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      Editor's note: This account of the worship service was written by Augustine "Gustin" Hart, a young man who was visitng for the first time at the church meeting. It is descriptive of the manner of the church's worship service during the mid-nineteenth century. Things changed drastically after the Civil War began. The second footnote tells some of the history of the church. - Jim Duvall

Old Cane Springs Baptist Church
Madison County, Kentucky

Old Cane Spring Baptist Church, Built 1812-1813

      One Saturday soon after my arrival [Autumn 1860], I found my aunt and her servants very busy dressing fowls. Uncle Robert and his men had killed and prepared a shoat and a lamb, and I noticed something of this nature going on at other homes I visited during

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the day. Evidently preparations for a feast were under way. I asked my aunt what it all meant, and she informed me that there would be preaching at the church Sunday. This would be the regular December meeting, and many people were expected to be present from distant parts of the county and from Clark and Estill counties. After the services it would be too far for them to return to their homes before eating, and the preparations I had seen were for the purpose of feeding such of the congregation as came from a distance. The dinner would not be spread at the church, she explained; instead, the people would be invited to the homes nearby, where the horses could also be fed.

      The morrow came and I arrived at the church early, since I lived near. The congregation soon began to gather, most of the people coming on horseback. If anyone came in a buggy, I have forgotten it; but there were many carriages drawn by either two sleek mules or well groomed horses. One of the first carriages to arrive was owned by James Noland, of Clark County. Then there came Dr. Thomas S. Moberly from Waco and Henry Dillingham from Speedwell. The carriages of Curtis F. Burnam and David C. Irvine from Richmond also arrived before services began. I came to know the owners and occupants through my uncle. I knew the Oldham and Deatherage carriages and many others by their occupants. Most every vehicle indicated pride and prosperity. A bright-faced Negro driver, who appeared to understand his business and indicated that he was just as proud as any occupant of the carriage, sat high on a front seat especially made for him.

      When the Oldhams drove up, a smile from Mary Ann caused me to feel welcome to come to their carriage. Evidently someone else received that welcome smile also, for I had hardly reached the carriage before Nathan Deatherage came up to claim her attention; so I turned to Tempie and Nettie and walked with them to the church door.

      As was the custom in those days, men did not sit with the women during the service. Half of the church was for the women and none of them occupied the side assigned to the men until all the seats on that side were filled. When it was necessary, the front seats on the men's side were assigned to the women, the men vacating so that no women were left standing even if the

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men had to leave the church. The building, while apparently commodious for a country church, was soon filled to its utmost capacity, and the large yard was also well filled with groups of men, discussing all manner of news. Most of them, however, were talking about the late election and its probable consequences.

     The preacher, the Rev. William Rupard, arrived in due time and I noted that he was received as a very important personage. As I felt anxious to hear him, I slipped into the church and secured a seat which I thought would not be needed for the ladies.

      The service began with hymns lined by James Noland. Song books were scarce, and reading the lines to be sung was a necessity. The preacher read the scripture lesson and offered a devout prayer. After another song, he went up into the pulpit, which was a boxed-up arrangement in the middle front of the building with a small entrance at one side. The most of his body was hidden from view. The minister opened his Bible and read the entire eighth Psalm, announcing as his text a portion of the fourth verse, namely, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?" The sermon made such an impression on me that its substance clings to me yet, and I will give it from memory. The preacher paused after reading his text, looked over the audience slowly, and impressively repeated, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

      Then deliberately and earnestly he proceeded. "My brethren, no greater question was ever propounded; no greater inquiry can be asked by a man about himself. The man who does not have serious thoughts about himself and his fellow men with whom he comes in contact fails to do justice to himself. He is almost sure to be guilty of conduct that will bring upon him condemnation at the hands of his fellow man. Thus the necessity of jails and penitentiaries. We must ponder the words of our text, 'What is man . . .?' if we would avoid many of the pitfalls along the pathway of life. We have been blessed with a knowledge of the creation from our infancy, but I often wonder what view man has of himself and his fellow man who has not the revelation here opened before us. The wiser he is the greater must be his perplexity and confusion. Darkness - darkness it must all appear to such an one. No light, no life, no immortality.

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Can you think of your fellow men being thus conditioned and not be stirred with pity and compassion for them?

