Kentucky State Historical Society

VOL 29 January, 1931 No. 86



Editor's Note-

The original manuscript account of the establishment of the first settlement on Salt River, and the New Providence Church, was included among the McAfee Papers which were sent to the Historical Society by Miss Georgia McAfee of Lima, Ohio, In 192?, with permission to publish it. Because the first part of the narrative corresponds very closely with the earlier pages of 'The Life and Times of Robert B. McAfee," published in consecutive numbers of the Register in 1927, these pages, and those immediately which give as account of the Indian attack on James McAfee's Station were released for publication in Dr. Willard R. Jillson's "Tales of the Dark and Bloody Ground" recently off the press of the C. T. Dearing Company at Louisville, and the story is taken up with the beginning of peace on page 21 of the manuscript. Only enough of the introduction is herewith given to name the principal characters.

"On the 10th day of May in the year of our Lord 1773, a company of men consisting of the following persons viz.: James McAfee, George McAfee, Robert McAfee, James McCoun, Junr. and Samuel Adams, having been informed by the report of some Hunters and Indians that there was a rich and delightful tract of country to the west on the Waters of the Ohio River, which at that time opened a wide field for enterprising individuals, left their places of residence on Sinking Creek, Bottetourt County, in the then Colony of Virginia, for the purpose of exploring the country and seeking out places for their future residence. They were fully aware of the dangers and difficulties which were to be encountered. But to men enured to hardships, bold and enterprising, the prospects of making future fortunes and the honor of being among the First Adventurers in the Western Wilderness, consoled and supported them, together with a reliance upon the all protecting arm of providence, which they did not doubt would be with them on their long and dangerous journey.

"All of the above named persons, at that time were married and had families, and were impressed with a sense of Religious duties, except Samuel Adams, who was at that time a young man, not yet arrived to manhood." * * *

1784-This year was a year of Tranquility and peace to the Salt River Stations, the mischief done by the Indians was chiefly confined to the Ohio River and the Fronteer Stations. In February death visitted the family of Robert McAfees, his second son, Robert, about six years old was cut off. The Billious fever and ague and fever made its appearance in a number of the familys on Salt River during the fall of 1783 and continued until late in the winter and on the_____day of June 1784 James McCoun, Senr. lost his wife and owing to a difference in relation to a land boundary between James McCoun and James McAfee senr. different burying ground were selected for the relations of each family, but this unpleasant feeling did not destroy a friendly intercourse between the familys. The mind of the settlers on Salt River began now to be seriously inclined to Religious matters and the Revd. David Rice was invited to preach amongst them. Marriages had hitherto been solemnized by magistrates but the arrival of Mr. Rice in the country changes this order of things and on Thursday the 3rd day of June a marriage between Joseph Lyon and Jane McMillen, a young woman raised by James McAfee, was solemnized in James McAfees Station, and on next day June 4th, Mrs. McCouns funeral was preached at the residence of Mr. McCoun on the Bank of Salt River near his spring which was the First sermon ever preached on Salt River. It was on a mournful occasion and the attention of the people was much arrested. Mr. Rice returned to the Fort on the next day, and as was his practice catechized such as had turned their attention to Religious Matters and on the next day, June 6th, he preached in a large double hewed log house at the Station and after this time Mr. Rice occasionally visitted them and preached and in the fall of this year the neighborhood received a considerable accession of strength by the arrival of Capt. John Armstrong and William Armstrong and George Buchannon, each of whom had large familys and were calculated to aid one another in the many difficulties attendant upon the Settlement of a new country. They all settled within the bounds of the Present N. Providence congregation and were inclined to promote the cause of Religion.

The population generally throughout Kentucky had increased considerably this year, and as peace and prosperity now beamed upon them they could not avoid reflecting deeply on their situation, but Mr. Rice was the only preacher within their Reach and he was so often engaged in his own quarters that he but seldom visitted them.

1785-After the winter broke early in the Spring this year the neighborhood concluded to erect a house for the Double purpose of a school house and meeting house accordingly the following heads of familys met on the Branch south of the Present N. Providence Church Viz.: James McAfee, James McCoun Sr., John Armstrong, George McAfee, Joseph Lyon, James Buchannon, William Armstrong, Robert McAfee, John McGee, George Buchannon, Saml. McAfee, James McCoun, Junr. For the purpose of selecting a place to build the house two places were named. James McAfee offered the present site and two acres of land and James McCoun offered the same near His Spring where Garet Browns house now stands 3/4 of a mile below-George Buchannon and George McAfee were the chief speakers and the matter was debated with considerable warmth and finally carried 7 to 5 in favor of the present situation and as soon as planting corn was over the neighborhood again met and built a log cabbin 20 feet by 28, on the side of the hill about fifty yards south of the west end of the Present Brick church in which the Revd. David Rice preached once a month for several years, and a school was also occasionally taught. It was the practice of Mr. Rice to catechise at the houses of those who desired it, which was generally in Turn monthly and on each day preaching took place at this cabbin each of the male inhabitants had to carry a Gun to defend themselves from the Indians and this was the uniform practice for about three years. So that our ancestors had to even go armed when attending the worship of God as the Indians occasionally committed depridation in stealing horses or killing Travelers from one Station to another, which made it necessary to be always prepared to defend themselves. When this cabbin was built, the name of New Providence was given to it.

The state of Religious Society during this year consisted in regularly attending the Preaching of Mr. Rice, who the year before had another small house erected for public worship on the land of Capt. John Haggin called Cane Run near the head of one of the Branches of a stream of that name about 3 miles S. E. of Harrodsburgh, some of the Individuals named above were professors of Religion and the whole of them during this year had determined to become members of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Rice was assiduous in his attentions to his Religious duties but very often preached by way of lecture from a whole chapter which often proved to be a very advantageous mode of delivering instruction.

1786-The campaign of Genl. Clarke (which was his last) to the Wabash, took place this year a member of the Salt River Militia volunteered on that campaign which for a time diverted public attention. It was conducted up the Wabash some distance above Vincinnes and ended in abortion from the want of provisions and various other causes not necessary to mention, as the object of this history is not Civil, but religious matters. The Public attention during this year and also the last was considerable interest in the question of a separation from the State of Virginia and the erection of a separate State. This subject is named in order that I may have an opportunity to express the Sentaments of my ancestors and their cotemporaries on a subject which has made some noise in the history of Kentucky. The people on Salt River whose names I have given above were all Staunch Whigs during the Revolutionary war and took part against England upon all occasions in favor of Independence as their ancestors in Scotland and Ireland had taken part against the Eclesiastical Tyrannny of James the 6th about the years 1668 to 1688, and sided with the Presbyterians and covenanters of Scotland until the time of the Revolution in England in the latter year when King William and Mary ascended that throne uniformly daring interprising and jealous of Tyranny and their civil and Religious Rights and Independence. These considerations led them to espouse the side of an early Separation from Virginia because they saw at a very early Day the difficulties and evils resulting from a connection with that state from which it was separated by a wilderness, filed with the most Rugged Mountains, But their views did not lead them to such a Separation as would exclude them from the American Union or unite them with any foreign Government, either Spanish, French or English, they warmly advocated it but only upon the Basis of Constituting one of the American Confideration and as far as I have been able to ascertain any other idea was never communicated to or entertained by any person who at that time was in their confidence as far as they at that time knew or believed-altho the writer of this History well recollects that Benjamin Sebastion, never was confided in by any persons in the McAfee Settlements on Salt River, he being neither considered as a good man or an honest one, and such were the sentaments, I imbibed in my infancy. We had land suits and he was the only Judge of the Court of Appeals after the Organization of the state of Kentucky, in whom they had no confidence-John Brown, Saml. McDowell Senr. Christopher Greenup and Thos. Todd were the favorites of this section of the country as political men.

The Revd. David Rice during the course of the year of 1785 organized the. Church on Salt River which was named by George Buchannon, New Providence on account of the many providential occurancies that displayed themselves in favor of the Inhabitants and also one at Cane Run.

George Buhanon, James McCoun, Senn, 1785. William Armstrong 1789 were the first elders in the New Congregation, the latter of whom was an Elder under Mr. Rice in Virginia and George Buchanon, James Curry were the first Elders at Cane Run. The Church and congregation gradually increased and prospered until the year of our Lord 1789 without any unusual occurance except the Indians would occasionally steal horses for several years, when they had ceased any further to disturb the Salt River Settlements. But this church was destined to meet a calamity of quite a different character as did all the Presbyterian churches in the states, as a number of others had been organized and a Presbytery had been Constituted previous to this time viz; on the 17th day of October 1786 called the Transylvania Presbytry a Branch of the Abington Presbytry consisting of the following 5 ministers of the Gospel viz.: Revd. David Rice, Adam Rankin, John McClure, James Crawford, Thos. B. Craighead.

