Church and Family History Research Assistance
for Shelby County, Kentucky



Coincident with the very first settlement in Shelby County was the organization of religious bodies and providing for places of worship. The predominance of the Baptist Church as to numbers has been in about the same proportion in the County as in the State and Nation. There seems little doubt that they, the Baptists, were also the first denomination to organize and have a place of worship in the County.*

Back in the last part of the first half of the Eighteenth Century, William Taylor, a native of New Jersey, was growing into manhood and soon became to the "regular Baptists" of the southern settlements what Louis Craig** was to the north. He not only collected the settlers together in the region immediately around him and preached to them, but like Paul, visited the little churches, preached, wrote to them and encouraged them. After various activities in Nelson and other surrounding counties, he, with John Whitaker, seems to have organized in 1785, the Brashear's Creek Church, in Owen's Fort, where seven years later the County itself was born. It was constituted of eight members, seven of whom were: Martha Whitaker, Col. Aquila Whitaker and wife, Mary, Peggy Garrot, Nathan Garrot, Col. James Ballard and Rebecca, a colored woman. The Indians kept its members from meeting for two years soon after their organization, and in 1787, at the time it joined the Salem Association it still contained only seven members, and the next records found of it, was in 1803, when it united with other churches in forming the Long Run Association at which time it had grown to 101 members. William Hickman, its pioneer visiting minister was succeeded by Joshua Morris, and he, it is said, by James McQuade, Sr., and the church continued to grow for the following forty- five years until in 1843, when it had a membership of 123, changed its name to Clear Creek, after which the neighborhood churches and the large church at Shelbyville gradually absorbed its members until 1858, it ceased to exist. It was the mother church in this region of the State and from it sprang in some numbers the early churches of Shelby County.

FOX RUN (1794)

Fox Run Church was gathered by Elders John Whitaker and Joshua Morris, who formed a presbytery at the home of James Hogland, on January 26, 1794, and organized the following members into a church: Jesse Buzan, Eliza Buzan, James Hogland, Mary Hogland, William Metcalf, Hester Metcalf, James Metcalf, Thomas Metcalf, Mary Teague, Milly Long, Robert Loudon, Jane Loudon, Joseph Ervin, Margaret Ervin, and one other whose name is lost. This church was first a member of the Salem Association, then in 1803 joined the Long Run Association.

Another source gives the following:

The church by the name of "Fox Run" was organized also by John Whitaker and Joshua Morris at the house of James Hogland, January 26,1794, with the following persons charter members: Jesse Buzan, Eliza Buzan, James Hogland, Mary Hogland, William Metcalfe, Hester Metcalfe, James Metcalfe, Thomas Metcalfe, Mary Teague, Milly Long, Robert and Jane London, Joseph and Margaret Ervin and one other. William Marshall was the first pastor of the church. He preached "Eternal Justification" and refused to preach the gospel to sinners. The church would not receive this doctrine and this irritated him, bitter differences ensued and Spencer, the Baptist Historian says, that this minister "who had been so wonderfully successful in Virginia was excluded from fellowship and remained out of the church until his death."

This church, it is thought, joined the Salem Association the same year it was constituted and remained therein until it entered into "the Constitution of Long Run Association of 1803." Its membership of twenty-seven at that time had increased to sixty-five in 1812, and to one hundred and fifty-three in 1826
or '27, when as Spencer describes "during the Campbellite disturbance* reduced from one hundred and fifty-three to about ninety" (as explained in the history of the Christian Church in Shelby County the many members left churches like the Fox Run Baptist Church to become members of the new "reform" or "Campbcllite church" during the several years of revival beginning with 1823).

Fox Run in 1839, joined the Sulphur Fork Association to which it reported a membership of seventy-eight. This membership was slowly increased up to 1880, when it reported one hundred and fifty-six members. The church for some reason was removed to Eminence, in Henry County, a good many years ago. William Ford, a member and deacon of Fox Run Church was one of the early settlers of what is now Henry County.

John Penny was the first pastor, but Warren Cash, a member, developing a gift for preaching was called and in 1799, was ordained their pastor. A revival started under his ministry and a large number were baptized, and the handful of members under him increased in four years to one hundred and fifty-one, then the largest membership in the Long Run Association. In 1817, it took a letter and united with the Franklin Association; it continued prosperous until 1836, when it went into the Constitution of the Middle District Association where it remained for some years and then joined Mt. Pleasant Association of Anti-Missionary Baptists and, in the language of Spencer, has "of course since been withering away."


