the island on which the Forks of Gunpowder meeting house was located. Through these records we can learn of some of the members of Forks of Gunpowder Church because we have not found any recorded minutes of the church at that time.
The North Bend Association held its tenth annual meeting September 25, 1812 at Mud Lick Baptist Church. The Forks of Gunpowder Church asked and was received as a member at this meeting, along with Bethel and Newport churches in Kentucky and Laughery, Indiana.17 Thomas Griffing was moderator and Absalom Graves, clerk. Other churches attending were Bullittsburg (1794),
Mouth of Licking (1794), Forks of Licking 1795), Four Mile (1795), Dry Creek (1800), Bank Lick (1801), Middle Creek (1803), Mud Lick (1804), Wilmington (1804), Point Pleasant (1804), Ten Mile (1806), Brush Creek (1809), Laughery (1811), Bethel (1812) and Newport (1812). The messengers from Forks of Gunpowder were Christopher Wilson (ordained preacher), William Rogers and Lewis Conner. The annual report of Forks of Gunpowder showed 55 members. They had received 2 by baptism and 2 by letter since their constitution April 29, 1812. Bro. Christopher Wilson was appointed to write the corresponding letter to the Long Run Association and to bear it to Long Run with William Bledsoe, John Watts and Alexander Moore. Bro. Christopher Wilson, Chichester Matthews, Jameson Hawkins, Jesse L. Holman and Ebenezer Griffing were to bear the corresponding letter to Whitewater Association. Bro. John Watts was appointed to write the Circular Letter and it was approved. Bro. John Leathers and Absalom Graves were appointed to have 500 copies of our minutes and Circular Letter printed and distributed among the churches.18
September 24, 1813, Bro. Christopher Wilson was chosen Moderator and Absalom Graves, clerk of the North Bend Baptist Association that met at Dry Creek Baptist Church. Messengers from Forks of Gunpowder were Bro. Christopher Wilson (preacher), William Rogers and Lewis Conner. Christopher Wilson preached the introductory sermon from Ephesians v:1-2. Their annual report: 2 received by baptism, 2 by letter, 2 dismissed by letter, 1 excluded; a total of 55 members. Those appointed to attend Long Run Association (which will be held in September at Fox Run) were Brethren Christopher Wilson, Jameson Hawkins, Robert Garrett and Absalom Graves. Those appointed to Whitewater (which will be held at Cedar Grove in August) were Brethren Christopher Wilson, Jameson Hawkins, Absalom Graves and Chichester Matthews.19
September 23, 1814, North Bend Association met at Middle Creek. The messengers from Forks of Gunpowder were Christopher Wilson (preacher), William Rogers, Leonard Crisler and Moses Vickers (preacher). Their annual report: 5 baptized, 4 by letter, 6 dismissed, 1 deceased - total members 53. Those to bear the corresponding letter to the Bracken Association (which will be held at Washington in September): Christopher Wilson, William Montague, Landen Robinson, Absalom Graves and Thomas Griffing. To the South District Association (which will be held at Shawnee Run in August): Christopher Wilson, William Bledsoe, Robert Garrett, Moses Vickers and Joseph Spencer.20
At the 1815 annual meeting of the association Christopher Wilson was appointed to a committee to seek to spread the gospel to the Indians of the western frontier, which included Kentucky at that time. An Indian academy was later established near Georgetown, KY. Bro. Wilson also was appointed to write the corresponding letter to the Bracken Association. The church had 2 baptized, 5 received by letter and 2 excluded.21
September 27, 1816, Forks of Gunpowder was host of the North Bend Baptist Association. Messengers from Forks of Gunpowder were: Moses Vickers (preacher), Christopher Wilson (preacher), William Rogers and Lewis Conner. Their annual report: 1 baptized, 2 by letter - total 61. Thomas Griffing was moderator. The committee appointed at the last association to raise by subscription or otherwise, a fund of money to be appropriated to the spread of the gospel, as directed by Luther Rice, reported that they had received $78.37c, which sum is to be put into the hands of Bro. Moses Scott, who is requested to put the same out on interest for one year. Brethren Christopher Wilson, Jesse L Holman, Moses Scott, John Stephens and David Lillard are appointed a committee to continue to receive contributions for the same purpose and report to the next association.
