History of the First Baptist Church
By Wendell H. Rone, Sr., 1973
In a brochure prepared in 1944 to commemorate the centennial of the founding of the First Baptist Church there appears these important words:"The history of the First Baptist Church of Mayfield, Kentucky, can not be set down in words. It is a living record written into the lives of thousands of men and women who have passed beneath the influence of this great church, dedicated to 'the faith once delivered to the saints.'"We are informed, additionally, that the early records of the church were destroyed in a fire which razed the first house of worship on October 6, 1867, twenty-three years after the church was constituted. In consequence, it has become necessary to secure available information from secondary sources and outside primary sources.
According to the Graves County Edition of "A History of Kentucky," published in 1880 by the John Morris printing Company, we find recorded that on July 13, 1843, in the home of James B. Hurt and Wife, fourteen men and women came together to bind themselves into organization as an established church. The home of the Hurts was located a few miles east of Mayfield.
According to the July 6, 1844 Minutes of the Trace Creek Baptist Church the following information is given:"The following, at their request, were dismissed to form a new church in the town of Mayfield:The brochure of 1944 also informs us that"William Puryear Mary Puryear Goshen Allen Sarah Allen Thomas J. Puryear Pilina M. Puryear Mary Boyd James B. Hurt Thomas Ligon."
The following additional names are given in the history referred to above:William Beadles J. N. Beadles John Boyd Mrs. James B. Hurt Mrs. Thomas Ligon Mrs. J. B. New"In 1913, under an order of church conference during the pastorate of W. M. Wood, a committee of research was appointed to verify the records of original organization. This committee, composed of W. A. Beadles, H. J. Moorman, and Mrs. Mary Greene, listed slight differences in the membership and in the constituting council.The history referred to before stated that Elders Milton S. Wyman, Thomas L. Garrett, and William J. Flournoy, were the presbytery or constituting council, and fails to mention the names of Elders Richardson, Ray, White, and puryear; while the report of the 1913 committee fails to mention the names of Elders Garrett and Flournoy.
"This report failed to list Goshen Allen and wife, but listed instead Elder Henry Richardson and wife. The report listed further differences in naming Elder Henry Richardson as first pastor of the church and in naming the personnel of the constituting council which they found to include Elders Milton S. Wyman, Henry Richardson, Dennis Ray, Willis White, and Hardeman Puryear."
After extensive research of available records, associational and otherwise, the writer is of the opinion that the 1886 record is to be preferred to the 1913 record, in some respects, as it was secured at a time only thirty-six years after the organization of the church; whereas, the latter record was nearly seventy years later. No doubt charter members were still living in 1880. It is definitely a matter of record that J.N. Beadles and William A. Beadles were alive at that time.
The following information also stoutly opposes the report of the committee in 1913 on the membership of especially Elder Henry Richardson and wife and the matter of Elders Dennis Ray and Hardiman puryear serving on the constituting council:
1. The minutes of West Union Association for 1844 show Elder Henry Richardson to be a member of and messenger from Ohio Baptist Church, Ballard County, Kentucky, hence it is
difficult to conclude that he and his wife were members of the Mayfield church either as charter or later members in 1844.
2. Also, the 1844 Minutes of West Union Association show that William Beadles and James B. Hurt were the messengers from the Mayfield church when it united with the association. They also show that Thomas L. Garrett held membership with and was a messenger from the Paducah church in 1844, as was W. J. Flournoy.
3. In addition, in the Memoir of Thomas L. Garrett, by John H. D. Carlin (1870),there is on pages 130-139, and pages 194-215, sufficient information to show that Elder Garrett was pastor at Mayfield and Metropolis Churches in the latter part of 1844 and during all of 1845, as he was under the employ of the American Baptist Home Mission Society at Two Hundred and Fifty Dollars per year at both places, the churches to match this amount. Also, he served Little Obion and Mayfield Churches in 1846 under the same arrangements, and with W. J. Flournoy and J. N. Beadles was a messenger to the association from Mayfield.
4. Furthermore, the West Union Minutes for 1844 show that Dennis Ray and Hardiman Puryear were not then ordained ministers. Puryear was ordained in 1846 by Trace Creek Church to become her pastor. Ray was never ordained.
Therefore, we conclude that Elder Thomas L. Garrett was both on the constituting council and was elected as the first pastor of the church, serving from July, 1844, to at least the close of 1846. He was succeeded, probably in 1847, by Elder Hardiman G. Puryear, who also served Trace Creek at the same time, Puryear's pastorate closed in mid-year of 1849.
