xt7xpn8x9z4b https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7xpn8x9z4b/data/mets.xml Thompson, Lewis Nathan, 1859- 1910  books b92-70-27082891 English Baptist World, : Louisville, Ky. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Craig, Lewis, 1737-1825. Lewis Craig, the pioneer Baptist preacher  / his life, labors and character / by Lewis N. Thompson. text Lewis Craig, the pioneer Baptist preacher  / his life, labors and character / by Lewis N. Thompson. 1910 2002 true xt7xpn8x9z4b section xt7xpn8x9z4b 



The Pioneer Baptist Preacher









The Pioneer Baptist Preacher




Lewisburg and Ewing Baptist Churches
   North Fork, Mason County, Ky.





  The proceeds from the sale of this sketch of
the life of our illustrious Baptist pioneer are to
be given, by the writer and the Woman's Mis-
sionary Unions of the Lewisburg and Ewing
Baptist Churches, as a contribution toward the
erection in his memory of a proposed monu-
ment. I wish to express here my appreciation
of the interest shown by the ladies of these two
Unions in this undertaking and to extend my
thanks for their promised aid.
                     LEWIS N. THOMPSON.


      With Admiration and in Honor
                of the
True Heroism of Those who Fought the Great
               Battle for
            and for the full
             other days-
    one of the Most Illustrious of whom
               was the
         This Little Book is
         Affectionatcly Dedicated


"I tell you 'twere better to cherish that soul-
   That soldier that battles with thought for a
 That climbs the steep ramparts where wrong has
   And falls beaten back by the rude, trampling
Ay, better to cherish his words and his worth
   Than all the Napoleons that ever cursed earth."



  At the meeting of the Bracken Association
of Baptists, held at Millersburg, August, 1909,
the writer and the Hon. John H. Jackson, of
Minerva, and Mrs. Adrian B. Ratliff, of Sharps-
burg, were appointed by that body as a com-
mittee to solicit funds for the erection of a suit-
able monument at the grave of the Rev. Lewis
Craig, whose body lies buried near Minerva,
Mason County.
  Naturally we became anxious to know some-
thing about Lewis Craig, for we had heard little
of him, and we must confess that our ignorance
was somewhat embarrassing. Who was I to ask
money to rear a monument to one of whose life
and labors I knew so little On making in-
quiry here and there I found that others knew
no more than I, and so I sat about gathering
such information as would assist me in present-
ing my cause in a way that would gain the at-
tention of our Baptist brethren. Then, as I
proceeded with my investigations, the thought
came to me that these things should be written
and published, in order that all Baptists, who
wish -to know, may have, in brief form, a sketch
of the life, labors and character of one of our
mighty heroes of faith.
  In pursuance of this thought we have decided
to place before you the facts as gathered from
many sources. We indulge the hope that, as
you read, your zeal may be renewed, your in-

terest in true heroism be kindled anew, and
that, if no more, you may gladly assist us in
this -work of honoring "our dead", who, though
dead, yet speaks to us of the great mission of
life-that of publishing the Glad Tidings of
Good News, and of living and laboring for the
churches of God.
  This monument should be raised to that
grand old Baptist hero-should have been
raised long ago, for it is not to our honor as
Baptists as lovers of that soul-liberty for
which Lewis Craig fought and suffered-that
his grave remain unmarked. We should do
this not only in his honor, but for the sake
of the glorious cause that fired his very soul, the
proclamation of which led his persecutors to
hound him to jail, in an effort to silence his
mighty voice in the great conflict for religious
and civil liberty.
  You may say-men do say-
"Each man makes his own Stature, builds himself.
Virtue alone outbuilds the Pyramids;
Her monuments shall last when Egypt's fall."

  Lewis Craig built his own monument, and it
shall "last when Egypt's fall"; but let us build
one that the eye of man may see, and call to
mind the glorious life of our most illustrious
dead; and it may chance that the one who sees
may be awakened to higher things in life, for-
  "The aspiring soul is fired to lofty deeds
  By great men's monuments, and they make fair
  And holy to the pilgrim's eye the earth
  That has received their dust."