Queries [questions] were often asked of the churches of the association by an individual church. The following is from the minutes of 1816 "QUERY - From Forks of Gunpowder: is it the duty of the church of Christ in the ordination of the ministers and deacons), to lay on hands, since the death of the Apostles. - Deferred to the next association. "Bro. Christopher Wilson is to preach the introductory sermon at the next session. Bearers of letters to the Franklin Association (which will meet at Hopewell in September) are Christopher Wilson, J. L. Holman and William Bledsoe. When churches hosted an associational meeting, much preparation was made. Benches were erected in the shade for the messengers. Places were provided for hitching, feeding and watering the horses. The food was brought in dinner baskets by each family.22
The association met at Bullittsburg September 26, 1817. Bro. Christopher Wilson preached the introductory sermon from Mark 13:37, "And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch" The messengers were Christopher Wilson, Moses Vickers, Lewis Conner, Francis Craig [who was licensed to preach]. Bro. Wilson was the moderator and Absalom Graves the clerk. The query from Forks of Gunpowder from last year about laying on of the hands in an ordination service was dismissed without an answer. The Circular Letter was written by Absalom Graves. Christopher Wilson and others were to attend the associational meetings at Elkhorn, Long Run and Bracken.23
The annual meeting in 1818 was held at Ten Mile Baptist Church in Gallatin County on the fourth Friday in September. In the North Bend Association there was a time of revival - there were 611 saved and baptized in all the churches that year. The Forks of Gunpowder Church had 11 baptized, 5 received by letter, 4 dismissed by letter and 3 excluded, bringing their membership to 60. Christopher Wilson was the moderator that year.24
The association met at Dry Creek Baptist Church, September 24, 1819. The church had four men to represent it at the association: William Rodgers, Isaac Carlton, Lewis Conner and Francis Craig. There were three baptized, one received by letter and seven dismissed by letter that year by the church. Lewis Conner was chosen as one of the three men to preach on the last day of the meeting.25
The year of 1820 saw two added by baptism, four dismissed by letter and one excluded from the church, leaving a total membership of 51. Brethren Wm Rogers, John Carter and Lewis Conner represented the church at the associational meeting. John Taylor [the first pastor of Bullittsburg] presented to the association a pamphlet "written by himself, on the subject of missions, which was received for the purpose of examining the same." Brother John Carter was chosen as a representative to go to the annual meeting of Eagle Creek Association [OH] to be held at Indian Creek Baptist Church in September, 1821.26
The Licking Meeting House, Campbell County, was the place for the meeting of the association on August 17, 1821. Christopher Wilson, William Rogers, Thomas Cushman and Lewis Conner were the representatives of the Forks of Gunpowder. The association had 45 baptized; there were 15 baptized in the Boone County churches; the Forks of Gunpowder church had 6 baptized. It also added 10 by letter and had one death. Bro. Wilson was to be the back-up preacher for the next association, in case of the failure of Bro. Benjamin Stephens of Dry Creek. Because of the "languid state of Zion" the association recommended a day of "fasting, humiliation and prayer" on the third Wednesday in September.27
The 1822 North Bend Association met at Sand Run Baptist Church and Bro. Christopher Wilson, Wm. Rogers and Lewis Conner [who this year was listed as an ordained minister] attended.
