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.*
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.
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
, 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,
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.
church historians of the County have devoted more detail authentic
work to Salem than to a Mother Church. It is regretted that all
that has been written about it cannot be re-produced here. Salem
was organized on January 19, 1811, by Moses Scott, pastor of Beech
Creek Church, and by James Mc-Quade, pioneer circuit writer at the
home of Mrs. Sarah Dugan, in the old brick house formerly owned by
John Hedden and later by James Radcliff and was temporarily called
Beech Ridge, probably because the nineteen charter members were
largely from the original Beech Creek Church. Their names were:
James M. Leodocy, Mary P., Ann and John Holland, William, Mary and
Lydia Collins, Samuel and Catharine Gray, Betsy, John, Jane and
Edmon Graves, James M, Judith and Polly Burnett, and Mary Firguson.
Martin was the first pastor. There have been several separate
buildings, the third or brick building having been destroyed by
fire in 1894, when the present building was erected on the lot
originally donated by the Slaughter heirs. The church and its
great growth and wide usefulness celebrated its anniversary in
1911. John Holland, the charter member baptized by Rev. John Rice,
said to have been the first preacher in Kentucky, was long the
pastor of Salem and at his request his body was buried under the
pulpit of the old church and a monument to him was unveiled at the
centennial celebration mentioned above.
He had been succeeded by Elder Geo. Bristol, in 1841; by
Nimrod Beckham, from 1846- 1851; W. G. Hobbs, 1851-1861 ; T. M.
Vaughan, 1861-1870; V. M. Hungerford, 1870-1883; O. L. Haley,
1883-1884; J. B. Tharpe, 1885-1888; H. C. Davis, 1888-1901; W. S.
Thomas, 1902-1904; A. J. Foster, 1904-1906; J. S. Wilson,
1906-1907; A. R. Willit, 1908-.
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
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
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.
church was a plain substantial brick about a mile from the present
town of Finchville until 1891, when it was razed and its material
used in the erection of a handsome edifice which now stands near
the center of the village itself.
Creek Burial Ground
a little way from where the old church building stood, on a
beautiful spot, was the "Burying Ground," and there rest
many of those intrepid men and women who fought the arduous
battles of the pioneer life, and assisted in building the sure and
strong foundations of our present peace and quiet and prosperity.
The fence which once enclosed this hallowed spot has been removed
and the cattle permitted to roam at will over the graves, and fell
the stones and destroy them, until now it is not possible to know
the names of those who were buried there.
the graves of the beloved pastor, the Rev. Geo. Waller and his
family and kindred there has recently been placed a high and
substantial wire fence which bids to protect them from intrusion
for many years. Of the great number who appear to have been buried
in these grounds, many graves are without stones and others so
broken and mutilated as not to be read at all. Herewith is
presented the epitaphs on those stones which have been preserved,
in this once large city of the dead:
George Waller, B. Sept. 12, 1777; D. July 17, 1860.
Geo. W. Kenney, B. Dec. 25, 1794.; D. Nov. 25, 1854.
Ann J., wife of Geo. W. Kenney, B. Oct. 7, 18003 D. March 21,
Cowherd, B. March 1, 1817; D. Dec. 13, 1892; aged 75 years, 9
months, 6 days.
Mariah, wife of Douglas Cowherd, B. April 28, 1818; D. April 5,
Catherine Cowherd, B. Oct. 21, 18395 D. July 20, 1841.
Lucinda, wife of Douglas Cowherd, B. April 15, 18075 ; D. Sept. 9,
Daughter of Waller and Mattie Cowherd, B. Dec.11, 1890 and D. aged
11 years, 10 months, 13 days.
Lucinda, daughter of D. C. and M. M. Cowherd, B. Sept.12, 1849, D.
Feb. 25, 1854.
Waller, wife of Geo. Waller, B. Dec. 19,1775; D. Oct 24, 1849
to the Memory of Wm. E. Waller, husband of Belle R.
B. Nov. 17, 1845; D. Nov. 10, 1878.
Mary A., daughter of A. D. and G. Waller, B. Dec. 15, 1856; D.
April 10, 1874.
Sarah D., daughter of A. D. and G. Waller, B. April 12,1842; D.
Feb. 5, 1874.
John Overton, son of A. D. and G. Waller, B. Sept. 6, 1843; D.
Dec. 22, 1853.
G., daughter of A. D. and G. Waller, B. Feb. 28} D. April 6,1855.
A., daughter of A. D. and G. Waller, B. Sept. 28, 1854; D. Oct.
names which follow are outside of the enclosure.
Frances M. Allen, B. July 4, 1817, D. Jan. 2, 1837.
Hiram Melone, B. Feb. 9, 1803; D. May 4, 1838.
Catherine, wife of A. D. Waller, Sr., B.—; D. April 17,1891,
aged 76 years, 5 days.
Sarah Brashears White, D. June 15, 1849; aged 33 years, 11 months,
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."
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).
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.
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.
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."
Hook or Chestnut Grove**
Pin Hook Church, about eight miles north of Shelbyville, at the
intersection of the Christianburg-Ballardsville Road with the
Smithfield Road, was organized about 1846, and held its meetings
in a store room previously occupied by Thomas Denny, who
sold general merchandise. This store was a hundred yards or more
west of the church building in a small grove of chestnut trees.
(Hence the name, Chestnut Grove, by which name also a Christian
Church located several miles nearer Shelbyville was known in more
recent years.) The church held meetings in this storeroom for six
or seven years during which period it prospered so that it was
decided to build a new house of worship. The new church was built
in the angle of the cross roads near the creek. The logs from
which the lumber was sawed to build the new church house were cut
from the old Williams farm and sawed in the old mill on the creek
just back of the Williams' barn. A historian writes that,
"Henry Williams helped to haul the lumber from the mill to
the church site, where Tommie Williams and Garland Williams
superintended the construction of the building."
Caleb Guthrie and wife deeded the land on which the church was
built. The Articles of Faith and rules of decorum were in accord
with the London Confession of Faith published in 1628. The charter
members were: Gilson Yates and wife, Micajah Williams and wife,
Martha and Jane Williams, Elijah Woods and wife, James Baskett,
Nathaniel Dowden and wife, Elder Caleb Guthrie and wife, Hiram
Morton and wife, William Royster and wife, Allen Kinkead and wife,
Garland Williams and wife, Jonathan Woods and wife, John Tinsley
and wife (parents of Dr. TinslevV
Elder Guthrie was the first pastor, Garland Williams was
the first clerk and served in this capacity until his ordination
to the work of the ministry about the year 1850. He served as
pastor from his ordination until broken in health early in the
seventies. He was followed by Elder Gardner Berry, he by W. W.