      "David must have been moved by such feelings when he spoke, as it were, directly to his Creator: 'What is man, that thou art mindful of him?' David was a Jew and he knew that God had been mindful of that people, but in this chapter he caught a broader conception of man. He saw the world with all its resources, with all living things, and knew that it was all for man. Then if all the earth and all the things thereon are for man, man must be something wonderful; and he cries out in the words of the text, 'What is man . . . ?'

      "My brethren, man is not a creature that you should kill. Man is not a creature from whom you may steal. Man is not a creature against whom you may bear false witness. You all will agree with me on these three propositions; but man is more than a creature that should not be injured by the commission of any of these wrongs. I thank God that He has not left us in darkness but that it was His good pleasure to reveal to us our true state. All praise to His holy name, for He has revealed to us that in the councils of heaven He determined to create man in His own image, and did create him, 'male and female created He them.'

      "I have read books pretending to answer the question concerning the origin of man. I felt it my duty to do so, for if a truth has been discovered I should know it; and if it is a falsehood, I should combat it.1 I have always noted that those who are worried about man's origin other than as revealed in this blessed book never lay down a code of conduct for him as does this book; nor do they concern themselves about any existence hereafter as revealed in this book. In fact, I find no book that satisfies me as to how man came to exist except this book. I find no book that tells all mankind how to live except this book, and I find no book that tells me truly of man's future existence except this book. If this book is the inspired word of God, if men wrote it as God moved them to write, then all that is in it is true. Since this is true, I must go to this book to find the answer to the question: 'What is man . . . ?' I learn therein, my brethren, that he is something marvelous. When I look at man, I see the greatest creature that inhabits the earth. Instead of seeing a creature that I may defame, rob, malign, and if occasion demand

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kill, I see something sacred - a creature a little lower than the angels, a creature that the Creator loves and pronounced His work in creating him as good. That is the kind of a creature you are, my brethren."

      The minister eloquently reminded his hearers that their lives indicated that they appreciated their exalted position and understood how they should deport themselves. Since they were only a little lower than the angels, who continually do the will of God, they should strive to conform their lives to the will of their Creator, who had revealed himself more clearly to man through his son, Jesus Christ. "Yes," he said, "in fullness of time, 'God did become manifest in the flesh and dwelt on the earth with men.' In His coming we learned all. We not only had confirmed the knowledge of our creation, but we learned our destiny. Instead of feeling that our Creator was an angry God that required of us some great sacrifice to appease His wrath, we were told to call Him Father. We were told that He loves us as does our earthly father love us. We learned that there was no question about His love and care for man. The object of His coming was to have man love Him and do His will on earth as it is done in heaven.

      "My brethren, this is my view of man. It is no new thing. It is the old, old story that has been told and retold since man in his ignorance crucified our Lord on Calvary. He died and arose again that we might know Him, and in the knowledge of Him have that peace which passeth all understanding.

      "My brethren, I do not wish to flatter you, but I do feel it is my duty to commend you if I think you do those things worthy of commendation. If you were doing wrong it would be my duty to admonish you. I deem it my duty as well to speak of your virtues. You will note in the scriptures that Paul spoke both of the shortcomings and the virtues of the congregations to which he wrote and preached. With this precedent I feel at liberty to say that I believe your faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is not excelled by any other people. Furthermore, I know your hospitality cannot be excelled, and I know also your obedience to law and the constituted authorities is all that the scriptures say it should be. I have never heard of jealousies, bickerings, and evil-doers among you. Therefore, I feel justified in saying that

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in Old Cane Springs, man, to my mind, realizes what he is and is showing a due appreciation of his exalted origin and is looking to that eternal destiny promised to all who live and obey Him here.

     "Our Father has promised temporal blessings to those who love and obey Him, as well as spiritual. On my way over here, from time to time, I have been impressed with the fact that you are blessed with abundant crops. Your herds and flocks are always well fatted. Your servants have bright faces and are cheerful and contented. Your orchards are fruitful and plenty appears to reign on every hand. You certainly are blessed. Noble men, noble men you are! Live then that you may be eternally with Him who created you, who loves you, and who has in store for you blessings that will far surpass the blessings with which you are now surrounded as the noonday sun outshines the midnight darkness."

      I was electrified with the minister's words and manner of delivery. When he had finished, James Noland announced the hymn and said that possibly there were those who might not be able to shake hands with Brother Rupard after the congregation was dismissed and that it would be in order while the hymn was being sung for anyone or all to come forward and extend to him the hand of Christian greeting.

