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A History of the Elkhorn Baptist Association (KY)
By Walter M. Lee, A. M., Th. D., 1906

(A modified and condensed form of the thesis presented by Walter M. Lee, for the degree of Doctor in Theology, to the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.



      The Elkhorn Association of Missionary Baptists, organized in the fall of 1783 as the first association of Baptist churches west of the Allegheny Mountains, is at present composed of twenty-nine churches, and is located in east central Kentucky, covering what is known as the strictly Blue Grass section of the State. It includes all the Missionary Baptist churches in Fayette, Woodford and Scott counties, and some of those located in Bourbon;, Grant, Franklin, and Jessamine. It is bounded on the south and west by the Kentucky River, which with its picturesque canons fmnishes perhaps the most beautiful and magnificent scenery to be found in Kentucky, and on the east by the south branch of Licking River, the divisive line between it and Union Association, which was organized out of Elkhorn in 1813.

      The original territory of Elkhorn Association was not so delimited and circumscribed. At one time during its history (l792-l796) it included churches as far north as "Columbia in the Western Territory," now Ohio [east of Cincinnati-jd], and as far south as "Tennessee County, Cnmbeland Settlement." At this time it covered perhaps 15,000 square miles. During the one hundred and twenty years of its existence, the Associaiion has included, at different times, one hundred and seventeen churches. The larger number of these churches have been dismissed from time to time to form sister associations in correspondence with Elkhorn; some have been excluded on account of heresy; whereas some have withdrawn on account of dissatisfaction with asociational discipline. The ranks of the following Baptist Associations have been strengthened by churches dismissed from Elkhorn, viz.: North Ditrict, Licking (now anti-missionary), Bracken, Union, Franklin, Green River, Tate's Creek, and North Bend. In addition to the above named sources of depletion, may be added the fact that during the war the churches composed of colored members withdrew to form associations of their own.


      Elkhorn Association was organized in 1785, only fifteen or twenty years after the first hunters and explorers made their appearance on Kentucky soil and only five or ten years after the first tides of immigration Set in. The larger percentage of the immigrants came from the states of Virginia and North Carolina. What is now the conunomwealth or [of] Kentucky was, in 1785, Kentucky county, Virginia. Kentucky did not become a state until 17922. Exploring parties had pushed their way into the interior of the State as early as 1767; but it was not until 1774 that an attempt at permanent settlement was made. In this year James Harrod built a log cabin fort at the place where Harrodsburg now stands. The following year, in 1775, Daniel Boone erected a fort "on the south bank of the Kentucky River, at a place now called Boonesboro. Lexington was laid off for settlement in June, 1775.

      From the year 1775 on immigrants increased in number annually. The favorable land policy of Virginia encouraged her citizens to seek new homes in the rich and beautiful forests of the western country. Kentucky (from Indian Kan-tuck-kee, meaning "Dark and Bloody Ground") was at this time the common and sacred hunting ground of several tribes of cunning and warlike Indians. To reach this charming and fertile region it was necessary for emigrants from the east to scale the rugged and pathles[s] heights of the Alleghanies, to thread the tangled and almost inpenetrable forests, to endure the dangers and encounter the hardships of a dark and unexplored wilderness, and at all times to keep on their guard against the wily and treacherous Indian[s], whose sacred hunting-ground they were inYading. It was, therefore, necessary for them to come well supplied with corn, fire-arms, and ammunition. To secure wild meat was not difficult. Game was abundant along the river courses and in the wild retreats of the mountains. The streams abounded in fish. Sleek herds of bufffalo, elk and deer grazed upon the silent and undulating plains of the charming Blue Grass Region, which was at that time adorned with majestic and aged forests of sugar-maple, white oak, cedar, and walnut. After arrival, it was necessary to select, survey, improve, till, and defend from Indian depredation, a small tract of land. The huts of the early settlers were usually built of logs and so arranged as to inclose a rectangular space furnishing protection from Indian attack. The clothing of the early settlers was for the most part made of skins, and their chief article of diet was wild meat, which they were frequently compelled to eat without sa1t or bread.


