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John Whitaker
Early KY Baptist Minister

      John Whitaker was the eldest of four and one of the first ordained Baptist ministers to settle permanently in this state, emigrated from Maryland - to near Pittsburg then came to Kentucky in the spring of 1780. He participated in the founding of Kentucky's first church and was influential in the founding of most of the Baptist churches within fifty miles of Louisville that were gathered prior to his death.


[From The Kentucky Baptist Heritage Article, November, 1995, by Joellen Tyler Johnston]

[Entire article here.

Rev. John Whitaker, A Pioneer Preacher
Adapted from article by Leonard E. (Gene) Smith

      John Whitaker was born July 2, 1722 near Baltimore, Maryland on land, founded by his grandfather from Wales, known as "Whitaker's Ridge". He was the son of Charles and the "widow" Mary Kemball Whitaker. John's grandfather came from Wales before 1699 as John Whitacre. Rev. John married about 1741 Mary McComas at Baltimore. He and his four brothers and three sisters were orphaned when his father and mother died within two months of each other in 1739. John being the oldest at age 19 became the head of the family. His story became one of leadership and pioneering efforts to preserve the family life and keep them together. He made the decision to move to the new frontier due to the problems of religious freedom and excessive taxation caused by the King of England in the eastern Colonies. Selling off all of the Whitaker holdings, he led the family west and settled a homestead of several thousand acres on the Monongahela River across from Fort Duquesne in then Youghioheny County, Virginia, which is now Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania became the second state on December 12, 1787. There he founded the Village of Whitaker where a dedicated park is today and some of his relatives are buried there. He and some of his brothers and their sons fought in the Revolutionary War. Whitaker, Pennsylvania can be seen on a city map of Pittsburg.

      For some reason Rev. John and his family decided to move on to the even new frontier of Kentucky, leaving his brother James to the holdings in Pennsylvania. It is believed that the Whitaker and Humble and other families came together by flat boat on the Ohio River and landed at Beargrass Creek, then moving inland to now Shelby County. There are documents of Rev. John being at Fort Boonesborough and Fort Harrod as early as 1780. A Baptist record indicates that Rev. John Whitaker was one of five frontier Baptist Preachers active in Kentucky in 1780.

      Beargrass was a common name to many early Kentucky settlers. Beargrass Creek near the "Falls of the Ohio" - now Louisville - was the place where flat boats were brought ashore to unload family, cattle and supplies for their trek inland to build cabins and start farms. Beargrass Creek branched out to the south, east and southeast from this point. It was near one of these creek branches that Whitaker helped found the Beargrass Baptist Church, one of many Baptist churches he helped establish in northern Kentucky. The marker stands today on the south side of U. S. Route 60 just east of Louisville at the town of St. Mathews.

      Rev. Whitaker finally settled on a plot of land just south of Shelbyville, Kentucky. He was active in his ministry up to his death at age 76. He named his home "Red Orchard". It is now part of a larger farm and there is said to be a family burial plot where John Whitaker, Mary his wife and some other family members are buried. John died in 1798 and Mary 1802.


[From, via the Internet. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

Reverend John Whitaker

      Reverend John Whitaker, son of Charles Whitaker, was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, Colonial America. When his father died, he led his siblings to Fort Pitt along the Monongahela River. After his sons scouted and claimed land in Kentucky, he and others travelled to be some of the first settlers in north central Kentucky County, Virginia, soon to become the state of Kentucky. He was a well known Baptist minister, forming some of the earliest Baptist gatherings in the area. He was a land owner in several counties over the years. His son Isaac also became a Baptist preacher. Son Aquilla Whitaker became a colonel in the army.


[From Find a Grave. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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