Bro. Thomas Cushman was also chosen, but did not attend. Lewis Conner was chosen to write a letter of correspondence to Elkhorn Association. Bro. Wilson was again chosen as a back-up preacher for the next meeting. Bro. Conner was chosen as a representative to Licking Association at Elizabeth Baptist Church Meeting House in Bourbon County. Bro. Wilson was chosen to attend Laughery Association in Indiana and the Concord Association in Henry County. The church had 2 baptisms, 4 added by letter and 1 death. The total membership was 71.28
Brethren Christopher Wilson, Lewis Conner, Wm. Rogers and Elijah Kirtley were the messengers to the association in 1823. The church letter reported 1 baptism, 2 dismissed by letter and 1 deceased. The church's Saturday meeting was shown to be on the third Saturday of the month. Bro. Wilson was chosen to write the corresponding letter to the Elkhorn Association; Bro. Conner was to write the letter to the Eagle Creek Association [in Ohio]. Wilson was assigned to attend the Laughery Association in Indiana; Elijah Kirtley was to attend the Licking Association to be held at Versailles.29
Beginning on August 20th, 1824, the Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church hosted the Association meeting with their pastor, Christopher Wilson preaching the introductory sermon from 1 Corinthians xiii.13 "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." Other messengers, besides Bro. Wilson, were L. Conner, W. Rogers, L. Crisler, and E. Kirtley. This was a year of revival in the area as 310 were added to all the churches of the association. Forks of Gunpowder had 22 added by baptism, 6 received by letter, 2 dismissed by letter, 1 excluded and 2 deceased. The total membership for the church that year was 93.30
In 1825, the association met at Ten mile, Gallatin County. Brethren Wilson, Conner, Kirtley and Rogers were the messengers from the church. Bro. Wilson was assigned to write the corresponding letter to the Bracken Association. Brethren Conner and Wilson were to attend the Laughery Association as representatives from North Bend. Bro. Wilson was also to attend the Concord Association. Churches in North Bend Association began holding "yearly meetings." Bro. Wilson was appointed to attend the Licking Baptist Church and Twelve Mile yearly meetings. Bro. Conner was to attend the Bank Lick church yearly meeting.31
Bro. Lewis Conner preached the introductory sermon from Ephesians ii chapter and 20th verse at the annual meeting for 1826, held at Bullittsburg Meeting House. Brethren Wilson, Conner, Crisler, E. Kirtley and Cushman were the messengers. The church had received 5 by baptism, dismissed 4 by letter, excluded 1, and had 2 deceased. The total membership was 113. Christopher Wilson was chosen moderator for the session. Bro. Wilson was appointed to represent the association at the next Laughery [IN] Association. Lewis Conner was to attend Concord Association in Henry County. The yearly meeting at Fredrickburg Baptist Church in October was to be attended by Bro. Conner and at Flower Creek Baptist Church by Bro. Wilson.32
The associational meeting for 1827 was held at Bethel Meetinghouse in Boone County [on the present-day Frogtown Road, Union], Brethren Conner, Cushman, E. Kirtley, Crisler and J.S. Carter attended as messengers from Forks of Gunpowder. The church reported 2 saved and baptized, 1 received by letter, 5 dismissed by letter, 2 excluded and 1 deceased. Eight churches from Campbell County expressed a desire to form a new association in their county. The brethren appointed to visit the other associations were Elijah Kirtley and J. S. Carter to the Union
Association in Grant County and Lewis Conner to the Laughery Association in Indiana. Forks of Gunpowder planned to hold a yearly meeting on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday in October.33
In 1828 Christopher Wilson, Lewis Conner and Richard Mars attended the associational meeting. Brethren Lewis Crisler, Elijah Kirtley, and T. Cushman were also appointed to be messengers, but they did not attend. Lewis Conner was appointed to write the corresponding letter to the new Campbell Association. Conner was also appointed to the committee of arrangements. This seems to have been a new committee as previously the moderator and clerk made the arrangements for the meeting. Bro. Richard Mars was appointed to write the corresponding letter to Elkhorn Association and Bro. Wilson was appointed to write and carry the letter to Campbell Association. Gunpowder planned to hold a yearly meeting on the 3rd Saturday and Sunday in May. Bro. Conner was also assigned to attend the yearly meeting at Crew's Creek Baptist Church. The church reported 1 baptism, 2 additions by letter, 4 dismissed by letter, and 1 excluded.34
In 1829 the association met at Salem Mettinghouse [near Verona]. Lewis Conner, Anselm Clarkson, Elijah Kirtley, John S. Carter, and John Crisler attended as messengers from Gunpowder. The church reported 4 baptisms, 9 additions by letter, 4 dismissed by letter, and 1 excluded. Lewis Conner wrote the Circular Letter, which was read and approved. He wrote on letting brotherly love continue. The churches of the association had seen 187 received by experience and baptism since the last meeting and he made reference to this in the letter. This was the first time anyone from the Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church wrote a Circular, which was considered an honor. Anselm Clarkson was appointed to write to Licking Association. The Gunpowder church planned a yearly meeting in October.