      Squire Boone, a brother of Daniel Boone, was the first Baptist preacher who ever set foot on Kentncky soil. He came in 1769, not on a preaching tour, but on a hunting and fishing expedition. The first Baptist prcacher The first Baptist preacher of whom we have any account as preaching in Kentucky was Rev. Thomas Tinsley, who preached regularly at the head of the big spring at Harrodsburg on the Lord's day; during thr spring of 1776. Though Daniel Boone was never conected with any church, several of the female members of his family became members of Baptist churches, after his removal to Kentucky.


      In this chapter shall be given some account of the six churches, which entered into the organization of the Association. The one of which we shall first speak is


      This chnrch, of which Lewis Craig was pastor, removed in a body from Spotsylvania county, Virginia, and settled on Gilbert's Creek, south of the Kentucky River, in the fall of 1781. Attracted by the glowmg accounts which were given by returning explorers of the beautiful scenery, the unexcelled productiveness, and the abundance of wild game of the charming region beyond the mountains, and the revolting against the ecclesiastical persecution and domination of the State Church authorities of Virginia, the larger number of the members of this church, having been, at their own request, constituted into an independent church, and taking along with them the pastor and the old church book, began their long and tedious journey to the "foreign land." Carrying their women, children, and baggage on horseback they travelled through the wilderness for 600 miles. Famine, cold, famine, and sickness impeded their jonrney. The wild beast and trecherous Indian made perilous their march. Winter, with its ice, snow, and mud. tested their patience and tried their strength. Many times during their journey, when a halt was called, did they engage in religious services. Many times did the primeval forest of the Dark and Bloody Ground resound with the hymns of Zion; the vales which formerly had reverbrated with the scream of the catamount or the war hoop of the infuriated savage, now for the first time echoed with the hallelujahs of the saints. The "Great Spirit," whom the savages ignorantly worshipped by means of magic and incantations, was now worshipped "in spirit and in truth." On the second Sunday in December, 1781, weary and exhausted, they arrived at Gilbert's Creek, and there permanently located. The church entered into the organization of Elkhorn association in 1785. The covenant of this church may be found in the first record book of Mt. Pleasant church. I found it there in the course of my wanderings through the Association last summer in search of data for the compilation of this document. As a specimen of pure, elegant, and beautiful English, it is unexcelled.


      This church was founded in Madison county in 1783. A body of less than 50 members, it was probably gathered by John Tanner. It entered into the organization in 1785.


      In the fall of 1783, Lewis Craig and many of the members of Gilbert’s Creek church moved across the Kentucky River and settled about six miles from the present city of Lexington. He built a grist mill at the point where the Lexington-Harrodsburg pike crosses the South Branch of Elkhorn. He began preaching in the woods and baptizing in the creek. Soon a church was considered desirable in the locality. Consequently, on July 31, 1784, helps having been called from Gilbert’s Creek, a church was organized. It took the name of South Elkhorn Church. This church united with the Elkhorn Association at its organization. In 1831 it was excluded from the Association because it had adopted “Reformed” [Campbellite] sentiments. The present South Elkhorn Baptist church was organized later.


      This church is so named from the fact that it is located at the place on the north branch of Elkhorn where the herds of buffalo crossed the creek going to and from the salt licks. Hither, in the spring of 1784, came Col. Robert Johnson, father of Jas. Johnson, Member of Congress, and R. M. Johnson, Vice-President of the United States. Here, on the most exposed frontier, Col. Johnson settled and built a fort. The settlement grew rapidly. John Taylor, Lewis Craig, and William Hickman frequently preached within the palisade of the fort. Col. Johnson, himself a Baptist, urged the constitution of a church. Accordingly, on May 28, 1785, Great Crossing church (at first called big Crossing) was organized. It entered into the organization of Elkhorn Association in 1785, and has remained a member till the present.