In the list of names of the charter membership (In 1880 History) the name of William Puryear is omitted, but it is found in the list dismissed from Trace Creek. This is difficult to explain, especially, when one notes that when West Union Association met on August 31, 1844, the Mayfield church reported only 14 members on its petitioning letter. It is possible that one of the listed number united with the church after that time.
HOUSES OF WORSHIP
From 1844 to 1858 the church held its meetings in the Court House. In the last-mentioned year the church erected and entered its first brick house of worship located on her own property on the north side of Broadway, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, slightly east of the present Mayfield City Hall. This building was occupied until it was destroyed by fire on October 7, 1867.
The church immediately rebuilt a new brick edifice on the same site, costing $3,500.00. It was used by the church until May 14, 1901, when it, too, burned to the ground.
At this time the church purchased its present location at the northeast corner of South and Eighth Streets, erected its third house of worship, a commodious brick structure, at a cost of $40,000.00. The Building Committee was: A. J. Carter, R. H. Creason, R. E. Griffith, C. A. McDonald, T. J. Murphey, T. A. Slaughter, and R. O. Wilford, together with Pastor H. C. Roberts.
The names of the building committees who supervised the erection of the first two buildings in 1858 and 186?, respectively, are unknown.
From 1901 to about 1922 the third building proved to be adequate for the congregation. But with the pastorate of Rev. Arthur Fox marked expansion took place in church membership as it increased from 1,344 in 1922 to 1,791 in 1927. The Sunday School under Associate pastor T. W. Spicer grew phenomenally till it overflowed into business houses and a large structure known as the "Tabernacle," erected to the east of the church. In consequence, the movement was launched on Sunday morning, May 8, 1927, to have plans submitted to the church in regard to a new building. The committee was composed of:As Dr. Fox resigned on May 22, 1927, his name was replaced by that of Dr. W. H. Horton, who became pastor on October 2, 1927. Thus on January 29, 1928, the congregation accepted the architect's plans for a new building and directed that subscriptions be taken by a finance committee, and bonds be advertised by the trustees: R. O. Wilford, J. E. Atwood, J. W. McDonald, R. F. Pryor, and W. S. Lochridge, replaced upon his death early in 1929 by J. E. Wilson.B. N. Belote M. L. Holleman J. W. McDonald R. F. Pryor R. O. Thorpe E. O. Tripp R. O. Wilford Arthur Fox, Pastor
On June 3, 1928, the elderly former pastor, Dr. A. S. Pettie, preached the last morning sermon in the old building from a great Baptist text: "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5:17). At sunset on the following day those who had long loved the "church of the spire" gathered for the last time beneath that spire to sing "How Firm A Foundation," to pray for guidance in the ensuing task, and to see the first shovels of dirt lifted by a group of long-time members of the congregation. Five months later, on November 8, 1928, the cornerstone was laid; while on August 25, 1929, the church worshipped for the first time in its new and present building.
The building, with furnishings, cost a total of $254,000.00. The indebtedness in October, 1929, stood at $185,000.00. By this time the Great Depression had begun. For almost five years committees struggled to find a way, but burdens grew heavier. In 1934, the debt stood at $150,000.00, of which a total of $95,000.00 was in six percent building bonds. It was predicted in the church and community that the church would go bankrupt and the property would have to be sold. But, under the leadership of the pastor and several faithful men, a total of $50,000.00 was raised in cash and pledges in October-November, 1934, and arrangements made to assume regular payments in the church budget on the remaining indebtedness. By the time the church observed its centennial, in 1944, the debt stood at $20,000.00. It was totally liquidated shortly after the close of World War II. Prayer and faith were rewarded.
The need for more educational space led the church to negotiate for purchase of the old Byrn Funeral Home property, located at the southeast corner of Eighth and South Streets, in 1958-1959. Finally, in January, 1960, the same was voted by the church to be secured for $100,000.00. It was also decided that the old property would not be renovated for use.
Early in 1963 the firm of Hart, Freeland, and Roberts, Architects and Engineers, of Nashville, Tennessee, was secured to draw up preliminary sketches for design. Months later the architect was authorized to proceed with working drawings. Also, in June, 1963, a contract was let to the Crawford Construction Company, Paducah, to construct the new educational building at a cost of $314,000.00, including the cost of a tunnel under and across South Street. The work progressed to completion and was dedicated on August 9, 1964. Special services that day included morning messages by Dr. Hankins F. Parker, Miami, Florida; former pastor Dr. Jack Merritt spoke at the evening service. The special dedicatory sermon was preached that afternoon by Dr. Wayne Dehoney, Jackson, Tennessee, and president at that time of the Southern Baptist Convention. The final indebtedness on this building was liquidated in late 1972.