Foree. He in turn by Doctor I. N. Porter, who was succeeded by
Elder John Freeman, the last regular pastor of the church to its
dissolution about 1878.
John Robinson was the last clerk. After the dissolution of
the church, the members cast their lots
with the Dover, Smithfield, and Eminence Baptist Churches. The old
church building stood idle a number of years being used
occasionally for a school entertainment. Horace Hopkins bought the
old church, tore it down and used the lumber for building a barn
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.
Baptist people of Shelby County instead of originating at the
largest center and multiplying there from into the County reversed
the procedure and the first organization in, and worshiping at the
County Seat appear, not to have been by those alone from the town
but from seed planted in the rural early churches.
first church building of any kind in Shelbyville was
undenominational. It was erected in 1814, and was called the
Shelbyville "meeting house," being used by all three of
the then existing Protestant denominations.
was the property of the Methodists and the meetings of the other
denominations were not allowed to conflict with those of the
owners. The Shelbyville Baptists used it until 1819, when their
new church on the corner of Eighth and Clay Streets was complete.
It was used also by the Presbyterians until 1820. The new church
was occupied by the Baptists until the year before the outbreak of
the Civil War or for more than forty years when a newer, more
imposing structure, used until recent years, was erected facing
the southwestern part or quarter of the old Shannon acre of public
Baptist organizations of no less historic interest, perhaps, but
about whom the records furnish less data were: Long Run, 1796;
Indian Fork Church, organized as early, it is believed, as 1806.
Six-Mile Church, not far from Christianburg, organized in 1799.
Blue Stone Church near the south line of Shelby County, in 1805,
Simpsonville and Mt. Pleasant.
not the next largest denomination in the County, the Christian
Church, also known as the Church of the Disciples, the
and formerly more often called the "Campbellite" or the
" has been prominently in the forefront of the County's
civilization for one hundred years.
is generally known it was largely the offspring of the Baptist and
Presbyterian denominations. Alexander Campbell was himself first a
Presbyterian and then a Baptist. He was a native of
, the son of a Presbyterian Minister and was educated at the
. He came to the
in 1809, and was a minister in good standing in the Pennsylvania
Presbyteries, but soon announced that his faith in creeds was
shaken and after much debate joined the
. At that time he lived near
, (later West Virginia), where he farmed and taught school. In
1823, he began the publication of a paper called the
"Christian Baptist." It had a wide circulation and
influence. In 1827, an extensive religious revival was begun in
that section and throughout Central Kentucky, including Shelby
County, which lasted three years and "greatly favored the
reformation" viz.: That is the forming of a church or
denomination with "no creed but the Bible."
churches which belonged in the Long Run Association, lost numerous
members who united with the new denomination and included such men
as Phillip Fall, Zachius Carpenter, and Benj. Allen among their
leaders. Sixteen hundred and seventy-eight people were baptized
"into the Christian Church" this first year in Shelby,
and already more than ten thousand in Kentucky followed
Elder Campbell, who spoke many times in Shelby County. In 1830, a
congregation was formed in Shelbyville, of which .Major James
Whitaker's family, the families of William Standiford, William
Smith, Doctor G. W. Nuchols, Travis Wilson, Achilles Chinn, Thomas
Chiles, Hamilton Frazier, Thomas B. Caldwell and a number of
others were members from the beginning.
Several years later, Joseph L. Fore, sold to the congregation a
lot on which to build the church. The lot was fifty feet square
and fronted on Fourth Street, the southern side of the lot running
with the alley between Fourth and Fifth Streets and Main and Clay.
At the corner of Fourth and Main and between the church and Main
Street Abraham Smith owned a lot fifty by twenty-five feet on
which he conducted a gunsmith business. There was a vacant lot
immediately west of the lot purchased for the church, and the lot
owned by Mr. Smith. On this lot fifty feet square, which is
covered by a part of the present Christian Church, was built the
first church, which was called in those days the Campbellite, the
Reform, and the Church of the Disciples of Christ.
was a brick church and fronted on Fourth Street. It was back from
Main Street fifty feet, and Smith's gun shop was on the corner and
between it and Main Street. It was necessary, to climb several
steps to get to the main floor. There were two doors fronting
Fourth Street and the pulpit was between those doors, making it
necessary for those who had occasion to go to the farthest end of
the building to walk down the aisle with their backs to the
pulpit. This was the first Christian Church in Shelbyville or
Shelby County, and it served the purpose for which it was
constructed for over thirty years.
Another New Church
church prospered, the membership grew in numbers, and in 1863,
there being a number of wealthy citizens affiliated with the
congregation, it was determined to build a larger and more
attractive edifice. In December, of that year, the lot belonging
to Mr. Smith was purchased and a few months later, the vacant lot
adjoining. This gave the congregation a lot fronting Main Street
sixty-seven feet, and extending from Main Street to the alley, a
distance of 100 feet.
1864, the plans were agreed on and contracts were let. James
McCarthy built the foundation; "Big Frank" McMahon and
"Bob" Rogers did the brick work; Herman Deiss did the
cut stone work; and R. M. and Jeptha Layson were the carpenters.
The church was completed in 1865. The first service conducted in
the church was the funeral of Richard Whitaker, a son of Major
James Whitaker. The dedicatory sermon was preached the next day,
after Mr. Whitaker's funeral. The church was later enlarged by the
addition of an annex, which connects with the main auditorium.
other churches of this denomination were organized in Shelby
County, only a few years after the church in Shelbyville had been
built. These were Clear Creek Church, in 1835, and Antioch. in
1819. Many left
Fox Run Baptist Church and joined these congregations. Among them
were Jeptha and Emma Bright, James H. and Nancy Drane, Oswald and
Mary Thomas, and these, with John, Preston, Lindsay and Wilson
Thomas, William Crawford, Pauline Crawford, (nee Thomas), and John
Donaldson and wife, joined the Clear Creek Church. For a time the
members met at the house of Harvey Stone, one of the progenitors
of the Helm, Maddox and Bright families.
was built on a lot donated by Lindsay Thomas, near the headwaters
of Clear Creek. Two of the first preachers of Clear Creek were
"Billy" Crawford and Robert Rice. On May 5, 1844, a
church was organized one mile east of Eminence, in Henry County,
called "Congregation of Christ at Macedonia."
twenty-five members of Clear Creek joining that church. Among
those who changed their membership, at that time, were the Brights,
Dranes, Hopkins, McCarms, Donaldsons, Yates, Allisons, Fords,
Joneses and Sadlers. Other members of Clear Creek changed their
membership to Cropper or Shelbyville, and services were
discontinued at Clear Creek.