      Many members of the South Elkhorn church lived in the settlement known as Clear Creek, about ten miles from their church, among them being four preachers, John Dupey, James Rucker, Richard Cave, and John Taylor. A great revival broke out in the Clear Creek settlement in the spring of 1785, under the powerful evangelist preaching of John Taylor. A church was needed in the settlement, but the members of South Elkhorn loved their old pastor, Lewis Craig, so much, that they were somewhat unwilling to enter into a separation organization; but finally, after many councils had been held for the consideration of the matter, the South Elkhorn members residing at Clear Creek decided to enter into a church organization, provided Lewis Craig would visit them ocasionally [sic] and set them right when they got wrong. “To this height of respectability was Lewis Craig in Kentucky,” says John Taylor. On June 18, 1785, the members of South Elkhorn living west of a certain boundary were constituted into a Church of Christ at Clear Creek. It entered the organization in 1785.


      In 1785, just before the organization of Elkhorn Association, nine Baptists, led by William Wood, their subsequent pastor, united themselves under a church covenant, at Simon Kenton's old fort, near the present site of Washington, Ky. The fort was located on a small tributary of the Ohio River.

      Having thus given some account of the churches, which, in 1785, united in the formation of Elkhorn Association, let us now enter upon the history of that body proper.


      On Saturday, June 25, 1785, messengers from the first five of the afore-mentioned churches met at South Elkhorn church to take steps toward the formation of an association. (A subsidiary object of the meeting was also an attempt to cement a union with the South Kentucky Baptists - [Separates]; but this effort met with failure, inasmuch as the Separates

protested against the adoption of formulated statements of belief). The Philadelphia Confession of Faith was adopted by the assembled messengers, after some debate among themselves. Before adjourning, the body agreed to meet "as an association" three months later.


      Accordingly, on Friday aftprnoon, at 3 o'clock, Sept. 30, l785, messengers from all six of the aforrmentionecl churches (Washington or Limestone church did not participate in the proceedings of the preliminary conference) met at Clear Creek church for ihe purpose of entering into associational union. William Hickman preachrd a sermon from the text: "By little and little I will drive them out before thee, until thou be increased and inherit the land." No doubt he interpreted this passage as referring to the Indians. After this sermon, William Wood was chosen as the first moderator of Elkhorn Association, and Richard Young, clerk. Letters from six churches were read, which, together with their messengers, were as follows:

Gilbert's Creek - Geo. S. Smith and John Price.
Tate's Creek - John Tanner, William Jones, and Wm. Williams.
South Elkhorn - Lewis Craig, Wm. Hickman , and Benj. Craig.
Clear Creek - John Taylor, James Rucker, and John Dupey.
Big Crossing - Wm. Cave, Bartlett Collins, and Robert Johnson.
Limestone - William Wood and Edward Dobbins.
      A suitable constitution was adopted. Gilbert's Creek church, having become weak on account of the removal of many of her members, asked that a committee be appointed to consider the feasibility of her dissolution. This request was granted, and Gilbert's Creek church was dissolved before the Association met again.

      Having given an account of the organization and the first session of the Association, we now take up the history of the activities of the Association during the 120 years of its corporate existence (1785-1905), which history we shall divide into four periods, as follows:

I. First Period - (1785-1802) Organization to the Great Revival.
II. Second Period - (1802-1830) The Great Revival to the Campbellite Reformation.
III. Third Period - (1830-1861) Campbellite Reformation to the Civil War.
IV. Forth Period - (l86l-l905) Civil War to the Present Day.


      This period, covering the first seventeen years of the life of the Association, is one that is marked by uninterrupted growth and prosperity. Beginning with six churches and less than 300 members, the Association had by the end of the period (1802) 48 churches and 5,291 members. The revival of 1801-02 is the one incomparable mountain peak of properity in the history of the Association. This is, therefore, a period of small beginnings and great endings.