     Amazing Grace was never sung with greater fervor and the audience in one common emotion passed in and out of the seats to shake the preacher's hand. In fact, there was a general handshaking. One corner of the church had been reserved for the Negroes, and master and servants shook hands in Christian fellowship and shed tears of joy together.

      After the congregation was dismissed I was especially interested in watching the movements of those who lived close to the church and whom I had noticed the day before making preparations for the Sunday dinner. I could hear, "Yes, thank you, I will go with you"; "No, thanks, I have promised to go with Brother Cabell Chenault." Or it might be Colonel Noland's, or Captain Noland's, or Colonel Chambers', or Walter Norris', or John Black Noland's invitation that was being accepted or declined, as the case might be. Everyone from a distance had several invitations to dinner.

      Thus the wholesome Christian influence of Old Cane Spring Church, before the War between the States, permeated and leavened the countryside for miles and miles around.2

* * * * *

      [In 1861, because of the war, the description of the services at the church by the young Mr. Hart were much different - jrd]:

     "Old Cane Springs appeared to be a God-fearing and God-loving community. There was preaching at the Cane Spring Church as usual. Rev. William Rupard, a young Baptist preacher from Clark County, had been engaged as minister. The first Sunday in May was expected to be a big day, and the usual preparations were made to entertain those attending who might live at a distance. Lambs, pigs, and chickens had been slaughtered by the dozens, and when the congregation began to assemble, it was evident that no unnecessary preparation had been made.

     "In a very short time the church was filled with ladies, except the 'amen corner' and the extreme rear of the church. The yard was about as full as the church. Men gathered in various parts of the yard, and as one passed among them he heard nothing but war and preparation for war being discussed. One group was vigorously discussing the Clay battalion's recent defense of the White House and the Navy Yard in Washington. Since Cassius M. Clay was a citizen of Madison County, his singular action was especially interesting. The opposing views of the North and South were freely advocated and it was evident that the peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of Old Cane Springs

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and vicinity were ready to take up arms in defense of one or the other of the sections.

     "When the services were over, those who had heard the sermon came out either lauding or condemning the preacher, who had spoken of the people of the South as Rebels, bent on dissolving the Union of the States. His utterances on this point were soon known by the crowd on the outside, some of whom received them with condemnation while others approved; and excitement ran high. One man said in a loud voice, 'No more of his preaching for me. No true preacher knows anything in his pulpit but Christ and Him crucified.'

     "Most all of the members who owned slaves were grievously offended at the preacher's remarks. Major C. F. Burnam, an attorney from Richmond, who was present, congratulated the preacher on his defense of the Union. His statement, however, was overheard and caused him to be condemned as much as the preacher.

     "Finally the crowd began to disperse. It was noticed that Rupard and Burnam were still in the yard. When most everyone had left Captain Noland went up to them and remarked: 'If you gentlemen do not hurry, I fear you will be late in getting your dinner.'

     "Rupard said, "I have been here at other times when I received many invitations, but I must confess no one has invited me today."

     "Major Burnam stated that he had been coming to the May meeting at Cane Springs ever since he had united with the church, and that he had eulogized the hospitality of this community above any other of the county; but now he, too, had been overlooked by his brethren.

     "'Exciting times! Exciting times!' exclaimed the Captain. 'I am sure it was unintentional and you must both go home with me.'

     "Captain Noland soon learned that he had incurred the ill will of his neighbors for inviting Major Burnam and the preacher to his home. Men of the community were fast taking sides and excitement ran high. Those with much property and many slaves sympathized with the South, while most of those with small homes and no slaves were for the North."



1 The books referred to are evidently the scientific treatises of Alfred Russell Wallace, Sir Charles Lyell, and Charles Darwin, which appeared in the 1850's. Darwin's Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was published in 1859.

2Old Cane Spring Baptist Church
     "We the Baptis Church of Christ Cane Spring Meting house on the waters of Muddy Creek, Madison County, was constituted, 24 August, 1803, our number [of members being] 39, by our Reverent Brethern James Quisenbery and James Hagerd, on believing the word of God contained in the old and new testament is the only infalible rule of faith and practice, on believing in the finel preciance {perseverance] of the Saints through grace to glory and on believing in baptism by immersion." With this simple statement of faith and with a brief "Constitution and covenant" and a "decorum," Old Cane Spring Church began its interesting history. It joined the North District Association and after "traveling" awhile for a preacher unanimously chose David Chenault, who at the time was pastor of the Flat Woods Church near Waco.

