Baptist History Homepage

A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer
Volume II, 1885
Chapter 1.
[Section 12]
Laurel River -- pp. 455-459; Ten Mile -- pp. 459-466; Clarks River -- pp. 466-467;
Original Little River -- pp. 468-471; West Union -- 471-488; Little Bethel -- pp. 488-503

Laurel River Association

[p. 455]

This organization eminated from the old South Union Association, and was constituted of five churches, at Providence meeting house, in Laurel county, September 30, 1831.
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The churches were Mt. Pleasant, Rockcastle and Providence, in Laurel county, and Indian Creek and Lynn Camp, in Knox county. These five churches aggregated 153 members. The principal preachers of the young fraternity, were David Weaver and William Hopper.

The growth of the Association was slow, but apparently, even and healthful, during the first nine years of its history. In 1840, it numbered nine churches with 247 members. The next two years, it received considerable accessions, and, in 1843, its churches enjoyed a very precious revival; and, during that year, received 242 by experience and baptism. This brought the Association up to ten churches with 615 members. During the next seven years, it gained very little: so that, in 1850, while it numbered 18 churches, they aggregated only 652 members. During the next decade, its growth was still very slow: so that, in 1860, it numbered only 17 churches with 795 members.

During the War, some of the churches made the political views of their members a test of fellowship, and, in 1863, the churches at London and Robinson Creek sent to the Association the following query: "Do we fellowship the principle of secession and rebellion against the Government? Yea, or nay?" The Association answered directly: "Nay." The General Assembly of the Presbyterian church of the United States failed to agree on thequestion, as to the legality of secession, and split the church by the disagreement, into Northern and Southern factions; the Supreme Court of the United States evaded the question; but this small Baptist Association resolved the profound problem of constitutional law, with great readiness. However, it seems not to have remained satisfied with its decision; for, in 1867, it recorded the following transaction "This Association believes it committed an error by making politics a test of fellowship; therefore, we rescind said act." This nullified the decision of the Association, and the country is still without an authoritative solution of the great national problem.

Since the War, this Association has made rapid progress, not only in numbers, but also in intelligence and enterprise. In 1867, it printed its first missionary report. Hiram Johnson was its missionary, and reported substantially as follows: "I have been engaged 65 days, delivered 60 sermons, traveled 525 miles, baptized 31, attended five prayer meetings, visited 13
[p. 457]
churches, and collected $38." The body has also fostered Sunday-schools and other benevolent enterprises, and is in genral accord with the older associations in the State. In 1868, it numbered 22 churches, aggregating 1,263 members. But this year, it divided its territory, the small river from which it derives its name, forming the division line. The churches south of that stream, ten in number, and aggregating 524 members, were embodied in an association, called Lynn Camp. The mother fraternity continued to increase rapidly, and soon regained the numbers lost by the division. In 1870, it reported 16 churches with 885 members; in 1880, 28 churches with 2,008 members, and, in 1882, 29 churches with 2,193 members. We have full statistics of this, body, for 44 of the first 51 years of its existence. During these 44 years, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 3,064 converts.

William Hopper was one of the most prominent and useful preachers among the pioneers of Rockcastle river, Laurel river and Goose creek valleys. He was a relative, if not a son, of Elder Blackgrove Hopper, a pioneer in the old South Union Association, and, after laboring with that worthy old preacher, over a wide expanse of the mountainous region, now comprised in Whitley, Knox, Clay, Laurel and some of the adjoining counties, as a licentiate, several years, he was ordained to the ministry, at Providence church, located on the head of Laurel River, in 1816. From this time till 1831, he was one of the most active and useful preachers in South Union Association. At the latter date, he entered, with Providence church, of which he was a member and the pastor, into the constitution of Laurel River Association. Of this body, he was the first moderator, and continued to serve in that capacity, with the exception of two or three years, till 1861, when the Lord was pleased to call him home. He is said to have been "an eloquent man, and an earnest pleader for the cause of Christ." Of his long and useful ministry, few particulars have been gathered;but he left a deep and lasting impression on society, and is still spoken of with reverence and affection, by the aged people who sat under his ministry.

David Weaver, if not so eloquent as his colaborer, Wm. Hopper, appears to have rivaled him in every christian virtue, and in the confidence and affection of the people to whom they
[p. 458]
jointly ministered. Elder J.W. Moran writes of him, to the following purport: "David Weaver was born in Claiborn Co., Tenn., April 29, 1791. He united with the Baptist church at Days Creek, in his native county, at the age of 18 years. He moved to Kentucky, and entered into the constitution of Providence church in what is now Laurel county, in 1819. After serving this church as clerk, for some years, he was ordained to the ministry, in 1826. His labors extended over Laurel, Knox, Whitley and Clay counties, and few men have sacrificed more for the cause of Christ than he. He so ordered his life that the most hardened in wickedness could bring no charge against him. His voice was clear and musical, and his manner was very pleasing. He was greatly beloved by the people to whom he preached. In his old age he lost his eye sight; but so fond were the people of hearing him preach, that they would send for him to a distance of ten or fifteen miles, and convey him back and forward with great tenderness and respect. After preaching on one of these occasions, he asked if brother James Harrison, who was also blind, was in the house. On being answered in the affirmative, he asked to be conducted to him. When the two old blind brothers met, the scene was deeply affecting. They wept aloud as they exhorted each other to be 'patient a little longer.' The good old minister of Christ was called to his reward, Jan. 18, 1854."

George Brock was of German extraction, and was born in Claiborn Co., Tenn., Sep. 25, 1809. He moved to Kentucky, in 1827, and settled in Laurel county. Here he was baptized into the fellowship of Providence church, by Wm. Hopper, in 1830. In July, 1837, he was "liberated to exercise a public gift," and was ordained to the ministry, Nov. 14, 1841. He was soon afterwards called to the care of Rough Creek church, in Laurel county, where he ministered, 37 years. He was a preacher of fair gifts, and was much devoted to his sacred calling. Elder J.W. Moran writes of him: "He was an humble, earnest minister of the gospel, doing much good, and sacrificing all for Christ. Few men have lived in the mountains, who have left so good a record. He preached extensively in Laurel, Knox, Whitley and Clay counties, and was successful in leading many souls to Christ." He was called to give an account of his stewartship, Feb. 18, 1879.
[p. 459}
Hiram Johnson is among the older and more prominent ministers of this body, and has usually served it as moderator, since 1870. John W. Moran is also a prominent preacher in this Association. There are a number of other useful preachers in the body, of whom no particulars have been received.

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Ten Mile Association

This fraternity was constituted of churches dismissed from North Bend and Concord Associations, for the purpose. The organization was affected at Ten Mile meeting house, in Gallatin county, on the 7th of October, 1831. The following churches were in the constitution: Ten Mile, Lick Creek, Dry Ridge, Providence, Grassy Creek, New Salem; Poplar Grove, Mt. Zion and New Bethel. These nine churches aggregated 383 members. The ministers in the organization, were David Lillard, Christian Tomlin, Joseph Crouch and A. D. Landrum. David Lillard was chosen Moderator of the meeting that formed the Association, and then, of the Association itself. The latter position, he filled just thirty years. J. W. McCann was the first clerk of the body.

This Association seems to have had contentions during its early years, and for the first ten years of its existence, it had a very small increase. It manifested but little enterprise, and suffered from a scarcity of ministers, until a very recent date. Indeed it has had nothing like a supply of preachers at any period of its history. In 1841, just ten years after its constitution, it numbered 12 churches, with only 472 members. This showed an increase of only 56 members, from its first anniversary. But the next year, the most remarkable event in its history occurred. A most powerful work of grace pervaded its territory, and, in the fall of 1842 the 12 churches reported 752 baptisms. This increased the aggregate membership of the Association, to 1,296; and the next year, it reported 13 churches and 1,327 members. During this wonderful revival the scarcity of preachers was greatly felt, and the Association appointed a day of humiliation and prayer to God, that he would send more laborers into his vineyard.
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In 1845 it made its first movement in favor of missions, by appointing messengers to the General Association. In 1848, it was "Resolved to appoint a minister to ride in the bounds of this Association.” But like too many other bodies of the kind, it passed many good resolutions on this subject, which were never carried into effect. It has been intimated by some of the old ministers, that David Lillard, whose influence over the Association was almost boundless, was not heartily in favor of missions; and his constant refusal to receive any compensation for preaching tends to confirm this intimation. This may account for the backwardness of this nominally Missionary body, in pursuing any missionary enterprise. In 1867, the Association appointed a board to conduct its associational mission. This Board appealed to the churches for means to carry on the work. Oakland church alone responded, contributing$10. The board has been kept in existence, and some missionary work has been accomplished; but it has been very meager. The Sunday-school work has not succeeded much better, although an interest, amounting, almost to enthusiasm, has been exhibited at some of the meetings of the body. The association favors the benevolent enterprises, fostered by the denomination, in the State; but a defective education on the subject, appears to be the cause of the churches’ doing so little in the great cause of christian benevolence, which they so fully indorse by resolutions.

There appears to have been little contention about doctrine and church polity, in this body. At one time, there was some disturbance about Free Masonry; but this appears to have been quieted by the following resolution, adopted in 1846: "Resolved, That Masonry shall not be considered a test of fellowship." The course of the body has of late years, been peaceful, and, considering its want of enterprise, it has been moderately prosperous, since the wonderful revival of 1842. In 1850, it numbered 17 churches with 104 members, and, in 1860, 19 churches, with 1,706 members. But, at the latter date, it dismissed four churches to go into the constitution of Crittenden Association. Subsequently other churches were dismissed, which reduced the body, in 1870 to 12 churches with 1,523 members. In 1880, it numbered 14 churches with 1,785 members, and, in 1882, the same number of churches, aggregating
[p. 461]
1,718 members. From 1834, to its meeting in 1882, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, according to its official reports, 4,581.

Old Churches. Ten-Mile is the oldest church in this fraternity. Tradition claims that it was constituted as early as 1800. This is possible, but not very probable. It was a custom of that time, for churches to unite with an association as early as an opportunity was afforded. The first occurrence of the name of this church, is on the records of North Bend Association of 1806, at which date it was received into that fraternity. There is, however, another feature in the case that may have some bearing on the subject. The church was gathered by William Bledsoe. The only preacher of that name, known to have been among the Kentucky pioneers, had been a member of old South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists; but had become, as early as 1800, a Restorationist, or in modern phraseology, a Universalist. If this was the same man that gathered Ten-Mile church, it may be that it did not stand on orthodox Baptist ground, at first, and hence could not be admitted into an association, while Bledsoe was connected with it. Be this as it may, the church was received into North Bend Association, in 1806, and remained an influential member of that body, till 1831, when it entered into its present relation. For a number of years, it was the home of all the Baptists in the settlement in which it was located. Under the pastoral care of David Lillard, who served it more than forty years, it grew to be a large body, numbering, in 1856, 381 members.Since that time, it has dismissed a large portion of its membership to form other churches. In 1882, it numbered 126. Poplar Grove church, located in Owen county, was constituted of twelve members, on the second Saturday in May, 1827. It united with North Bend Association, the same fall. But, in 1829, it took a letter and joined Concord, from which it was dismissed, to go into the constitution of Ten-Mile. Tobias Wilhoit was its first pastor; he was succeeded by Joseph Crouch, in 1830, who served it with much acceptance, about nineteen years. Its growth was slow, till 1842, during which year it received 165 by baptism. Since the death of Mr. Crouch, in 1849, it has fallen into the pernicious habit of frequently changing pastors. However, it is still much the largest church in the association, Mt.
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Zion was constituted of nineteen members, on the 19th of May, 1827. David Lillard was its first pastor, and served it twenty-seven years. It united with North Bend Association, in 1828, from which it was dismissed to go into the constitution of Ten-Mile. It has enjoyed many precious revivals. In 1842, it received 109 by baptism; in 1849, 54; in 1853, 60; in 1854, 80, and, in 1866, 75. In 1854, J. W. Lee succeeded Mr. Lillard as pastor, and served till 1867. Since that time it has changed pastors at short intervals. In 1882, it numbered 194 members, and was next to the largest church in the Association.

