[Drakes Creek Association - pp. 330-335; Concord Association - pp. 335-347; Red Bird Association, No. 1 - pp. 347-349; Boones Creek Association - pp. 349-354]
Drakes Creek Association
[p. 330 ]
At its annual meeting, at Union church in Warren county, in 1820, Gasper River Association agreed to divide its territory by a line running from Russellville, along the direct road to Bowling Green, and thence to Honakers Ferry, on Green river. The churches south of that line were to form a new association. These churches were thirteen in number, and their names were as follows: Baysfork, Salem, Union, Sulphur Spring, Trammels Fork, Middle Fork, Lick Fork, Mt. Zion, Bethany, Ivy, New Hope, Ebenezer, (afterwards called Bethpier) and New Bethel. The preachers belonging to them were Samuel Greathouse, Lee Allen, William Dorris, Zach. Morris, Hugh Hagan, Anderson Darnall and Chris. Harris. The churches met on the 6th of October, 1820, and formed Drakes Creek Association.
This Fraternity began its mission, with bright prospects. Some of its churches were the oldest in the Green river country; some of its preachers were men of ability and experience, and it had a fine field to cultivate. But it was unfortunate from
the beginning. Salem, Ivy and New Bethel churches were dismissed to join other associations. Baysfork, one of the oldest and largest churches in the body, was soon rent by faction, and ultimately destroyed by a drunken and disorderly pastor. In 1826, two of its ministers, Lee Allen and Anderson Darnall, were excluded for adultery, and, two years later, Samuel Greathouse was cut off for drunkenness and falsehood. Meanwhile the venerable Chris. Harris had gone to his final reward. These and other untoward circumstances reduced the Association from thirteen churches, aggregating 686 members, at the time of its constitution, to thirteen churches with 476 members, twelve years later. But now the Lord was pleased to visit the cold and distressed churches with the first revival they enjoyed, after the constitution of the Association. The meeting of the body at New Salem, in Simpson county, in 1833, was an occasion of great rejoicing. The great cholera epidemic, which had filled the whole land with terror and mourning, during the preceding two years, had passed away; God’s mercies had followed his judgments, and fifteen churches reported 329 baptisms, with an aggregate membership of 969. From this period, the Association enjoyed a good degree of prosperity, till 1839, when it reported nineteen churches with 1,325 members. This is the largest membership it has ever attained.
During this period of prosperity, the ministry of the fraternity was very weak; and, under its guidance, the Association laid a bad foundation for future building. In 1832, it advised "the churches and members thereof to abstain from joining temperance, Bible, tract and missionary societies and the Sunday School Union: Yet," it added, "if a neighborhood chooses to have a Sunday school kept up, unconnected with the American Sunday School Union, we think such ought to be tolerated." In 1835, the body advised the churches to have no correspondence with the Kentucky Baptist Convention. This advice was given in accordance with the decision of a majority of the churches, to which the subject appears to have been referred the previous year. The advice was not uniformly followed, and in 1838, a resolution to the following purport, was adopted: "That, in future, we will act up to the decision of the majority of the churches, in 1835; and that we will, in future, hold no correspondence with the Baptist State Convention, either
directly or indirectly." This resolution was not very timely, as the Convention referred to had been dissolved two years before. But this was not the only association that committed the same blunder, during that period of excitement on the subject of missions.
With equal awkwardness and absurdity, the Association had dropped correspondence with the neighboring fraternities. It discontinued fraternal relations with Red River Association, in 1824, because that body had called a convention for the purpose of adjusting some difficulties which existed among its churches. This correspondence was afterwards restored; but fraternal relations were withdrawn from Gasper River Association and withheld from that of Bethel. In 1834, correspondence with Green River Association was suspended, because that body corresponded with Bethel and Gasper River associations. This was followed by a withdrawal of the fraternal relations from Barren River Association, in 1839. This isolation from the neighboring fraternities, soon gendered internal strife and ultimate division.
In 1839, O. H. Morrow, from Bethel Association, visited Bethel church, which was a member of Drake's Creek Association, and, on invitation of the pastor, J. L. Hickman, aided in the administration of the Lord's Supper. When the Association met, in the fall of the same year, charges were preferred against Bethel and Trammels Fork churches, for retaining J. L. Hickman, as pastor and moderator, after he had violated "the express will and wish of this Association, and the churches thereof," by inviting a minister of Bethel Association, with which Drake's Creek Association was not in correspondence, to aid in the administration of the Lord's Supper. The Association advised that these churches report to the next annual meeting of the body, if they have desisted from all fraternal intercourse with those organizations, or members thereof, with which this Association is not in correspondence; "otherwise," it adds, "they will stand excluded from our communion." Bethel and Trammel's Fork churches rejected this advice, and, together with Rocky Spring church, formed an organization, which claimed to be the legitimate Drake's Creek Association. This claim was acknowledged by a council composed of messengers from some of the churches of Barren River and Liberty
associations, and by those fraternities themselves, at their succeeding meetings. The little organization assumed the name of Bays Fork Association, under which name its history will be given, in its proper place.
When Drake's Creek Association met, at New Bethel, in Sumner county, Tenn. in 1840, it excluded Rocky Spring and Bethel churches from its fellowship, and recognized the minority at Trammel's Fork, which was equivalent to excluding the majority. This relieved the Association from all the elements of discord, which had hitherto given it so much annoyance.