Messengers from Gunpowder at the 1830 associational meeting were L. Conner, E. Kirtley, J. M. Clarkson, A. Clarkson and J. S. Carter. The church reported 3 received by experience and baptism, 7 by letter, 5 dismissed by letter, 1 excluded and 1 deceased. J.M. Clarkson was chosen to write the corresponding letter to Licking Association and Lewis Conner to the Campbell Association. Lewis Conner was also chosen to be the alternate preacher for the introductory sermon at the next associational meeting. Three brethren from Gunpowder, Conner, J. M. Clarkson and A. Clarkson, were chosen to bear the corresponding letter to the Licking Association meeting in Clark County at Friendship Baptist Church. J. S. Carter was to attend the Campbell Association along with four brethren from other churches.
The 1831 annual meeting was at Sand Run Baptist Church, with L. Conner, A. Clarkson, J. S. Carter, J. N. Stephens, Lewis Crisler and John Crisler attending from Gunpowder. Elijah Kirtley was chosen to attend, but did not. There was 1 baptism, 5 received by letter, 1 restored [someone who had been excluded from the church had come back], 7 dismissed by letter, 5 excluded, and 3 deceased. The total membership was 92. Bro. Lewis Conner, who had been appointed as the alternate, preached the introductory sermon from Acts xv, 11. Lewis Conner was also chosen to write the corresponding letter to the Union Association and A. Clarkson to the Licking Association. Lewis Conner was also appointed to the committee on arrangements. Lewis Conner was chosen to represent the association to the next Bracken Associational meeting; and A. Clarkson was to go to the Licking Association. Lewis Conner was also appointed, along with nine other brethren, to meet at Ten Mile Meetinghouse to aid the churches from that area in establishing their own association.
Crew's Creek, in Campbell County, was the place of meeting for the 1832 associational meeting. Lewis Conner, Edw'd Atkins,
J. S. Carter, Lewis Crisler and Jon. Crisler were the messengers from Gunpowder. That year there were 4 baptisms, 2 received by letter, 1 restored, 19 dismissed by letter, and 3 excluded; with a total membership of 77. Lewis Conner was appointed to write the letter of correspondence to Licking Association. On the second day, Lewis Conner led in praise and prayer before they started their day of business. John Crisler was appointed to bear the corresponding letter to the next Franklin Association; Lewis Conner and Edward Atkins to the Licking Association; Conner also to the Laughery Association.
"The North Bend Association of Baptists, began and held at the Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church, Boone County, Kentucky, third Friday, 16th of August, 1833," was the way the associational Minutes began that year. Lewis Conner, Edw'd Atkins, John S. Carter, John Underhill, Lewis Crisler and John Crisler were the messengers from the church. No baptisms were reported. One was received by letter, 3 dismissed by letter, and 2 excluded for the year. An unusual thing occurred: three men were chosen to write the corresponding letter to the Licking Association. They were Lewis Conner, Lewis Webb, and Willis Graves. Lewis Conner was also chosen to represent the association at the Laughery Association [IN] at their next meeting. Conner was also chosen to write the next Circular Letter.
In 1834, the churches of North Bend Association met at Bullittsburg and John Underbill from Gunpowder was listed as a licensed preacher. He, along with Lewis Conner, Lewis Crisler, John S. Carter and John Crisler were the messengers to the association that year. Thomas Cushman was appointed, but was listed as not attending. The church had 5 received by salvation and baptism, 1 received by letter, 3 dismissed by letter, and 2 deceased.