      Politically speaking, this is a period of unsettled conditions, both in National and State politics. The storm of the Revolution has just swept over the conntry, leaving desolation and gloom in its wake. Col. Robert Johnson and Abraham Bowman were officers in Washington's army. Kentucky was cut off from Fincastle county in 1776 and made a separate county of Virginia. James Garrard, a preacher and a member of Cooper's Run church, was a member of the Virginia Legislature from Kentncky when that body ratified the Constitution of the United States. During the first part of this period negotiations were operative toward forming Kentncky into a separate Staie. Members of Elkhorn's churches took [a] prominent part in the conventions called for the formation and the ratification of the state constitution. Great agitation prevailed throughout the Association, when the time came for the constitutional convention to decide as to what attitude the State was to sustain toward slavery. Many of ihe members of the churches were wealthy slave-owners; others were turbulent abolitionists. John Sutton, a Welshman and a member of Clear Creek church, and Carter Tarrant, both enthusiastically espoused the cause of emancipation, and caused a split to be made in Clear creek and Hillsboro churches. The discontented abolitionists organized themselves into a church called New Hope.

      The "Alien and Sedition Laws" caused considerable commotion throughout the Associaiion. Col. Robert Johnson protested vigorously against the national encroachments upon the rights of the state in causing the arrest of Frenchmen contrary to state sentiment. Indian attacks and massacres caused much excitement, until l793 the Indians were finally repelled.

      In the matter of church extension and growth this is the most remarkahle period in the history of the Association. During the period there were 67 churches connected with the Association at different times. Eighteen churches were dismissed to unite in forming other associations. But the number received during the period, which was 61, by far exceeded the numher dismissed. Small revivals occurred in 1789 and l797. but in the matter of evangelistic fervor, intensity of conviction for sin, and numerical results, the Great Revival of 1801-1802 eclipses all other revival periods in the history of the Association. During these two years alone. twenty-two newly organized churches applied for membership in the Asociation.

      The Great Revival is a remnrkable phenomenon in American church history. Taking its rise among the Presbyterians of the Gasper River section, it spread like wild-fire over a large territory, affecting all denominations. The camps of the religious devotees at the camp-meetings held by the Presbyterians and Methodists looked like the camps of a mighty army. It was said that twenty thousand people attended the camp-meeting held at Cane Ridge, in Bourbon county. The religious enthusiasm was very intense and many abnormalities of the religious spirit were in evidence.

      Profound conviction for sin and terror at judgment manifested themselves in spasmodic contortions of the body, the limbs, the head, etc. Curious observers who attended the meetings to scoff at and ridicule the exercises, were suddenly seized by involuntary quaking or "jerking." The over-boiling enthusiasm manifesied itself in shouts, shrieks. sobs, and groans. Dancing, barking, and rolling on the ground were common occurrences. All classes and both sexes were represented among the agitated penitents. lt is only just to say that these abnormalities occurred less among the Baptists than among the Presbyterians, Methodists, and Quakers; yet the Baptists were not altogether immune, by any means.

      The territorial extent of the Association was vast during this period. It covered all the territory north of the Kentucky River as far as the Ohio, and some south of the Kentucky River.

      Though we find no evidence of foreign missionary activity during this period, we know that the spirit of opposition to foreign missions did not arise until about 1815 (in the next period). The Baptists of this period were omissionary rather than anti-missionary, as regards foreign missions. Rev. John Young was sent as a missionary to the Indians in 1801. The churches of the Association contributed to his support. Kentucky was itself, at this time, a field for missionary work. Bibles were scarce, morals were low, infidelity and skepticism prevailed widely, and the need of preaching was very great. Many of the early preachers were trevelling evangelists, who at their own expense, rode horse-back to the far-away settlements, to carry the gospel to the unsaved.

      As is the case frequently in those days, there were sometimes several preachers who held their membership in one church. But in the period under discussion, where there were two or more preachers in a church, the church would sometimes forbear to select any special one of them as pastor and let them all preach for the edification of the church.

      Athough the Association advised the churches to compensate the pastors liberally for their services, in most cases the pastors were poorly paid, and then only in produce, such as corn, hemp, tobacco, and sometimes liquor. The churches were cautious in dealing with cases of alien immersion. Foot-washing and the laying on of hands after baptism were ob served in this perid. A distinction was made between the offices of minister anrd elder. The holding of a political office by a minister was looked upon with disapproval.