1839, Gilbert Jarvis donated a small tract of land two miles north
of Simpsonville, on which to build a church which was called
Antioch. That piece of land is on the corner of a farm later owned
by Miller Wilhoit and his successors. The charter members of
Antioch, were thirteen in number. Robert Long and wife,* James
Young and wife, John Crosby and wife, Robert Elkin and wife, Nancy
Brown, Frances Whitington, Margaret Long, and Mr. and Mrs. James
L. Long. Shortly after the organization of the church, J. S.
Willis, a young minister, from Madison County, married Mary J.
Long, a youthful member of Antioch and came to the County to live.
When the log church was remodeled in 1848, he became the pastor
and remained such, for many years. He preached the dedicatory
sermon, and the last services in the church on January 21, 1883,
were his funeral services. He, several of his family, a few
strangers, and a host of the Long, Tarvis. CampbelL Crosby, and
other families and relatives of the first members are buried there
in the neatly kept little cemetery that overruns the site of where
the old church stood. The church was torn away shortly after Elder
Willis' death. A cemetery company was formed, money from the sale
of the church and from several small bequests was constituted into
a fund, the interest of which is used in keeping up the burial
grounds, the land of which may never be sold.
Rock," on the edge of the County, near both Oldham and
Jefferson, one of the pioneer churches in which Elder Willis and a
long line of successors preached is still standing, though
abandoned; and the Masonic Lodge at Simpsonville, where the
congregation of that name early worshipped, remains a land-mark of
that section. Reverend Willis and other pioneers of this church
preached a number of years at "Plum Creek," a little
church supported by the Bairds, Beards, et al., on the edge of
Spencer County, until the building was moved to the town of
Waterford, where it became a dwelling, after being superseded by a
the spring of 1790, was held the first annual conference of the
Methodist Church in Kentucky. The conference commenced at
Masterson's Station, about five miles northwest of Lexington,
where the first Methodist Church, in Kentucky, was erected. The
first mention of Salt River Circuit found is in 1791. It included
Jefferson, Nelson and Shelby Counties, and all the settlements
from the Kentucky River to the mouth of Salt River. It is probable
that Barnabus McHenry, who served the Danville and Madison
circuits, in 1789 and 1790, was the first Methodist minister who
ever preached the gospel in Shelby County, and this prepared the
way for the Salt River circuit in 1796.
the conference of 1796, the Shelby Circuit was formed, but the
appointment of preachers was still made at times to "Salt
River and Shelby" combined. In 1796, Jeremiah Dawson was in
charge. In 1797, William Kavanaugh, the father of the later
celebrated Bishop Kavanaugh, was pastor.
first Methodist Church in Shelby County was organized in the
Cardwell neighborhood, on what was then known as the Fielding Neel
farm on the Rockbridge pike. It used a log house, and was given
the name of Rockbridge by some of the charter members, who came
from Rockbridge County, Virginia. The charter members included:
Samuel Ratcliffe, Mrs. Susan Ratcliffe, James Figg, Susan Figg,
Lemuel McCormick, Sarah McCormick, Joseph Hite, Sarah McCormick
Wright and John McCormick.
paper by Mrs. Edwin II. Davis.
1804, a Brick Chapel was erected (and this was said to have been
the first brick church for Methodists in Kentucky it was located
about four miles northeast of Shelbyville and about one fourth of
a mile east of the Walker Daniel farm.
Methodist people who lived in Shelbyville held their membership at
the "Brick Chapel" and worshipped there, with an
occasional service in the court house, and in private residences,
where prayer and class-meetings were also held.
the "Meeting House"*
Methodists built probably the first place of worship in
Shelbyville, on a lot given them by John Bradshaw, on the back
corner of what then was Lot 9, and would now be the rear of a lot
facing south on Washington Street and east on Fourth. This was
somewhere about 1810 or 12. They soon turned over this building to
colored people; for in 18x6, they bought parts of Lots 10 and 11
(about midway between Fourth and Fifth on North side of
Washington) from John Bradshaw and Jos. Willett, and built a
church that was called "the meeting house," and, while
owned by the Methodists, was used for a time by all Protestant
denominations. As elsewhere told, the Baptist Church held services
in this building until they erected a house of worship on the
corner of Eighth and Clay Streets, where the colored Baptist
Church now stands, and the Presbyterians, until 1820, when their
church was built. The name of "Meeting House" was then
changed to the Methodist Church. Richard Corwine was pastor, from
1823 to 1824. In 1824, the Kentucky Conference, presided over by
Bishops McKendree and Roberts, met in Shelbyville and in that year
the church building was enlarged.
Shelbyville and Brick Chapel were detached from the circuit
and for a number of years united as one charge, and were served by
ministers whose names are prominent in church history; from
1824-25. by Richard Nealj 1825-27, by John Tevis; 1827-28, by
George C. Light; 1828-29, by Edward Stevenson; 1830-32, by
officers in the church, the records name William Owen, George
Robinson, John Bradshaw, Isaac Pomeroy, William Cardwell, Jacob
Cardwell, Robert Bull, Edward Talbot, Nathaniel Talbot, Hardin
Magruder, Adam Winlock, Richard Waters, and Robert McGrath, at
whose house for many years services were held every Christmas
morning at five o'clock.
In 1857, during the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Cunningham, a new
church was erected on the site where the present now stands at the
corner of Fifth and Main Streets. The church built in 1817-18, was
torn down in 1859, after having been used for two years as a
school house by Professor J. W. Dodd. The
first board of stewards in the church of which this takes the
place, was composed of William Winlock, Jacob Owen, John Robinson,
John R. Beckley, Fielding Neel, Daniel Polk, and Doctor B. P..
Tevis, Judge Thomas Wilson, T. B. Cochran, Doctor Robt. Winlock
and Judge Martin D. McHenry, son of Rev. Barnabas McHenry. The
present church was erected in 1897, when Doctor W. T. Taylor was
nearly a century there stood a little frame building on the banks
of Brashears Creek, about nine miles south of Shelbyville and two
miles from Finchville, on a branch road of the Finchville and
Taylorsville turnpike. It was used as a place of worship by
members of the Methodist-Episcopal church. It was built on the
land of Mrs. Barriger, a short distance from a big spring from
which flowed a stream, that divided into two branches, running on
either side of the little church building and so nearly
surrounding it by water that, taking the story of the Dove and the
Ark, and the branch from the stream itself, the church was
christened "Olive Branch."
is said, that a meeting held in the open near that church in i860,
and then called a "Woods meeting" was the first camp
meeting held in the County, and that it resulted in a very large
number of new members for the church. A large colony of relatives
of the Figgs, Boswells, and Taylors had come from Culpeper Court
House, in 1800, and had settled around and near the little church.
Many of them were charter members, and a descendant, Warren T.
