Transcribed from "The First 200 Years of
Generously contributed by the compiler, Mildred Bowen Belew
The first church in the county was of the Baptist denomination formed in part
by people who had been dismissed from Bryan's Station in Fayette County. The
construction was effected on the fourth Saturday in June 1795 and had eighteen
members. It was known as the "Forks of Licking Church" and probably
gathered and pastored by Alexander Monroe. It struggled and declined until 1825,
when Mr. Monroe was succeeded by Mr. L. C. Abernathy, who left the Campbellites
and carried a large portion of the membership with him.
In 1830 a new church was built on Main Street. It was demolished in 1854 and
constructed on the corner of Fourth and Chapel Streets. The present Falmouth
Baptist Church was dedicated in 1930 on the corner of Fourth and Maple Streets.
About this time a church was established on Grassy Creek known as the
"Middle Fork Baptist Church" or "Grassy Creek Baptist
Church", nicknamed "The Ark". In the first minutes book, now in
the hands of Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church, dated March 1889, speaks of their
last meeting, so evidently they had other meetings and the first book had been
lost or they never kept records before. A committee of William Caldwell, William
D. Belew and Henry Thornton helped the clerk transfer the constitution and rules
of decorum from an old book to a new one. Moderator was Elder Martin Lummis. It
is not known what became of the old book.
Some of the members of this church were: Caldwells, Belews, Thortons, Manns,
Twentys, Schluesters, Egglestons, Mullins, Blackburns, Beighlies, Dulaneys,
Duckworths, Daughertys, Clevelands, Smiths, O'Neals, Reeds and others. The first
pastor mentioned was brother Martin Lummis. Other pastors were Rev. William H.
McMillian, Rev. Thomas Stephens, Rev. William Race, Rec. Christian Tomlin, Rev.
Asa Tomlin and Rev. Charles Bagby. Gardnersville Baptist Church was a branch of
this church as were others in the community. The Ark was about two miles down
the creek from where Knoxville and Gardenersville Roads cross the Middle Fork of
Grassy Creek. There was a dirt road from about the Smith Cemetery, across the
middle ford to the Caldwell Ridge, at Bill Caldwell's place. The church was just
below where that dirt road crossed the creek. It was located on an island in the
creek, thus the name of Baptist Island used today for that small piece of land.
A large grove of beech trees surrounded it, a beautiful location.
When the creek was up the water was all around the church. The island was on the
lower part of John (Slick) Dougherty's place. Asa Tomlin and John Dougherty had
a disagreement about something and at one time Dougherty had cut a tree, falling
it into the baptizing hole, just before the set time for a baptizing. After that
when Asa Tomlin was preaching at the Middle Fork Church he referred to the
incident of falling trees into the baptizing hole. Asa described the beauties of
heaven and the joys of the blessed redeemer and said there would be no John
(Slick) Dougherty's there to fall trees into the baptizing hole.
People came from miles around to see the old church. It was two stories high,
built of logs. The floor of the upper story was not laid all the way over the
pulpit, to enable those in the second story to see the preacher and hear the
sermon. It was sort of a balcony. The upper floor was supported by hewed 2 X 2
feet beams. The floor joist rested upon these beams and walls. There were two of
these large beams running the length of the building and theses beams were
supported by 2 X 2 feet hewed post and the walls. Along each side wall was a row
of cut spike nails for hanging hats and wraps on. These ran nearly the full
length of the building.
The next Christian denomination that held regular meetings in the county were
the Methodist. Perhaps the first preacher being Robert Graves, who was soon
replaced by the circuit rider, who preached at private homes and school houses.
The first Methodist Circuit of which Falmouth was a part, commenced at Newport
and extended to the territory lying between the Ohio River and Licking River at
Falmouth. Today there is the Falmouth Unity Methodist Church at Shelby and Maple
Streets, Falmouth Weslyn Methodist Church at Beech Street, Carters Chapel
Methodist Church at Gardnersville, Concord Methodist Church at Concord, Butler
Methodist Church and Pine Grove Methodist Church at Cado.
A Lutheran Protestant Church was at the corner of Second and Chapel Streets.
In a few years all the other protestant denominations established themselves in
the county until it may be said that our county is as thoroughly furnished with
public worship of God as almost any other county in the state of Kentucky.