Thursday, July 10, 2008

Piney Fork Church and Camp Meeting

Transcribed from the 23 August 1906 issue of the Crittenden Press, published in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky.

The Piney Fork annual camp meeting will begin Monday night, September 10, where there has been a camp meeting held for over 80 years with the exception of two years. It will be an old time camp meeting conducted by Rev. J.L. Hudgins of Union City, Tenn.

The first annual camp meeting which has made this church so famous was held in May 1812. The services were held under an arbor on the beautiful knoll now occupied by the camp ground and the people who attended the meetings lodged “in camps” or rude huts. The ministers present were Messrs. Finis Ewing, Alexander Chapman and Wm. Harris.

The following is a list of the original members who perfected the organization of this grand old church: John Travis, Rebecca Travis, Wheeler, Susan Wheeler, James Clinton, Ann Clinton, Rev. Wm. Henry, Mary Ann Henry, Mrs. McGough, Mrs. Zachariah Bivens and Mrs. Wm. Leach.

For a year or two this small society met for occasional preaching at the residence of Mr. John Wheeler, who lived four miles southeast of Marion, nearly opposite the place where Rev. Frank Paris now lives. In 1812, the organization was completed by Rev. Finis Ewing at a school house in the neighborhood of Mr. Wheeler’s home. Being situated between the forks of Piney Creek, it was called Piney Fork Church.

John Travis donated a tract of land to the church of about 13 acres. Afterward George Green donated three acres. A log church house was at once erected upon it, situated in what is now the cemetery. A second log church was built in 1843. The present church, a brick, of which the future represents, was erected in 1867 at a cost of $3000. The brick was burned on the ground and the building erected by L.M. Hill and C. Turk. The following were the building committee: Jas. Ordway, L.M. Hill, T.M. Butler and W.B.
Crider. Two large sheds have been built; the present one is 60x80 feet and has a seating capacity of about 2000.

The pastors of this historic church have been pre-eminently self made men, as they were nearly all, in early life, without the advantages of a liberal education or any large degree of social culture. They have been chiefly poor men, obliged to assist in supporting themselves in their early ministry by their daily secular labors. Rev. Finis Ewing was the first pastor of Piney Fork Church. He was born 1773 and died 1841.

The camp meeting began in 1812 and has continued until the present time with two exceptions. It is reasonable to presume that more annual camp meetings have been held on Piney Fork hill than any other place in the world, whose meetings having commenced at this place soon after their origin and continued almost successively down to the present time. Thousands have been converted on this sacred hill and the shouts of the redeemed have seemed to make the dome of heaven ring. During the earliest meetings it was not uncommon for them to have 100 professions of faith at a meeting.

Quite a number of noted ministers who have filled important stations in many states in the Union sprang from this noted church. Among them are the Rev. Geo. W. Hughey, presiding elder of the M.E. Church, who has filled position of importance in St. Louis, Mo. and in various parts of Illinois; Rev. J.H. Hughey and J.L. Hughey, who have been the pastors of some of the most noted churches in Missouri; the Rev. P.H. Crider, who served as pastor of the most prominent churches in Iowa and other states. The Rev. J.T. Rushing, now a presiding elder of the M.E. Church, South was once a member of Piney Fork, as well as Mack Green of the Baptist Church.

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