The Circular Letter was written by Lewis Conner. He emphasized in the letter the union of Christian Brethren who were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world and the importance of showing one's faith by good works. He said Baptists agree on the two ordinances, on church government and discipline. He referred to the gospel as "a fixed principle" and said any disagreement in preaching must be according to style. The true preacher preaches Christ as the author and finisher of salvation.
In 1835, the association met at Mudlick meeting house [near present-day Beaver Lick]. Bro. Lewis Conner was chosen moderator and he and the clerk, Lewis Webb, were appointed "a committee of arrangements." John S. Carter was assigned, with others, to attend and deliver the corresponding letter to the Bracken Association; John Underbill and others were to deliver the corresponding letter to Ten Mile Association, meeting at Poplar Grove in Owen County. Bro. Conner agreed to attend a yearly meeting at Middle Creek and Crew's Creek the next year. There were eleven churches in the NBA at that time, eight of them in Boone County.
In 1836 Brethren L. Conner, J. Underbill, J. S. Carter, S. Tanner and T. Cushman were the messengers at the annual association meeting. Gunpowder had two saved and baptized, two join by letter, and one death. The total membership that year was 67; in 1829 the church had listed 115 members. Lewis Conner was chosen to write the letter of correspondence to the Campbell County Association. In the Saturday morning meeting, the Gunpowder church sent a request to the association to appoint brethren to preach on Saturday as well as on Sunday [that had been the earlier custom]. The association answered in the negative. Bro. Lewis Conner was appointed to preach the next annual associational introductory sermon. Conner was also appointed a
correspondent to the Licking Association meeting at Stone Point in Bourbon County
At the 1837 meeting, Bro. Conner preached from the text of Romans 8:33, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth." Brethren John Underbill, J.S. Carter, and John Crisler attended along with Conner. Joel Delph was elected as a messenger, but did not attend. John Underbill is listed as an ordained preacher that year. John S. Carter was assigned to help represent the NBA at the Bracken and Campbell Associations. Lewis Conner also was to attend the Campbell meeting. The Gunpowder church had 1 addition and 1 dismissal by letter.
In 1838, the churches met at Salem Baptist Church. Gunpowder had six men attend as messengers: Conner, Underbill, Simeon Tanner, Stanton Aylor, John S. Carter and Joel Delph. Their report showed 7 additions by baptism, 4 by letter, 6 dismissed by letter and 1 excluded. Bro. Conner was assigned to write the letter of correspondence to the Ten Mile Association. Bro. Conner was also appointed to the committee of arrangements with the moderator and clerk. Conner was also appointed to preach as a back-up preacher for the next introductory sermon at the associational meeting. The next Licking Association was to meet at Sardis [at Union in Boone County] and Joel Delph and Lewis Conner were appointed to attend from the Gunpowder church. Lewis Conner and Stanton Aylor were also to attend Campbell County Association.
Bro. Lewis Conner wrote the Circular Letter for the 1839 meeting of the North Bend Association; this was the second one he had written. He emphasized that only the redeemed can be true members of a church. He discredit's the doctrine of those who teach that only those baptized in a natural creek or pond can be a
spiritual person. He says that salvation is as passive for the newborn Christian as the natural birth experience was. Gunpowder that year had 9 received by baptism, 1 received by letter, 2 dismissed by letter, 1 excluded and 1 death.
Lewis Conner was appointed to preach the next introductory sermon; and Conner was to help arrange the business of the association, with the moderator and two other brethren. Representatives from the Gunpowder church for the North Bend Association to other associations were: John Underhill to Licking, held at Bryant's Station Baptist Church in Lexington; Lewis Conner to Elkhorn and Ten Mile.
The 1840 associational meeting was held at Sand Run Baptist meetinghouse, on August 21. Bro. Lewis Conner preached the introductory sermon. The text was John 6:45: "It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." The church reported 1 saved and baptized, 3 received by letter, and 3 deaths. Their total membership was 78. Bro. Lewis Conner and Slayton Aylor were representative to the Licking Association. The next associational meeting was scheduled for the Forks of Gunpowder meetinghouse in August of 1841.
