A History of Kentucky Baptists
By J. H. Spencer
Volume II, 1885
[Russells Creek Association -- 192-212; Stocktons Valley Association -- 212-225
Union Association, No. 1 -- 225-226; Red River Association -- 226-234]
Russells Creek Association
As stated in the history of the old Green River Association, this body and that of Stocktons Valley were set off from the mother organization, at its annual meeting, in July, 1804. Eleven churches, aggregating 457 members, fell to the fraternity now to be treated. These churches met, by their messengers, at Pittmans Creek Meetinghouse, in what is now Taylor county, September, 8, 1804. Elijah Summars preached the introductory sermon, and was also chosen Moderator of the meeting, while John Chandler was elected Clerk. The meeting then proceeded to adopt a constitution, principles of union and rules of decorum. No reference was made to the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, nor to any other, except the instrument, consisting of eleven short articles, which they denominated "Principles of Union." The forms of government being agreed upon, the new organization took the style of Russels Creek Association of Baptists. The term United was not incorporated in the name till more than twenty years later.
The names of the churches, with their localities, as the counties now stand, were: Brush Creek, Mount Gilead, and Meadow Creek, in Green county; Goodhope and Pittmans Creek, in Taylor; Trammells Creek, in Metcalf; Zion in Adair; South Fork of Nolin and Otter Creek, in LaRue; Liberty, in Marion, and Lynn-Camp in Hart.
The ordained ministers belonging to these churches were William Mathews, Elijah Summars, Thomas Skaggs, Thomas Whitman, Jonathan Paddox, and Baldwin Clifton; John Chandler and Stephen Skaggs were licentiates; but Chandler was ordained within a few weeks, at most, after the Association was constituted.
A word of explanation about these ancient churches, may not be amiss. Meadow Creek was gathered during the great revival at the beginning of the present century. It united with Green River Association, as early as 1802. At that date, it embraced 41 members. It never enjoyed a high degree of prosperity, but in 1816, it reached a membership of 61. Soon after this it beganto decline, and was dissolved, about 1824. Brush Creek is one of the oldest churches in the Association; but whether the honor of the highest antiquity belongs to it, to Pittmans Creek or to Goodhope, is somewhat uncertain. There was, according to John Asplund, who printed his first Register of the American Baptists, as early as 1792, a church of 30 members constituted "at Green River, Nelson, in 1791." Benedict assumes this to have been Pittmans Creek. But Horatio Chandler wrote as follows, in 1834: "Pitman -- this church is in Green county, waters Pitmans Creek, from whence it receives its name; was constituted May, 21, 1803." At the same date, he writes that Brush Creek is "the oldest church in the Association." The statement of Mr. Chandler appears entirely credible. But in the minutes of Green River Association, of July 1802, the names of both Brush Creek and Pittman Creek are printed: the former represented by James Goldsby, Edward Lewis and Johnston Grayham, and numbering 100 members; the latter represented by Baldwin Clifton, Richard Ship and John Chandler, and numbering 57 members. In 1798, the "church on Pittman," with ,i>Edward Turner, messenger, was received into Tates Creek Association. The only way to harmonize these apparently conflicting authorities, is to suppose, as tradition has it, that Brush Creek church first took the name of Pittmans Creek, but shortly afterwards assumed its present title. Then, a few years later, the church now known as Goodhope was constituted under the style of the church on Pittman, which name distinguished it, as late as 1802 about which time it assumed its present title, under which, in 1804, it
entered into the constitution of Russell's Creek Association. Meanwhile, on the 21st of May, 1803, a third church was constituted on this charming little water course, under the style of Pittmans Creek. This was more fortunate in retaining its name, than either of its predecessors. Under the pastoral care of that eminently useful man of God, John Harding, it was, for a long time, one of the leading churches in the Association. But it also was destined to lose its name, at last. When Taylor county was formed of a part of Green, in 1848, its county seat was located near old Pittmans Creek church. The church soon afterwards moved into the village, and then took the name of Campbellsville, which it still bears. Mt. Gilead was the largest of the original churches of Russells Creek Association. It appears to have been gathered by Elijah Summars, in 1801, in which year it united with Green River Association. In 1802, it reported 37 baptisms, and a membership of 86. In 1805, Isaac Hodgen was ordained to the ministry, and succeeded Mr. Summars in the pastoral care of this church, which position he filled with extraordinary distinction and success, the remainder of his days. The old church still retains its original name and location, in the South-eastern part of Green county. Zion is still a flourishing church in Adair county. Liberty was located in Marion county, not far from the little village of Bradfordsville. It appears to have dissolved, in 1847. Trammells Creek appears to have been gathered in 1801, and to haveunited with Green River Association the same year. In 1802, it numbered 35 members. After this it gradually diminished, till 1814, when it reported only seven (7) members. In 1815, it changed its name to Little Barren, under which title it maintained a feeble and precarious existence, for many years. After the war it had considerable increase, and at one time, numbered 95 members. It was located in Metcalf county, and should not be confounded with the present Trammells Creek church, in Green county. South Fork of Nolin is located in LaRue county. It was originally a separate Baptist church, and, according to tradition, was gathered by Benjamin Lynn and James Skaggs, in the summer of 1782. It is still a large, prosperous body. Lynn-Camp church was probably gathered by Thomas Whitman, in 1804, in which year it went into the constitution of Russells Creek Association. At that time it numbered only 14 members. In
1818, it changed its name to Knox Creek, by which name it is still known. It is located in Hart county, and now belongs to Lynn Association. Otter Creek church is located on Rolling Fork of Salt river, in LaRue county. In 1830, its name was changed to, Rolling Fork, by which appellation it is still known.
After the organization of the Association was completed, quarterly meetings were appointed, according to the prevailing custom. A query from Pittmans Creek was answered to the effect that in ordaining a minister, both the church and the presbytery should be satisfied with the proceeding.
The Second session of the body convened at Brush Creek. A spiritual dearth prevailed. There had been an average loss of one member to the church. The business was unimportant. It was "agreed that it is expedient to have the Lord's Supper administered at our Associations."
The third session was held at Meadow Creek, in September, 1806. Two queries were discussed, and disposed of as follows: "From Brush Creek: Is it agreeable to the gospel for a man to marry again, when his wife has left him, and is living in adultery with another man? Answer: We think it is, if the man gave her no cause to leave him."
"From the committee: Is it not the duty of the Association to adopt some measures to extend the preaching of the gospel to places that are destitute, at least to the frontiers of our own State? Ans. We think it is; and for that benevolent purpose we recommend to the churches we represent to open subscription for either money or property, and forward to our next Association."
The answer to the first of these queries was withdrawn, the next year. The answer to the second, showed the spirit of the Association on the subject of missions; but as the body was very small and poor, at that period, it is probable that the movement amounted to nothing more.
In 1807, Sand Lick church, which had been recently constituted, was received into the Association. It was afterward called Friendship. It is located in Taylor county, and has been one of the leading churches of the Association.
The Association gradually decreased in numbers from the time of its constitution, till 1810. At the latter date, it numbered 12 churches, with only 374 members. An attempt was
made this year to form a union with South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, at least so far as to maintain a friendly correspondence between the two fraternities. While negotiations were pending, it was ascertained that South Kentucky was corresponding with Coopers Run and other churches, which had been dropped from Elkhorn on account of their denying the divinity of Christ, upon which Russels Creek promptly declined any further correspondence, on the subject. "Query from Brashears Creek: Is it agreeable to the gospel for a man to use the office of a deacon, whose wife, though moral, is not a christian? Ans. We think it is." South Fork of Nolin church was dropped from the Association for having joined the Emancipationists, but the next year (1811) ten members of that body were recognized by the Association as the legitimate church, and their messengers were invited to seats.
In 1811, a revival visited the churches, and, within two years, the aggregate membership of the Association was increased from 353 to 1,119. Two new churches, Union and, Judah, were received, in 1812, and the next year, Bethel, Salem and Trace Creek were admitted. In 1813, it was agreed to encourage the Burman mission, and Isaac Hodgen was appointed to receive contributions for that purpose. Several queries were discussed and answered as follows:
"1. Is it agreeable to the gospel to invite men who are got of our faith and order, to sit with us in council in an association, or choose them to preach, in preference to our own? Ans. No.
"2. Is the soul and body of Jesus Christ, which suffered on the cross, properly and essentially God; and did his body eternally exist, and come down from Heaven, before his incarnation? Ans. No.
"3. What are the callings, gifts, and qualifications of a true gospel minister, and from whence doth he receive them?" This question was answered the next year as follows: "A true gospel minister is first called from a state of nature to a state of grace, which inspires the heart with a holy zeal and anxiety to win souls to Christ. 2nd. Called by the church, after discovering the scriptural gifts and qualifications, which are:
1st. A blameless life; 2nd. Aptitude to teach; 3d. Ability to teach; 4th. Soundness in the faith of the gospel; 5th. Established in the faith; or he must not be a novice, or a new convert, but sufficiently instructed
in the faith. See 1 Timothy 3:1-7, 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 1:5-9."
In 1814, the churches at Trace Creek and Trammels Creek having joined South Kentucky Association of Separate Baptists, the minorities of these bodies, which dissented from this action, were recognized by Russells Creek, as the legal churches, bearing these names.