      Elder Chenault was a prosperous farmer, on whose land the church was located. He and his wife were received into the church by letter on the first Saturday in June, 1806, and his long ministry there was formally begun. He served several other churches too during his fifty years in the ministry, but never charged anything for his services. It was his belief that "A man who preaches for money is a gospel peddler"; nevertheless he cunningly remarked: the "Gospel's as free as the water that runs in the branch, but if you've got any poor calves or colts run 'em down to my farm." He appears to have been relieved of his pastoral duties at Old Cane Spring Church about 1830 to preach at White Oak.

      After Elder Chenault's ministry Cane Spring was served by William Hickey, Henry H. Rennels, and G. M. Thompson. In May, 1856, William Rupard, of Clark County, was chosen minister. This pious gentleman served the church for forty years or longer. He was generally beloved by both whites and blacks. One communicant, Mrs. Shelby Jett, who is now in her seventy-sixth year, relates having seen him wash the feet of Gabriel Slaughter, the Negro janitor of the church, in the footwashing part of the service, as a tribute to the Master whose will on earth he zealously endeavored to do.

     In July, 1807, the church chose William White as deacon. It had already [in 1803] formulated a "decorum" for the government of the church, had chosen trustees to look after the property, and had also determined to keep a "Record" of its proceedings. The first house of worship was evidently a wooden structure. The minutes indicate that the existing brick building was erected in 1812-13 on land belonging to Elder David Chenault, who in 1816 gave the church a title to an acre of ground around the house.

      A committee "appropriated two seats [pews] on the northwest side of the meeting house for the black people" in July, 1816, and ultimately (1856) a special door convenient to these seats was provided. This entrance was discontinued when the Negroes came to worship elsewhere. In earlier days the pulpit was near the main entrance but later it was placed in the rear.

      The records indicate that the church was not only a religious body but that it was also a governing institution. The members were subject to disciplinary measures which tended to discourage evil-doing. During the first thirty or forty years of the life of the church the congregation held court, as it were, at its regular Saturday monthly meetings. In this wise charges of irregular conduct against members might be considered and disposed of. Cases of immorality, drunkenness, profanity, Sabbath-breaking, stealing, libel, fighting, and the like were solemnly adjudicated. Frequently committees were appointed to remonstrate with the accused to cause such persons to improve their conduct. Sometimes a refusal "to hear the church" caused the recalcitrant to be "excluded" from fellowship. Often the verdict was exclusion when the accused could not or did not "satisfy the church." Instances are on record when the person excluded subsequently did "satisfy the church" and was readmitted to membership.

     In August, 1817, the congregation determined that "all verbal contracts should be [regarded as] valid in the church." At that particular time John Henderson complained by letter that "Br. William Noland had penned him up so that he could not get to meting nor to mill and that his stock could not get home without being drove round Br. John Noland and [also] for failing to comply with his contract about a road." The church "took the matter on motion" and after some consideration appointed a committee to visit the "premises . . . and take any testimony in writing which they think cannot be got on the church floor . . ." At the September meeting the committee "reported that Br. Henderson was not injured and the church exonerated Br. Noland from the charges."

     But the friction between Henderson and Noland got another brother into trouble. At the January, 1818, meeting, "Br. William Noland laid in a complaint against Br. Jonathan Floyd for saying that Br. and Sister Henderson had tryed all ways for satisfaction with Br. Noland and all the satisfaction that Br. Noland would give them was 'there is a bar; take me to it.' The church took up the matter," but continued the case to the February meeting, and at the March session "Br. Floyd contradicting himself in his statement's and failing to give the church satisfaction was excluded."

     In this manner the Old Cane Spring Church of Christ was a strong leavening force for good in the community. Its sphere of activity suggests earlier times when the church often functioned in the capacity of the modern state. It is interesting to note the appearing infrequency of such disciplinary cases in the records of the church after the first three or four decades. Evidently as the community became less primitive, the moral standards of the people improved, the power of the civil law became more evident, and the spiritual influence of the church more fruitful.