David Lillard was by far the most distinguished and influential of the early preachers of Ten Mile Association. Of his birth and parentage, nothing has been preserved on any accessible record. He was an early settler in what is now Grant county, where he became a member of Ten Mile church, at an early period. Here he was ordained to the ministry, in 1817, and immediately took charge of the above named church. To this congregation he ministered, forty-two years. Under his labors, it grew from a feeble little band to one of the largest churches on the northern border of the State, numbering, at one time, nearly 400 members. He was also pastor of Mt. Zion church, in Grant county, from its constitution, in 1827, till 1854, during which it increased from nineteen, to nearly two hundred members. Several other churches enjoyed his pastoral labors, for different periods. After an active and efficient ministry of forty-two years, he fell asleep in Jesus, in 1861.

Mr. Lillard was a man of great energy and perseverance, a christian without a spot on his garments, and a preacher of good practical gifts. Possessing a good property, he steadfastly refused to receive any compensation for his ministerial labors. He was moderator of Ten-Mile Association from its constitution till his death, with the exception of one year, when he was absent. He was greatly loved and honored, and few men have possessed so great an influence as he exercised over the entire Association.

Joseph Crouch was, next to David Lillard, the most influential and successful preacher in Ten-Mile Association, in his generation. He was born of Baptist parents, near Petersburg, Va., March 27, 1794. In his childhood, his parents moved to Green county, in East Tennessee, where he was brought up.
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He was instructed in the elements of a common school education, principally by his older brother and sister, being disabled from attending school by a fall from a horse. He professed religion and united with Buffalo Ridge church, in his adopted county, at the age of fifteen years. A year later, he commenced exercising in public prayer and exhortation. At the age of nineteen, he was married to Anna Lada, and, at the age of twenty, was ordained to the ministry, by Jonathan Mulky and and his son, John Mulky. While residing in Tennessee, he served, at different times, the churches at Buffalo Ridge, Fall Branch, Beech Creek, Double Springs, Carters Station, Leesburg, and Sinking Creek, and baptized 391 persons.

In the fall of 1829, he moved to Owen county, Ky., and united with Poplar Grove church. Campbellism was agitating the churches at that time. Mr. Crouch put two queries to Poplar Grove church: "1. Is salvation of God, or of man?" Answer: "Of God." "2. Is baptism regeneration?" Answer: "Baptism is not regeneration." It was thence inferred that persons teaching salvation by works, or baptismal regeneration, ought not to be allowed to preach in the church house, and the church decided accordingly. In March, 1830, Mr. Crouch was called to the care of this church, and continued to serve it, till the Master bade him come up higher. He was also pastor, at different periods, of the churches at Dry Ridge and Mt. Zion, in Grant county; Grassy Creek and Crooked Creek, in Pendleton; New Bethel, in Boone; Lick Creek and Providence, in Gallatin, and Long Ridge and Muscle Shoals, in Owen. In addition to his pastoral work, he labored much among the churches, especially in protracted meetings. Like his co-laborer, David Lillard, he received no compensation for his ministerial labors. During his ministry, of nineteen years, he baptized 1,192 converts. He raised a large and respectable family, and acquired a comfortable property. The Lord took him to himself, April 30, 1849.

Joseph Ambrose settled within the bounds of Ten-Mile Association, and united with Ten-Mile church, in 1855, He was born in Bedford county, Va., March 30, 1798. About 1808, his parents moved to Kentucky, and settled in Pulaski county. Some four years later, they moved to Clay county. Here young Ambrose, in early life, united with Elk Lick church, in what is now
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Owsley county, and was baptized by Abijah Gilbert. He was licensed to preach, about1826, and was ordained, in February, 1827, by David Chenault and Thomas White. He soon discovered unusually effective gifts and great zeal in the work of the ministry. He traveled extensively over several counties, and remarkable success attended his labors. He was called to Elk Lick church, which he served seventeen years. He was also pastor of Sextons Creek and Red Bird churches, in the same county. In 1833, he moved to Estill county, where he continued to labor with unabated zeal and success. He gathered the following churches, to which he ministered till they could be supplied with pastors: Mt. Gilead, in Owsley county; Woodwards Creek, White Oak and Clear Creek, in Estill; Clover Bottom and White Spring, in what is now Jackson, and Drowning Creek, Union and Red Lick, in Madison. Clear Creek and Red Lick were gathered in neighborhoods where churches of the same names had been dissolved. Mr. Ambrose was the principal leader in organizing South Fork Association, which he served as moderator from its organization, in 1841, till 1855.

In the midst of this career of great zeal and wonderful success, he fell into the sin of adultery. The temptation was sudden and peculiarly trying, and it was generally believed that the sin was not repeated. He immediately confessed his crime to his church, and was promptly silenced from preaching. After some time, he was restored to the ministry, and continued to preach many years, with a good degree of success. But the stain on his garment could never be wholly effaced, and his sin, like that of David, was ever before him.

After he moved to Gallatin county, he raised up Concord church, to which he ministered, with a good degree of success, for a number of years. About 1857, he was crippled by the overturning of a cart, so that he was compelled to ride on aside saddle afterwards. After this he seldom attempted to baptize, but he continued to preach, and was usually pastor of four churches, till old age necessitated his resignation. In 1870, he moved to Missouri, but his wife dying, he returned to his old field of labor in Gallatin county, the following year. He died in great triumph, having predicted the time of his death nine days before, on the 26th of March, 1881.
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With the single exception noted above, the life of Mr. Ambrose was one of eminent purity and devotion to the cause of Christ, and few men of his generation were more successful in building up that cause. His son, C.A. Ambrose, is a citizen of some prominence, and has represented Gallatin county in the State Legislature.

Caristian Tomlin, was born of German parents, in Culpepper county, Va., in 1781. He was converted through reading the Scriptures, there being no church or preacher near where he lived. After his conversion, he began to collect his neighbors together and read the Scriptures to them. He would also pray forthem, and exhort them to repent and turn to Christ. This was about 1799 He continued to exhort and pray among his neighbors, some two or three years, and a number was converted. Some ministers hearing of this work, came into the neighborhood, and a church of about thirty members was raised up. Mr. Tomlin was ordained to the pastoral care of this church. The first person he baptized was his mother. In 1814, he moved to Brown county, Ohio. Here he gathered a church to which he ministered, till 1817, when he moved to Pendleton county, Kentucky. Here he was an active and useful laborer in the Master's vineyard, about thirty four years. He was pastor of Grassy Creek church, about thirty years; of Dry Ridge thirty-two years; of Short Creek, twenty-two years; of Unity, from its constitution till his death, and of Fork Lick, several years. Most or all of these churches, he is believed to have gathered. He was a good man, and a very useful preacher, and was noted as a peace-maker among his neighbors and brethren. He died of Cholera, Aug. 5, 1851, his wife having died of the same disease, the 31st of July of the same year.

Asa Tomlin, son of the above, was born in Brown county, Ohio, August 15, 1815. His parents moved to Kentucky, in 1817, where he was raised up. In 1845, he united with Mt. Zion church in Grant county, of which he is still a member. He was ordained to the ministry, in 1856, and has, usually, been pastor of three or four churches. He claims to have baptized at least 2,000 persons, and to have been the principle instrument in gathering about twelve churches. Although be has labored much among the poor and destitute, and has been quite
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successful, he has not succeeded in retaining the confidence of his brethren. He is said to indulge in the foolish habit of exaggeration, and to give himself much to extravagant boasting of his own achievements. In 1866, the Association passed a resolution, earnestly requesting Mt. Zion church "to take steps to stop him from trying to preach." The church seems not to have heeded the request, and he is still exercising the ministerial functions. It is believed that no charge has been alleged against his moral character except the one alluded to above.

Thomas M. Gray, labored a few years in this Association, and was held in high esteem by the people. He was born in Shelby county, Ky., in 1836. In early life he united with the church at Cedar Creek in Jefferson county. Here he was ordained to the ministry, and chosen pastor of the church. After serving in that capacity a short time, he went to Georgetown College, where he spent some time as a student. After returning from college, he married and settled near Mt, Eden, in Spencer county, about 1862. While here, he preached to Chaplin Fork church, and labored as missionary of the General Association. After the War, he moved to Glenco, in Gallatin county, and at different times, was pastor of the churches at Oakland, Ten Mile, Concord, Dry Ridge, andPaint Lick, in Ten Mile Association. He was a good man, and a preacher of average ability. He died at his home in Glenco, in September, 1872.

Lafayette Johnson is among the most prominent and active of the living ministers of this Association, and has usually served it as moderator, since 1868. He was born in Boone county, Ky., May 22, 1838, educated at Georgetown College, joined New Bethel church, in 1856, was licensed to preach, in 1858, and ordained in 1862. He has usually been pastor of four churches, and, in 1881, he had baptized about 400 persons.

Clarks River Association

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The history of this small Anti-missionary fraternity is interesting, on account of its having been the first Baptist Association
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organized in that portion of Kentucky lying west of the Tennessee river.

As early as 1823, there were twelve churches in what was known as Jackson's Purchase. Ten of these, viz: Birds Creek, Middle Fork of Obion, Beaver Dam, Hollow Rock, Ramble Creek, Walnut Fork of Obion, Spring Creek of West Sandy, Cypress Creek, Morgans Creek and Providence, were in Tennessee. The other two, viz: New Salem and Clarks River, were in Kentucky. In September of that year, these twelve churches, aggregating 417 members, were organized, under the style of "Western District Association." This body grew so rapidly that, in 1828, it numbered thirty churches. At this date, it divided its territory by a line running west from Tennessee river, through Parris, to Mississippi river. The southern division retained the old name. The northern division, comprising fourteen churches, aggregating 524 members, was organized under the style of "Obion Association." Of these churches, New Salem, Clarks River, East Fork of Clarks River, and Bethel were in Kentucky.

In 1830, Obion Association declared a non-fellowship for all churches that "would suffer its members to join the Masons, or frequent their lodges." This resolution elicited the fact, that some of the most prominent and efficient members of the body, among whom were Elder John Conyers and a Brother Nance, were members of the interdicted fraternity. Much disturbance ensued, and finally, seven churches withdrew from the Association.

