Historical Address at the Semi-Centennial Celebration
Before the Bonne Femme Baptist Association,
Calloway County, Missouri.
By S. H. Ford
[A Portion of the Address. - There are four themes in the address.]
The Great Crossing Baptist Church
Scott County, KY
A clear, deep stream sweeps through the center of the blue grass region of Kentucky and empties into the Kentucky River near Frankfort. Its two upper branches resemble the horns of an elk. From this resemblance the stream was called Elkhorn. At a point some two miles from where Georgetown now stands was a broad ford. Here the buffalo herds crossed the stream on their way north to the Salt Springs of Blue Lick. The place was called by the pioneers, the "Big Crossing," and still retains the name, only "great " is substituted for "big." The poetic words " lake, brook, or rivulet" were unknown to these people and "creek, run, and lick" were the names given to crystal streams and bubbling streamlets, which were as beautiful as any in the world.
Near this ford a company of pilgrim settlers, with Joseph Redding and J. M. Johnson, (father of Richard M. Johnson, afterwards vice-president of the United States under Van Buren's administration,) and Suggett's father was among them. The boy who had tramped four hundred miles through the mountain regions beheld a new life open upon him. Kentucky was the Indian's favorite and sacred hunting ground. The warrior tribes united to drive out the intruders and a continuous war of extermination was going on between these numerous bands and the comparatively few settlers. Forts were built at every station. The forests were cleared and cultivated, with the rifle swung over the axman's and plough-man's shoulders. They retired within the log fort at night. The wily foe was ever nigh and danger always present. It was amid these scenes that James Suggett grew to manhood. His physical form — erect, commanding, enduring — his powerful voice, his bold step, his clear, determined, flashing eye — showed the training of his youth.
At nineteen years of age he married Sallie A. Redding. Her father, Joseph Redding, was pastor of the at the Great Crossings. The whole community was allied either by blood or long intimacy. The marriage summons, drew the whole settlement, the infare [a reception for a newly married couple] at Suggett's father's was held beneath the trees, with songs and joyful sports. And Suggett and his girl-wife commenced life in a little log house with oak dishes and log benches. God blessed the union. A life of uninterrupted peace for nearly fifty years made their home a spot of light and love.
A few years after Suggett was awakened to a consciousness of sin and ruin. He sought and found mercy. He was baptized by his father-in-law in the beautiful Elkhorn, and at once took place and part in the religious services of the church. One year after this he was ordained to preach; and a noble preacher he was. He was six feet two inches high. He was erect in stature, even bending backwards when in earnest speech. His brow was high and broad, smooth and impressing even in his age. His voice was a clear tenor, never breaking on its loudest and far reaching tones. His heart was as tender as a woman's, and though he seldom wept, his audience almost always did, under the pathos of his exhortation. He took charge — as was the custom of the time — of several churches: Stamping Ground, Dry Run, and also of the Crossings. His brother William, became an active Baptist and was for many years Moderator of the Elkhorn Association.
[From Samuel H. Ford, editor, The Christian Repository, October 1899, pp. 269-70; via the University of Wisconsin – Madison, digitized documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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