There was no outward indication at the 1840 annual meeting that some of the churches had plans to break fellowship with those in the Northbend Association. However, on November 27-29, 1840 eight churches met at Salem [near Verona] in Boone County and formed themselves into a new association. The first annual record of their organization is titled: "MINUTES of the PREDESTINARIAN BAPTIST CONVENTION for the purpose of forming a NEW ASSOCIATION." Elder Thomas P. Dudley, a Lexington pastor, "by request" delivered a discourse introductory to the business of the Convention, from Zechariah, iv, ch. ix. verse,
first clause, "The hands of Zerrubabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it." He was requested to be the moderator for the organization. Brethren Jordan H. Walker, B. Jones, L. Atkins, W. Conrad and M. Samford also came to assist in the organization. Bro. Walker was chosen as the organizational clerk. They agreed to be known by the name of Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists and the moderator pronounced them as such. Churches, along with Forks of Gunpowder, who formed this association were: Mud Lick, Bethel, Crew's Creek, Four Mile, Salem, Brush Creek and Mount Pleasant - a total of eight.
A total of 34 brethren were appointed to serve as messengers from these churches to this organizational meeting. Seven of the brethren listed did not attend. Lewis Conner, along with John Gaines and B. Watts from Mount Pleasant Baptist Church were appointed a committee to arrange the business for the association.
The largest churches were Forks of Gunpowder and Crew's Creek - both with memberships in the low 80s. One other church had 35 members and the others all had memberships in the teens and twenties; Brush Creek had only 11 members. There were a total of five ordained and two licensed preachers among these churches [Forks of Gunpowder had two of the ordained men].
This association adopted a thirteen-point doctrinal statement that was similar to the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith [the one adopted by the first churches in the Northern Kentucky area]. Article 12 seems to express much of the sentiment of these churches; it said, "We believe that God 'devised means that his banished be not expelled from him,' and that those means are effectual; hence we disclaim all fellowship for the modern institutions commonly but erroneously called benevolent, and for those who advocate them, forasmuch as they are without warrant as religious institutions."
The next available records we have are the associational Minutes for 1843, when they met at Forks of Gunpowder. Lewis Conner, J.S. Carter, Job Popham, Joshua Rouse and S. Tanner were the messengers from the church. They reported no baptisms, 4 additions by letter, 2 dismissed by letter, with a total membership of 86. Lewis Conner was chosen moderator. Two churches were added at this meeting: the first Old School Baptist Church at Covington and Little Hope in Owen County. Dry Creek Baptist Church had been added since the organization of the association. The next associational meeting was scheduled for the fourth weekend in August at Mount Pleasant, in Boone County [near Hebron]. Lewis Conner, along with twelve other brethren, agreed to attend the Licking Association at their next meeting. Joshua Rouse and John S. Carter agreed to attend Mount Pleasant Association in Henry County. Apparently these were the only two associations they fellowshipped with at that time.
The next record we have available is the 1845 Minutes. The church's report shows 5 dismissed by letter and 2 deaths, with a total membership of 82. There were a total of 14 churches in the association. There were only two ordained men in the Boone County churches, one of these at Gunpowder. There were three licensed preachers in Boone County. Five of these churches were in Boone County with a total membership of 219; there were 413 members in the entire association. Elder Lewis Conner preached the introductory sermon from: "133 Psalms, 1st verse: Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Elder Conner was chosen moderator. Joshua Rouse was listed as a member of Mud Lick in their report, so he no doubt was one of those dismissed by letter from Gunpowder that year. Messengers besides Conner, were: J.S. Carter, Simeon Tanner, L. Byle and S. Aylor. Lewis Conner was among twelve brethren who were to attend the Licking Association's meeting in Williamstown in
September of that year; he also was to attend Mount Pleasant's meeting in Henry County.