In 1815, Luther Rice, agent of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, visited the Association, and was most cordially received. He was invited to preach a missionary sermon on Sunday; and before he left, donations to the amount of $114.50, were placed in his hands, for the benefit of foreign missions. A notice was ordered to be printed in the minutes of the Association to the effect, that the friends of missionary exertion had appointed to meet at Mt. Gilead, on Friday before the 4th Saturday in October, with the view of forming a missionary society. There was a manifest restlessness among the churches, in 1816. Liberty was dropped from the Association for having united with the Separate Baptists, Judah was reported dissolved, and Trace Creek was advised to dissolve, on account of its having become too weak to keep house. Several of the churches petitioned for more preaching, and Mt. Gilead, of which Isaac Hodgen was pastor, sent a request that the Association would "adopt the measure of appointing ministers to visit all our churches." "After deliberation, it was the opinion of the Association, that it would be more conducive to the glory of God and the benefit of the churches, to dispense with union meetings, as being too restricted, and adopt the following plan, viz: To engage all our preachers, ordained and licensed, to visit all the churches, in the course of the year." It was also, "Agreed to unite with the missionary societies in America, Europe, and Asia, to set apart the evening of the first Monday in every month in prayer to Almighty God, that he may crown, with success, every honest attempt to send the gospel to the ends of the earth."
It may be observed here, that this Association displayed, even while it was yet small and poor, a zeal, intelligence and enthusiasm in regard to foreign missions, unsurpassed by, and in advance of, any similar organization in the Mississippi Valley. This was, doubtless, due in a great measure, to the influence of
those eminent men of God, Isaac Hodgen, John Chandller, H.G. Waggoner and Johnson Graham.
In 1817, Query from Bethel: "Would it be right to commune with the Separate Baptists, who hold the equality of the Son of God with the Father, and have no Fellowship with those who do not? Ans. Yes, provided they prove the sincerity of their profession by coming out from those who deny the equality of the Son with the Father, and making satisfaction for any disorder they may have fallen into." It will be kept in remembrance, that this Association of Separate Baptists (South Kentucky) had never indorsed Unitarianism, as a body, but had tolerated its teaching by their brilliant and popular leader, John Bailey. "The system of circuit preaching" adopted in 1816, did not prove satisfactory, and it was how (1817) agreed to appoint a union meeting for each church in the Association to be held the ensuing year. Preachers were appointed to attend each of these union meetings.
In 1818, news was received from the Board of Foreign Missions, of the prosperity of foreign and domestic missions, "which, being good news from a far country, was like cold water to the thirsty soul." The Association advised the churches to make collections for the Board. A memorial was ordered to be sent to Congress, petitioning that body to remove certain obstructions to the christianizing and civilizing of the Indians.
From this period, till 1830, nothing of special interest occurred in the Association. Rock Spring and Mt. Vernon churches were received, in 1818. The former was dissolved the next year. In 1821, a small revival occurred, and 262 baptisms were reported. The same year, another fruitless attempt was made to unite the Regular (or United) and Separate Baptists of Russells Creek Association on the one part, and South Kentucky and Nolynn Associations, on the other. In 1822, it was decided to be not good order to invite any person not in the general union, to a seat in council, or to the Lord's Supper. The following year, Providence church was dropped from the Association for communing with the Separate Baptists. A query from Stewarts Creek, as to what part the Association, as a body, ought to act in the business of raising up ministers, and how it ought to treat and employ the few that now remain among us, was referred to the churches. It was agreed to appoint no more union meetings;
but, instead, to appoint an annual meeting, in May, for the preaching of the gospel. In 1827, received the newly constituted church at Columbia. Resolved that the names of members who left the Association before it closed, should not appear in the minutes. In 1828, the churches were advised to form tract societies, and especially to encourage the general Baptist Tract Society; and also to keep up prayer meetings.
It may, at first, appear a little strange that this Association so active in every good work, shared so lightly in the general revival of 1827-9. But when it is remembered that this great excitement, which prevailed to such a wonderful extent over a large portion of the State, was in a great measure an outburst of Campbellism, rather than a revival of a spiritual religion, and that it proved a blight rather than a blessing to a multitude of the churches, the pious christian will not marvel that God protected from its baleful influences, those churches which were most faithful to his cause. In 1828, the Association numbered 20 churches, aggregating 944 members. The following year 326 were added to the churches by baptism. That a portion of even this small number were baptized on Campbellite principles, may be gathered from the following resolution, adopted by the Association, in 1829:
"Resolved, that it is inexpedient, generally, for a minister of the gospel to hear experiences and baptize, usless it be in conjunction with, and by the concurrence of the church to which the candidate is to attach himself." This is the first intimation the records give of the existence of Campbellism within the bounds of this Association, although this gives sufficient evidence that its influences had been at work.
In 1830, the Association met at Pittmans Creek. John Steel, who had been appointed the previous year to preach the introductory sermon, was present; but as he had embraced the views of Alexander Campbell, he was not permitted to preach, and an introductory sermon was dispensed with. Resolutions were passed, recommending the churches to exclude all members, who, after admonition, should persist in discarding the principles upon which they were united; that they should neither invite nor permit any person, who was known to be hostile to these principles, to preach, either in their meeting-houses or private dwellings, and to mark such as caused division, contrary to the doctrine
they had learned, and avoid them. These resolutions, which have been sufficiently noticed, in the general history, very promptly severed the Campbellites from the churches. The loss to this Association, by this schism, was comparatively trifling. The year after the division (1831) the body numbered 22 churches, with 1135 members.
In 1831, a division occurred in Green River Association, and, the minority succeeding in making the impression that the majority had adopted the views of Mr. Campbell; Russells Creek Association passed the following: "Resolved, that this Association recognize them [the minority] and all those who continue to stand firm to the principles of the general union, as the Green River Association." The next year, Russells Creek Association discovered that she had made a mistake, and refused to recognize either party. But in 1833, the two parties having become reconciled, Green River Association was again admitted to correspondence.
In 1832, at its first meeting after the constitution of the Baptist State Convention, Russells Creek Association advised the churches to take into consideration the propriety of forming a society auxiliary to that organization, "for the purpose of promoting the preaching of the gospel." The next year, the Association requested the brethren who understood the object of the Convention, and were favorable thereto, on going home, to lay the matter before their churches, giving the necessary information; and the churches were most earnestly solicited to give their attention to this important subject, and to express their views, in their letters to the next Association. Most of the churches expressed their approval of the Convention, upon which the Association gave the following advice, in 1834: "The churches which are favorable to the Convention are advised to become auxiliary thereto, and raise funds for its objects; and those churches which lack information in regard to the designs of the Convention are advised to inform themselves, and give their views on the subject in their letters to the next Association." A revival visited the Association, in 1833, and prevailed two years, during which 485 were baptized, bringing the fraternity up to 23 churches with 1,515 members. In 1835, the Association abolished the practice of appointing meetings which had been known, at different periods, as quarterly meetings, union
meetings, and annual meetings, and substituted in their place, protracted meetings. In 1836, the Association appointed four protracted meetings, with preachers to attend them. Three preachers were usually appointed to attend each of these meetings, which generally continued from five to eight days.
The year 1837, marked an era in the history of this Association, as well as most others in the State. The Kentucky Baptist State Convention had been dissolved, and a meeting had been called to convene in Louisville the 20th of October, for the purpose of forming a general association. Russels Creek Association appointed, as messengers to this meeting, D. S., Colgan, Wm. M. Brown, Zech. Worley, M. W. Sherrill, T. J. Fisher, R. Ball and J. D. Winston. Of these, the venerable D. S. Colgan, of Owensboro, and M. W. Sherrill, of Louisville are still living (1885.) The Association had, the year before, advised the churches to contribute to the American and Foreign Bible society, and now it commends the China Mission society, and urges a wider circulation of the Baptist Banner. A most glorious revival pervaded the churches this year; 456 baptisms were reported to the Association, and the revival still continued. Indeed it continued, with only an occasional depression, for almost a score of years. In 1854, this Association, so long a small and feeble body, as to numbers, had increased so greatly that it numbered 29 churches, aggregating 3,041 members, notwithstanding a number of churches had been dismissed to go into other associations.
During this long period of prosperity, the Association was actively engaged in all benevolent enterprises of the denomination. It began so early, in the work of missions, and prosecuted it with such constancy and vigor, that the anti-mission schism, which so sorely rent the neighboring fraternities, from 1835 to 1843, had very little effect on it. Green River, Barren River, Stocktons Valley, Tates Creek and Drakes Creek, were all torn into factions, by Antinomianism, Two-Seedsism and Antimissionism, while Russells Creek not only sustained no loss, but enjoyed a high degree of prosperity, during the whole of this stormy period. In 1840, the letter from Mt. Gilead church contained the following language: "We do earnestly recommend to the Association, the adoption of some plan, or measure, by which a preached gospel would be more generally diffused among
the churches in our Association, and especially among the destitute churches. We wish not to be dictatorial, yet we believe you might refer this subject to the consideration of the churches, and, in their united wisdom, some plan or measure might be adopted, through the blessing of God, to edify and instruct the churches, and advance the cause of the Redeemer, among us." The Association took the subject under consideration, and, after laying down the principle, in the form of a preamble, that it is the duty of the churches "to increase their efforts to promote the cause of Christ, and to act upon the important principle of doing the greatest possible amount of good at the least possible expense," and passing some vigorous resolutions, appointed an executive committee, consisting of Z. Worley, John Scott, Aaron Harding, Robert Ball, and Wm. G. Anderson. The duty of this committee was that usually discharged by missionary boards. They were to employ one or more missionaries, collect money for their support, and direct their labors. Four meetings for each church, were appointed to be held the ensuing year, "for the purpose of awakening a deeper interest for the spread of the gospel throughout the world, and of adopting the most efficient measures to carry out the great commission." "Go Ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
The following transaction of business, in 1841, will give the best idea of the objects and enterprises of the Association:
"Resolved, that the churches of this Association be requested to report annually to this body on the following items:
"1. On the ministry. The name of the minister, the time he serves the church, and the compensations he receives for his services. "2. On benevolent efforts. The amount of money contributed, and the object specified to which each sum is appropriated. "3. On Sabbath schools. The number of teachers, of scholars, of volumes in the library, and the number of scholars who professed religion during the last year. "4. On religious periodicals. The kind and number taken. "5. On temperance. The number of members the society consists of, meetings held, lectures delivered, and general prospects. "6. On tracts. The number of pages distributed, and the success of such labors."