      But the records reveal other difficulties which tried the souls of the church members. Even though six full pages of the minutes for the period from October, 1829, to April, 1831, inclusive, were cut from the record book and apparently destroyed, there remains enough in the minutes and in other sources to indicate that the teachings of Alexander Campbell and other kindred spirits disturbed Old Cane Springs. As early as July, 1827, the North District Association had convened in the church there with Elder David Chenault presiding as moderator. The renowned Elder John Smith, often called "Raccoon John," was present and was arraigned by the brethren for preferring the Holy Spirit to the Holy Ghost in the baptismal ritual, for preferring actually to break the bread when taking the sacrament, and for preferring a more recent translation of the Bible to the King James version. Chenault and a big majority were strongly against him and such innovations.

      Elders Chenault and Smith crossed swords again in the summer of 1828, and in February, 1829, Smith arrived at Chenault's home with Josiah Collins, a prominent member of the Flat Woods Church near Waco. Smith announced that they had come to stay all night with Chenault and that he (Smith) would preach in the Cane Spring Church on the morrow, making it clear that if the church could not be entered the services would be held Elder Chenault's home!

      On Saturday the people assembled at the church but could not enter. Whereupon, Elder Smith sent word to Chenault that if he did not send a key to unlock the building, he and the congregation would forthwith go to his home to hold services, "A key was sent, the doors were quickly opened, and the house was soon made warm, and John Smith went in and sowed the seeds of an abundant harvest that day from the pulpit of Elder Chenault!" - See John Augustus Williams, Life of Elder John Smith, pp. 180-190, 281-285.

      In brief, dissension soon split the church, but not beyond reparation. A second volume of the minutes shows that in April, 1830, "The United Baptist Church of Christ at Cane Spring" came into being. A new decorum was formulated and David Chenault was "continued" as pastor. The other element continued as the Cane Spring Church of Christ, but joined the Tates Creek Association (September, 1831) and recognized Allen Embree as pastor in February, 1832.

      Fortunately the two congregations agreed to use the same building and thus left the way open for ultimate reunion. An entry in the first minute book, however, stating that a committee request "David Chenault to return the Bible and hymn books to the table drawer [in the church] and let them remain there," suggests the existence of some friction in the use of common property.

      The two congregations met on different Saturdays in the month until 1841, when it appears that they united for worship only. At any rate, the minutes of the Cane Spring Church of Christ give, on the final pages of the first record book of the old church, the lamentable circumstances of the separation on the first Saturday in April, 1830, and state at length the desirability of union with the other congregation for fellowship. Thereafter the minutes indicate that on a given Saturday in each month one or the other of the two bodies with the other present met at the church for services. Sometimes the record is for the "Baptist Church of Christ"; at other times for the "Cane Spring Church of Christ." No entries at all appear for some months, especially in the late 1840's.

      The monthly meetings appear more regularly in the 1850's, and in May, 1854, the names Cane Spring Church of Christ and Baptist Church of Christ (the word "United" had been omitted for some time) cease altogether and the minutes are recorded under the heading "The Predestinarian Baptist Church of Christ at Cane Spring." Henceforth there seems to be only one organization, but no reason for such changes were recorded. The word "Predestinarian" was dropped in 1869, but no explanation for the omission was given in the minutes. In March, 1872, the word "Old" was added, and thereafter the Old Baptist Church of Christ at Cane Spring was the titular designation. Mr. W. C. Griggs, of Union, an older communicant, believes the changes in names came with changes in secretaries, and that no other significance need be given the use of different names. A union of the two divisions, then, may be said to have been effected in 1841.

      Meetings during the last twenty-five years or longer have been less frequent than formerly and the church at present is less evident than ever before in its history. For a century, however, it exercised a considerable beneficent influence, especially on the who lived in the northeastern part of Madison County.


      The following is taken from page 212, fn 97.:
     The minutes of Cane Spring Church show no preaching in the months of January, May, September, October, and November, 1864. In March of that year "a few met but did no business." There were only four services in 1865. The War between the States apparently made a difference for a time in religious devotion in Old Cane Springs, if the minutes of its old church are to be relied on in that respect. Yet back in the late forties and early fifties there were months in every year when no services were recorded in the minutes.

     Mrs. Ann Bradley states that she remembers when the colored folks were allowed to use Old Cane Spring Church on Sundays occasionally for their services. This was apparently before they built a church in the community.


[From Old Cane Springs - A Story of the War Between the States in Madison County, Kentucky, revised edition by J. T. Dorris, 1936, pp. 50-56; 62-63; 173-178; 212. The footnote numbers are changed. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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