Microfilm copies of the original Minutes of the Sardis Baptist Church were located at the University of Kentucky Library, Special Collections, on 11.10.08. They are very dark and difficult to transcribe. A portion of these minutes is given below. The blanks are not transcribable at this time.
Much of the remainder of this history is from Licking Baptist Association Minutes and the Diary of Mary Bristow, Union. Additional information from the Minutes will be added.
Sardis Baptist Church
By Jim Duvall
"Minutes of a conference held at the house of Brother James M. Clarkson in Boone County on thursday the 27th October 1831 for the purpose of constituting a church - proceeded to choose Bro. Lewis Conner Mod. and Thos. P. Dudley Clerk, after which the following Brethren and Sisters gave in their names, as desiring to be formed into a constitution. Anselm E. Clarkson, Polly Clarkson, James M. Clarkson, Patsy Y. Clarkson, Thornton J. Wilson, Mariah Wilson, Wharton Jones, Sarah Porter, Jane Bristow, Phil, Lucy colored brother and sister belonging to Bro. J. M. Clarkson, Michael, Davy, M____ belonging to Bro. J. M. Clarkson. Agreed that the helps from Gunpowder Brethren Lewis Conner & James M. Stephens - Sand run William Whitaker, Benjamin Watts and our assisting brethren Will Hume, William Conrad [Williamstown] and Thos. P. Dudley [Bryans, Lexington], also Bro. Willis Graves from Bullittsburg, Brethren Robert Finnell and Caleb Norman from Mudlick be invited to seats with
usthe Presbytery to _____ ____ the constititutional principles and propriety of constituting said church." _________
The meeting-house of the Sardis Baptist Church was located beside the present-day Old Highway U. S. 42, across Fowler Creek, behind the veterinarian office in Union, Kentucky. It was abandoned about the turn of the twentieth century and later torn down. This church was referred to as a Primitive or Old School Baptist Church because of its hyper-Calvinistic (Predestiniarian), anti-missionary beliefs.
The Licking Association of Particular Baptists, with most of its associated churches located in the central Kentucky area, "met with Sardis Baptist Church, Boone county, (Union) Kentucky at 11 o'clock on the 2d Saturday and two succeeding days in September, 1838." The nearest church of this association, geographically located to Sardis was Williamstown (KY) Particular Baptist Church, William Conrad, Pastor.
The Minutes of the association indicate that Sardis had united with the association recently (1836 or 1837). The church met on the 4th Saturday of the month for business and the following Sunday for preaching. They list a total of 38 members. During the previous year they had received 3 members "by letter or examination," 1 was excluded and 3 died.
Mary Beckley Bristow tells of her conversion and her decision "to come and join the people with whom I should have to live. I did so and was received by the church at Sardis and baptized by Elder William Hume the fourth Saturday and Sunday in October 1836." [Her Diary]. She lived in Union at the time and was about 28 years old. She remained with the church until her death in 1890. Her obit is at the end of this essay.
There were a total of 26 churches in the Licking Association that year. The messengers of the Sardis church to the association were: A. E. Clarkson, W. Jones, E. A. Adkins, and J. M. Clarkson.
James M. Clarkson wrote the Circular Letter for the Association that year. The Circular Letter was an essay written to all of the churches. Various subjects were chosen about doctrine, polity, the history of the churches or an exhortation to the members of the various churches. The Circular Letter was presented to the committee on the first day; the next day the Circular was read and adopted, then published with their annual records.
The Licking Association did have a correspondence with Northbend Baptist Association; at that time  all of the other Baptists churches in Boone County were associated with Northbend, though four other churches from Boone County broke away from Northbend and constituted the Salem Association of Predestination of Baptists in 1840.
The records indicate that the church at that time had neither a licensed nor ordained minister. They must have had a minister come from some other church to assist them.
The church did not send any messngers (who were recognized by the Association) in 1849. There was a disturbance in the church and both sides wished for the Association to decide who really represented the church. Two Letters were presented to the Association, but it refused to decide on the issue.
The association made several attempts to settle the issue, but was unsuccessful; their efforts are recorded below:Below is a chart showing the attendees to the association; Sardis is blank.
Licking Baptist Association of Particular Baptists, 1849
Minutes, p. 3. - Saturday
Two Letters, purporting to be from the Church at Sardis, being presented; a motion to read was rejected.
A motion was then made that the two Letters from the Church at Sardis, be submitted to a Select Committee of five Brethren, and that the bearers of the said Letters, and all others possessing information which may be useful in ascertaining the real cause of the difficulty, be requested to meet and confer with said Committee, and they report on Monday morning, which motion was rejected.
On motion the two Letters from Sardis Church are laid on the table until Monday.
p. 5. - Monday morning.
A motion was made to pass the two Letters from Sardis Church by, which was rejected.