On Saturday before the third Sunday in November, 1831, these seven churches met, by their messengers, at New Salem meeting house, in Calloway county, Ky., and constituted Clarks River Association. These churches aggregated 227 members, and their names were as follows: Beaver Dam, Barren Fork, Bethlehem, East Fork, New Salem, New Hope, and Shiloh. The association enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, for a few years. In 1837, it numbered fifteen churches with 508 members. This was the largest aggregatemembership it ever attained, In 1845 an attempt was made to unite Obion, Soldiers Creek and Clarks River, and form, of the three, two associations. But the effort failed. From this time, Clarks River Association gradually diminished, and, in 1868, was formally dissolved.

Original Little River Association

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This small fraternity of Anti-missionary Baptists originated in a split of Little River Association, in 1833. There has been much disputing in regard to the causes which led to the division, and other circumstances connected with it. But the subject does not appear to be of sufficient importance to justify a lengthy investigation. It is sufficient to say, that one party believed in a general atonement and the lawfulness of benevolent societies, while the other rejected these positions, and refused to tolerate them. Nor is it of any importance now, to determine which party was in the majority, in the Association, at the time of the split.

At the meeting of Little River Association, at Mt. Pleasant meeting house, in Trigg county, in 1833, the letters from some of the churches expressed a desire that the differences which had long existed in the Association, should be adjusted, or, if this could not be done, that the contending parties should separate by mutual consent. The matter was brought before the body in due form. A motion was made to determine the belief of the Association, on two points, viz.: "a general atonement," and the "universal operation of the Spirit." According to a statement in the circular letter of the Anti-missionary party, a majority of the messengers voted adverse to the two points of doctrine. This, however, was not a fair test of the strength of the contending parties, as Parker's Two-Seeds doctrine, and the lawfulness of benevolent societies had been involved in the controversy, neither of which points were included in the motion. But the debate had been long and heated, party spirit had run high, and the members of the body were too much excited for calm deliberation. As soon as the Anti-missionaries came to the conclusion, from the result of the vote, that they were in the majority, one of them cried out: "I motion that all those that cannot retain in fellowship those that preach and believe the doctrines of general atonement and universal operation of the Spirit, manifest it by rising to their feet, and collecting themselves together; and [that they] organize themselves as Little River Association, to the exclusion of those that believe the above doctrines, contray to the constitution."
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Responsive to this call, the messengers from nine churches arose, collected in one corner of the house, and organized for business. It was soon ascertained that the party had miscalculated it strength. While messengers from nine churches had responded to its call, those from eleven, rejected it. The minor party withdrew to the grove, the following day, leaving the Missionary party in possession of the records and the house. Both parties claimed the name and prerogative of Little River Association. But, subsequently, the minor organization prefixed the word "Original" to its title. The relative strength of the two parties may be best ascertained from the statistics of the two organizations, for the following year, when the churches had settled down in their true position. In 1834, Little River Association numbered 14 churches with 860 members, while the party that had split off from it, and assumed the title of Original Little River Association, numbered 13 churches with 385 members.

Original Little Association was organized of the following churches: Eddy Grove, Cubb Creek, Crocketts Creek, Dry Creek, Dry Fork, Muddy Fork, South Fork of Little River, and Saline Creek in Tennessee. Cases Creek was received immediately after the organization. These ten churches aggregated 421 members -- a much larger aggregate membership than the body has since reported. At its first anniversary meeting, the Association adopted the following item: "The missionary proceeding, with the Baptist Convention and all the train of benevolent institutions (falsely so called), we believe to be unscriptural and anti-christian, and to belong to the kingdom of darkness, &c." As might be expected of an organization holding such sentiments, this Association gradually diminished from the beginning. It has accomplished little worth recording. In 1850, it numbered nine churches with 248 members; in 1860, eleven churches with 225 members; in 1870, nine churches with 203 members; in 1880, nine churches with 191 members, and, in 1881, nine churches with 198 members. From its constitution, in 1833, to its meeting, in 1881, a period of 48 years, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, according to its official reports, 327 persons.

Peyton S. Nance was the most prominent preacher of this fraternity, in its early history. He was born in Henry county, Va.,
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February 18, 1795. He united with a church, in 1823, commenced exercising in public the following year, and was ordained into the ministry, August 2, 1828. In 1830, he moved to Kentucky, and settled in Trigg county. Here he entered into the constitution of Cases Creek church, the same year, and remained a member of it the rest of his life. This church first joined Little River Association, and Mr. Nance preached the introductory sermon before that body, in 1831. He also served it as moderator, the following year. When his church joined Original Little River Association, in 1833, he went with it. He served that Association, as moderator, 21 years. The Lord called him to his reward, about 1860.

Mr. Nance was a man of excellent moral character, and a preacher of fair ability. He was pastor of Muddy Fork and other leading churches of his Association, and was probably the ablest and most influential minister that has been connected with that fraternity.

Samuel Ross was born in Edgecomb county, N.C., Sep. 20, 1789. He emigrated to Stewart county, Tenn., in 1808. Here he united with Saline Creek church, in 1818. In 1825, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry in 1830. His church first joined Little River Association, but went into the organization of Original Little River, in 1833. Of the latter organization, he was the first clerk, and served in that capacity, six years. He was a preacher of very moderate gifts, but was regarded a good, sincere man. He died, about 1863.

William Buckley, of whom something has been said elsewhere, was in the organization of this fraternity, and was its moderator, the first three years of its existence. He was a man of experience and fine preaching ability; but he fell into the habit of drinking to excess, and was deposed from the ministry. Balaam Ezel, who was a minister in Muddy Fork church, and was a zealous opposer of benevolent institutions, and especially of temperance societies, was also deposed from the ministry, for habitual intoxication. Francis Moore and John Barnett were among the early ministers of this body. The former died, Oct. 11, 1839; the latter, June 25, 1854.

John W. Young, a blacksmith by trade, was a preacher in this fraternity, for a number of years. His preaching talent was very meager; but he was regarded a good, upright man, and
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had the respect of the people among whom he lived. He died, at a good old age, about 1860.

Paul H.L. Walker was among the most gifted preachers in this Association, from about 1853 to 1870. He was moderator of the body seven years, served it as clerk, two years, and preached the introductory sermon on several occasions. He was expelled, or withdrew from the Association, on being charged with preaching the following doctrines, which the Association deemed heretical. 1. That the gospel is the means of saving sinners. 2. That the preaching of the gospel was ordained of God; and that all men are under obligations to obey it. 3. That Jesus Christ came into the world to make the salvation of sinners possible. Pleasant Hill church was excluded from the Association "for retaining Elder P. H. L. Walker and his doctrine, among them." Mr. Walker continues to preach to Pleasant Hill and some other unassociated churches, in Crittendencounty, and is said to be highly esteemed by the people among whom he labors.

J. B. Hardy of Crittenden county, and Hezekiah Smith, of Trigg, are among the most prominent of the living ministers of this fraternity.


West Union Association

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In no portion of the country, have the Baptists had more confusion and strife in establishing themselves, than in that part of Kentucky and Tennessee, lying west of the Tennessee River, and known in the early times as the Western District, or Jackson’s purchase. In the southern part of this territory, the early churches were planted principally by preachers from old Red River Association, and were consequently hyper-Calvinistic and anti-missionary in sentiment. Those in the northern part were gathered by ministers from southern Illinois, and from Little River and Highland Associations in Kentucky. As early as 1823, there were, in the Western District, 12 churches, aggregating 317 members. All of these churches, except New Salem in Calloway county, and Clark’s River in what is now Marshall county, were located in Tennessee. In September of the year named, these churches associated themselves under the style of
[p. 472]
Western District Association. The fraternity grew so rapidly that, in 1828, it comprised 30 churches. During that year it divided its territory by a line running due west from the Tennessee River, through Paris, Tenn. to the Mississippi. The churches north of this line organized under the style of Obion Association. These churches, 14 in number, aggregated 524 members, and nearly half of them were located in Kentucky. In 1830, this body declared by resolution, that it would not hold in fellowship any church that would "suffer its members to join the Masonic fraternity, or frequent its lodges." It was now discovered that some of the most prominent members of the body, including its moderator, Elder John Conyers, and a brother Nance, had united with the Masons. At once seven churches withdrew from the Association, and, together with two others, constituted Clark's River Association, in November, 1831. The nine churches aggregated 376 members. Notwithstanding this fraternity was willing to tolerate Free Masonry, it was hyper-Calvinistic in doctrine, and opposed to missions and other benevolent institutions. But neither the churches of the fraternity, nor those of Obion, were harmonious. Some of them were moderately Calvinistic, and were in favor of missions. These felt the need of a separate association, in which they could carry out their convictions of duty. Accordingly, they obtained leave of their associations to hold a convention for the purpose of consulting on the subject. This convention met at Wadesboro' in Calloway county, in December, 1832, and was composed of messengers from ten churches, aggregating about 300 members. Of the proceedings of this meeting, the records are all lost. If a meeting was held during the succeedingyear, no account of it has been preserved. But, in 1834, messengers from the following ten churches, as nearly as can be ascertained, met at Gum Spring, in McCracken county: Wadesboro, West Fork of Clark's River and Sinking Spring, in Calloway county; Gum Spring and Ohio in McCracken; Trace Creek, Mayfield and Little Obion, in Graves, and Emmaus and Clinton, in Hickman. The meeting was called to order, and after due deliberation, it was resolved to form a new association. A constitution, rules of decorum, and an abstract of principles were adopted, and the meeting permanently organized, under the style of Union Association of United Baptists. Afterwards, ascertaining
[p. 473]
that there was another organization of the same name, in the State, it prefixed the word West to its title, in 1844. The next session of the body was held at Wadesboro', in 1835; but as the record of this and several other of its early meetings are lost, little is known of its early proceedings. It held its third session at Trace Creek in Graves county, in 1836. James P. Edwards was chosen Moderator, and J. C. Wilkins, Clerk. Mr. Edwards also preached the introductory sermon. At this time, the Association numbered 14 churches with 397 members. The next year, it met at Little Obion in Graves county. Durin Alcock preached the introductory sermon, J. P. Edwards was re-elected Moderator, and A. E. Daniel was chosen Clerk. Two churches were received, and the Association now aggregated 408 members. From this period, till 1840, the growth of the body was slow. But about the latter date, a revival commenced within its bounds, and prvailed with great power, about three years. When the Association met at Hopewell in Ballard county in 1843, it numbered 29 churches with 1,474 members. This year, the Association appointed an executive board, to conduct missionary operations within its bounds. The following year, the board reported the performance of seven months missionary labor, and a balance of $125 in the treasury.

