Freewill Baptist Association Minutes

The Freewill Baptist churches in Southeastern Indiana were significant in that both ministers and lay people were involved directly in the active Underground Railroad. Excerpts from the minutes of the local quarterly association meeting were published in the Morning Star, the national news journal of the northern Freewill Baptists out of Bates, Maine. These minutes include the names of several known UGRR activists. It is believed that association meetings were a natural way of communicating signals and information needed for a secure UGRR network.
Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W
Franklin FW Baptist, Pilgrim Baptist

Information from Freewill Baptist Quarterly Meetings

22Feb1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting, Sparta Jan 27-29 1843

Moderator: P. Anthony

Corresponding Messengers to Switzerland QM: Elds R. Kelly, E.F. Stites, Brothers C. Larabee, A. Persinger, N. Hartly, I. Oathoudt, D. Hall, T.S. Grimes

Committee to meet with Switzerland QM to adopt constitution: Eld R. Kelly, P. Anthony, I Oathoudt, T. S. Grimes, D. Hall, E. Fuller, and J. Stevens

Voted to hold next QM with the church at Delaware. Clerk: Jefferson Stevens.

22Feb1843 Morning Star

Indiana Yearly Meeting F.W.B. – Constitution adopted January 1843

Signed by Ripley QM – Richard Kelly, Philip Anthony, Isaac Oathoudt, Thomas S. Grimes, Daniel Hall, Elijah Fuller, Jefferson Stevens

Signed by Switzerland QM – Abram Adkinson, Robert Rickets, Daniel Rickets

28Jun1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting at Delaware, May 26-28, 1843. Brother Isaac Oathoudt presided, Elders Gould and Adkinson from Switzerland QM met with us;

Preachers: Gould, Adkinson of Switzerland, Kelly and Stites of Ripley

Appointed Corresponding Messengers to next session of Switzerland QM: Elder E.F. Stites, E. Fuller, A. Fuller, T. Gloyd, E. Watson, T.S. Grimes

Appointed Book Agent: Edler E.F. Stites

Next session to be held with the church at Sparta, Jefferson Stevens, Clerk

05Jul1843 Morning Star

Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with the Harmony Church, Switzerland Co, 2-4 June 1843, preachers Elders L. Gould and E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger, Clerk, Posey Township, Switzerland Co, Indiana.

02Aug1843 Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with the Liberty Church, Ripley Co., June 1843. Preaching by Elders N. Meader, Rogers Ide, and Brother Mitchel, a licentiate from Miami QM. Committee to designate next meeting place: C. R. Faulkner, T.N. Burroughs, and Ichabod Sheldon. Have employed Elder I. Sheldon to travel for one quarter. G.S. Walker, Clerk.

27Sept1843 Morning Star

Ripley Quarterly Meeting with church at Sparta on 25-27 August. Brother Samuel Gookins, Moderator. Elders L. Gould and A. Adkinson from Switzerland QM preached with Elders R. Kelly and E.F. Stites. Next session with Mainville church, Warren OH in October. Brother T.S. Grimes publicly set apart to the ministry; ordination sermon and hand of fellowship by Elder R. Kelly, prayer by Eld E.F. Stites and charge by Elder L. Gould. Jefferson Stevens, Clerk at Delaware, Ripley County.

27Sept1843 – Morning Star

Switzerland Quarterly Meeting with York church 1-3 September 1843, protracted 2-3 days by Elder E.F. Stites and others. Next session with church at Mt. Sterling. Cheney Munger, Clerk.

01Nov1843 – Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting with Sherburne Church, Ripley Co, 22-24 September. Visiting brethren from Miami QM and Elder S. Hathorn from Maine. Received the Union and Freedom churches which “have been raised since our last QM through instrumentality of Eld. I. Sheldon. G.S. Walker appointed corresponding secretary to Switzerland QM, Elder I. Sheldon to travel until next QM. Preaching by Elders Hathorn, Mitchell and Rogers Ide. Next session to be with Freedom Church, Otter Creek in December. G. W. Walker, Clerk.

31Jan1844 – Morning Star

Dearborn Quarterly Meeting at Freedom Church, Otter Creek Township, Ripley Co 22-24 December. Heavy rains and bad traveling, few delegates present. Received Elder s. Hathorn corresponding messenger from Miami QM. Preaching by Elder S. Hathorn, I. Sheldon and R. Ide. Elders R. Ide and I. Sheldon corresponding messengers to Miami QM. Next session with the Colby Church, Sparta Twp, Dearborn Co in March. G. S. Walker, Clerk at Sparta, Indiana.



Freewill Baptist Churches of Southeastern Indiana

Union FWB church, Flat Rock horiz adj
Union FWB church, Flat Rock Ripley County Indiana

Freewill Baptist Churches – Southeastern Indiana

Pierceville Lot 11, ME old FWB church
Pierceville Indiana Freewill Baptist Church now Methodist