Figg, a wealthy landowner, when the little church became old and
dilapidated, donated an acre in a more desirable location two
miles nearer the County Seat, on the Zaring Mill pike and gave
liberally toward the building of the new church. His wife Lucinda
Taylor, also was a descendant of those who came in the first
colony, and their large and prosperous family helped fill the
church membership, and offices, as well as its coffers, for many
years. Descendants of others of that first colony burned the brick
and built the building that was at that day considered a beautiful
bit of architecture. John and Younger Ford were the contractors
for the wood or frame work, and the building begun in 1861, was
completed in 1862.
Boswell, who helped burn the brick and build the church had three
sons, Chas., Everett, and Geo. W., who became consecrated
ministers and served many Methodist Churches in the Kentucky
conference. The largest member-ship of any county church known at
that time, was acquired by Olive Branch, in 1885, with a total of
several hundred members. The charter members of the church were:
William Taylor, Mary Taylor, Mary Taylor, Jr., Zurilduer Taylor,
Doctor Taylor, James Taylor, Martha Taylor, Stokeley Lawson,
Sarah Snyder, Absolom Campbell, Sallie Campbell, Doctor
Blankenbaker, John Clark, Bell Clark, John Clark, John Bos- well,
Doctor Boswell and Wife, James Boswell, Madison T. Boswell, George
G. Boswell, Warren Figg, Lucinda Figg, Bushrod Figg, James
Figg, Margaret Figg, Jennie Boswell, Georgia Doyle, Bettie Jessie,
James Harrison, Eleanor Harrison, Thomas Smith, Bettie Smith,
Edwin Dorsey, Eliza Dorsey, D. O. Fisher, Angeline Fisher, Doctor
Alexandria, Doctor William Wilson, and John Spangler.
of the church's ablest ministers have served this church, among
them: Revs. J. E. Strother, Minor, W. H. Winter, Robert Hiner, W.
F. Vaughn, J. A. Henderson, D. B. Cooper, T. B. Cooke, T. J.
Mclntyre, George Frok, J. J. Johnson, T. J. Godbey, W. S.
Grinstead, T. W. Barker, T. Chandler, J. W. Simpson, E. K. Pike,
P. J. Ross, J. E. Wright, C H. Caswell, and R. R. Rose.
Stanley Smith, E. V. Dorsey, and Marvin Figg (grandson of Warren
T. Figg, who donated land for church) were stewards as late at
furnished by Mrs. Reuben Smith.
Camden W. Ballard, to whom the author is indebted for other
courtesies, has among his wealth of historic data, the maps,
plats, etc., of the lots mentioned and abstracts of title for all
that section. These are the authority for the locations given and
the dates fixed as to these buildings
Robert Long was a first cousin of J. L. and S. C. Long, and of
Mrs. J. S. Willis. His brother, Saml., later, was one of the
deacons of the church for many years following its organization
and was a prosperous farmer of the neighborhood, interested in all
public enterprises, and reared a large family of reputable, useful
citizens. One noted among these was Robert A. Long, the lumber
magnate, who was baptized into this church of his fathers, several
years before be left to become a citizen of Kansas City; from
which point. in later years he was the first known citizen of the
United States to give as much as a million dollars to a church of
one denomination at one time. And that gift has been but one of
his nation-wide activities on behalf of the Church of the
Spencer (J. H.) the Baptist historian quoted above frequently in
his writings permitted it to creep out that his prejudice was as
strong against the anti-missionary Baptist as it was against those
to whom he contemptuously referred always as "Campbellites"
and it is to he assumed that he believed that they, as much as the
"reforraeis'* injured the "Regular Baptist*' of this and
other counties. "Information gathered and contributed
by Miss Lyle Booker.
history of the Baptist church in Kentucky by Spencer fills two
large volumes of several hundred pages each. A really complete
history of that denomination's activities in Shelby County for 140
years would easily fill a volume as large as this history of the
entire county. The same is true of the material we have before us
concerning the Christian and Methodist churches in this county,
and is true in a smaller degree of the Presbyterian, the
Episcopalians and the Catholic churches in the same territory. No
one would be able to group and intelligently condense the history
in a manner any way satisfactory to all concerned, until each
denomination raised up some man capable of, and inclined to write
its story, with proper records of each church in his particular
denomination, in a county where its churches have ever led the
hope of civilization.
Squire Boone, enough of a minister to perform marriage ceremonies,
and Other God-fearing men and women in the station, it is fair to
presume that they early and often had religious services, but the
first sermon known to have been preached in the County, was by the
indefatigable Louis Craig, in the fall of 1782, at the Squire
Boone Station of the Painted Stone.
Craig was busy organizing new churches—one on Dick's
(Dix) River near the mouth of Gilbert's Creek, in what is now
Garrard County, Ky., and came down into Shelby to preach to, and
pray with, the survivors of the Long Run massacre and the other
hardships of those first years.
his History of Kentucky Baptists, J. H. Spencer, in Volume I,
says: "In 1810, there was one Episcopal Church in
, It was organized in
in 1794, and was under the pastoral charge of James Moore, who was
its first rector."
first register of St. James Church was not found, but the present
register gives the date of organizing as 1858. Before the erection
of the present church, the Episcopalians held their services in
the Chapel of the Episcopal Theological Seminary, then on
, between Eighth and Ninth Streets, now a city school. At this
time they had a large congregation and baptism in the chapel with
confirmations by Bishop Smith, in the
when they held their services there. The only record of
service held there is a "Certificate of Baptism of Julia
Bonney, April 1, 1866," A. F. Freeman, Rector. In the Court
Records is a letter of "Association" as follows:
"The undersigned Wardens and Vestry of St. James Church, Shelbyville, Kentucky, of the Protestant
Episcopal of the United States, hereby, voluntarily associate
together for the purpose of maintaining and erecting a place of
public worship for said Church and, to perform such other duties
as may be assigned to us, and our successors as Wardens and Vestry
of said Church by the Cannons of the convention of the Diocese of
the State of Kentucky. The conditions of membership of the said
Vestry, shall be, the election of its members according to the
Cannons of the convention of the State of
, and shall do all other things and exercise all the rights and privileges
belonging to the Wardens and Vestry of a Church in said Diocese.
M. Bullock, G. W., "S. H. Ellenwood, Jr. W., J. Baker, $1.00
U. S. S. "Geo. Rowden."
John T. Ballard, Clerk of the County Court of the County
aforesaid, do certify that this letter of association between the
members of the Protestant Episcopal Church of St. James, at
Shelbyville, was this day filed in my office by S. H. Ellenwood,
stamped with a one dollar
revenue stamp and recorded at his request. Given under my hand
this Twenty-second day of March, 1865.
T. Ballard, Clerk,
Shelby County Court
Deed to Lot No. 163.