In 1850 [the next record we have], the associational meeting was held with Forks of Gunpowder church; again we see Lewis Conner chosen as moderator. He also preached the introductory sermon that year from: "John 6th ch., 38 and 39 vrs., - 'For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me, and this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.'" The church reported 2 received by letter and 2 deceased, with a total membership of 70. Brethren Conner, Joshua Rouse [he came back from Mud Lick], S. Tanner, Geo. Foster, and Lewis Helm attended as messengers. S. Aylor was appointed by the church, but did not attend. The association voted to drop correspondence with Licking Association "for the present." This was the association that sponsored the Salem Association. Later on in the records, men are requested to attend the Licking Association's next meeting. Lewis Conner was to attend the Mount Pleasant Association that met in Shelby County and the Whitewater Association in Indiana. Joshua Rouse was to attend the Miami Association of Regular Baptists. Lewis Conner was appointed the back-up preacher for the next associational meeting.
At the sixteenth annual meeting  of the Salem Association at Little Hope Baptist Church in Owen County, there were only seven churches listed in the association, four of them in Boone County. There were only two ordained men in the association: Lewis Conner and John Underhill - both of them were members of Gunpowder. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, which in 1850 had 43 members, was down to 9 at that time. Gunpowder was down to 55 total membership. Elder Conner was again chosen moderator. Brethren Conner, Underhill, Jon. S. Carter, and B. Watts attended as messengers from Gunpowder; S. Aylor and
Lewis Helm were chosen but did not attend. By this time, the association was only corresponding with Mount Pleasant and White Water Associations. Both of these associations were labeled "Regular Baptists." Lewis Conner was chosen to preach the next introductory sermon. Brethren Conner, Carter and Watts agreed to attend Whitewater Association and Brother Conner also agreed to attend Mount Pleasant Association's meeting. The 1857 meeting was to be held at Salem Baptist in Boone County.
At the 1860 annual meeting of the Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists, there were only 5 churches still in the association - 3 in Boone County. Lewis Conner, who had been converted July 6, 1800 at Bullittsburg, during the revival that broke out in that year and most of the next, was not listed in the minutes. He would have been of a good old age at that time and no doubt died since the last records we have. He had been the pastor of Gunpowder for many years and the leading force in the association. John Underbill was the pastor of Forks of Gunpowder and would remain so for many years; he was at that time the only ordained man in the association. Messengers from Gunpowder were J. Underbill, J. S. Carter, J. Delph, L. Helm, W. Conner, L. Aylor and S. Aylor. Elder J. Underbill was the moderator. The Gunpowder church reported the only baptism in the churches of the association that year. The church also had 3 members added by letter. Only one other church had an addition by letter. There were 5 deaths and 1 excluded among the churches.
The correspondence with the Mount Pleasant Association was still kept up and brethren Underbill and S. Ay lor agreed to attend their annual meeting. Brethren Underbill, J. Delph, S. Aylor, W. Conner and L. Helm agreed to attend the Whitewater Associational meeting. Salem Association had received letters and messengers from these associations. Elder Underbill was to preach the next introductory sermon, or select some brother in his stead.
S. Aylor from Gunpowder was chosen to write the next Circular Letter.
There is a "P.S." at the end of the recorded minutes: "The church at the Forks of Gunpowder have agreed to hold a yearly meeting to commence Friday before the third Saturday in May, 1861. Ministering brethren of our faith are affectionately invited to attend."
The next record we have is from 1864 when the association met at Mud Lick. John Underhill was still the only ordained preacher in the association and he was chosen moderator. The Gunpowder church had one baptism and showed a total membership of 42. There was a total of 103 in all five of the churches; Little Hope in Owen County sent no report or messengers. The messengers from the Gunpowder church to the association were: J. Underhill, J. Delph, E. Blankenbecker, and W. Conner. L. Helm and S. Aylor were appointed, but did not attend. Those from Gunpowder, who agreed to attend the Whitewater Association were: Brethren Underhill, Delph, W. Conner and Blankenbecker. The next meeting was to be at the Salem meetinghouse in Boone County.