Appendix A

Freewill Baptist Churches in Southeastern Indiana

Revised with G. K. McCarty July 2007
Year Church Location Township County Founder Preachers/Elders Assigned
1820 Bryants Creek (Randall) Nr. Rising Sun York Switzerland Marcus Kilburn Alexander Sebastian
1823 Jefferson Shelby Jefferson Benjamin Leavitt Lewis Gould
1834 Union (Old Liberty) Cotton Switzerland Abraham Adkinson, Sedam, McHenry
1834 Franklin (split from Reg. Baptist) Old Milan Franklin Ripley Ezekial Stites Richard Kelley, Daniel Palmer, D. Moss
1834 York York Switzerland Cheney Munger
1834 Sparta nr Moore’s Hill Sparta Dearborn N. Richmond
1836 Delaware Old Delaware (Lookout) Delaware Ripley Samuel Gookins, Phillip Anthony, Jefferson Stevens
1836 1st Manchester Manchester Manchester Dearborn Ichabod Sheldon Z.M. Palmer, J. Carlton
1836 Clinton Rt 48 & Spades Rd Franklin Ripley Elisha Ransom
1837 Washington Elrod Washington Ripley Roger Ide, Eber Watson, William Watson, John Peterman, Charles Larabee, Thomas S. Grimes, Thomas N. Burroughs, Abraham Persinger, James Henderson, John Peters, T. Gloyd
1838 Providence Wrights Corner Manchester Dearborn Cyrus Dudley
1839 Pleasant Pleasant Switzerland
1841 Mainville Warren Co OH Marcus Kilburn, Moses Dudley, Benjamin Tufts
1842 Harmony (Ohio Co?) Posey Switzerland Cheney Munger, Robert Ricketts
1842 Mt. Sterling nr Vevay Johnson Switzerland
1842 Cesar’s Creek nr Friendship Brown Switzerland Roger Ide Roger Ide
1843 Union (Flat Rock) Flat Rock Jackson Ripley Ichabod Sheldon
1843 Freedom Otter Creek Ripley Ichabod Sheldon
1843 Sherburne Panther Creek Sand Creek Decatur Ichabod Sheldon
1844 Colby Sparta Dearborn Roger Ide, Isaac Outhoudt Roger Ide
1846 Milan Old Milan (Lot 28 Keene’s Add) Franklin Ripley Ebenezer Redlon,Henry Meader, James Parker, Ezekial F. Stites, Elisha Ransom, Stillman Ransom, Abigail and Lucy Brown
1849 Centre Square Centre Square Cotton Switzerland George S. Walker
1853 Franklin (Anderson Schoolhouse) (Old Pilgrim Site) Franklin Ripley John Dorson, Thomas Cone, William Resinger, Ezekial Stites, Albert Fuller, Elijah Fuller, Socrates Swift
1853 Mt. Pleasant Newpoint Marion Decatur George S. Walker
1854 Turner nr Moorefield Pleasant Switzerland
1855 Prattsburgh Prattsburgh Delaware Ripley Richard Kelley, Ezekial Stites, Ebenezer Redlon, Aaron Richardson
1860 Pierceville Pierceville Delaware Ripley Richard Kelley, Ezekial Stites, Ebenezer Redlon
1871 Pleasant Grove
1872 Zion 6 miles NW of Flat Rock Sand Creek Decatur John Tucker, Matthew Oldham, Rev. D. A. Tucker, Rev. William Tucker, Rev. E.J. Tucker
          ? Negangard’s Corner Rt 48 & Spades Rd Franklin Ripley R. Kelley/E. Stites


Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W
Franklin FW Baptist Church, Pilgrim B&W

Freewill Baptist Churches Cited in Morning Star, the national publication


Church Name
Location Date Founders Citation
Washington Washington Twp Ripley County Sept 1841 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Colby Sparta, Dearborn County 2nd Sat Nov 1842 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Dearborn Q.M. Ripley & Dearborn Cos 1842 Elder R. Ide and Rev. Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 22Feb1843
Harmony Posey Twp, Switzerland Co   Elder R. Gould, Adkinson Morning Star 28Jun1843
Liberty Ripley Co 1843 Elder R. Ide, N. Mender Morning Star 02Aug1843
York Switzerland Co 1843 Elder E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger Morning Star 17Sep1843
Mt. Sterling Switzerland Co 1843 Elder E.F. Stites, Cheney Munger Morning Star 17Sep1843
Sherburne Ripley Co 1843 Eld I Sheldon, R. Ide, Hathorn from Maine, and Mitchell from Miami QM Morning Star 01Nov1843
Union Flat Rock,  Dearborn QM 1843 Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 01Nov1843
Freedom Otter Creek Twp, Dearborn QM 1843 Ichabod Sheldon Morning Star 01Nov1843