But, in 1844, the revival had subsided, and a factious spirit seemed to pervade the body. The constitution was so amended as to allow individuals to bring queries before the Association, through the committee of arrangements. A resolution was adopted, declaring that any minister, preaching the doctrine of apostasy, should be considered as acting in direct opposition to the gospel of Christ, and an express item in the abstract of principles held by the Association. This was intended as a warning to some unsound preacher; but no intimation as to who he was is recorded. Elder Wm. K. Young charged Elder J. P. Edwards with having made a false report concerning Sugar Creek church, to which he had been sent as a committee. The charge was investigated, and a resolution, offered by T. L. Garrett, declaring that Mr. Edwards had made a correct report, was unanimously adopted. A resolution was adopted, condemning open communion. This was intended for the benefit of Columbus and Paducah churches, which were reported to
[p. 474]
have been practicing the heresy. Committees were also appointed to visit those churches, inquire into the matter, and report to the next Association.

This charge, brought against Paducah church, and the way in which the affair was conducted, proved exceedingly unfortunate for the Baptists of the Western District. West Union Association comprised at that time, all the Baptist churches (if we except the Anti-missionary Baptists,) in that end of the State. This unfortunate affair exerted a baleful influence on all the churches in the Association, and kept them in a state of agitation, in a great degree, for a period of more than a quarter of a century. A detailed account of the official proceedings in the case would take much more room than can be allowed here. Nor is such an account desirable. A brief outline of the facts is all that history needs to preserve.

Paducah church was gathered, by J. P. Edwards and Willis White, in 1840. Soon after its constitution, it called to its pastoral care the now venerable A. W. Meacham, then recently ordained. About 1842, Mr. Meacham invited Thomas L. Garrett, then living at Hardinsburg, Ky., to assist him in a protracted meeting. The meeting was very successful, and Mr. Garrett became very popular with the church. Soon after this, the young pastor deemed it prudent to resign, and Mr. Garrett was called to succeed him, in 1843. Mr. Garrett was a preacher of marked ability and superior acquirements. But he was ambitious and dictatorial, and possessing an unhappy natural temper, he could not tolerate opposition. Having ascertained that Paducah church had suffered some persons belonging to other denominations to partake of the Lord's Supper with her during his predecessor's administration, Mr. Garrett, although pastor of the church at that time, objected to her letter, when presented to the Association, in 1843. In 1844, the Association appointed a committee to investigate the report against the church. The following year, Wm. E. Bishop and J. P. Edwards of the committee, reported that, although the church had suffered one or two women, belonging to the "Reformers," to commune with her, a considerable time before Mr. Garrett became her pastor, she now declared herself opposed to open communion. The committee also reported that they believed her to be sound in the faith. When the report was read, Mr. Garrett pronounced
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it false. A long and exciting debate ensued. The church, through her messengers, acknowledged her former error, begged pardon of the Association, and was retained in fellowship, by a vote of 28 to 19. In 1846, some of the churches complained, in their letters, of the course of the Association in retaining Paducah church in fellowship, and requested that the act be rescinded. The Association acknowledged that she had erred, inasmuch as the confession of the church had not been made through her letter. But as the church had acknowledged her error, in her letter of the present year, the Association expressed its satisfaction by a vote of 30 against 12. The difficulty with Paducah church was now happily settled. But the conflict in the Association assumed a new form.

Mr. Garrett continued to assert that Mr. Edwards had knowingly and wilfully made a false report, to shield a guilty church. The churches at Humphreys Creek and Lovelaceville complained to the Association, in their letters of 1847, of the treatment of Mr. Garrett towards Mr. Edwards, and requested the Association to adopt means to adjust the difficulty between the two ministers. The discussion of the subject, in the Association, occupied the greater part of three days. The Clerk of the Association records, that on the fifth day of the session, the body attempted to prosecute the investigation, relative to the charge, made by T. L. Garrett against J. P. Edwards. "But after much altercation, no progress having been made, and said Elder T. L. Garrett having, for several days, treated this Association with much indignity, it was moved by Elder J. E. Grace, that we now suspend proceedings, and expel Elder T. L. Garrett for contempt." Mr. Garrett moved that the body decide by a vote whether it had the right to expel a member, for any cause. The question was decided in the affirmative, whereupon Mr. Garrett withdrew from the Association. Mr. Grace's motion was put to a vote, and Mr. Garrett was formally expelled from the body.

In July, 1848, Mt. Olivet, Little Obion, Liberty and Salem churches, which had withdrawn from the Association, on account of its difficulty with Mr. Garrett, met, by their messengers, and constituted Mt. Olivet Association. The four churches aggregated 199 members. This small fraternity espoused Mr. Garrett's quarrel, and in a series of resolutions, denounced
[p. 476]
the mother Association, with great bitterness, as having expelled Elder T. L. Garrett for the purpose of blasting his reputation, and thereby covering up the guilt of Elder James P. Edwards; and as having been guilty of the most flagrant violation of truth and justice. The strife was now changed from a civil, to a foreign war. West Union Association replied, at length, to the charges made by the new fraternity, by publishing in its minutes of 1848, a detailed account of the difficulty, from its origin. Mt. Olivet Association reiterated its charges at its two following sessions. But West Union took no further notice of the subject. Various attempts were made, from time to time, to bring about a reconciliation between the two fraternities. But they all proved abortive, till 1871, when they entered into fraternal correspondence, which has been amicably sustained to the present time.

While this quarrel was kept up in West Union Association, that body retrogaded in numbers, as well as in moral power. When the trouble began, the Association numbered 30 churches, aggregating 1,132 members. In 1849, theyear after the Garret schism, it numbered only 21 churches, which, by the addition of 216 by baptism during that year, aggregated 1,030 members. The next year was one of prosperity, and the body increased to 26 churches with 1,321 members.

As early as 1845, there was such a degree of annoyance from unsound and inefficient preachers, that the Association took up the matter, and adopted the following preamble and resolution: "Whereas, much difficulty has heretofore risen in consequence of the common practice, now in use in ordaining ministers and deacons; therefore,
"Resolved, That we advise the churches to take into consideration the propriety of sending, each year, to the Association, before calling them forth in ordination, such persons as they may desire to call forth to the said offices, and also, of authorizing the Association to appoint a committee to examine into their qualifications and capacity, and if found capable and worthy, to give the applicant a certificate of qualification."

This action appears to have been taken hastily, at the close of the session, and without deliberation; for it was certainly contrary to all Baptist principles and practice. But the churches
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took the alarm, and protested so vigorously against this proposed assumption of power by the Association, that the resolution was rescinded by a unanimous vote, at the next meeting of the body. The subject was again brought before the Association, in 1849. Emmaus church sent a request that the Association appoint a presbytery to ordain Henry Trent, one of her members, to the ministry. But the subject had now been investigated, and the Association promtly decided that it had not "the lawful prerogative to do so."

In 1846, the subject of alien baptism was brought before the body. The churches were advised to receive no applicants for membership, except they had been legally baptized by a Baptist minister. A new church at Blandville petitioned for membership in the Association, in 1851. It was ascertained that the young church had received into its membership a Campbellite woman, without baptizing her. The church was received into the body, only on her acknowledging that she had unintentionally departed from Baptist principles, and promising not to repeat the unlawful act. The following resolution was also adopted:

"Resolved, That if any of the churches of this Association shall persist in such practice, it will become the unpleasant duty of this Association to withdraw from such churches." This resolution was re-adopted, in 1858.

A local interest in Sunday-schools was manifested within the subsequent bounds of this Association, at an early period.

Elder Stephen Ray organized a Sabbath-school, near the present site of Clinton, in Hickman county, in 1831. But the Association appears to have taken no notice of the subject, till 1846, when it adopted the following resolution:

"Resolved, That we regard the Sunday-school as a great blessing to the church, community, and particularly, to the rising generation; and therefore recommend brother S. W. King, Sunday school agent, to the Christian sympathies and cooperation of our churches." From that time, to the present, the Association has fostered Sunday-schools, with constantly increasing interest; and much progress has been made in that department of Christian benevolence.

Like most other bodies of the kind, in the more recently settled portions of the State, this body has exerted its principal
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strength in supporting missions within its own bounds. In this enterprise, it has employed many of its ablest and most efficient preachers, and an excellent work has been accomplished. The leading enterprises of the denomination have received the sympathy and, to some extent, the contributions of the churches of this body. In 1855, a committee reported on ministerial destitiution. The report states that there were 42 churches in the Association, with 30 preachers -- licensed and ordained; and that 12 of these did about all the preaching that was done within the bounds of the Association. A similar committee recommended, in its report, the following year, that the churches give their pastors a more liberal support, as a means of inducing efficient ministers to settle among them.

In 1857, the attention of the Association was called to the fact, that a number of small, feeble churches existed within its bounds, which were without pastors; and further, that these churches, in many instances, were located very close together. The Association advised that such contiguous bodies unite, and form one church, of two or more. This is by no means the only association in which the bad policy of constituting churches so near to each other that they could not become self-sustaining, has prevailed.

Some confusion has originated in this fraternity, from its churches receiving into their fellowship persons excluded from sister churches. In November, 1858, Thomas Willingham was excluded from Cypress church. In July of the next year, he was received into Hopewell. This caused a breach of fellowship between the two neighboring fraternities. The matter was brought before the Association, in 1859, and that body, Resolved, "That it is ordinarily discourteous and improper for one church to receive the excluded members ofanother." The next year, a committee, which had been appointed to investigate her case, reported substantially as follows: "We regard the action of Hopewell as wrong, and therefore, advise her to rescind the act of receiving brother Willingham." In 1862, the Association passed a resolution, respectfully advising, and earnestly requesting the churches not to encourage the practice of receiving persons excluded from other churches. Similar advice was given, in 1866, and again, in 1871.
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The progress of this fraternity has been quite irregular. Mt. Olivet Association was located in the same territory, and, from year to year, received into its fellowship such churches, from West Union, as found it more convenient to attend the meetings of the former, and were willing to make the change. In 1860, West Union Association numbered 55 churches, aggregating 2,899 members. But while its churches received, during the next ten years, nearly 2,000, by baptism, it was reduced, in 1870, to 50 churches with 2,259 members. The same year it dismissed 11 churches to go into the constitution of Blood River Association. During the next decade, the Association enjoyed continuous prosperity: so that in 1880, it numbered 44 churches with 3,148 members, and, in 1882, 48 churches with 3,479 members. There have been baptized into the fellowship of its churches, from its first anniversary, in 1835, to its meeting in 1883, 8,755 converts, exclusive of those baptized in the years 1840, '41, and '63, of which we have no statistics.

Old Churches. Wadesboro, now in Blood River Association, was constituted in 1823, and is probably the oldest Missionary Baptist church in the Western District of Kentucky. Trace Creek, in Graves county, is the oldest church now belonging to West Union Association. It was gathered by Absalom Copeland and Lewis Goad, and was constituted in the cabin of Joshua Shelton, Oct. 2, 1824. Among its original members were John Taylor, Joshua and Jeremiah Shelton and their wives, and Ralph Shelton. It probably belonged first to Western District Association, and afterwards to Obion, but under a different name from the one it now bears. Absalom Copeland was its first pastor, and has been followed in turn, by M. S. Wyman, H. R. Puryear, S. S. Taylor and some eight others. In 1837, it was so nearly destroyed by Campbellism, that it was reduced to five members. But soon afterwards it was revived, and in 1843, numbered 32 members. It now (1883) numbers 57 members. Mayfield Creek is the next oldest, and was constituted in 1825. It was in the constitution of West Union Association. Emmans, in Hickman county, was constituted in 1828; Gum Spring, in McCracken, in 1829; Little Obion, in Graves, in 1831; Clinton, in Hickman, in 1833; Ohio, in Ballard, in 1833; Hopewell, in Ballard, in 1835; Concord, in Graves, in 1836, and Paducah and Mississippi, in 1840.
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Among the early minister’s of this body were James P. Edwards, Stephen Ray, E.A. Daniel, M.S. Wyman, James Bone, H.H. Richardson and Joseph Ashbrook.

