[Sulphur Fork - pp. 397-418; Baptist - 418-424; Campbell County - pp. 424-433, Barren River - 433-455]
This body was constituted of churches dismissed from Long Run Association, for that purpose. At the meeting of the latter fraternity, in 1825, the following item of business was transacted:
"To the request from churches on East Fork desiring to form a new association, we say: although we wish them to continue with us, we accede to their request."
In accordance with this permission, messengers from nine churches met at Sulphur Fork meeting house, in Henry county, on the 3d Saturday in July, 1826. An introductory sermon was preached by Isaac Foster, from John iii:36. Alan McGuire was chosen moderator of the meeting, and John A. McGuire clerk. An association was then constituted in the usual form,
under the style of "Sulphur Fork Association of Baptists." The names of the churches which entered into the constitution were Sulphur Fork, North Six-mile, Pigeon Fork, Rock Lick, and East Fork, in Henry county; Patton's Creek, Union Spring and Friendship, in Trimble, and Lick Branch in Oldham. These nine churches aggregated 464 members. The preachers belonging to them were J.W. Thomas, John A. McGuire, Isaac Foster, William Dawkins, John Dupuy, Isaiah Cornelius, Abraham Bohannon and Allan McGuire. The last named moved to Missouri, the same year, and the venerable Dupuy was too old and feeble to labor. The next year Corn Creek and Providence churches were received into the Association, and with them two preachers -- John Gillespy and George Kendall.
The first anniversary of the Association was held at Union Spring, commencing the 3d Friday in September, 1827. Isaiah Cornelius was chosen moderator and John A. McGuire, clerk. Correspondence was received from Long Run, Concord and Franklin Associations. This correspondence was afterwards extended so as to include Licking, Elkhorn, Salem, Baptist and some other associations.
The first business of a general character that engaged the attention of the young association, was disposed of as follows:
"The first query from Union Spring was taken up, viz.: Is it right for a church belonging to this association to invite and encourage a preacher to preach in their meeting house, who has imbibed Campbellism, without a public recantation?
Answer: — Inasmuch as we are not apprised of what Campbellism is, we are not prepared to answer that query.
The 2d query from Union Spring was taken up, viz.:
Has a church a right to a seat in this Association, if she throws away her constitution that she joinedthis Association with?
After considerable discussion agreed to drop the query."
This proceeding indicates, what was afterwards made manifest, that the leading spirits of the Association were already infected by the heresy complained of by Union Spring church. This was the earliest use of the term Campbellism that the author remembers to have observed, but the denial of the body that it comprehended what was meant by the term, smacks more of the artful evasion practiced by the founder and early advocates of the system, than of the simple candor usually
manifest in Baptist associations, at that period; and the refusal to answer the second query, indicates a strong sympathy in the Association, for the tenets of the would-be restorer of “the ancient order of things.” The second query was taken up by the Association, at its next session. But, “after considerable discussion,” it was again dropped. The party spirit, exhibited in the Association, was, of course, more aggravated in the churches; since it was kept constantly before them, by the zealous and turbulent advocates of the “reformation.” Meanwhile, an extensive religious awakening broke out among the churches, and, during the year, 1829, there were baptized, within the bounds of the Association, 416 persons. Of these, 167 were baptized at Sulphur Fork; 65, at Rock Lick; 52, at Union Spring; 48, at Providence, and smaller numbers, at all the other churches of the body. Hillsboro church was also constituted, during that year. As was usual, where the followers of Mr. Campbell were found, many of these converts were doubtless baptized in order to the remission of their sins; the fruits of which performance were soon made manifest.
The subject had now been sufficiently discussed, not only for the Association to become "apprised of what Campbellism was," but also, to enable it to make up its mind, how to dispose of that heresy, as the following proceedings, had in 1829, will show:
"On motion of J.A. McGuire, Resolved, That the report of Beaver Baptist Association, made in August, 1829, in relation to the Mahoning Association, be published in our minutes, and our churches are advised to discountenance the several errors and corruptions for which Mahoning has suffered excission from the fellowship of the neighboring associations, as contained in said report."
The errors and corruptions for which Mahoning suffered excision, comprised the peculiar doctrines of Mr. Campbell, an abstract of which was published in the minutes of Beaver Association, in August, 1829, and, in accordance with the above resolution, was copied in the minutes of Sulphur Fork Association, in September of the same year. The extract has been given in the general history. The passage of this resolution led to a gradual separation of the Campbellites from the Baptist churches. By this schism, the Association lost nearly
300 members, within three years. In 1829, it numbered 12 churches with 1,134 members, and, in 1832, the same number of churches, with only 841 members.
In 1827, the Association, at the request of Sulphur Fork church, appointed three "union meetings," to be held at different times and places, during the ensuing year; and ministers were appointed to attend them. These meetings were kept up, as a means of disseminating the gospel, with more or less regularity about 20 years. The last one, it is believed, was held at Fox Run, in October, 1847.
About 1828, there was some excitement among the Methodists, within the bounds of this Association, as well as elsewhere, on the subject of what they termed "perfect sanctification." By this term, they meant entire freedom from sin. They taught, that, by earnest and constant seeking in the use of prayer, fasting and other holy exercises, a Christian might experience a second conversion, after which he might live so as to "commit no sin in word, deed or thought." The Association thought it expedient to warn the churches against this error. It therefore appended to its minutes of the last named date, a circular letter, in which it says: "It is a state of unspeakable and inconceivable enjoyment, [which] you never can enter into while in the body. To say you are perfect, would prove you perverse. To hope for its enjoyment, in time, is without any divine warrant. You must leave your bodies behind, before you can have any experience in it." This fond speculation seems to have given the churches little trouble; and it soon began to loose credit among the Methodists, with whom it originated. The modern "holiness doctrine," "the higher life" and "the rest of faith," advocated by a few enthusiasts, especially among the Methodists, are only slightly modified forms of the doctrine of "perfect sanctification."
In 1829, the Association passed a resolution in favor of organizing Bible societies; and, in subsequent years, the subject has been discussed in the body, but it has never done much in the Bible cause.
In 1830, Friendship church, under the leadership of Isaac Foster, split on the subject of Campbellism. A majority, including the pastor, adhered to that heresy. At this date, the Association first recommended the churches to observe a season
of fasting and prayer. In 1832, the first year that the cholera visited the United States, the Association recommended the churches to observe the 2d Saturday in October, the 25th of December, and the 4th of July of the following year, as days of humiliation and prayer to God that he would revive his work among his people, and save them from the threateneddestruction that appeared to be handing over them. This pious custom was kept up till 1836, since which it has fallen into disuse.
From an early period in the history of the Association, there had been a difference of opinion in regard to the lawfulness of benevolent societies, as means of promoting the spread of the gospel. During the prevalence of Campbellism in the churches, this difference had been overshadowed by the greater excitement. But as soon as they were relieved from the latter embarrassment, the old division of sentiment began to revive. The party which opposed benevolent societies were also inclined to what was called, in the language of the period, Antinomianism. In 1836, the Association added the following item to its articles of faith: "We believe that repentance towards God and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ were enjoined upon all classes of men, by our Lord and his apostles, and that the ministry now should pursue the same course." This article was offensive to the Antinomians. But they were so decidedly in the minority, that they could not prevent its adoption. They were very active, however, in their efforts to secure a majority in the Association.
In 1837, R. W. Ricketts, a popular preacher and a bold and able leader among the Antinomians, came into the Association with Mt. Pleasant church. The next year he was elected moderator of the body. Encouraged by this hopeful appearance, Mt. Pleasant church sent up the following request, in 1839:
"We request the Association to take into consideration the missionary system, and the manner in which it is conducted, and say whether she sanctions the institution or not."
The question was decided in the negative, and apparently without debate. This was a triumph for the Antimissionaries. But they were inferior in numbers, in the churches, and could maintain their superiority in the Association only by a prudent management.
In 1840, the Association met at East Fork church, in Henry county. This was a memorable session. According to appointment, R.W. Ricketts preached the introductory sermon. It also devolved on him to fill the moderator’s chair, and on John A. McGuire, to act as clerk, until the Association should be organized, by the election of officers. The party spirit was so intense that the occasion drew together a great multitude which crowded the house almost to suffocation. The absorbing question of the hour was as to which party should elect a moderator. It was known, that a majority of the messengers were of the Missionary party, But it was also known that an Antimissionary minority had split off from Sulphur Fork church, set up a claim to be the legal church of that name, and had sent a letter and messengers to the Association. It was notexpected that its claim would be at once acknowledged. But if its existence should be admitted as evidence that Sulphur Fork church was in disorder, and thereby prevent the messengers of that church from voting, till after the election of officers, the Antimissionary party could elect the moderator.
The letters from the churches were now called for, and the clerk began to read that from Sulphur Fork church, when the moderator interposed, saying there were two letters purporting to be from that church, and intimating his intention to lay them both on the table, until the Association should be organized. A lengthy debate ensued. The moderator contended that the Association did not exist until an organization was effected, by the election of officers; and of course, a body having no existence, could not act; that being himself appointed moderator by the Association of last year, all the power now exercisable, was in his hands. The clerk argued that the moderator was only an officer of the body present, and could not transcend the constitution and rules of the association; that the body present was vested with ample power to effect its own organization. He admitted that the minority of Sulphur Fork church had a right to be heard, in its complaints against the majority; but it had no right to disannul the proceedings of the majority. In these opinions of the clerk, a large majority of the members and corresponding messengers, agreed. But the moderator persisted in his determination to lay both of the letters on the table. The clerk appealed from his decision, to the Association. But
he decided that the appeal was out of order, inasmuch as no association existed, as yet. It was then moved that the letter from the majority of Sulphur Fork church be read. This motion was also decided to be out of order, upon The same grounds. Several other motions were made, and met with the same treatment. Even a motion to adjourn was ruled out of order. The clerk assumed the responsibility of putting a motion to adjourn till the following day, which was adopted. When the association met, on the following morning, the moderator declared the clerk to be removed from office, and appointed Samuel Rash to fill his place. Remonstrance was made against this exercise of arbitrary power, but proved of no avail. At this period, F. H. Goodrich read the following impeachment:
"However painful the task, I feel it a duty to appeal from the moderator, to the association: I impeach the moderator with incompetency to preside, as he has, in the first place, denied the presence and existence of the body over which he is called to preside; and, in the second place, in violation of the rule of the association, positively refused to grant an appeal to the Association, and also to put a motion for decision, when duly made and seconded; and, in justification of his course, alleges that he cannot in conscience do otherwise: therefore, all hope of redress, through his agency, is impossible."
"About this time the crowd in the galleries became so great, that it was feared they might give way; and all parties agreed to adjourn to the stand. The Association having seated themselves at the stand, the clerk, being the onlyofficer of the Association, proceeded to submit the question on the impeachment, which was sustained without a dissenting vote. The moderator refused to submit. The clerk, however, proceeded to nominate E.G. Berry, as moderator, protem, which was confirmed by a vote of the Association. Both parties then proceeded to read letters; but after a few minutes," Mr. Ricketts and his party withdrew, and took a position some hundred yards off. The Antimissionary party having thus separated itself from the majority, it was left to complete its organization, which it did, by the election of E. G. Berry, moderator, and J. A. McGuire, clerk. It then proceeded with the business of the Association, in the usual form. The minority organized under the style of the old fraternity; but soon afterwards assumed the
title of "Mt. Pleasant Regular Baptist Association," by which it is still known.
By this schism, Sulphur Fork Association lost about 300 members. But the churches now had peace, and might prosecute any benevolent enterprise they deemed proper, without embarrassment. It was several years, however, before the Association availed itself of this privilege.
In 1845, it resolved to take up a collection for Indian missions. The amount collected is not stated. This mission received the attention of the body frequently, afterwards. In 1847, $11 was collected for its support.
In 1845, the churches were advised to keep up weekly prayer meetings. About this time the subject of Freemasonry was revived in some of the churches, and, in 1846, Eighteen Mile church sent up the following query.
"Will the Sulphur Fork Association tolerate her members in joining the Masonic Institution, or not?"
The Association answered by adopting the following resolution.
"Resolved, That we advise the churches of this Association not to make the being in favor of, or opposed to, Freemasonry a test of fellowship.
"Resolved, That we will not allow the subject of Masonry to be discussed in this Association, believing that she has no jurisdiction over such questions."
This is the last time this subject, which had agitated some of the older churches of the body, nearly forty years, was brought before the Association.
The subject of the General Association was not brought before this body till 1848. At this period S.S. Sumner was appointed to receive all monies contributed for the use of that society, and to pay them over to J. D. Black, its agent. The amount contributed at that time was $202.35. From that time to the present, Sulphur Fork Association has generally kept up correspondence with the General Association, and contributed to its objects.
This Association was slow in adopting means for supplying the destitution within its own bounds. The first effort of the kind was made, in 1849. A committee of sixteen was appointed to correspond with the churches, ascertain what amounts
they would contribute, and engage the service of a minister to supply the destitution, so far as the means should be furnished. The committee reported, the following year, that they had collected from the churches, $145.30; that they had appointed J. H. Shouse, T. S. Drane and John Corban a committee to carry out the purpose of the Association; and, that this committee had secured the services of W. W. Foree, who had commenced his labors, in January. On receiving his appointment, the missionary established eight stations, at which he preached at regular intervals, besides preaching casually at various other points. His was a pioneer work, and he had a season of sowing, rather than of reaping. He rode 860 miles, preached eighty sermons, delivered twenty exhortations, visited numerous families, and baptized six converts. His preaching points were wisely selected, and his sowing ultimately yielded a good harvest. He was reappointed for the following year, but his report was not printed. A. M. Ragsdale was appointed, in 1852, at a salary of $350, with the privilege of retaining the pastoral charge of Middle Creek church, to which he preached once a month. W. C. Price and W. W. Foree were also employed for a part of the year. No reports of their labors were printed. Next year, Archer Smith was the missionary, and reported that he had preached 251 sermons and baptized fifty-seven converts, during the year. Between this period and 1861, Archer Smith, A. M. Ragsdale, E. B. Stratton and J. B. Porter served as missionaries, at different periods. At the latter date, the civil strife of the country put a stop to missionary operations, within the bounds of the Association. After the close of the War, the associational mission was revived, and something has been done in that work; but it has generally languished, and there has been a decided want of interest in the churches, in that important enterprise.