And met on that day in the meeting house at the West end of the town of Danville. The Revd. Adams Rankin. had removed to Kentucky as early as the year 1784 -and had located himself in the neighborhood of Lexington, he being the man of considerable Talents and seal, refused to adopt Dr. Watts version of the Psalms of David and proceeded so far as to debar from the sacramental Table such as used them, Mr. Rankin had been on to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church at Philadelphia in May 1789, and when he returned he made some remarks in relation to the practice there adopted of each member of the church Taking Watts Psalms of Hymns into church with them. He had seen the Table of the Lord spread with the Rivals of the word of God on it. Previous to this time viz.: May 16th 1787 the synod of Philadelphia and New York had permitted Dock Watts Psalms of David as revised by the Rev. Mr. Barlow to be sung in the churches under their care that they are at the same time far from disapproving Rouses version commonly called the Old Psalms by those who were in the use of them and choose to continue they are of opinion that either may be used by the churches and each congregation may Judge for their peace and Edification and do therefore highly disapprove, severe and unchristian cencures being passed on either of the ad System of Psalms. Mr. Rankin who had been licensed several years previous had never adopted them in his religious worship, but on the contrary condemned them and being a man of warm feelings and ardent in his devotion, he was in the habit of communicating his private religious exercises to many of those whom he conceived to be his friends, and in this way he had communicated several remarkable dreams, which he said had given him warnings upon many important subjects. These things together with many other remarks upon the subjects of Psalmsdy made by Mr. Rankin induced the Presbytry to appoint a Committee of their own body to meet in Lexington in the Month of November 1789 to hear the complaints of the people and collect such information in relation to the Revd. Mr. Rankins conversations as public rumor had charged him with. But previous to entering into a more particular detail of this matter which ended in the unhappy split in the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky. We will give a few extracts from the original records of the First conference on the subject of Religion in the country which will elucidate the views of the first founders of the Western Churches. The first General meeting took place at Cane Run meeting house on the 30th day of March 1785 when the following proceedings were had-

Cane Run Meeting, Lincoln County, (Now Mercer).

Wednesday, March 30th, 1785.

"A conference having been proposed to be held at this time and Place to take into consideration the State of the Presbyterian Church in the district of Kentucky, and to consult upon the most likely method of promoting the interest of virtue and Religion Therein the following Gentlemen attended viz: The Revd. David Rice; The Revd. Adam Rankin; The Revd. James Mitchell.

Mr. Terah Tamplin probationer in the Gospel Ministry also the following Representative-

Caleb Wallace and William McCune from Cane Run congregation; Thos. Maxwell and Saml. Woods from Paintlick congregation, James McCoun from New Providence.

James Beard and James Allen from Salem congregation; Richard Steel and John Brocher from Mount Zion congregation-The Revd Mr. Rice was chosen to preside and Caleb Wallace to be clerk.

After Prayer -

The conference taking into consideration the Remote Situation of the District from the other parts of the Presbytry of Hanover which subjects the Presbyterian Ministers and congregation of the district to a number of inconveniences to obvious to need a Recital are Unanimously of opinion that it would be highly conducive to the Interests of Religion in this quarter to have the district separated from the Presbytery of Hanover and formed into a New Presbytery as soon as Circumstances will permit and Requests the Revd. Messrs. Rice, Rankin and Mitchell or any two of them to apply to the Revd. Presbytery of Hanover to have Mr. James Crawford and Terah Tamplin ordained; and to solicit the concurrence of the Presbytery in an Application to the Revd. Synod of Philadelphia and New York to be constituted a Presbytery.

Adjourned until Tomorrow 10 O'clock. Concluded with Prayer

Thursday March 31st, 1785-Met according to adjournment and began with Prayer-Present the same members as on yesterday and George Buchannon another Representative from New Providence-

The conference taking into Consideration the mischief which may arrise from disorderly and unsound Ministers being receaved or encouraged in the district request the Sd Revd. Mr. Rice, Rankin and Mitchell or any two of them to apply to the Revd. Presbytery of Hanover to have the members of the sd Presbytery (the new one) residing within the district or any three of them appointed a standing Committee to examine into and Certify to the people their opinion of the credentials and the Religious Principles and characters of all Presbyterian Ministers not recommended by the Presbytery who may hereafter come into the district before they exercise any of their Ministerial functions therein, and that the said Committee be empowered to regulate any disputes that may arrise respecting the Bounds of Congregations-

The Conference are of the opinion that the careful exercise of Church Government and discipline agreeable to the rules of Christ is indispensibly necessary to the promotion of Virtue and Religion, and Therefore recommended to each of the Several vacancies in the district to choose three or more of their members well reputed for their Piety, good Religious Deportment and soundness in the Christian faith to be ruling Elders and that before they proceed to the Choice. They invite some neighboring Minister to explain to the Congregation when assembled the importance of Ruling Elders. The duties of their office and the qualification with which they should be endued, and then that all the male members of the congregation above 21 years old, who profess to be willing to subject themselves to the Presbyterian mode of Church Government and discipline be admitted to give their votes, and that the same or some other Minister be invited to ordain at any convenient time thereafter, the Elders so chosen if they are willing to accept and no just objections against their being ordained to that office shall appear-