E. H. Tubman, to Vestry of
James Church. "Know till men, that E. H. Tubman, of the city
of Augusta, and the state of Georgia, for and in consideration of
five hundred dollars, cash in hand paid, hath sold, and by these
presents doth convey unto S. H. Ellenwood, J. Baker, M. C. Taylor,
G. M. Bright, H. H. Malone, and A. Hollenback, Wardens and Vestry
of St. James Church, Shelbyville, Kentucky, and their successors,
heirs and assigns, the following described real estate,
of Lot No. 163, situated on
. Beginning at the northwest corner of said lot, and running east
sixty feet, south one hundred feet, west sixty feet, north one
hundred feet to the beginning, together with the privilege and
appurtenances to the same belonging, to have and to hold unto the
said grantees and their successors, heirs and assigns forever; and
the said grantor hereby covenants with the said grantees and their
successors, heir and assigns that she being seized of an estate in
fee simple in said premises, that her title thereto is
unencumbered and that she will warrant and defend them the
same against all claim payment of part of the purchase money.
Witness the hand of the grantor this Twenty-first day of
cents U. S. S.)
E. H. T.
Emily H. Tubman, the above grantor, was a sister of Mrs. Whitaker
and Mrs. Standiford, (of the Christian church). Rectors of St.
James Church from 1865 to 1923, were:
A. F. Freeman, 1865; Doctor Chapman, Doctor George Mc-Cready,
Doctor Flowers, M. M. Benton, Milton Worsham, April, 1908-1909;
Clinton Quinn, November 1, 1909-March 1, 1911; Middleton Barnwell,
June 21, 19083 Edw. C. Mc-Allister, May 1, 1911-May 9, 19155
Frances M. Adams, May 16, 1915-December 1, 19163 Edw. C.
McAllister, May 1, 1919-March 13, 1921; George Dow, April,
James Church was built in 1867, or 1868, the members at that time
were: George Bright, Miss Minnie Bright, Miss Hannah Bright, Mr.
Graham Bright, Horatio Bright, Judge James M. Bullock and Mrs.
Bullock, Sam H. Ellenwood. Doctor T. Baker, H. C. Malone and Mrs.
Emma Bonney Malone, Mrs. Thos. Todd, M. C. Taylor,
Miss Julia Bonney, Charles Kinkle and Mrs. Kinkle, Mr. and Mrs.
Albert Hollenbach, Mr. George Rowden and family, Mr.
in Shelby County
In a yellowed, musty old "Deacon's Record," the property
of Mr. J. A. Logan, of Christiansburg, the cover of which bears
dates of 1796, 1819 and 1839, under the head of "A Sketch of
Presbyterian Church History in Shelby County," is the
the spring of A. D. 1796, Archibald Cameron received a call from a
people who wished to be congregated and enjoy the regular ministry
of the gospel, both in the counties of Shelby and
Nelson—two-thirds of his time in
and the other part to be at the
meeting house in
. The friends of the Presbyterian Church were scattered in
different directions around Shelbyville; but most of them were
living on Bull Skin and Tick Creek and of course their first
places of meeting were on these creeks and that summer the
preacher, whom they called being only a licentiate, was ordained
and installed among them. The first administration of the Lord's
Supper was in the fall of 1796, and all the communicants were
about thirty-five. The great part of them were received upon
examination and not by certificate. Mr. Cameron soon found it
expedient to disengage himself from the people of the
County and confined his ministry wholly to the people of
. In a short process of time the communicants increased to nearly
a hundred and it was thought proper upon consultation for
convenience of assembling together to change the place of meeting.
A people in this Presbyterian connection called the low Dutch
congregation suffered considerable diminution by dereliction to
the Shakers and removals to the
. "The congregation of Tick Creek by deaths and removals of
families and individuals to the
States was reduced likewise to a few. It was found then expedient
for them and the remaining part of the "low Dutch,' to build
a meeting house on the head of Mulberry Creek, which place lies
between the two settlements. The stated preaching was then
established at the Mulberry meeting house and the name of the
church was changed from that of Tick Creek to Mulberry. Preaching
was occasionally continued among the low Dutch at a commodious
school house until they had a good meeting house called the Six
Mile Meeting House, but the communicants were still few owing to
the opening which the rising families have for the obtainment of
lands in the Indiana State and consequently the occasion which it
gives for a change of situation.
Presbyterian connection in the vicinity of Shelbyville had then a
general place of meeting for preaching and public worship on Fox
Run. The people up Bull Skin above that agreeing to hold meetings
there for the sake of general convenience—after some time it was
thought proper by the same general connection of Presbyterians to
establish a part of the public service of the gospel at
Shelbyville. The main places of public and stated assembling for
the service of the Sabbaths among the connected Presbyterians were
Mulberry, Shelbyville and Fox Run. In the meantime the Presbytery
of Transylvania, presuming that congregations, whether single or
being several and united, were entitled to a representation or an
elder as member of Presbytery only when they were able and willing
to support a preacher required of all the
congregations to make an exhibit in Presbytery which would give
evidence of that fact. In compliance with the requisition of
Presbytery the congregations mentioned of Shelbyville, Mulberry
and Fox Run made their representation to Presbytery by a written
instrument in which they recognized the Reverend Archibald Cameron
as their regular pastor which had formerly been installed at his
ordination and in consequence of which their Elder was received to
continued these people under the ministry of the Reverend
Archibald Cameron, and though different vicissitudes took place as
we have seen above peace and harmony prevailed between them and
their minister from the beginning.
may indeed be remarked that individuals at different times
endeavored to create discord, but their efforts never had much
effect. "Presbytery thought proper to dissolve the
connections between the congregations of Fox Run and the
in October, 1819. The vicinity of Fox Run meeting
house at that time afforded a more numerous population attached to
the Presbyterian Church than any other part of
. They were freed from the interference of other denominations and
growing families were in steadier habits of regular attention to
public worship. The plan of constructing two meeting houses within
three miles of one another which took place among this people
seems not to have been rightly considered. Had they been at
greater distance they would embrace a larger number of people who
would frequent them, but as it is one central place of meeting
would serve as well for the whole.
old Transylvania Presbytery was not in the habit of calling up and
examining sessional records. This may be assigned as some reason
why we were not particular in keeping a full register of our
church transactions. Though we had occasion to inflict church
censure in some few instances there never were any complaints or
appeals made to Presbytery respecting our decision, and we at this
distance of time think it not expedient to trouble the new
Presbytery of Louisville with reviews of all our ancient
transactions committed to record.
April, 1807, our list of names who were in the full communion of
our church belonging to the congregation of Tick Creek (now
Mulberry), Shelbyville, including also Six Mile, were the
this number there remain only at the present time (viz. October,
1827), 37 persons, some have removed to
and some to the State of the dead." A. D. 1828.
this time forward we keep an account of the State and doings of
separate from Shelbyville and Six Mile congregation." The
indistinctly written names of the members of the Shelbyville part
of the joint churches in 1819, are given in the same book as
Deborah, Anne, Jane_Allen, Singleton, Wilson, Mr. Cull, Mrs. Cull,
Mr. Montgomery, Mrs. Montgomery, Mrs. Scott, John Reily, Mrs.