Database: Early African-American Congregations

Early African-American Congregations

in North Central Kentucky


Before the Civil War


  1. White Churches, with Large or Prominent Slave Populations


Photo Year Congregation City County Notes
1770 St. Paul’s Methodist Paris Bourbon Claims to be first Methodist Church in KY
1783 Methodist Society Harrodsburg Mercer An early Methodist center with slave members
1789 Methodist Society Lexington Fayette Short & Deweese, small log building
1789 Coloured Charge of Lexington Circuit Lexington Fayette Later became Old Branch Church, Old Mill Church, Asbury, and Gunn, Wesley Methodist
1790 Methodist Society Port William Carroll Then Gallatin County; Bishop Asbury stayed overnight in 1808; First church 1809. In 1824 the George Boorom Class had four slaves.
1790 First Methodist Frankfort Franklin 1821:28White and 31 Black members
1790 First Baptist Lexington Fayette
1797 Harrod’s Creek Baptist Harrods Creek Jefferson Claims to be first African-American Baptist Church in the area
1799 Drennon’s Creek Baptist New Castle Henry Became First Baptist, New Castle
1799 Christiansburg Baptist Christiansburg Shelby Men listed first, women and slaves last
Yes 1801 Drennon’s Colored Meeting Place New Castle Henry Now Main Street Baptist; Rev. Alex Taylor; separate site; where Elijah P. Marrs received his certificate to preach.
Yes 1803 Corn Creek Baptist Above Milton Trimble Slaves 19% of congregation by 1831
1804 Versailles Methodist Versailles Woodford “Uncle Isaac” a slave introduced Methodism to Versailles; part of the initial Lexington Circuit
1808 Mt. Olivet Baptist Pendleton Henry Richard and Miss Lucy prominent slaves
Yes 1811 Plum Creek Baptist Waterford Spencer
1812 Johnson Meeting House Mercer On Munday’s Landing Road, N.E. area of Mercer and 2 miles from KY River; later Joseph’s Chapel nearby.
1816 First Baptist Frankfort Franklin
Yes 1816 First Presbyterian Shelbyville Shelby 3 Galleries for Slaves
1818 Buck Run Baptist Woodlake Franklin
1818 Six-Mile Baptist Shelby Over 50 Black members
1818 Hopewell Baptist Lacie Henry A large slave part of congregation
Yes 1819 Clay Street Baptist Shelbyville Shelby 1840s – 143 Black: 290 Total;

1854 – 181 Black: 309 Total

1819 White’s Run Baptist Carroll A few slaves
1820 St. Paul’s Mission Lexington Fayette Methodist mission became St. Paul’s A.M.E. and in 1891 Quinn A.M.E.
c 1820 Washington M.E. Washington Mason 90 Blacks, no White
1825 Black Burying Grounds Little Mount Spencer Members of Little Mount Baptist
1827 Versailles Methodist Versailles Woodford Building completed
1828 First Presbyterian Lawrenceburg Anderson Slaves had full membership



  1. Separated “Colored” Services/Churches
  2. Year Congregation City County Notes
    1829 The African Church Louisville Jefferson Became Fifth Street Baptist in 1844; original Baptist mission to slaves in Louisville, 1815
    Yes 1830 Carrollton Methodist Carrollton Carroll South end of brick church on Highland Avenue had stairway leading to gallery where Negro members were seated.
    Yes 1830s Colored Church Simpsonville Shelby Now First Greater Baptist; in 1851 Rev. Charles Wells, in 1864 Rev. Sandy Bullitt and Deacon John Bullitt
    1830s Methodist Teacher Bedford Trimble Miss Davis taught Henry Bibb and others to read until stopped by the patrols
    Yes 1832 Jackson Street M.E. Louisville Jefferson Originally met in Old Frog Pond Church in early 1830s.
    1832 Colored Baptist Church Louisville Jefferson Market Street, between 7th & 8th
    Yes 1833 First Baptist Frankfort Franklin Founded by Free Blacks in Frankfort.
    Yes 1833 First Baptist Jeffersontown Jefferson Reverend Henry Adams came out from Louisville to found a separate Black congregation from among the members of the Union Church. A log meeting house was erected c. 1850 on the corner of Watterson Trail and the Taylorsville Road. A larger frame church was built c. 1900 and a still larger one in 1976.
    1837 Asbury M.E. Lexington Fayette Mother Church of Lexington Conference
    1838 Bethel House of God Louisville Jefferson 2nd & Main across from old Galt House; became Quinn Chapel A.M.E., mother church for A.M.E. in the area.
    Yes 1839 St. John A.M.E. Frankfort Franklin Formed chiefly by numerous Free Blacks in Frankfort.
    Yes 1839 Jackson Street M.E. Louisville Jefferson
    Yes 1839 Zion Hill Methodist Bethlehem Henry Black velvet rope separated
    1839 Ninth Street M.E. Covington Kenton
    Yes 1840 Second Baptist Campbellsburg Henry Separate slave church building. Members came from as far away as Sulphur, Port Royal, and New Castle.
    1840 Hill Street Methodist Lexington Fayette Large anti-slavery contingent broke away in 1866 to form Centenary as an M.E. Church; In 1858 congregation had 219 White and 570 Black; KY average was only 28% Black.
    1841 First African-American School in Louisville Louisville Jefferson Rev. Henry Adams, African Baptist, moved to Fifth Street Baptist in 1864
    Yes 1842 LaGrange M.E. LaGrange Oldham Some slaves members; Preachers on circuit by 1840; never more than two colored members listed officially. Led to formation of the Second Methodist Church on Adam Street, Kynett Church..
    1842 African Baptist Harrodsburg Mercer
    Yes 1842 Plum Creek Colored Baptists Waterford Spencer Separate services, 3rd Sunday, two elders to report disorderly conduct
    1843 Hopewell Baptist Lacie Henry Edmund to conduct separate services for slaves 2nd Sunday in church; permitted to baptize
    Yes 1844 First Baptist Church Frankfort Franklin Clinton & High Street
    1845 Fifth Street Baptist Louisville Jefferson
    1846 Pleasant View Baptist Mountain Island Owen Colored services, 3rd Sundays
    Yes 1846 Little Vine Church Goshen Oldham Served the Goshen, Skylight (Oldhamburg) and part of Brownsboro district.
    1846 Green Street Baptist Danville Boyle Now First Baptist
    c. 1850 New Liberty Baptist New Liberty Owen Separate slave church building
    c. 1850 Methodist Class Simpsonville Shelby E. P. Marrs attended class
    1850s Center Street M.E.-South Louisville Jefferson A.M.E. Zion 1866 KY Conference formed; Bishop Miles won court case to take Center back to C.M.E
    1850s Green Street M.E.-South Louisville Jefferson M.E. – South
    1850s Jackson Street M.E. – South Louisville Jefferson M.E. – South
    Yes 1852 Negro Methodists Carrollton Carroll Brick building on Sycamore Street given to Negro members for Sunday services; also a school from 1852-1859 taught by Lizzie Dowling. Building used until 1890s when Second Methodist was built on Eighth Street.
    1853 First Baptist Versailles Woodford
    Yes 1853 Shiloh Baptist Scott Station Shelby Old Harrington Mill White Church moved to Antioch Rd
    1855 Green Street Baptist Louisville Jefferson From Walnut Street Baptist
    1857 First Baptist Paris Bourbon
    1858 Cottontown Methodist East Paris Bourbon Now St. Paul’s M.E.
    1860 Evergreen Baptist Lawrenceburg Anderson
    Yes 1860 Elk Creek Missionary Baptist Spencer North section of Spencer near Shelby County
    Yes 1860 Clay Street Baptist Shelbyville Shelby Purchased Lots 54 & 55
    Yes 1860s Colored Methodists Simpsonville Shelby First Street
    1860s Buck Run Baptist Shelby 128 Blacks separate from Buck Run Baptist Church. Most of the rural churches in Shelby County had a large slave population. (See St. John A.M.E.)