A motion being made, that it be recommended to the lay Elders in the Several vacancies when they are destitute of Supplies to assemble the Congregation and join with them in Prayer singing the praises of God and reading the holly scriptures and other books of Divinity well reputed for sound doctrine and practical Piety. It was thought best to refer the consideration Thereof, to a future conference- The Regular and careful admission to Sealing ordinances being of great importance to Religion in General and particularly to the Reputation of the Church of Christ and the strengthening Christian Communion amongst his professed followers; Recommend it to the Ministers not to admit any to these Privileges without being well certified of their good standing in the Church either from the Session to which they now do or formerly did belong, or from their own personal knowledge or other satisfactory Evidence; and that the Ministers by conversing with those who apply for admission be well satisfied that they are rightly instructed in the nature and use of the ordinance for which they apply as well as in the principles and duties of the Christian Religion in General; and that this may be done to good purpose, they also recomended to those who desire admission to give the Ministers an opportunity for such conversation, some convenient length of time before.

Adjourned to 9 o'clock Tomorrow Morning and then concluded with Prayer.

Friday April 1st, 1785-Met according to adjournment present the same members as on yesterday. Began with Prayer-

Several Ministers of the Gospel having in the good Providence of God lately came into the District the conference are anxious that the Blessing should be carefully improved, and therefore take the Liberty warmly to recommend a punctual and Serious attendance upon their Ministration in particular that the heads of families should use their influence to bring those committed to their charge with them to Public worship as often as opportunity Serves and likewise to be diligent in giving their families such instruction at home as may enable them to attend public ordinances to greater advantage, and being persuaded that the success of the Gospel greatly depend upon such things recommend it to a future conference, to take into far consideration the most likely method of encouraging a general conscientious and profitable attendance upon the ordinances of Religion, both in public and Private and the greatest strictness in bringing up children and youth in the nature and admonition of the Lord and in the meantime that every Indevour be used to afford such Certain and adequate support to Ministers as well enable them to devote themselves to the duties of their office so as not only to study to deliver sound doctrine in acceptable words to their Congregations but also to visit instruct and exhort from house to house and that profesors of Religion cultivate a Catholic Spirit towards those of other denominations and. by a meek and Christian deportment endevour to impress the minds of all conversant with them with a sense of the Reality and importance of Religion-

The conference not having time at present fully to consider several matters. that appear to be of consequence recommend that a conference be again held at Cane Run Meeting house in Lincoln County (Now Mercer) on the second Tuesday in July next. At which the Ministers and probationers in the Gospel within the district are particularly desired to attend and that the several congregations. in the district and neighborhood desirous of being formed into Congregations,. each of them send two of their members to Represent them in the proposed conference, and that Mr. Rice open the conference with a sermon adapted to the, occasion. Concluded with Prayer-

David Rice, President Confer.

A True Copy from the Original Minutes..

Thus we find that a number of neighborhoods at this early period had already Constituted themselves into Congregations, Cane Run Meeting house was erected in the year 1784 and New Providence early in 1785 and it was agreeable to the Recommendations of the above and following recommendations that the Elders before named were elected; George Buchannon seems to have been one of their First representatives and was probably one of the First Elders but was not long afterwards Transfered to the Cane Run Church and was then Succeeded by William Armstong-


The conference met agreeable to appointment and the Revd. Mr. David Rice opened it with a discourse on Isaiah LXII Chap. and the 1st verse- Present the Revd. David Rice; James Crawford, Terah Tamplin, Probationers.

William Maxwell, from Jesamine (Creek Settlement) Henry McDonald and Thos. Cavin, from Walnut hill, John McConnell from Mount Zion, William Scott and Wm. Evans from Mount Pisgah, Thomas Maxwell from Paintlick, Jacob Fishback and Andrew Elders from the Forks (Dicks and Ken River) Robert Caldwell from Concord (Danville) John Tamplin and Cabel Wallace, from. Cane Run, James McCoun and George Buchannon from N. Providence, George Pomeroy and John Veech from Hopewell, James Beard and James Allen from Salem.

Mr. Rice was chosen to preside and Mr. Caleb Wallace to be clerk. Adjourned until Tomorrow 10 O'Clock- Concluded with Prayer.

Wednesday July 13, 1785-Met according to adjournment and began with prayer. Present the same members as yesterday and James Davies and John Snoddy from the neighborhood of Whitley's Station and the Crab Orchard; John Todd from Jessamine, Saml. Mcdowell from Concord, David Logan from Mount Zion also the Revd. Adams Rankin.

It having been recommended by a late conference to take into consideration the propriety of Ruling Elders assembling the Congregations to which they belong when they are destitute of the Gospel Ministry and to join with them in Prayer singing the praises of God and reading the holy scriptures together with other Books of divinity well reputed for sound doctrine and practical piety.