From this period, the Association began to decline. It had become Anti-nomian in theory, and Anti-missionary, both in theory and practice. Fearing that the designation "Baptist," by which it had hitherto been known, might not express its present creed with sufficient explicitness to satisfy its "Regular Baptist" correspondents, it amended its title, in 1841, so that it read. -- "Drake's Creek Baptist Association, united upon the doctrine of Predestination and Election." After wearing this rather clumsy title, more than thirty years, it resumed its original name. Its printed Abstract of Principles is similar to those held by other Baptist associations; but its ministers and churches are understood to deny the ressurrection of the body. It has continued to decline, till its numbers are insignificant. In 1879, it comprised 13 churches, aggregating 273 members. During 50 of the first 60 years of its existence, there has been baptized for the fellowship of its churches, 1,530 converts. Of these, only 470 have been baptized during the 29 years of which we have statistics, since the split, in 1840.
Robert Norvell was among the early preachers of this Association. He was born in Albemarl county, Va., Feb. 14, 1770. Here he grew to manhood, receiving the mere elements of a common school education. Fighting, swearing and dancing were the amusements of his youth, and, at one time, he was badly cut with a knife. In his 31st year, he was married to Sally, daughter of James Murry, and settled in Buckingham county. In 1805, he was awakened to a sense of his guilt and condemnation, under the preaching of Leonard Ballou. After several months of agonizing remorse, prayer, and repentance, he obtained hope in the Savior of sinners, united with Round Oak church, and was baptized by Mr. Ballou. He soon began to
exercise in public prayer and exhortation, and was much impressed with the duty of preaching the gospel. Feeling incompetent to this great work, he left his farm, unsold, and moved to Middle Tennessee, with the hope of wearing off the impression. Here he suppressed his convictions of duty, some four or five years. But, one day, a drunken man said to him: "You began to preach in Virginia; why did you quit? If you had kept on you might have shined as a star." He felt this as a withering rebuke. He was also much impressed by a strange dream, and was finally impelled to take up the cross again, and commence exhorting his neighbors torepent. He was ordained to the ministry, at Testament church, in Smith county, by William Roark, Levi Roark and Hiram Casey. Soon after his ordination he went to Illinois; but, not being pleased with the country, returned to Tennessee, and settled in Sumner county, very near the Kentucky line, in 1820. He was called to the care of Caney Fork, New Hope, New Bethel and Gallatin churches. These he continued to serve, till admonished by the feebleness of extreme old age, to resign his charges. He died at about the age of 100 years. He was a moderate preacher; but a man of excellent Christian character, and was much esteemed by his brethren. Meradith Hodges, Wm. W. Ausbrooks and Josiah Ashford were raised up to the ministry under his pastoral labors, and became preachers in Drakes Creek Association. In 1826, he succeeded Christopher Harris as Moderator of Drakes Creek Association, and served in that capacity, at different times, 14 years.
Eli Bryant was a member of New Salem church, in Simpson county, and was ordained to the ministry, as early as 1840. As a preacher, he was below mediocrity. But he was a citizen of high respectability, and a Christian of unimpeachable piety. His brethren held him in high esteem, and honored him with the moderatorship of Drakes Creek Association, about 12 years. He was called to his reward, not far from 1866.
William W. Ausbrooks has been the most prominent preacher in this body, for a score of years past. He was licensed to preach, at Caney Fork church, in Sumner county, Tenn., about 1840, and was ordained as early as 1842. The following year, he preached the introductory sermon before Drakes Creek Association. In 1852, he was chosen Moderator of that body,
and, with the exception of a few years, has filled that position till the present time.
Of a number of other preachers, who have labored in this fraternity, no particulars, worth recording, have been received. __________________
This most prosperous fraternity was constituted at Whites Run, in what is now Carroll county, on the 28th of September, 1821. Silas M. Noel preached an introductory sermon, on the occasion, from Revelation 22:17. Thomas Craig was chosen Moderator, and John H. Morris, clerk. The following eight churches, all of which, except Emmaus and Long Ridge, which had been newly constituted, had belonged to Long Run. Association, were in the constitution: Drennons Ridge, McCools Bottom (now Ghent), Twins (now New Liberty), Long Ridge, Whites Run, Hunters Bottom, Hopewell and Emmaus. Twins, McCools Bottom, and Whites Run had gone from Long Run to Franklin Association, and thence into the constitution of Concord. Drennons Ridge was the oldest church in the fraternity, and McCools Bottom, the next oldest. Of these, something has been said elsewhere.
Twins was by far the largest and most influential church in the new Association. Speaking of its origin, William Hickman says: "In those days I went down and visited my friends on Eagle Creek, and baptized a number there. Soon after that, a large anal respectable church arose there, and Bro. John Scott moved among them, and has long been their pastor." It was constituted of 30 members, by John Price and John Davis, June 23, 1801. John Scott served the church about 25 years, and left it, with 213 members. Cornelius Duval, B. F. Kenney and Hugh Montgomery served the church, in turn, till 1838, when Lewis D. Alexander accepted its pastoral charge. This eminent servant of Christ ministered to it till his death, in 1863 -- a period of 25 years. During this time, 746 were baptized for its fellowship. Since that period, it has changed pastors frequently, and has not been so prosperous as formerly. It is located in the northern part of Owen county, in the village of New Liberty.
Whites Run is located seven miles north of Ghent, in Carroll county. It is probable that John Scott, or John Price served it, in its early years. Lewis D. Alexander was its pastor, at a later period.