  1. Free Black Churches, Civil War and Post-War


Year Congregation City County Notes
1864 First Baptist Covington Kenton
Yes 1865 First Baptist Eminence Henry The congregation goes back into the formation of Eminence as a town on the railroad tracks. After the Civil War, the congregation separated and built its own building on the south side of Eminence.
Yes 1865 Kynett Methodist LaGrange Oldham Often called the “Colored Methodist” Church. Founded out of the old M.E. South Church at LaGrange; named for Alpha Jefferson Kynett of the Board of Church Extension. Complete union as Covenant U.M.C. in 1996. Called a woman to teach the Methodist children in 1869, paid in part with Freedman’s Bureau funds.
1866 Lampton Missionary


Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1866 Second Baptist Taylorsville Spencer Served the former slave population on the upper Salt River at Taylorsville, the county seat of Spencer County. The old church building has been preserved next to the new building.
Yes 1867 Bethel A.M.E. Shelbyville Shelby Rev. W. D. Certain, Rev. H. C. Ashley; grew out of the substantial African-American Methodist population at Shelbyville. Located in the old “Stray Pen” lot where stray pigs and cattle were kept next to the first jail in Shelbyville.
1867 Centennial Baptist Hinesville Shelby Still an active congregation located north of Shelbyville on the railroad tracks at Hinesville.
Yes c. 1867 Second Baptist Warsaw Gallatin This congregation goes back to the earliest settlement of Gallatin County and was separated from the White Baptists after the Civil War. They purchased the old Christian Church and are still an active congregation.
1869 First Convention Colored


Louisville KY 12 of 17 congregations represented; 1869 –

55 churches and 12,620 members

Yes 1868 First Baptist Pewee Valley Oldham Founded after the Civil War to serve the African-

American community at Stumptown on the old

Floydsburg Road on the west side of Pewee Valley.

These former slaves became servants at the big

houses in Pewee Valley. After the Ford plant was

built, this became a prosperous community and a

new building was added to the grounds.

1869 First Convention Colored Methodists Harrodsburg Mercer Christian Methodists (C.M.E.) and Lexington

Conference of M.E. emerged

1869 Second Christian Church Lawrenceburg Anderson
1869 Fifteenth Street A.M.E. Louisville Jefferson Now Young’s Chapel; Split to form Twelfth Street

now Broadway Temple

1869 Negro Baptist Mt. Gilead Fayette
Yes 1869 St. John C.M.E. Shelbyville Shelby This was the largest “Negro” congregation in Shelbyville when it built a white frame building on College Street from 1887-1897. Since then the congregation split into the Congregational Methodists and the United Methodists. The African-American Methodists were nurtured by Reverend John Tevis, a staunch anti-slavery pastor.
1869 Simpson C.M.E. Black Hills Woodford Versailles area
1871 Calvary C.M.E. Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1871 Second Baptist Ghent Carroll Given permission to set up separate church from the

Ghent Baptist Church; soon afterwards built their

own church building on Liberty Street.

Yes 1871 Sycamore Chapel


Fraziertown Oldham Building says M.E., but probably C.M.E.
1872 New Hope Baptist Louisville Jefferson
1872 Zion Hill Baptist Scott
1872 New Coke C.M.E. Louisville Jefferson
Yes 1874 First Baptist Anchorage Jefferson
Yes 1875 Muir Chapel C.M.E. Eastwood Jefferson Still listed as C.M.E.
Yes 1876 St. John’s A.M.E. Christiansburg Shelby Congregation part of a large slave population

around Christiansburg. Active until 1968.

Yes 1876 First Corinthian Baptist Frankfort Franklin Originally located in The Craw, next to the

Kentucky River. After urban renewal devastated

that area, the church moved to serve the southside

population nearest the new State Capitol.