  Lewis Craig was born in Orange County, Va.,
about the year 1737, according to Dr. J. H.
Spencer; about 1740 according to Dr. James B.
Taylor. He was the son of Tolliver and Polly
Craig. Tolliver was the only child of English
parents, and was born in Virginia about, the
year 1710. At the age of twenty-two he mar-
ried Polly Hawkins and settled in Orange
County. These were the parents of eleven chil-
dren, seven sons and four daughters. They
all became Baptists; three of the sons were Bap-
tist preachers-Lewis, Elijah and Joseph. Betsy,
the youngest daughter and child, married Rich-
ard Cave, one of Kentucky's pioneer Baptist
  We learn nothing regarding the early life of
Lewis Craig, other than that he was reared on
a farm, and that he received a very limited edu-
cation. Early in life (how early we have not
learned) he married Miss Betsy Landers. We
find no record as to number of children born
to them, but in his will, written June, 1821, he
mentions four sons-Lewis, Elijah, John and
Whitfield. Lewis and Elijah are named as his


Lewis Craig,

executors. This will was probated in the Mason
County Court at the September term, 1825.
  According to Mr. George W. Ranck, author
of "The Traveling Church", he died in the
summer of 1825, in his eighty-fifth year; ac-
cording to Collins, the eighty-seventh.
  We come now to the most important event in
his life, that of his new birth. Up to the year
1765, or thereabout, he had lived, according
to his own statement, "in all kinds of vanity,
folly and vice", but now there came a change,
an "awakening", which was wrought by the
preaching of Samuel Harris. A deep sense of
his guilt and condemnation came upon him.
"He was convicted of sin"-his sin and his
guilt. Of this period in his life Rev. John
Taylor writes:
  "Mr. Craig's great pressure of guilt induced
him to follow the preachers from one meeting
to another. And when preaching was ended
hle would rise up in tears and loudly exclaim
that he was a justly condemned sinner, and
with loud voice warn the people to fly from the
wrath to come, and except they were born again,
with him, they would all go down to hell.
While under his exhortation the people would
weep and cry aloud for mercy. In this man-
ner his ministry began before he himself had
hope of conversion, and after relief came to


Baptist Pioneer.

him, he went on preaching a considerable time
before he was baptized, no administrator being
near, many being converted under his labors."
  Shortly after his conversion, and before his
baptism, he was indicted by the grand jury
"for holding unlawful conventicles, and preach-
ing the Gospel contrary to law". It is recorded
by Dr. J. H. Spencer that "when the jury by
whom he was being tried went to a tavern for
refreshments, he treated them to a bowl of grog,
and while they were drinking it, got their atten-
tion and spoke to them to the following pur-
port: 'Gentlemen-I thank you for your atten-
tion to me. When I was about this court-
yard, in all kinds of vanity, folly and vice,
you took no notice of me; but when I have for-
saken all the vices, and am warning men to
forsake, and repent of their sins, you bring me
to the bar as a transgressor. How is all this'"
  John Waller, who was so profane and reck-
less that he was known as "Swearing Jack"
and the "Devil's Adjutant", was one of the
jury' and the "meekness and solemnity of
manner" of Mr. Craig impressed him so deeply
that he could not be rid of it, and was finally,
in about eight months, says Spencer, con-
verted, and became a Baptist preacher-"the
most picturesque of the early Baptist ministers
of Virginia"-a whole-souled defender of the
people whom he had once so bitterly opposed