The church of this name, still a historic spot and burial ground in the southwest section of the County, was organized in 1799, but for the first three years was called Plum Creek Church, when it became "Plum and Buck Creek Church" which name was four years later, or in 1807, contracted to simply "Buck Creek." William Edmund Waller, the distinguished Virginian, who had already been a resident of Shelby for some ten years seems to have been the moving spirit in the organization of the church of which there were only eight charter members: John Patterson, Geo. Davis, Sarah Patterson, Johnston Patterson, Theodore Davis, Priscella May, Elizabeth Breedon and William Mocensen. Rev. Waller was pastor for four years when upon the death of his wife he returned to his home in Spottsylvania, Virginia, where a few years later he, too, died. His son, Geo. Waller, who married Mary Ware, a daughter of Ruben Ware, of that neighborhood succeeded his father as pastor for the almost record-breaking length of time of forty years, and at the end of that service in 1842, had helped to build up a membership of from eight to 342. It is said that for the nine years preceding 1842, an almost continuous revival was in progress and 289 members were added to the church. In 1849, there arose some trouble between the new pastor and the public which resulted in a strange dismemberment of the church. One hundred and forty adhered to the pastor while seventy-two formed a new organization, but the two factions continued to worship in the same building for .more than ten years or until 1860, when they reunited and continued as Buck Creek Church.


Bethel Church so frequently referred to as Old Bethel and formerly called Tick Creek was originally located on a small stream, from which it derived its old name, five miles from Shelbyville and not far from where Tyler's Station was first settled. It, too, seems to have been organized or "gathered" by Joshua Morris or James Dupuy and was constructed in 1797. It first united with Elkhorn Association to which it reported a membership of 16. In 1799, it joined the Salem Association with twenty-four members, and in the division of the latter fraternity in 1803, it fell into Long Run Association with 107 members. Five years later when the famous Geo. Waller became the pastor, it had dropped again to forty-five members, but during the twenty-three years under his pastor-ship was trebled in number of members. About this time the split on account of the Missionary and Anti-Missionary divided not only the congregation, but the ministers, Rev. Holland having temporarily succeeded Waller in the pastor-ship. Out of the two hundred and fifty-nine members a large majority of the missionary party withdrew and went to Clay Village nearby and built a church, whereas the old, greatly reduced membership which advocated the Anti-Missionary idea remained in charge of the old building which for many years has been only a building and burial ground. The fact that it was the place of worship and burying ground for the Cross Keys families and many distinguished early families of that section has added to the fame of Old Bethel.


Beech Creek Church was organized at the home of Warren Cash, on September 5, 1796, by Elders Lewis Craig and Samuel Ayers, with five members, viz., Jonathan Tinsley, Warren Cash, Susannah Cash, John Basket, and Nancy Shepherd. It became a member, first of the Salem Association, then the Long Run, then the Franklin, and finally the Mt. Pleasant. Elder John Penny was the first pastor. He was followed by Elder Warren Cash, who was ordained here in March 1799, by Elders William Hickman and John Penny. Later, Elders Moses Scott and John Holland served here as pastor.

Another source says the following regarding this church: Beech Creek Church, of "Regular Old School Baptists" was organized in 1796. It was "constituted in the same faith as the Elkhorn Association and Salem Association constituted both in 1785. The church was located in the southeastern part of the County, two miles south of Waddy, and its activities for 130 years form no small part of the history of that section. It has had three different buildings during the years. Its first pastor was John Penny, its second, Warren Cash, who was succeeded in turn by Moses Scott, James McQuade, Abraham Cook, John Holland, Geo. Bristo, Caleb Guthrie, Garland William, W. D. Ball, John Knight, N. A. Humston, John F. Johnston, James E. Newkirk, J. W. Hardesty, and the late Elder P. W. Sawin.



Somewhere about 1804, Tarlton Lee and Martin Basket donated each an acre of ground upon which to build a church at Buffalo Lick, where a church still stands and has so long been the center of the "Buffalo Lick neighborhood, between Peytona and Bagdad in the eastern portion of the County, taking its name from the lick, found at Peytona by the first settlers. The first meeting was held at the house of Thos. Basket, Sr., and the constituents were members given up by the "Tick Creek" Church and were: Phillip Weber, I. Underwood, Benj. Boyd, Martin Basket, Thos. Basket, Sr., Roderick Perry, John Yount and Chas. Michel. The first meeting in .the new church was held on June 15, 1805, with the selection of Phillip Weber, as moderator and Chas. Michel, clerk and the adoption of the new name. They, like the Salem and Long Run Associations, agreed on the "Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith" excepting something contained in the third and fifth article, if construed so as to make God the author of sin, and also in the thirty-first article, laying hands on newly baptized persons that the using or non-using of that ceremony be no bar to fellowship, and that an oath before a magistrate be not considered a part of real worship as contained in the twenty-fourth article of the same." The membership rolls of this church early became one of the longest in the County because of the fertile territory surrounding it and the rapidity with which it was settled and peopled.


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