      Slaves were members of the same churches as the whites. Discipline was very severe and strict. Sometimes there were a half dozen cases of discipline to come up at one church meeting. The wearing of gaudy apparel, the singing of carnal ditties, the playing of the fiddle, and stripping to fight were matters of discipline.

      There were no great upheavals over doctrine during the period. Augustine Eastin, pastor of Cooper's Run and Indian Creek church exerted his influrnce in favor of a kind of Arianism that verged upon Unitarianism: and Cooper's Run church was excludded from the Association in 1802 on account of heresy. Indian Creek was reclaimed. Some of the churches experienced trouble with members who held to Universalist views. Elkhorn Association united in belief with five churches which called themselves "United Baptists" in 1797. Many attempts had been made by Elkhorn to unite with the South Kentucky Baptists; but all had failed, until in 1801, under the influence of the general revival, a union was finally accomplished. This union continued for only about a year, after which the South Kentucky Baptists (Separates) adopted Arminian sentiments.

      More than fifty houses of worship were erected within the bounds of the Association during this period. They were built of logs - in many cases, cedar logs. Indian Creek church, in Harrison county, is an example. It was built over a century ago; and the cedar logs, now covered with weather-boarding, are still in an excellent state of preservation. Worship was held in private houses in localities where there was not a church building. Frequently the services lastecd for six hours sometime - all night. Services were never protracted for a period exceeding three days in length. Yet in this length of time as many as fifty or a hundred were frequently converted and baptized. Bibles and hymn-books were very scarce among the settlers. The preacher usually "lined out" the hymns from the hymn-book that he carried around with him on his evangelistic tours.

      Though this was the period of the Great Revival, it was also the era of French infidelity and its influence. The infidels were organized, and had clubs in Lexington and other towns of the Blue Grass. The morals of the people were extremely dissolute and vicious in certain localities. Many lawers and doctors and men of pretended culture refused to recognize the truth of religion. The doubt and worldliness of the age crept into the churches, and cases of discipline were almost innumerable. Yet many thinkers were made objects of discipline that we would consider trivial in these days.

      There was a great deal of illiteracy during this period. Pioneer life could not be expected to furnish the best educational conditions. Yet it is pleasing to us to note that the first efforts put forth for intellectual improvement in Kentucky were made by Baptists. As early as 1787. Georgetown was an educational center and Elijah Craig, a member of what has frequently been stigmatized as "that unlettered and unlearned sect the Baptists." was interested in the education of Kentucky's youth. A short while before this John Craig, James Speed, Robert Johnson, and James Garrad, all Baptists, had published an appeal in behalf of the organization of a society to be known as "The Society for the Promotion of useful Knowledge."


      This period extends from the Great Revival to the year in which the disturbance wrought by the Campbellite Reformation reached its height. It witnesses the rise of the Stonites, the New Lights, the Cumberland Presbyterians, the Campbellites, and the Shakers, in Kentucky.

      Political events affected the Association very little. Col. R. M. Johnson served in the War of 1812, and was later a member of both houses of Congress. James Garrard, formerly a Baptist preacher of Elkhorn Association, but after 1802, along with Augustine Eatin of Unitarian sentiment, was governor of Kentucky from 1796 to 1804. Anti-slavery agitation continued. Prominent among the emancipationists were Carter Tarrant, John Sutton, and David Barrow. Public discussion of abolitionism caused much insubordination among slaves.

      This period is marked by a declension in numbers, to be accounted for by the fact that three associations were nearly entirely formed out of Elkhorn. Nine churches went out in 1803 to form North Bend Association, which borders on the Ohio. Ten or more churches withdrew in 1810 to form Licking Association. Six churches withdrew in 1813 to form Union Association. The first and last of these Associations were formed for the sake of convenience. Licking Association was formed as the result of discussions and dissension which arose over a matter of church discipline. Jacob Creath, a preacher, and Thomas Lewis, a layman, traded slaves. Creaih giving Lewis his note for the difference in value. Soon afterwards Creath's slave died, and he refused to pay the note. The church refused to compel Creath to pay the note, since he was a poor preacher and Lewis was a wealthy layman. Dissension and strife arose in the church and spread all over the Association. This finally produced the schism. which brought about the organization of Licking Association. Licking, in 1834 became anti-mission in spirit. It is now about lifeless.