A motion was then made that a Committee of seven be appointed to go to Sardis, invite both parties at that place to meet with them and give all the information in their possession, and that said Committee report to next Association - which was rejected.
Churches and Messengers
Licking Association of Particular Baptists
Met at Mt. Carmel, Clarke County, Ky.
Note: The Minutes indicate that the association met at Mt. Carmel in Clark County because of "the prevelance of Cholera in the immediate neighborhood of Rockbridge Meeting-house," where they were originally scheduled to meet.
Morris Lassing was pastor from 1854 to 1867, when he died from a heart attack, at the age of 66. Mary Bristow wrote extensively of the church in her diary while Morris Lassing was the pastor in the 1850s and 60s.
In 1882 the Licking Baptist Association held their annual meeting at Sardis. There were fifteen churches represented. A memorial statement was placed in the Associational Minutes concerning the recent death of John Underhill, the long-time pastor of Forks of Gunpowder Baptist Church. There were fourteen visiting preachers, who preached at the meeting. Elder W. L Bebee of Middletown, NY, as well as preachers from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Virginia and other areas of Kentucky are listed on the program.
[From the Minutes of the Licking Association of Particular Baptists, 1838, pp. 1-3; 1852; 1882. The website of Neil Allen Bristow is also used.]
* * * * *
The obit of Miss Mary B. Bristow from the Signs of the Times [a Primitive Baptist Magazine published in New York.]OBITUARY NOTICE
[Please publish the following obituary notice of one who has read every number of the signs of the times since the first, until March 17th, 1890, when the tired eyes closed in their last sweet slumber.]
Mary Beckley Bristow was born near Clintonville, Bourbon Co., Ky., Nov. 18th, 1808, and in her eighty-second year willingly passed away, leaving as testimonials of her superior worth as a woman, a friend and a christian the respect, esteem and tender love of innumerable friends and relatives. Her aged and only brother, two sisters-in-law, to whom she was very dear, and a large number of nieces and nephews, to whom "Aunt Mary" was next to mother, are left to miss and long for the voice that is still; but to each come only sweet memories, redolent with the perfume of her vanished presence. Gone from us but with us still. As I write, tears of selfish regret blind me, and I long for one more look at the dear, old, patient face; but the blessed assurance of her entrance into the rest of her Savior is a balm to our bereaved hearts.
In 1831 she moved with her parents, James and Jane Shelton Bristow to Boone Co., Ky., and since then her life has been passed in this and Kenton Co. She entered into rest at the residence of her nephew, J. E. Bristow, Bank Lick, Kenton Co., Ky., after an illness of several days of bronchitis, to which she had been subject for many years, and which has caused her much suffering. It is thought that her death was immediately hastened by heart failure, and the summons came quickly and painlessly. As we stood around her, during the ten minutes of unconsciousness, we saw the dimmed eyes close as sweetly as those of an infant on its mother's breast. "Asleep in Jesus." She united with the Predestinarian Baptist Church called Sardis, in Union, Ky., in October, 1836, and was baptized by Elder Wm. Hume on the first Sunday that services were held in the Sardis meeting-house. Her consistency as an orderly member is a shining example. Her remains were laid away in the cemetery in Independence, Ky. As she opposed funeral orations, the only religious services were Scripture reading, singing and prayer at the grave. I append a few verses found in her diary, written July 16th, 1863, to show her dependence and trust in God.
"My heart is deeply sad, O Lord!
No ray of light doth penetrate the gloom,
No promise sweet from thy bless'd word
My dungeon's depths illume.
"My heart is sad; O give me faith
To trust in thee, my gracious God!
O turn my heart to what thou saith;
Teach me to bear thy rod.
"Teach my sad heart to trust thee still,
Though heaven and earth should shaken be;
Teach me to know and do thy will,
And cast my care, O Lord, on thee."
May this prayer be echoed by all of us whose hearts are saddened by our loss; and may we honor her blessed memory by striving to live as she did, dependent upon the hand of God for our true happiness. Never having married, the great wealth of her affection was lavished upon her nieces and nephews, one of whom has weakly endeavored to write this tribute to her memory. Words are indeed weak when I attempt to do justice to her loveliness of character; but I know that she would say, "To God be all the glory."
NANNIE D. BRISTOW. Union, Ky.
[Signs of the Times, v. 58 no. 15 pp. 135-136.]
The obit of Albert Corbin, a member of the church in 1897. The church ceased to exist that year.
The Boone County Recorder, October 23, 1901, p. 5, c. 1:
"In the death of Joseph Wilson, Union has lost a worthy citizen. He was 62 years old and member of Sardis Church, and an ex-Confederate soldier. Loving and tender hands laid his remains away last Sunday in the family burying grounds amid the hills and valleys that were the scenes of his boyhood days. The last sad rites were conducted by the Masons of which order he has been an esteemed member."
[These last two obits from Jack Rouse, The Civil War in Boone County, KY, 1996, p. 307.]
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