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Opinion

October 3, 2013

Traces of Laurel: Early Baptist churches

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The “Laurel County History of Churches and Schools” by Thomas and Henry Pate (I believe I named them Tate in an earlier column – my apologies) was written in 1900. Much good information about the churches is given but I only have space to list name and date of constitution. I’ll start this week with the Baptist churches the Pates described.

Providence, 1815, in Knox County; Mt. Pleasant, 1830; Slate Hill, 1831; Robinson Creek, 1835; Rough Creek, 1835; Liberty, 1839; New Salem, 1847 (Hiram Johnson was the first pastor and was still pastor there in 1900); Pinegrove, 1858; Sinking Creek, 1859; Union, 1865; Slate Lick, 1866; Pine Grove, ca 1867; Mt. Zion (at Mershons), 1867; New Prospect, 1869; New Salem (at Crawford), 1869; Long Branch, 1872; Laurel River (originally called Mt. Hebron), 1874; Laurel River (arm of Robinson Creek) 1874; Mt. Salem, 1876; Rockcastle, 1881; Craig Creek (or Cold Rock), 1882; Horse Creek (at Lily), 1883; Bald Rock, 1883; Pilgrim’s Rest (Primitive Baptist), 1884; Hopewell (at Lily), 1885; London, 1885; New Hope,. 1887; Freedom, 1892; New Salem (Baxtertown), 1893; Old Way, 1893; East Pittsburg, 1896; Pilgrim’s Rest (at Weaver), 1896; New Bethel (High Top), 1897; East Salem, 1897; Level Green, 1898.  Hawk Creek and Dog Branch are also listed but no dates of constitution are given.

In the Pates’ book each listing of a church is followed by names of pastors and officers, and in most cases, a list of the membership at the time. Providence, for instance, was an arm of the Concord church in Knox County and was established to provide a place of worship for those who were too far away from the home church to attend its services.  Those interested in being part of this new church met at the home of Daniel Cain on the 4th Saturday of November, 1815 and Providence was begun.  Though Laurel County had not been established at that time, the location of the new church fell into the boundaries of what would become Laurel and so Providence became the oldest Baptist church in Laurel County.

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