Henderson County, Kentucky
GRAVE CREEK WAS COUNTY'S OLDEST CHURCH
By Colonel A. Kaintuck
It is believed that the first church to be established in Henderson County was the Grave Creek Baptist Church. The church was organized in 1808 at a point near the county line between Henderson and Hopkins. The site was about five miles southeast of Zion and four miles north of Niagara.
Organized by the early Baptist settlers of the area, the place took its name from a small stream called Grave Creek, which now forms the boundary line between Henderson and Webster counties. At the time, however, Webster County did not exist. Instead Henderson and Hopkins counties were neighbors.
For many years the members of the church lived far apart and had no meeting house whatsoever, but regular meetings were held with the brothern.
Elder JOHN DORRIS, an ordinary Christian worker who lived in what is now Hopkins County, was the first pastor of the church. Among the earliest members of the church were the ancestors of many families which still reside in Henderson County. These included such names as the JONES, THOMASES, HAMPTONS and WILLIAMS. The membership list also contained the names of ELIJAH KING, NATHAN WALDEN, LAZARUS POWELL, GEORGE NEGLEY, GARRET WILLINGHAM and many others.
Many were the hardships which these early worshippers underwent. In order to meet together, they had to take long journeys on horseback, maybe twenty miles or more through thickets and across streams and over hills. They did this in order to meet at stated times for worship. It was all a considerable contrast to what it is today when we can attend worship services with little relative effort.
The early organization styled itself "The United Baptist Church of Christ", according to the minutes of the business sessions up until the 1860s. Previous to 1830, practically no thought was given to the matter of foreign missions. Nevertheless, about that time the missionary doctrine began to permeate Western Kentucky and the members of Grave Creek became interested in the movement. Furthermore, many members also became interested in the preachings of ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, a man who was causing serious religious upheavals.
Up until 1834 the Henderson County churches held membership in the Highland Association. Grave Creek was such a member. But as anti-missionary faction arose and had considerable influence in policy-making. As a result, four churches, of which Grave Creek was one, seceded from the Highland Association and formed the "Little Bethel Association."
Among the seceding ministers were WILLIAM HATCHETT, F. L. GARRETT and RICHARD JONES of Henderson County and WILLIAM MORRISON of Union County. The Reverend WILLIAM HATCHETT was the father of the Reverend **more to this story**
Reprinted with permission