Lewis Craig,

and reviled. Dr. Spencer says of hint in this
connection: "He subsequently became one of
the most distinguished Baptist ministers of his
generation, and, in his turn, endured persecu-
tion 'for preaching the Gospel contrary to law.'
Mr. Craig was probably prosecuted no more in
this case."
  "On the 4th of June, 1768, Lewis Craig,
John Waller and James Childs were seized by
the sheriff while engaged in public worship
and brought before the magistrates in the meet-
ing-house yard. They were held to bail in a
thousand pounds to appear at court two days
afterwards. They were arraigned before the
court as disturbers of the peace. In his speech
the prosecuting attorney said: 'May it please
your worships, these men are great disturbers
of the peace; they cannot meet a man on the
road, but they must ram a text of Scripture
down his throat."
  "Mr. Waller, who had been educated for the
law, defended himself and his brethren so in-
geniously that the court was much puzzled.
However, the prisoners were required to give se-
curity not to preach again in the country for
the period of twelve months. This they re-
fused to do, and were committed to jail. As
they passed along through the streets of Fred-
ericksburg, on their way to prison, they sang the
old hymn beginning:


Baptist Pioneer.

     'Broad is the road that leads to death.'
A great crowd followed them and the scene
was awfully solemn."-(Spencer.)
  "During this confinement," says J. B. Taylor,
"Elder Craig preached through the grates to
large crowds, and was the means of doing much
good". He remained in jail a month and was
released. Hastening to Williamsburg he soon
secured the release of the others. The letter
following was brought by him from the deputy-
governor to the king's attorney:
  "Sir-I lately received a letter signed by a
goodly number of worthy gentlemen who are
not here, complaining of the Baptists; the par-
ticulars of their misbehavior are not told, any
further than their running into private houses
and making dissensions. Mr. Craig and Mr.
Benjamin Waller are now with me, and deny
the charge; they tell me they are willing to
take the oath as others have. I told them then
I had consulted the attorney-general, who is of
the opinion that the general court alone had a
right to grant licenses, and therefore I referred
them to the court; but on their application to
the attorney-general, they brought me his let-
ter, advising me to write to you. Their petition
was a matter of right and you ought not to
molest these conscientious people so long as they
behave themselves in a manner becoming pious


Lewis Craig,

Christians and in obedience to the laws-till the
court, when they intend to apply for license,
and when the gentlemen who complain may
make their objections and be heard. The act
of toleration (it being found by experience that
persecuting dissenters increases their numbers)
has given them the right to apply, in a proper
manner, for licensed houses for the worship of
God according to their consciences; and I per-
suade myself, the gentlemen will quietly over-
look their meetings till the court. I am told
they administer the sacrament of the Lord's
Supper, near the manner we do, and differ in
nothing from our church but in that of baptism
and their renewing the ancient discipline; by
which they have reformed some sinners and
brought them to be truly penitent; nay, if any
man of theirs is idle and neglects to labor and
provide for his family as he ought, he incurs
their censures, which have had good effects. If
this be their behavior, it were to be wished that
we had some of it among us. But, at least, I
hope all may remain quiet till the court.
  "I am, with great respect to the gentlemen,
sir, your humble servant,    JOHN BLAIR.
  "Williamsburg, July 16th, 1768."

  "When this letter came to the attorney he
would have nothing to say in the affair. Wailer
and the others remained in jail for forty-three


Baptist Pioneer.

days and were discharged without any condi-
tions. There is a report that Patrick Henry
made one of his great speeches in their behalf.
While they were in prison they continued to
preach to the crowds that assembled. Mobs
tried by their fuss and stir to prevent their being
heard, but many did hear and were saved. The
spread of the Gospel and of Baptist principles
was equal to all their exertions. The Baptist
cause became formidable to its enemies."
  As was usual with these heroes of that day,
and other days, their persecutions only served to
increase their zeal, strengthen their courage and
fired their hearts to larger efforts. They came
forth from jail and went to work with greatly
renewed energy. Like those of old, this servant
had the spirit of his Lord, and he and his fellow-
laborers knew that "the servL nrt is not above his
  Mr. Craig was baptized in 1766 or 1767, but
was not ordained to the ministry until Novem-
ber, 1770. He had not been idle during this
time, for he had gone "preaching abundantly
in all the surrounding country", and many had
been converted under his preaching.
  On November 20th, 1767, the first Baptist
church north of Rappahanock and James rivers
was organized, the "result of the efforts of Lewis
Craig". This church was called Upper Spott-
sylvania, afterwards called "Craig's", and con-