This conference having taken the matter into serious consideration are of opinion that it is agreeable to the word of God where we are injoined not to forsake the assembling ourselves together as the manner of some is, "and when we have the promise of Christ, that where two or three are gathered together in his name he will be in the midst of them to bless them," and therefore Unanimously recommend that this duty be carefully conducted by the Elders and attended to by the people as peculiarly necessary in this remote quarter of the country when vacancies are like to be numerous.

This conference do also advise that the Ruling Elders should as often as is convenient Catechize the children and young people in the several vacancies and encourage them to be well acquainted with the larger and shorter Catechism which we Esteem as excellent helps to attain to the knowledge of the holy scriptures and in doing this we farther advise, that such approved written explanations be made use of as can be obtained-

With Regard to the most likely methods of encouraging a general conscientious and profitable attendance on the ordinances of Religion both in Public and private-

In addition to those recommended by a former conference, they farther recommended that the several Congregations should endevour to be furnished with as convenient houses for public worship as circumstances will permit, and that the several parts of divine Service be preformed with the greatest decency and solemnity in particular that the the praise of God be sung with proper harmony of voice as well as affection of the mind, and that for this purpose good clerks ought to be encouraged in each congregation and grave and agreeable tuned learned and used, and as all things are sanctified by prayer the conference do most warmly recommend frequent and fervent to Almighty God for his blessing upon Religious ordinances without which They cannot be profitable-

The conference also considering the danger to which we are still exposed from a Savage Enemy, and especially the general declension of virtue and the prevalence of vice which are likely to grieve the holy Spirit of God and provoke him to depart from his churches do also recommend that days of Public fasting humiliation and Prayer be observed to implore the divine protection and also as a means to excite Repentance and reformation and to prepare the mind for a profitable attendance on the ordinances of the Gospel-The Conference recommended that the First Wednesday in August next be observed for the purpose or any day Thereafter before the last day of September that may be most convenient to the respective Congregation-

The conference finding that the Ministers in this district are likely for a Considerable time to be distitute of Sufficient Librarys which will greatly retard their progress in knowledge and the success of their Ministration Therefore Recommend that collections be made in the Several Congregations and that the money be Transmitted to the next conference to be laid out in the purchase of Such Books as shall be judged most proper, and that the Books so procured be kept at such places and let out to the use of the Ministers and Students of Divinity under such regulations as the Conference or Presbytery shall from time to time direct and the Several members of this conference are desired to make known to the Congregations they represent the importance of such a Library and to encourage Collections for that purpose and the Ministers and Probationers in the Gospel are particularly requested to recommend the valuable design to their Congregation and the vacancys which they may supply-adjourned till 10 o'clock tomorrow Morning and concluded by Prayer-

Thursday July 14th, 1785-Met according to adjournment and Began with Prayer Sunday Queries on Psalmsdy having been proposed to this conference are on account of the importance of the subject refered to the consideration of another conference and recommend that a conference be held at this place on the first Tuesday in October next at which all the Ministers and Probationers in the Gospel within the district are particularly requested to attend and that the Several congregations in the district or neighborhood desirous of being formed into congregations each of them send two of their members to Represent them in conference at that time and that Mr. Rankin open the Conference with a sermon adapted to the occasion concluded with Prayer-

David Rice, President. A True Copy
     Terah Tanplin

Thus we see that the controversy with respect to Psalmsdy particularly the introduction of Dr. Watts Paraphrase or imitation in connection with the old (Rouses) paraphrase of the Psalms commenced at an early period and continued to agetate and finally split the Western Churches-The Revd. Adams Rankin was the leader in this controversy and in reality proposed the queries.


This controversy in relation to Psalmsdy continued to divide the people of Kentucky for Several years, and produced so much Bickering and unpleasant feeling that the Transylvania Presbytery which we see was organized in October 1786 was at length compiled to take it up and the Revd. Adam Rankin having taken the lead in this matter having refused Communion with all those who used Dr. Watts Psalms of David and he being the only Preacher of the whole Presbytery who took that ground the most violent disputations took place among the people in which the New Providence Congregation shared largely-James McCoun Senr. one of its Elders and his whole family sons and sons in law including John McGee and Robert McAfee took sides with Mr. Rankin and strenuously opposed the introduction of any other Psalms or hymns besides the old version which constituted nearly the one-half of the Congregation-however matters did not arrise to an irreconcileable height until after the meeting of the Committee in Lexington in November 1789-This Committee receaved nine charges against Mr. Rankin consisting chiefly of those named in a previous part of this Record viz; want of Charity to his Brethern in the use of Dr. Watts Paraphrase and of pretended divine intimation on that and several other important subjects which may be found in Mr. Rankins account of a Process against him in the Transylvania Presbytery Published in Lexington about the year of 1793-

1st "Charge whereas Mr. Rankin debars from the table of the Lord all persons who acquiesce in Dock Watts preface, That the Doctors preface and Psalms were all one.