      During this period, the subject of missions received more attention than ever before. Stark Dupey published a missionary magazine at Frankfort for a short while. Jeremiah Vardeman was sent as a domestic missionary by the Association, in 1816. After the organization of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston, in 1810. Luther Rice attended the meetings of the Association several times and was encouraged by liberal contributions. As early as 1813 money was given to build a Bible house in India. Alexander Campbell exercised a deleterious influence over the churches in the matter of co-operation with missionary boards. His opposition to temperance societies, Sunday schools, and ministerial education and support won him many followers. He was opposed to any organization of Christians outside of the regular church body. The Disciples have therefore departed from his teachings in fostering Christian Endeavor Societies and missionary societies within their churches.

      The first decade of this period witnessed a great dearth of spiritual religion. During the years 1805-1809 all the churches of the Association together did not average more than a score of additions annually. In 1808 only nine persons were baptized throughout the bounds of the Association; in 1809 only twelve. These conditions, together with the withdrawal of nineteen churches to form Licking and North Bend reduced the total membership of all the churches from 5,291 in (1802) to 1,775 (in 1810). But after the removal of strife by the withdrawal of the Licking churches revtvals again set in and there was a period of almost uninterrupted growth until the end of the period, so that by 1830 the membership had reached

the number of 4,321, even when Union Association was almost wholly formed out of the Association in 1813. All through the history of Elkhorn, we see her branches lopped off and grafted elsewhere; yet she continually rebuilds her tissues by a process of internal growth.

      Slaves continued to hold their membership in the same churches with the whites. Galleries or "pens" were provided for them. Lexington church, in 1823, received under its watchcare an African church, which had been collected and baptized by an unordained negro preacher. The members refused to be re-baptized, but the Association advised the Lexington church to receive them any way. They were immediately given an ordained negro pastor from the Lexington church, London Ferrill by name.

      A schism was caused in Clear Creek church by John Tanner and James Rucker, on account of the laxity of discipline. The departing members set up a church called the "Reformed Baptist Church," on Salt River. In 1827, James Fishback, pastor of Lexington church created a division in his church by trying to change the name of it to the "Church of Christ." He led off a minority of 38 members and became their pastor. Rev. Dillard subsequently succeded in uniting the two factions. H. Davidge of the Big Spring (Versailles) church, created some stir by a pamphlet of the "Reforming" type, which he circulated. Campbell and his coadjutors won many of the best Baptist preachers and laymen over to the Reformation, prominent among them being Jacob Creath, his son Jacob, Jr., William Norton and Jeremiah Vardeman. Many of the churches of thr Association contained members of strong Cmnpbellite sentiment. Versailles, Providence and South Elkhorn churches were excluded from the Association in 1830 and 1831 because of their Reformed ideas. Minorities were carried off from many of the churches. In one year (1830-1831) the membership of the Association dropped from 4,321 to 3,201. The Association entered this period with 48 churches and 5,29l members; it ends the period with 25 churches and 4,32l members. During the period it has lost 35 churches by dismission and expulsion; and has had twelve added to its membership. During the first year of the next period the membership will drop from 4,321 to 3,201. Yet the Kingdom of Heaven is growing all the while, we hope.

      Most of the doctrinal controversy of the period was instigated by the Reformers. Worship was frequently disturbed by questioners and mockers, who would either arise and interrupt the speaker or else laugh out in meeting in scorn and derision. Large audiences gathered to hear debates on baptism, creeds, or missionary societies. The prevalence of doctrinal controversy fostered doubt and infidelity and worldliness among the unconverted. The churches allowed heresy and disregard to church fealty to go undisciplined.