Yes 1876 Allen Chapel C.M.E. Finchville Shelby Congregation goes way back as part of the White

Methodists in the area. James Allen, who

emancipated his own slaves, organized the

congregation and donated the land and money to

help build the chapel. Patsy Allen, who married

Chapman Harris, a leader of the U.G.R.R. at

Madison, Indiana, and her brother James Allen

were emancipated by the Allen family in the mid


Yes 1870s Colored Methodist Church Warsaw Gallatin
1870s Lick Creek Area Baptist Sparta Gallatin
1870a Colored Baptist Ripyville Anderson Joined to form Sand Spring Baptist, met at


Yes 1870s Taylortown A.M.E. Zion Taylortown Jefferson On Ballardsville Road, east of Louisville; served a

large rural area from Westport Road to U.S. 42.

Yes 1870s Greencastle Baptist Prospect Jefferson Located on Rose Island Road. Served the Prospect

and western Goshen area, that had a heavy slave

population before the Civil War. Little Vine served

the eastern section of Goshen. A small mission used

to be on the Ohio River as well.

1870s Salt River Baptist Anderson Joined to form Sand Spring
1870s Ebenezer M.E. Cynthiana Harrison


Early African American Congregations


Early African-American Congregations

North Central Kentucky

 Diane Perrine Coon


Compilations are always a work in progress. We have missed some congregations, and we need to extend the research into other parts of Kentucky. But it is a fruitful beginning. This research began as a method to understand the complex communication systems used to aid hundreds of runaway slaves through the north central part of Kentucky. Separated black congregations, both Free Black and Slave, became lodestones detecting how information about safe routes and Ohio River crossing points, connecting links to knowledgeable plantation slaves and agents of the Underground Railroad cells at Louisville, Covington, Madison, Vevay, Rising Sun, Aurora were dispersed among slaves running away from their plantations. But the research surfaced its own story of early leadership within the African-American enslaved communities, and the continuous quest for self-determination, education, and a place of respite relative safety. The first section of the compilation reveals the earliest form of “nesting” within a generally supportive white congregation that controlled everything. The second set of data highlights the emergence of a separated congregation still controlled by whites, but with increasing independence. A third section, to be run in the next edition, features the enormous growth in African-American congregations once freedom came, despite hostility, violence, and withdrawal of financial support from the white community.


