History of Campbell County, Tennessee
 

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IRISH WILLIAM MURPHY FIRST BAPTIST MINISTER TO PREACH WORD IN CAMPBELL COUNTY - IN 1797

By Dallas Bogan

Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.  This article was published in the LaFollette Press.

The following article is taken from the writings of the late Dr. George L. Ridenour and found in Marshall McGhee's book, " A look Back - Lake View Baptist History, 1936-1990."

The article starts out by exclaiming that the Baptist churches of Campbell County have a heroic lineage of Biblical faith, which is certainly true. Ramsey says, "Late in the fall of this year (1775), settlement was made in Carter's Valley, now Hawkins County." He states that Mr. Kincaid, Mr. Long, Mr. Love and Mr. Mulkey, a Baptist preacher, were the pioneers." This Mr. Kincaid was the Thomas Kincaid who died in Powell Valley near Glade Springs shortly after the formation of Campbell County in 1806.

According to history William Murphy, a Baptist preacher, was born in Ireland and after the death of his first wife, came to America with his five children and settled in Virginia. He married secondly, Sarah Barton in 1768. Murphy and his five sons served in the Revolutionary War. Two of his brothers, Joseph and Richard Murphy, were also Baptist preachers.

William Murphy, as history records, was the first Baptist preacher to preach the Word of God in what is now Campbell County. He held, in the summer or fall of 1797, several Baptist meetings at the congregational house spring by the creek below the present Glade Springs meeting house. The following year William Murphy traveled to the Spanish possession west of the Mississippi River and held extraordinary services under the protection of armed guards. These guards were assigned to protect the congregation from the maltreatment of the Spanish Catholic king.

The exact date of the formation of the Glade Springs Church is questionable. However, the white settlers on Indian land previous to 1799, who might possibly have been in the church organization were, Joshua English, Sr.; Richard and Joseph Hatfield and their families; John Petree and wife, Jacob Whitman and father, John, along with Jacob's wife.

John Whitman had traveled from his parent Pennsylvania church whose members possibly came from the now unknown Baptist churches gathered in the area of the glens of Scotland. The Heatherlys were from the Rhine River Valley and Thomas Smith from New England.

Glade Springs Church was the first of the old Powell River Baptist churches and was organized at the mouth of Cedar Creek in 1819: the Big Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1842.

The Powell River Church, on the east side of Cedar Creek, was attended by Harris Tudor, William Curnutt and family, Isaac Horton Senior and Junior, Richmond Archer and his son John Archer, the Browns, James Bullards, Parkers, Greenes and a number of other families. However, in 1830 many of these families traveled west.

In 1838, at Glade Springs Baptist Church, the Powell Valley Association met and was trying to resolve the differences between a "fixed fate of God's decrees" and anti-mission proclamation. Many brethren exempted themselves. Joshua Frost preached. Some 5,000 people were in attendance at the church.

James Brown said that he was at the meeting as a youngster and that he perched upon a tree stump at the edge of the crowd. Hearing Brother Frost's sermon, he claimed that this address was the greatest of his life.

Anti-missionaries won the moment that day, but the grand sermon preached by Bro. Frost lived on in memory of the crowd. The sermon preached was, "Alas and did my Savior bleed, And did my Sovereign died? Would devote that sacred head, For such as a worm as I?" Just a few gathered with Bro. Frost as he at first led the singing, but as the song proceeded, the multitude joined in.

In the immense crowd there were commitments to work for God until death. Glade Springs was the altar of a new day of service of personal witness. Christ used Joshua Frost to preach that Salvation came to everyone that believeth.

The five churches which withdrew from Powell Valley Association and organized into the Northern Association were Puncheon Camp Creek, Powder Spring Gap, Blue Spring, Mount Pleasant (Indian Creek), and Clear Branch (Longfield), Lake City. Liberty on Powell's River was organized and admitted possibly in 1840. (Because of this division, the Glade Springs Baptist membership was reduced to five members by 1842.)

During the year of 1839, Robert G. Kimbrough, a Baptist preacher who was the principal of Franklin Academy, shortly after organized the Jacksboro Baptist Church. His preaching's' were pronounced as divine, and while at the Jacksboro facility some thirty members were baptized. He held a similar service at the Glade Springs church where he had some sixty converts.

Jacksboro, with Elder Robert G. Kimbrough as preacher, was received into the Northern Association in 1842. This Organization of Baptist, during the next twenty years, was a most important society in evangelism missions and witnessing.

It seems that during the depression in the 1890s labor amongst the local ministers was considered as part time. A few of these pastors were Red Amon Gross, John Reed, John and Micajah Green, C.L. Bowling, Calvin Wilson, R.W. Cooper, and others who were dedicated to their work. Patton Spradin was preparing to go to Kansas while F.R. Walters was beginning his new vocation of preacher. Money being scarce local pastors were paid in country produce, hog and hominy.

Andrew Hutson from Louisville Seminary was just beginning his efforts in LaFollette, while J.M. Newport was laboring as a teacher/preacher in the mining camps. There were others farmer preachers affecting the lives of others with the Word of God.

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