Lewis Craig,

sisted of twenty-five members. For three years
it was without a pastor. In November, 1770,
Lewis Craig, having -been ordained, became its
pastor, and remained such till 1781.
  In 1771 he was again arrested in Caroline
County and placed in jail, and remained there
for three months. "He had several times
preached there and was quite successful. He
continued to visit this place to cultivate the seed
sown; believers were added from time to time;
Satan took alarm and stirred up opposition to
Afr. Craig. A warrant was issued and he was ar-
  During his eleven years' pastorate of Upper
Spottsylvania Church he had succeeded in gath-
ering at least three churches in Dover Associa-
tion. These were Tuckahoe, Upper King and
Queen, and Essex. Upper Spottsylvania had
prospered under his leadership, and many had
been added to its membership, there being over
one hundred additions in the year 1776. He
had evidently served this church well and wise-
ly, as well as "preaching abundantly in all the
surrounding country"; but a change is at hand
for this pastor and his people. No hint of
any disagreement between himself and his
charge is heard of-far otherwise, as we shall
  The mind of Lewis Craig had turned toward
the wilderness of Kentucky, and the time had


Baptist Pioneer.

come when the scene of his operations as
preacher and church organizer was to be shifted.
Capt. William Ellis had visited Kentucky in
the year 1779. He had come, it is said, on this
trip in the interest of the Craigs, Ellises and
Wallers, there existing some kind of connec-
tion between these families. All of these were
evidently satisfied with the investigations of
Capt. Ellis, for all broke up their homes in Vir-
ginia and journeyed to the Blue Grass Region
of Kentucky and settled near each other.
  This change took place in the year 1781.
Lewis Craig was "now in the vigor and strength
of manhood"-being a little beyond the age of
forty. He had been in the ministry about four-
teen years; his success had been extraordinary;
his experience was wide and varied-beyond
that of most men-and he was now well fitted
for this new field of labor. But was he going
alone Did he, like so many preachers, leave
his church behind The answer to these ques-
tions reveals one of the remarkable things in
modern history. He was not going alone; nor
were the Craigs, Ellises and Wallers the only
families that came with him; neither did he
leave his church, as so many do-must do. Al-
most the whole church had a mind to "go
West and grow up with the country". One
writer puts it thus: "So strongly was the


Lewis Craig,

church attached to him that most of its mem-
bers came with him."
  So, one Sunday morning early in September,
1781, the church gathered with its beloved pas-
tor for one final season of worship at the house
where they had me, so often and so long, and,
also, to bid farewell to those whom they were to
leave behind on the morrow, for on that day
this congregation was to start in a body for Ken-
tucky. We may be sure that that strange gath-
ering created quite a sensation, for nothing like
this had ever occurred. Gathered here was a
whole flourishing church, pastor, officers, mem-
bers, all ready for departure over the mountains,
through bitterest hardships, into the then wild
West. How this all came about-such singular
unanimity-no writer tells us, but that such
did happen is a fact, and a fact that meant
much to the coming State of Kentucky-much
every way; for, not only was a free church com-
ing, but in it and with it were coming some of
the best families of old Virginia to make homes
here, and pave the way to freedom and civiliza-
  The day was set, the time for their departure
was at hand, and this host of stout-hearted
Baptists had assembled for the last time at their
place of public worship-a very beautiful and
fitting thing to do. What does that speak to
us of love and devotion to the one spot where


Baptist Pioneer.