Part 1: Emerging from the Shadows


The historic marker on the church building may well say 1867 to celebrate the founding of a church based on the first deed of land or first independent constitution or charter; however, the congregation within those walls can be traced back into the earliest records of Kentucky history, the records written by white slaveholders. The first preachers, elders, deacons of these congregations had slave names. Some of those names can be brought out of obscurity into a new appreciation of what stamina, courage, and dedication it took to create worshipping, learning, socializing communities within the structure of institutional slavery.1
This compilation details one major aspect of the long, complex pathway Kentucky’s slaves and free people of color followed toward independence and freedom. The study began as a search for the communication networks established by white and black abolitionists aiding runaway slaves on Kentucky soil. Therefore, geography was important. The first congregations studied were located along known Underground Railroad routes. Then the spatial links widened. As fact after fact appeared from the annals, the story of early African-American congregations becoming social networks and centers of learning took center stage. And finally, the story focused on the struggle toward independence of enslaved people emerging from out of the control of white slave owners long before the Emancipation Proclamation or the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution.2
Two sections of the compilation – White Churches, with Large or Prominent Slave Populations, and Separated “Colored” Services/Churches – reveal how monumentally significant slave baptisms were as an integral part of the slaveholding culture of Kentucky. So long as the whites controlled the churches, baptism and membership by slaves was not only tolerated but supported and frequently promoted.3
Beginning as early as 1823 but with more frequency in the 1830s, slaves used the same buildings for worship, but separated from the white congregation. By that time blacks constituted a large proportion of Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian congregations. White slaveholders apparently were concerned about decorum and were uncomfortable with so many blacks in the church service. Clearly whites distinguished outdoors tent or revival behavior from expected normal Sunday services. Separation occurred generally when slaves requested it; slaveholders backed the proposed separate services with enthusiasm whenever a “trusted” deacon or elder could be appointed.4
Institutional slavery in Kentucky was not at all a sure thing before 1797; a substantial number of early settlers despised the plantation culture of Virginia and the Carolinas. Reverend David Rice, the Presbyterian evangelist associated with the founding of several churches and Transylvania College, was one of several pioneer preachers that not only called for baptizing slaves but eliminating institutional slavery itself. In fact seven preachers, delegates to the 1792 Constitutional Convention at Danville, voted against inclusion of Article IX, that permitted slaves to be brought into Kentucky with their owners and local jurisdictions to regulate slavery.5
Before 1790 a few isolated white anti-slavery congregations emerged, the most recognized one being Concord Presbyterian in Bourbon County (now Nicholas County). In attempting to keep institutional slavery out of the Kentucky constitution, members of Concord spread anti-slavery tracts through the region. These tracts focused not only on the economic issues but implored slave owners to emancipate their slaves in their will, to avoid such a mortal sin upon meeting their maker. Guilt worked only to a certain degree. Manumission in Kentucky outside of the major cities, was popular only in isolated situations such as Mountain Island where in 1846 and 1856 the Herndons, brother and sister, emancipated 24 slaves and in Jessamine where 50 slaves were freed in one will.6
The plantation culture did emerge rapidly a the time of the second Constitution of Kentucky in 1799 when institutional slavery became the law of the commonwealth. Large numbers of slaves were imported as slaveholders poured in from Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina. By 1820 Shelby County had over 50% black population, and most of the interior Bluegrass counties had over 45% slave population. Just as in Eastern Tennessee, many of the Kentucky anti-slavery leaders moved into Indiana, Illinois, and west of the Mississippi.7
As pioneer circuit riders and evangelists moved into Kentucky’s north central region – from Maysville to Harrodsburg, Danville and Lexington to Bardstown and Louisville – a few individual slaves were baptized as requested by their owners. Reverend John Taylor, a slaveholder himself and clearly supportive of institutional slavery, had baptized thirty-one slaves at the Bullitsburg Baptist Church in Boone County, Kentucky, by 1803. When he moved to Corn Creek Baptist in Gallatin County (now Trimble County), he baptized slaves regularly. By 1831 slaves constituted 19% of the membership, yet there were only 12% slaves in the entire county. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists frequently baptized slaves in Kentucky’s early settlements. Such baptisms were less a form of competition among Protestant denominations and more a testimony to the presence of evangelistic fervor.8
By the time the Second Great Enlightenment swept across Kentucky from its 1801 origins at Cane Run, slaves were attending camp meetings in large numbers. Some Baptist preachers, in particular, were concerned that slaves might become rowdy when the spirit fell upon them. The revivals brought a new, freer form of worship into the Methodist, Baptist, and even into the New Light Presbyterians. But as long as white slave owners controlled the congregations, Sunday worship involved hours of preaching, long, tedious prayers, and fervent exhortation with emphasis on sin, sinners, and sinning.9
What began as Christianizing a few individual house slaves or trusted fieldhands, became a movement that grew exponentially through the 1820s and 1830s. Quite simply it became “the thing” for upper class whites to have their slaves baptized and become members of their church. As a result before 1845 there were several white congregations in Kentucky where slaves outnumbered the white members.10
The earliest African-American congregations in Kentucky began, thus, in the shadows of the slave master’s church, a building slaves probably had constructed. The shadows were real — unlit upper galleries, rear benches, standing outside and listening through the open windows of white churches—and self-chosen shadows as small groups of slaves met together at night in a wooded area.
But the shadows were also figurative – preaching designed to enforce institutional slavery as Scriptural, as designed by God, children of Ham bound to serve the white man forever, direct control of whether or not the slave could be baptized, could attend services, could be a member, could receive a letter of dismission, indirect control through continuous preaching, “watching” and focus on sin and eternal damnation.11
All slave members of these early congregations whether in the country or in Louisville or Lexington had to have their master’s permission to attend services, to become baptized, to become listed as a member of the church. In the early days, free people of color also had to have permission from the White deacons or elders to attend church. For those denominations that baptized by immersion, both Black and White members used the nearby river, stream or pond. As slave churches, separate congregations under direct control of the white church, emerged in the 1820s and 1830s, trusted elders were appointed to hold services and sometimes permitted to baptize slaves and free blacks. By the late 1830s these congregations began to call their own preachers; the African Church in Louisville called a Free Black, Henry Adams, who could not only preach but teach children and adults.12
Separation of the races for worship was defacto within the white meeting house long before the slaves were given a different time to meet or a separate building. At Bethlehem, in Henry County, slaves sat on rude benches behind a black velvet ribbon stretched across the pews. At Shelbyville, the slaves of Presbyterian masters sat in three upper galleries. Slave galleries modeled on those of Virginia and the Carolinas were common in the urban and even rural areas. At New Castle, from 1801 slaves were members of the Drennon Meeting House. Land was given for a separate congregation in 1832. These Baptists met in the open, under trees, until a rude shack could be constructed with materials brought from the various plantations. At the Methodist church at Carrollton, a separate exterior door led slaves and Free Blacks to the upper balcony; slaves did not enter the White sanctuary except to clean it.13
Separation within church cemeteries also stretched back into the earliest days. Separation occurred chiefly because the white slave owners desired it and made it happen. But it generally required some enterprising slave or free person of color to request a separate service.14
Attendance at church was a major opportunity for communication and socialization across plantations. Taking produce to market and to wharfs and steamboat landings was another. Studies of how the Madison, Indiana, Underground Railroad operated within the north central Kentucky counties from 1838-1861 showed Free Blacks such as George De Baptiste, Elijah Anderson, Archibald Taylor, George Evans, and later Rev. Chapman Harris recruiting free people of color and slaves in place on plantations (1838-1845). Several signaling systems and channels of communication developed among black and white abolitionists along the Ohio River that greatly enhanced the success of getting past the patrollers Ohio River crossings and getting runaways to the safe routes.15
This compilation showed how varied the relationships between white, dominant slaveholders and the separate slave and Free Black populations became. In some cases, whites gave land, buildings, supported the deacon or elder. In other cases, control was exerted directly; no service could be held without a white slave owner in attendance. Yet the energy and motivation to hold separate services for African-Americans during Slavery expanded throughout North Central Kentucky. These were functioning communities with local leadership well before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment finally freed the slaves of Kentucky.

