Pendleton County Churches




Transcribed from "The First 200 Years of Pendleton County"
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.

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