As early as 1848, Fox Run church reported a Sunday-school of 75 scholars. But no action was taken by the Association, in regard to Sabbath-school instruction, until 1857, when a resolution was passed, recommending all the churches, which had not done so, to establish Sunday-schools. Here the subject was dropped, and nothing more was said about it, in the body, till 1864, when the interest was revived, and a spirited resolution adopted, endorsing a Sundayschool convention,
and favoring the maintenance of a Sunday-school in every church. The Association has since fostered this institution, and it has made rapid progress among the churches.
The subject of temperance first received attention in this body, in 1853, when the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:
"WHEREAS, the use of ardent spirits as a beverage, has proven to be a bane to the happiness of society, and a reproach to the cause of Christ; and, whereas, its fearful ravages among the young men of our country, threaten the degradation and ruin of thousands of them; therefore,
"Resolved, That we feel it to be our duty to oppose, by all lawful and honorable means, its use and traffic among our members, and in society generally.
"2d, That we request all the preachers in this Association to preach at least one sermon to each of their churches, the ensuing year, upon the subject of temperance."
Subsequently the following resolutions were adopted; the first, in 1868; the second, in 1878:
"Resolved, That this Association condemn the traffic in ardent spirits as a beverage."
"Resolved, That we recommend the churches to condemn and prohibit the buying, selling and using of intoxicating drinks, as a beverage by their members."
Besides the institutions already named, this fraternity has contributed to the general enterprises of the denomination. It has within its bounds, also, an organization, known as the Henry and Trimble County Missionary Society, which has rendered very important service to the cause of home missions. It was established by Dr. F. J. Yeager of Campbellsburg, by whose indomitable energy it has been successfully conducted. It was organized soon after the War, for the purpose of supplying the destitute with preaching, within the counties named in its title. As early as 1870, it had obtained subscription to the amount of $4,735, of which $975 had been collected. It had expended $1,297,22. It is still in active operation; but no late account of it has been received.
In 1853, the Association passed a resolution, recommending the churches to encourage permanency in pastoral relation. This was an important suggestion. Much evil has resulted
from frequent change of pastors. It is everywhere observable, that those churches which have fewest pastoral changes, have been most prosperous and happy.
In 1857, the Association advised the churches to meet for worship, every Sabbath, although they might have preaching but one Sunday in the month. This advice was repeated, in 1858, and again, in 1869. Little seems to have come of it. Our people are extremely fond of hearing the gospel, and it is very difficult to induce them to go where it is not preached, when they can attend aneighboring church, where a sermon will be delivered. The remedy for the evil complained of, is to have preaching every Sabbath.
In 1858, the subject of receiving alien baptism was taken up, and a resolution was adopted, requesting all the churches to take the matter under consideration, and report their conclusion to the next Association. The following year, a somewhat lengthy and very able report, written by B. T. Taylor, advising the rejection of all alien baptisms, was adopted by the Association. The general practice of the churches has been in accord with this report.
An account of the old churches of this fraternity has been given in the early part of the history, and in the history of Long Run Association. A few observations on the younger churches, may be added here. Sligo is a recently applied name to an old church. It was gathered by the venerable John Dupuy, about 1813, and took the name of Pattons Creek. It united with Long Run Association, and, in 1826, entered into the constitution of Sulphur Fork. About 1838, it became very feeble, and ceased to represent itself in the Association. The following account of it is given in the minutes of the Association of 1840, at which date it assumed the name of Pleasant Ridge: "This church has been about two years struggling for existence with about twelve members. Recently, Brethren Berry, McGuire, Ransdale and Netherton, held a meeting of ten days duration, with them. The Lord was with them, and 56 were added to their number." Since that period it has been one of the most prosperous churches in the Association. In 1853, it took the name of Sligo, from a small village near which it is located. Friendship was located about one mile south of Bedford, in Trimble county, and was in the constitution of Sulphur
Fork Association. In 1830, a majority of this church, under the leadership of Isaac Foster, went off with the Campbellites. After this the church gradually declined. It took the name of Bedford, in 1850, and dissolved, in 1855. Providence, in Trimble county, was gathered by John Gillespy, about 1827. In the split of 1840, it adhered to the Anti-missionaries, but was restored to the Association, in 1844. In 1856, it assumed the name of New Providence, by which it is still known. Hillsboro, located four miles west of New Castle, in Henry county, was constituted of six members, on the 2d Friday in June, 1829. It has been a prosperous and influential church, under the care of John A. McGuire, E. G. Berry, J. S. Dawson and W. W. Foree, during its history. Mr. Foree, its present pastor, has served it with great acceptance, about 25 years. Union, in Henry county, was received into the Association, in 1834, and dismissed, by letter, in 1842. Ballardsville was received into the Association, in 1834, and was dissolved, in 1836. It was reorganized and received into the Association again,in 1839. It is located in the village whose name it bears, four miles south of La Grange, in Oldham county. Two churches of the name of Mt. Pleasant have belonged to this Association. The first is located at Pleasureville, in Henry county. It went off with the Anti-missionary schism, in 1840, and still remains with that faction. The Mt. Pleasant church which now belongs to the Association, was gathered, in 1864, and is located at the village of Todds Point, in Shelby county. Covington is located near the mouth of Pattons Creek, in Oldham county. It was gathered by John Gillespy, and was constituted of eleven members, Jun 27, 1843. A few years after its constitution, it was greatly built up by the labors of J. B. Porter and W. W. Foree. It has enjoyed the pastoral labors of J. B. Porter, A. M. Ragsdale, J. F. Martin, Thomas Reynolds and two or three others. Westport is located in the village from which it derives its name, on the Ohio river, in Oldham county. It was received into the Association, in 1848. J. B. Porter was its first pastor. Liberty, located near Oldhamburg, in Oldham county, was constituted, in 1844, in which year it joined Long Run Association. It was received into Sulphur Fork, in 1848. It has generally been a small inactive body. Middle Creek is located on a small stream from which it takes its name, in Trimble county, two miles from
the Ohio river. It was gathered by A.M. Ragsdale, and was constituted of 20 members, October 20, 1848. It was first called Siloam, but assumed its present name, in 1850. It has enjoyed a moderate degree of prosperity, under the care of A.M. Ragsdale, W.B. Smith and others. Union Ridge was a small church, located not far from the village of Centerfield, in Oldham county. It was constituted, in 1843, and united with Long Run Association. It joined Sulphur Fork, in 1852, and was dissolved two years afterwards. Poplar Ridge is located four miles north of Bedford, in Trimble county. It was gathered by Archer Smith, and joined the Association, in 1858. It has enjoyed fair prosperity. Chestnut Grove was originally an Anti-missionary Baptist church. It united with Sulphur Fork Association, in 1862, and retained a respectable standing, under the care of Garland Williams, till that good man’s death, after which it declined, and was dissolved, in 1880. Concord was a small church, located near the line between Carroll and Trimble counties, and was gathered by Minor Horton. It united with the Association, in 1866, and was dissolved the following year. Locust is situated on a creek from which it derives its name, in Carroll county. It was gathered by W. B. Smith, and united with the Association, in 1866. It increased with such rapidity, that, six years after its constitution, it had grown from 20 to 280 members, and was the largest church in the Association. Antioch is located in Trimble county, about three miles north-west from Campbellsburg. It was gathered by W. B. Smith, and J. F. Martin, under the auspices of the Henry and Trimble County Missionary Society, in 1866. It has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, although it bas passed through some fiery trials. Milton, located in the village from which itderives its name, on the Ohio river, in Trimble county, united with the Association, in 1870. It has had some bitter trials, and has not been very prosperous. Cove Hill in Carroll county, and Spring Hill, in Henry county, are small young churches. The former joined the Association, in 1874, and the latter, in 1877.
The progress of this Association, although not rapid, has been unusually even and regular. With the exception of the Campbellite and Anti-missionary schisms, it has had no serious disturbances. The remarkable revivals it has enjoyed, occurred in 1829, when 416 baptisms were reported, in 1842, when 310
baptisms were reported, and, in 1852, when the churches reported 421 baptisms. Its loss, consequent upon the War, between 1861 and 1866, was about 300 members more than its gain. In 1860, it numbered 19 churches with 3,475 members; in 1870, 24 churches with 2,305 members,; in 1880, 25 churches with 2,532 members; in 1882, 25 churches with 2,709, members. From its constitution, in 1826 to its meeting, in 1882, there were baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 4,802 converts.
The fraternity has experienced a scarcity of preachers, during almost its entire history. A number of promising young ministers have been raised up in its churches; but most of them either died young, or moved to other fields of labor. E. G. Berry, D. N. Porter and W. W. Foree, all living, are the only preachers who have exercised long ministries within its bounds. Sketches of most of its early preachers, have been given in other connections.
Peter H. Vories was a young preacher of unusual zeal, piety and ability. He united with Sulphur Fork church, in Henry county, during a great revival which prevailed in that region, in 1817, and was baptized, with 164 others, by Alan McGuire. In November of the same year, he was licensed to preach, and, in 1818, was ordained to the ministry, and took the pastoral care of Sulphur Fork church. In this position, he labored with great zeal and success, about six years. In the midst of a career of great usefulness, he was called from the field of labor to his reward above, October 26, 1825. He left several children, among whom is Hon. William L. Vories, late of Smithfield, Kentucky, but now of Frankfort.
John W. Thomas was raised up to the ministry in Sulphur Fork church. He was received into its fellowship and licensed to preach, in November, 1825, and was ordained to the ministry, in November, 1827. At the latter date, a revival of religion commenced in Sulphur Fork church, under the joint ministry of him and John A. McGuire. During the progress of this revival, which continued about fourteen months, the two young preachers baptized 167 converts. In 1830, the two zealous young ministers were chosen joint pastors of the church. But the next year, Mr. Thomas moved away from the State.
Isaac Foster was in the constitution of this Association, and occupied a prominent position in its early councils. He appears to have been either raised up to the ministry, in Pattons Creek church, or to have moved to its vicinity, about 1824. He preached the introductory sermon before Sulphur Fork Association at both its first and second meetings. In 1828, he moved his membership to Friendship church. Early imbibing the sentiments of Mr. Campbell, he rendered himself obnoxious to the Baptists, by partaking of the Lord’s Supper with the Unitarians, and committing other disorders. In 1830, he and his party, comprising a majority of Friendship church, were excluded from the Association for holding and teaching false doctrines. After this he was identified with the Campbellites.
William Dawkins was an early settler in Oldham county, and was probably in the constitution of Eighteen-Mile church, in 1800. He was licensed to preach, at Lick Branch, in July, 1813, and afterwards ordained at Eighteen- Mile. It is probable that he was not pastor of any church, although he supplied the pulpit at Lick Branch, several years. He was a very moderate preacher, but maintained a good moral character. Towards the latter part of his life, a crazy adventurer came into his neighborhood, preaching to the people, that, if they would exercise a sufficient degree of faith, they should never die. Mr. Dawkins, a man of the name of Jones, afterwards known as "Live-forever" Jones, and one other man fell under the hallucination, and formed a "Live-forever society." Nevertheless, Mr. Dawkins died at his home near LaGrange, about 1836, something short of three score years and ten, He left a numerous posterity in Oldham and the surrounding counties.
Abraham Bohannon was connected with a numerous, respectable family of his name, who settled early, near the north east corner of Shelby county. He was an ordained preacher in Indian Fork church, in that locality, as early as 1811. About 1827, he moved to Oldham county, and united with East Fork church, in Henry. He appears to have been useful in his early ministry; but later in life, he became so entangled with the affairs of the world, that he lost his influence as a preacher, to a great extent. He was poorly educated, was possessed of very moderate gifts, and it is not known that he was ever pastor
of a church. In his early ministry, he aided in constituting several churches, and was frequently called on to assist in the ordination of young preachers. After he had lost his influence to such a degree that he could not command an audience, he is said to have remarked that the people were tired of hearing preaching, and that he believed he would engage in lecturing. It is not known that he carried this purpose into effect. He died at his home in Oldham county, at a good old age.
Isaiah Cornelius was a member of Drennons Creek church (now New Castle) when Sulphur Fork Association was formed, but became a member of that body, in 1827, by having united with Rock Lick church. He was chosen Moderator of the Association, at that date, and occupied the position three years. In 1832, he moved to the vicinity of Union Spring, in Trimble county, and became a member of that church. He was again chosen Moderator of the Association, in 1833. About this time he began to preach that the apostles had authority to remit sins. He drew a party to him, and the church split on the subject. In 1834, he and his party were rejected by the Association, on account of their false doctrine. After this, he was identified with the Campbellites. Mr. Cornelius was an elderly man when he came into Sulphur Fork Association, and was probably the ablest and best educated preacher in the body, at that time. But he became the subject of frequent fits of insanity, which doubtless weakened his mind, and probably led to his eccentricity in teaching. He was loved and honored as a man of piety and integrity.