Isaac Edwards, though a very plain, humble preacher, performed his part in planting the standard of the cross among the pioneers of the Ohio valley, and deserves to be remembered. He was raised up to the ministry, in Harrison county, Va., from whence he emigrated to Kentucky, in 1791. After stopping a short time in Mason county, he moved farther west, and settled not far from the present site of Mt. Eden, in Spencer county. Here he probably went into the constitution of what was called the church on the Ridge, in 1798. While living here, he visited a small settlement on the north side of the Ohio river, about 25 miles above Louisville, and there gathered the first church that was organized in what is now the great and populous State of Indiana. It was constituted of four members, viz: John Fislar and his wife Sophia, and John Pettit and his wife Cattern, on the 22d of November, 1798. This church united with Salem Association, in Kentucky, under the style of Fourteen-Mile Creek, the following year. To this little band, Mr. Edwards ministered, till the Lord raised up to it, of its own number, a preacher of the name of Henson Hobbs, who was afterwards famous in Long Run Association in Kentucky, and who gathered the first Baptist church that was constituted in Louisville. After the church on the Ridge dissolved, he united with Little Mount church in Spencer county, of which he remained a member, till 1815, after which we have no farther account of him.

James P. Edwards, not inappropriately styled the father of West Union Association, was a son of Elder Isaac Edwards, and was probably born in Harrison county, Va., previous to his father’s moving to Kentucky, in 1791. Sometime previous to the year 1815, he became a member of Beech Ridge (now Salem) church in Shelby county, Ky. At the last named date, he was sent by Long Run Association, as a corresponding messenger to Wabash Association, in Indiana. He was licensed to exercise his gift, not far from the last named date, and soon afterwards moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where he was ordained to the ministry. After preaching with great zeal and activity, in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas
[p. 481]
and south-western Illinois, a few years, he moved to Jonesboro, Ill. There he took charge of the churches at Jonesboro and Shiloh, both of which he gathered while living in Missouri. While residing at Jonesboro, he traveled and preached extensively in the west end of Kentucky, then newly settled, and gathered a number of churches.

In 1834, he moved to Ballard county, Ky., and united with Little Obion church. He entered into the constitution of West Union Association, the same year. Thenext year, he moved to Fulton county, and settled near Poplar Grove church. Here he labored with his usual zeal, about two years, when he moved back to his former home in Ballard county. In 1851, he moved to Lovelaceville in the same county, where he spent the remainder of his days. He was called to his reward, about the beginning of the year 1856.

This eminent servant of Christ seems to have been raised up for the work of a pioneer missionary. Endowed with a strong practical intellect and almost superhuman powers of endurance, and fired with a burning zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of sinners, he paused at no surmountable obstacle, in his great work. He rode, alone, through wide, unbroken forests, disregarding alike the burning heat of summer and the winter's ice and snow, plunged through deep, swollen waters and defied the dangers of flood and storms, to bear the tidings of salvation to the humble tenants of rude cabins in the wilderness. The blessing of God attended his labors, with mighty power, and wonderful success crowned his efforts. The now venerable Willis White of Clinton, Ky., who, in his youth, was a colaborer of Mr. Edwards, names no less than 18 churches that were gathered, in western Kentucky and Tennessee, principally by his labors, besides those gathered in Illinois and other States, in the early years of his ministry. He was an active and zealous missionary, up to the close of his life, and was under the appointment of the executive board of West Union Association, at the time of his death. He wrote his autobiography, in his last years, which is said to have contained much valuable information regarding the early Baptists of the West. But unfortunately it was never published, and fears are entertained that it is now lost.
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Stephen Ray was born in Anne Arundel county, Maryland, May 29, 1788. His parents moved to Kentucky, in 1793, and settled in Washington county. Here he was brought up, receiving a fair English education. At the age of twenty, he was made sheriff of his county, and continued in that office four years. At this time he was an Infidel of the Tom Paine school. But, by reading Buchanan’s work on Asia, he was induced to read the Bible. This led to his conversion, and he united with the Presbyterians. Having an active, inquiring mind, he investigated the differences between the various religious denominations around him, comparing their tenets with the Bible. He finally adopted the principles of the Baptists, and united with New Hope church, in Washington county, being baptized by Jeremiah Vardeman. Here he was licensed to preach, August 23, 1820, and was soon afterwards ordained. For a time, he engaged actively in the ministry. But, in April, 1823, he commenced the publication of a weekly paper, at Bloomfield, under the style of "The Baptist Monitor and Political Compiler." The paper was published one year, at a loss of over $1,000. After this, Mr. Ray was known to the denomination as a writer, rather than a preacher. His style was rough, but pointed and forcible,and he wrote extensively for the periodical press, principally on controversial subjects.

In 1828, he moved to Hickman county, and settled near Clinton. Here, in 1831, he organized the first Sunday-school west of the Tennessee river. He was in the constitution of West Union Association, and, for a number of years, served it as clerk. In 1857, he moved to Texas, where he remained nine years, after which he returned to Hickman county, Ky. He continued to write extensively for the religious press, till near the close of his life. He died at the residence of his son, judge G.W. Ray, near Owensboro, Ky., July 16, 1871, in the eightyfourth year of his age.

Durin Alcock was an early laborer among the churches of Highland Association and, afterwards, those of West Union. He was born near Newbern, N.C., September 25, 1787. In early life he moved to Muhlenburg county, Ky., where he united with Unity church, and was baptized by John Bowlin, in 1813. About two years later, he was ordained to the pastoral care of that church, and was also called to the care of Bethel church,
[p. 483]
in the same county. To these and other churches in that region, he ministered till 1834, when he moved to Graves county. Here he united with Concord church, became its pastor, and entered with it into the constitution of West Union Association, the same year. But finding in this church a strong element opposed to missions, he moved his membership to Gum Spring in McCracken county. Here he remained a member till his death, although he had obtained a letter of dismission for the purpose of joining Mt. Olivet church. He died at his home in Graves county, September 5, 1844.

Mr. Alcock was a plain, old-fashioned preacher, of ordinary ability. But he was warns and zealous in his address, had the confidence of the people, and was useful in the Master's cause.

William K. Young was many years a minister in this Association. He was a native of England, and spoke in the full, broad, Yorkshire brogue. He was pastor of the church at Columbus, a number of years, and perhaps served other congregations. He was a preacher of only moderate ability, and was not very popular among the people. Other particulars of his ministry are not known to the author.

E. A. Daniel settled near Clinton, in Hickman county, about 1831. He professed faith in Christ and was baptized, in 1833, and entered into the constitution of Clinton church, the same year. He was soon set apart to the ministry, and labored acceptably in West Union Association about ten years. After this, it is believed, he moved west.

James Bone was a useful young preacher in this Association, a few years, He appears to have been raised up to the ministry in Mississippi church in Ballard county, about 1842. He was a young preacher of fine gifts, and was an active and zealous laborer in the Master’s vineyard. After preaching two or three years, he attended school, perhaps at Georgetown College, about two years. He moved to Missouri in 1848.

Henry H. Richardson was born in Stewart county, Tenn., about 1808. In early life, he professed conversion, and united with the Cumberland Presbyterians, among whom he preached several years. In 1835, he united with Ohio Baptist church in Ballard county, Ky., and was baptized by James P. Edwards. He was ordained to the ministry, in June, 1836, by Durin Alcock
[p. 484]
and Lewis Goad. In this region of country, he labored with great zeal and success, about ten years, when he moved to Union county, Ill., where he has been eminently useful. He was still living, in 1882.

Willis White, who, though far advanced in years, is still living, was in the constitution of West Union Association, and has been one of the most active and useful ministers in that fraternity. He was born in Halifax county, N. C., February 26, 1805. He was brought to Nashville, Tennessee, in his mother's arms, and, in 1809, his parents settled in Caldwell county, Ky. Here he was brought up on a farm, receiving a moderate common school education. In 1824, he moved with his parents to Hickman county, and, after his marriage, settled in Ballard county; in 1833. During this year, he professed hope in Christ, and, on the 8th of October, was baptized into the fellowship of Mayfield Creek church, by James P. Edwards. In the Spring of 1834, he was licensed to preach, by Ohio church, and, in June, 1836, was ordained to the ministry, by Durin Alcock and Lewis Goad, H. H. Richardson being ordained at the same time and place. The two young ministers preached much together, and, by their joint labors, gathered Sugar Creek (now Lovelaceville) church, in 1841, Mississippi church, in 1840, and Newton’s Creek (now Spring Bayou), in 1842. Mr. White also aided James P. Edwards in gathering Paducah church, in 1840, Mayfield, in 1843, and Humphreys Creek, in 1844. He also labored extensively among the destitute, sometimes in the employment of a missionary board, but much oftener, at his own charges. During his long ministry, he has, at different periods, been pastor of the following churches: Ohio, Sugar Creek and Newton's Creek, in McCracken county; Mayfield Creek and Liberty, in Graves; Columbus, Spring Hill and Clinton, in Hickman; Poplar Grove and Hickman, in Fulton; Metropolis, in Illinois, and Jackson, in Tennessee. During the last ten or twelve years, he has been school commissioner of Hickman county; but still preaches when his strength will permit.

Joseph Ashbrook exercised a brief ministry in this fraternity. He was born in Chesterfield county, Va., about 1800. At the age of thirty, he emigrated to Kentucky and settled in Hickman county. Three years later, he professed hope in Christ and was baptized into the fellowship of Emmaus church,
[p. 485]
by James P. Edwards. After exercising in public prayer and exhortation for some time, he was ordained to the ministry, in October, 1836. The good man labored acceptably in the Lord's vineyard a little more than four years, when the Master bade him come up higher, January 5, 1841.

William E. Bishop was a good, faithful man, and a useful member of Hopewell church in Ballard county. He was also a prominent actor in the Association, and was associated with James P. Edwards in making the famous report concerning Paducah church, which was made the occasion of producing the chism in West Union Association, in 1847. Mr. Bishop was ordained to the ministry late in life, and preached only a short time. He was moderator of the Association during the three years preceding his death. The Lord called him home, about 1852.

Thomas Henry Porter, an older brother of the well known Elder D. N. Porter, M.D., of Eminence, Ky., and Elder Joseph B. Porter, of Kansas, was a native of Virginia, whence he emigrated to Kentucky, and settled near Columbus in Hickman county. He gave his membership to Hopewell church in Ballard county, where he was ordained to the ministry, about 1856, being then considerably advanced in years. He was pastor of Wolf Island church in Mississippi county, Mo., and perhaps one or two others. His preaching gifts were below mediocrity; but his deep toned piety, his sound practical judgement and his manifest love of his race, gave him great influence over the people, and made him a valuable servant of Christ. He preached only a few years, before the Master called him to his reward.