2nd Charge Mr. Rankin affirmed that Mr. Rice is of the opinion that Dock Watts denies the Eternal Escistence of the Son of God.

3. Charge Mr. Rankin said that Saml. Shanon is a man of Erronious principle and hoped that he would not come within the bounds of his people.

4. Mr. Samuel Blair Presented a letter to the Presbytery, testifying that Mr. Rankin charges the body of Presbyterian divines "with Blasphemy and deism". That Mr. Rankin at Mount Zion meeting "house soon after his return from the Northward in 1789, charged Dr. Watts with holding a contrast between the Old and New Testament and that he denied the eternal sonship of Jesus Christ and that his friends to the Northward were of the Same opinion."

5. "Charge with pretending to an immediate Divine Revelation from heaven in a dream which determined him not to use Dock Watts Psalms and hue,..

6. "Charge that Mr. Rankin said that everything of importance was always revealed to him before hand-Several other charges of the same nature as to Devine Revelations."

7. That he called Dock Watts Psalms the Rebels (Rivals) of the King of Heaven.

These charges were reported to Presbytery at their session in April 1790, but owing to various causes of delay and the absence of Mr. Rankin who went to England in the year 1790 and attended to the study of divinity in the City of London where he was absent upwards of a year during which time many reports relative to the causes of his absence were in Calculation, he however Returned again in October of the year 1791-and he was cited before the Transylvania Presbytery in April 1792-In the meantime the New Providence congregation having increased in numbers and the controversy in relation to Psalmsdy not having as yet destroyed the Harmony of this Congregation it was agreed during the winter 1789 to erect a new house of Public worship, and as no actual split had taken place in the church as yet, it was determined to build the house in conjunction-accordingly during the year succeeding 1790 a large double hewed log house joined at the sides by posts 50 feet long and 30 feet wide was built by subscribtion, each Individual Subscriber furnishing a portion of the materials at the Place where the present Brick church stands a part of it extending Something farther to the west-and the congregation now looked round for a Minister of the Gospel to supply them and whom they might engage to settle amongst them but were unable to procure one previous to the Separation of the Congregation into two nearly equal parties as before stated which event took place in this year-when the Revd. Adams Rankin was cited to Appear before the Presbytery which held its Session at____________ to answer the charges before cited, he appeared according to the Citation and a large concourse of people attended him and an investigation of_______days was had when finding that the Presbytery had determined to decide against him he with the advice of his friends withdrew from them as a body and entered up his Solemn Protest against their proceedings. This event took place on the ____________ day of _________and nearly one half The Presbyterian body of People went with him, which sent the Western Churches into parties which rent have not subsided to this day-


Many Individuals took sides with Mr. Rankin believing him to be persecuted and that an attempt was making to ruin and put him down because he differed with the Presbytery on the subject of Psalmsdy. This sentament prevailed amongst the Layity to a considerable extent and the particular circumstance attending the case were calculated to aggravate the matter at the moment the event took place. Altho considerable contradiction and unpleasant feeling took place during the trial of Mr. Rankin particularly between him and the Revd. James Crawford in relation to the latters coming to a Sacramental communion held by the Former in which it was asserted that Mr. Crawford have come to join him in Communion unscent for-Yet the Presbytery had determined to proceed with great Moderation and temper and they went no farther in the first instance than to Pass a Censure on Mr. Rankin for his conduct. But the opinion was delivered to him in the presence of and when he was Surrounded by a large Body of his friends and Supporters Mr. Rankin saw the moment was a favorable one for him to excite their Sympathies and he immediately the sentence was read to him Exclaimed, "I appeal to God, Angels, and men, I protest and will no longer be a member," and immediately walked out of the house, followed by his friends which finally closed the Business and Mr. Rankin not long afterwards united himself to the Synod of the Association Reformed church and proceeded to organize Congregations in various parts of the State one of which was constituted out of the Broken Congregation of New Providence and James McCoun, Senr. and John McGee . . . were its first Elders and Mr. Rankin continued to supply them occasionaly as its Regular pastor until the year 1803. . . . when the Revd. Robert H. Bishop took charge of it and continued till the year . . . . when he left them and united with the Genl. Assembly Presbyterians since which time they have been without a Regular Preacher being occasionally again supplied by Mr. Rankin and for a time by Mr. Rainy-so that their numbers have greatly diminished and from all appearance unless greatly revived be entirely amalgimated with the Presbyterian body (but more of this church hereafter in its proper place)-