Asa B. Nay was raised up to the ministry in Eighteen-Mile church, about 1833. He soon afterwards moved to Indiana, and united with the Antimissionary Baptists. He became a respectable preacher of that connection, and was living a few years past.
Elijah Gates was raised up to the ministry, in North Six-Mile church, in Henry county, about 1828. Two years later he moved his membership to Pigeon Fork, and in 1838, to Friendship, in Trimble county. Not long after the latter date, he and his wife lost their lives in a steamboat disaster. Mr. Gates was a man of excellent Christian character, and was a good, plain, useful preacher.
Wesley Alexander was a brother of the famous Lewis D. Alexander, of Owen county. He was a native of Scott county. But moving to Owen county, in his youth, he joined the church at New Liberty, where he was licensed to preach, in 1826. The next year, he moved to Henry county, where he united with East Fork church, in January, 1825. The following month, he was licensed by this church, to continue the exercise of his gift; and in November of the same year, was ordained to the ministry, by Joel Hulsey and Abraham Bohannon. In 1830, he accepted the care of LaGrange church, and, in 1833, that of the Ballardsville. At both places, his brief labors were much blessed; and he gave promise of great usefulness in the ministry. But his task was soon accomplished. The Lord took him from his home in Ballardsville, to his eternal abode, on the 30th of August, 1835.
Wharton M. Ransdell was licensed to preach, at Sulphur Fork church, in 1838, and was ordained to the ministry, in May, 1840. During the latter year,he moved his membership to Pigeon Fork, and probably took the pastoral charge of that church. A cotemporary says of him: "He was a young man of great piety, and good promise in the ministry; but he preached only a few years, when the Lord called him home."
Elisha B. Stratton was raised up to the ministry in Cane Run church, in Henry county. He was licensed to preach, in 1844, and ordained to the ministry, in April of the following year. In March, 1846, he was called to the pastoral care of Cane Run church. He occupied the position about a year, and then moved to Campbellsburg, in the same county. After this, he was pastor of several churches, during brief periods. He possessed excellent gifts, and was endowed with extraordinary readiness of mind. But he had a strong propensity for moneymaking; and this led him into speculations which, however honorable in themselves, greatly impaired his usefulness as a minister. A little after mid life, he was attacked with bronchial affection, which disabled him from preaching, and of which he finally died, at his home in the city of Louisville, not far from 1875.
Wm. Brown Smith was a son of deacon Geo. Smith, and a grandson of the famous pioneer preacher, George Stokes Smith, the first pastor of Mt. Pleasant church, in Jessamine county.
He was born in Woodford county, Ky., Feb. 5, 1818. He was raised up on a farm, and received a moderate common school education. In early manhood, he professed conversion, and united with the Methodists. He was soon made a class leader, and became an efficient worker in the Methodist church. About 1840, he was married to Jemima, daughter of Joseph Lillard, a local Methodist preacher. His wife lived only about two years, and was soon followed to the grave by her only child.
In December, 1844, he married Mary V. Wilson, of Mercer county, and settled on a farm near Salvisa. About 1852, he joined the Baptist church, at Salvisa, and was licensed to preach, in July of that year. The following November, he was ordained to the ministry, by V. E. Kirtley, Wm. R. Combs, Willis Peck and R. H. Slaughter. Soon after his ordination, he moved to Harrodsburg, and took a course of theological instruction under A. W. LaRue, then pastor of the Baptist church at that village. While living at this place, he served as pastor of Shawnee Run and Salt River churches, and also performed much labor among the destitute around him. In 1859, he moved to LaGrange, in Oldham county, and settled on a small farm, on the northern suburb of that village. For a short time after this, he served the churches at Dover, in Shelby county, and Lawrenceburg, in Anderson. He then took pastoral charge of the churches at Sligo, in Henry county, and Bedford, Poplar Ridge and Corn Creek, in Trimble. He soon afterwards gathered Locust church, in Carroll county, and took pastoral charge of it, having resigned the care of Corn Creek. He also resigned at Bedford, and took charge of Middle Creek church, in Trimble county. He now had a wide field of labor, in which there was much destitution, and faithfully did he occupy it. Here, perhaps, he did the best work of his eminently useful life. He appears to have been called of God to the especial work of a missionary. His bodily strength was remarkable, his health was almost perfect, his cheerfulness was unremitting, his courage, unfaltering, his faith, unwavering, his powers of endurance, almost marvelous, and his zeal and energy never flagged.
After laboring in this field, with abundant success, about nine years, he moved to Louisville, and engaged in the work of a city missionary. Here he gathered Pilgrim church (now called
Cabell Street) in the north-east part of the city, and became its pastor. He served in this capacity, with his accustomed success, till 1878, when he moved to Millersburg, Ky., where he was employed as a missionary in Bracken Association. In 1881, he moved to Fleming county, and located in Foxport. He soon became pastor of Salem church in Lewis county, Stone Lick in Mason, Pleasant Valley in Fleming, and Locust Grove in Nicholas. These churches were wide apart, and his going to and from them afforded him opportunities of preaching to the destitute, which he did not fail to improve. Although he had become so corpulent that he and his wife, who were of about equal averdupois, weighed over 600 pounds, he did all his traveling on horseback. His most valuable career was suddenly closed by his death, from concussion of the brain, (caused by a fall from his horse,) on the 10th of May, 1883.
The gifts of this remarkable man were scarcely above the medium grade; but they were supported by an untarnished christian character, and were used so diligently that they were far more effective than those of many of his contemporaries who possessed brilliant genius and superior learning. His surviving children are Gabriel T. Smith of Louisville, Samuel W. Smith of Labette county, Kansas, and Jennie, the wife of Rev. J. G. Bow of Newport, Ky. They are all members of Baptist churches.
Garland Williams was raised in Shelby county, and first united with Dover church; but he afterwards became identified with the Antimissionary Baptists, and was raised up to the ministry among them. He went into the constitution of Chestnut Grove church, and was elected its pastor. This position he filled till near the close of his life. In 1862, he, with his charge, became identified with Sulphur Fork Association. He was pastor of several churches, at different periods, and was regarded by them all, a most godly man. His gifts were below, rather than above mediocrity, but he made himself remarkably familiar with the Scriptures, and gained the universal confidence of the people. Hedied, much beloved, and in great triumph, at his home in Shelby county, about 1878.
Arthur B. Hunter was born in Shelby Co. Ky., July, 1825. He was bred a farmer, and acquired a common school education. He professed conversion under the ministry of T. J.
Fisher, and was baptized by John Dale, for the fellowship of Simpsonville church, in his native county. By that church he was licensed to preach, in the Spring of 1858, and ordained to the ministry, in November, 1859. During his ministry, of 22 years, he was, at different periods, pastor of the churches at Covington, Ballardsville and Eighteen Mile, in Oldham county; Fisherville, in Jefferson, and Dover and Mt. Pleasant, in Shelby. The last named church was gathered principally by his labors, in 1864. Of this congregation, he was a member from its constitution, and the pastor, from 1867, till the failure of his health, two years before his death. He died of pneumonia, on the 3d of December, 1883.
Mr. Hunter was wanting in the gift of exhortation, but he was a most excellent singer, and the author, who heard him often, regarded him one of the ablest preachers, of his acquirements, in the State. He was diffident among strangers, and seldom went abroad. His labors were performed in a comparatively narrow circle, around his home. His surviving children are two daughters, both of whom are Baptists.
William Weston Foree, son of William Beasley Foree, is of French Huguenot ancestry, and was born in Henry Co., Ky., Feb. 16, 1822. He was brought up on a farm, and received, in his boyhood, only such an education as the schools of his neighborhood afforded. He professed religion, and was baptized by John A. McGuire for the fellowship of Hillsboro church, in his native county, in August, 1840. In August, 1846, he was elected deacon; but declining to serve, he was licensed to preach, the same day. Feeling the need of a better education, he attended three sessions of Georgetown College. On returning home, he engaged actively in preaching, in the northern border of Sulphur Fork Association -- sometimes in company with J. B. Porter, and sometimes alone. His zeal was soon happily rewarded with an extensive revival. About 70 converts joined Covington church, within a few months, and about 20 joined the church at Liberty.
In June, 1849, he was ordained to the ministry, at Hillsboro, by E. G. Berry, John A. McGuire, S. S. Sumner, D. N. Porter, J. B. Porter, J. S. Dawson, E. B. Stratton and A. M. Ragsdale. He received the first appointment as missionary, to the destitute in Sulphur Fork Association ever made by that body, and served
in that capacity during the years 1850 and 1851. In this work his health failed, and he went South to recuperate. On his return, he was called to the pastoral care of Hillsboro church, in November, and, with the exception of oneyear, has continued to occupy that position, to the present time (1885). About 1853, he was called to the Simpsonville church, in Shelby county, where he preached two Sundays in the month, about five years. He has also served the following churches for the periods indicated: Buck Creek, one year, Clear Creek, one year, North Benson, five years, Ballardsville, three years, Mt. Pleasant, three years, LaGrange, six years, East Fork, two years, Hopewell, thirteen years, Chestnut Grove, two years, and Pleasureville, two years. At present, he is serving the churches at Hillsboro, Eighteen Mile, Antioch and Covington.
In addition to his pastoral work, he has performed much gratuitous missionary labor. After the death of his first wife, he “lived in the saddle,” about thirteen years, preaching over a broad area of country, principally within the bounds of Sulphur Fork Association.
Thomas Reynolds was born in Warren Co., Ky., Oct. 8, 1822. He professed religion at Rocky Spring, in his native county, under the preaching of Younger Witherspoon (Baptist) and John Redmond (Methodist), in 1842, and joined the Methodists, In 1846, he joined the Baptist church at Blue Spring in Barren county, and was baptized by R.T. Gardner. He was licensed to preach, at Knob Spring in Hart county, in 1851, and was ordained to the ministry, by Jesse Moon and William Skaggs, in 1852. After serving Knob Spring church as pastor, a few months, he moved to Trimble county, in December, 1852, In this county, he has been pastor of the churches at New Providence, Middle Creek, Poplar Ridge and Milton. He has also served the churches at Covington, Westport and Liberty, in Oldham county, and has been pastor of several churches in Indiana. About 1864, he moved to Westport where he has since resided.
J. Mason Eaton first united with the church at Sligo, about 1852, but soon afterwards moved his membership to Hillsboro, near which he had been born and raised. He was licensed to preach, in 1867, and was subsequently ordained to the ministry. Feeble health has prevented his laboring very extensively in his
holy calling. He served Liberty church a short time, and was subsequently pastor of the church at Corn Creek.
A number of other ministers have labored, during brief periods, within the bounds of this Association, among whom may be named B. T. Taylor, S. S. Sumner, W. H. Felix, J. F. Martin, A. C. Davidson, J. M. McGuire and Andrew Jackson. __________________[p. 418]
The origin of this fraternity is somewhat singular. Elkhorn Association had been constituted on the Philadelphia Confession of Faith. In her letter to that Association, in 1824, the First church in Lexington, suggested the propriety of revising the constitution. In accordance with this suggestion, the Association appointed a committee, consisting of B. S. Chambers, James Suggett, John Edwards, Edmund Waller and Toliver Craig, "to revise the constitution of this Association and, if, in their opinion, it is necessary, to make amendments thereto, and report to the next Association." The objections to the constitution, as it stood, are not stated; but subsequent events indicate that there was a small party in the Association, who desired that body to exercise some authority over the churches, in order to maintain a more strict discipline, and a more perfect uniformity of doctrine, among them. At the succeeding meeting of the Association, the committee reported in favor of leaving the constitution “without revision or amendment.” The report was adopted. At the same time, a committee, consisting of John T. Johnson, James Fishback and Rhodes Smith -- all men of ability -- was appointed to prepare a circular letter, to be reported on the following Monday. The letter was on the subject of "the Nature and Power of a Baptist Association." The grounds taken were those generally held by the Baptist of the present time, and the letter was adopted by a majority of "ten to one." But the minority was greatly offended, and one man left the house in high resentment, vowing that he would never again come of Elkhorn Association. The messengers of Glens Creek church, of whom were John Edwards, their minister, and Buford Twyman, a prominent member, were among the offended. On consultation, they resolved to attempt
the formation of a new association. They laid the matter before their church, which at once adopted their views. The church sent a circular letter to fourteen other churches, inviting them to send “delegates” to her meeting house, on a given day, for the purpose of forming an association. One of these circulars were sent to North Elkhorn church, and elicited a sharp reply in print, supposed to have been written by Silas M. Noel. This, with other circumstances, stirred up considerable strife, and no small degree of ill feeling was gendered among the churches of both Franklin and Elkhorn Associations. Meanwhile, in 1826, Hillsboro, Clover Bottom and Glens Creek churches, obtained letters of dismission from Elkhorn Association; and Salt River, Fox Creek and Goshen obtained similar letters from Franklin, but with very earnest advice not to constitute a new Association.