Long Ridge was located one mile north of the present site of Owenton, in Owen county. It was constituted by Isaac Malin, John Scott and Isaac Foster, July 29, 1820. Cornelius Duval was the first pastor named on its records. After him, B.F. Kenney and Andrew Suitor served it. The latter was succeeded in 1838 by Elijah Threlkeld, who served it with great acceptance, the remainder of his life. In 1840, it split on the subject of missions and formed two churches of the same name. The Anti-missionary church still worships at the old location. The Missionary church moved some two miles north to the village of Harrisburg, a few years past. Hopewell is located in Henry county, and has long been a member of Sulphur Fork Association. Hunters Bottom was located on the Ohio river, near the line which now divides Carroll and Trimble counties. It was long since dissolved.
Emmnaus was located in the northern part of Owen county, and, for many years was a prosperous and influential church. It was dissolved in 1853.
The ministers in the constitution of this Association, were John Scott, of Twins church, Isaac Malin and James Baxter, of Drennons Ridge, Joshua Morris of McCools Bottom, John Wallace of Hunters Bottom, and William Morgan of Emmaus.
The eight churches of which the association was constituted aggregated 619 members. At its first anniversary, Cane Run and Corn Creek churches were received by letters from Long Run Association. In 1823, Clay Lick, a new church was received, and in 1825, Sharon, Greenups Fork and Providence were admitted to fellowship. The latter was in Trimble county, Greenups Fork in Owen, and Sharon, which has since been dissolved, was in Carroll. In 1826 the body numbered twelve churches, with 840 members. But Sulphur Fork Association was formed that year, and Corn Creek church was dismissed for its membership.
Up to the year 1829, no business was introduced into the Association, beyond the routine of regulating correspondence,
receiving and dismissing churches, and making such arrangements as were necessary for the regulating of a deliberative body. But this year, its attention was called to the importance of distributing the holy Scriptures among the people, and a resolution was adopted, recommending the organization of Bible societies. During this and the following year, the churches were confused and annoyed by the introduction of Campbellism among them, insomuch that they asked the advice of the Assosociation on the subject. That body, at its meeting, in 1830, answered this petition as follows:This body sustained a very small loss by the Campbellite schism, and even to the present time, the Campbellites have obtained but a feeble foot-hold on its territory.
"From a request of the majority of the churches composing this Association, expressed in their letters, and some of them directly requesting the Association to devise a proper course to be pursued by them towards those modern teachers of theology, commonly called Campbellites, we offer the following:
1st. We believe the churches should not invite them to preach in their meeting houses. 2d. That we should not invite them into our houses to preach, nor in any way bid them God speed, nor their heretical doctrine. We advise you, brethren, to be particularly on your guard. When they are talking about the Spirit we believe they only mean the written word; and when they speak of regeneration, they only mean immersion in water.”
In 1831, Ten Mile Association was constituted on the northeastern border of Concord, reducing the latter to 11 churches, aggregating only 798 members. This was a small advance in ten years. But during the next ten years, there was a constant growth in the churches, and in 1841, the body numbered 14 churches with 1,433 members. During this period, there was a manifest presence of two parties in the body. The circular letters, written by the moreintelligent members of the body, urged the duty of supporting the ministry, and in engaging in the work of the Lord. This was made especially prominent in the lengthy and very able circular, written by Cyrus Wingate, in 1833, and in that by the same writer, in 1841. On the other hand, there was no mention of any effort to relieve the overburdened ministry, or to attempt to extend the Kingdom of Christ, in the business proceedings of the body. This dead lock
continued till 1840. At this date, the Association made its first effort to supply the people on its territory with preaching, by appointing ten protracted meetings, to be held during the ensuing year, and nominating preachers to conduct them, without, however, making any provision for compensating the ministers, or even advising the churches to do so. The results were not very satisfactory; the number of baptisms during the ensuing year, was less than an average, and considerable agitation pervaded the churches, in consequence of this "missionary scheme."
In 1838, William C. Buck, General Agent for the General Association of Kentucky Baptists, visited the churches of Concord Association, for the purpose of inducing them to support their pastors. Hitherto these churches had publicly thanked their pastors, at the close of their pastoral term, for long continued and faithful services, rendered "without money and without price." Mr. Buck succeeded in persuading the churches at White's Run, McCools Bottom, New Liberty, Emmaus, Long Ridge, Owenton and Greenups Fork to pay their pastors each about $100 a year for monthly services. This gave to each pastor, engaged for all his time $400 a year -- a very fair salary for that period. This was an innovation on the former practice of the churches, and met with stern opposition. The preachers who received salaries, were reproached by the opposers, as "hirelings" and "money hunters." Paying pastors was classed with "missionary schemes," and several of the churches were divided into violently opposing parties, on the subject. In 1841, Long Ridge, Cane Run, and perhaps some other churches, split, and formed, each, a Missionary and an Anti-Missionary church. This division was a great blessing to the fraternity; for, although it did not entirely free the churches from the Anti- Missionary leaven, some traces of which remain in some of them to the present day, it gave the Missionary party so decided a preponderance that it could act with freedom, and carry its measures, without violent opposition. The loss in numbers, by the Anti-mission schism, was trifling, and was far more than compensated by a most gracious revival which pervaded the churches during the ensuing year, adding to their membership, 1,022 by baptism.
In 1742 , the Association adopted its first resolution in
favor of Georgetown College, and advised young men to seek an education in its halls. The terms of general union, entered into by the Baptists of Kentucky, in 1801, was ordered to be appended to the minutes of this session. From this time collections were occasionally taken up for Indian missions, during the sessions of the body; and, in 1845, an attempt was made to put a missionary within the bounds of the association. A "central committee" was appointed, to which the churches were advised to report their desire concerning the employment of a missionary and what sum each would contribute to his support. This laudable enterprise failed; or, at least, the committee made no report to the Association, and no further attempt was made in this direction, for several years.