Under the auspices of this Association, the Green River Bible Society was organized, in 1836, and did efficient work, for a number of years. Russells Creek
Association attained the greatest numerical strength it has yet reached, about 1855. The next year Lynn Association was constituted on its north western border, by which it lost several churches. This loss had not been regained, when the war came on, which resulted in a further reduction of its membership, by the severance of its colored members from the churches. In 1861, it numbered 26 churches with 2,187 members. During the next ten years, it lost its colored members to the number of something more than 300. Its gain was greater than its loss; so that in 1871, it numbered 32 churches, with 2,349 members. During its session of this year, it expressed its sentiments on the subject of "alien immersion" as follows: "Resolved, that the Association does not consider any person baptized, unless he has been immersed in water, in the name of the Trinity, by the authority of a regularly organized Baptist church."
The actions of this body on the various benevolent enterprises of the denomination in the State have been similar to those of other liberal missionary bodies of the kind, and need not, therefore, be itemized here. The churches have had a pretty even course of prosperity, since the war. In 1880, the Association numbered 33 churches, aggregating 2,668 members. During 49 of the first 50 years of its existence, there were, according to its official reports, baptized for the fellowship of its churches 5,344 converts. Since 1854, the accessible records are too deficient to allow of giving exact numbers. But it is believed that a fair estimate of the whole number baptized into the fellowship of its churches, from its constitution, to 1880, would be about 8,547.
The churches of this fraternity have enjoyed the ministrations of a number of able and efficient preachers, and been blessed with the counsel and influence of many prom met citizens of the commonwealth. Of a number of these, brief sketches have been given elsewhere, and, as usual, a few names will be appended here.
Jonathan Paddox was among the earliest preachers of Russells Creek Association. He was a native of Pennsylvania, from
whence he moved to Kentucky, before it was a state, and settled in Bourbon county. Here he united with a Separate Baptist church called Huston, by which he was licensed to preach, in 1792. About the year 1800, he moved to what is now LaRue county, and united with South Fork church. Here he labored with the old pioneers, in laying the foundation of some of the early churches of that region. He assisted Allexander McDougal in gathering Nolin church, in 1803; and preached some years to the church of which he was a member. In 1814, he moved to Harrison county, Indiana, and settled near Corrydon. Two years later he returned to Kentucky, and took charge of South Fork church, which had been divided on the subject of slavery, under the ministry of Thomas Whitman, their former pastor. Under the care of good old "father Paddox," the church was soon restored to harmony. But the aged minister was now becoming too feeble to labor, and, about 1820, he returned to his children, in Indiana, and soon afterward went to his final Rest.
Mr. Paddox possessed very moderate preaching talent; but he was truly a good man, and much beloved, and he honored his Master and made a good impression on society.
Herbert G. Waggoner was among the most efficient laborers within the bounds of Russells Creek Association, for a period of nearly 30 years. It is much regretted that so few particulars of his life and labors have been preserved. He was probably a native of Virginia, but of this the author is not certain. He settled in Adair county, and became a member of Zion Church (which he long served as pastor) as early as 1805. He was an active and prominent member of Russells Creek Association, and frequently served that body as Moderator. He was called to his reward, in 1834, the same year that those other eminent soldiers of the cross, David Thurman, David L. Mansfield, David J. Kelley and James H. L. Moorman, went to join the general Assembly and Church of the first born.
Joseph Cogdill was among the pioneer preachers of Hart county. Very little is now known of him, except that he was a plain, humble man, who labored faithfully in the cause of Christ, and left behind him a good reputation. He appears to have succeeded Thomas Whitman, who went off with the Emancipationists, in 1808, in the pastoral care of Lynn-Camp
(now Knox Creek) church. In this church he was a minister, as late as 1818.
James Shipp was a young preacher of excellent gifts. He was licensed to preach, in Pittmans Creek church, in 1813, and soon afterwards ordained. He was appointed, in 1815, to write the circular letter for the next year. But before the time arrived for the performance of this duty, the Lord called him home.
Stanley Brown Walker, son of Richard Walker, a prominent citizen among the early settlers of Hardin county, was born in Virginia, Feb. 22, 1787, but was brought to Harden county, Kentucky, by his parents, when he was only a year old. Here he was brought up without ever having had the good fortune, as he expressed it, to see the inside of a school-house, till after he was 21 years of age. At an early age, he united with Otter Creek (now Rolling Fork) church, in what is now LaRue county, of which his parents were members. Here he was licensed to preach, about 1813. His gifts were meager, and he was esteemed principally for his piety and zeal. He labored, in his humble zealous way, within the bounds of Russells Creek Association, without being ordained, but not without usefulness, about ten years. In 1823, he moved to Perry county, Indiana, where he labored another ten years, among the feeble young churches of Little Pigeon Association. He then moved to Clark county, Illinois, where he closed his earthly career with a third ten years of service in his Master's Vineyard. He died Jan. 28, 1843. His son, William Walker, is a very acceptable preacher, in Coles county, Illinois.
William Busbridge was a preacher in Zion church in Adair county as early as 1812. To this church, and occasionally at other points, he preached acceptably some ten or twelve years. He preached the introductory sermon before Russells Creek Association at Brush Creek in 1828. But, about 1830, a painful bodily affliction so impaired his mind that he ceased from preaching, although he lived several years afterward.
Zechariah Worley was born and raised in Virginia, perhaps in Bedford county. His father, although a professed christian, was a distiller, and his son entered the still house, at the age of fifteen. Afterwards, however, the boy went to an academy, where he obtained a fair academic education. He
was preparing to enter Washington college, when meeting with J. M. Kelly, afterwards a valuable preacher in Trigg county Ky., who told him he had been a short time at that institution, and that the young men attending it were so drunken and boisterous, that to study there was impracticable, young Worley declined going to the college. In early life, he was set apart to the ministry, and soon displayed intelligent inclination to reform the abuses that had crept into the churches, and especially that of intemperance. His observations in his father's still house had given him a strong repugnance to the use of intoxicating drinks. In a little work, published just before his death, he draws the following picture of the period at which he began his ministry:
"A short time before the [temperance] reformation commenced, I attended a Baptist Association. At the close of the business of the first day, I went home with a rich old brother. There were many old ministers and delegates to the Association, who also went with this brother. When we entered the house, the first salutation was decanters of brandy and whisky, loaf sugar, nutmegs,mint, etc. By the time dinner was over, at the present time, they would all have been accused of being intoxicated, except about four of us young preachers, who refused to drink. The next day we learned that the same process had been carried on at every house in the neighborhood. At that time there was not an old minister in the Association, who would not drink his toddy. Many of them were men of talents and were well informed, for the times. At this Association, some eight or ten of us, young preachers, pledged ourselves that we would not preach a sermon, during the following Associational year, without saying something against drinking spirits, as a beverage; and that we would never vote for any man, to fill office, who made, or sold ardent spirits."
From this time, Mr. Worley was a zealous, consistent advocate of temperance, during a period, more than 50 years. After preaching a number of years in his native State, he moved to Green co., Ky., and united with Mt. Gilead Church, about 1835. He remained in this church about two years, and then took membership in Mt. Olivet. He wrote the circular letter of Russells Creek Association, in 1837, and was a messenger from that body to the convention that formed the General Association, in
October of that year. He was a member of Russells Creek Association, about eight years, and served it as clerk, from 1840 to 1842. About the latter date, he went farther South, and probably made his home, for a time, with his brother, who was also a preacher, in the northern part of Middle Tennessee. But he was never married, and was much inclined to ramble from one locality to another. He can hardly be said to have had any fixed residence for the last forty years of his life. He died in Western Kentucky, not far from the beginning of the year 1882.
Mr. Worley's talents, though respectable, were not extraordinary; nor was his influence ever very extensive. But he maintained an irreproachable religious character and was industrious in his holy calling. He early espoused the cause of missions, and gave his influence to all the benevolent enterprises of his denomination, during a long, active, and, we trust, not unfruitful ministry.
David Miller was born in Nelson Co. Ky., July 13, 1793. His father, Jacob Miller, was a native of Pennsylvania, and, it is believed, was of German extraction. He emigrated to Kentucky, in 1785, and settled in Nelson county. All his family were Baptists, as are most of his numerous posterity. The subject of this sketch professed religion and united with Otter Creek (now Rolling Fork church, in what is now LaRue county, in 1809. He was licensed to preach, in November, 1835. He was now in his 43rd year, and the development of his gifts was so slow, that he was not ordained till August, 1838, at which time he was solemnly set apart to the full work of the ministry, by Johnson Graham, D. S. Colgan, Horatio Chandler and John Miller. He was soon called to the care of Middle Creek church, in LaRue county, and Good Hope church, in Taylor county. To the former he preached 20 years, in which time 71 converts were baptized into its fellowship; the latter he served 19 years, and baptized for its membership over 100 converts. He preached to several other churches, during briefer periods. Of him G. H. Hicks, one of his co-laborers, says: "Brother Miller possessed only ordinary talents, but was blessed with extraordinary zeal and deep-toned piety. He was generally foremost in contributions to benevolent objects. He was an indefatigable laborer in the cause of his Master. After suffering severely
with dyspepsia, nearly twenty years, and from dropsy, about three years, he died of a violent attack of pneumonia, March 20, 1872. His faithful wife, with whom he had lived nearly 57 years, followed him to his final rest, the 7th of May, of the same year."