Since its beginning the church has been under the pastoral care of the following:
PASTORS Thomas L. Garrett - 1844-1846 Hardeman G. Puryear - 1847-1849 Willis White - 1849- D. B. Ray - John M. Harrington - -1866 G. W. Lane - 1867-1868 A. C. Caperton - 1868-1869 T. H. Pettit - 1870-1874 F. L. Dupont - 1875-1876 T. H. Pettit - 1877-1878 R. S. Fleming - 1879-1880 Ezra Smith - 1881 L. W. Morrison - (Supply) C. M. Williams - (Supply) W. C. Taylor, Sr. - 1882-1887 Gilbert Dobbs - (Supply) A. S. Pettie - 1888-1896 H. C. Roberts - 1897-1902 A. S. Pettie - 1903-1908 W. D. Nowlin - 1909 W. M. Wood - 1910-1918 G. P. Bostic - (Supply) J. W. Gillon - 1919-1922 Arthur Fox - 1922-1927 W. H. Horton - 1927-1951 Jack Merritt - 1952-1954 John W. Huffman - 1954- CLERKS (Unknown) 1844-1867 R. W. Bush 1867- P. J. Greene J. E. Austin -1881 James Austin 1882-1885 Emma Austin 1886-1887 Stephen Elmore 1887-1894 W. L. Austin 1895-1899 R. M. Beadles 1900-1901 E. S. Lowe 1901-1914 R. O. Dossett 1915-1927 J. P. Harper 1928-1944 R. M. Bumgarner 1945-1948 H. H. Lambirth 1949-1952 Otis Gary 1953-1954 Coy Andrus 1955-1956 Roscoe Carman 1957-1958 C. N. Washam 1959 Amos Cash 1960 Hester Foster 1961-1962 Mrs. Jean Mullins 1963-1964 Douglas Bowden 1965-1967 Mrs. Earl Richardson 1968- MISSION OUTREACH
Beginning as early as 1906 the church encouraged the organization of a second Baptist church in the city. This culminated in the organization of the Broadway Baptist Church on September 23, 1908, on eighteen members, who came from the mother church. Membership of this new group grew rapidly in 1909-1910, but it declined rapidly to extinction in 1911.
After the organization of the High Point Church, in 1934, the church gave of her membership to strengthen that congregation. The same was true of the North Side Church, which was sponsored by request after September, 1937, as a mission of the church. It became a separate congregation on January 10, 1938.
On Easter Sunday, 1940, the Doreen Owen Circle of the W.M.U. of the First Baptist Church, Mayfield, started a mission project on Pryor Street in east Mayfield called at first the Pryor Street Mission. It prospered immediately. A lot was donated by Deacon D. P. McGee, Sr., and wife and a building was erected on it in 1942. It was located on First Street and was named the Doreen Owen Mission. All persons baptized into the fell owship of the mission became members of the First Baptist Church. Bible Teaching and preaching Services, as well as Vacation Bible Schools, were conducted regularly at the mission.
Finally, on November 9, 1944, a Baptist Church was organized on 16 members from the First Baptist Church. Dr. W. H. Horton, pastor, served as Moderator of the Organizing Council. Frank Chandler preached the sermon. L. R. Riley examined the prospective charter members. Brethren J. E. Cox and W. G. Sullivan, as well as Deacons J. Edward Jones, D. P. McGee, Sr., Ulyssis Kelton, Oscar Elmore, Rooscoe Carman, Albert Thacker, W. B. Jones, Marvin Bumgarner, and Hayden Flood served on the presbytery. The new church took the name of First Street Baptist Church. The property was taken over by the new church from the mother body.
After the First street Baptist Church voted to change its name to Emmanuel and to move its location east of Mayfield on Highway #80, some of the members did not sanction the move, in consequence, they asked to
come under the status of a Mission of the mother church again. This was acceded to and the church moved the Baptist Mission, which had been located at 407 West Bradway since 1955, to the site formerly occupied by the First Street Baptist Church (later Emmanuel).
The First Baptist Church employed Jack Jones as the Mission Pastor for a time. He was succeeded by Cloys Bruce in the period 1965-1969. Charles Cloyd became the Mission Pastor on December 1, 1969. Continued growth was in such evidence that the mission was constituted into a church.
On Sunday, September 27, 1970, a new church of thirty-one (31) members was organized. Senator Carroll Hubbard, Jr., served as the Moderator of the organizing council, which also included pastor John C. Huffman, R. Charles Blair, O. C. Markham, L. R. Riley, Orman Stegall, and A. B. Colvin, who preached the sermon. Charles Cloyd was called as the first pastor of the church. Herbert Cope was the first deacon and clerk of the new body, which took the name South First Street Baptist Church. It secured the property a little later.
