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Run-away Slaves from Baptist Church Members
Boone County, Kentucky
By James R. Duvall

Bullittsburg Baptist Church had in the early nineteenth century about a hundred slave members. We do not know the extent of run-away slaves, but the Minutes of the church indicate it was a problem; there are periodic entries in the churchbook indicating this issue. The county borders the Ohio River across from Indiana and there was easy access for those who wished to escape. From one business meeting in 1829 we read of four slaves who had run away:

"Bro. George Gaines laid in a complaint against Kezia, a black member lately belonging to himself for absconding from him without leave or provocation and for absenting herself from this church for a considerable length of time The matter being taken up and said Kezia being absent and it not being practiable to deal with her as is usual she is found guilty of sin and excluded."

"Bro. George Gaines laid in a complaint against Bro. Anthony a black member formerly belonging to Wm. Moore (deceased) for absconding himself from this church for a considerable length of time And also for neglecting to hear the counsel of this church given him through Bro. Gaines The matter was taken up and Anthony, being absent and it not being practiable to deal with him as is usual he is therefore found guilty of sin and excluded."

"It being made known to this church that Fanny a black member formerly belonging to David Watts was several years ago taken by Captain Benj. Johnson to the state of Mississippi where she yet resides as is supposed In consequence of this distance and length of time she has been absent it is agreed that she be excluded." No doubt Fanny had been sold to the riverboat captain and her final destination was what in other places was called the 'lower south.'

"A complaint was laid in by Bro. R. Graves against Silvey a black member formerly belonging to Bro. Ben Watts for absconding and running away from Bro. Watts The matter was taken up and she being absent and it being impracticable to deal with her as is customary. She is found guilty of sin and excluded."
Bullittsburg Baptist Churchbook, March, 1829.

This would not be considered a normal business meeting as they were trying at that time to get their membership records updated. All of those who had "absconded" had been gone for some time. [Slightly revised 12.20.07]
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