 End Notes

  1. The story of the earliest baptisms on the frontier is recorded in the minutes and membership lists of white Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist congregations. Kentucky, like most slave states, was particularly conscious of designating color in its public and private records. Typical of church membership lists in the Antebellum Period – the first name of the slave is followed immediately by stated owner; sometimes only the owner’s name appears, i.e. male slave of Mrs. Ethridge. There is no systematic method of finding church minutes; some are found in seminary archives, some in historical societies and genealogy sections of public libraries, and some were found in the attics, barns, or shelves of individuals. Association minutes and statistical tables were spotty at best; however some discussion of slavery and slaves as members can be found in Association letters.
  2.  Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion, The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1978; Janet Duitsman Cornelius, Slave Missions and the Black Church in the Antebellum South, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999; Victor B. Howard, The Evangelical War against Slavery and Caste, The Life and Times of John G. Fee, Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania: Susquehanna University Press, 1996; Richard Sears, The Kentucky Abolitionists in the Midst of Slavery 1854-1864, Exiles for Freedom, Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1993. These are seminal studies worthy of wide general readership. Raboteau describes the tensions between African and European nexus in the development of the Black church during slavery and the emergence of regional and denominational differences in the liturgies as a result. Cornelius explores the complex motivations and relationships between white and black evangelists and the people who flocked into slave missions. Howard and Sears narrates the impact of the few white abolitionists that worked within institutional slavery.

    Preachers who opposed slavery such as Rev. David Rice and Rev. John Rankin, Presbyterian, and those who were slaveholders themselves such as Rev. John Taylor, Baptist, advocated baptizing slaves. The situation for Free Blacks was slightly more problematic, because the church deacons or elders had to approve. Both Rice and Taylor penned autobiographical accounts of their ministries in early Kentucky.

  3. Louis B. Weeks, Kentucky Presbyterians. Reprint. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1983; Chester Raymond Young, ed., Baptists on the American Frontier, A History of the Ten Baptist Churches of Which the Author Has Been Alternately a Member, by John Taylor, Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1995. Containing the third edition of Reverend John Taylor’s 1823 book.
  4. Typical case was that of Plum Creek Baptist in Spencer County whose white leaders permitted separate black services on the third Sunday, but assigned two slave elders to report back on any infringement of behavior or lack of decorum in church and in the community. Very atypical were the cases of Second Christian in Midway and Henry Green at Green Street Baptist, Danville, where the white leaders actively insured ordination of a promising black leader.

    Journal of the 1792 Constitutional Convention at Danville, Kentucky, Kentucky Libraries and Archives. Reverend David Rice was not only an influential Presbyterian clergyman associated with the founding of Transylvania College, but also led the anti-slavery forces prior to and at the first Kentucky constitutional convention until his health failed. In the 1792 Danville convention, two slaveholders from Mason County joined seven preachers in opposing Article IX, permitting slaves to enter the state and localities to proscribe laws regulating slavery. Rice opposed slavery at its core.

  5. An excellent insiders view of the anti-slavery activity at Concord Presbyterian was a short monograph: John Rankin, A Short Memoir of Samuel Donnell Esq. Privately Printed. c. 1850. Of the abolitionists at Concord, the Donnells, the Hamiltons and McCoys migrated to Decatur County, Indiana, where they operated a highly successful Underground Railroad line leading up to Levi Coffin’s station in Wayne County. Most of the Henry family stayed in Kentucky. The Mountain Island case has been preserved by James C. Bryant, Mountain Island in Owen County, Kentucky, The Settlers and Their Churches, Owenton, Kentucky: Owen County Historical Society, 1986.
  6. Most Kentucky histories document the emergence of the plantation culture from Virginia into Kentucky. Two older works still hold together: J. Winston Coleman Jr. Slavery Times in Kentucky. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1940; and Lewis Collins, History of Kentucky. Vol. 2. Covington, Kentucky: Collins & Co., 1878. For the slave’s own view of plantation life in the upper south see, Henry Bibb, The Life and Adventures of Henry Bibb, An American Slave. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. Original publication, New York,1849.
  7. Young, Ten Churches of John Taylor, ibid. Taylor was a slaveholder his entire life, yet he probably baptized more slaves than any other frontier evangelist.
  8. Criticism of slave behavior generally is described through various forms of censure or discipline in church minutes or through codes of behavior ingrained into church constitutions. See details in the compilation.
  9. Descriptions of church services were retained chiefly through the preachers’ autobiographies. The differences between revival and regular church service behavior is often elucidated during the ferocious debates between New and Old Presbyterians, Regular, Separated and Free Will Baptists, and sometimes through association circular letters.
  10. Major transitional events occurred in 1823 when George Dupree was freed by purchase, led Pleasant Green Baptist in Lexington, and established other congregations in the Bluegrass Region and in 1832 when the separated African Baptist Church, Louisville, called Henry Adams, a mulatto from Edgefield, South Carolina, who had been ordained at Mt. Lebanon, Louisiana, to preach and teach. Adams and Dupree forged a statewide association of black Baptists that carried momentum into the post-Civil War era.
  12. Of the hundreds of church histories analyzed, some are very, very good, citing proofs and detailing the personalities of the early church leaders and pastors. Others are as much legend as fact. And some offer only the bare bones of property acquisition and church building events.

    By far the most bizarre case of separate cemeteries or cemetery sections took place at Plum Creek Baptist in Spencer County, Kentucky. By mistake the sexton buried a slave in the wrong section of the new church cemetery. Accordingly the sexton was chastised and the slave was re-interred on the other side of the fence. Noreen Day, The Story of Plum Creek Baptist Church, Taylorsville, Kentucky. Taylorsville, KY: Privately Printed, 1985.

