October 8, 2013

Traces of Laurel: More early churches

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The Christian Church had eight meeting houses in Laurel County in 1900 when Thomas and Henry Pate wrote their “Laurel County History of Churches and Schools.”

The church that eventually became Locust Grove Christian Church at Keavy began, according to the Pates, about 1820 at a place called Pleasant Springs.  It was built of logs and was destroyed by a forest fire.  Preaching was then held under “Meeting House Rock” on Laurel River.  Three pioneer ministers served this church during this period.  Their surnames were Storm, Mitchell, and Steele.  After their deaths the church became dormant for a time until it was organized as Locust Grove Church about 1863, making it the earliest church of the Christian denomination in the county.

Laurel Chapel, in its present form, was established in 1899 but the Pates indicate that it also had an earlier congregation (ca. 1840) who met at a “Rock House” on Laurel River with Elder Jimmie Storm.  There is mention of Hendricks Church as well, but no particulars are given.

According to the Pates, Mt. Carmel Christian Church was officially organized just after the Civil War in 1866. It had some scattered history prior to that.  They say: “Worship was held in the oldest church house called Independence, which stood opposite the building now at Oakley.  The church moved to London just after . . . the War . . . but in a short time returned and organized the church at Mt. Carmel, the same as we now see.”  (A sign on the grounds of the present Mt. Carmel Church gives the date of organization as 1893. That agrees with the Pates’ mention of a church called ‘New Mt. Carmel’ which was established in 1893.*)

London Christian Church was the first church to be erected in the town of London.  It was organized in 1856 but had no building until 1867.  Its members met in the courthouse before that time. The 1867 church building was still being used in 1900.

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