In 1848, correspondence was opened with the General Association, and a treasurer appointed to receive the contributions of the churches, and forward them to the Executive Board of that body. This management, by which it was hoped the destitution in the territory of Concord Association would be supplied, did not meet the anticipations of that body. It, therefore, resolved, in 1851, to make another attempt to do its own work, without, however, withholding its aid and sympathy from the General Association. The spirit of the body seems to have been much enlarged at this session, as evinced by the adoption of the following resolutions:
"Resolved, That the cause of missions and the Bible, at home and abroad, the cause of education and of religious periodical literature and reading, demand more of the sympathy, support and prayers of the churches composing this Association.
"Resolved, That we recommend to our brethern, the Western Recorder and the Bible Advocate, as worthy their patronage.
"Resolved, That, after the first sermon on to-morrow, a contribution be taken up to aid the General Association and Bible cause."
A convention, to be composed of messengers from the churches, was called to meet at New Liberty to devise means of putting a missionary in the home field; and a committee was appointed to lay the matter before the churches. The convention appointed a committee of three, to whom was intrusted the
duty of employing a missionary. The committee secured the services of Archer Smith. The labors of the missionary were much blessed. At the next meeting of the Association, it was greeted with the first missionary report, ever offered for its adoption. The missionary had delivered 290 sermons and exhortations, and received into the churches about 150 persons, of whom 124 were received by baptism. He was continued in the field another year, and, in 1853, reported 372 sermons and exhortations, and 215 baptisms. From that period to the present, the Association has been practically a missionary body, acting, indeed, upon various plans, but constantly endeavoring to advance the cause of the blessed Redeemer.
It has been observed that the growth of this fraternity, during the first eleven years of its existence, was very slow, and that, during the next decade, itenjoyed a moderate progress. The remarkable revival which prevailed among its churches, in 1842, increased its numbers to fifteen churches, aggregating 2,439 members. From that time, till 1860, its growth was moderate. At the beginning of the civil War, it numbered twenty-one churches with 3,939 members, and, after the close of the War, in 1865, it numbered seventeen churches with 3,027 members. Since the War, it has increased very rapidly. In 1880, it comprised thirty-three churches with 4,299 members, and, in 1882, thirty-two churches aggregating 3,969 members, the decrease during the two intervening years, having resulted from the dismission of several churches, to go into the constitution of Owen Association. From its constitution in 1821, to 1882, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 10,384 converts.
Among the pioneer preachers in the territory of this Association, in addition to those who have been mentioned, were John Reese and Benjamin Lambert.
John Reese was among the early settlers on Eagle Creek., and is supposed to have gathered Mountain Island church, on the eastern border of what is now Owen county, as early as 1802. He ministered in this church a few years, and then moved to Indiana, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Benjamin Lambert succeeded John Reese as pastor of Mountain Island church, as early as 1813 -- perhaps several years earlier. About the last named date, he established a preaching
place near Muscle Shoals on Eagle creek. Here he gathered a church, which he constituted, with the aid of John Scott and John Searcy, Oct. 11, 1817. To this congregation, which took the name of Muscle Shoals, and to the church at Mountain Island, he continued to minister till 1820. At that date, he followed his predecessor to Indiana, where he labored in the ministry till the Lord called him home. Mountain Island church was finally absorbed by that of Muscle Shoals, and the later has continued a large and flourishing body, to the present time.
Joshua L. Morris was probably the first preacher that settled within the present limits of Carroll county. He aided in gathering the first church in that region, and became its first pastor. This church was located at the mouth of Kentucky river, and Mr. Morris was aided in constituting it, on the 5th of May, 1800, by William Hickman. It was at first called Port William, afterwards, McCools Bottom, and finally took the name Ghent, from the village in which it is now located. Mr. Morris served the church about three years, and then gave place to the more gifted John Scott. The time of his death has not been ascertained. Some of his posterity still live among those of his successor, in that region of the State.
William Morgan moved to what is now Owen county, in 1809, and gave his membership to Twins church. The following year, that church recorded this item: — “The church having taken into consideration the situation of Elder Morgan in moving from a distance amongst us, and wishing to remove any difficulty that maybe in his way, with respect to ministerial duty, declares she heartily approves of and accepts his services as a minister, and hopes he will act freely with our other ministering brethren.” In 1823, he was dismissed from Twins, and united with Emmaus church. At the same time, he accepted an invitation to preach once a month at Twins. He remained a minister in Emmaus church, till 1837. He was, by this time, advanced in life, and probably ceased from active labor, although he lived a number of years afterwards. He appears to have been active and useful in the ministry.
James Baxter was born in Washington county, Tenn., September 17, 1787. While yet a child, he came with his parents to Kentucky, and settled near Mill Creek, the first church
organized in what is now Monroe county. Here, in the 17th year of his age, he professed hope in Christ, and was baptized by John Mulky. Having afterward moved to Henry county, he was licensed to preach by Drennons Ridge church, in 1822, by which church, also he was ordained to the ministry in 1824. In 1827, he left the State, but returning, about 1835, he settled in Owen county, and united with Greenup Fork church. The remainder of his life was spent in preaching the gospel in this region. He was a preacher of very moderate gifts, but a man of deep humility and constant piety. He fought a good fight during a period of more than fifty years, and then went to receive his crown on the 31st of August, 1857.
Elijah Threlkeld was greatly esteemed, both for his earnest, practical preaching, and his eminently godly walk. He was born in Scott county, Ky., August 1, 1797. He was brought up on a farm, and received a limited common school education. In the 19th year of his age, he was led to Christ, under the ministry of William Hickman, by whom he was baptized for the fellowship of McConnells Run church. He was married to Ruth Mothershead, March 2, 1819. This amiable wife died after a few years, leaving him two children. In 1821 he moved to Owen county, where he united with Long Ridge church.
