Chapter 14 — Baptist Transactions in 1790 — Statistics
The revival spirit which so happily pervaded the little churches in the Kentucky wilderness during the previous year, continued to yield fruits during the year 1790, though not so bountifully as during the year before. The Indians continued to harass the border settlements, and the country was much disturbed by political intrigues. Still the faithful minister of the Cross continued to labor actively, and with a good degree of success. Eight new churches were reported this year. All of them were small and most of them short-lived.
MAYS LICK church, located in Mason county, twelve miles from Maysville, on the Lexington turnpike, was constituted of four members, by William Wood and James Garrard, November 28, 1789. The constituent members were David Morris, Cornelius Drake, Ann Shotwell and Lydia Drake. They all came from Scotch Plains church, in New Jersey. The church had occasional preaching by William Wood and other preachers who traveled through that region, but no pastor till 1797. At that date Donald Holmes was called to the pastoral charge of the church. This year it reported to Elkhorn Association, of which it was a member, 43 baptisms and a total membership of 137. Mr. Holmes served the church five years, and then resigned on account of his opposition to slavery. A sketch of his life has been given in a previous chapter, in connection with the emancipation movement. Elder Jacob Gregg was the next pastor. He was called in 1803. He served the church but a brief period, when he created a difficulty in the church on the subject of slavery, which resulted in the exclusion of himself and several others.
In 1808, Baldwin Clifton was called and served the church
two years. He was intemperate, and the church declined under his ministry, till it contained only seventy members.
In 1812, William Grinstead became pastor of the church. He was an antinomian, and the church withered during the two years of his pastorate. The church was now small and weak, but the day of wonderful prosperity was near at hand.
In 1814, Walter Warder was called to the care of the church, and continued to serve it with great acceptance during a period of twenty-two years, when the Lord called him to his reward. His entire pastorate here was one of almost unparalleled prosperity. During a single year (1828) he baptized 485 into the fellowship of Mays Lick church. Two years after this, Campbellism carried off 383 members.
Since the death of Walter Warder, in 1836, the church has enjoyed the pastoral labors of Gilbert Mason, S. L. Helm, J. M. Frost, W. W. Gardner, J. W. Bullock, Cleon Keys, Joseph E. Carter, M. M. Riley and A. M. Vardeman, the present incumbent. From its constitution, in 1789, to the fall of 1872, this church received by baptism 1,794; by letter, 334; by restoration, 67. Total, 2, 195. Ten new churches have originated, in whole or in part, from Mays Lick; so that her territory is now comparatively small. Its present number (A.D. 1880) is about 180. Of the preachers connected with the early history of this church, there have been given sketches of William Wood, James Garrard, Donald Holmes, Jacob Gregg and Baldwin Clifton.
WILLIAM GRINSTEAD was the fourth pastor of Mays Lick church. Of his nativity and early life nothing is known to the writer. He was pastor of a small Baptist church in Maysville as early as 1812, and was then advanced in years. He was a man of warm, genial impulses, and was much beloved by his people, and very popular with the masses. He was pastor of Mays Lick church two years, but was unpopular there as a preacher on account of his antinomian sentiments. He continued to serve the church at Maysville till about the year 1824, when he was excluded from the fellowship of that body for habitual drunkenness. He made several attempts to reform, but fell lower every time he attempted to rise, till he became an inveterate drunkard. He died at an advanced age, December 23, 1827.
WALTER WARDER, the fifth pastor of Mays Lick church, was a burning and shining light in his generation. He was cotemporary with William C. Warfield, William Warder, Isaac Hodgen, William Vaughan, John S. Wilson, Thomas Smith and Jeremiah Vardeman, a corps of giants that occupied the Baptist pulpit of Kentucky at that period. These servants of God were all pre-eminently useful in their generation. Vaughan probably surpassed all the rest in strength of intellect, acuteness of discrimination and powers of logic, but was behind them all in leading sinners to the Cross.
In bringing sinners unto salvation, through Christ, Walter Warder surpassed all the others, except Vardeman, who probably was never excelled in this respect in Kentucky.