Reily, Mrs. Middleton, Mrs. Knose, Betsy Hardin, Mrs. Killpatrick,
Mrs. Steele, Mrs. Bullock, Robert Brooky, Sam Harbison, John
McCampbell, Mrs. Mc- Campbell, Mrs. Hall, Moses Hall, Rebecca-,
Mrs. McDavid, Mr. Craig, Mrs. Craig, Mr. Long, Polly Paterson,
Annie King, Arthur Paterson, Mrs. J. Venable, Alexander Logan,
Mrs. Logan, Elson Wilson, Wm. Allen, W. Boyd, Mrs. Boyd, Nancy
Logan, Mr. Lemam.
King, Ann King, William Graham, Patsy Graham, James Graham, Caleb
Shilidray, Charles Baird, Caty Baird, Caty Shiliday, Wm. Johnstone,
Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. D. Swearnger, James Venable, Betsy Venable, Sam
Graham, George Pearcy, Margaret Smith, John Demaree, Nancy Demaree,
David Harbison, Mr. Miles, Mr. George Smith, Mrs. Smith, Mrs.
Banta, Albert Voz-His, Andrew Carnine, Mrs. Mitchell, Leah Voz-His,
Caty Voz-His, Poly Shugh, Isaac Voz-His, Mr. Shugh, Mrs. Cameron,
George Lyst, Poly Polyne, Mr. Polyne, Massy Voz-His, Anne Voz-His,
Polly Turchum, Tunis Voz-His, Sam. Demaree, George King, Nelly
King, Rachael Demaree, Polly Bip, another woman, Mip Carnine,
Mulberry and Shelbyville Added
Muelin, Mrs. Bowen, David Van Cleave, Rachael Van Cleave, Mr.
Moore, Mrs. Graham from the creek, Patsy . Harbison, Mrs. Thomson,
Mrs. Hannah Steele, Moses Hall, Betsy Hate, Betsy Vetch, one black
Shelbyville congregation separated from and worshipped, until
1820, in the Shelbyville "meeting house' which was used for a
time by all the congregations of the town and in that year built a
church on the rear half of the lot where the old grave yard and
library now are. This church was blown down a few years later
during a severe storm and temporarily rebuilt at the same place
and used until 1846, when a brick church was built on the lot at
Seventh and Main Streets, and remained the worshipping place for
the Shelbyville congregation until 1888, when remodeled into the
more commodious building now used there. In the meantime the war
had caused in this church and congregation the same sort of schism
that afflicted the Methodist and other
Presbyterian churches in Kentucky, and a pretentious new building
was erected two blocks further west on Main Street, and was used
for many years by the "Northern" Church, and until the
congregation was reunited about the beginning of the Twentieth
The churches jointly, known as the Fox Run-Shiloh and Bull
Skin-Olivet seem to have been organized in 1815 or 16, with the
Rev. A. Cameron preaching for both for about five years. The
records show that on November 5, 1819, the two united to support a
pastor, Rev. John F. Crow and Jacob Fullenwider and James Allen,
Alex Logan, Aaron Van Cleave, John Van Cleave, James White, ruling
Elders, and ninety-four members. Two years later Rev. Henry L.
Price became pastor and succeeding him in 1825, was James L.
witnessed a great revival in which seventy-seven persons were
added and twenty-nine baptized. Then came not only in this
church, but in all the churches of this denomination in the
County what seems to have been a season of strangely rigid
discipline, where men and women, including blacks, were tried
for every known crime or sin and the records of whose trials on
these minute books all over the County furnish unique
examples of the Weaknesses of the flesh and the intolerance of
those who sat in high places. In four years in the little congregation under description there were eighty-five members
dismissed from the church and in the next two years thirty more
were dismissed. In 1833, the name of the church was
and Olivet, and Rev. D. S. Russell succeeded Rev. Marshall, deceased, as pastor. Successive
were: D. T. Stuart, pastor for sixteen years following 1837,
and Rev. Tames H. Densmore, G. L. Reid, T. P. McMillan, who served
until 1867, when the pastoral relations of Shiloh and
dissolved. William Crawford, of
, who married Margaret Dean, came to
in 1806. He settled in Olivet neighborhood and is buried in the
old church yard at that place. He was a Revolutionary Soldier and
had a grant of land for service.
data contributed by Mrs. William Fitch.
contributed by Mrs. Mary Middelton Nicholas
his History of Kentucky Baptists, J. H. Spencer, in Volume I,
Roman Catholic families, those of Doctor Hart and William Coomes,
settled in Harrodsburg in 1775, where Doctor Hart began at once to
practice medicine, and Mrs. Coomes to teach school. After a few
years, these, with other Catholic families, settled near
Bardstown. In 1785, a large colony of Catholics from
, settled on Pottengers Creek in
. By 1787, there were about fifty Catholic families in
. During this year, Mr. Whelan, an Irish priest, came to the new
Country and ministered to the Catholics about three years. Mr.
Baden, who came out in 1793, was their next priest. At this date,
the number of Catholic families in the State was estimated at 300.
From that time we have no estimate of their number until 1846,
when there was supposed to be 6,000 families.
substantiates, in part, the generally believed contention, that
the first Catholic Diocese west of the Alleghenies was in
Kentucky, but that church, however, with all its growth and power
for good was slow in taking root in Shelby, where the only church
it has ever had was only a mission up until the year 1860.
Church of the Annunciation was the first and is the only Catholic
Church ever in
. It was built and dedicated in 1860, and while the members of the
first churches of other denominations built in the County suffered
many privations and encountered many obstacles in getting the
funds necessary to construct their houses of worship, none labored
harder or had so much to contend with as the handful of Catholics.
The first Catholic priest in Shelbyville, was Father James Quinn,
1842. He came at
the request of Mrs. James McLaughlin to give spiritual advice to
her husband who had been brought to Shelbyville for trial on a
charge of murder.
Higgins was the first Catholic in Shelbyville and Wm. Shinnick,
who came to this country in 1849, was the next. In 1853, Bishop
Spaulding, of the diocese (afterwards Arch Bishop of Baltimore)
went to Europe to obtain more priests for
. He succeeded in getting five, one of whom was Rev. John H.
Bekkers, a native of
. To him is due the establishment of a church in Shelbyville. In
1855, he made his first trip to Shelbyville. His presence
soon became known to the handful of Catholics here and the next
morning after his arrival the first mass ever celebrated in
Shelbyville was celebrated at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Shinnick.
for the establishment of a Catholic Church was headed by Mr. John
Tevis for two hundred dollars, signed by Lud Fore, Marion C.
