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Burning Springs Church
Magoffin County, Kentucky

Burning Springs Church

"The Burning Springs Church of Jesus Christ of United Baptist was organized in Morgan County, now Magoffin, with the following members, to wit: Mason Williams, Archibald Prater, Sarah Prater, Lewis Powers, Elizabeth Powers, Randle Fuget, Caleb May, Margaret May, Matthew Adams, Elizabeth Adams. It was organized in 1810 by two ministers, Daniel Williams and Samuel Hanners."

"According to a well preserved tradition the church was founded across Licking River from the present Saylersville in what was then Floyd, later Morgan County. It stood for years, a barn like structure, built of rough lumber instead of logs. "

"In 1814 eleven churches, representing 403 members...met at the Burning Springs Church...and organized the Burning Springs Association. Elder Daniel Williams, a veteran of the Revolutionary War from North Carolina, was the first moderator. He had come to the state at Boonesboro, [and] had fought at the Battle of Blue Licks."

"The Burning Springs Association at first was in fellowship with the other Baptist Churches of the state and the name, Regular Baptist, was adopted. Becoming anti-missionary, it drifted towards hyper-Calvinism. Today it is know as the Burning Springs Primitive Baptist Association and clings to its extreme Calvinism, its members known as Hardshells or Iron-Jackets."

"Two or three years following the Civil War, probably in 1868, a new frame building was erected on the present site at Saylersville, which was the seat of the new county of Magoffin."

"Still trusting to written traditional accounts we learn that Caleb May served a pastor until he died and was succeeded by Benjamin Caudill who died a decade prior to the Civil War. Wallis Bailey followed Caudill and preached regularly to the flock until he died in 1881...The Rev JJ Prater wrote, "Joseph Bailey came, in 1810, with his family to what is now Magoffin County and settled at the Meadows of Licking, having purchased a home and several thousand acres of good land from an early settler for a gun and a pair of buckskins. There young Wallis spent his boyhood days. At an early age he married Mary Patrick and moved to the Springs Fork of the Licking River. In sight of this rippling stream he spent the remainder of his days."

"Bailey received a meager education in his youth but early he manifested those qualities of mind and heart that made him an outstanding member of the semi-wilderness community of Burning Fork. He took no part in the common vagabond life of many who hunted and fished. He applied himself to the study of Scriptures, having become at about the time he attained his majority, a member of the church. In 1824, at the age of 22 years, he married Miss Patrick, daughter of a local land-owning family. They went to housekeeping on the Rock-house Fork of the Burning Springs Fork of Licking River, near the original seat of the family. Two years later, 1n 1826, he was ordained a minister of the Baptist Faith."

"For eleven years Bailey remained in the church to which he had attached himself, but as time went on, differences between him and several of his associates grew on points of Scriptural doctrine. These differences appear minor today but at the time any theological article of faith was a matter for serious discussion by the family and church elders. In the Burning Springs Association were many who conformed to the beliefs of Bailey, among them Mason Williams, Elijah Prater, and Lewis Powers, all influential in church affairs."

"The Burning Springs Association in 1837 was a great sprawling organization that covered a vast section of Eastern Kentucky. Since its formation in 1814 only one large group, the new Salem Association, chiefly on big sandy, had been formed from the parent body. Sentiment grew for another division of the association. Not all the desire for partition was due to the wide geographical distribution of the churches; part of the urge was founded in theological differences. Acknowledged leader of the group planning the establishment of a new association was Rev. Wallis Bailey."

"In October 1837 Revs. Elijah Prater, John Borders, and Bailey with many others met at Old Union Church on Big Paint Creek, in the present Johnson, then Floyd County. Hall, in his History of Johnson County, says, "The division was, according to the minutes of both association (Burning Springs and the new group now being formed) friendly and for convenience and effective co-operation. However, there is a tradition among the Burning Springs people that a personal quarrel between two of the leading brethren got into the churches and caused the division." The quarrel, contrary to the tradition quoted by Hall, was not personal, but a difference in doctrine."

"Evidence that Bailey and his associates intended to break with the Burning Springs Association is pointed up by the organization of the new group which they named Union Association. They tool the name United Baptists. Bailey wrote out Articles of Faith which were to some extent at variance with the Burning Springs Association. These articles have remained unchanged to the present day."

"Late in the same month and year the first full meeting of the Association was held at the Middle Fork Meeting House on Little Sandy River in Morgan County. Eight churches represented by 43 messengers and many laymen were present... The Burning Springs Church at Salyersville played a prominent part in the new group."

"For 48 years, Rev. Wallis Bailey was the leading evangelist of the United Baptists. He traveled great distances on horseback from Rockhouse Fork, carrying his message. He established over a score of churches himself, remaining away from home for long periods of time. These trips took him to Virginia, deep into West Virginia, and back to the edge of the Bluegrass in his home state. In his time he was without doubt the most eloquent of the mountain ministers."

"John F. Hager, attorney and banker of Ashland, said of Bailey: "Physically he was not a large man but as his age increased he resembled, in the pulpit, his followers said, one of the Hebrew patriarchs. he preached with power and zeal, his listeners as putty under the spell of his silvery tongue."

"He served as clerk of the Magoffin County Court from its formation in 1860 to 1874 and the records of the county for that period are in excellent penmanship. Since the duties of the mountain county office required little of his time, he continued his evangelistic work, dedicating himself to the establishment of the church on a secure foundation for the future. In the autumn of 1884 he started horseback for the bluegrass and as he neared Mt. Sterling his horse threw him. Seriously injured, he was carried back to Rockhouse Fork where he lingered and died on January 5, 1885, at the age of 82 years."

"He was succeeded by B.M. Holbrook, who died in 1897, and J.R. Caudill who served as pastor until his death in 1916."

Blood relatives of Mark mentioned in this article include Caleb May (4th Great Granduncle), Margaret Patrick May (4th Great Grandaunt), Archibald and Sarah Fugate Prater (4th Great Grandparents), Randall Fugate (4th Great Granduncle), Elijah Prater (3rd Great Grandfather), Benjamin Caudill (3rd Great Grandfather), and Mary Patrick Bailey (4th Great Grandaunt).

Kentcuky's Last Frontier by Henry Scalf, pp 236-241& 486-487

Updated 4:57 PM 1/26/2013
Mark S. Carroll