John Miller, a brother of the above, was born in the same county, Dec. 26, 1805. He received only a moderate common school education. He obtained hope in Christ during the revival of 1828, but being doubtful of the genuineness of his conversion, he did not make a public profession of religion, till the fall of 1829, when he was baptized into the fellowship of Otter Creek church, of which the family of his parents were members, by Johnson Graham. He was licensed to preach, Nov. 8, 1835. He at once commenced the exercise of his gift, and his progress was so satisfactory that he was ordained to the work of the ministry, on the 2nd of December, of the following year, Johnson Graham, Horatio Chandler and Wm. M. Brown, forming the presbytery. He was a man of fair talent, of excellent practical judgment, and of deep, earnest piety. Not far from the time of his ordination, he made the following entry in his private journal: "To Thee, O Lord, I look; for without thee, I can do nothing. Keep me humble, and make me holy, give me an understanding of thy Word. And oh, may my object be to preach Jesus, and not myself, that I may glorify thy name, and win souls to thee, the living God. These favors I ask for Jesus' sake, unto whose name be everlasting praises Amen." A delineation of his ministerial and christain character could not be better portrayed, than it is in this simple prayer. Every petition in it seems to have been literally answered.
Mr. Miller was, at different periods, pastor of the churches at Hardins Creek, in Washington county; Stewarts Creek, in Marion; Middle Creek, Rolling Fork and Hodgenville, in LaRue; Brush Creek, in Green; Friendship, in Taylor, and Union Band, in Nelson. He was instrumental in raising up Middle Creek and Union Band, and was a member of the latter, at the time of his death. He was a humble, pious christian, a good strong, plain preacher, a wise counselor, and an excellent disciplinarian; and doubtless, would have exerted a much more extended influence, but for the fact of his becoming a confirmed dyspeptic, in the early part of his ministry. He frequently
resigned the pastoral office, on account of ill health; but would resume that relation, as soon as his health was sufficiently improved. This will account for his having been pastor of so many churches. But with all his afflictions, during a period of about 20 years, God wrought a good work by him. He baptized over 350 converts.
When his health became so feeble that he could no longer labor in the Lord's vineyard, he greatly desired "to depart and be with Christ," and often prayed the Lord to take him home. The good Master, at last, granted his petition. On the 15th of July, 1864, his chastened spirit left the worn out tenement of clay, and went joyfully to the presence of God who gave it. Of his sons J. Tol. Miller is an acceptable preacher in Texas, and Russ Miller is a licensed preacher, in Hardin county.
Richard Parks Lewis was born in Washington Co., Ky., Jan. 28, 1825. He was of a numerous and influential Baptist family. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers in Washington county, and were active in improving and defending the State, in an early day, and no less active and influential in the cause of Christ.
The childhood of Richard P. Lewis was characterized by a mild, retiring disposition. He was fond of books, and made fair progress in learning; but he was much more fond of the beauties of nature. He had the appreciative eye of an artist; and the gentle, pensive spirit of a poet. He had little taste for company, or boyhood sports, and was much more pleased in silent communion with the wild, romantic scenery around his boyhood home, than with the conventionalities of society. He was naturally of a devotional temperament, and, in the 15th year of his age, professed religion, and was baptized into the fellowship of Mill Creek church, in Nelson county, by F. F. Seig. He was licensed to preach, August 20, 1842. His piety was constant and earnest, but he was so timid that he would probably never have undertaken to preach, but for the earnest persuasion of that eminently devoted man of God, A. W. LaRue. After he was licensed, he commenced exercising his gift publicly, and soon gave excellent promise of usefulness. This induced his father to send him to Georgetown College, which institution he entered, in September, 1842. "During his course at Georgetown," says Mr. LaRue, "the burden of his
thoughts and correspondence was the glory of God and the salvation of sinners." He was a great favorite at college, and his mind rapidly developed, dispelling his embarrassing timidity, and bringing out his latent energies, and the strong poetical fires of his genius. He graduated, in June, 1846, and, returning to the home of his parents, entered into the great work that now appeared to absorb his whole being. He was active, both in preaching, and inpromoting the intrest of Sabbath schools. "He intented to finish his studies, at Princeton, N. J., but God had designed him for another sphere." On the 27th of October, 1847, he was ordained to the ministry, by D. S. Colgan, Wm. R. Combs, and V. E. Kirtley, and immediately took charge of the churches at Columbia, in Adair county, and Mt. Gilead, in Green. He soon won the hearts of his people, and the work of the Lord prospered in his hands. But the brilliant career of this young disciple soon closed. On the 31st of August, 1849, he bade adieu to the scenes of toil and sorrow, and went to join the throng arrayed in white.
Softly and sweetly sleeps the youthful form;
Whose spirit chants eternal praise at home:
Daniel Self was an early preacher in Adair county. He was born in Culpeper co., Va., about 1785. Losing his father, in his infancy, he was carried to North Carolina, where he was raised up by a widowed mother. At the age of 15 years, he united with a Baptist church. He married and moved to Adair county, Ky., not far from 1810. He served as a soldier in the War of 1812-15. At the close of the war, he returned to his home in Kentucky, and some time afterwards, was liberated to preach. His education was very meager, indeed, but he now applied himself to improving it, so earnestly, that he finally acquired a fair stock of information, including some knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. He is said to have been warm and zealous in prayer and exhortation, but dull and prosy in his attempts to elucidate a text. He did not acquire much preaching ability, and, it is believed, was never pastor of a church; but he was regarded a good man, and he made a good impression on the people. About 1833, he moved to Logan county, where he died, in May, 1841. He was twice married, and raised fifteen children. John W. Self, his only son, by his second wife, is a very acceptable preacher, in Warren county.
Henry Mcdonald, D. D. was raised up to the ministry, and labored a number of years, within the bounds of Russells Creek Association. He is a native of Ireland, was raised by devout Catholic parents, and was educated with a view to the priesthood. Being averse to becoming a priest, he ran away from his parents and came to the United States. Making his way to Greensburg, Kentucky, he entered upon the study of law, under Hon. Aaron Harding. Under the preaching of B.T. Taylor, during an extensive revival at Greensburg, young McDonald professed conversion, about 1852, and was baptized into the fellowship of Greensburg church, by Mr. Taylor. He at once abandoned the study of law, and commenced the study of theology, under the directions of John Harding. He was ordained to the ministry, about 1854. After serving the church at Greensburg, some ten years, he accepted a call to Danville, where he ministered about twelve years. From thence he went to Covington, where he remained only a few months, when he accepted a call tothe church at Georgetown, where, in addition to his pastoral labors, he filled the chair of theology in Georgetown College. From Georgetown he was called to Richmond, Virginia, from whence he has recently gone to Georgia.
Dr. McDonald is a scholarly and polished pulpit orator. He possesses an affectionate and genial temperament, and has been much beloved, both by the people of his several charges, and the brotherhood in general. Kentucky has had few more popular preachers.
Moses Akin, a most singular, and, in some respects, a remarkably gifted man, was, for a short time, quite a popular and successful young preacher, in Russells Creek Association. He was raised up to the ministry, in old Brush Creek church, where he was ordained, in 1840. He was employed as missionary within the bounds of the Association, for a time, and soon became a popular and successful evangelist. His power over the masses was very remarkable. Multitudes of people flocked to hear him preach, and were fascinated by his crude, but wonderfully magnetic oratory. But his career, as an accredited minister of the gospel, was very brief. Defective as were his literary attainments, his social education is said to have been far worse. Mentally he was illy balanced, and much more so, morally. He had not preached long, before suspicions concerning
his morals became common, and after a few years, he was convicted of the sin of adultery, and promptly excluded from his church. During the excitement that prevailed at the beginning of the Civil War, he professed great penitence for his past sins, and was restored to church fellowship, and to the functions of the ministry. He was elected Chaplain in the Southern Army, and, not long afterwards, entered upon "a term of service" in the military prison at Camp Chase, Ohio. After the War, he continued to preach, for a short time, under the sanction of his church, and the ostensible approbation of the Association. But it soon appeared that he had added to his former vices, other immoralities. The little church of which he was a member, being under the control of his influence, refused to convict him, and was dropped from the fellowship of the Association. However, he continued to preach, without the approbation of the denomination, and succeeded in making many people believe that he was a good man. He continued to play the role of an evangelist, not only in his native State, but also in Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and Texas, and often with no small degree of success, until age and an excessive corpulency forced him to desist. He died at his home in Green county, in 1884. It is regretted that no particulars of the lives of a number of worthy ministers of this Association, are accessible. It would be esteemed a privilege to give some account of a number who have faithfully performed their tasks, and gone to their reward, as well as of some aged ministers who are still in the vineyard.Thomas Underwood, Stephen Gupton, and Larkin Sidebottom are among the oldest and most useful ministers now living in this old fraternity. There have been, and are, many prominent citizens, who have been eminent servants of Christ, and valuable members of the churches in this Association, who deserve a place in this history, but whose names must be omitted for want of specific information.
Stocktons Valley Association
Dr. Benedict dates the constitution of this fraternity, in 1804, and, as he is the highest and oldest authority on the subject, subsequent
writers have unhesitatingly followed him. Yet an appeal to the records of the body shows that he made a mistake of one year, and that the body was constituted in 1805. The mistake originated in this way: In 1804, Green River Association resolved to divide her territory into three parts, each to be occupied by a separate association. The churches of which Russells Creek Association was afterwards composed, occupied comparatively a small boundary. It was therefore, convenient for them to meet together and organize an independent association, the same fall, which they did. But the churches allotted to Stocktons Valley, were scattered over a very large territory, traversed by ranges of mountains and large rapid streams. It was prudent, therefore, to defer their meeting, till the following year, especially as they had just traveled a long distance to attend the meeting of the mother fraternity, and had enjoyed all the advantages the counsels of an association could give them.