As already noted, the Church sponsored a rescue type of mission at 407 West Broadway from 1955 through 1964, when it moved to the south First Street site.
Since February 3, 1964;, the Church has operated a Kindergarten. Mrs. Sam Gray has served as Director of this work since its inception. She is assisted currently (1973) by the following teachers: Mrs. Wendell H. Rone, Sr., and Mrs. Charles R. Whitnell. It has grown from one Teacher and 12 children in 1961; to three Teachers and 80 Children at present (September, 1973).
THE 1944 CHURCH CENTENNIAL
In commemoration of its Centennial (1844-1944) the church appointed a Committee for that purpose, composed of J. w. McDonald, W. T. Beadles, Edwin Wilson, Mrs. sallie McClendon, Miss Tossie Thorpe, and Miss Florence Wyman.
A beautiful brochure of twenty pages was prepared for the occasion. It contained a short history of the church; a dedicatory page to the charter members and constituting council; a full-page picture of Dr. Horton, the pastor; pictures of the 1858, 1867, 1901, and 1928 houses of worship; the special programs on Sunday Morning and Evening, on November 5, 1944; a full page list of the pastors; the Official Board, including the Pastor, Trustees, Deacons, junior Deacons, and General Church Officers; and a list of the Sunday School, Training Union, and Woman's Missionary Society Officers and Teachers.
At the Sunday, November 5, 1944, services Dr. W. M. Wood, former pastor, was present and led in the Centennial Prayer. The pastor read from Matthew 16:13-28 and preached on the subject: "The Church of God Which Is At Mayfield." Deacon M. B. Holifield read a "Memorial: To The Founders." J. W. McDonald read a "Letter to the Church of 2044." Dr. Wood preached at night on the subject: "The Supreme Mission of a Church." Mrs. W. L. Hale, Mrs. W. S. Lochridge, and Mrs. Mary Walker served as the organists and the pianist (the latter). Thus closed a memorable day in the church's history. The Centennial Brochure has been used extensively in the preparation of this brief sketch.
W. C. Taylor, Sr., father of H. Boyce Taylor and W. C. Taylor, Jr, both Baptist ministers, was the first full-tine resident pastor, at an initial salary of $800 per year.
The first pastor's home was erected in the year 1892, at a cost of $3,200.
The longest pastorates in the history of the Church have been those of Dr. A. S. Pettie (twice for a total of fifteen years), Dr. W. H. Horton (twenty-four years), and the current encumbent, Dr. John C. Huffman (now in his eighteenth year).
The church purchased its first Pipe Organ in 1911, played for years by Mrs. W. L. Hale and Mrs. W. S. Lochridge.
The Church has always placed great importance upon the doctrines of the Word of God and the Baptist Faith, as witnessed by the action on October 19, 1910: "The Church decided by a large vote not to receive members from the Hardshell Baptist Church without immersing them."
One of her pastors, Dr. A. S. Pettie, had a book on "The Doctrines of Grace," published by the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, in the middle 1920s, containing sermons which he had preached in the Mayfield pulpit and elsewhere.
The first woman's organization of the church was known as the Ladies' Aid Society, and the transition from this group to the Woman's Missionary Society was gradual from about 1909 to 19l4. Since that time this organization has continued to promote all phases of Missionary Outreach by the Church.
The Church erected its second pastor's home on Backusburg Road in 1920, during the pastorate of Dr. J. W. Gillon, whose family was the first to occupy it. The families of Arthur Fox, W. H. Horton, Jack Merritt, and John C. Huffman lived in it. It was sold in late 1972, as the pastor had erected his own home.
Some of the greatest men in the Southern Baptist Denomination have preached in the pulpit of this Church, such as: J. R. Graves, J. N. Hall, J. B. Moody, J. H. Milburn, A. C. Caperton, H. Boyce Taylor, W. F. Lowe, T. B. Rouse, Len G. Broughton, A. T. Robertson, L. R. Scarborough, C. M. Thompson, Finley P. Gibson, Fred F. Brown, J. W. Porter, M. E. Dodd, R. G. Lee, John R. Sampey, and many, many others.
This church has always been a very strong supporter of the Missionary and Benevolent, activities of the Southern Baptist Denomination of Churches, both at home and abroad. She has helped to support local missionaries, aid weak Churches, assist in social activities, and feed and clothe the poor.
[From Wendell H. Rone, Sr., A Short History of the Graves County (KY) Baptist Association, pp. 102-105, 1973. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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