The Richmond Register

November 13, 2012

Early Baptist churches in Madison County

Madison’s Heritage

By Fred Engle
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Gilbert’s Creek Baptist Church has been written up many times and in such detail that I will only give a brief version of its history here.

Baptist churches founded in Virginia made the trip westward through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky territory. Others came into existence along the road on the way to Kentucky. They became known as the “travelling churches.” One that came to Gilbert’s Creek had a church record book it brought from Spotsylvania County, Va.

Leadership of these churches was in the hands of Lewis Craig. Around 1780, the old Gilbert’s Creek church dissolved, and a new church following Separate Baptist doctrine was founded.

Church leader John Craig left Gilbert’s Creek in the 1780s and heard that others had crossed the Kentucky River and had begun worshipping with Lewis Craig at the Southern Elkhorn Church.

Gilbert’s Creek closed down after the Civil War but came back into existence around 1900. This reestablished church, now located in Garrard County, floated back and forth between Regular Baptist and the Separate Baptist beliefs. It was at one time a member of the South Kentucky Association (1785). In 1971, the church joined the Tates Creek Association, an organization mainly made up of Madison County churches. This long-serving congregation is not only physically associated with Madison County churches, but also doctrinally and organizationally linked to Madison County.

Located on Poosey Ridge, Gilead Baptist Church began in 1806. The first pastor was Edward Tudor.  The church was located on the corner of the Gilead Cemetery and over the years several different buildings housed the church. The present house of worship was built in 1892.

John G. Pond was the most widely known of the church’s leaders. The congregation was originally affiliated with the Separate Baptists. In 1842 the congregation changed over to the United Regular Baptist Church. Baptisms were conducted at the Iron Bridge on Barnes Mill Road. Some of the first deacons from 1913 were Forest March, Squire Irvine Sanders and Milo Prewitt. In 1914, the church elected its first trustees, R.M. Ross and W.B. Turner.

In 1897 the church began to fight against liquor being sold in the Kirksville area. As a result of church members’ efforts, the precinct was voted dry. The Gilead church building still has two front doors, one for women and one for men. Today, however, one may enter the church by either door, regardless of gender.

PUBLICATION NOTE:  Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years written by Dr. Grise and myself are now available in the paperback book “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.”

Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by my granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, this book is available for $19.99 plus tax. Autographed copies may be found at the Richmond tourism office (Irvinton) on Lancaster Avenue, Clearsight Optometry and Baldwin CPAs on Main Street in Richmond.  

Autographed copies are also available by calling Kathryn Engle at 859-893-0947 or 623 1150. These books make excellent birthday or Christmas gifts for family or friends.

On Saturday, Nov. 17, Dr. Grise and I will be at the Berea Artisan’s Center from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. for a book signing. We hope to see you there. I will close by commenting that we are very thankful at this time of the year for all of our faithful readers and for the long time support of the staff of the Richmond Register.