The records of the first meeting of this Association are lost, but the minutes, of 1806, are preserved, and in the circular letter of that year, it is distinctly stated, that last year was "our first Association." The churches represented, in 1806, were Sinking Spring, in Fentress county, Tennessee; Clear Fork (formerly Stocktons Valley) in Clinton; Otter Creek and Beaver Creek, in Wayne; Brimstone (now Mt. Zion), Roaring River, and West Fork, in Overton, Tenn. Cumberland and Mill Creek, in Monroe; Caseys Creek, in Cumberland; and Blackburns Fork, Salt Lick, Mashecks Creek, (afterwards called Words Run), and Caney Fork, (since called Big Spring), the localities of which are unknown. These 14 churches aggregated 680 members.
The preachers belonging to the body, in 1806, were Isaac Denton, William Ray, Philip Mulky, Levi Rhoden, Martin Trapp John Mulky, and Lewis Ellison. The Association corresponded with Green River, Tates Creek, Russels Creek and Tennessee Associations, the last named being located in the State from which it derived its name. The two queries following were solved
1. "What is to be done with members who settle within the bounds of a church, having letters, and not joining? Ans. We advise the church, in such cases, to exhort them to their duty."
2. "If a person has been baptized by a minister in disorder, have we any right to receive such person, on such baptism? No."
The Association held its third session, at Mill Creek, in what is now Monroe county, in 1807. Isaac Denton preached the introductory sermon. John Mulky was re-elected Moderator, and William Wood Clerk. Eighteen churches reported 10 baptisms and 806 members. The churches at Middle Fork, Hopewell, Hickory Creek, and Collins River were received. The following year, Hopewell and Salt Lick were dismissed, and, in 1810, Sinking Creek and Martins Fork were received.
About this time, the churches in this Association were much disturbed by the Newlight enthusiasm. John and Philip Mulky, two of the most influential preachers in the Association, were carried away with that fanaticism. Brimstone and Martins Fork churches, together with the parties of Middle Ford, Sinking Creek, and Big Spring were excluded from the Association for adopting the Unitarian views and other fanatical sentiments of Barton W. Stone: so that, in 1810, the Association numbered only 16 churches, aggregating 416 members. This showed a loss of nearly half of its numercial strength. But, in the midst of these troubles, God sent a blessed refreshing from his presence. During a three years' revival, the Association was brought up in 1813, to 17 churches with 981 members. At this time, it had extended its territory so far southward, that the more southerly churches entered into a new fraternity, called Caseys Fork Association, all of whose churches were located in Tennessee. This reduced the northern fraternity, in 1816, to 12 churches, comprising only 630 members.
At the last named date, the subject of missions was brought before this Association, for the first time. It was introduced and disposed of, as follows: "Query from the committee: What would be most advisable on the subject of the missionary business? Ans. We think missionary societies, formed for that purpose, most expedient; and that the Association have nothing to do with it, in their body." The following year, Luther Rice visited the Association, and was invited to a seat in the body. Upon his representation of the objects and operations of the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, a correspondence with that organization was readily agreed to, and Wm. Wood was chosen to conduct such correspondence. During the same session, the subject of alien immersion was introduced and disposed of in the following language: "Query from Caseys
Fork church: What shall be done with persons suing for fellowship with us, upon the baptism of other denominations, and not complying with the order of the Baptists? Ans. We advise that such persons should be baptized in an orderly manner, agreeable to the order of the Baptist church."
From this period, till 1850, this Association varied but little, in members. The numbers gained by the preaching of the gospel, and those lost by various schisms, nearly balanced each other in 1821, Poplar Cove and Wolf River churches were received. In 1825, the Association now called South Concord, was constituted on the eastern border of Stockton's Valley, and, although most of the churches of which it was formed were dismissed from Cumberland River Association, it took something from the numerical strength of the fraternity now under consideration.
From the first introduction of the subject of systematic missionary operations in the Association, there has been a division of sentiment regarding it, that has been a constant source of annoyance, and has greatly retarded the progress of the churches. For a number of years, the missionary party seems to have been in the majority. In 1823, the circular letter was an earnest appeal to the churches to support their preachers. But the antimission element gradually increased, and became proportionately more determined in their opposition. When the question as to the propriety of supporting the Kentucky Baptist Convention came before the Association, in 1835, the answer was recorded as the 11th item of business, in the following words:
"I 1. This Association declares an unfellowship with the practice of the Baptist Convention and all other societies, moved by money, under the garb of religion." This action gave offense to several of the churches; to appease which, the following item, known in subsequent discussions, as the 6th article of the business of 1836, was recorded
"6. The Association reconsiders and rescinds the 11th article in the minutes of the last year, declaring non-fellowship with the Baptist State Convention &c., as having been untimely adopted. But a majority of the churches, having heretofore acted upon the subject, and having declared non-fellowship with the said State Convention and all the like institutions, founded upon, and
moved by money, under the garb of religion, this Association does now concur with said churches."
This action placed the Association in direct opposition to all benevolent societies, and numbered it with the Anti-missionary associations of the State. Instead of appeasing the Missionary element of the churches, it rather aggravated its discontent. Meanwhile, another element of discord was introduced in several churches of the body.
Andrew Nuckols, a somewhat prominent disciple of the notorious Daniel Parker, and a man of considerable ability and influence, had been preaching what was known as the Two-Seeds doctrine, within the bounds of the Association, and had won a party over to his views. William Cross and James Crouch, two respectable preachers of the Association, were among Mr. Nuckols' converts. In 1838, the Association announced in the minutes of its proceedings, that Mr. Cross had been excluded from the church at Seventy-six, and Mr. Crouch from Clear Fork. This resulted in the constitution of a small Association, called Bethlehem, of which Elders Cross and Crouch were the principle preachers. It comprised only four churches, at first, but afterwards increased to six, aggregating 77 members.
The missionary party in Stocktons Valley Association continued to grow more restless. In 1841, Renox Creek and Caseys Fork churches requested the Association to rescind the 6th article of the business of 1836. But instead of complying with the request, the body excluded the two churches from its fellowship. The next year, Skaggs Creek church sent up a similar request, and her petition shared a like fate. As soon as the vote on the question was announced, John and Jesse Savage two respectable young preachers, arose and withdrew from the Association. The advocates of missions had exhausted their resources, and, perhaps, their patience also, in a vain attempt to secure what they deemed their right to contribute to the cause of systematic benevolence, through the regular channels, and now they resolved to exercise the right of revolution. In 1843, the first item of the business of the Association was recorded in the following language: "Those parts of Skaggs Creek, Mill Creek, Mc. Farlands Creek and Cumberland churches, which claimed to be said churches, were dropped out of this Association for justifying the conduct of John and Jesse Savage, in abruptly withdrawing from the Association, last year, in violation of her
rule." The exclusion of Elder Jesse Stewart, from Roaring River church, and afterwards that of Elder R. K. Dick, was announced. The rupture was now becoming so serious that the Association deemed it expedient to pour a little oil on the troubled waters. This it proceeded to do, by making the following explanation of the famous 6th article: "It never was designed by this Association, to prohibit our brethren from disposing of their personal rights, in distributing for the support of the gospel, according to their own conscience; but to let the world know that we did not intend going into the missionary operation, in its present standing." The body also recorded the opinion, that it was "not expedient to attempt to correspond with adjacent sister associations, at this time, under the present circumstances."
The mollifying explanation, either came too late, or the mollifiers were too sparing of their oil. Those parts of churches which had been dropped from the Association, together with others which sympathized with them, met, by their messengers, at Beech Grove, in Monroe county, on the first Saturday in November, 1843, and constituted Freedom Association, of 6 churches, aggregating 216 members.
In 1844, Stocktons Valley Association discarded its policy of the previous year, in so far as to admit the correspondence of Green River and Original Barren River Associations, both comprised of that class of Anti-missionary Baptists, denominated, at that period, "Go-Betweens." The appellation was intended to convey the idea that they assumed a middle ground between the Missionary and Anti-nomian Baptists. Of the same class were South Concord, Panther Creek and some small fraternities, located in the mountain counties. From this period, Stocktons Valley held a better defined position, and enjoyed a more even and peaceful course, till 1860, when it had increased to 18 churches, with 1,019 members. It did not meet during the War. In 1865, a convention, representing 10 of its churches, met at Livingston Valley, in Overton county, Tennessee, and among other items of business, passed a resolution requiring such members of the churches as had espoused the cause of the rebellion, to confess their sin, as a condition of fellowship. The first regular meeting of the Association, after the War, was at Caney Branch, in Clinton county, in 1866. There were represented 18 churches, with 1,167 members. There were but
few colored people connected with these churches: hence instead of sustaining a loss during the War, the churches gained 148 members. From that time to the present the Association has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity. It is manifest, also, that there has been a decided improvement in the spirit and intelligence of the churches. Important questions of polity, that had been long supposed to be settled, have been reopened, and some of the former decisions reversed.
In 1873, one of the churches sent up a query as to whether "this Association fellowships the missionary institutions of the day?" The body declined to answer the question; but immediately issued a call for a council, to be composed of three ministers and three laymen from each of the associations with which it corresponded, with a like number from its own body, to decide upon this and some other questions that had, of late, begun to agitate the churches. The call was made on five associations, of which Stocktons Valley, South Concord and Hiawassee responded. The council met at Mt. Zion church, Overton co., Tenn., April 10, 1874. The subjects discussed were Alien Immersion, The Spread of the Gospel, The Support of the Ministry, and A Uniform System of Correspondence. The conclusions of the council, together with the arguments by which they were supported, were embodied in the report of a committee, which is a lengthy paper of very decided ability. It was decided that baptism is valid only when the subject is a believer, the administrator, one authorized by a Scriptural church, the element, water, the formula, that given in the Commission, and the action, immersion.