John M. Harrington. This strangely gifted, but singularly weak and vacillating man, was a native of New York, whence he emigrated to Metropolis, Illinois, and became pastor of the church at that village, not far from the year 1850. This church belonged to West Union Association, and Mr. Harrington soon became a prominent actor in that body. About 1854, he moved across the Ohio river and settled near Spring Bayou church in McCracken county, Ky. He was a brilliant and fascinating speaker, and would have been extremely popular, but for the fact that he occasionally got drunk. He was moderator of the Association, some five or six years. After the
[p. 486]
beginning of the civil War, he attached himself to the Federal army, in the capacity of a suttler, While in this position, he was accused of various disorderly acts, upon conviction of which, he was excluded from Spring Bayou church. After the close of the War, he moved to Nelson county, where hispreaching was so popular that the church at Bardstown entered into negotiations with Spring Bayou church from which it obtained consent to receive him into fellowship. After this, he spent several years in preaching in Nelson and the surrounding counties, and was remarkably successful, especially as an evangelist. After the death of his wife, he moved to Illinois, where also he was very successful, for a time. But charges of disorderly conduct were prefered against him, and he was again excluded from his church. After some time, he obtained admission into another church, and then moved to Kansas, where he was still preaching, when last heard from. His son, J. R. Harrington, is a respectable preacher in Nelson Association, and, if he lacks his father's brilliant genius, he has not exhibited his moral weaknesses.

Robert Williams was one of the ablest and most useful preachers that have labored in Western Kentucky. He was born near Petersburg, Va., Nov. 12, 1811. His parents moved to Kentucky and settled near Franklin in Simpson county, in 1813. Here he grew up to manhood, receiving barely the rudiments of an English education. He was converted to Christ under the ministry of Robert T. Anderson, and was baptized into the fellowship of Lake Spring church in Simpson county, in January, 1833. During the next year he was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry and called to the pastoral care of Lake Spring church, in 1835. After laboring here about two years, he moved to Robertson county, Tenn., and took charge of Harmony church. He was also called to Greysville church in the same county, and to Lebanon and Mt. Zion churches, both in Todd county, Kentucky. With some changes of pastoral relation, he labored in this field twenty-one years; and it is probable that no minister in Bethel Association did more in building up the cause of Christ, during that period. He was a hard worker, and a good student, and became a well informed and able preacher. Both willing and able to defend the doctrine he preached, he did not hesitate to engage in public
[p. 487]
debate, when it appeared to him that the cause of truth demanded it.

In 1858, he moved to McCracken county, Ky., and gave his membership to Spring Bayou church. Here he soon attained the same eminence in West Union Association, that he had reached in Bethel. In this field, he was pastor of several churches, and was moderator of the Association several successive years; but he gave much of his strength to evangelizing, not only within the bounds of West Union Association, but extending his labors into Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. About 1875, he was attacked by bronchitis, from which he suffered much, during two winters, and which greatly impaired his capacity for labor. While on a visit to his son, Prof. A. F. Williams, in Elkton, Ky., he was taken ill, and, on the twelfth of May, 1877, departed to give an account of his stewardship.

E. W. Benson was born in Robertson county, Tenn., Oct. 5, 1823. He professed faith in Christ, at the age of fifteen years, and was baptized into the fellowship of Hopewell church in his native county, by Robert T. Anderson. He was licensed to preach, in the Spring of 1842, and, the same year, entered Cumberland University, at Lebanon, Tenn. In 1843, he entered Union University, at Murfreesboro', Tenn., where he remained three years. Having finished his studies, he married Gillie S. A., daughter of Elder W. S. Baldry, and moved to northern Alabama, having been ordained to the ministry, at Murfreesboro', in September, 1846, by J.H. Eaton, Matt. Hillsman and Bradley Kimbrough. In Alabama he took pastoral charge of Russells Creek church in Lawrence county, and some others. In 1850, he located in Maury county, Tenn., where he was chosen pastor of Carters Creek, Friendship and Rock Spring churches. To the last named he ministered nine years, teaching school during the same period. In 1860, he moved to McCracken county, Ky., and settled near Paducah, giving his membership to Spring Bayou church. Here, at different periods, he was pastor of the churches at Spring Bayou, Salem, Providence, Newtons Creek, Antioch, Mayfield, Lovelaceville and Harmony. He was clerk of West Union Association from 1865 to 1876. Without any extraordinary natural gifts, he was a good, solid well informed preacher, and enjoyed a fair
[p. 488]
degree of success in the ministry. He was called to his reward Oct. 17, 1882.

Of a number of other good preachers, who have labored within the bounds of this fraternity, in the past, no particulars have been received. The Association is now supplied with an able and efficient corps of preachers, among whom may be named J. S. Taylor, R. W. Mahan, F. M. Sharpe, W. C. Taylor, T. H. Pettit, J. N. Hall and J. B. Moody. Of several of these active and useful ministers, some particulars are known to the author, but the space allotted to this Association is filled, and he is forced to deny himself the privilege of giving even brief sketches of them.

The Baptist Gleaner, a deservedly popular religious weekly, is published at Fulton, within the bounds of West Union Association. It is conducted by J. N. Hall and J. B. Moody, both of whom are regarded able preachers and clear, forcible writers. Mr. Moody is a native of Christian county, Ky., was educated at Bethel College, followed mercantile business in Louisville, several years, was ordained to the ministry at Pewee Valley, preached at Pewee Valley, Lagrange, Harrods Creek and Elk Creek churches a short time, and then took charge of the church at Paducah. After a year there, he became co-editor of the Baptist Gleaner. Mr. Hall was born in Henry county. Ky., Feb. 5, 1849, was raised up in Ballard Co. At the age of fourteen, he united with Cane Run church, was licensed to preach, at the age of twenty, and ordained in Jannary, 1872. He taught school, farmed, and preached to some country churches, till January, 1880, when he issued, at Fulton, Ky., the first number of the Baptist Gleaner. The paper has grown rapidly in public favor, and now has an extensive circulation in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. Mr. Hall has already taken high rank as a newspaper writer. He is also endowed with excellent preaching gifts, and devotes himself to the ministry with great zeal and activity.


Little Bethel Association

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This organization originated in a split in Highland Association. That fraternity had become so violently opposed to missions and other charitable enterprises, that it refused to fellowship
[p. 489]
any church that would suffer its members to contribute to any of the benevolent institutions of the day. On this account, the following four churches withdrew from its union, in 1835: Grave Creek, in Henderson county, Bethel, in Muhlenburg, and Highland and Little Bethel, in Union. Messengers from these churches met at Flat Creek meeting house in Hopkins county, on Saturday before the 2d Sunday in September, 1836. Timothy Sisk was chosen Moderator, and A.M. Henry, Clerk. The meeting then proceeded to adopt the constitution of Highland Association, adding the following article:

"9. Whereas the benevolent institutions of the day have been made a bone of contention in Highland Association, to the destruction of the happiness of that body, which contention has led to our separation from the same, we do solemnly agree to abide by the nine articles of general union of Baptists in Kentucky, of 1801, leaving each church, and every individual member thereof, to his own discretion and sense of duty, to give or not to give to such things, and that this Association shall never have the right or power to intermeddle with churches or individual members thereof, in regard to them; and further, they shall never be made a bar to fellowship in this our union." The meeting also adopted the rules of decorum of Highland Association, and assumed the title of Little Bethel Association. The new fraternity gave as its reasons for withdrawing from Highland Association, "the violent opposition of a majority of that body to the benevolent institutions of the day." and "its repeated violation of the spirit and letter of its constitution: 1st, by appointing committees to determine matters which belonged exclusively to the churches, 2d, by nullifying acts of the churches, and, 3d, by appending to its minutes of 1835, that document known in this section as Harroldson's Bull, which we consider an infringement on the rights of the churches, and which contains grossly false charges against Baptist preachers of the highest standing for piety and usefulness."

At the time of its constitution, three of the four churches composing the Association, aggregated go members, the statistics of Grave Creek not being given. At its first anniversary meeting, which convened at Bethel in Muhlenburg county, in 1837, three churches were received, viz.: Bethel in Henderson county, Unity in Muhlenburg, and Richland in Hopkins.
[p. 490]
This gave it a membership of seven churches with 163 members. Its preachers were Wm. Morrison, Richard Jones, William Hatchett and T. L. Garrett, Timothy Sisk having died since the constitution. Garrett moved away during the year, leaving the Association only three preachers. But small and weak as was the infant fraternity, it was deeply inbued with the spirit of missions, and at once set about the work from which its churches had hitherto been restrained by the intolerance of the mother association. It passed resolutions, recommending Sunday schools and other benevolent institutions, and, what was more to the purpose, appointed a committee to raise funds to support a missionary within its bounds. The committee was successful, and the following year, Wm. Morrison was appointed missionary, at a salary of $300 a year. The next year, R. Jones was employed at the same salary, and the churches were advised to hold protracted meetings, within the year. The labors of both the missionaries were very successful, and the Association increased from seven churches with 163 members, in 1837, to 15 churches with 812 members, in 1841. Meanwhile, Highland Association had decreased, from the time of its publication of Harroldson's Bull, in 1835, from 14 churches with 619 members, to 14 churches with 362 members, in 1840. The two associations occupied the same field, and Highland had the advantage in the number of its preachers. The difference in the success of the two fraternities, originated in the fact, that one used the means God had placed in its hands, while the other rejected the use of means. Little Bethel continued to support its home mission, foster a Bible society in its midst, and contribute to Indian missions and enjoyed a high degree of prosperity.

In 1844, the Union Baptist Bible society was organized for the purpose of supplying the destitute within the bounds of the Association, with the sacred scriptures. The Anti-missionaries on the one hand, and a large Catholic population on the other, strongly opposed the operations of the society. L. W. Taliafferro, one of its colporteurs, reported that the opposition was so great that he could neither sell Bibles, nor give them away. Still the society persevered in its efforts, for a number of years, and, doubtless, accomplished a good work.

In 1845, some confusion was caused by one P. F. Ogleby, who had been chosen pastor of Zion church in Union county.
[p. 491]
Ogleby was a stranger, and was soon suspected of being an impostor. Disturbances in the church ensued, and several prominent members were excluded. Charges against Zion church were brought into the Association. After examining the case, the Association advised the church to reconsider her acts, and call a council to aid her in adjusting the difficulties. The church took the advice, and, convicting Ogleby of imposture, excluded him from her fellowship. This allayed the distress, and harmony was restored.

In 1845, the churches, having failed to contribute sufficient means to employ a missionary, were advised to give their pastors such support as would enable them to perform missionary labor in their respective neighborhoods. The next year, the ministers of the body were requested to preach all they could, and make collections on the field for their support. These arrangements for supplying the destitute were continued three years, and were very effective, but as the burthen fell almost entirely on the preachers, a missionary was again employed, in 1848. From that period, the Association has generally had one or more missionaries employed within its bounds. This has been its principal work. It has approved foreign missions, Bible societies and Sunday schools. But, until recently, it has done but little in these departments of benevolence. Considering that it has had much opposition from a large Catholic population in its territory, a strong Antimission element to contend with, and a respectable Protestant population to rival, it has probably done well to exert its principal strength in its own field. By this measure, it has enjoyed a good degree of success.

In 1846, on motion of Wm. Morrison, the churches were requested to observe "a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer," and to maintain "weekly prayer meetings as a means, under God, of preserving them in a thrifty state." The latter recommendation was repeated frequently, from year to year, with the additional request that especial prayer should be made for the success of their missionary. In 1847, the following item was recorded: "Took up the following query: 'Is it in accordance with the Christian character and the spirit of the gospel for a professor of religion to retail spirituous liquors?' We as an association, answer unanimously: It is not."
[p. 492}
In 1848, Richland church divided on the subject of Freemasonry. The matter was brought before the Association, and was discussed at much length. The following decision was finally rendered: "We do not know that belonging to the Freemasons, or any of the secret institutions, is a violation of the gospel, therefore, we do not declare non-fellowship for any brethren who may belong to such institutions, or may wish to do so." This did not altogether allay the disturbance. In 1850, there was a division in Friendship church, on the question, and the subject was again brought beforethe Association. The following resolution offered by L. W. Bailey, was adopted without debate, by a vote of 30 to 28: "Seeing that brethren’s identifying themselves with the Freemason Lodge produces unkind feelings among us, therefore, Resolved, That we advise them to discontinue frequenting the Lodge, and endeavour to carry out the principles of charity, benevolence, fidelity and temperance, in and through the church of God." This was the last time the subject was brought before the body.

The subject of alien baptism was brought before the body, in 1854, by a query from Liberty church. The question was answered as follows: "We advise the churches in our Association not to receive any into their communion, who shall not have been baptized by a regularly ordained Baptist minister." When the subject came before the body again, in 1873, it was,

"Resolved, That the reception of all such immersions is inexpedient and unscriptural."

This fraternity has made good progress, in numerical strength. In 1850, it numbered 27 churches with 1,837 members; in 1860, 32 churches with 2,389 members, and, in 1868, 36 churches with 2,952 members. At the last named date, it dismissed 8 churches, aggregating 879 members, to go into the constitution of Henderson County Association. In 1870, the fraternity numbered 38 churches with 2,206 members; in 1880, 37 churches with 2,348 members and, in 1882, 39 churches with 2,941 members. From the time of its constitution, in 1836, to its meeting in 1883, there have been baptized for the fellowship of its churches 7,989 converts, exclusive of those baptized in 1840, of which we have no report. This is an extraordinary work, and will compare favorably with that of most associations in the State.
[p. 493]
There are, it is believed, no very old churches in this body. The oldest that have belonged to it, have gone to other associations, under the heads of which some of them will be noticed.

William Morrison was among the fathers in this fraternity. He was born of Presbyterian parents at Aberdeen, Scotland, May 25, 1795. Having been well educated, he embarked for America, at the age of 23, and arrived at Philadelphia, in the fall of 1818. Here he found the Presbyterian General Assembly in session. Forming the acquaintance of Rev. N. H. Hall, of Kentucky, he was induced to accompany him to his home, and was employed by Mr. Hall as a clerk in a dry goods store at New Market in what is now Marion county. After two or three years, he established himself as a grocer, in Springfield, Washington county. Here, on the 7th of August, 1823, he was married to Elizabeth G. Seay, a lady of eminent virtues. In the fall of 1827, heclosed up his business in Springfield, and moved to Union county, where he bought a farm and settled, about six miles from Uniontown, and near the same distance from Morganfield. In the following spring, he and his wife professed religion and united with the Presbyterian church at Morganfield, he having been christened in the "Kirk o' Scotland," in his infancy. Soon after his union with Morganfield church, he was elected to a ruling eldership. He was zealous in public prayer and exhortation, and through the solicitation of his brethren, was preparing to attend the approaching meeting of the Presbytery, in order to be set apart to the ministry. Meanwhile, his wife had become convinced, by a close study of the subject, that infant baptism and affusion for baptism, were unscriptural. She now induced her husband to read that immortal work, Pengilly on Baptism. This raised so many doubts in his mind, that he declined to attend the Presbytery, and resolved to thoroughly study the whole subject. He finally arrived at the conclusion, that nothing but the immersion of a true believer in Christ, is scriptural baptism.

On the 19th of August, 1832, he and his wife were baptized into the fellowship of Highland Baptist church in Union county, by Wm. C. Buck, and, at the following church meeting, he was licensed to preach. On the resignation of Mr. Buck, Mr. Morrison was called to the pastoral care of Highland church, to which office he was ordained by Wm. C. Buck, Mar.
[p. 494]
16, 1834. This ordination caused some dissatisfaction, on account of its having been performed by only one minister. The subject was brought before Highland Association, in 1834, and the following opinion was given: "This Association is of opinion that although the act was in violation of the letter of the constitution of the Association, yet the Association deemed it prudent to acknowledge the ordination, while it hopes that Bro. Buck, the church at Highland, and all others concerned, will be more tenacious of this rule in future."

Mr. Morrison continued to serve Highland church, as pastor, from his ordination, till his death, a period of about 24 years. Under his ministry, it was exceedingly prosperous, and no less than six other churches have been constituted of its membership. Of these, Mr. Morris was directly instrumental in gathering Zion and Uniontown, in Union county, and Mt. Pleasant and Bethlehem, in Henderson. He was laborious also in the broad mission field beyond the bounds of his pastoral charge, and was the first missionary employed by Little Bethel Association. He continued to preach with untiring zeal and activity, till the Master called him from the field, to his rest, on the 24th of August, 1858. On a marble slab that marks his resting place are engraved the words: … "a sinner saved by grace," placed there by his request.

Mr. Morrison's preaching talents were not above medium; but they were supported by an undoubted piety, and used with consecrated diligence. He was greatly beloved, and implicitly trusted by the people among whom he labored, and his influence was extensive and salutary. His eminently godly and faithful wife is (1884) still lingering on the shore of time, and doing what she can to advance that cause to which she has been scarcely less useful than her husband.*

John Bryce was born of wealthy Scotch parents, in Goochland county, Va., May, 31, 1784. He was put to school early, and was thoroughly educated in the primary English branches, acquiring also some knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. He chose the profession of law, and entered upon its practice, at about the age of 21 years. Being brought up strictly in the faith of his parents, who were Episcopalians,
* She has recently been called to her reward.
[p. 495]
he heartily dispised all dissenters and more especially the Baptists. It is probable that he never heard a Baptist sermon, before he attained his majority. But about the time he came of age, he and a number of other gay, aristocratic young people attended a Baptist association, near his father's residence. Of this meeting, he gave the author the following account: "When we reached the place of meeting, there was an immense concourse of people assembled in the shade of the forest trees. Three preachers were sitting on a temporary stand, erected for the occasion. As I had not gone to hear preaching, the first two men that spoke had very little of my attention. But when the third speaker arose, the first sentence he uttered riveted my attention. There was an easy, graceful elegance in his manner, a thrilling sweetness in his voice, and a solemn dignity and sublimity of eloquence in his diction and delivery, that I have never met with in any other man. The gospel of Christ flowed from his lips, a living power that penetrated my heart with an acuteness, sharper than a two-eged sword. When he closed his sermon, notwithstanding I was a member of the Episcopal church, I felt myself a lost and undone sinner."

The preacher here referred to, was the distinguished Andrew Broadus. Mr. Bryce soon afterwards obtained peace in Christ, and, despite the opposition of his aristocratic parents and friends, united with the Baptists. He began to warn sinners to repent, almost immediately after he was baptized, and was soon afterwards ordained to the ministry.

He did not give himself wholly to the ministry, for many years after his ordination. He practiced law in Richmond and Lynchburg, and was master in chancery under Chief Justice Marshall, several years. In 1810, he was chosen assistant pastor of the First Baptist church in Richmond, the venerable John Courtney being the pastor. This position he filled till 1822, except during a short period, in which Andrew Broadus occupied the place. During hisresidence at Richmond, he was president of the fire department of that city, several years, at a salary of $1,000 per annum. He was also chaplin in the army, one year, during the last war with Great Britain. In 1822, he accepted a call to the church at Fredericksburg, where he remained two years. He then accepted a call to the church at Alexandria, D. C., where he preached one year, and then returned to Fredericksburg.
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During his pastoral labors in his native State, he was one of the prime movers in the erection of Columbian College. He was also a prominent member of the American Colonization Society. At one time, he freed 40 of his own slaves, and sent them to Liberia, through this society.

In 1827 he moved to Georgetown, Ky., and engaged in the practice of law. During an exciting political contest, in 1832, he was induced to "take the stump," in favor of the Democratic party. As the campaign progressed, it grew more exciting, and the eloquent lawyer of Georgetown was led into the habit of drinking too freely. He was soon awakened to a sense of his guilt and shame, and, at once, abandoned the. use of intoxicating drinks forever. But a remembrance of his shameful fall, and the reproach it brought on the cause of Christ, filled him with remorse, during the remainder of his days. He at once left Georgetown, and went to Crawfordsville, Ia. Here he united with the "hardshell" Baptists. He remained at Crawfordsville, about ten years, representing his county in the State Legislature, at least one term. From Crawfordsville, he moved near Indianapolis, where he lived about two years.

In 1844, President Tyler appointed him Surveyor of the port at Shrievesport, Louisiana. This was pending the annexation of Texas to the United States; and Mr. Bryce is supposed to have been Mr. Tyler's confidential agent, in that important affair of State. The time he remained at Shrievesport, was, by far, the most useful period of his life, in the ministry. The duties of his office, which he held but a short period, required but a small portion of his time. The remainder of his time, he devoted very actively to the ministry. There probably was not a Baptist church, or another Baptist preacher, within two hundred miles of that town, and the rite of immersion had never been performed there. Mr. Bryce preached in the open air, when the weather would permit, and, at other times, like Paul at Rome, “in his own hired house.” He was soon brought into controversy with Leonidas Polk, then Bishop of an Episcopal diocese, and since Major General in the Confederate Army, on the subject of baptism. Shortly after this, he constituted, in his room at a hotel, a church, consisting of himself, his wife and son, Dr. W. George, John Howell and one other person.
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Within a year the little church increased to 42 members, and before two years had expired, it built a large, commodious house of worship. Mr. Bryce did not confine his labors to the city, but, as if inspired with a new and irresistable zeal, he preached with wonderful power and success, throughout a large district of country, embraced in western Louisiana and eastern Texas. The people that sat in darkness saw a great light. The whole country appeared to be inundated by a holy religious influence. Churches seemed to spring up as if by magic. Within the seven years that Mr. Bryce remained at Shrievesport, about twenty churches were constituted and two associations formed.

After his term of office, under appointment of the General Government, expired, Mr. Bryce was elected Mayor of Shrievesport, the duties of which office he discharged with faithfulness, and to the satisfaction of the people.