JOSEPH WARDER, the father of Walter, was a native of Maryland. He came to Fauquier county, Va., when a young man. Here he was married to Esther Ford, about the year 1772. They both became Baptists, and were under the care of John Monroe, pastor of Thumb Run church. They raised six daughters and five sons. The names of the sons were John, Joseph, William,Walter and Henry. Of these, John, William and Walter became Baptist preachers. Two of his sons having emigrated to Kentucky, he followed them, with all the rest of his family, and settled in Barren county, about six miles from the present site of Glasgow, in the year 1807. Here he and those of his family who were professors of religion united with Dripping Spring church, then under the pastoral care of Robert Stockton.
In 1809 they went into the constitution of a church called Mount Pisgah, of which Ralph Petty became pastor. Here the parents remained faithful and useful church members, till the Master took them home, at a ripe old age.
Many of their descendants are still valuable members of different Baptist churches in Barren county, especially in Rock Spring church, where George W. Warder, a great grandson, has recently been licensed to preach the gospel.
JOHN WARDER, the oldest son of Joseph Warder, was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, September 9, 1774. He united with Thumb Run church in his native county, and was baptized by the well-known William Mason. In early life he married a Miss Elliot, by whom he had eleven children. After her death he
married Kiziah Kenney, who also bore him eleven children. He moved to Kentucky and settled in Barren county, in January, 1805. Here he became a member and a deacon in Dripping Spring church. Four years later he went into the constitution of Mount Pisgah, in the same county. In 1811 he was ordained to the ministry by Robert Stockton, Ralph Petty and Jacob Lock. He was pastor of Mount Pisgah church from his ordination, till 1825. His preaching gifts were below mediocrity. In the division of the Baptists in Green River Association he adhered to the anti-mission party. In 1825 he moved to Lafayette, Missouri, where he became pastor of Big Sni-a-Var church of "Regular Baptists." In this position he was much loved and respected by his people, till he finished his earthly course, in great peace, November 16, 1857. He lived a church member, without reproach, sixty-three years, and a preacher of the gospel forty-six years. His son Joseph is said to be a respectable preacher, occupying the field left vacant by the death of his father.
A sketch of the life of William Warder, who labored with much ability and great success in Bethel Association, will be reserved for another chapter.
WALTER WARDER, the fourth son of Joseph Warder, and the fifth pastor of the Mays Lick church, was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, in 1787. He came with his father to Kentucky in his 20th year, where he at once engaged in teaching school. His education was very limited, but by means of close application while teaching it was much improved. He and his brother William entered into a covenant to seek the salvation of their souls, in the latter part of the winter, in 1807. Soon after this William set out on a journey to Virginia.On his return the brothers met with great joy. They had both found peace in Jesus. They were both baptized by Robert Stockton into the fellowship of Dripping Spring church, the same day in April, 1807. Walter came up out of the water a preacher. He immediately began to declare what great things the Lord had done for his soul, and to exhort sinners to turn to Christ and live. December 7, 1808, he was married to Mary Maddox, daughter of Samuel Maddox, of Barren county. In 1809 he, with most of his father's family, went into the constitution of Mount Pisgah church. He was soon afterwards licensed to
preach, and about the same time was sent as a corresponding messenger from Green River to Elkhorn Association. In a letter to Edmund Waller, dated "Near Mays Lick, March 5, 1836," and just a month and one day before his death, he says:
"When I was a young man, and was under very many doubts whether it was required of me to endeavor to preach or not, I came from the Green River Association as a corresponding messenger to Elkhorn, and there, for the first time, was in troduced to Brother [John] Taylor. After having been together several days, through his management, it was my lot, at night meeting, to endeavor to preach. With fear and trembling the task was performed. The state of feeling was pleasant in the congregation. An exhortation and some delightful songs followed; and the time had arrived, as we supposed, for dismission, when the old Brother arose and remarked, that when Paul came to Jerusalem, and Peter, James and John saw the gift that was in him, they gave him the right hand of fellowship. And then observed that, though neither Paul, Peter, James nor John was there, yet there were several old preachers and other brethren present; and he thought they perceived the gift that was in their young brother, and that he proposed they give him the right hand of fellowship as a young minister. Very soon his venerable arms were around me, imploring the divine blessing to rest on me, which was followed by others in a very solemn manner. I felt like 'a worm and no man,' and could not hold up my head. Yet, if it was ever my lot to preach, this was one of the best occurrences of my life. The mind of the Lord is apt to be with his people., and in my desponding moments the recollection of that scene increased my strength, and aided in keeping me from sinking under my own weight."1
Soon after this occurrence, perhaps in the year 1811, he was ordained and became pastor of Dover church, in Barren county. After preaching here and in the surrounding country about three years he accepted a call to Mays Lick church, in Mason county. On his way to Mays Lick, in 1814, he met with Elder William Vaughan. The acquaintance of these two noble men of God soon ripened into a warm and life-long friendship.
