Sunday, June 14, 2009

Old Bethel Church

The following article has been transcribed from the Henderson Gleaner and Journal, Sunday, 21 March 1926.

One of the oldest churches in Henderson County is located near Hebbardsville. In fact, the old Bethel Church was the second church erected in the county, the first being the Grave Creek Church.

This church was organized in 1811 by members who, before building the church, held their meetings in tents, in what was known as camp meetings, and the preaching services would last all during the day and until late at night on Sundays.

The Old Bethel Church was organized by a group of members who withdrew from the Grave Creek Church. The Grave Creek Church was the only Baptist church in the county, and members lived miles away, but would go there to attend services. Finally, some of the members in this locality decided it was too far and it was from this decision that they set to work and built a church in their own community.

When Old Bethel was first erected, there was only one room, which was built of logs and had a mud chimney. During this time people used to attend church here from Indiana and Illinois. They would cross the river at Red Banks, now Henderson. In later years the old logs were torn down and brick building erected out of brick donated by James Priest, the brick having been made on his farm near Hebbardsville. The building was constructed by Tuck Landrum.

When the members were making a canvass for money with which to build the church, John Priest told them he would give $200, saying "I am giving you $100 provided you build it at Hebbardsville, and $100 if built near my farm," which is now known as the Ella Hamilton farm. When Mr. Priest came to Henderson County, he moved his family across from Green River in rocking chairs, the river having been frozen over.

In 1842, this church had 48 colored members, and they were all dismissed during that year, when the slaves were freed to worship as they pleased. The church had 200 white members.

At the present time Old Bethel has a membership of 300 and the pastor is Rev. Balldock, of Russellville, Ky. Preaching services are held semi-monthly.

Besides Bethel, there are four other churches in Hebbardsville, they being the Hebbardsville Baptist, Methodist, Christian and Cumberland Presbyterian.”

No comments: