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Comments about the Sardis Baptist Church
Union, Kentucky
From a Member's Diary - 1860s -1870s


      The following is from the Diary of Mary Beckley Bristow of Boone County, Kentucky. She was a member of the Sardis Baptist Church, of Union and mentions the church often in her entries. Her diary is also a source for knowing more about the pastor, Morris Lassing, who was there for ten years. This document has "fragments" of these subjects only. Sardis was a Primitive Baptist Church and ceased to exist in the late 1890s.
      The complete diary titled "Aunt Polly's Diary" is here.

January 8th 1862
      Have just heard that our meeting house, Sardis, where yesterday [we] heard such good preaching, is tonight filled with Lincoln's soldiers.

January 9th 1862.
     Heard this morning that the federal soldiers had left Union without doing any damage. I think I am thankful they did not, as it was supposed they would, arrest any of our fellow citizens, and I am glad they behaved so well that everyone seems disposed to praise them. I am very well satisfied that they are gone, and have no wish for them or any others of their stripe to return to this region any more.

April 5th 1862.
      Did not receive much benefit from going to meeting to day. Brother Lassing's exhortation was doubtless good, but I was in too much pain to hear to profit.

Dec. 14th 1862.
     I felt very feeble this morning; have been very poorly all day. Had just got my room cleaned up. Got the life of Whitefield and was laying myself down on the bed to read, when Br Lassing came in. I was glad to see him, not having seen him since our meeting. I can see he is very unhappy about his son, Dr Lassing, {The following is a footnote by Neil Allen Bristow, the editor of the diary: Henry C. Lassing, a physician, was 32 in 1860, and unmarried. He had enlisted in Company B, Jessee's Kentucky Mounted Rifles 22 July 1862, but his service was brief. He had been left sick in November 1862 during the Confederate retreat from Kentucky and was captured by Union troops. Dr Lassing survived the war and returned to Boone County to raise a family. Johnson's Island was a the Federal POW camp, in Lake Erie, a mile from Sandusky, Ohio.} who is sick at Johnson's Island, where he has been a prisoner of war since July. I do hope the Lord will watch over and bring him safe home at his own time & give his parents fortitude to bear and easy hearts to trust in him, if it be his will. We spent a pleasant day.

1863. January 5th.
     Coming here today, Br Lassing's horse fell with him, and though he was very muddy, was not hurt. He seemed to be very thankful, & I know I was glad.

May 2d 1863.
     This was our meeting day. Br Lassing was so very weak that he could say but little. He looks very feeble indeed, but thinks he is mending. O, Lord, I beseech Thee restore him to health and usefulness again. If it be thy will, cause his sickness not be unto death, but that the glory of God may be revealed hereby.

May 14th, 1863.
      Millie & I went to James Corban's today to see dear old Uncle Anselm. Although I had heard he was very poorly, yet I was not prepared to see him so far gone as he evidently is. He is humble & gentle as a little child. One thing gave me great pleasure: he & Brother Lassing had met and freely conversed together & settled their difficulty of many years standing. My dear, old uncle remarked he wanted to be at peace with the whole world. Had no hard thoughts or feelings against any human being & hoped no one had against him. [I] came home, set down, & wrote Brother [Thomas P.] Dudley an [outline?] of his situation. Hope he will come to see him if practicable; if not, write to him. I feel it will be a comfort to him. They were baptized about the same time and traveled many miles together in going to meeting.

June 5th 1863.
     I did not get to see Uncle Anselm again. (I had company whilst he remained in Union.) Last Tuesday morning, Huldah Conn & I got on the omnibus & went down to see him, hardly expecting to find him alive. He had failed very fast, but was so glad to see us. He had received a letter from Brother T. P. Dudley that gave him so much pleasure that I felt truly glad I had advised Brother Dudley of his condition. June 15th 1863.
     My dear old uncle breathed his last yesterday morning at 7 o'clock. Today I saw his frail body laid in the grave by the side of his wife. Brother Lassing made a few very appropriate remarks.

July 5th 1863.
     Took our little Nannie with me to meeting today. I have no doubt Br Lassing preached well from the 12 Chp. of Hebrews, 26th & 27th verses, but I was so much afraid something would befall my babie, I could not hear to profit.

July 6 1863.
     Brother Lassing, Bettie Stansifer, Sarah Jane Dickerson, & Huldah Conn spent the day with us. Bettie was more unwell than usual. We had quite a pleasant day.