Mr. Warder found the church at Mays Lick small and feeble, as were all the churches in Bracken Association at that time. But he at once, with that earnest, well-tempered zeal that marked his whole life, entered upon the duties of his holy office. The church soon felt the power of his consecrated labors. This influence spread rapidly, and the whole Association felt the power of his zeal. The church began to prosper immediately, and continued to increase in number till 1829, when it is said to have numbered over eight hundred members, and was probably the largest church in the State. In the year 1828, Mr. Warder baptized 485 into the fellowship of Mayslick church, and more than a thousand within the bounds of Bracken Association. 2
But his pastoral work formed only a small part of his labors. Alone or in company with his brother William, Wm. Vaughan, or Jeremiah Vardeman, he traveled and preached extensively over the territory of Elkhorn and Bracken Associations, and the contiguous parts of Ohio.
In 1830 Mays Lick church reasserted the doctrines on which it was constituted, by a vote of 189 to 100. By this action it lost 383 members, which formed a Campbellite church. A similar split occurred in most, or all of the churches in Bracken and Elkhorn Association, as well as most other Associations in the State. During the incipient stage of Campbellism, its doctrines were vague, confused and undefined. Both Warder and Vardeman hesitated whether to oppose or encourage the "Reformation." They did not understand its teaching. But in the latter part of 1828 William Vaughan returned from Ohio, where he had lived a year, to the bounds of Bracken Association. His keenly discriminating mind was not long in sifting Mr. Campbell's unsystematized system, and discovering the real sentiments of the "Reformer." He first visited Lee's Creek church, of which he had been pastor. He then went to Mays Lick, and, in two of the most powerful sermons of his life, dissected and exposed the heresy of Campbellism. Mr. Warder listened closely, and was decided. Mr. Vardeman also soon became decided in his opposition to Campbellism. There had, as yet, been no direct antagonism between the preachers of
the different parties, and Mr. Warder still hoped that the storm might blow over without a rupture. Vaughan alone seemed to fully understand the radical errors of Mr. Campbell's system.
In January or February, 1829, Mr. Warder and Mr. Vaughan were invited to aid in the ordination of John Holliday, at Millersburg. On their way to that point they agreed to say nothing about the "Reformation," during the services. On arrival they found Jacob Creath, jr., there, uninvited. He was the most active and turbulent advocate of Campbellism in the State. He desired to take part in the ordination, but was not permitted to do so. At the close of the services he announced that he would preach that night. Accordingly he preached Campbellism undisguised.
Next day Mr. Vaughan answered him in a most powerful sermon, two hours and three-quarters in length. This brought on the crisis. Henceforth the warfare was an open one, and fearfully did it rage, till the Campbellites were excluded from the Baptist churches.
Mr. Campbell was not long in discovering Mr. Vaughan's great abilities, and the formidable opposition he was making to the "Reformation." Accordingly he sought a private interview with him. The interview took place in Maysville, in May, 1829. During the interview Mr. Campbell said: "Brother Vaughan, by opposing the Reformation you are losing your popularity, Semple, of Virginia, is losing his popularity by it. I tell you, baptism for the remission of sins will cover the whole earth. If you will join the Reformation you will have more friends and be better sustained. I am informed that those who have joined the Reformation are more liberal than formerly, and sustain their ministers better." Mr. Vaughan replied: "I am a poor man; but neither popularity nor money will induce me to sustain a system of doctrine I do not believe." "I know it cannot," said Mr. Campbell. "And I have told the people, from Lexington to Nashville, that you are the clearest-headed man in Kentucky." During the same conversation Mr. Campbell said to Mr. Vaughan: "If you and Walter Warder will join the Reformation this whole country will go into it."3
For a number of years after the division between the Baptists and the Campbellites, the strife was very bitter, and the churches were sorely vexed. But Mr. Warder stood firm, and labored on unfalteringly, till his strength failed. In the midst of the strife he was called upon to endure the loss of the wife of his youth. This great trial, together with the distress he endured on account of the troubles among the churches, was more than he was able to bear. His strength began gradually to fail. On the 15th of December, 1830, he took for his second wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Dobyns. He continued to labor on, according to his strength, but his health and energies continued to fail, and his task was well nigh done.