In 1824, he was ordained to the deaconship, and after filling this position about ten years, was licensed to preach, in January, 1834. In April, 1837, he was ordained to the ministry, by L.D. Alexander, Archer Smith, and John Scott, and, in May of the following year, was called to the care of Long Ridge church. To this congregation he ministered, during the remainder of his earthlylife. He was also pastor of Emmaus, Macedonia and Pleasant Ridge churches, for longer or shorter periods. He died of pneumonia, Jan. 22, 1861.
As a preacher, Mr. Threlkeld was below mediocrity; but his personal influence more than compensated for the deficiency in his gifts. He was twice married — the second time to Margaret Hearn, by whom he raised eleven children. Ten of his children are known to have become Baptists.
John Searcy, a good old preacher in Concord Association, was born in South Carolina, March 17, 1762. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. After the close of the war, he
moved to Kentucky, and settled in Woodford county. Here he was a soldier in the Indian wars, till the savages were driven from the country. He united with Clear Creek church, by which congregation he was licensed to preach. He moved to Owen county, before Concord Association was constituted, and was laborious in building up the early churches in that fraternity. It is not known that he was pastor of any church, or that he was ever ordained. He died November 14, 1848, in the 87th year of his age.
Cornelius Duval was regarded one of the best preachers in Concord Association, in his generation. He was a minister in Greenups Fork church, as early as 1822, and pastor at Long Ridge, a year earlier. In 1829, he went into the constitution of the church at Owenton, and was pastor of that congregation about twelve years. He was also pastor of Muscle Shoals, and perhaps other churches. He ceased his labors in this region about 1800. Whether he was called home at this period, or sought another field of labor, has not been ascertained.
Andrew Suitor was a young preacher of good gifts. He was in the constitution of Long Ridge church, in 1820. In 1824 he was ordained a deacon. After serving in that capacity ten years, he was licensed to preach in January, 1834. His gifts were so satisfactory that in the following October, his church invited him to preach to it once a month. In November of the same year, he was ordained to the ministry, by B. F. Kenney, C. Duval, Jas Baxter, and R. H. Shipp. In April, 1835, he was called to the care of Long Ridge church. He also served Greenups Fork, and perhaps other churches. But he had only fairly begun a career which promised great usefulness, when the Lord was pleased to call him from the field of labor to the land of rest. He departed this life October 9, 1838.
Hugh Montgomery was licensed to preach, at Emmaus church, in Owen county, about 1839, and was ordained, as early as 1833. In 1835, he moved his membership to Twins church, and was immediately called to its pastoral charge. He continued in this relation, till 1838, when he was succeeded by the more zealous and popular L.D. Alexander. In 1840, he took a letter ofdismission, and joined Long Ridge church of Particular Baptists. After that, he was among the ministers of Licking Association, till about 1849. His gifts were moderate, and his
ministry appears not to have been very fruitful. He sustained a good religious character, however, as far as is known.
R. H. Shipp was licensed to preach at Greenups Fork, in 1834, and was ordained by that church, about 1839. Little is known of his brief labors. He died about a year after he was ordained.
William D. Ball was born in Fauquier county, Virginia, in 1799. Losing his parents in early childhood, he was adopted by his aunt, a Mrs. Chilton, who gave him such an education as the common schools of her neighborhood could impart. He professed faith in Christ, and was baptized, at about the age of 17. In 1822, he emigrated to Kentucky, and settled in Henry county. Here he united with Cane Run church. After serving that organization, as a deacon, some years, he was licensed to preach, in 1832. In 1835, he was ordained to the ministry, by Hugh Montgomery and Isaac Malin. During the early years of his ministry, he was very active and zealous, and exhibited especial earnestness in exhorting and persuading sinners to repent. But during the contest on the subject of missions, he identified himself with the opposition, and, in November, 1841, he and 24 others drew off from the church, and formed what was styled Cane Run church of Regular Baptists. This church united with a small fraternity, known as Mt. Pleasant Association. After this, Mr. Ball’s ministry was unfruitful. He went to give an account of his stewardship, not far from 1850.
Elisha Cobb, son of Samuel Cobb, was born in South Carolina, Feb. 19, 1794. When he was about a year old, his parents moved to what is now Owen county, Kentucky. Here he grew up to manhood, in the new settlement, with barely a sufficient knowledge of letters to enable him to read and write. Although his parents were pious Baptists, he was much more familiar with the arts of gambling and the language of profanity, than with books. But the pious teaching and example of his parents were not lost on him. About the 22d year of his age, he was led to Christ, under the ministry of Benjamin Lambert, by whom he was baptized, into the fellowship of an arm of Mountain Island church, located at Muscle Shoals on Eagle Creek. On the 11th of October, 1817, this arm became an independent organization, under the style of Muscle Shoals church. By this congregation, Mr. Cobb was licensed to preach, in 1838, having been profitably
exercising in exhortation for some time previous. He was ordained to the ministry, in May, 1839, and called to the pastoral care of Muscle Shoals church, in November of the same year. To this congregation he ministered, about 15 years, with unusual popularity and usefulness. He was, at different periods, monthly preacher for the churches at Greenups Fork,Mount Hebron, Pleasant View and Harmony, in Owen county; Grassy Run and Dry Ridge, in Grant; Crooked Creek, in Pendleton, and Hartwood, in Bourbon. He was eminent for his well tempered zeal and cheerful piety. His gifts, though not especially brilliant, were of the most useful kind. Perhaps no minister has been more beloved, or more useful, in the field in which he labored. In September, 1854, he was attacked with dropsy of the heart, which ended his earthly career, on the 4th of the following December. He died in the full triumph of faith.