In 1851, he returned to Kentucky, and located in Frankfort. He was invited to the pastorate of the church at that place, but on account of an irreconcilable division of that body, he declined the invitation. In July of the next year, he moved to Henderson, Ky., and took charge of the church in that village. The relation between him and his people there was remarkably pleasant, and he continued to minister to them about ten years, when he resigned on account of the encroachments of old age. After this, he preached when his strength would permit, but his long and eventful life was drawing to a close. He died at Henderson, of congestion of the brain, July 22, 1864.

Mr. Bryce was a man of extraordinary gifts, and a liberal culture; but while he did much good in his generation, his capacities were by no means used to the best advantage. His father left him a good estate, he acquired enough in the practice of law, and in filling lucrative offices, to have made a handsome fortune, and married wealthy four times, yet he squandered it all, and was reduced to poverty in his old age. He spent three-fourths of his life and strength in purely secular pursuits, when his inherited estates, properly husbanded, would have enabled him to give his whole time and strength to his holy calling. Let young men emulate the virtues of this good and great man, and carefully avoid the mistakes that deprived the cause of Christ of so large a portion of his extraordinary
[p. 498]
powers. His fifth wife, with whom he lived 40 years, survived him a short time.

William Hatchett was in the constitution of Little Bethel Association. He was a native of Virginia, and began his ministry in Lunenburg county, in that State. He was licensed to preach, in 1817, and ordained, in 1821. In 1828, he emigrated to Kentucky and settled in Henderson county. The next year, he succeeded John Dorris in the pastoral care of Grave Creek church. In this position he continued about 30 years, although he had the aid of an assistant pastor, a number of years before his death. In 1835, he withdrew from Highland Association, with his church, and, the following year, entered into the constitution of Little Bethel Association. He was a man of meek and gentle spirit, was greatly beloved by his people, and was a good plain, gospelpreacher. He was called to his reward, in 1860. His son, Abraham Hatchett, is a useful preacher in Henderson County Association.

Timothy Sisk was a native of North Carolina. He emigrated to Kentucky with his parents, at an early period, and settled in Hopkins county. Here he united with Flat Creek, the oldest church in Hopkins county, it having been constituted in 1803. Mr. Sisk was licensed to preach, by this church, in 1819, where also he was soon afterwards ordained. As his church went into the constitution of Highland Association the same year he was licensed to preach, most of his ministry was spent in that fraternity. In 1835, he dissented from that body on account of its intolerance to missions, and, the next year, became identified with Little Bethel Association. But his connection with this fraternity was short. Before its first anniversary meeting, in 1837, he had gone to his final reward. He is said to have been a good, useful preacher.

Gabriel Sisk, a son of Elder Timothy Sisk, was a young preacher of excellent gifts. He was probably raised up to the ministry in old Flat Creek church, not far from 1843; but became identified with Sharon church, in what is now Webster county, in 1846. But his ministry was short. He was both preacher of the introductory sermon, and moderator of Little Bethel Association, in 1852. But before the next meeting of that body, the Lord had called him to give an account of his stewardship.
[p. 499]
John Withers was a native of Union county, Ky. In the 24th year of his age, he professed conversion and united with Little Bethel church in his native county. In 1840, he was ordained to the deaconship, and, in May of the next year, was licensed to preach. In May, 1842, he was ordained to the ministry, by Wm. Morrison, Joseph Board, and Joel E. Grace. In July of the same year, he accepted the pastoral care of Little Bethel church, in which capacity he served about 13 years, when he resigned, in order to ride as missionary of Little Bethel Association. The next year he resumed his old charge, where he continued to serve till the Master called him from his labors. In 1858, the church enjoyed a precious revival under his ministry, and about twenty were added to her number. From Little Bethel, he went to Vanderburg in what is now Webster county, to begin another meeting. Here he was taken ill, and, after a few days, passed to his final reward, Nov. 30, 1858. At the time of his death, he was pastor of four churches, as he had been during the greater part of his ministry. He was noted for his piety and faithfulness, and his ministry was much blessed. His son, S. B. Withers, is now in the ministry, and is said to be every way worthy of so godly a father.

Richard Jones was among the most prominent and useful preachers in Little Bethel Association, during his brief ministry. He united with Grave Creek church in Henderson county, in 1822. He was licensed to preach, in 1829, andwas ordained to the ministry, in 1836. At the last named date, he entered into the constitution of Little Bethel Association, among the churches of which he was a zealous and effective laborer, for a number of years. In 1839, he was chosen to succeed Wm. Morrison as missionary of Little Bethel Association, at a salary of $300 a year. He afterwards moved to Muhlenburg county and united with South Carrollton church. While living here, he was pastor of Beaver Dam, Nelson Creek and Pond Run churches, all in Gasper River Association. About 1850, he was appointed agent for the Indian Mission Association, a position he was occupying at the time of his death. On his way to his association, in 1851, he was taken ill at the house of James Collier, in Muhlenburg county, where, after a few days illness he departed this life on the 11th of October.
[p. 500]
Joseph Board was a member of Richland church in Hopkins county, and an early minister in Little Bethel Association, which body he served as moderator, from 1842, to 1845. He appears to have been a preacher of fair gifts, and was regarded a good and useful man. It is regretted that more is not known of his life and labors. He was called to his reward, about 1871, at a ripe old age.

William Whayne was also a good, zealous, preacher in this Association. His membership was at Bethel church in Henderson county, where he was an ordained minister, as early as 1845. After laboring within the bounds of this Association, both as pastor and missionary, about ten years, he moved west, about 1854, where he has since died.

L. W. Bailey was a preacher in Sharon church in what is now Webster county, as early as 1845, and was a zealous and useful laborer in Little Bethel Association, about twenty-five years. His preaching gifts were not great, but he used them diligently, and made them useful in the Master’s cause. He was a good man, and was much esteemed by his brethren. The Lord called him to his inheritance, Aug. 19, 1870.

L. W. Taliaferro was licensed to preach, at Salem church in Hopkins county, as early as 1846, and was ordained to the ministry, in 1847. For some time, he acted as colporteur for Union Baptist Bible Society, within the bounds of Little Bethel Association. Of his subsequent labors, no definite information has been received. But he maintained a good christian character, and doubtless accomplished good in his generation. He left the shore of time, about 1873.

Pryor S. Loving was born of pious Baptist parents, in Hopkins Co., Ky., Oct. 13, 1818. At the age of twenty years, he obtained hope in Christ, under the ministry of Richard Jones, by whom he was baptized into the fellowship of Concord church in his native county. In 1841, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained, in the spring of 1844, by Gabriel Sisk and Joseph Board. He wasan active and faithful laborer, principally among the churches of Little Bethel Association, about twenty-one years. Fair success attended his ministry, and he so lived as to win the confidence and affection of the people among whom he labored. The Lord was pleased to call him from his toils, in the prime of manhood, Jan. 19, 1865.
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William Mclean was born in Barren Co., Ky., Sept. 25, 1805. At an early age, he moved lower down in the State, where he was married to Harriet Bourland, in Calloway county, April 16, 1832. He professed faith in Christ, and was baptized by T. L Garrett, for the fellowship of Richland church in Hopkins county, in July, 1841. After exercising in public prayer and exhortation some time, he was ordained to the ministry, July, 2, 1844. From that period till near the close of his life, there were few more faithful or useful preachers in that region of the State. His preaching gifts were by no means brilliant. But he was well versed in the Bible, and his preaching was sensible, practical and safe. He was an excellent singer, and an earnest, quiet and constant worker. His christian character was above reproach, and he had the full confidence of all who knew him. He was usually pastor of several churches, which he labored to build up. But in addition to this, he searched out the destitute places, talked to the people privately, as well as publicly, and encouraged the scattered brethren to organize churches, where it appeared prudent. His labors were so quiet and unpretending, that others were often accredited with the work that he performed. He laid the foundation and others built thereon. He quietly prepared the materials and others put them together. The now prosperous church in Madisonville, where he spent his latter years, owes its existence to his labors, more than to those of any other man. He labored in the ministry about thirty-eight years, and then went to receive the reward of one who had turned many to righteousness. He died at the home of his son, in Johnson county, Ill. Oct. 4, 1882.

Roland Gooch was long a prominent and useful member of Olive Branch church in Hopkins county, before he entered the ministry. He was licensed to preach, in 1863, and ordained the following year. His preaching talent was very moderate; but he was a man of so much practical wisdom, of such exalted piety, and so consecrated a zeal and diligence, that perhaps no preacher in the Association accomplished more for the cause of Christ, during the brief period of his ministry. He was called to his home above, about 1873.

F. J. Jessop was a native of Ireland, where he was raised up in the Episcopal church, and received a classical education. In his youth, he came to America for the purpose of joining
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Gen. John Morgan's calvalry, during the Civil War. At the close of the War, he located in Central Kentucky. In 1866, he professed conversion and was baptized by Wm. G. Hobbs, into the fellowship of ElkCreek church in Spencer county. He began to pray in public before he was baptized, and was soon afterwards ordained to the ministry. In 1868, he started to Missouri; but, on reaching Union county, he stopped and gave his membership to Highland church. Here he married and settled. During the remainder of his days, he labored among the churches of Little Bethel Association, and was held in high esteem by his brethren. He died in Morganfield, July 21, 1875.

Brooken T. Taylor was born and raised in Henderson county. In early life, he obtained hope in Christ and united with the church. Having been licensed to preach, he went to Georgetown College, where he completed his course, not far from 1854. He then took charge of the church at Columbia in Adair county. Here he labored with very remarkable success, about four years. From Columbia, he was called to the church at New Castle in Henry county, where he remained about two years. In 1860, he was called to Owensboro, where he labored only a short time. From this point, he moved to Henderson county, where he served several churches in Little Bethel Association from 1862 to 1867. He also served that Association as moderator, three years. About 1868, he moved to Missouri where he still labors.

Mr. Taylor is a man of a high order of talents and extraordinary preaching gifts. Few men have displayed more intellectual power in the pulpit, in Kentucky, or enjoyed a higher degree of success in the ministry.

James C. Hopewell is one of the most prominent ministers of this fraternity, and has usually served the Association as moderator, since 1868. He is a native of Spencer county, it is believed, but was raised up in Union county, where he continued to reside until he moved to Madisonville, about 1879. He was set apart to the ministry, at Little Union church in Union county, not far from 1860, and has usually had all his time occupied in the pastoral office. He is said to be an excellent and very successful preacher.

David Whittinghill is one of the elderly ministers of
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this Association, and is a valuable laborer among its churches. He was raised in Ohio county, where also he was put into the ministry, about 1858. He was, for a considerable period, employed as a missionary. After the close of the Civil War, he located near Madisonville in Hopkins county, where he still resides. He is a preacher of warm zeal and great energy, and his labors have been blessed in bringing many sinners to Christ.

There are, and have been, a number of other good and useful preachers in this Association, of whose lives and labors no particulars have been received. Among these, the names of W. S. Morris, S. M. Martin and John O'Bryan appear to be conspicuous.

[J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists,Volume II, 1885, pp. 455-503. -- jrd]

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