HISTORY OF THE METHODIST CHURCH IN OHIO COUNTY
Source: “The History of Methodism in Kentucky”
By: The Rev. A. H. Redford
Southern Methodist Publishing Company - 1868
The Livingston Circuit, which had been formed in 1803, under the indefatigable labors of Jesse Walker, had so extended its boundaries previous to the Conference of 1804 as to embrace the counties of Henderson and Ohio. In the Minutes of 1804, the work in this department is recognized under the style of "Livingston and Hartford," to which Jesse Walker and Joshua Barnes were appointed.
Previous to the Conference of 1804, a quarterly meeting was held at Isham Browder's, in Hopkins (then Henderson) county, embracing the 17th and 18th days of August, at which the following official members were present: Lewis Garrett, Presiding Elder; Jesse Walker, Assistant Preacher; Miles Harper, Joshua Barnes, Thomas Taylor, James Axley, Wiley Ledbetter, Josiah Moors, John Travis, Benjamin Parker, Taylor White, Isham Browder, Pleasant Axley, Moses Shelby. At this Quarterly Conference, James Axley and Joshua Barnes were "recommended to travel." Before Mr. Walker had embraced Ohio county in the Livingston Circuit, under the efficient labors of a few local preachers, societies had been formed at Goshen, Bethel, and No Creek, in that county. "The first Church organized in Ohio county was at Goshen, two miles south of Hartford, in the year 1804. Very shortly after this, in the same year, another Church was organized at Bethel, seven miles north-east of Hartford. Next, and about the same time, in the same year, No Creek Church was organized." These Churches were established as the result of a great revival which took place in December, 1803, commenced by the Presbyterians, in connection with two or three local preachers, who had settled in this part of the country. "The first and leading local preacher connected with this work was Thomas Taylor, a man of more than ordinary ability and decisive character; and, through his influence, the masses of the converts were led into the Methodist Episcopal Church." Associated with him was Lodwick Davis, also a man of good preaching ability; also Joshua Barnes, of ordinary talents. "During the Conference-year commencing in the fall of 1804, this circuit was blessed with extensive revivals of religion. They swept, like fire in dry stubble, all over the country. The people went from far and near to attend them were awakened, and converted to God."*
These early societies were a nucleus, from which went out a fine religious influence into all the surrounding country. From the time of their first organization to the present, they have prospered, being the scenes of many revivals of religion. **
* Letter from the Rev. H. C. McQuown, of Hartford, Kentucky.
** The society at Goshen now worships in a neat and commodious frame church, numbers nearly eighty members, and enjoys an average degree of spirituality. The society at Bethel enjoyed a fine revival of religion last spring, in which thirty-five were converted, and thirty- eight added to the Church. Class-meetings are kept up by them. They have a neat frame house of worship. The society at No Creek, three miles north of Hartford, had a good revival in January. Its fruits were thirteen conversions and twenty-one additions. It numbers now about ninety. They have a new, large, frame church — the best in the country — and keep up class-meetings. There is also a society ten miles north-east of Hartford, (time organized not known.) They have a large frame church, one hundred and sixteen members, and enjoy an average degree of spirituality. A society, seven miles east of Hartford, with twenty-nine members, in good condition. They have a new frame church. Six miles north-east of Hartford is the Union society, numbering twenty-eight. They worship in a log house. In Hartford the society numbers sixty-five. Letter to the author from the Rev. H. C. McQuown, dated Hartford, Kentucky, January 23, 1867.
We have already referred to Thomas Taylor (the father of the Hon. Harrison J. Taylor, of Hartford, Kentucky), a local preacher, to whose influence and labors the Church in Ohio and the surrounding counties was so much indebted for the organization of the early societies. He was born in Frederick county, Virginia, February 26, 1763. His parents were poor, but of high respectability, and bequeathed to him the legacy of a pure and unsullied character. His father and mother were reared in the Church of England, and endeavored to instill into their children the principles of Christianity. Independent in thought from early childhood, he became impressed with the excellency of Methodism, and at twelve years of age he was a member of the Church, and when quite young became a local preacher. In 1802, with his small family, he came to the "West, and was among the first to raise the standard of Methodism in the Green River country. Among the early local preachers in Kentucky, for his untiring devotion to the Church, he was not surpassed. The opposition to Christianity, so common among the early settlers in the State, so far from arresting his efforts to accomplish good, was
to him only an incentive to extraordinary exertion. The country being destitute of ministers, Mr. Taylor traveled extensively, having appointments at distances remote from his home, in the territory now embraced in Henderson, Hopkins, Muhlenburg (sic), Butler, Grayson, Hardin, Larue, Hancock, Daviess, and McLean counties. To promote the welfare of the Church, and to advance its interests, was one of the highest aims of his noble life. Without the advantages of early education, by close application to study he so far improved his mind as to become one of the most popular and influential preachers in the Green River country. Thoroughly versed in the Holy Scriptures, his vindication of the doctrines of Methodism was resistless, while, "with words that burn," he impressed the practical duties of religion on the minds of the hundreds who heard the gospel from his lips. Without appealing to the passions of the people, he stirred the depths of their hearts. Usually plain, yet argumentative, he sometimes " arose with his subject, and, giving utterance to his own feelings, he would dwell on the beauties of religion, the sublimity of the Divine attributes, the deep and dying love of the Saviour (sic), and the horrors of the day of retribution, when justice shall be meted out. On occasions of this kind, his language would flow with that deep, intense, native sublimity, which no art or study can equal." *
On the 25th day of April, 1836, he departed this life, at his own home, in Ohio county, Kentucky, in full assurance of a blessed immortality. To no one man is Ohio county so much indebted for the moral and religious influence they now enjoy, as to Thomas Taylor. His wife, Margaret Taylor, who had borne with her husband the privations and sacrifices of pioneer life, and had stood side by side with him in the great battle for religious truth, survived him nearly twenty years. She belonged to the representative women of Methodism in Kentucky. After a long life of usefulness, on the 25th of October, 1855, she closed her eyes in death.
* Letter to the author from Mr. H. J. Taylor.