In March, 1836, he went to Missouri to visit his children, and with the hope of recruiting his health; but he rapidly grew worse. As his end approached, he remarked to those around him that he had often been the subject of doubts and fears in reference to his interest in Christ. "But," he added,
"Jesus can make a dying bed
Feel soft as downy pillows are,
While on His breast I lean my head
And breathe my life out sweetly there."
On the 6th of April, 1836, he left the thorny walks of men to join the general assembly and church of the first born. His body was brought back from Missouri and laid in the graveyard near Mays Lick meeting-house, where a neat slab marks his resting-place!
INDIAN CREEK church, located in Harrison county, was probably gathered by Augustine Eastin. It was constituted of eight members, in 1790, and united with Elkhorn Association in August of the same year. It remained a member of this fraternity till 1813, when it entered into the constitution of Union Association, to which it still belongs. Augustine Eastin was its first pastor, so far as known. Under his ministry it attained a membership of ninety-five, in 1802. But the next year it divided, in consequence of Mr. Eastin’s having introduced the Arian doctrine among its members. About thirty members adhered to the recreant pastor, and formed themselves into what would now be called a Unitarian church. This faction, after the death of its leader, united with the Campbellites.
About the time of this rupture David Biggs settled in the
neighborhood and became a member, and probably the pastor of Indian Creek church. From this time till 1833, the church enjoyed peace and a good degree of prosperity. At that date it numbered 111 members. But the next year it divided again, about fifty of its members entering into the fellowship of Licking Association. From this time it continued to decline, till 1856, when it numbered only thirteen members. After that it increased slowly, till 1880, when it numbered forty-two members. Isaac Munson was a preacher in this church about sixty years. He died in 1852. Among its pastors since the death of Mr. Munson may be named Henry Bell, John Holliday, James Spillman, A.W. Mullins and George Varden.
DAVID BIGGS was licensed to preach in Camden county, N.C., in 1791, and was afterwards pastor of Portsmouth church in Norfolk county, Va. Mr. Semple says: "Elder Biggs is a sound and ingenious preacher, and is esteemed by his acquaintances as an exemplary man." He came to Kentucky about the year 1804, and was at different times a member of Indian Creek church in Harrison county, and Silas church in Bourbon. In 1811 he preached the introductory sermon before Elkhorn Association. He labored in Kentucky at least sixteen years, and here, as in Virginia, maintained a good character and was a useful preacher.
UNITY CHURCH, located in the eastern part of Clark county, originated in 1790 from a division of Howards Creek (now Providence) church, as related in the history of that organization. It comprised at first about seventy members, including two preachers -- James Quesenberry and Andrew Tribble. Being a Separate Baptist church, it united with South Kentucky Association. After the general union it fell in with North District, and in 1842 united with Boones Creek Association. Three years after this its members united with those of a neighboring church, called Indian Creek, and formed a new church called Mt. Olive. This organization is a large and prosperous body, located about ten miles south-east from Winchester.
JAMES QUESENBERRY was either the first pastor of Unity church or succeeded Andrew Tribble after a very brief pastor ate of the latter. He was a native of Orange county, Va., where he was born, June 13, 1759, and from whence he emigrated to Kentucky in 1783. Two years after the latter
event he settled in Clark county and united with Howard Creek church, being at that time an ordained preacher. When that church split, in 1790, he adhered to the Tribble party, and entered into the organization of Unity. Besides his charge at Unity, he was pastor of Red River and Friendship churches in the same county. Into the fellowship of the latter he baptized the subsequently distinguished Dr. Wm. Vaughan, in October, 1810. Mr. Quesenberry’s preaching gift was very meagre, but he maintained a respectable reputation and doubtless accomplished good among the early settlers. He departed this life August 5, 1830, leaving behind him a very numerous posterity, many of whom have been and still are wealthy and influential citizens, and valuable church members.