All the associations, represented in the council, were known as Anti-missionary bodies, and the arguments on the subject of spreading the gospel, were worded with much caution, but were unequivocally in favor of missions. The theory was, that the church is the only divinely appointed society that exists; and that it alone is authorized to send forth missionaries: hence all other societies for propagating the gospel are unwarranted by the Scriptures, and ought not, therefore, to be encouraged by christians.
On the subject of supporting the ministry, the council says: "We affirm that the ministers of the gospel are entitled to a comfortable support for themselves and families, from the
churches for which they labor." This proposition is very ably supported by scripture quotations, and arguments drawn from the Bible.
Under the last proposition, discussed by the council, that body takes occasion to express itself warmly in favor of education and temperance. On the latter subject it says: "Each church is, or ought to be, a temperance society, enforcing the discipline of the Bible against drunkenness, or the habitual use of intoxicating liquors. As citizens, we must submit to the laws of the land, but [we] deny the right of any legislative body to legalize traffic in it [intoxicating liquors], as God has forbidden it."
The influence of this meeting was decidedly salutary on Stocktons Valley Association. In 1875, it recorded the following: "We recommend to the churches the importance of Sabbath schools, and advise that one be organized in each church, and elsewhere, if deemed expedient." They also adopted measures, looking to the erection of "A high school or college." This was a great change in the polity of an association that had been regarded decidedly Anti-missionary. But the healthful progress of the body did not stop here. In 1877, something like a systematic home mission enterprise was inaugurated, which has been much blessed in building up the churches and in the conversion of sinners. The growth of the body has been quite rapid, since the War. In 1880, it numbered 28 churches, aggregating 1,703 members. During 65 of the first 75 years of the existence of this fraternity, there have been baptized into the fellowship of it churches, according to its official reports, 4,014, of which 1,660 have been baptized since 1865.
The churches of this Association are located principally in Monroe, Cumberland and Clinton counties, and the adjacent border of Tennessee. Mill Creek, near Tompkinsville, is its oldest church. Most, or all the other churches, of which it was originally constituted, were gathered during the great revival of 1800-3. Of its pioneer preachers, a sketch of the life of John Mulky has been given elsewhere.
Philip Mulky was one of the early preachers of the Association. He appears to have gathered the church, originally called Brimstone, which was a member of Green River Association, from 1802, till the constitution of Stocktons Valley, and
was under the care of Mr. Mulky, from its organization, till 1812. Mr. Mulky was a fair preacher, and appears to have been quite useful, for some years. But about the date last named, he, with Brimstone church, was dropped from the Association, for having joined the Newlights. The remnant of the church, it is believed, was afterwards restored to the Association, and is still a prosperous body, under the name of Mt. Zion.
Wm. Ray was a humble, good man, and was one of the first preachers raised up in Old South Kentucky Association, where he began to preach, as early as 1792. He afterwards gathered a church called, at first, Kettle Creek, which united with Green River Association, in 1801. The church appears to have gone into the constitution of Stocktons Valley, under the name of Caney Fork. Again, in 1801, it changed its name to Big Spring. In 1812, it split, most probably on the subject of Arianism, or Newlightism. But previous to this, Mr. Ray had moved to Tenessee, where he united with the Big Fork church, which belonged to Stocktons Valley. He preached the introductory sermon before that Association, in 1811, after which no more is heard of him.
William Grimsley was among the early preachers in Stocktons Valley. He was of German extraction, and was held in high esteem by his co-laborers. He was active and zealous, in connection with Isaac Denton and Lewis Ellison, in raising up the early churches in Stocktons Valley. Sometime after the year 1825, he moved to Illinois, where 'he labored in the ministry till the Master called him home.'
Lewis Ellison was in the constitution of Stocktons Valley Association, and was, for many years, one of the leading preachers in that fraternity. He was a member of Caseys Fork church in Cumberland county, for some years; but on Renox Creek's being constituted, near Burksville, he went into that church, about 1809. Of this famous old church, which is now called Salem, he continued a member, and the pastor, nearly thirty years. The time of his death has not been ascertained, but it is supposed to have occurred, about 1840. On the removal of John B. Longan from the country, Mr. Ellison was chosen moderator of the Association, and continued to fill that position, with the exception of one year, till 1833. After this, the venerable and honored servant of Jesus Christ was complimented
with the same office, in 1837. His popularity is evinced in that, notwithstanding he filled the moderator's chair so long, he was chosen to preach the introductory sermon before the body, at least nine times.
William Wood was probably the first Baptist that visited that beautiful region of country, lying around the present town of Albany in Clinton county. Before the country was settled, and while he was yet a youth, he came into the valley, and spent some time in hunting with the Indians. He afterwards settled in the Valley, and it is said, that it was through his persuasions that Isaac Denton moved to the new settlement. Mr. Wood was in the constitution of Stocktons Valley church, the first that was organized in what is now Clinton county, was a long time clerk of that body, and by it, was licensed to exercise a preaching gift, in July, 1803. Although a man of extraordinary intellect and superior acquirements, for that time, he does not appear to have deemed himself called to preach. He was chosen clerk of Stocktons Valley Association, at its constitution, and filled that position, except during one meeting, when he is supposed to have been absent, until he was succeeded by Rice Maxey, in 1836. After Mr. Maxey's defection, on the mission question, Mr. Wood was again elected to the position, in 1841, and served six successive years -- making a total of 36 years. He was also the Association's corresponding secretary, in its relation to the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions, as long as correspondence was kept up with that organization. Mr. Wood was also prominent in the affairs of State. While the present county of Clinton was part of Cumberland, he represented the latter in the lower branch of the Legislature, seven successive years, and in the Senate, sixteen years.
Isaac Denton was the first preacher that settled in Stocktons Valley, and well deserves to be called a father in the fraternity which bears its name. He was of French extraction, and was born in Caswell Co., N.C., Sept., 1768. At the age of 18 years, he moved with his parents to East Tennessee. Here he made a profession of religion and was baptized, in 1792. He was set apart to the ministry, not long after he united with the church, and spent some years in preaching among the churches of Holston Association. About 1798, he moved to Kentucky, and settled in what is now Clinton county. A few families had
preceded him to the romantic valley, among whom were Thomas Stockton, from whom the valley took its name, and George Smith and William Wood, who, together with some of Smith's family, were Baptists. Mr. Denton soon began to call the settlers together, and preach the gospel to them. The influence of the great revival reached the little settlement, in 1801. Several persons were converted, and, on the first day of April, 1802, a church was constituted, under the style of the Baptist church at Stockton's Valley. It united with Green River Association, in July of the same year, at which time it numbered 25 members. Within two or three years, the church changed its name to Clear Fork, by which style it is still known. Mr. Denton was called to the pastoral care of this church, two months after it was constituted, and continued to serve it as long as he had strength to fill the pastoral office. With the aid of Henry Cooper and Matthew Floyd, he gathered Beaver Creek church, in Wayne county -- perhaps the first gathered in that county -- and served it a number of years. At a later day, he served, at different periods, Renox Creek (now Salem) and Sulphur, in Cumberland county, and West Fork, in Tennessee. After laboring in the ministry more than fifty years, he died peacefully at his home, in Clinton county, Jan., 26, 1848.
Mr. Denton was a preacher of medium ability. His piety was constant and sincere; and he was zealous and industrious in his holy calling. He was constantly watchful of the interest of Christ's Kingdom, not only in his immediate charge, but also in his denomination at large. He read the religious transactions of his day, both at home and abroad.
Joseph C. Denton, son of the above, is now one of the oldest living ministers of Stocktons Valley Association. He was born and raised in what is now Clinton county. He professed religion under the ministry of his father, and united with Clear Fork church, in December, 1838. In 1842, he was put into the deaconship. In this capacity, he served the church, till 1850, when he was licensed to preach. He was ordained, in 1853, and succeeded to the pastorate, so long honored by his father. For some years past, his health has been so feeble that he has labored but little.
John B. Longan was probably the ablest of the early preachers in Stocktons Valley Association. In his boyhood, he came
with his parents from Virginia to Bourbon county, Kentucky. Here he received a common English education. He united with the church in early life. He had learned the art of brick laying, but soon after he found hope in Christ, he began to warn sinners to repent, with much zeal. He was soon regularly ordained to the ministry. Shortly after his marriage, he moved to Barren county, and settled near Glasgow. Here he remained but a short time, when he moved to the Cumberland river in what is now Monroe county. This was about 1810. He gave his membership to Cumberland church, on the opposite side of the river from his residence, and in Cumberland county. He was called to succeed Levi Rhoden in the pastoral care of this church, and was also called to the care of Mt. Pleasant in Barren county. To these churches, and to the people in a large area of country around and between them, he preached with acceptance and success about ten years. Up to this time, no such a preacher had labored in that region of country. In 1812, John Mulky was excluded from the Baptists for having joined the Newlights,and, the same year, Mr. Longan succeeded him as Moderator of Stocktons Valley Association. He held this position six years, and preached the introductory sermon before that body, on at least three occasions.
In 1821, he moved to Clay county, Missouri. Here he took a leading position among the ministers of the new State. J. M. Peck wrote of a visit he made, in company with Mr. Longan, to the Fishing River Association, in 1824. Speaking of the preaching on Sunday, he says: "He [Wm. Thorp] was followed by J. B. Longan, and, for effective preaching on such occasions, his equal had not then appeared in Missouri."