On the first Saturday in October, 1826, messengers from Salt River, Hillsboro, Glens Creek, Fox Creek and Griers Creek churches met at Glens Creek meeting house, in Woodford county. After an introductory sermon by John Penny, from Romans 8:32, the meeting was organized by electing John Penny, moderator, and Buford Twyman, clerk. After some discussion, the messengers from Griers Creek withdrew. Those from the other four churches, proceeded to constitute a fraternity, under the style of "Baptist Association." They adopted the Philadelphia Confession of Faith as their constitution. This was heartily approved by the neighboring fraternities. But the preamble to their constitution was regarded unbaptistic, in that the messengers, adopting that instrument, styled themselves "the authorized delegates of the Baptist churches of Jesus Christ." The Baptist theory has always been, and still is, that churches are constituted and vested with authority to execute the laws of Christ, the one Lawgiver, by divine authority, and that they have no right to delegate authority to any other organizations, or persons; that associations are only human expedients, and, therefore, can exercise no authority over the churches, of which they are the creatures; that they are composed of messengers, not delegates -- from the churches, and can only consult together and present the result of their deliberations to the churches by way of advice, or suggestion; that they have authority, however, not derived from the churches, but growing out of their own organizations, to govern themselves, and to
The new Association, despite the false theory in which it originated, was soon established on Baptist grounds, and conducted its operations in full accord with its neighboring fraternities, with which it established and maintained a harmonious correspondence.
The four churches of which the Association was constituted, aggregated 593 members. John Penny and John Edwards were the only preachers belonging to these churches; and the latter moved to Missouri the same fall, leaving the infant fraternity with only one minister, and he more than seventy years old. At its first anniversary, the Association was enlarged by the addition of Goshen, Providence, and Clover Bottom churches; at its second, by that of Unity, and, in 1829, by that of Little Flock. At the last named date, it advised the churches to receive no members into their fellowship, or preachers into their pulpits, who held certain specified tenets, then proclaimed by the followers of Mr. Campbell. The course of the body, in dealing with Campbellism, was similar to that pursued by the older fraternities. The advocates of the system were cut off by a resolution, adopted in 1830. By this excission, the Association lost about 150 members. But this loss was more than overcome by a revival, in 1834, during which the body was increased to ten churches with 1,093 members. The church at Lawrenceburg was received this year; and, in answer to a query from Fox Creek, the Association decided that she would not recognize the baptisms of other denominations.
As early as 1837, the Association began to be much agitated on the subject of missions, and, during that year, lost three churches. The agitation continued to increase, and, in 1838, the Association, having been reduced to seven churches with 494 members, became discouraged, and submitted to the churches the question as to the propriety of dissolving the fraternity. When the body convened at Fox Creek, in 1839, it was ascertained that the churches were not agreed, as to the propriety of a dissolution. The question was put to the Association, and resulted in a vote of eight for, and eleven against dissolving. Upon this, the messengers from Fox Creek, Little Flock, and
Salt River, claiming to have been instructed by their churches, petitioned for letters of dismission. Their petitions were rejected, on the grounds that they were not made through the letters from those churches. During the following year, these three churches formally declared their withdrawal from the Association, and at the succeeding meeting of Licking Association, united with that fraternity.
When Baptist Association met at Goshen church, in Anderson county, in 1840, it reported five churches, with only 251 members -- considerably less than half the aggregate membership with which it had been constituted, fourteen years before. But it was now more harmonious; and, from this period, enjoyed a slow, but healthy and permanent growth. In 1846, it recommended to the churches, a favorable consideration of the General Association; in 1850, it agreed to open correspondence with that body, and, in 1852, resolved to become a missionary body, auxiliary to the General Association. From this time, it has fully cooperated with the denomination, in its general benevolent enterprises, and has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity. Its general course of conduct, in its home missions, Sunday-school and other local enterprises, has been similar to that of the older fraternities of the kind, and need not, therefore be detailed. The body has had a rapid increase since the War. In 1860, it numbered twelve churches with 875 members; in 1870, fifteen churches with 1,406 members, and, in 1882, nineteen churches with 1,999 members. From its constitution in 1826, to 1882, exclusive of the year 1880, there have been baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 3,614.
Sketches have been given of a number of the early ministers of this Association, in other connections. Of some others, no account has been received.
Robert Cook Buckner, a son of Elder Daniel Buckner, a younger brother of the distinguished Indian missionary, Henry F. Buckner, was born in Madisonville, Monroe Co., Tenn., Jan. 3, 1833. In his sixth year, he was brought by his parents, to Pulaski county, Ky. He became interested about the salvation of his soul, at the age of nine years; and, in his 12th year, professed conversion, and was baptized by his father, into the fellowship of Somersetchurch. At the age of 17 he was licensed to preach, after which he spent two years in
Georgetown College. At the age of about 20 years, he was chosen pastor of the church at Albany, Clinton Co., Ky. Here, at the age of 22, he married Miss Long, and soon afterwards took charge of Owensboro church. After two years he was appointed agent of the Board of Domestic Missions, and a year later, took pastoral charge of Salvisa church, in Mercer county.
In 1859, he visited Texas for the purpose of recruiting his health, after an attack of typhoid pneumonia. This visit led to his removing to Texas. His first labor in that State, was the raising of money to build a high school in Ladonia. Meanwhile, he published a small work on infant baptism, titled "The absence of Divine Testimony." In 1860, he took charge of the church at Paris, Texas. In this position, he ministered till 1873, except one year, during which he was Agent of the General Association of Texas Baptists. On the 3d of January, 1874, he began the publication of the Religious Messenger. A year later, he changed the place of publication, from Paris to Dallas, and subsequently changed the name of his paper to Texas Baptist, the publication of which he has continued to the present time (1885).
William R. Combs was born near Philadelphia, Pa., March 18, 1814. In 1832, he united with New Market Street church, Philadelphia. He was licensed to preach, at Fort Wayne, Ind., October 19, 1839, and ordained to the ministry, at the same church, June 19, 1842. The next year, he moved to Kentucky, and entered Georgetown College. In this institution he remained four years. On leaving college, he took charge of the 4th Baptist church in Louisville, to which he ministered a short time. He was subsequently pastor of the churches at Dansville, Harrodsburg, Frankfort, Mt. Vernon, Cane Run and Salvisa. In 1855, he moved to Illinois, and took charge of the church at Middletown, Champaign county. To this church he ministered nine years, building it up from 20 members, to 340. From this place he moved to Missouri, and located in Butler county, about 1867. At that time there was but one church in the county, and this, the name of which was Cane Creek, numbered only 20 members. Besides Mr. Combs, there was but one preacher in the county, and he was old and feeble. In 1877, there were 8 Baptist churches, and 7 ordained ministers, in that
county. Mr. Combs was still living in Missouri, a few years past.
Robert Rhodes Lillard, a son of Gen. Christopher Lillard, was born in Anderson county, Kentucky, January 20, 1826. When he was eight years old, his dying mother called him to her bedside, and exhorted him to seek the Lord in the days of his youth. He promised to comply with her request, and, as he afterwards related, resolved then to be a Christian. He obtained hope in Christ, and was baptized by William Vaughan, at Lawrenceburg, July 4, 1841. In1842, he was licensed to preach, and immediately entered Georgetown College, where he graduated, in 1845. In October, 1846, he was ordained to the ministry, and soon afterwards commenced the study of theology under the supervision of John L. Waller. He acquired knowledge very rapidly, and manifested unusual sprightliness in writing; but it soon became apparent that he would not distinguish himself as a speaker. A knowledge of this probably caused him to turn his attention more especially to writing. In February, 1847, he became associated with J. L. Waller in the editorship of the Western Baptist Review. In this position, he displayed marked ability, for one so young, and rapidly distinguished himself. But he did not live long to pursue his brilliant career. He died of typhoid fever, at his residence near Craborchard, Kentucky, June 7, 1849. His death was as joyous and triumphant as his life had been consecrated and brilliant.
R. A. Nelson was born in Hanover county, Va., June 11, 1805. He was educated under his father, who was an Episcopal minister, and adopted the profession of medicine. In September, 1838, he located at Salvisa, Mercer county, Kentucky, and established himself in the practice of his profession. In 1841, he professed conversion, and being baptized, entered into the constitution of Salvisa church. In 1856, he was ordained to the ministry. From this time till the Lord called him home, he was a valuable laborer in the Master’s vineyard. Being a man of learning, and a close student, he was an instructive teacher, and an able defender of the doctrine of his church, both orally and with his pen. He died of pneumonia, April 14, 1876, in the 72d year of his age.
S. S. Perry is one of the oldest and most useful of the living ministers of this Association. It is much regretted that no particulars of his life and labors have been received.
Campbell County Association
This body was constituted at Brush Creek, on Friday, Sep. 21, 1827, of eight churches which had been dismissed from North Bend Association. It was at first called Campbell Association, but, in 1831, it assumed its present title. The names of the churches that entered into the constitution, were Licking, Four- Mile, Bank Lick, Wilmington, Brush Creek, Twelve-Mile, Alexandria, and Flower Creek. The ordained ministers were Robert Ware, Elam Grizzle, George Vice, William Gosney, John Stephens, George Graden, and John Taylor. After its organization, the Association adopted an abstract of principles, consisting of six articles, and agreed to correspond with Bracken, North Bend, Union, and Eagle Creek (Ohio) Associations. The eight churches of which it was constituted, aggregated only 347 members, and it was sounhappy, in consequence of a continuous spirit of discord, that it increased very little, during the first twelve years of its existence. It was first annoyed by the Campbellite schism, by which it lost, between 1829 and 1833, nearly all that it had gained, from its constitution to the latter date. After that, it was paralyzed by a determined opposition to missions, on the part of a large minority of its members. In 1829, it recommended the organization of Bible societies; but this appears to have been a mere compliment to an agent of the American Bible Society, who happened to be present. In 1830, it appointed four “yearly meetings” to be held within its bounds during the succeeding year.
In 1835, the subject of employing one or more preachers to labor among the destitute within the bounds of the Association, was discussed in the body; and it was agreed to appoint a meeting to be held at Brush Creek, the following October, "to consider the propriety, or impropriety of setting at liberty one or two ministering brethren, to devote their time to preaching," within the bounds of the Association, "for which they
shall be paid." This meeting was held, and "it was agreed to let the matter rest." Nothing more appears to have been said on the subject, till 1839, when Bank Lick church, fearing that some remains of the Missionary leaven were still fermenting in the body, sent up a query as to whether or not the Association were "missionaries in spirit," and would "support the board?" The Association, conscious of the existence of an excitable Antimissionary element in the churches, and desiring to maintain peace among them, answered: "We have had nothing to do with the missionary question, whether home or foreign, since the meeting at Brush Creek [in 1835] where it was agreed to let the matter rest. We are not connected with, or known as auxiliary to, the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. As to what we are in spirit, is known between us and our Master."
In 1839, a revival pervaded the churches, and continued to prevail more than a year. The Association increased from 8 churches with 370 members, in 1838, to 10 churches with 757 members, in 1840. The revival spirit pervaded the meetings of the Association, in 1839, with such power, that a number, in attendance, professed conversion; and, after the close of business, the members of the body indulged in a season of fervent worship and joyous devotion. A number of persons, who had been converted were baptized. For these "disorders," North Bend Association dropped correspondence with Campbell county. This act, however, was reconsidered the next year, and the correspondence was restored.
The policy pursued toward the Antimission element, for the sake of peace, did not avail. Shortly after the meeting of the Association, in 1840, the more violent of the Anti-missionaries split off from the churches, and, uniting withlarger numbers that had severed themselves from the churches of North Bend, embodied the several factions, under the style of "Salem Association of Predestinarian Baptists."
This schism did not entirely relieve the Association of the anti-missionary spirit. In 1844, the body ventured, very cautiously, to recommend the churches to acquaint themselves with the objects of the Indian Mission Association, and act as Christian duty and prudence might dictate. The same year, some "lay brethren" having written a letter to the Association, suggesting the propriety of employing one or more ministers to labor
within the bounds of the Association, the churches were requested to send one member each, to meet at Alexandria, on a given day in the succeeding October, to consult and act as the churches might direct. This meeting appears to have resulted, like that held at Brush Creek, in 1835, in agreeing "to let the matter rest there." However, the spirit of the body began manifestly to improve. In 1848, Georgetown College and the South Western Baptist Theological Institute were recommended; in 1849, a collection of $12.40 was taken up for the benefit of two aged and indigent preachers, and, in 1851, the sum of $23.50 was contributed to the General Association.
This is the first notice of a contribution to any missionary enterprise, on the records of this fraternity. Since this period, the Association has occupied the grounds of a Missionary body, and has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity. In 1850, it numbered 14 churches with 1,047 members; in 1860, 15 churches with 1,323 members; in 1870, 15 churches with 1,847 members; in 1880, 17 churches with 1,780, members, and, in 1882, 16 churches with 1,832 members. From its constitution, in 1827, to its meeting, in 1882, there were baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 5,005 converts.
Old Churches. -- Licking is the oldest church in this fraternity. It was constituted of 8 members, at the house of William DeCourcey, in what is now Kenton county, in October, 1794. It was first called Mouth of Licking, and joined Elkhorn Association, in 1795. It changed its name to Licking, in 1820. Flower Creek, located in Pendleton county, was constituted about 1797, and was received into Elkhorn Association, in 1798. At this time, it numbered 15 members. It was under the care of John Taylor, who was one of its members. About 1808, it was dissolved. It was afterwards reorganized, but was finally dissolved, in 1833. Twelve-Mile, located in Campbell county, was gathered during the great revival, and united with Elkhorn Association, in 1802. Bank Lick, located in Campbell county, and numbering 22 members, united with Elkhorn at the same date. Brush Creek (now called Persimmon Grove) was also gathered during the great revival at the beginning of the present century, and entered into the constitution of North Bend Association. in 1803. Wilmington, located in Kenton county,
was constituted in 1804, and united with North Bend Association the same year. Alexandria and Four-Mile, both in Campbell county, were received into North Bend Association, in 1820.