The New Providence Congregation having (as we have already stated) Built themselves a Comfortable house were unable to procure a regular Minister until the Session of Mr. Rankin who supplied his party, who were Generally known by the name of Rankinites three or four times a year and sometimes oftener. The other body of them were only occasionly supplied by Presbyterian Ministers as ordered by the Presbytery until the Spring of the year after the Separation viz; 1793 when Mr. John Sutton a worthy and Respectable Baptist Preacher having settled in Harrodsburgh was invited to preach at N. Providence he was a man a great Swavity of Manners of regular classical Education and avoided all controverted points of divinity, which made him agreeable to all parties and as he very often used the old Psalms, his congregations were composed of all the neighbors indiscriminately and were generally large and Respectable. A Subscription was procured and Mr. Sutton was Receaved a renumeration for his labors which he continued at intervals for several years until moving away Sometime in the year 1795 to a greater distance (Lexington I believe with his son David with whom he lived). The Congregation was again compelled to look out for another Minister, when the Revd. William Mahon (who had receavd his education at Princeton college New Jersy) having removed from Virginia was ordered to supply them by Presbytery and the Congregation being satisfied with his performance a call was made out for him, and he Became their Regular Minister in October 1796 when he took charge of New Providence and Benson Congregations (the latter in Franklin County) . . . . Mr. Mahon purchased 95 acres of land a part of George McAfees preimption on Salt River where Kennedy and McCouns mill now stands and Settled on calculating on spending his days in peace and quietness: In the year 1797 he took up a school to teach the languages he being an excellent scholar to whom the writer of this History went in the fall 1797 and succeeding year-in order to aid him in his Support as the congregations he had charge of were not very strong, and the manner of collecting it, being by subscription it was but poorly done at best . . . . Mr. Mahon continued to labor in the Gospel Ministry with but partial success until the year 1798 complaints were made against him on account of cruelty to his slaves and intoxication and these complaints became so General during the summer of this year that on the 5th day of October 1798 his call was disolved by the Presbytery and the congregation declared vacant and early in the spring 1799 Mr. Mahon removed with his family to Danville and commenced teaching school where he had a large and respectable Latin School during that year but continued to supply at N. Providence as usual every other Sabbath until fall. The various causes of complaint were investigated by Presbytery and Mr. Mahon was silenced and deposed as a Preacher of the Gospel . . . . The charge intemperance to a certain degree I have no doubt was True, Mr. Mahon was unhappy in his domestic relations and his frequent absence drew forth complaints against him his blacks who were of the worst kind very often at unhappy moments and in this difficulties increased until an attempt was made to Forget them in drink which eventually ended in his ruin and death on his sons farm ten miles south of Lebanon on the south Fork of the Rolling in Washington County.

1800-was distinguished by a Revival of Religion in every part of Kentucky and amongst all Denominations. It commenced first among the Baptist Society, and then with the Presbyterians and Methodists and continued to increase during the 1801 so that in the Spring 1801 The Good Spirit of God seemed to pervade all classes and on the 7th, 8th, 9th Sunday, 10th, 11th and 12th days of August a vast concourse of people met on a Sacramental occasion at Cane Ridge Meeting house in Bourbon County where the Revival first began the number which attended it is supposed to have been nearly ten thousand people from all the adjoining counties and a large number from N. Providence Congregation, at which many hundreds of people professed to get Religion-At this time a call had been made for the Revd. Saml. B. Robertson who had formerly lived in Harrison County (Ky.) and had preached for sometime in the congregation during the summer of this year, so that on the 23rd day of Oct. 1801 Mr. Robertson was ordained Pastor of the New Providence and Cane Run Congregation which two churches had gained during the year a considerable accession of members Mr. Robertson had a Plantation purchased for him about two miles North of Harrodsburgh where Mr. Henry Trower ( ?) now lives and his Pastoral charge was attended with considerable success, Harmony prevailed in the Congregation and The Revival continued until the year 1805-Previous to which time in the year 1803 the south side of the meeting house was cut out and it was enlarged considerably and even then contained the Congregation that attended preaching with considerable inconvenience, George McAfee Senr. was the first Buried at New Providence on the 15th day of April 1803 . . . . Very few instances occurred to disturb the Harmony and Christian feeling in this Congregation for several years; Mr. Rankins Society continued to occupy the house a part of the time, held their communions in it, and alternately attended each others meetings until the 23rd day of October 1803, Mr. Joshua L. Wilson a Presbyterian Minister and a Mr. Risk of Rankin church happened to meet on the same day at N. Providence, each denomination wished to hear their preacher. It was preposed by the Elders of the Presbyterian denomination that Mr. Risk might take the fore noon and Mr. Wilson the afternoon the Eldership on the other side replied that they would consider it. After Mr. Risk had finished his sermon he gave notice that he would preach again in about half an hour, the others shortly after returned and Mr. Wilson preached in the woods not far from the well in the flatt. This lead to wider division still and Mr. Rankin's congregation the next fall Built themselves a New House on Salt River at James McCoun Senr., Grave Yard near the place where James McCoun Senr. first offered for a church and the two partys finally separated (But I hope not forever). The house was built August 24th 1804 Mr. Robertson continued to preach alternately at Cane Run and New Providence until the year 1811 when his call was disolved on the 10th day of April of that year. The circumstances which led to this event were in themselves of a Trivial kind. Some misunderstanding had taken place in the Congregation, as to the manner of means of supporting him, the burden had fallen upon a few as the mode of subscription was followed and this was not only inconvenient but uncertain, very often many parts of the congregation neglected to pay in reasonable time or in time to make it convenient. Remarks were made on each side which were exagerated and in this way a secret uneasiness finally led to a wish for a Separation on both sides-altho Mr. Robertson had been and was still very much admired as a preacher, he was warm and animated in his sermons, zealous and ardent in his devotional exercises and was considered as a good Christian and able Preacher he had about the year . . . . . Removed into Harrodsburgh for the purpose of teaching a female school as an auxiliary means of Support, he finally moved to the county of Adair where he superintends a school at this time much beloved by all his acquaintances -