In this field, he labored faithfully until the Lord called him to his reward, about A.D. 1850. In his early ministry, Mr. Longan was a hyper-calvinist in doctrine, but soon so modified his views as to call on all men to repent. He had a strong, melodious voice, which he used with great fluency. He often wept freely while he plead with men to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved, and his preaching went to the hearts of sinners, with mighty power.
Kemp Scott was born in Washington county, Va., June 20, 1791. He was early left an orphan, and was raised by his grandfather, receiving a very limited education. In 1810, he emigrated
to Kentucky, and, marrying, in May of that year, settled in Barren county. In the following September, he was converted, and was baptized into the fellowship of Glovers Creek church, by Ralph Petty. He commenced exercising his gift, in 1815, and, having moved to Monroe county, was set apart for ordination by Cumberland church of which John B. Longan was pastor, and was ordained in December, 1820, by Hiram Casey, James Fears, and Robert Norvell. He was very active and zealous, and proportionately popular. He was pastor of at least five churches in Stocktons Valley and Green River Associations, during the brief period he remained in Kentucky. In October, 1824, he moved to Missouri, and settled in Cooper county. Here he united with a small church, called Mt. Pleasant, to which he preached nineteen years, leaving it with over 200 members. He remained in Cooper county, till 1846. During his stay there, he served, for different periods, twelve churches, and rode five years as missionary. At the last named date, he moved to Carroll county, and accepted the appointment of Missionary for North Grand River Association. Of this body he was Moderator six years. While living in Carroll county, he was pastor, at different times, of eleven churches. He was a strong advocate of sunday-schools, temperance societies, and other benevolent enterprises. It was estimated that, during his ministry, he baptized over 1,200 converts and aided in the constitution of 20 churches. He raised twelve children, all of whom became church-members, and one of them,at least, R.P. Scott, a minister. He died at his home in Carroll county, Mo., April 13, 1864.
William D. Sewell has been one of the most highly esteemed and useful preachers ever raised up in this old fraternity. In his recent death, the body has sustained a great loss. He was not only a good preacher but was, also, a wise and prudent counselor.
Mr. Sewell was born in East Tennessee, July 14, 1797. Moving westward in youth, he located, for a time, in what is now Clinton county, Kentucky. Here he professed conversion, and united with Clear Fork church, of which Isaac Denton was pastor, in 1820. Moving his membership to Sulphur church, in Cumberland county, he was licensed to preach, in 1830, and ordained, in 1835. About this time he took membership in Mt.
Zion church in Overton county, Tennessee, of which he was chosen pastor. To this church he ministered 46 years. He was a messenger to Stocktons Valley Association, almost every year, from 1828, to 1879, and was Moderator of the body, with the exception of a few years, from 1838 to 1871, when he asked to be excused, on account of declining health. He died, June 30, 1881.
Union Association, No. 1
Of this ancient and long extinct Association, very little is now known. A brief statement in Benedict's old history, a few references to it in old church records, and a few allusions to it in the minutes of adjacent fraternities comprise all the information that can now be obtained concerning its origin, course of conduct and dissolution. According to Benedict, it "was formed in the South-west part of this State, in 1806." Its territory lay west and south of that of Green River Association. It probably comprised most or all of the following churches, with, perhaps, some others, the names of which have not been ascertained: Hazle Creek, and Nelsons Creek, in Muhlenburg county; Beaver Dam, in Ohio county; Providence, Bays Fork, and Union, in Warren; Midway and Sandy Creek, in Butler; and Sulphur Spring, in Allen. Among the ministers who gathered these churches and served them as pastors, were Samuel Greathouse, John Hightower, Zech. Morris, Edward Turner, James Keel, and Benjamin Talbot. There were some things, either in its constitution, abstract of principles, or order of procedure, which caused the neighboring fraternities to withhold correspondence. Whether it was arminian in doctrine, on the one hand, or refused to endorse the terms of general union, on the other, is unknown; but it is certain that it was not in harmony with the neighboring associations.
In 1809, application was made for correspondence with Red River Association. But that fraternity declined, for several reasons, one of which was a want ofsimilarity of doctrine. Union Association soon began to suffer from discords among its own churches, arising, most probably, from this forced isolation
from its neighboring fraternities. About 1812, it was deemed expedient to dissolve the Union, which had proved to be no Union. But as the churches purposed to unite with the neighboring associations, they deemed it prudent to give such expression of their orthodoxy as would make them acceptable to these fraternities. This they seem to have done, in their associate capacity, and then to have immediately dissolved. The following year, Red River placed on its minutes, the following item: "The brothers who formerly composed the Union Association, heretofore advertised in our minutes as disorderly, have given satisfaction, and are now in our union."
Most of the churches which had composed Union Association had already united with the old Green River fraternity. In the division of that body, in 1812, they fell to the lot of Gasper River Association. In 1820, several of them went into the constitution of Drakes Creek Association. Of the principal ministers of Union Association something has been said elsewhere. ______________________
Red River Association
The origin of this fraternity has been explained in the general history. It is sufficient to repeat here, that the Cumberland Association, lying principally in Tennessee, at its meeting, in 1806, passed an order dividing its territory into two parts. "The mountainous tract of land called the Red River Ridge, which lies between the Red and Cumberland rivers, was agreed upon for a general line of division. The churches south and south-east of this ridge retained the name and constitution of the Cumberland Association, while those on the other side of it formed themselves into a new one, by the name of Red River." The churches allotted for the new fraternity, met, by their messengers, at Forts Meetinghouse, afterwards called Red River, located in Tennessee, near the Kentucky line, on the 15th of April, 1807, and there constituted "Red River Association of Baptists." Twelve churches were in the constitution, three of which were in Tennessee, the location of one (Wills Creek) is unknown, and eight were in Kentucky. The names of the churches, and their locations, as far as known, were as follows:
Red River and Half Pone, in Robertson county, (Term.); Cubb Creek, in Stewart county (Tenn.); Dry Creek, Muddy Fork of Little River and Mt. Pleasant of Little River, in Trigg county; Muddy River, in Logan; McFarlands Fork of Pond River, and West Fork of Red River, in Christian; Grave Creek, in Henderson; and Dry Fork of Eddy Creek, in Lyon. The number of members in these churches is not recorded; but the next year,nine other churches were received into the union, which gave the Association, in 1808, 21 churches, aggregating 550 members. The ordained preachers, who were in the constitution of the Association, as far as can be ascertained, were Josiah Horn, Dudley Williams, Jesse Brooks, Louis Moore, Job Hobbs, Robert Smith, and Fielding Wolf. William Aingell was a licentiate, and was clerk of the body, from its constitution, till he was suceeded by Sugg Fort, in 1821. Several other ministers were added to the Association, within a few years, the most efficient of whom was Reuben Ross. The body was very well supplied with preachers, and its increase was very rapid. In 1813, only six years after its constitution, it numbered 40 churches with 1,791 members.
The territory of the Association had now become so large that it was determined to divide it. The dividing line was to begin at the church on Spring Creek of the West Fork, and run "northwardly so as to include West Fork of Red River, Barren Spring, Goshen, Long Creek, Ebenezer and Center, with all the churches lying east and south of said line, which still remain the Red River Baptist Association." Elders Sugg Fort, Ashur Shelton, Jesse Ford, John Bobbitt and brother Anthony New were appointed "to help the lower district form themselves into an association, to be called Little River Baptist Association." During this meeting, messengers were appointed to the Tennessee Meeting of General Correspondence, and the sum of $10 was sent to the funds of that organization.
By the division of its territory, Red River Association was reduced, in 1814, to 19 churches with 1,001 members. But the churches were full of zeal, and were warmly animated by the spirit of missions; and the growth of the body was correspondingly rapid. The following paragraph from the pen of that pains-taking observer, T. N. Lyne, will show the animus of the Association, on the subject of missions, at that period:
"In the minutes of 1815, the following maybe found: 'Art. 17. A circular address from the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions of Philadelphia was presented, and read to the Association; whereupon, Resolved, that Elder Sugg Fort be appointed a committee to correspond with the aforesaid Board, forwarding annually a copy of our minutes, and requesting, in return, a copy of the proceedings of the said Board, for the further information of the ministers and people within the bounds of our Association.' In 1817, the Association gratefully acknowledged receipts from the corresponding Secretary of said Board; but called upon the churches to express their approbation or disapprobation; but, in 1821, upon the receipt of a circular, addressed to the Association, from some unassigned cause, it was 'Resolved to drop our correspondence with the Board.'"
The Association continued to prosper greatly, till 1822, when it numbered 30 churches, with 2,078 members. This is the largest aggregate membership the fraternity has ever attained. For the next three years, there was but small variation in its numbers. But there was an influence at work among its members, that was destined to greatly disturb its peace, weaken its powers, and diminish its numbers, if not ultimately to blot it out of existence.
As early as 1816, some of the older brethren began to manifest some dissatisfaction towards the younger ministers, on account of their preaching, that "the invitations of the gospel are to all to whom it is preached," and for calling on sinners to "repent and believe the gospel." This low muttering by a few superannuated brethren, amounted to little, till some ministers and others, chief of whom was Absalom Bainbridge, moved from the territory of Licking Association, and settled among the churches, about 1815. As soon as these men obtained standing in the churches of Red River Association, they began, with great zeal and captiousness, to advocate the leading principles of Antinomianism. Not only did a marked difference in doctrinal views become manifest among the ministers and churches, but a bitter party spirit was also speedily engendered. The circular letter of 1823, written in very obscure and metaphysical style, by Absalom Bainbridge, contains the following language: "That there is a covenant existing, entered into by the eternal Three in One, before the foundation of the world, we think is deducible
from what the second person in the Godhead engaged to do. 1st. He engaged to save all the Father gave him." Then representing those the Father gave him, as the bride of Christ, he continues: "The bride being considered a bankrupt, divine justice demands satisfaction at the hands of her husband; and justice always requires that punishment should be in exact proportion to crime. . . . As it is impossible that there should be any addition, or diminution of those who are given to Christ, and whose names were written in the Lamb's book of life: so, it is equally impossible that any of their crimes should not be charged on the Savior, or that he should suffer more or less than would exactly meet the claims of inexorable justice."