John Stephens was one of the early preachers, first in North Bend, and afterwards, in Campbell county Association. His membership was in Twelve- Mile church, where he was probably raised up to the ministry, some time previous to the year 1820. He was regarded a good, plain, and very useful preacher; and was much consecrated to his holy calling. Being very poor, and early inured to toil and hardships, he traveled extensively on foot, and preached to the poor, in their cabins, in rude school houses, and, in warm weather, in the groves, without worldly compensation, and thus laid the foundation for churches that have since been gathered. He was the first moderator of Campbell County Association, and continued to act as presiding officer of that body, with the exception of one year, till he was succeeded by James Vickers, in 1840. He continued to labor till old age, and was greatly beloved by the people he had so long and faithfully served.
Elam Grizzle was a native of Virginia, and was born of Baptist parents July 23, 1778. Losing his father in early childhood, he was committed to the care of a Baptist family of the name of Hampton, who afterwards moved to Kentucky, and settled on Elkhorn. Here young Grizzle professed religion and united with a Baptist church, in his youth. He subsequently moved with his foster parents to Gallatin county, where he united with Ten-Mile church. Having married Ann McCullum, he settled in Kenton county, where he united with Bank Lick church, about 1808. In 1817, he was ordained a deacon in that church, and, on the 9th of May, 1818, was ordained to the ministry, by Moses Vickers and others. He was soon afterwards chosen pastor of Bank Lick church, and continued to fill that position, about 25 years. He was also pastor of DeCourceys Creek church, from its constitution, in 1844, till about 1850. Soon after he took charge of Bank Lick, a revival occurred in that church, during which, with many others, he baptized the subsequently eloquent and popular James Vickers. He is said to have been a good, solid preacher. In his extensive labors in the territory of North Bend and Campbell County Associations, during a period of 44 years, he traveled mostly on
foot. He was called to his reward, about 1862, in the 84th year of his age.
Robert Ware was the youngest son of deacon Isaac Ware, and was born in Lexington, Ky., in 1792. Migrating to Campbell county, in his youth, he professed conversion and united with Licking church, about 1812. With Uriah Edwards, he was licensed to preach, in 1821, and was ordained to the care of Licking church, in 1823. To this congregation he ministered about four years, baptizing near 40. He was not a strong doctrinal preacher; but he was warm and zealous in his address, and mighty in exhortation. His piety was marked, and few were more successful in winning souls to Christ. About 1827, he moved to Mississippi, where, after many years of usefulness, he finished his course.
James Spillman was one of the most active and useful preachers that have labored in Campbell County Association. He was born of Presbyterian parents, in Campbell Co., Ky., Oct. 29, 1796, and was christened and catechised according to the custom of his fathers. Notwithstanding his poor advantages, he succeed in acquiring a fair education, and devoted some years to reading medicine. He was the subject of early religious impressions, but did not obtain a comfortable hope in Christ, till 1817. After spending some time in close study of the Bible, he united with the Baptist church at Four-Mile, and was immersed by Christopher Wilson. He was afterwards appointed to an office in the county militia, and took much pride in military parade. At one time, while exercising in drill, lightning struck his sword, and smelted a portion of its blade.
In 1820, he entered into the constitution of a church at Alexandria, in his native county, and, in December of that year, was licensed to preach. Although he had, for several years, been strongly impressed with a sense of obligation to preach the gospel, he declined to attempt speaking in public, from a feeling of incompetency. In 1826, he was ordained to the deaconship. Some years later, an attack of illness brought him apparently near to the grave. During this illness, he made a vow, that if the Lord would raise him up he would devote the remainder of his days to preaching the gospel. As soon as he was restored to health, he commenced exercising in public. In 1832, he was married to Rachel Martin of Hamilton county, Ohio. In October,
1835, he was ordained to the ministry, in the house of his mother, where the Alexandria church was accustomed to meet. About this period, great excitement on the subject of benevolent institutions prevailed among the churches. Mr. Spillman warmly espoused the cause of missions, and, for some years, traveled and preached almost constantly, and with convincing power, in the counties of Bourbon, Pendleton, Campbell, Kenton and Harrison, and in the adjacent region of Ohio. By the time this controversy had closed, in the schism of 1840, Mr. Spillman had become the leading preacher of his Association, and was regarded as such during the remainder of his ministry. He was pastor of the church in Alexandria, 25 years, of that at Licking Valley, 14 years, and, at different periods, of nearly all the churches in his association. In 1871, the encroachments of old age admonished him to retire from the pastoral office. He died of cancer, September 19, 1872.
George Graden was the son of a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War, and is supposed to have been born in Campbell county, Ky., about 1794. He was bound to a Mr. Spillman, at about the age of six years. By his own energy and persevering application, he obtained a fair education and a good general reading, and became especially familiar with the sacred scriptures. He united with Four-Mile church, about 1812 Here he was licensed to preach, about 1822, and was ordained, about 1824. Soon after his ordination, he fell into some heretical notions, for which he was excluded from the church. However, he was soon restored to his church and the confidence of his brethren. After this he moved his membership from Alexandria to Brush Creek church, of which he was chosen pastor. He was regarded one of the ablest doctrinal preachers in his part of the State. For many years, he made it a rule annually to visit and preach to every church in his Association. He was an earnest, and sometimes a very powerful exhorter, and labored with equal zeal, in persuading men privately, to seek the Savior. He was a ripe christian, an able minister, and a zealous and faithful laborer, and through him, the churches were greatly built up, and many sinners were led to Christ.
William Grizzle was a son of Elder Elam Grizzle, and was born in what is now Kenton county, Ky., March 31, 1813. He united with, Bank Lick church, and was baptized by his
father, in October, 1832. In 1846, he was licensed to exercise "a public gift," and was ordained to the ministry, by Robert Kirtley, J. A. Kirtley, Elam Grizzle, A. W. Mullins and Robert Vickers, March 13, 1853. Aided by Jesse Beagle, he raised up Grants Lick church, near his home in Campbell county, and served it as pastor, the remainder of his brief ministry. He also served the church at Pleasant Ridge, for a time; and was pastor of DeCourcey's Creek, Bowmans (now Oak Island) and Grants Lick, at the time of his death, which occurred, November 3, 1867, Besides discharging faithfully his pastoral duties, this good, humble minister labored much among the destitute, and laid a good foundation for others to build on. During his short ministry, he baptized 116 persons.
Jesse Beagle was born in Campbell county, Ky., October 17, 1812. In early life, he obtained hope in Christ and united with Twelve-mile church. He was ordained to the ministry, May 1, 1852; and, although he began to preach rather late in life, he was a valuable laborer in the Master's vineyard, about twenty-four years. Much of this time he served Campbell County Association as missionary, with much acceptance and success. He also filled the pastoral office in some of the leading churches in that fraternity, among others, that of second Twelve Mile. He died February 24, 1876.
Alexander Webb Mullins was born in what is now Kenton county, Ky., Dec. 5, 1822. He was baptized by James Spillman, into the fellowship ofWilmington church, about 1846. His zeal began to overflow in exhortation, soon after his baptism; and he was ordained to the ministry, by James Spillman, Thomas Lummis and Martin Lummis, November 25, 1849. He was immediately invited to preach once a month at Wilmington, and was soon afterwards called to the care of Grassy Creek and other churches, which occupied all his Sabbaths. At the same time, he engaged in holding many protracted meetings, with good success. He was very popular as a pastor, and, at different periods, served the churches at Willow Creek, in Bracken county (14 years), Indian Creek, in Harrison county (15 years), Union, Harris Creek, Oak Island, Short Creek, Falmouth, DeCourceys Creek, Dayton, Twelve-Mile, and Bank Lick. He gave a portion of his time, during a period of several years, to the work of a missionary, and also made
several tours to Illinois and Missouri, during which he preached with good success. His preaching gifts were above mediocrity and his zeal and industry were extraordinary. Campbell County Association called him to preside over her councils, four successive years. In giving some account of his labors, he said: "I have baptized over one thousand persons, to the best of my judgment." After a Lingering illness of about three months, he died triumphantly, September 13, 1870.
Fergis German was born in Campbell county, Ky., September 22, 1802. He was baptized by John Stephens, into the fellowship of Licking church, in April, 1820. He afterwards moved his membership to 2d Twelve-Mile, where he was licensed to preach, September 18, 1841, and was ordained to the ministry, January, 1843, by John Stephens, Wm. Morin and James Spillman. In July of the same year, he was called to the pastoral care of 2d Twelve-Mile church, which he served four years. He aided in gathering Harris Creek church, in Pendleton county, to which he ministered for a time. He was also pastor of Falmouth church, 11 years, and of Holes Creek and North Fork, shorter periods. In 1855, he moved to Jackson county, Missouri. While there, he was pastor of Lone Hill, Sibley, Union and Fishing River churches, and baptized about 400 persons. In 1863, he moved back to his native county, in Kentucky, after which he was pastor of Licking, Oak Island and Grassy Creek churches. He was missionary in North Bend Association, four years, during which he gathered Walton church, in Boone county. During another four years, he labored as missionary in Bracken Association, under the patronage of the General Association. He died in a very joyful manner, about 1879.
Mr. German was a moderate preacher; but he was zealous, earnest and active, and enjoyed a good degree of success during his entire ministry.
Henry E. Spillman was born in Alexandria, Campbell county, Ky., July 14, 1834. At the age of thirteen years, he professed faith in Christ and united with a Baptist church. On the 10th of February, 1859, he was married to Fannie,daughter of Deacon Henry Walker, of Dayton, Ky., in which village he made his home the remainder of his life. For some years previous to his entering the ministry, he was impressed
with the duty of preaching the gospel. But not until his oldest daughter was brought so low that her physician said he could do no more for her, and that she could live only a few hours longer, did the agonized father turn to the Lord with his whole heart, pleading for the life of his child, and vowing a full consecration to the cause of Christ, if God would spare her life. His prayer was heard, and his child recovered. Nor did he forget his vow. He was ordained to the ministry, in the fall of 1866. In the following January, he was called to the pastoral care of Dayton church, to which he preached, three Sabbaths in the month, about ten years, when failing health forced him to resign. During the same period, he preached, one Sabbath in the month, to Union church, in Harrison county. In both of these charges, he enjoyed a good degree of success. He was a good, strong preacher, and his people were much attached to him. After a lingering consumption of the lungs, this good and useful man exchanged his home in Dayton, for "a house not made with hands," on the 20th of August, 1878.
James Monroe Jolly is among the elderly living ministers of this Association, and has served it as Moderator, since 1867, with the exception of one year. He was born in Lewis county, Ky., December 13, 1817, and was educated in the common schools of his neighborhood, after which he acquired the trade of bricklaying. At the age of nine years, he was carried by his parents to Clermont county, Ohio, and thence, seven years later, to Campbell county, Ky. He was baptized on a profession of faith, into the fellowship of Licking church, in Februrary, 1842, Soon after he joined the church, he was licensed to preach; but he made few attempts to speak in public, for several years. Being justice of the peace, he gave his attention to the law, rather than to the gospel. In March, 1855, he was ordained to the ministry, at Flag Spring, in Campbell county, by Wm. J. Morin, Jesse Beagle, and James Vickers. Since his ordination, he has been pastor of the following churchces: 2d Twelve-Mile, 11 years, Flag Spring, 15 years, Persimmon Grove, 8 years, Florence, 2 years, Bank Lick, 9 years, Pleasant Ridge, 16 years, Grants Lick, 4 years, and Grants Creek (Ia.,) Grassy Creek, Demossville and Licking Valley, one year each. In 1881, he thought he had baptized at least 650 converts. His son, Wm. T. Jolly, who was educated
at Georgetown College, commenced preaching in Indiana, in 1870 where he labored some years, and then located at Ashland, Ky.
N. C. Pettit was for a number of years, a valuable laborer within the bounds of this fraternity, both as a preacher and an educator. He was ordained to the ministry, at 2d Twelve-Mile December 17, 1854, by James Vickers, W.J. Morin and Fergis German. He was pastor of a number of churches, at different periods, and served the Association as Clerk, from 1855 to 1874. After this, he moved to Falmouth, Ky., where he conducted a female high school. To Mr. Pettit, the author is indebted for several biographical sketches and other valuable information.
Charles Jefferson Bagby is among the active and efficient ministers of this Association. He was born in Kenton county, Ky., February 20, 1840, where he grew up, receiving only a common school education. At the age of 20 years, he was baptized into the fellowship of Wilmington church, by A.W. Mullins. He was licensed to preach, in September, 1863, and ordained, in October, 1866. Since his ordination, he has been pastor of Wilmington church five years, of Concord six years, of Paint Lick two years, of Liberty four years, and of several others, for brief periods. In 1881, he was serving Wilmington, Bank Lick, Oak Ridge and Licking Valley. At that time, he had baptized about 300 converts
Of several other ministers who have labored efficiently in this fraternity, no definite information has been received.
Barren River Association
This large and prosperous organization is the fourth daughter of the old Green River fraternity. It was constituted at Mt. Pleasant meeting house, in Barren county, on the 15th of September, 1830, of the following 15 churches: Concord, Glovers Creek, Mt. Pleasant, Skaggs Creek, Dover, Doughtys Creek, Mt. Vernon, Pleasant Hill and Peters Creek, all in Barren county; Bethlehem, Puncheon Camp and Mt. Gilead, in Allen county; Fountain Run in Monroe county; Dripping Spring, in what is now Metcalf and Liberty, in Smith county, Tenn. The ordained ministers belonging to these churches, were Zechariah
Emerson, George Hern, John H. Baker, Levi Roark, Joshua Welbourn, Augustine Clayton, Andrew Nuckols, Benjamin Bailey and Thomas Scrivner. At the first anniversary of the body, the 15 churches of which it was constituted, aggregated 830 members, and occupied a broad, fertile field, which needed, however, much diligent cultivation, in order to make it yield a full harvest.