The Congregation being again declared vacant, now began seriously to feel the want of a Preached Gospel regularly in their church as they had to depend on occasional supplys- They cast their eyes upon the Revd. Thos. Cleland who at that time had the Superintendence of Springfield and Hardin Creek Congregations in Washington County, he had married the daughter of Mr. John Armstrong, one of the original founders of the church and it was believed he might be induced to remove amongst them and accept a call-accordingly the Eldership of the two Congregations of Cane Run and New Providence made out the following call to Mr. Cleland viz;


1812-The Congregation of New Providence and Cane Run being on Sufficient Ground well satisfied with the Ministerial qualifications of you the Revd. Thomas Cleland, and having good hope from our past experience of your labors that your Ministration in the Gospel will be profitable to our spiritual interests, do earnestly call and desire you to undertake the pastoral office in Sd Congregations, promising you in the discharge of our duty all proper support encouragement and obedience in the Lord; and that you may be free from worldly cares and avocations, you are hereby encouraged to expect, and we feel authorized to say as agents and Representatives of said Congregations that you shall receave the sum $250.00 in regular quarterly payments for three fourths of your time during the time of your being and continuing the Regular pastor of these churches. In Testimony whereof we have respectfully subscribed our names this 9th day of October 1812-George Buchannon, Robert Armstrong, Lanty Armstrong, Danl. A. Brewer, Kort Voris (?), Cornelius Demaree, John Armstrong, Samuel McDowell, Lewis Rose, Garret Darland, Archibald Woods, Thomas Gilkerson.

1813-Mr. Cleland finally concluded to accept the call and on the 1st day of April 1813 he assumed the Pastoral care of the two churches and agreed to preach the let and 3rd Sabbath in each month at Providence and the 4th Sabbath at Cane Run. The 2nd and 5th Sabbath when it occured to be devoted at Pleasure and on the 4th Saturday in October following he was Regularly installed into his office as pastor. . . . Mr. Cleland commenced his Ministerial duties under many difficulties as he had to Remove and Settle on a New Place where he now lives, near new Providence, he had a house to build and a Plantation to open yet amidst all his difficulties he had the consolation to believe that he possessed the confidence of his congregation in an eminent degree, his known liberality of Sentament and charitable feeling for his Christian Brethern of all orthodox denominations, secured to him their respect and attachment, and his Republican Principles in his Politics and his taking a deep Interest on the side of his Country in the war that then raged with Great Britain and her savage allies; also secured to him the friendship and support of the Republicans thro, out the States as well as in his own Congregation, so that as a popular Preacher he stood unrivalled amongst his Brethern. The Congregation now commenced keeping Regular accounts. The session books had been either lost or Mislaid, new books were procured and the proceedings of the Elders and Ministers preserved and from the most acurate accounts that could be procured. The following list contains an account of the Regular succession of Elders:

George Buchannon, James McCoun, 1785 with Revd. David Rice.
William Armstrong, Samuel McAfee, 1792 partly with Mr. Rice.
William Rice, George McAfee, 1795, Rev. Wm. Mahon 1795-6 (?).
Robert Armstrong, James McAfee, 1801 with Revd Samuel Robertson, etc.
Kort Voris, Saml. Gray.
John McKamy, Danl. A. Brewer, with Revd. Thos. Cleland, D. D.
Lanty Armstrong, Clarke McAfee, elected to 20th of December, 1818.

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  • Updated May 26, 2000. This transcription is copyrighted by Pete McAfee and . It may be freely used for non-commercial purposes and family research, but must not be used for any other purpose without written permission from the transcriber.