    For a crisp readable version of recent research findings, J. Blaine Hudson, Fugitive Slaves and the Underground Railroad in the Kentucky Borderland. Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, Publishers, 2002. My own Kentucky and Ohio River crossing research can be found in Southeastern Indiana’s Underground Railroad Routes and Operations. Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology, 2001;”Great Escapes – Secret Signals of the Underground Railroad.” Northern Kentucky Heritage Magazine, 2002; and two TMs lodged in the Madision Public Library:”Reconstructing the Underground Railroad Crossings at Madison, Indiana,” and “Reverend Chapman Harris and St. Paul’s Baptist Church of Madison, Indiana,”

History by Perrine

Conway cousins with John Thomas Conway's 7 seater Chandler Auto c 1915 cropped
c 1915 John Thomas Conway family with Chandler auto North College Hill, Ohio
1st Christian Burnet TX, Perrines and Rose Easter Sunday
2006 – Ollie, Jane and George Perrine, Diane Perrine Coon, Rose Villard at Burnet TX Easter Sunday at First Christian Church
Anne Vance Perrine d 1843 Perrine Corners PA tombstone
Anne Vance Perrine d 1843
Wm Perrine 1753-1839 Perrine Corners Mercer Co PA tombstone
William Perrine 1753-1830


 Family History – arrival in U.S.A.

1663 – Perrine, c 1700 Vance, 1743 Haag/Hawk, 1625 Clark,  1625 Bearce/Bierce, 1738 Willems/Williams/ Lenae Lenape

1650 Conway, 1663 Hougland, 1640 Tuttle, 1630 Ford, 1720 Peters, 1623 Vannest 

David, George Alexander, Aaron Hawk, c 1880 Civil War Vets
David, George Alexander, Aaron Hawk, c 1880 139th PA Civil War Vets
Peters Cousins, Brothers, Sisters, Ezra & Lillian
Ezra and Lillian Hodge Peters 50th Anniversary Cincinnati Ohio


Tiny Teacups – Chapter One

Stories from 1938-2009 Our Family Odyssey – People, Places, Events and Photos

Tiny Teacups – Chapter Two

1942-2009 Wartime and Peacetime: Lt. Commander George Bierce Perrine, M.D. US Navy, Maple Avenue in Pewee Valley, Kentucky, Cornell University and Grad School(s)

Tiny Teacups – Chapter Three

1650-1920 – Conways to Wiccomico River in Virginia, to Hunters Bottom, Kentucky, to Uniontown, Indiana, to North College Hill, Ohio

1663-1875 – Houglands to New Amsterdam, to Millstone River, New Jersey, to Hunters Bottom, Kentucky, to Uniontown, Indiana

Tiny Teacups – Chapter Four

1665-1950  Chasing the Perrines across America from Staten Island to New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Ohio to Pewee Valley Kentucky

1748-1912 The Haag/Hawks pioneers in Western Pennsylvania

Tiny Teacups – Chapter Five

Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Family Gatherings

History of Ohio River Valley


Aurora seen from Ferry Slip, near Petersburg
Aurora, Indiana, on Ohio River
Little KY River 2, Henry Bibb Trail
Little Kentucky River near Carrollton

Finding Shoofly

Magistrates of Mason County

Arthur St. Clair’s Defeat

Country Stores of Kentucky

 African American Family History

Fitler Store in 1927 floot
Red Store at Fitler in 1927 Flood

Finding Fitler, Mississippi

Henry Bibb Trail

Villard/Johnson/Jenkins Family

Slavery and Underground Railroad

Union FWB church, Flat Rock pref. site adj
Union FWB Church, Flat Rock, Ripley Co, Indiana

Rail Road House Secret Cellar







UGRR in Southeastern Indiana

Slavery, Anti-Slavery and UGRR in Shelby Co, Kentucky

Signals & Tokens of UGRR

Reconstructing UGRR at Madison, Indiana

Automobile Tour of UGRR Sites in Ripley County, Indiana

Automobile Tour of UGRR Sites in Boone County, Kentucky

Elijah Marrs


Church History

St. James Episcopal Church, Shelbyville, Kentucky

Illustrated History of St. James, Shelbyville

American Jesus, illustrated

Sacred Space, Sacred Sound

Spiritual Gifts from World Religions


Academic Papers

Inquisition France, Italy and  Germany

Chapman Harris and St. Paul’s Baptist C hurch

Reconstructing the Underground Railroad in Trimble County, Kentucky

Land Speculation in Mason County, Kentucky

Merchants of Clark County, Indiana

Contrast between  Reactions to Fall of New York in 1776 and the Fall of Philadelphia in 1777

Encyclopedia Articles





Underground Railroad in Boone, Gallatin, Carroll Counties

Rowlett's Grocery Milton KY Trimble Co on postcard
Rowlett’s Grocery Milton KY Trimble Co on postcard

County Stores

Sold to the Chattachochee River trade, book by Neville and Mue
Fannie Fearn at Columbus on Chattochochee River Neville and Mueller

Fearn Family    Hunters Bottom Kentucky

Hougland Family

Carroll County Schools

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church

Kentucky Humanity Council Talks

Country Stores of Kentucky

Researching the Underground Railroad

Underground Railroad Routes and Operations

Tokens and Signals of the UGRR

Freedmens Bureau in Kentucky

Hunters Bottom

Finding Shoofly


Manumissions: Shelby County Kentucky

Fugitive Slave Ads Kentucky

Country Store Merchants

Freedmen Bureau Teachers in Kentucky

Freedman Bureau Schools in Kentucky

Fugitive Slave Census – Michigan, Canada

Early African American Churches in North and Central Kentucky