Mr. Cobb was twice married, and raised (all by his first wife) three daughters and three sons, all of whom became members of Muscle Shoals church, of which his youngest son, William, is now pastor.
Asa Cobb, a brother of the above, was born in what is now Owen county, Ky., May 22, 1799. At about the age of eighteen years, he obtained hope in Christ, and was baptized by Benjamin Lambert, for the fellowship of Muscle Shoals church. He was a faithful and useful church member, and was accustomed to exercise in public prayer, till 1839, when he was put into the deaconship. In 1843, he was liberated to exercise his gift, and invited to preach once a month to the church of which he was a member, In October of the following year, he was ordained to the ministry, by L.D. Alexander, Elijah Threlkeld and Elisha Cobb. Although his gifts were not equal to those of his brother, he was an acceptable preacher. During his brief ministry, he served the churches at Crooked creek and Ravens creek, in Pendleton county; Long Lick, in Scott, and Hartwood, in Bourbon. He enjoyed a good degree of success, both in edifying the churches and in leading sinners to the cross. He died of cholera, Aug. 28, 1852. Of his six children, five are known to have become Baptists.
Francis B. McDonald was a very prominent and successful minister in Concord Association, during a period of about
ten years. He was a licensed preacher at Stamping Ground, in Scott county, in 1839, and was ordained at that church in 1841. The next year, he moved to Carroll county, and gave his membership to Sharon church. He soon became very popular among the churches, and had many more invitations to pastoral charges than he was able to accept. He was also very successful in protracted meetings. Unfortunately, while he is still affectionately remembered by many who were led to Christ under his ministry, few particulars of his life and labors have been preserved. He finished his course, not far from 1852. Paschal Hickman Todd is probably the oldest living minister, except J. E. Duval, in Concord Association. He is a grandson of the famous William Hickman, Sr., and was named for his mother’s brother, who fell in the battle of the river Raisin, in 1812. Mr. Todd was licensed to preach, by the church, atOwenton, as early as 1837; and was ordained, in 1841. With the exception of a brief period, during which he labored as missionary in the city of Louisville, he has spent his time within the bounds of Concord Association. His gift of exhortation is very superior, and has rendered him a very valuable workman.
James E. Kenney is another aged minister in this fraternity. He is a brother of the more widely known B. F. Kenney, long a prominent preacher in Elkhorn Association, and more recently, of Missouri. He united with Twins church, by letter, in 1831. In 1843, he was chosen a deacon, in 1854, was licensed to preach, and was ordained to the ministry, in 1856. Although his preaching gifts are not regarded of a high order, he has been very useful in his sacred calling. His cheerful piety, his frank and warm-hearted temper, and his extraordinary social qualities render him a universal favorite, and have given him great influence over the masses, where he is known. With propriety it may be said of him: He is a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith, and much people have been added to the Lord through his ministry.
Clark M. Riley is among the elderly ministers of this body. He was baptized for the fellowship of Twins church, in March, 1842, and was licensed to preach, in May, 1845. In November, 1852, he was ordained to the ministry, by B. F. Kenney, L. D. Alexander, E. Threlkeld and P. H. Todd.
He has been an indefatigable laborer, and has been eminently successful, both as a pastor and an evangelist.
Louis H. Salin, the widely known "converted Jew," was raised up to the ministry, and still resides within the bounds of this fraternity. He is the son of Henry B. Salin, a Jewish Rabbi, and was born in the kingdom of Bavaria, in Germany, July 2, 1829. He attended school in his native country, twelve years, and, having become interested on the subject of Christianity, came to America while a youth, and engaged in mercantile pursuits, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He afterwards came to Owen county, Ky. After much investigation of the subject of Christianity, he sought and obtained hope in Jesus, and was baptized for the fellowship of Long Ridge church, in June, 1852. He was licensed to preach early in November, 1854, and ordained in March, 1857. His early pastoral charges were Mt. Pleasant and Greenups Fork churches, to both of which he ministered twenty-two years. Various other churches have enjoyed his pastoral ministrations, and he has performed much labor as an evangelist.
Among the active ministers of this fraternity, at the present time (1885), are John W. Waldrop, William Cobb, G. W. Wheatley, L. S. Chilton, R. H. Alexander, J. A. Head and J. W. Wheatley, besides a number of zealous young men.
Red Bird Association, No. 1
This small fraternity was located in Clay and some of the adjoining counties. Messengers ‘from four churches met at the house of William Morris, in Clay county, on the 16th of November, 1822, to consider the propriety of constituting an association, of the churches located in Goose Creek valley. The enterprise was deemed expedient, and, in the fall of the following year, messengers from five churches, met at Middle Fork meeting house, in Perry county, and constituted an association, to which they gave the name of Red Bird. The name was derived from a small stream, which rises at the base of Pine Mountain, and flows westerly into Goose Creek, the most southerly tributary of Kentucky river. The churches of which
the fraternity was organized, were South Fork and (it is believed) Red Bird, in Clay county; Quick Sand and Middle Fork in Perry, and Mt. Gilead, in Estill. South Fork, Mt. Gilead and Middle Fork had been dismissed from North District Association. The other two had probably been unassociated, until now. The five churches aggregated 165 members.
The pioneer preachers of this association, and of this region of country, were George W. Baker, John Gilbert, William Cockrill, Thomas White, and Joseph Ambrose. Excepting the last named, they were very plain, illiterate men; and the results of their labors indicate that they were either unskillful and inefficient, in building up the cause of the Redeemer, or that they had very inferior building materials.