JOHN M. JOHNSON was the next pastor of Unity church. He was chosen to that office in May, 1830, but proved himself unworthy of the position; for, in February of next year he was excluded from the fellowship of Providence church for the sin of adultery.
DAVID CHENAULT was the next pastor of Unity church. His father, William Chenault, was of French extraction, but was born in Virginia. He was a soldier under Washington during the American Revolution. He moved to Kentucky in the fall of 1786, and settled near Richmond, in Madison county, where he died of the "cold plague," in the spring of 1813. Many of his descendants have been and are among the most valuable citizens and church members in Madison county. David Chenault was born of Baptist parents in Albemarl county, Virginia, September 30, 1771, whence he came with his parents to Kentucky in 1786. He was married to Nancy Tribble, daughter of Elder Andrew Tribble, in 1793. He joined the church at Mt. Nebo about the year 1795, and was baptized by Peter Woods. His ministry commenced during the great revival of 1800-3. He possessed only a common school education; but he had a strong native intellect and sound practical judgment. He was an extensive farmer, and held the office of Justice of the Peace about twenty years. He was a successful business man and accumulated a fortune of not less than $100,000; and was inclined to be penurious, rather than liberal. He was, however, an active pastor, usually serving four churches for a period of nearly fifty years. Besides this, he preached a
great deal in the mountains ofKentucky, even down to old age. Among the churches he preached to besides Unity, were Cane spring, Lulbegrud, Loglick, White Oak Pond, Mt. Tabor, Stoners Branch and Union.
He was a Hyper-Calvinist in doctrine, and very uneven in his religious ministrations. Some times his zeal amounted to a burning enthusiasm, at others he was dull and chillingly frigid. But he never swerved from the path of conscientious rectitude. At a ripe old age he fell asleep in Jesus, May 9, 1851.4
HICKMANS CREEK was another small body of Separate Baptists, gathered in 1790, in what was then Fayette county. It comprised twenty-five members, among whom were Thomas Ammon, an ordained preacher, and Robert Asherst and John King, licensed preachers. It was either soon dissolved or changed its name, so that it cannot be identified.
THOMAS AMMON was probably the first and only pastor of Hickmans Creek church. He was a native of Virginia, where he was active in the gospel ministry. He was a preacher of great zeal and usefulness, and was at one time honored with a term in Culpeper jail for "preaching the gospel of the Son of God contrary to law." After the close of the Revolutionary War he came to Kentucky. Here also he verified God’s promise to the righteous. "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age." John Taylor, who labored with him in Virginia, as well as in Kentucky, speaks of him thus: "This awakening [at Clear Creek] was by the preaching of Thomas Ammon, always a mighty son of thunder. He had been a great practical sinner. His conversion was as visible as his wickedness had been. He began to preach in time of hot persecution in Virginia. He was honored, as many others were, with a place in Culpeper prison, for the testimony of his divine Master. He died some years ago in Kentucky." His death occurred not far from 1820. 5
HEAD OF BEECH FORK was the name of a Separate Baptist church constituted of about thirty members, in the eastern part of Mercer county, in 1790. Among its members was a
licensed preacher of the name of William Ray. This is all that is now known of this church. Doubtless it was soon disbanded, as were many other small churches of Separate Baptists constituted in this period of partisan excitement. During the year 1789 an unsuccessful attempt was made to unite the Regular and Separate Baptists. This seems to have greatly inflamed the party zeal of the Separates. Their preachers became factious proselyters, and organized little churches wherever they could get a few converts together, even though it were in the immediate vicinity of Regular Baptist churches. Most of these soon perished, and, of course, didharm rather than good. The practice of constituting little, feeble churches in out-of-the-way places is still too common.
HARDINS CREEK was constituted a Separate Baptist church, of fifteen members, in 1790. It was located near the southwest corner of Washington county, in the immediate vicinity of Hardins Creek church of Regular Baptists. It had no preacher among its members, and it soon perished.