These vague speculations were preached constantly from the pulpit, and, too frequently, more in the spirit of defiance, than with the gentleness and meekness of the gospel. The Antinomian party was charmed and fascinated by them, and from them imbibed a sort of consecrated egotism, that made them vain, imperious and intolerant. The opposing party, on the other hand, were disgusted, and, it may be, took too little pains to conceal their contempt for the system of doctrine so mysterious, and pulpit administrations so hopelessly ineffective. It became evident that something must be done to allay the strife,or the parties could not live together in peace. The circular letter of Bethel Association, for 1826, gives the following account of the manner in which these difficulties were adjusted:
"This state of things continued to grow worse, until the year, 1824, when the Association proposed to the churches to meet in convention, and, in a brotherly and christian spirit, to discuss those doctrinal points, at issue between us. Accordingly, 24 churches sent their delegates, who met at Union M. H. in Logan county, Ky., on the 24th day of November, 1824. After being organized, the causes of grief were called for, and the only one exhibited was, 'The preaching of the atonement to be general or universal in its nature.' After discussing the subject, the convention, by a unanimous vote, resolved as follows: 'We agree, after all that has been said on the subject of the atonement, although some little difference of sentiments exist, to live together in peace and harmony, beaming and forbearing with each other.'
"When the convention thus determined to recommend to
the churches, to bury all their contentious weapons, and exercise brotherly love and christian forbearance, many rejoiced at the prospect of peace and harmony among our brethren, and in our churches. But alas! it was of short duration; for when the Association met, in 1825, on reading the letter, . . . it was found that 16 churches declared their determination, not to receive the advice of the Convention: nay, some of the letters breathed an uncharitable temper, in a greater degree, than had been witnessed on any former occasion. . . . In this state of things, it was proposed, (by the committee of arrangements,) 'That the Association divide itself into two associations, the upper to be called Red River, and the lower to be called --, giving each and every church, in each district, choice which association she will join. And further, if this plan should be adopted, we recommend the Association to advise the churches, that if any member or members should be dissatisfied, on conscientious sentiments of religion, to give them letters of dismission, to join any church in either Association.' These resolutions were adopted by the Association, and it was divided accordingly." In the completing of this arrangement, "the lower" or new Association was styled BETHEL, and has continued to the present time, one of the most prosperous fraternities of the kind in the State.
Red River was now, in 1826, reduced to 18 churches, with 829 members, while Bethel reported, the same year, 12 churches, with 1,018 members. But small as were its numbers, at that period, the old fraternity was larger then than it ever has been since. Its history, from that period, is one of decay and wasting. It not only held a virtually Antinomian system of doctrine; but it also declared against all the benevolent societies of the day. "In the minutes of 1827," says Mr. Lyne, "I read the following: '6th. The Association advises the churches composing this body not to invite thepreachers in Bethel Association to preach to them, or preachers or laity to sit with them in conference, or to commune with them.'" A number of the churches dissented from this advice, and the next year it was rescinded. "Rescinded on paper," continues Mr. Lyne, "but that it was rescinded very extensively in practice, the writer does not believe." "In 1831, the church at Spring Creek" continues the same contributor, "sent up a request that the Association
would be plain, relative to 'Sunday schools, tract, Bible, missionary, and Campbellism,' and the following was the answer: 'Resolved, that this Association are of opinion that the Kingdom of Christ, with its laws, ordinances and institutions, makes ample provisions for all things necessary to be attended to in a religious point of view; and that institutions of religion, aside from this, however plausible in appearance, or promising in effects, are not of divine appointment; but are antichristian and not of the kingdom of saints.'" A lengthy resolution, adopted the same year, acknowledges the prevalency of Parker's Two-Seeds doctrine, among the churches, and protests against the leading features of that heresy. But the reader will feel that the crowning point of absurdity was reached, by this body, in its circular letter of 1837, on the call and support of the ministry, from which the following is extracted: "Having shown, as we believe, that it is right and scriptural, both to give and receive, we would ask, on what principle, and for what purpose we are to give? Because God makes it our duty to minister of our carnal things unto those who minister unto us spiritual things. But we are not to give for the purpose of spreading the gospel, or having it more extensively circulated; because that belongs exclusively to God."
At that period the Association numbered 13 churches with 425 members. Since that, but little that would be of general interest has marked its course. It has continued steadfast in the doctrines which distinguish the "Regular Baptists" of the period, and has steadily declined in numbers. In 1880, it comprised 7 churches, aggregating only 118 members.
This body has been regarded, and treated by historians and statisticians, from the first, as a Tennessee Association, although at least two-thirds of its churches were located in Kentucky at the time of its constitution. For a period of nearly a score of years, it was a very prosperous and influential body, and from it have sprung, directly or indirectly, all that family of associations, which lie in Southern Kentucky, between the L. N. R. R. and the Tennessee river. But being led by a few erratic preachers, to adopt a heartless system of Antinomianism, and to reject the means God had afforded for building it up, it dwindled to insignificance, and is likely to utterly perish.
This fraternity was blessed in its early years with a good
supply of ministers, a number of whom were preachers of good ability and efficiency. But it drove most of them to other Associations, in connection with which, sketches of their lives and labors will be more appropriately given. Something has been said of a number of the early preachers of this body.
William Lowe, a very eccentric man, although a member of no church, after he came to the West, was one of the earliest and most active preachers within the bounds of old Red River Association. An aged citizen of Simpson county communicated the following sketch of this singular man, some fifteen years ago:
He was born in Virginia, Feb. 17, 1756. In early childhood he was taken by his parents to Orange county, North Carolina, where he was raised up. At the age of 20, he enlisted in the Colonial Army and served a term in the War of Independence. He then apprenticed himself to a wheel wright. On the 21st of May, 1778, he was married to Margaret Fair. He was a recklessly wicked youth; but was under conviction of sin, at the time of his marriage. His wife, also, very soon fell under deep conviction, and the bridal chamber became a house of mourning. Having no Bible of their own, they borrowed one, and gave themselves to reading God's Word, and to prayer. The wife was first to find peace. She immediately united with a Baptist church. After a time, Mr. Lowe united with the Methodists. Six years later, he moved to "the Indian-land" in South Carolina. Here he joined the Baptists, and was set apart to the ministry. He preached only a few months when he was excluded for heresy. After this he joined the Dunkers; but left them in less than a year, after which he never belonged to any church. In the Spring of 1796, he moved to Sumner county, Tennessee, and, in October of the same year, having previously opened a trace across the Ridge, he settled in what is now Simpson county, Ky., and became the first resident in that district. Here he spent the remainder of his life. Being a man of warm benevolence, of great energy and perseverance, and, withal, a very skilful mechanic, he was very useful to the future settlers of the county. He manufactured the first axe, the first plow, the first spinning wheel, and the first mill (for making hommony) that were made within the present limits of Simpson county. He also preached the first sermon and married the first couple (James Butler and Charity Lowe) in that county.
He was very eccentric, and was generally supposed to be crazy; but he maintained an unimpeachable moral character, and devoted his energies, with great activity, principally to the good of others, and was held in high esteem by his neighbors. As soon as the people began to settle around him, he began to preach to them with much zeal, going from house to house, warning and entreat sinners, with many tears. He baptized no one, and gathered no church, but he sowed the seeds of gospel truth in a virgin soil, and watered them withhis own tears, and the "great Day" will reveal whatever of good he accomplished. He became very corpulent in his old age, but still continued to preach; and when he became too helpless to stand, he would sit in a chair and exhort the people. He died of dropsy of the heart, March 9, 1835. Among his last words were these: "If this is death, it is not so bad as I expected."
John Benbrook was one of the early preachers of Red River Association. He was a native of North Carolina, and was raised up on Pedee river, where he was baptized by Daniel Gould, and commenced preaching, at an early age. After his marriage to Lucy Caton, he moved to Kentucky, and settled in the south part of what is now Simpson county, about 1806. Here, at first, he united with Drakes Creek church, but afterwards, raised up Lake Spring Church, of which he became the pastor, and to which he ministered, as long as he preached in Kentucky.
Mr. Benbrook had but a meager education, but he possessed a strong native intellect, was very familiar with the Bible, and was an excellent speaker. At one time he held a lengthy debate with Daniel Parker, on the Two-Seeds doctrine, of which Mr. Parker was the formulator, if not the author. In this debate, Mr. Benbrook combated the dogma with such clearness and force, that it tended greatly to check the progress of that miserable speculation, in Red River Association. He was much admired as a speaker, and was very popular in his church. But unfortunately he got to distilling whisky as a means of supporting his family, and soon got to indulging in the too free use of it. The church at Lake Spring attempt to exercise discipline over him, but his popularity was such, that a majority of the church sustained him. He informed the minority, that he could have them excluded, for inveighing against their pastor, but he
preferred they should take letters and join a neighboring church, called New Salem, which they did, to the number of about twelve. But the habit of drinking to excess grew on him, till he fell into public disgrace. In 1826, he moved to Columbia, Tennessee. Here he reformed his life, was restored to the fellowship of his brethren, and was called to the care of Columbia church, where he ministered till his death, which occurred about 1832.
[J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 2, 1886; reprint 1984, pp. 192-234. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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