For a few years, the Association enjoyed some degree of prosperity, and, in 1826, it numbered 12 churches, aggregating 309 members. But these were the largest numbers it ever attained. The churches neglected to represent themselves in the association, and the body gradually diminished. Meanwhile, it became Antinomian in doctrine, and Antimission in polity. In 1850, a majority of the churches, being discouraged, formally withdrew from the body, and subsequently united with South Fork Association. The remaining four churches nominally kept up the associational connection, till about 1859, when the fraternity was formally dissolved.
John Gilbert was remarkable for his great longevity. He was born in 1958, and served as a scout and soldier in the Revolutionary War. At what time he came to Kentucky is not known; but he was a resident in Clay county, and a member of North District Association, in 1822. He was in the constitution of Red Bird Association, of which he was frequently the Moderator. After having been in the ministry more than 60 years, he died at his residence in Clay county, March 11, 1868, aged 110 years.
George W. Baker was an early settler in the eastern part of Estill county. Here he appears to have raised up a church called Mt. Gilead, which he represented in North District Association, as early as 1813. With this church, he went into the constitution of Red Bird Association, in 1823. Of this body, he was the first Moderator and the preacher of the first introductory sermon. He was much the most conspicuous
member of the body, for two or three years, after which his name disappears from the records, and we hear no more of him.
Boones Creek Association This body was constituted of four churches, at Mt. Gilead meeting house, in Fayette county, on the 28th of May, 1823. The churches were Mt. Gilead, Boones Creek and Boggs Fork, in Fayette county, and Hickman, in Jessamine county. Boones Creek and Mt. Gilead had been dismissed from Elkhorn Association, the other two, from Tates Creek. At the next meeting of the body, which was at Mt. Gilead, in September of the same year, G. G. Boone was reelected Moderator, and B. W. Riley, Clerk. Mt. Union, Providence and Hinds Creek churches were received. The following year, Lower Bethel and Mt. Moriah churches were added to the Association: so that, at its first anniversary meeting, which convened at Boones Creek, in September, 1824, it numbered 9 churches, aggregating 760 members. During the next six years, it received into fellowship the churches at Nicholasville, Friendship, Mt. Zion and Liberty. Meanwhile, Campbellism, which began to be developed about the time this Association was constituted, made very rapid progress among the churches, and, under the auspices of this "easy system of converting sinners," 1,149 were baptized within the bounds of the fraternity, within five years after its first anniversary. Of this number, 869 were immersed during the associational year endding, September, 1828. Most or all of the latter number were baptized, according to Mr. Campbell’s teaching, "for the remission of sins." This gave the Association a majority of Camp bellites, as was sufficiently evinced by the adoption of the following resolution, in 1828:
"Resolved, That we, the churches of Jesus Christ, believing the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and the only rule of faith and obedience, given by the great Head of the churches, for their government, do agree to meet on the 3d Saturday, Lord's Day and Monday in September of each year, for the worship of God, and on such occasions,
voluntarily communicate the state of religion among us, by letter and messengers."
The Association advised the churches, each to abolish its present constitution, and adopt in lieu thereof, the foregoing resolution. In 1829, the Association numbered 13 churches, aggregating 1,800 members. This is the largest aggregate membership the fraternity has ever attained. The following year, theseparation between the Baptists and the Campbellites began, and, as the figures will show, only a remnant was saved to the Baptists. The Association was reduced, in 1836, to 7 churches, aggregating only 412 members.
After this schism, the Association assumed the attitude of a Missionary body, and, from year to year, expressed its approval of the benevolent enterprises of the denomination, urging the churches to contribute to their support. In 1838, its churches were visited by a revival, which brought its aggregate membership up to 501. But during the Anti-missionary schism, it was reduced, in 1840, to an aggregate membership of 420. The next year, another revival began, and, within three years, the aggregate membership increased to 832. From this period, to 1869, the fraternity varied but little. Since the close of the Civil War, it has manifested commendable enterprise in its various benevolent operations, especially in its associational missions. From 1870, to the present time, it has enjoyed a good degree of prosperity. In 1877, it numbered 17 churches with 1,284 members, in. 1880; 14 churches with 1,060 members, and, in 1882, 13 churches with 1,034 members. During 56 of the first 60 years of its existence, there were baptized into the fellowship of its churches, 3,738 converts.
Two of the churches of this Association, Providence and Boones Creek, are among the oldest in the State. Some account of their early history has been given elsewhere. The fraternity has suffered from a scarcity of ministers, during most of its history. Only two preachers, G. G. Boone and B. W. Riley, were in its constitution, and it has seldom or never had enough, at any one time, to supply its churches.
George G. Boone was in the constitution of Boones Creek Association, and was the first Moderator of that body. He was first a member of Boones Creek church, by which he was set apart to the ministry, and was ordained by Jeremiah Vardeman
and Ambrose Bourne, on the 2d Saturday in March, 1815. Soon after his ordination, he moved his membership to Mt. Gilead church, in Fayette county. He was a preacher of good ability, and was quite active in the ministry, for a number of years. At different times, he was pastor of Providence, Boones Creek and other churches. But, according to tradition, he acquired the habit of indulging too freely in strong drink, by which he lost his popularity. In 1830, he became identified with the Campbellites. Whether he continued to preach afterwards, or not, the author has no means of knowing.
Benjamin W. Riley was also in the constitution of Boones Creek Association, was the first clerk of that body, and preached before it, the first introductory sermon. After preaching here some four or five years, he moved to Missouri, where he connected himself with one of the churches in Fishing River Association.
