A Visit to Stamping Ground Baptist Church
Stamping Ground Baptist Church Meetinghouse in 1916
Scott County, Kentucky
The Elkhorn Association Meeting, 1859
By Samuel H. Ford
A Visit to Stamping Ground Baptist Church
We arrived at Stamping Ground on Thursday night. It is a little town of some five or six hundred inhabitants. Its name was given to it by the pioneers, because it was the gathering place of the buffaloes. It is associated with the early history of the Baptists of Kentucky. Hero Elijah Craig preached, and Joseph Reading was pastor, as also Wm. Hickman, and Jas. Suggett, and James Black; and here joyous and disastrous scenes have transpired, affecting at this day the denomination throughout the West.
We entered the village the night preceding the meeting of the Association, and drove immediately to the meeting-house. The old house, around which so many memories cluster, has been entirely removed and a new building erected. I could not gaze on the remaining relics of the past without a sigh. Pity it was torn down. But they have erected a fine, commodious house of worship which does credit to their taste and liberality. George Hunt is pastor. They had recently enjoyed refreshing showers from the Lord, and some seventy had been united to the church, making about 500 members. They have preaching once a week.
On Tuesday morning, the 17th of August, the Association met. The introductory sermon was preached by John Smith, of Jessamine - an excellent sermon. Y. R. Pitts was elected Moderator, and Wm. M. Pratt, Clerk. The Association appropriates the second day to preaching. James Kirtly of Boon[e], Lewis Alexander of Owen, and myself, were chosen to preach at the stand. It was a beautiful place, and an immense crowd was gathered. I was informed by the Moderator that it was a general desire that I should preach on the history of the Baptists, with which I complied. Never was I received with heartier congratulations or more cheering evidences of affection. My very heart was moved. I blessed God for the sweets of true friendship and brotherly love. Tho promptness of the Moderator carried all business through by ten o'clock on Thursday. Y. R. Pitts is one of the best Moderators I am acquainted with. On Thursday, sermons were preached by Brethren Varden, of Paris, and V. E. Kirtly, agent of the Mission Board. This Association permits no collection to be taken up at its anniversaries. The delightful services were closed by a sermon from the venerable Dr. Ryland T. Dillard. This venerable man of God is regarded and loved as a father throughout all that country. By all classes respected and revered for his nobleness, his dignity, his piety, and talent, there are few men in any country more generally and devotedly esteemed. In closing his sermon, he alluded to the past. Remembered when the stand was occupied at that same spot years gone by, and those who occupied it: John Taylor, and James Suggett, and William Hickman, and Silas M. Noel, and Edmund Waller, when he was comparatively a young man among them. They were all gone. Their graves are around us, their spirits resting above. He referred to his age and infirmities - the oldest minister, and nearly the only old minister in the Association. A new generation of preachers has sprung up around him. He would soon sleep with the pioneer ministers of Kentucky. He could hardly expect to meet with the Association again; but he rejoiced to hear his young brethren preach the truth as they had during that meeting. He exhorted them to be firm, immovable. He closed with an eloquent appeal to the members and brethren to labor for God and truth, and, closing with a hymn, gave the parting hand amid a scene of affectionate tenderness which will be long remembered. Never in my life (I think) was my feelings so deeply moved. Loved man of God, never will that fatherly farewell be forgotten. Never.
I had been invited to remain at Stamping Ground, and preached Thursday and Friday nights to large congregations. I left that lovely place with material evidences of their appreciation.
I expected to have returned at once, but the solicitations of the brethren at Dry Run, Georgetown, and Cane Run, and Great Crossings decided my stay in Scott county till Tuesday. I accordingly preached at Dry Run on Saturday and Saturday night. This is one of the old churches of Kentucky, and has all the evidences of its antiquity. Since James Black's removal to Missouri, it has been under the charge of Bro. B. F. Hodges. On Sabbath I went to Georgetown. Bro. A. W. La Rue had resigned the charge of the church, which I found was much regretted. Dr. Campbell had not then returned from Europe, and all were anxious for his health and safety. There was, as I learned, a determined opposition, if not hatred, among the Reformers, to him and the College, as also to Professor Farnam's school; but in greater than inverse ratio are the confidence and determined energy of their friends. The only possible hope of affecting or injuring the College or its officers, is rancor, suspicion, or disaffection among Baptists. This may be attempted, but the envyings and heart-burnings of restless, ambitious spirits, are getting to be so well understood by the people that nothing of this kind can succeed.
Professor Farnam conveyed me in his carriage, in the afternoon, to Cane Run meeting-house, near Lexington, where I addressed a large audience, and again preached at Georgetown at night. On Monday I was conveyed by Elder Y. R. Pitts to his hospitable mansion, and preached at night at the Great Crossing church, another of the oldest churches in the West. With this church I was not personally familiar, yet many things connected with it, made it dear to me. With one of its old pastors, James Suggett, I was for years associated. He emigrated to Missouri in 1834. I became acquainted with him soon afterwards. He was a man of "infinite humor" - such a stock of anecdotes and personal recollections. And I was, though a youth, just as fond of hearing anecdotes as he was of telling them. Many a time have I known him to talk a whole company out of the room, leaving me his only listener. And I treasured many of them up. He would tell me of the old fort at the Crossing; the Indians lying in ambush in the cane brake; of his own hair-breadth escapes; of the Craigs; the big meeting at the "Crossing" and " the Stamp." Then of his conversion and first exercises in public; of Stone and the Stoneites, and the battles that were fought. How he was a Major in the War of 1812, and how they fought, and how they suffered. Indeed, the old father, long since gone to his reward, made the Crossing a familiar place to me. And there a lovely being, who went forth from our embraces to return mantled in death, passed her sunny childhood, and there rendered her vows to God and his people. Sad is it to realise that the bright form, blooming with the light of love, of intelligence, of spiritual beauty, is seen to-day giving her young heart with its wealth of affection at the bridal altar, looking not on the broad field of usefulness and longing for the work of good, suddenly fading like the star of morn in the dark storm-cloud of death. Sad, sad. But there is a clime where the stars, never fade and the clouds never darken. And thou art there, Sister!
[From Samuel H. Ford, Editor, The Christian Respository, November, 1859, pp. 865-867, "Editorial" - Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]