Thursday, September 1, 2011

First Baptist Church Civil War Claim

Smithland, Kentucky was occupied by the Federal Army from September 1861 through the end of the Civil War. When the troops arrived, they took over a number of buildings, including the First Baptist Church. At that time, the church was located facing the Ohio River at the end of Maiden Street with Maiden Street being two block from Court Street. Neither the church or Maiden Street are there today.

According to a claim filed by the Committee on War Claims at the first session of the 50th Congress in 1887-88, First Baptist Church was used as a warehouse and hospital. Here is what the claim states:

"The Committee on War Claims, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 360) for the relief of the trustees of the First Baptist Church at Smithland, Ky. ...

That in the year 1861 the properly constituted military authorities of the United States took possession of the First Baptist Church at Smithland, Ky. It was used as a warehouse and hospital for the troops of the United States, to the entire exclusion of the owners, until the war closed; and besides being thus occupied by the United States troops, the property was greatly damaged.

It was not the policy or practice of the Government to pay rent for public buildings used during the war, but in meritorious cases to restore them to their former condition, ordinary wear and tear excepted.

This property was not taken or held as a belligerent act, nor was its occupation a casualty of war. War was not flagrant during its occupation in that part of the country.

The trustees of said church only ask that the sum of $500 be paid them for its use and occupancy, which the evidence shows to be a very low rent."

There is no indication the sum was paid.

This First Baptist Church had been built prior to September 1853. In Deed Book 4, page 113, it is mentioned that the church was in the lower floor of a brick building and Temperance Hall was on the upper floor.

It is not known how long First Baptist Church was in this location, but in 1887, there was a protracted meeting in the courthouse and the "Smithland First Baptist Church was organized. The church was dedicated in 1913. The church is located at the intersection of U.S. 60 and Court Street.

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