This Association inherited from its mother some elements of discord which much confused and embarrassed its councils, for more than a dozen years after its constitution, during which it made no permanent progress, but rather retrograded in numbers. In 1832, it made the following record: “Proceeded to attend to the request of the churches at Glovers Creek and Mt. Vernon, with regard to state conventions, monied institutions, auxiliary societies &c., viewing them as intended to blend the church and world together, and thereby calculated to destroy the peace and harmony of the churches, and, after considerable discussion, the following advice, in answer to those two churches, was agreed on, for the consideration of all the churches, to wit: "That they search the scriptures for their guide." This was an evasion of the question; but it quieted the two churches for a couple of years. But, in 1835, the following item was transacted in the Association: "Motioned that we declare non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention and all like institutions of the day." The motion was carried. During the succeeding year, Andrew Nuckols, who had imbibed Parker's Two-Seeds doctrine, became involved in a difficulty with Pleasant Hill church, of which he was a member, and, with his party was excluded from its fellowship. The excluded party laid claim to being the legitimate church, and, of course, went through the form of excluding the majority. When the Association met, in 1836, it recognized the majority at Pleasant Hill, and withdrew fellowship from Glovers Creek and Mt. Vernon churches, for retaining as pastor, Andrew Nuckols, whom it styled "an excluded member." Some of the churches had sent a request, in their letters, that the Association would reconsider its act of the previous years, "which declared a non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention &c." In answer to this request, the Association passed the following "Resolved, That the act, of last Association, which declares a non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention and all like institutions, ought to be, and the same is, hereby rescinded."
In consequence of the adoption of this resolution, the following six churches, aggregating 145 members, withdrew from the Association: Dripping Spring, Glovers Creek, Skaggs Creek, Mt. Vernon, Mt. Pisgah, and Green River. These churches afterwards embodied themselves in what has since been known as "Barren River Association of Regular Baptists." This schism did not eradicate the disturbing element from the Association. There was still a considerable party, who could not accept Parkers speculations, but who were, nevertheless, violently opposed to benevolent institutions. However there was a calm, for the present; and God poured out a great blessing on the long perturbed and disordered churches. In the fall of 1837, the most powerful revival that has ever visited that region of the State, since 1801, broke out in the churches, and prevailed for more than a year. When the Association met at Indian Creek, in 1838, a heavenly rapture pervaded all christian hearts in the vast assembly that had come together. Little attention was given to business, and none to strife and contention. The letters from 18 churches, which had reported, the year before, only 5 baptisms, in the whole Association, and an aggregate membership of only 797, now reported 476 baptisms, and an aggregate membership of 1,253. Descriptive of the scene, the clerk records the following language."During the whole time of the Association, the stand was surrounded by scores of young converts, chanting the praises of their Redeemer; and many poor souls were inquiring the way to Zion, so that, if ever our Association held a session at which it might be said 'The Lord has poured out a blessing which we are not able to contain,' it was certainly at this time."
Before the next meeting of the Association, the revival had, in a great measure, subsided. The hearts of the disturbing element in the body, at least had become cold, and the irritating subject of benevolent institutions was again brought before the Association. The Missionary party was in the majority, and the following preamble and resolution were adopted: "Whereas some are taking advantage of the indirect manner in which our resolution [passed at Bethany] was worded, for remedy thereof it is hereby Resolved, by this Association, that joining any of the benevolent societies of the day, or contributing to its funds, or refusing either to join or contribute, shall not be made a bar
to union and fellowship; but that all shall, in this matter, be left to exercise their own free will." The Antimissionaries submitted for the present, but determined to make one more attempt to carry their point. Every effort was made to secure a majority in the next Association. When the body convened at Peters Creek, in 1841, Thomas Scrivner, the most prominent leader of the Missionary party, was elected Moderator. The all absorbing question was brought before the meeting, by means of a remonstrance from Dripping Spring church, against the resolution of the previous meeting, relating to benevolent institutions. A motion was made to rescind the obnoxious resolution. After a long and exciting debate, the motion was put to the Association, and resulted in a vote of 24 against 24. The Moderator gave the casting vote against the motion. Immediately the defeated party withdrew from the house. This party met at Concord, the same fall, and constituted of 6 churches, aggregating 358 members, what they styled the "Original Barren River Association of United Baptists."
The next year, some complaint was made against the authoritative language in which the famous resolution was worded. The Association agreed to modify the language, by substituting the words, "ought not to be made a bar to union," for the expression, "shall not be made a bar to union;" but added: "We want it distinctly understood that we do not intend to abandon the principle of liberty asserted in the resolutions of 1840." After this the subject was not brought before the Association, and the churches enjoyed liberty to contribute to missionary societies, without associational censure -- a liberty they did not avail themselves of, however, to any great extent, for several years after it was secured.
The first contribution to missions, made by the advice of this Associations, was a collection taken up by Sidney Dyer, agent for the Indian Mission Association, in 1845. The next year, the ministers were requested to visit New Hope, a weak, pastorless church, as often as possible; but no means of compensating them was even suggested. In 1848, a collection of $15.65 was taken up for the benefit of this church, and to this was added the surplus of the printing fund. The sum was equally divided among Thomas Scrivner, Wm. Seamans and Wm. F. Spillman, and they were directed to supply New
Hope church with preaching, as far as practicable. These were the first missionaries employed by this fraternity. This was a small beginning; but it was a practical acknowledgement of an important principle, which thenceforth gained favor. In 1851, the Association adopted the following: "Resolved, That we, as an association, become auxiliary to the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky." There was not much money contributed to the General Association, by the churches of this body; but the ministers subscribed liberally to its objects, and paid their subscriptions in work. In 1853, twelve preachers reported to the Association, 415 day’s labor, 225 baptisms, and the receipt of $57.25 from the brethren. This was an encouraging report. The Association was moved to appoint a missionary board, consisting of Jas. W. Scrivner. E. D. Winn, R. P. Collins, H. P. Gillock and Thos. Mansfield. It was made the duty of this board to receive the contributions of the churches, and to employ a missionary, or missionaries, to labor among the destitute, within the bounds of the Association. Thos. Scrivner was the first appointee. During the succeeding year, he labored 158 days, witnessed the professed conversion of 311 persons, baptized 141, and received from the board $44.50, $10 of which he paid to an assistant. In addition to this, he spent 31 days in visiting all the churches in the Association, and preaching to them on the subject of missions. Several of the churches had employed, each, a missionary, for a longer or shorter period. These also made very encouraging reports. The board was continued till 1856, when the missionary work was referred to the individual churches, at their request. This plan was continued till 1859, when it appeared to have been inefficient, and a missionary board was again appointed. But, the civil war coming on, little was accomplished. But, in 1867, an executive board was again appointed, and from that time to the present, a good work has been done in the missionary field of the Association.
The churches of this fraternity have never been very liberal in their contributions; but through the extreme liberality of her preachers, and the aid of a few liberal private brethren, an excellent work has been done, and few fraternities of the kind, in the State, have accomplished more in the home mission field.
The cause of temperance reform was long an exciting subject among the churches of this fraternity. The joining of a
temperance society, or even signing a pledge to abstain from the use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage, was made a matter of church discipline, and cost some good brethren their church membership. Among these may be named R.R. H. Gillock, who afterwards became a very useful preacher, and is still actively engaged in his holy calling. The first notice taken of the subject, was in 1854, when it published an able circular, in which it sets forth the following thoughts:
"Church members talk vehemently and eloquently against joining temperance societies. They tell you that one church is enough for a christian to belong to. If you talk about doing anything in the church, to influence the members to abandon the use of ardent spirits, as a beverage, they will tell you they are as much for temperance as any others, but that they are free men; as if their liberty had been called in question. They affirm that ardent spirits is a good creature of God, and that temperance is a moderate use of a thing, and not the total abstinence from it. We also affirm that prussic acid is a good creature of God, and ought to be used temperately. But who would think of taking a dram of it every morning, or three times every day? Neither it nor ardent spirits ever benefitted a man in health. Then if we admit that ardent spirits does not benefit a man in health, and that a habit of moderate drinking often leads to drunkenness, why shall we continue the use of it, as a beverage? It is said that if the Baptists should quit the use of strong drink, it would still go on in the country. But we say that, if every Baptist would abandon the use of intoxicating beverages, it would constitute such an army as no man would oppose. The professed christians in Kentucky, can, by force of example, without any other law, put down drinking, swearing, and all kindred evil habits. But instead of leading popular opinion, we suffer the wicked and abominable of the land, to form public sentiment. We go with them into grog shops, listen to their obscene jests and blasphemous oaths, and, by our laughter, approve their wickedness and vulgarity. If we do not directly lie and swear, we show ourselves pleased when others do so. We join in telling profane and filthy tales, repeating the oaths of others, and thus lie and and swear at second hand, the meanest and most degrading manner of committing sin." Since the issuing of this circular, the Association has continued
to express its approbation of, and give it influence to the cause of temperance reform, and that, too, with most excellent effect.
This Association did not call attention to Sabbath-schools, till 1858, although they had been established in some of the churches, several years earlier. But from that time to the present, and more especially since the close of the Civil War, that branch of religious instruction has received merited attention. And without going into further detail, it may be said, that this fraternity has approved and supported the benevolent institutions of the denomination, in theState, with something like an average liberality. Its attitude towards the colored people, just after the close of the War, is worthy of remark. The following extract from its corresponding letter, of 1866, expresses not only its own sentiments, but those of the denomination in the State, and, perhaps, in the whole South: "We have also a new and perplexing element in our population. Our black people have been freed. They will remain among us, and if we neglect them a great portion of them must, under the force of circumstances over which they have no control, become beggars, vagabonds and thieves. There should be ample provisions made for their religious instruction. There should be accommodation for them in the meeting houses of their white brethren, or they should be encouraged and assisted to build houses, and to organize separate churches, where the truths of God's word shall be proclaimed. They have immortal souls. They have been our servants. It is no fault of theirs that they have been thrown among us in their present condition, and we should feel no ill will toward them." The Association has given its views on church polity as occasion demanded. In 1858, it adopted the following: "Resolved, That we think it inconsistent for Baptists to invite ministers of other denominations into their pulpits &c." In answer to a query from Mt. Gilead church, the Association expressed the opinion that, for one Baptist church to receive a member excluded from another, "is neither good order, nor in accordance with Baptist usage. … Whatever, will effect the general union and interest of the Baptists should be avoided."
In 1874, it expressed the opinion, that a church sustains the same relation to an association that an individual member sustains
to a church, and is therefore, subject to similar discipline.
The growth of this fraternity, as before remarked, was for a number of years very slow. Indeed, it retrograded rather than advanced, for a number of years after its constitution: so that, in 1842, it numbered considerably less than at its beginning. But the next year, it enjoyed a precious revival, and from that time to the present, it has been uniformly prosperous. From 1842, to 1850, it increased from 11 churches with 704 members, to 17 churches with 1,635 members. In 1860, it numbered 30 churches with 2,500 members; in 1870, 28 churches with 3,191 members; in 1880, 35 churches with 3,875 members, and, in 1882, 34 churches with 3,5 10 members. From its constitution, in 1830, to its meeting in 1882, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches 8,785 professed believers.
Old Churches. Dripping Spring, originally called Sinks of Beaver Creek, was the oldest church in the body; Concord was next oldest. Some account of them has been given. They both now belong to the Anti-missionaries. Bethlehem, constituted in 1801, has united with Bays Fork Association. Glovers Creek, constituted in 1802, has become Anti-missionary. Mt. Pleasant and Puncheon Camp, both constituted in 1804, are the oldest churches now belonging to the body.
Sketches have been given of a number of the ministers who laid the foundation of the first churches, gathered on the territory of this Association. Several names, deemed worthy of remembrance will be added here.
John H. Baker was among the most prominent and useful preachers of Barren River Association, at the time of its constitution. He was born of Baptist parents, in Buckingham county, Virginia, Sept., 7, 1781. He was brought up to hard labor, and his education was so much neglected that, at the time of his marriage, he could not read intelligibly. Through the teachings of a pious mother, he was much impressed on the subject of religion, from the time he was eight years old. In 1793, his parents moved to Scott county, Ky., where he grew up to manhood. In 1794, he was converted to Christ, and was baptized for the fellowship of Forks of Elkhorn church, in Franklin county, by William Hickman. He was at this time, only 13 years old, and not long afterwards, on committing some slight offense against parental authority, his father gave him his
choice between taking a whipping and leaving home. He chose the latter, and having had some practice in laying brick, he engaged in that occupation. In 1801, he moved to Barren county, and, on the 25th of October, 1804, was married to Sally Buford, a young woman of good education and wealthy parentage, but a deist in faith and training. However, she afterwards professed faith in Christ, united with a Baptist church, and became her husbands tutor. But previous to this happy event, Mr. Baker had neglected his religious duties, and, at one time, became so overwhelmed with remorse and despair, that he resolved to commit suicide, by starvation. But while going to a sequestered spot, at which he had determined to accomplish his desperate purpose, the grace of God prevented him; and he returned home to tell his deistical wife what great things the Lord had done for him. He was now induced to unite with Mt. Pleasant church, located a few miles from Glasgow, Soon after this he was licensed to preach; and, in January, 1821, was ordained to the ministry, by Peter Bainbridge, Zechariah Emerson, Ralph Petty, and John Warder. With the assistance of his wife, he learned the primary branches of an English education, and, by diligent application to reading, became not only familiar with the Bible, but obtained also a good knowledge of general literature. For a number of years, he was very active and abundantly successful in the ministry, serving as pastor, at different times, Concord, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Hill, Skaggs Creek, Dover and other churches. He also labored much among the destitute, and aided in gathering Fountain Run, Beaver Creek, Cedar Grove and other churches. In 1832, he had an attack of cholera, which left him in a feeble state of health, from which he never recovered, although he lived 43 years afterwards. He continued to preach as his strength would permit, until old age forced him to desist. He was in the ministry more than 50 years, during which he received for preaching, $41,37½ -- less than $1 a year. He had no children of his own, but raised three orphans, and accumulated a good fortune. Of him it was said, perhaps with much propriety: "A better man never lived." He died at his home, in Glasgow, May 6, 1875, in the 94th year of his age. He was buried in a suit of clothes, which he had procured for the, purpose, more than 40
years before. Among his last expressions was: "I stand where Moses stood."