they had met so often, to sit together in humble
worship of the great God
   As they are all gathered it may be well for
us to take a look at a few of the more prominent
ones who are preparing to cast lot with those
of the "Dark and Bloody Ground", either on
this exepdition or a later one. There were many
Baptist preachers here of Spottsylvania and ad-
joining counties; among these we notice Lewis
Craig, the leader; Elijah Craig, "the bold ex-
horter", who had known much jail service for
conscience sake; Joseph Craig; Ambrose Dud-
ley; William E. Waller; William Ellis,
the aged; John Waller; Joseph Bledsoe,
father of Senator Jesse Bledsoe, of Ken-
tucky; William Cave; Simon Walton, and
Capt. William   Ellis.  All these, except-
ing the aged William Ellis, either came
at this time or shortly afterward. (Wil-
liam E. Waller came in 1783; Elijah Craig
in 1785; Ambrose Dudley in 1786.) These
were all mighty men of God.
  Capt. William Ellis, son of the patriotic Ellis,
who was imprisoned in 1775 for denouncing
British tyranny, was chosen as the leader of this
outgoing host. Having visited the new terri-
tory, he was familiar with the route and was
chosen for this and other reasons. Lewis Craig
was the religious leader, of course, and was the
ruling spirit of this movement. What a won-


Leuis Craig,

derful man he must have been! Well does Mr.
Ranck speak of him as "the magnetic pastor of
Upper Spottsylvania Church", for such he was.
   But this Sabbath is preaching day at Upper
Spottsylvania as well as "Farewell Sunday".
The congregation was large too large for the
little meeting-house and a pulpit was erected
in the yard and their pastor arose to speak to
them. Let us quote from Mr. Ranck, who gives
a delightful account of this last worship here,
as conducted by Lewis Craig:
  "The man who arose to address them was
then about forty-one years of age. He was not
an Apollo in figure, for he was of ordinary
stature and was stoop-shouldered, but his eye
was expressive, -his voice musical and strong, and
his manner earnest and impassioned. They
all knew him. Many of them had participated
with him in the 'great awekening' which fol-
lowed the efforts of the zealous Samuel Harris
in 1765, and well remembered the day when
he so boldly arraigned the famous grand jury
of which 'Swearing Jack' was a member. Some
of them had been arrested with him on that
memorable fourth of June, 1768, when he was
seized by the sheriff while conducting public
worship in the very building they now sur-
rounded and had sung with him 'Broad is the
road that leads to death', as they moved toward
the Fredericksburg jail, while others in the


Baptist Pioneer.

crowd had not only witnessed this first case in
Virginia of actual imprisonment for preaching
contrary to the laws for the maintenance of the
church establishment of England, but had
heard the eloquent Patrick Henry, even then
the acknowledged champion.of popular rights
in the colony-who had journeyed fifty miles
on horseback to defend them. Many of them
had heard the unflinching Craig preach
through the grated window at Fredericksburg,
others had ministered to him during his subse-
quent imprisonment in Caroline, and all had re-
joiced in the prosperity of Upper Spottsylvania
Church which had continued to grow from the
time he became its regular pastor in 1770 until
this autumnal Sunday in 1781.
  "After the usual preliminary services he
spoke. Only echoes of that farewell sermon have
reached us. Tradition says that he recalled the
sudden rise of the Baptists in Virginia ten years
before the Revolution; their persistent struggle
for religious liberty and their increase in spite
of oppressive laws, royal power and a 'roaring
dragon'. That he claimed for his people that,
though the opening of the Revolution had
found them already worn and weary from the
long campaign for conscience sake, they had
fought as gallantly for their civil rights as they
had battled for their religious freedom. That
he reminded them of the encouraging fact that



Leuns Craig,

now, when the country was scorched and wasted
and impoverished by the war, the rich and il-
limitable acres of a western Caanan were offered
to them almost 'without money and without
price', and declared in earnest and impressive
words that it was a higher power that had
pointed out the way and that the same far-
seeing Providence that had ruled all the events
of their past was leading forth to the 'wilder-
ness' and would lead them to the end. He is
said to have closed with one of his characteristic
exhortations and with farewell words of solem-
nity and feeling as only such an occasion could
inspire. The eyes and hearts of all were full,
indeed. How deeply they were moved we may
faintly imagine when we remember that they
believed as he believed, and that they had passed
as he had through the days and the scenes he
had depicted.
  "Unfortunately, but one other feature of
these last touching services has survived-the
farewell tribute offered by John Waller, begin-
ning with this stanza:

'Great sorrow of late has filled my poor heart,
To think that the dearest of friends soon must
A few left behind while many will go
To settle the desert down the Ohio.'