Taylor, G. A. Armstrong, Culvin Fore, each giving one hundred
dollars. Other donations from non-Catholics put the sum total up
to nine hundred dollars. This with several hundred accumulated
among the few Catholics themselves, encouraged Father Bekkers in
his ambition to build a church here.
Jane Campbell donated the lot on which to build the church. Prior
to her first marriage, Mrs. Campbell was a Catholic and lived in
. She married
Mr. Peter Crapster and the grandfather of the former assistant
postmaster. After Mr. Crapster's death she married William F.
Campbell, also a Protestant. The lot was located on
east Main Street
, corner of First. The deed from W. F. Campbell's wife, Jane, was
dated December, 1859. The lot was seventy-eight by two hundred and
for the foundation was made in the spring of 1860. The brick
for the building were made by Ed. and John Brady.
The foundation was laid under the direction of James
McCarthy and he was assisted by Peter Lee, David Boyle, Thomas
Fox, Thos. Gernert, John and Michael Harris, Joseph McGann, Will
McFadden and John Lyons, for which work they received no pay.
Carpenterman's work was done by
and Wells; the bricklaying by a man named Campion; plastering by
Nolan, and stone work by Herman Deiss and Michael Brown.
Church of the Annunciation was dedicated by Rt. Rev. M. J.
Spaulding. Two years later a rectory was built and then the priest
(who had lived in a boarding house) had a home of his own. After
Father Bekkers, Father Lawrence Bax and Polydore Fermont, a
missionary priest, attended the spiritual wants of the
congregation until 1861, when Rev. M. D. Lawler was appointed
regular pastor. Rev. D. F. Crane, afterward Chaplin St. Mary and
, came in 1868.
In the early `66's a pipe organ was purchased and given
by Mrs. Chas. Harwood. The first organist was Miss Lizzie Deiss,
then came Miss Maggie McQuillan, Miss Mary Shinnick, Alyce Dubourg,
W. S. Kaltenbacher, Miss Mary Meade and Mrs. Ed. Shinnick. The
first marriage ceremony in the church was that of Michael Brown
and Miss Kate O'Connor, on January 8, 1861
very first "place of learning," of which tradition
tells, in Shelby County, was a little school located on Clear
Creek, two miles south of Shelbyville on land owned by William
Shannon, and on what was later the farm of Doctor Elliott. The
teacher's name was Dillon. He was succeeded by Moses Cook, and
they taught for short terms intermittently, between the arrival of
the first settlers and the early nineties of 1700. The second
school of which any record is found, was taught in a Presbyterian
Church, built in 1798, on Dry Run, the teacher being Godfrey
Ragsdale. Among his pupils were the children of Benj. Logan, later
General Logan, James Shannon, John Williamson, Dan Colgan, Bland
Ballard, Aquilla Whitaker and Samuel Shannon. The church in which
the school was taught was three miles southwest of the town and
near what was later known as the Samuel Henderson farm. After the
school taught by Professor Ragsdale, at Dry Run, possibly the next
was taught by David Lock, at the west end of Shelbyville and
antidated the one to the north of the town. Some of the patrons
that sent pupils to this school bore the family names of: Cull,
, Lively, Bruner, Bullock, Craig, Glenn,
, Thrusby, McGaughey, Perkins,
, Hall, Collier, Whitaker, A. Owens, Joseph Owens, McCurham, Boyd,
Maddox, Williamson, Steele. About the same time there was taught a
school one mile' east of Shelbyville by James Herndon. The patrons
of this school were: the Scott, Wells, George Carr, Trudle,
Parker, Guinn families.
first school in Shelbyville was taught on the lower floor of the
building known as the Masons' lodge, erected and owned by Solomon
Lodge F, and A. M. No. 5, for many years the pioneer Masonic
building and organization in this section of the State. The lodge
building then adjoined the Rogers home on Washington Street,
between Sixth and Seventh, and the lower portion was used as the
school until the Shelbyville Academy was built, one block west, in
1798. The first trustees of the Shelbyville academy were: Joseph
Hornsby, Benj. Logan, Bland Ballard, Ben Roberts, Thos. Guin,
Simon Adams, James
Logan, John Allen, Jos. Winlock, John Pope, Nicholas Merriweather,
Dan McClelland, Aquilla Whitaker. The modest beginnings of the
remained such for many years, and it was not until 1816, that the
academy had as many as fifty pupils and two teachers. By 1821, it
gratifyingly and in the County's next to the first newspaper, The
Impartial Compiler, printed in 1821, on March 17, was a notice by
the trustees of Shelbyville Academy that the "Senior Annual
Examinations of the pupils of this Institution will take place on
Friday, the Thirtieth instant," and that the "parents
and guardians of the pupils and the friends of literature are
requested to attend and that, the summer season will start on
Monday the Twenty-second of April and will continue with-out any
vacation until the first of August." The Shelbyville Academy,
through lotteries and other enterprises, grew sufficiently to move
a block farther northwest, on the site of what is now the graded
school building of the town, and which from the Shelbyville
Academy (afterward Shelbyville College) was changed to the St.
James (Episcopal) School.
less old than Science Hill and the Shelbyville Academy, but well
nigh as well known in the history of the town and County as they
were: St. James College, opened in 1842, with Rev. R. B. Drane as
president and Joseph Sweet and W. F. Roe, teachers. This college
was really the successor of
and built the splendid building located on the block between
Eighth and Ninth Streets north of College and occupied it until
1871. The cupola upon the top of what was then one of the finest
buildings in Central Kentucky, was erected, and the telescope
(through which distinguished astronomers viewed the eclipse of
1869; and other astronomical phenomenons), was brought from
a distance by the early officers of
1846, Samuel V. Womack began the teaching of a classical and
mathematical school which lived for several years and along about
the same time, Professor Knott taught a private school, which like
all the others drew largely from the surrounding counties and
states, and enjoyed wide influence and
reputation beyond the bounds of the County for many years. in
1890. It became nationally known as "Stuart's
*" acquiescing in the Presbyterian name attached to it in the
minds and conversations of all who knew of it. It drew girls from
the first families of many states in the south, and reunions of
its alumnae, of comparatively recent years, drew charming women of
advanced years from many sections of the west and the south.
was about the same time that Professor Hill opened his school in
the big new brick building that so long stood between Seventh and
Eighth on Main Street, and was later known as "Stuart's
Female College." The latter was for many years a real, if
friendly rival, except for a much shorter life, of famous
old Science Hill. The purchase of the building and good will of
Professor Hill, was by a syndicate of Shelbyville men, who
importuned the Reverend Doctor David Todd Stuart, then a young
Presbyterian minister in charge of Olivet and
, to take charge. He did so; finally became the owner of the
property and changed the name to "Stuart's
", and successfully conducted it until his death in 1868. A
little later his widow called their son, Winchester Hall Stuart*
to be the principal, and he was in charge until he sold the
school continued and prospered under the Stuarts for more than a
half century but in the 1890's, passed into the hands of Professor
J. E. Nunn, a minister of the
. He continued it for some years as a girls' school, under the
auspices of the Baptist denomination, but he finally sold the
property to Mrs. L. C. Willis, in 1912; and she in turn, to the
Federal Government, who had the old building torn away and the
Federal Post Office erected thereon. Doctor Hill, it seems,
continued to teach school for years after parting with the old
school to the Stuarts, there being a record to the effect that he
bought and rebuilt the burned building of Doctor Broaddus'
, at Second and Main Streets, in 1850.