Richard Morton, one of the early preachers of this fraternity, was received into Providence church, in Clark county by experience and baptism, in April, 181 I. The following year, he went into Boggs Fork church in Fayette county, and was very soon afterward put into the ministry. In 1816, he preached the introductory sermon before Tates Creek Association. In September of the following year, he accepted the pastoral care of Boones Creek church, and, was called to preach once a month to Providence church. He was a good man and a fair preacher; but his health was delicate, and he was taken away in early life. He was called to his final reward in 1827.
William Morton was a brother of the above, and was baptized into the fellowship of the same church, during the same year. He also was in of Boggs Fork church. He afterwards returned to Providence, where he was licensed to preach in 1819, and the same year was invited to preach at Tates Creek church, in Madison county.
In 1822, he united with Bethlehem church, in Elkhorn Association, where he preached about five years. He was the first preacher of his region of the State to embrace the teachings of Mr. Campbell, and when the division between the Baptists and Campbellites took place in 1830, he identified himself with the latter.
Buford E. Allen was one of the most useful and active preachers that have labored among the churches of this fraternity. He was born in 1801, and in early life united with Boggs Fork church [it is believed], and on the union of that organization with that of Boones Creek, in 1840, he became a member of the latter. He was ordained to the ministry in January, 1842, and assumed the pastoral care of Boones Creek church the following March.
To this congregation, he ministered to the close of his earthly life.
In the same year that he was ordained, he was called to the care of Providence church, in Clark county, which he served at different periods, about 13 years. Besides these, he served the churches at Bryants Station, in Fayette county, Lulbegrud, in Montgomery, and perhaps others. He was a sound, practical preacher, rather than a brilliant one, and was a judicious and successful pastor. About a score of years was allotted to him, in the Masters harvest, during which he labored faithfully and effectually. He was summoned to give an account of his stewardship, Dec. 9, 1861.
Thornton Isaiah Wills was a native of Clark county, Kentucky, and was born in 1809. He acquired a moderate common school education. In his youth, he united with the Methodists, among whom he preached about four years. But becoming dissatisfied with some of the doctrines and usages of thatdenomination, he sought and obtained membership among the Baptists about 1848. He first joined Dry Fork church, and was baptized by Nathan Edmonson.
Here he was set apart to the ministry according to Baptist usage. In 1850, he gathered Ephesus church, near his home in Clark county. To this congregation, he ministered about 15 years, building it up to a membership of over 140. From Ephesus, he was called to the care of Mt. Olivet church, in the same county. Here he labored a number of years with similar success. He was then called to Kidville and recalled to Ephesus, which churches he was serving when attacked by his last illness. In addition to the discharge of his pastoral duties, he labored much among the destitute along the mountain borders. For this work few men were better fitted. He possessed a remarkably cheerful temperament, strong powers of endurance
and a warm zeal for the salvation of souls. He was not regarded a brilliant speaker, yet he was an acceptable preacher and a good exhorter, and his labors were much blessed. His abundant labors kept him almost constantly from home, leaving to the care of his excellent wife, a family of several children. This burden the good woman bore cheerfully for a long time. But finally she began to feel that it was too heavy. Accordingly, on the return of her husband from one of his long preaching tours, she said to him:
"Mr. Wills, you have now been away from home these many years, until our family has grown large, and the burthren of caring for it has become too heavy for me. I think you ought to stay at home and help me raise the children." "I will do just as you wish,” replied the husband. His consent to remain at home, merely on the ground that his wife wished it, gave her uneasiness. It seemed to make her responsible for his neglecting the call of God to preach the gospel. That night she could not sleep. The next night she lay awake till after midnight. She could bear the responsibility no longer. Waking her husband, she said:
"Mr. Wills, take those old saddle-bags, and go out to your preaching, or the Lord will kill me." "I will do just as you wish," he replied. She then quietly fell asleep. When the time of his appointment approached, he took the "old saddlebags" and went into his field of labor. His pious wife never again opposed his preaching, and he filled up the measure of his days in the active service of his Master. In August, 1872, the Lord bade him come up higher.
James R. Graves, long the distinguished editor of the Tennessee Baptist, author of several popular books, and one of the first pulpit orators and polemics of the country, was raised up to the ministry in one of the churches of Boone Creek Association. He is of French extraction, is descended from aHuguenot family, and was born in Chester, Vermont, April 10, 1820. At the age of 15 years, he was baptized into the fellowship of North Springfield Baptist church, in his native State. At the age of 19, he was elected Principal of Kingsville Academy, in Ohio, where he remained two years. In 1841, he took charge of Clear Creek academy, near Nicholasville, Ky. He united with Mt. Freedom church, the same year, and was soon
afterwards licensed to preach. In 1844, he was ordained to the ministry, by Ryland T. Dillard and others. During the four years he spent in Kentucky, he applied himself to teaching six hours, and studying 14 hours, each day, and consequently preached but little. Early in 1845, he was married to a Miss Spencer, and, in July of the same year, located as a teacher, in Nashville, Tenn. In the fall of the same year, he took charge of what is now Central church, in that city. In 1846, he became editor of the Tennessee Baptist, which he published in Nashville, till the Civil War caused its suspension. Since the War, he has continued its publication, in Memphis, Tenn., where he now resides. His industry, energy, and activity are almost matchless, and his capabilities for labor are scarcely equaled. Although living in another State, he has labored much in southern Kentucky, and no other man has exercised so great an influence over the churches of that region.
For sketches of other ministers in this association, no data is at hand. ====================
[J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume 2, 1886; reprint 1984, pp. 330-354. -- jrd]
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