Baptist Pioneer.

  "Mr. Waller's powers as a poet were not Mil-
tonic, but he had been to the people who heard
him.i much more than a poet, and his sympa-
thetic words brought many an answering sob.
  "The remainder of the day, after the dinner
that the neighbors had provided, was spent in
tearful communings, agonizing embraces and
heart-rending scenes, for the emigrants knew
what this separation meant. Some of them
were aged, some were feeble, many were help-
less women and not a few were poor. A weary
journey of nearly six hundred miles stretched
out before them.       No wonder their
hearts were breaking. They knew that for
them there would be no return; that they were
leaving home and old Virginia forever.   
The crowd slowly dispersed. The sun went
down upon a strangely silent camp. For the
first time the emigrants slept in their wagons-
slept after many a prayer and many a tear.
  "Before daybreak the next morning Capt.
Ellis wats astir and giving orders, and the re-
peated blasts of a horn completely changed the
scene. In a few moments all was noise and
bustle and excitment. There was no time now
for anything but a 'campaign' breakfast, the
gathering of horses and cattle, a general hitch-
ing up and the storing away of pots and skillets
and eating utensils, and at the rising of the sun
a mighty sound of tramping feet, clattering



Lewi8 Craig,

hoofs, creaking wagons and barking dogs an-
nounced that the start was made and the meni-
or able journey commenced.
   "This modern exodus was no small affair for
its day and generation. The moving train in-
cluded, with church members, their children,
negro slaves and other emigrants (who, for bet-
ter protection, had attached themselves to an
organized expedition), between five and six hun-
dred souls, and was the largest body of Vir-
ginians that ever set out for Kentucky at one
time. And not only the members, but nearly
everything else pertaining to Craig's Church,
was going. Its official books and records, its
simple communion service, the treasured old
Bible from the pulpit-nearly everything, in
fact, but the building itself was moving away
together-an exodus so complete that for several
years Upper Spottsylvania Church was without
either congregation or constitution. There were
few in that long procession, as it moved out
upon the old Catharpin road, who did not turn
to give a last lingering look at that silent, sun-
lit sanctuary. How little the sad gazers dreamed
that days would ever come when that quiet, un-
pretentious building would echo with the thun-
ders of one of the most tremendous struggles
that modern times was destined to know. The
church was located in the region in which oc-
curred the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancel-


Baptist Pioneer.

lorsville and the Wilderness." (See "The Trav-
eling Church", by G. W. Ranck.)
  The church building was injured, but not de-
stroyed, during the Civil War. Craig's Church
of today occupies the same site as in 1781, and
includes much of the original hand-made mate-
rial that existed in Colonial and Revolutionary
  We cannot attempt to follow this traveling
church from the old meeting-house to its rest-
ing place in Kentucky, for that is foreign to
our purpose, however interesting that may be,
and it is very interesting, as you may see by
reading "The Traveling Churche.
  At the close of the third week in September
these Pilgrim Baptists rested on the Holston
river at the place now known as Abingdon.
Lewis Craig assisted in organizing a church here
on the 28th of September. The records of the
Providence Church show that there was a com-
pany of Baptists here. We give in this connec-
tion a copy of the record, as found in the His.
tory of Kentucky Baptists, by Dr. J. H. Spen-
cer: "A company of Baptists came from the
older parts of Virginia to Holston river in De-
cember, 1780. Robert Elkin, minister, and
John Vivian, elder, and in 1781 they, with
other Baptists, formed themselves a body, in
order to carry on church discipline, and, in Sep-
tember, 28th, 1781, became constituted by