Stuart, the wife of Prof. W. H. Stuart, and the mother of the
large family of fine young men and women they sent out into the
world was Miss Martinette Chiner, a descendant of Benj. Logan, a
progenitor of the Bells. Hardins,
and other families of distinction, and who is referred to in
different chapters of the book, particularly in the sketch of his
son, William Logan, in Part V.
which celebrated its hundredth anniversary in 1925, and with the
exception of the Shelby Fair, is the only institution that lived
and flourished throughout
even war times, has a history that is as familiar to Shelbyians,
and to many in other states as is the history of the County
itself. As elsewhere mentioned it was founded in 1825, by Mrs.
Julia A. Tevis, the wife of Rev. John Tevis, a Methodist minister,
with whom she had come, as a bride to
, though she was a native of
Ky. The life of Mrs. Tevis (and in a measure that of her husband),
is of as much general interest throughout the southern states as
in Shelby County alone, for Science Hill has never been an
exclusively local institution, having drawn from the beginning
upon most of the states in the Union and particularly the south
for its patronage. At the end of the first fifty years of the
school's existence under Mrs. Tevis* management (1875), the
semi-centennial anniversary was celebrated by a reunion of its
former pupils, and it is told that even that early in its history,
nearly all states of the south were represented and in some
instances as many as three generations in one family returned as
former pupils. Mrs. Tevis' control and management of the school
continued until her death in 1880, at which time the school became
the property of the late Doctor W. T. Poynter of the
Methodist-Episcopalian Church* and, since his death in 1896, has
been not only kept up to its former fine standard, but annually
improved by his widow, Mrs. Clara M. Poynter, and his daughters,
Misses Julia and Harriett Poynter, sending out to the best
institutions of higher education throughout the Union, not only
girls, but daughters of practically all the states in the
. There are in the local' public and private libraries volumes
written, by Mrs. Tevis and others, that go as much into the
details of the history of Science Hill and its proprietors as it
is possible to do, into those of the whole County in this book.
Tevis* book "Sixty Years in a School Room," a volume of
five hundred pages, is not only an interesting intimate story of
her life and of Science Hill for its first sixty years, but is
prefaced by an autobiography of her husband, Reverend John Tevis,
and with much relating to the whole Tevis family and so vitally
connected with the County's first years. At the first session of
in March, 1825,
pupils enrolled were:
Hall, Maria Rouse, Agnes Bradshaw, Harriett Ann Tennison, America
Pomeroy, Luanda Johnson, Margaret Smith, Margaret Waters,
Priscilla Logan, Mary Hardin, Louisa Adams, Amanda McGaughey,
Lucinda Shelburn, Susan
Taylor, Sarah Ann Davis, Jane A. Logan, Sarah Crawford, Anna
Craig, Martha Jane Edwards, Miss Fields.
Pupils enrolled at the second session:
Jane Logan, Margaret Lynch, Margaret Waters, Margaret Hall, Juliet
Crawford, Matilda Smith, Lucinda Johnson, Margaret Gorley, Susan
Taylor, Mary Hardin,
Louisa Adams, Maria Rouse, Agnes Bradshaw, Luanda Fullenwider,
Elizabeth Fullenwider, America Greathouse, Susan Ashby, Eliza
Dalton, Carolina Rankin, Pamelia Cheek, Martha I. Hanna, Maria
Good, Joany Bean, Camilla Brashear, Lydia A. E. Wickliffe,
Elizabeth Anderson, Margaret Sproole.
Private and Public Schools
long list of institutions like "Professor Dodd's
school," Professor Fulton's, the later institutions taught by
Professor Russell B. McCreary, by Professors Geo. Sampson, and
Geo. Scearce and other men of learning and character, were
probably short-lived because of the large program of the public
school system in which enterprise Kentucky was a pioneer. A
complete, exhaustive history of the schools of the County-would
include those of Professor John W. Adams, near Simpsonville in the
1850's; the "East Cedar Hill" school for girls by Mrs.
Cleo. Clark Coon, near Clark's Station in 1860-70-80, "
at Simpsonville, between 1868 and 1880, and other early
substitutions for high schools, at Bagdad, Waddy,
and Finchville. There is an unauthenticated legend to the effect
that Theodore O'Hara taught a small school in Shelby County for a
time; and the story of the Red Brick School in the Finchville
neighborhood where the pupils of the name of all the pioneer
families of that section were taught flourished long and of much
school that flourished and is yet of historic interest in the
western portion of the County was Woodland Seminary, founded in
1847, near Simpsonville, at the homestead of
Leonidus Webb, and his ancestors. The first teachers were, in turn: Miss Selia A. Bell,
who later became Mrs. John Scott and was succeeded by Mrs. Mary L.
Ferris, Miss Rucker, Miss Ewing, Miss Lizzie McCormick, V. A.
Dale, and G. A. Webb. Among the roster of pupils for the first
four or five years is to be found the names of nearly
every family that lived in that part of the County during the
Nineteenth century, including, Allen, Cowherd, Dedman Finley,
Newland, Pemberton, Waller, Webb,
, Stout, Young, Hope, Shouse, Melone, Collins, Kirk, Dugan, Botts,
Fisher and Pearce.
's public schools have taken a lead among the rural county schools
of the State in much the same proportion and manner as her
churches, her press and her political leaders have done. There has
hardly ever been a time in the past century when there has not
been a high school and graded school in Shelbyville, which grew in
strength and excellence until early in the Twentieth century they
began to spread to new and larger buildings, one of which is now
one of the boasted ornaments of the County Seat. In the outlying
towns of Waddy, Bagdad, Finchville, Clay village and Simpsonville
are also excellent high schools, the outgrowth and up-growth of
the little one-room school houses that early dotted the County at
every cross road and under the shadow of every prosperous county
church. These, too, with the coming of the motor bus
concentrated into the model consolidated schools and where whole
country-sides of school children of all ages are taught in grades
and prepared for higher education in the high schools and colleges