Sept 5th 1863.
     I went to meeting today at Sardis but was too unwell to enjoy anything much. Br Lassing read & spoke a little on the third Chapter of Titus. The letter to the Association was read and adopted. There being no further business we came home. Three men with Br Lassing & five women & one little girl made the congregation. . . . Felt disappointed my brother's family did not come over as usual to our meeting, for it is disheartening to see the members neglecting their meeting.

Sept 6th 1863.
      We had a rain last night and until nearly nine o'clock this morning. I was quite unwell, I thought too much so, to ride on horseback, and it was too muddy for the buggy, so I did not go to meeting. Had some serious doubts whether my excuses would pass with the Searcher of hearts.

Sept 16th 1863.
     Last week I accompanied my nephew Julius Bristow and his wife to the North Bend Association. Have not been to one of the meetings of that body since the split took place and the majority of that Association went over to the new "isms" of the day, Missionism, &c, &c. Still I believe [some?] of them are the called & chosen of God, though in error. I did not expect to hear much good preaching & was not disappointed. One old brother scattered along at a monstrous rate some very good things. One, a very fine looking man from Indiana, read off a sort of lecture on the nature & excellence of the human soul. My candid opinion is that he told the truth as far as he knew, but I think he is about as destitute of any true knowledge of God and himself as the horse he drove to the meeting.

Jan. 31st 1864.
      Spent the day at brother Stansifer's. Read Brother Dudley's letter to them that I received two days ago. They were much pleased to hear from him in the flesh, for we had thought he was dead. He had been very ill and is not yet allowed by his physicians to preach, his throat being still tender from diphtheria. I also read an excellent letter from Brother Nay of Indiana to Sister Bettie Stansifer. May the Lord bless those brethren & all of his children wherever scattered is my desire. I was so glad to receive Br Dudley's letter. He says he never enjoyed better health. [Dudley was pastor at Bryan Station Baptist Church, near Lexington, Kentucky, and occasionally preached at Sardis. - Formatted by Jim Duvall.]

April 15th 1864.
     Brother Julius and I are alone tonight. I am greatly wearied. Br Lassing has been here the whole day.

April 15th 1864.
     Brother Julius and I are alone tonight. I am greatly wearied. Br Lassing has been here the whole day.

Oct 6th 1864.
      Have just read the circular letter of [the] Licking Association; was much pleased with it. Sardis sent neither letter nor messager this year. The male members did not think it prudent to leave their families, as the the negro soldiers are often here from Covington, patroling the County.

December 3d. 1864.
     This was our monthly meeting. It was so muddy I could not go in my buggy, but though suffering greatly with my left hip that is more affected than it has been for many years, causing me to toss until one o'clock last night with high fever and feeling most wretchedly bad this morning, I concluded to go on horse back, hoping the fresh air would make me feel better. Was not disappointed; felt much revived, though I got cold.

Wednesday, Dec. 6th 1864.
     Dr Philips, Annie & children and Nan Breckinridge came in Monday morning. Yesterday morning as soon as they started I fixed off to Sardis; found nobody at the meeting house but the two ministering brethren, Wright and Johnson, Br Stansifer & Br Wilson, the house keeper. Was agreeably disappointed in the congregation.

Dec 21st 1864.
     Started early to meeting this morning on account of the bad state of the roads. My heart nearly failed me when I got to the first mud hole, it was so bad. But I believe that was the worst obstacle I had to encounter, though the grade was as rough as I ever saw it. The snow fell blindingly in my face the whole way. When I got to Br Stansifer's found it was not meeting time, so stopped and warmed my almost frozen fingers. Was not cold - only my right hand. Br Johnson got there five minutes after the time, warmed himself, and then went into the pulpit.

January 7th 1865.
     The deepest snow I have seen since my Mother's death fell last night. Today was our monthly meeting, but the depth of the snow over the very muddy roads precluded me from making the attempt as I should necessarily have had to go alone.

Oct. 8th 1865.
     Statira and the little girls accompanied me in my buggy yesterday to our Church meeting at Sardis. There was but a few of us there, but I thought Br Lassing looked better and preached better than he has for some time. Our little Church seems dwindling away. Today was our communion. It was to me a solemn time. While Br Lassing was giving the hymn commencing with, "Twas in that dark, that doleful night, &c." It seemed that I could with the eye of faith (I hope) see the body of the blessed Saviour torn with nails, with the scourge, and with thorns, while stern justice was pouring on his guiltless head.

"His heavy vengeance in our stead
For us his vital blood was shed
As a chastisement for our guilt
When for black crime of biggest size
He gave his soul a sacrifice
Do this (he cried) till time shall end
In memory of your dying friend
Meet at my table and record
The love of your exalted Lord."