Thomas Scrivner, more than any other man, deserves the title of "father of Barren River Association." He was born in Rowan Co., N.C., Feb. 25, 1775. He grew up to manhood with barely enough education to enable him to read and write. In the spring of 1796, he emigrated to Madison county, Ky. Here he professed conversion, and was baptized by Andrew Tribble, for the fellowship of Tates Creek church. In the fall of 1798, he returned to North Carolina, where he was married to Esther Hamilton, the following May. This union was blessed with three sons, all of whom became valuable church members. In the fall of 1799, Mr. Scrivner, with all his father's family, returned to Kentucky, and settled on Viney Fork, seven miles east of Richmond. In May, 1812, he was ordained a deacon in Tates Creek church. In 1816, having lost his land by the establishment of a prior claim, he moved to Tennessee, and settled near his father-in-law, on Duck river. Here his family was sick during the summer, and in the fall of the same year, he started to move to Missouri Territory. When he got as far on his way as Barren county, Ky., his wife and one of his sons became too sick to travel. While waiting here for their recovery, he became so much pleased with the neighborhood, that he bought a tract of land near Glasgow. Here he settled for life. He and his wife gave their membership to Mt. Pleasant church, located seven miles south of Glasgow.
Mr. Scrivner was a man of public spirit and practical benevolence, and was not satisfied without being engaged in something to promote the good of his neighbors. He, with Richard Garnett and John Sanders -- names worthy of remembrance -- established an evening prayer meeting, which was regularly kept up for a number of years. He also kept up a night school for young men and women, free of charge, during several years. In this humble manner did he labor for the temporal and eternal welfare of his neighbors. Meanwhile he became much impressed with a feeling of duty to preach the gospel. But having a very humble opinion of himself, he regarded such a work impossibleto him. However, he commenced reading portions of scripture, and making brief comments on them, in the prayer meetings. His impression continued to deepen. "Often," said he, "have
I tossed upon my bed during the long hours of the night, unable to sleep for thinking of poor perishing sinners, and yet feeling incompetent to preach the gospel to them."
In 1827, his church licensed him to preach. He at once entered upon the work with great zeal. About this time, an extensive revival pervaded the churches around him, and he labored day and night, preaching in school houses, private dwellings, and under the forest trees. Among the multitudes who were converted, were his three sons.
In June, 1829, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry, by Andrew Nuckols, Joshua Welbourn, and John H. Baker. He was now 54 years of age, and felt that he had no tune to lose. He obtained a pledge from his son James that he would remain with him as long as they both lived -- a pledge that was faithfully kept -- and thenceforth gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry. On the first Saturday in July, 1829, with the aid of John H. Baker and Levi Roark, he constituted of 12 persons, which were the first fruits of his missionary labors, Fountain Run Church, at Jamestown, in Monroe county. Of this little congregation, he immediately took the pastoral charge, and ministered to it until 1858, when the feebleness of old age induced him to resign, leaving the church with 208 members. On the 29th of December, 1829, with the aid of John H. Baker, and Richard Ragland, he constituted, of 15 members, Mt. Gilead church, in Allen county. He was immediately called to its pastoral care, and served it also till extreme old age forced him to resign, leaving it with 147 members, On the 30th of January, 1830, assisted by John H. Baker and Richard Ragland, he constituted Peters Creek church, in Barren county, of 13 members. He was pastor of this church from its constitution till 1858, when it numbered 125 members.
About the time Mr. Scrivner was ordained, a great revival prevailed in Glasgow, and the little Baptist Church which had been gathered there some years before, received large accessions. Among these was Joseph W. Davis, a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher. Soon after his union with the Baptists, he was ordained to the pastoral care of Glasgow church. Previous to this, Daniel Parker had preached among the churches in the southern part of Green River Association, and had converted some of the members to his Two-Seeds doctrine. About
1829, Alexander Campbell, Jacob Creath, Jr., and others, visited Glasgow, and other portions of Green River Association, and preached Campbellism with their usual vehemence and plausibility. From the preaching of so many conflicting doctrines, great excitement and confusion arose. Manyof the churches were rent into fragments. A majority of the church at Glasgow, under the leadership of Mr. Davis, went off with the Campbellites. It was a time that tried men's souls. Excitable and unstable men became reckless and revolutionary; and even good men grew restless and excitable. But there were three ministers in Green River Association who stood firm and unshaken. These were Jacob Lock, John H. Baker, and Thomas Scrivner. The last named took charge of the fragment that remained of Glasgow church, and ministered to it until the storm passed by, and it could secure a regular pastor.
Six miles south-west from Glasgow was Dover church, which had been constituted of 13 members by Jacob Lock, Zechariah Emerson, and Warren Cash, in 1810, and had been served, in turn, by Lock, Emerson, Walter Warder, and John H. Baker. To the care of this church Mr. Scrivner was called, in 1833. He ministered to it until 1855, and baptized for its fellowship 232 converts. On the 9th of April, 1835, aided by Joshua Welbourn and Seth Bradshaw, he constituted, of 13 members, Indian Creek church, in Monroe county. To this congregation he ministered from its constitution till 1856, when it numbered 194 members.
Mr. Scrivner was now pastor of five churches, four of which he had gathered. When there were not five Sundays in the month, he preached on two week days at Indian Creek. To reach these churches from his home, he had to ride to Dover, four miles; to Peters Creek, ten miles; to Mt. Gilead, twenty-two miles; to Fountain Run, twenty miles, and to Indian Creek, twenty miles. No kind of weather prevented his attending his appointments promptly, and it was his invariable rule to hold a prayer-meeting on Sabbath morning before preaching. But, with the care of five churches upon him, to each of which he preached two days in each month, he by no means confined his labors to them. Between a Sunday and the following Saturday, he would visit several destitute neighborhoods, and, according to previous appointments, preach to the people in school-houses,
private residences, or in the groves. He spent little time in social conversation, and when he was not talking to some one about the salvation of his soul, he devoted his fragments of time to reading the Bible; and afterwards prepared his discourses in the saddle. His energy and perseverance never flagged, and it is not wonderful to those who knew him that late in life as he began his ministry, he baptized about 2,000 people, and witnessed the conversion of as many more, who were baptized by others.
From the constitution of Barren River Association, in 1830, he was the leading spirit of the Missionary party until the division, and afterwards of the Association, as long as he was able to attend to business. That Association originated in a division of the old Green River fraternity by a line running from Glasgow to Scottsville. The new fraternity occupied the southern division. This gave the Campbellites to the old, and the Parkerites or Anti-missionaries, to the new fraternity. The latter had war in its councils and many of the churches for about ten years after its constitution. Andrew Nuckols, a preacher of considerable ability, and a shrewd, watchful manager, was the leader of the Parkerites. At the first anniversary of Barren River Association, it was alleged that the mother fraternity had departed from her ancient faith, and it was agreed that a committee of ten be chosen by private ballot, and sent to labor with her. This was the ostensible purpose of appointing the committee, but the real purpose of Mr. Nuckols, the mover, was to send ten Anti-missionaries to influence the action of Green River Association, and thus to secure its opposition to missions. The balloting resulted in the selection of five Antimissionaries and five Missionaries. This defeated Mr. Nuckols' design. The next year, he attempted to secure the passage of a resolution condemning the Kentucky Baptist Convention. In this also he failed. But in 1835, he had a majority in the Association. Correspondence with Green River Association was dropped, and a committee of five was sent to labor with that body. But Mr. Nuckols' object was again defeated, in selecting the committee, three of whom, including Mr. Scrivner and his son James, were favorable to missions. But, at the same session, a vote was secured declaring non-fellowship for "the Baptist State Convention and all like institutions of the day." Mr. Scrivner, two of his sons, James and John, and some other
leading Missionaries of the body, determined to visit the churches of the Association, and explain to them the subject of missions. For this work James W. Scrivner escaped exclusion from Mt. Pleasant church, of which Mr. Nuckols was also a member, by taking a letter and joining another church. But the object of his labors, and those of his coadjutors, was accomplished. The next year the Association rescinded its action on the subject of missionary institutions. Still, the contest remained doubtful as to its final issue. In 1840, the Association resolved that contributing to missionary societies should be no bar to fellowship. This aroused the Anti-missionaries, and they put forth their utmost endeavors to secure the rescinding of the resolution, at the next meeting of the body. When a motion to that effect was put to the Association, the vote stood 24 against 24. Thomas Scrivner, the Moderator, promptly gave the casting vote against the motion. This ended the contest in the Association.
Mr. Scrivner was the first preacher who labored as missionary under the patronage of Barren River Association. In this position, he not only labored with abundant success among the destitute, but he visited all the churches in the Association, and instructed them on the subject of missions. He continued his labors as pastor and missionary, till he was 83 years of age, when he resigned his last pastoral charge. After this, he continued to preach when his failing strength would permit. In 1863, he labored in a protracted meeting at Cedar Grove church near his residence, by way of prayer and exhortation, with much zeal and great enjoyment. This was about the last of his labors. On the 16th of July, 1864, he departed the scenes of his earthly toils and entered the rest that remains for the people of God.
Mr. Scrivner was a man of medium gifts, and his power in the pulpit was more the result of a peculiarly consecrated life and patient study, than of any native genius. He was a teacher of the gospel. His preaching was a plain, direct statement of gospel truth, without any attempt at embellishment. He was almost devoid of the gift of exhortation, and he made no attempt to move men by artifice. He was always grave and decorous in his deportment, never indulging in jesting, and was seldom seen to smile. His words were few, and his manner, even in private conversation, was peculiarly solemn. In
the pulpit, he inspired his audience with reverental awe. He read his selections from the scriptures, and his hymns, and even delivered his sermons, in the tone of a solemn chant. His powers of endurance seemed exhaustless, and his zeal for the salvation of men, and his energy and industry in attempting to promote it, were alike unceasing. No wonder he succeeded in turning many to righteousness.
James Young was a useful preacher among the old churches of Barren River Association. He was born and raised in Scotland, where he was well educated, and acquired the trade of a tailor. In his youth, he united with a Baptist church in his native country. In his 19th year, he emigrated to America, and after remaining a short time at Williamsburg, Va., came to Kentucky, and settled in Jessamine county, about 1790. Here he was married to Frances, daughter of George Chapman. About 1804, he moved to Barren county. It is not known when he began to preach, or whether he was ever pastor of a church. But he was a good expounder of the scriptures, and a man of excellent christian character. He lived about 16 years in Barren county, and, on account of his superior attainments, was of great advantage to the Baptists of that region, who were very illiterate at that period. On the day before his death, which occurred, in 1821, many of his neighbors visited him in his sick room. It was on Sabbath, and he called them around him, reminded them of his past warnings and entreaties, expressed great concern for their salvation, and then, calling on them to kneel down, prayed for them. After the prayer was ended, he said, with much apparent admiration: "What are these that fill the room, flying around over my head?" After looking intently for some moments, he said: "I cannot tell." The next day, he went to his final reward.
Mr. Young raised one daughter and four sons, of whom Asa was for a number of years, a member of the Kentucky Legislature, from Barren county, and was a very valuable member of Barren River Association; and William was a promising young lawyer, at Glasgow, but died in early life.
Benjamin Bailey was a plain old preacher, who was probably pastor of no church. He was born in Sussex Co., Va., July 30, 1776. About the year 1800, he moved to Barren county, Ky. He professed religion and united with Mt. Pleasant
church, in 1810. He was afterwards ordained to the ministry, and, although his gifts were very humble, he was useful in preaching the word of the Lord to the poor. Many of the sons and daughters of the backwoods hunters, heard the gospel preached, for the first time, in the cabins of their parents, by "Old Daddy Bailey." When Barren River Association split on the subject of missions, he adhered to the Anti-missionaries. He died of dropsy, at his home in Allen county, in March, 1848.
Daniel Smith lived on the northern border of Tennessee, in Smith county; but he performed much valuable labor in Kentucky, and well deserves a place among her moral heroes. He was born of poor and pious Presbyterian parents, in Chatham county, N. C., August 6, 1792. He was brought up strictly in the faith of his parents, but with a very limited education. In 1811, he emigrated West, and settled in Smith county, Tenn. Three years later, he entered the Army under Jackson, and was in the famous battle of New Orleans, Jan. 8, 1815. At the close of the War, he returned to his home in Smith county, and pursued the occupation of a farmer. About 1820, he professed religion, and, after a protracted struggle between the education of his youth, and his present conviction of Bible teaching, united with Peytons Creek Baptist church. He soon began to exercise in public, and, in the fall of 1824, was ordained to the ministry, by John Wiseman and others.