      An age of doctrinal polemics calls for well equipped defenders of the faith. The great need of the Baptists was an educated ministry. Many of their most vigorous and aggressive ministers had gone over to ihe Reformers. A number of the enterprising ministers and laymen of the Baptist persuasion petitioned the state legislature in January, 1829 for a charter incorporating a board of trustees called "The Kentucky Baptist Educational Society." This charter was granted. The Society had in view the establishment of a college under the control of Kentucky Baptists. Both Versailles and Georgetown entered into competition to secure the location of the college. Georgetown won the prize by the gift of $6,000 and a lot of land. This together with a gift of $20,000, donated by Isachar Paulding constituted the property of the institution for the first ten years of its existence.


      This period extends from the year of the Campbellite schisimn to the beginning of the Civil War. Political affairs affect the Association scarcely any at all, until near the end of the period, when much confusion prevailed on account of the gloomy foreboding of war. The first year of this period witnessed the withdrawal of about 1,100 members from the churches; they followed the leaders of the current Reformation. In 1831 the Association had only 3,201 members; in l86l, at the end of the period, her members numbered 7,760. This period is, therefore, a period of revivals and growth. It witnessed a growth of over 125 per cent. The first period of revivals was during the years l837-l843, when 3,283 members were added to the churches. It was at this time that religious services were first protracted to the length of a week or more, in Kentucky. During the first four years of this revival period, Licking Association, which opposed the lengthy protraction of services, added to her membership only 106 members; during the same time Elkhorn wittnessed the addition of 1,504 members to her churches. Elkhorn's next revival period came in 1855-1861, during which time 3,144 members were added to the churches by baptism.

      Perhaps the principal cause of the recurrent revivals was the ardent missionary spirit which prevailed. The missionary activity of the period eclipses that of any former period. All varieties of missions received cordial and hearty support - foreign, domestic, and Indian. Especially is this true of the latter half of the period. During the earlier half, there was considerable opposition to all benevolent enterprises and societies. Daniel Paker, John Taylor, and Alexander Campbell had sown the seeds of opposition to organized effort, that bore corrupt fruit for many years. And the end is not yet. The progressive leaders and missionary organizers of the sect of the Disciples, which is rapidly crystallizing into a denomination, have considerable difficulty in eradicating the tares of the anti-organization spirit from the minds of the less cultured, and consequently more polemical, element of their body. The tares sown by Campbell have proven to be as hardy as the wheat he sowed.

      Beginning with the revival of 1855-1861 a greater interest was taken in missions. Contributions grew much larger. The larger contributions are due also, to a considerable extent, to the improved method of securing them. Before 1855 efforts at raising mission money were delayed until the Association met, and collections were then taken. But beginning with the year 1855, a plan of benevolent effort was adopted, which yielded far beter results. In l840 and 1841 respectively, $137 and $58.62 were raised by the old plan for domestic missions. In 1859 and 1860 respectively, $1,223 and 1,438 were raised for the same object, by the new plan. The Association had urged the churches as early as l848 to adopt this new plan of systematic benevolence, but they had delayed in the matter.

           The General Association was organized in Louisville, October 20, 1837. In 1844, Elkhorn Association entered into full co-operation with it in all its plans. This was a great step forward. and was not accomplished without opposition. The dormant energies of Elkhorn Association were roused hy her connection with the General Association. In 1840, Elkhorn recommeded that her churches support Sunday Schools in their respectilve congregations. By 1845, only three churches had Sundav Schools. These were Mt. Vernon, Lexington, and Georgetown churches. Bv the end of the period, however, there were thirteen Sunday Schools and twenty Weekly prayer meetings operative in the Association.

      The Association recommended, in 1855, that the churches report their white and colored members separately. In many of the churches the colored members outnumbered the white. The membership of the Association, in 1858, was 7,270-2,508 (?-jd) white, 4,762 colored.

      Many efforts were made to lessen the amount of dram-drinking among Christians. Temperance societies were formed throughout the country. The legislature was petitioned for local option, and protests were circulated against the use of liquor as a beverage.