The only remaining record of minutes we have is from 1879. The messengers from Gunpowder were: Elder John Underhill still the only ordained preacher in the association], Lyster Ayler, James Clore, and Ephriam Helm. There were no additions to any of the churches; there was one death reported from Little Hope Baptist Church. The Forks of Gunpowder church was down in total membership to 18 people. Elder John Underwood preached the introductory sermon from "Gal., 3d Chap, and 13th verse." By this time they were corresponding with four other associations: Mount Pleasant, White Water [IN], Licking, and Indian Creek [OH]. The meeting days for the association had been moved to Wednesday
through Friday. They appointed men to attend the other associational meetings, but none from Gunpowder were appointed to attend. Bro. Ephriam Helm was appointed to write the next Circular Letter. The association does not list the name of the author of the Circular in the Minutes in which it is printed; it was mentioned in the previous year. We do not have two consecutive yearly records from the Salem Association.
The Gunpowder church was to host the 1880 meeting of the association. The minutes were down to four pages by then and on the back page there is a list of "ministers present this year" and their addresses. They were:Samuel Jones, New Castle, Ky. Samuel Banks, College Hill, Ohio N. A. Humpston, Spring Hill, Henry County, Ky. J. M. Theobold, Owenton, Ky. J. M. Demaree, Pleasureville,Ky. Harvey Wright, Knightstown, Ind. J. H. Wallingford, Mt. Gilead, Mason County, Ky. W. T. Winston, Florence, Boone Co., Ky. R. M. Thomas, Wakenda, Carroll Co., Ky. J. Taylor Moore, Georgetown, Scott Co., Ky. John Underbill, Burlington, Boone Co., Ky.
These last members continued meeting in the Meeting House at The Forks of Gunpowder until 1897. I believe Bro. Charles Aylor was their last Pastor.
Many Thanks to Jim Duvall for researching and recording this information about The Forks pf Gunpowder, while they functioned as Predestinarians in The Salem Association.
Footnotes1 Frank N. Masters, A History of Baptists in Kentucky.
2 Elizabeth Shelby Kinkead, A History of Kentucky.
3 Ibid., p. 29.
4 Ibid., p. 40.
5 Masters, pp. 6-7.
6 Alonzo Willard Fortune, The Disciples of Kentucky.
7 Masters, p. 27.
8 Ibid., p. 39.
9 J. A. Kirtley, The History of Bullittsburg Baptist Church, p. 1.
10 John Taylor, A History of Ten Churches, p. 7 and p. 8.
11 Masters, p. 172; Kirtley, p. 18.
12 Kirtley, p. 16.
13 Bullittsburg Baptist Church Minutes.
14 Middle Creek Baptist Church Minutes.
15 Bullittsburg Baptist Church Minutes.
16 Sand Run Baptist Church Minutes.
17 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
18 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
19 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
20 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
21 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
22 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
23 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
24 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
25 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
26 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
27 North Bend Baptist Associational Minutes.
==============[By Elizabeth Kirtley, Florence, KY.]
The following document about the church is from county records:June Term 1825
At a County Court begin and held at the Courthouse in Burlington on Monday the 6th. day of June 1825. Present Cave Johnson, Chas't Scott & Reuben Graves, Esq'rs. Present Moses Scott, Esq'r.
"Ordered that the certificate from the Church at the forks of Gunpowder appointing David Hoshal, Ab'm Vaughn, Elijah Kirtley, Tho's Cushman, & Jn'o Crisler as trustees for said Church to receive deeds, &c. — be Recorded." [CO/ B-421] - Provided by James K. Duvall.
From Bullitttsburg Baptist Churchbook, April, 1827
A request from the church at The forks of Gunpowder was rec'd for helps to attend them on the third Saturday in this month to give them and in a matter of difficulty respecting Bro. Wilson — upon consideration it is agreed to send six of our members as helps upon that occasion. To wit Brethren Robt. Kirtley Winfield Early, Edw'd Graves Rowland Botts Joseph Botts & Reuben Graves
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