Leowi Craig,

Lewis Craig and John Vivian.    Lewis Craig
was at this time a Separate Baptist minister
and was now on his journey to Kentucky, as
known circumstances sufficiently prove, with
the church that settled on Gilbert's creek, in
December of that year."
  Owing to the state of the weather there was
a halt of some three weeks on the Holston river,
but Mr. Craig was not idle. The church pro-
ceeded with its regular work, and the pastor
was busy preaching, and this preaching brought
forth fruit, for there were baptisms, as well as
strengthening of faith to those who heard his
hopeful preaching.
  Late in October, or early in November, the
church abandoned this halting place and moved
forward, and about the first of December, some
three weeks after leaving the North Fork of the
Holston river, the travelers crossed the Cumber-
land Gap. They pressed onward, and before
the middle of December they had reached the
point chosen as a settling place-having decided
to locate on a tributary of Dick's river, now
known as Gilbert's Creek, two and a half miles
southeast of the present town of Lancaster, Gar-
rard County, which was at that time part of Lin-
coln county. The first thing done, now that the
Pilgrims had reached their destination, was to
make a clearing in the woods and establish
"Craig's Station", "and there", says Mr. Ranck,


Baptist Pioneer.

"in that lonely outpost, before the close of. the
second Sunday in December, 1781, they had
gathered and had worshipped around the same
old Bible they had used in Spottsylvania and
had been preached to by their pastor, Lewis
Craig, and by William Marshall, uncle of the
celebrated Chief Justice Marshall of Virginia.
And so met the first church that ever assembled
in Central Kentucky-a church that had been
organized long before and whose strange trans-
planting constitutes one of the most remarkable
episodes connected with the early settlement of
the Commonwealth".
  In speaking of the pioneer Baptists of Ken-
tucky, Davidson, in his History of Presbyterian
Churches in Kentucky, says: "To them belongs
the credit of having been the first to inaugurate
the regular public worship of God and the or-
ganization of churches." And Capt. Ed Porter
Thompson, in Young People's History of Ken-
tucky, says: "The first organized Baptist church
was that of Rev. Lewis Craig, at Craig's Station,
on Gilbert's Creek, in Garrard County, a few
miles east of Lancaster. This church was organ-
ized in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, and the
members traveled together to Kentucky-a
church on the road, regularly constituted for
business as well as worship. The first one or-
ganized in Kentucky (1783) was on South
Elkhorn, five miles south of Lexington." This


Lewi8 Crawg,

is the agreement, so far as I can learn, of all the
   Having finished the fort, the settlers pro-
cceded to locate land and build cabins. One of
the first buildings erected was a church. It was
located on a hill some half mile from the fort.
Here, "in spite of privations and in spite of the
tomahawk and the scalping knife, Lewis Craig
pushed on the work of his Master not only at
Gilbert's Creek, but at other frontier settlements
also, for in 1 7-82, that year of Kentucky's gloom
and sorrow, he gathered and constituted a
church at the forks of Dick's river and preached
at Squire Boone's Station, on Clear Creek, near
the present Shelbyville, the first sermon ever
delivered in Shelby County or in that part of
the State. But the pioneer Baptists, thrifty as
well as devoted, were soon attracted by the mag-
nificent land in what is now so widely known as
'The Blue Grass Region,' where Capt. Ellis had
already settled, and early in the fall of 1783
Craig and most of his congregation moved to
South Elkhorn, about five miles from Lexing-
ton, where they established the first worship-
ing assembly of any kind organized north of
the Kentucky river. This removal would have
been a death-blow to the church at Gilbert's
Creek but for the timely reinforcement from the
old 'stamping ground' in Virginia. Craig and
his party had barely reached South Elkhorn


Baptid Pioneer.

when William E. Waller, brother of the long
converted 'Swearing Jack', and himself a Baptist
minister, with a number of others of the same
faith arrived at Gilbert's Creek from Spottsyl-
vania County, and about the same time the body
of Baptists from the adjoining county of
Orange, that Mr. Craig had constituted at the
Wolf Hills (Abingdon), came safely -through
the wilderness and settled near the station. For
the best part of three years they had watched
and waited at the little post on the Holston for
a favorable chance to set out on the blood-
stained and Indian-haurted trail to Kentucky
-a chance which came with the formal ending
of the Revolutionary War in 1783. Later on in
the same year John Taylor, the Baptist minister
and historian, with his family and servants, also
reached the settlement, after a three months'
trip fr