      Throughout the period the Association sustained a friendly attitude toward Georgetown College. Entire confidence was annually expressed in the Baptist Educational Society and the objects fostered by them. The churches were urged to support the college by contributions to its fund for ministerial education and to all efforts to increase the endowment. The churches were urged "to send all church documents, pamphlets, and books, that they find comvenient, to the library of the college to be used by future historians." In 1849, the Association passed a resolution commending to the confidence and patronage of the Baptists of the West the Western Baptist Theological Seminary, at Covington, Ky. In 1853, action was taken toward the establishment of a book depository and colportage system in the Association. The project was reasonably sucessful. $1,500 worth of books were sold during the first six years of its existence. Besides a large number of religious tracts were given away.


      This period extends from the beginning of the Civil War to the present day. It is a period marked by gradual growth in numbers and efficient Christian beneficence. Her spirit of Christian beneficence has led Elkhorn Association to enter the arena of politics, whenever occasion has demanded. Having throughout her entire history adhered to the ancient Baptist principle of separation between church and state, she took occasion to reveal her attitude in this matter, when, during the first decade of this period, she protested against the union of the State Agricultural and Mechanical College and Kentucky University (Campbelltte). In 1898, a petition presented by Dr. J.T. Hucker, an enthusiastic advocate of temperance and prohibition and for fifty years a consecrated servant of God among Kentucky Baptists, was sent to President McKinley, urging that the inhabitants of the recetly acquired territory "Be granted civil as well as religious liberty; also that the army canteen be removed from the army and navy."

      Elkhorn Association furnished soldiers to both sides of the conflict during the Civil War, though Southern sentiment prevailed within her borders. The Association, as such, refrained from taking a position on either side, owing to absence of unanimity. Religious affairs suffered in the wake of the devastation and confusion wrought by the Civil War. During the first decade of this period 5,089 colored members withdrew from the Association, to form, with the Association's consent and assistance, churches and associations of their own. Beginning with 22 churches and 2,671 white members in 186l, the Association to-day has 29 churches with a membership of 6,271, an increase in membership of nearly 150 per cent. The average annual number of baptisms in the Association for the successive decades since 1861 are as follows: 1861-7l, 157; 1871-81, 158; 188l-091, 238; 1891-1901, 390: l902, l903 and 1904 follow with 419. 389, and 364 respectively. We see, therefore, a gradual decadal increase in baptisms.

      Being located in one of the wealthiest sections in the South and having within its membership the most intelligent and well informed of people, Elkhorn Association has, during the present period, stood in the front rank of all denominational enterprise, and contributed liberally to all the objects of the state and southern work.

      As more perfect organization seems to be a prominent element in modern church economy and progress, Elkhorn has not allowed herself to be behind the times. The ladies of the Association have contributed to missions during the last four years the following sums: $809.47; 343.l6; $911.47; and $723.44. Sunday schools have been established in all of the churches during this period at one time or another. In addition to the above sub-organization, there has been organized within the churches Baptist Young People's Union, Sunbeam Societies, Sewing Circles, Ladies' Aid Societies, etc.

      There has been nothing of importance in the nature of doctrinal development or controversy during this period. There has been a general improvement and elevation in the standard of morals and Christian life. The period has been pre-eminently an educational era. The Association has accorded enthusiastic support and patronage to all denominational institutions of learning. Georgetown College, The Georgetown Female Seminary, The Lexington Female Seminary, and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary have all been beneficiaries of its liberality and good will. Sunday school libraries, sacred literature courses, and other educational and cultural agencies have been utilized by the churches for the education of their young people.


      Elkhorn Association is now passing through the one hundred and twentieth year of its existence. It was born in the wild and romantic days of early Kentucky pioneer life, its birth being preceded only a few years by the birth of the American Republic. It counts many associations among its children and grandchildren. The Association has to-day the largest number of white members that it has had at any time during its history. And it bids fair, in the good providence and grace of God, to do, in the years to come, a great and glorious work, for the advancement in the earth of the Kingdom or our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


[From a booklet published in 1906 and priced @ 20 cents, via the Archives at SBTS, Adam Winters, Archivist. The are no page numbers given. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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