The field of his early labors had been the scene of much religious enthusiasm: The jerks, barking exercise, laughing mania, and the religious dance had prevailed in their wildest forms. There were but few Baptists in the region, and the religious education of the people had greatly vitiated their taste. Mr. Smith seemed called of God, and adapted to this especial field. He presented a fine personal appearance, was a ready wit and humorist, and was remarkably easy, simple and pleasing in conversation. His preaching gifts were much above the middle grade, and he was an animated, fluent and attractive speaker. His manner and thought were original and unique, and he soon became the most popular preacher in his region of country. "I well remember," writes Elder A.L. Smithwick, "what an excitement there would be among the people when it was announced that Daniel Smith would preach in the neighborhood.
In those days, people of both sexes would walk eight or ten miles to a night meeting, to hear him."
Like other preachers of his generation and locality, he labored without pecuniary compensation, both as pastor and missionary. The following incident will illustrate his adaptation to the latter work. On a cold day, he hadmeeting at a school house in which there was no fire-place. The people had built a large fire in the yard. When he went into the house, they all followed him, and filled it up. But he knew the fire in the yard would be a great temptation: so he rose up and said: "Brethren and sisters and friends: It is cold to-day, and we have no fire in the house; but there is a good fire in the yard. I have on good warm socks, and I think I can stand the cold a half hour; but if any of you have holes in your socks or stockings, it will not be thought amiss for you to go to the fire."
At that day, it was customary to have at least three sermons in succession, at associations, on Sunday. On one of these occasions, when it came to Mr. Smith's time to preach, the congregation had become wearied and restless. As he rose up, he cried out in a loud voice: "My friends, I am going to preach to you on a most interesting subject, if I can get your attention. 1st. I am going to tell you something I don't know. 2nd. I am going to tell you something you don't know. 3d. I am going to tell you something nobody knows." This had the desired effect, and he preached to a curious and attentive audience.
Mr. Smith's favorite reading, next to the Bible, was ecclesiastical history, with which he became very familiar. This, with his great familiarity with the Bible, his superior natural gifts, and his universally acknowledged piety, well qualified him to form the religious opinions of the people among whom he labored. His method of directing his labors, was most efficient. He would select a certain point, where it appeared to him a church ought to be built up. He would then preach from house to house and from grove to grove, in this locality, until his purpose was accomplished. In this way he gathered many churches, in a field that, at first, appeared sterile and barren, and lived to see the desert blossom as the rose. Among the churches he gathered, were Mt. Tabor, Buck Grove, Cross Roads, Liberty, LaFayette, and Tomb Ridge, in Tennessee, and Tompkinsville, in Kentucky.
During the last ten years of his life, he labored more in Kentucky, than formerly, and was, for some years, pastor of the church at Tompkinsville. Some months before his death, a slight attack of paralysis confined him at his home, a short time. On recovering, he commenced riding and preaching, with great activity, as if to make up for lost time. He preached his last sermon, at Mt. Gilead meeting house, in Allen county, where Barren River Association was in session, in 1857. His text was: "If ye then be risen with Christ seek those things which are above &c." Here he met and parted with, for the last time on earth, his faithful old co-laborer, Thomas Scrivner. On the followingday he started to fill an appointment in Simpson county. He reached the neighborhood, in good health, took a hearty supper, and went to bed. During the night, he had a second stroke of paralysis, which ended his life immediately, Oct. 1., 1857. His son, D.W. Smith, is said to be a good preacher, and is occupying the field made vacant by the death of his noble father.
John Wiseman was born of Presbyterian parents, in Rowan co., N. C., Jan. 24, 1780. He was taught to read and write, and was brought up according to the custom of his fathers. He professed religion in early life, under the ministry of Thomas Durham, by whom he was baptized, A.D. 1800, for the fellowship of a Baptist church, to the great mortification of his parents. He was ordained to the ministry, about 1803, and, two years later, settled in Middle Tennessee. Here he labored, principally, in Smith, Sumner and Wilson counties, and the adjacent border of Kentucky, more than a half century. He was pastor of Bledsoes Creek church, in Sumner county, more than 20 years, and of Dixons Creek church in Smith county, more than 30 years. In 1829, he moved from the county of Smith to that of Sumner. Previous to this, he had raised up Second Creek church, in the latter county, to which he ministered many years. In 1832, he took charge of a church, consisting of one male, and four females, in Lebanon. Here his labors were blessed in building up one of the strongest churches in Middle Tennessee. He was not only instrumental in gathering most of the ten churches of which he was pastor, at different periods, but he aided in constituting many others, and may be justly styled the father of Enon Association. Late in life, he married
a second wife, and moved to Wilson county, where he died in great peace, March 14, 1864, in the 85th year of his age.
Mr. Wiseman was the most distinguished of the pioneer preachers in his region of country. His son, Jonathan Wiseman, was a good and useful minister, and occupied the field vacated by his father.
William Seamands was a native of Smith county Tenn., where he was raised up, and began his ministry. He united with Dixons Creek church, in September, 1852, was licensed to preach, in September, 1836, and was ordained, in March, 1838, by John Wiseman, Daniel Smith, Wm. C. Bransford, E.B. Haney, E.W. Hale and Wm. Terrill. Not long after his ordination he moved to Kentucky, and settled in Allen county. Here he took charge of Puncheon Camp church, in 1843. Afterwards he became pastor of Salem and Mt. Gilead, in Allen county. For some years before his death, he was disabled from preaching by a tumor, which grew back of his eye-ball, slowly pushing out his eye. Finally he had the eye and the tumor taken out, and for some years afterwards, was again actively engaged in the ministry. But the tumor formed again, and finally put an end to his life, May 3, 1877.
Mr. Seamands was a self made man. He could barely read and write, and cipher a little, when he arrived at manhood, but with a strong native intellect, and close application to study, he became a fair English scholar, and was one of the most chaste speakers in his region of country. He studied the Bible with deep and constant interest, and became a good theologian. He was a strong, sound preacher, and a valuable laborer in the Lord's vineyard.
William Ferguson Spillman* was for some years, one of the most popular and efficient ministers in Barren River Association. He was born of Baptist parents, in Sumner county, Tenn., about 1821. When he was three years old, his parents moved to Allen county, Ky., where he was raised up on a farm, receiving a limited common school education. He possessed a quick, sprightly, intellect, and early evinced a fondness for public speaking, frequently avowing his intention to be a preacher, while yet a small boy. In 1838, he professed religion, and
* The author was baptized by this young man, at Hopewell church, in Allen county, on the 21st day of January, 1849.
united with Bethlehem church. He began to exhort and pray with great fervor, almost immediately, and, on the 12th of September, 1840, was licensed to preach. Although but 19 years of age, he at once began to preach from house to house, and from neighborhood to neighborhood, with burning zeal. The people crowded to hear the boy preacher, and many were led to Christ through his efforts. On the 10th of September, 1841, he was ordained to the ministry, by Zechariah Emerson, Younger Witherspoon and Parks Brunson. In 1844, Hopewell church was established of members dismissed from Bethlehem. Mr. Spillman went into the new organization, and became its pastor. For several years the church was very prosperous under his ministry. He was called to other churches, soon his Sabbaths were all occupied, and he became one of the most popular preachers in his part of the State. But his popularity soon reached its zenith, and began to wane. He was an easy, fluent speaker, and spoke very rapidly. His friends unwisely advised him to be more deliberate. Taking their suggestion, he went to the other extreme, and spoke so slowly as to weary his audience. He was averse to study, and had, from the beginning, depended on his genius, rather than his knowledge, for success in preaching. Poverty, a large family of young children, and the failure on the part of the churches to support him, forced him to labor with his hands, and left him little time to read. He preached his old sermons over and over, till his audience became familiar with them. One of his auditors claimed to have heard him forty times, from the same text. His own wants caused him to preach much, and perhaps not always in the best spirit, on the duty of churches to support their pastors. He joined the Sons of Temperance, and became a zealous, and perhaps imprudent advocate of temperance reform. But that in which he was really blameable, was that he took a very active part in current politics. Although his moral and christian character were irreproachable, the circumstances enumerated, with others of less import, destroyed his popularity, and greatly curtailed his usefulness. He soon became sensible that hisinfluence was much diminished, and, in 1854, moved to the south-western part of Missouri. Here he labored, principally as a missionary, with a good degree of success, till the breaking out of the Civil War. His oldest son joined the Southern Army. This rendered the
father obnoxious to the Federal soldiers, and he deemed it prudent to flee to the army for protection. At Corinth, Mississippi, he was seized by a virulent fever of which he died, 1862.
Kinchen D. Dossey was a preacher of some sprightliness, in Fountain Run church, Monroe county. His zeal and fervor made him quite popular, and, during these wonderful revivals which occurred so frequently in that region, between 1837, and 1850, he appeared to be very useful. But after preaching, with general acceptance, for a number of years, he fell into the sin of adultery, and was excluded from his church. After some years of professed repentance, he was restored to the church, and to the ministry. But he could never regain the confidence of the people, and his attempts to preach appeared to be unprofitable. He died, about 1862.
Willis M. Turner was a native of Tennessee. In early life, he professed religion, and united with the Methodist church. He was soon afterwards inducted into the ministry, and labored as a circuit rider, about eleven years. At the end of this period he became doubtful about the scripturalness of his baptism, and, after investigating the subject, united with the Baptists. He was ordained to the ministry, according to Baptist usage, perhaps not far from 1850. His preaching gifts were ordinary, and his reading was quite limited. But he was rather an easy, pleasant speaker, presented a pleasing personal appearance in the pulpit, and was very attractive in the social circle. He soon became popular among the churches, and usually served four congregations. His membership was at Indian Creek, in Monroe county, and most of his labors were performed in Barren River Association. His education had not been sufficient to eradicate the superstitious notions of his childhood, and he is supposed to have believed in witchcraft. It is certain that one of the churches to which he ministered, a number of years, became much infected by that pernicious superstition. He was however, regarded as a good sincere man, and enjoyed an average degree of success in the ministry. He died, about 1869, scarcely beyond the prime of manhood.
William K. Morgan was a good substantial preacher. He was a native of Allen county, Ky., in which he spent most of his life. His parents gave him a good common school education, and he adopted the profession of a teacher. About 1851, he
was ordained to the ministry, and was pastor of several churches, at different periods. He was a good man, and a good religious teacher; but there was some deficiency in his manner of delivery that prevented his being popular as a preacher, and he enjoyed only a moderatedegree of success in the ministry. He was called away from earth in the strength of his manhood, about 1876.
A number of good, humble, but pious and useful ministers, of whom no particular account has been received, have labored within the bounds of this Association. Richard Ragland was an early preacher in Concord church, and was the first minister the author remembers to have heard preach. Four of the Roarks, William, Levi, Asa, and Henry, have been preachers in Puncheon Camp church. A. Woodward was a preacher in Good Hope church. Drury B. Spillman was a zealous and useful member in Hopewell church, and was afterwards a useful minister in Peters Creek church. He died about 1866. His son, Robert H. Spillman, is now one of the leading ministers in the Association. James Berry was an ordained minister in Concord church, about ten years. He died in 1866.
Fleming C. Childress is one of the oldest of the living ministers of this fraternity, and has long been one of the leading spirits of the body. He is a preacher of good gifts and acquirements, and has been a valuable laborer in the Master’s vineyard. It is much regretted that more particulars of his eminently useful ministry have not been received. He is still in the active work of the ministry.
L. A. Smithwick was born in Washington county, N.C., January 23, 1820. When he was a year old his parents moved to Smith county, Tenn., where he grew up to manhood. By his own energy and perseverance he acquired a good English education, with some knowledge of the Greek language. At the age of 11 years he professed conversion, and united with the Methodist church. Maturer investigation led him to change his views, especially on the subject of open communion, and, in 1844, he united with the Baptist church at Athens, in Wilson county. Here he was licensed to preach. But, returning to Smith county, he was ordained at Mt. Tabor church, in 1846, by John Wiseman, Daniel Smith, Jonathan Wiseman and Reuben Payne. During this year he married, and settled in
Monroe county, Ky., where he has since resided. He has, at different times, filled the positions of county commissioner, clerk of the county court, and county judge. But, for the last ten years, he has been able to give himself wholly to the ministry of the gospel, and has been successful as a missionary in Enon, Freedom, and Barren River Associations. He has also filled the pastoral office in a number of churches with acceptance. In May, 1875, he engaged in a public debate with Elder H. Wright, of the Campbellite fraternity, at Tompkinsville, and proved himself a ready and skillful debater. He is still engaged in his holy calling.*
W. G. W. Gillock has been one of the most active, zealous and succesful preachers who have labored in Kentucky. He was born in Barren county, Ky.,March 28, 1820. He received a very limited common school education, and has read but little else besides the Bible. At the age of 17 years, he professed religion, and was baptized by Levi Roark. He was licensed to preach, in 1847, and was ordained to the ministry, by Isaac C. Tracy, John H. Baker, James Brooks, and others, in 1849. He at once commenced preaching as a voluntary and unpaid missionary, in the most destitute portions of the country around him. The Lord blessed his labors abundantly. Meanwhile, he was called to the care of several churches, of which he has usually supplied from four to six, with monthly preaching. In 1880, he wrote to the author substantially as follows: "In 31 years, I have traveled [on horseback] 123,597 miles, and preached 8,587 sermons. The most of my labors have been performed in the counties of Allen, Barren, Cumberland, Metcalf, Monroe and Warren. I have baptized 2,976 persons, gathered 16 churches, and reorganized several that had been scattered during the War." Mr. Gillock has been Moderator of Barren River Association, since 1872, except one year, and is still actively engaged in the ministry.
* He has recently been called to his final reward.
[J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 2, 1886; reprint 1984, pp. 397-455. jrd]
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