     I think it has been more than a year since we had a communion season at Sardis. I asked the brethren around the table never to neglect the ordinance again. And whether I live to celebrate his death and sufferings with his people on earth again or not, I may with them partake, "The marriage supper of the Lamb."

January 1st 1866.
     "Eternity, Eternity, awful solemn thought. If a little bird were to come once a year and take one grain of sand away until every grain on earth was gone, eternity would be just begun." I was a small child when old Ambrose Dudley, a dear, old servant of God, used these words in a sermon at my Grandfather's house, very probably at this time of year, for I remember he always preached there in the Christmas holy-days, after my recollection, on my Grandfather's account, who was entirely blind, and two dear old Christian aunts.

August 1866.
     This morning Br Wallingford & wife left us. Last Saturday was our monthly meeting. Br Lassing has not been able to preach for us, nor even to meet with us for long time. Nor have I any hope he ever will again. Very faithfully has he attended us since May '56 (ten years) until his health got so poor -a- not for filthy lucre, for he never would receive one cent from the Church. Therefore he must have been actuated alone by love to God and his people. For two meetings past Edmund Stevens has been the preacher. He did not touch on the disputed points and really preached better than I thought he could. But last Saturday Br Theobalds and Br Wallingford came to see us, and the difference between truth and error never looked so glaring.

     Monday I went with Br W - & wife at Br C. Wilson's; spent a pleasant day. Tuesday we repaired to hear a good sermon from Br W. The doors were opened for the reception of members. Martha, Anselm's wife, came forward, related her experience, and was received for baptism. The next morning we met at the waters, and the solemn ordinance was performed by Br W. And again we repaired to the meeting house and had an excellent sermon.

November 6th 1866.
     On Sunday after preaching, the door was again opened and Joe Wilson came forward, and as soon as he had given a relation of his hope, Joseph Ann Wilson walked up and gave the reason for her hope in Christ. Both were received.

April 11th 1867.
     Death has been a busy messenger of late, it seems. Since I have been confined to this house by ill health, bad weather and roads, three dear friends have been called, I firmly believe, home to be forever with the Lord they loved. First [was] dear old Br Lassing, and though I was expecting to hear of his departure, yet it is hard to realize. For days after I knew he was gone, I was living over our early days of pilgrimage, when we were young baptists. Happy, happy days they were. . . .

     We are now destitute of a preacher at Sardis and have been nearly so for two years, and yet the Lord has remembered us in mercy by sending his ministering servants. . . . Brethren Theobalds and Wallingford came to help us in our destitution.

May 9th 1869.
     Over two years have elapsed since I have written one word in my record. How very many things have transpired since, many painful scenes have I passed through, and many changes have taken place with me and also with many of my friends. This day four weeks ago I saw the mortal part of our beloved old Sister Wilson laid in the silent grave. A funeral discourse was preached on the occasion by our beloved brother Joseph A Johnson (who has been pastor at Sardis for two years) from these words of Jesus, "I am the resurrection and the life." It was an able and soul-comforting, heart-cheering discourse. My tears flowed freely, and yet I felt glad, for the resurrection for me is a most glorious subject. . . .

August 8, 1870.
     Yesterday was our monthly meeting at Sardis. Our beloved and highly esteemed pastor, J A Johnson, was with us. On Saturday he preached a most consoling sermon from Isaiah, thirty second Chap, 1st & 2d verses, "Behold a King shall reign in righteousness and princes shall rule in judgement. . . ."

     After meeting on Saturday a number of us went to Mr Corban's. Spent a pleasant evening and yesterday repaired to the meeting house and had our hearts cheered with another most excellent sermon from the same prophet, Isaiah 42d Chapter, 6 & 7th verses. I did not enjoy it as I did the preaching on Saturday, but it was [thought] by many to be the best sermon. Took dinner at Sister Stansifer's, then came to Br Swetnam's, where Br Johnson again preached.

Sept 1870.
     Through the goodness of the Lord was enabled to attend Salem Association two days. When Sister Aulick and I got there Elder Bartley was preaching. I soon found I had been greatly deceived when I heard him several years ago when he preached for us at Sardis. He is a powerful preacher. Spoke from Isaiah, "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, &c &c." I was delighted with his sermon Saturday. I met many friends whom I had not seen for a long time and heard six good sermons, but felt too much worn out to attend the last day.

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      This is the last reference to the Sardis Baptist Church.

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