MOUNT PLEASANT church was constituted at the house of William Haydon, in Franklin county, by Moses Bledsoe and John Bailey, July 24, 1790, and united with South Kentucky Association under the style of the Separate Baptist church at the Forks of Elkhorn. The members of which it was constituted were Daniel James, Ernest Martina, Benjamin Craig, William Solsman, William Haydon, Robert Church, Prichard McAndrew, Joseph Collins, Jeremiah Craig, Elizabeth Hatton, Robert Smither, Sarah James, Benjamin Perry and Ansellor Church. Not long after its constitution the church took the name of Mount Gomer, and in 1801 assumed its present title. For a long series of years this was one of the most prosperous churches in Franklin Association; but for a number of years past it has been on the decline, and, although it is supposed that 2,000 persons have been members of it since its constitution, its present membership is less than fifty. Prominent among the preachers who have served it as pastors may be named Moses Bledsoe, Theodrick Boulware, Isaac Crutcher, William Hickman, Sr., William C. Blanton, Y. R. Pitt and F. H. Hodges.
WEST FORK OF COX'S CREEK was constituted a Separate Baptist church on the western border of Nelson county, in 1790.
It was probably gathered by Benjamin Lynn, and numbered thirty-one members. This church continued to prosper for a number of years, but was finally dissolved. New Salem, a large and flourishing church, long under the pastoral care of P. B. Samuels, occupies its ancient locality.
WHITE OAK RUN church of Regular Baptists was constituted of eighteen members, in 1790, and united with Salem Association the same year. It was located in the southern part of Nelson county. Of its history nothing more has been ascertained. It probably soon dissolved.
We are now, at the close of the associational year, in the fall of 1790, able to give complete statistics of the Baptists of Kentucky and of the United States. The following summary, copied from "Asplund's Register," will exhibit the condition of the Baptists in the United States and its territories at that period:STATES CHURCHES MINISTERS MEMBERS Ord. Lic. New Hampshire 32 23 17 1,732 Massachusetts 167 95 31 7,116 Rhode Island 38 37 39 3,502 Connecticut 55 44 21 3,214 Vermont 34 21 15 1,610 New York 57 53 30 3,987 New Jersey 26 20 9 2,279 Pennsylvania 28 26 7 1,260 Delaware 7 9 1 409 Maryland 12 8 3 776 Virginia 204 150 112 20,443 Kentucky 42 40 21 3,105 Western Territory 1 -- -- 30 North Carolina 94 77 71 7,503 Deceded Territory-TN 18 15 6 889 South Carolina 70 48 29 4,167 Georgia 42 33 39 3,211 Total 927 699 451 65,233
The following table shows the different sects or orders of Baptists at that period:
SECTS or ASSOC. CHURCHES MINISTERS MEMBERS ORDERS Ord. Lic. Six Principle Baptists 1 18 26 4 1,599 Open Communon Bap. 1 15 13 4 1,714 General Provision Bap. 3 30 26 19 1,948 Seventh-Day Baptists - 10 13 3 887 Regular Baptists 30 795 622 407 58,398 Total 35 868 700 437 64,546
There were in Kentucky, at this time, three associations -- Elkhorn, Salem and South Kentucky. The last named was composed of Separate, the other two of Regular Baptist churches. Elkhorn comprised 14 churches, 21 ordained ministers, 9 licensed ministers and 1,379 members.
Salem comprised 8 churches, 6 ordained ministers, 1 licensed minister and 505 members.
South Kentucky comprised 20 churches, 14 ordained ministers, 12 licensed ministers and 1,344 members.
The total numbers in Kentucky were three associations, 42 churches, 40 ordained ministers, 21 licensed ministers and 3,105 members.
The whole population of Kentucky was 73,677. This gave a little less than one Baptist to every twenty-three of the population. This was at the close of a revival, and was followed by a spiritual dearth of ten years' duration.
Another ten years will considerably decrease the proportion of Baptists to the population. __________________
1 Christian Repository, March, 1856.
2 McIlvain's History of Mays Lick Church.
3 I took down these facts from the lips of Mr. Vaughan, before his death.
4 I have these facts from his son, recently living in Tennessee.
5 History of Ten Churches, p. 102.
[J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists,1885; rpt CHR&A, 1884. — jrd]
Kentucky Baptist Church Histories
Baptist History Homepage