History of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church

Submitted by Barbara Cowan

The history of the Mays Lick Baptist Church reads:  “In 1845 Brother T. T. [Thomas Thornton] Moore submitted a proposition to build a house west of Johnson, which was referred to a committee and was never reported on.  But this was not satisfactory and five years later, in October, 1850, thirty members asked for letters that they might constitute themselves into a church west of Johnson.  The letters were granted and Mt. Pisgah church was organized.”

The first building was situated on Mt. Pisgah, west of Fairview near the cemetery.  The church was relocated at Fairview as a result of a motion made at a church conference on April 7, 1900.  Rev. T. J. Marksberry was pastor at that time.  The first church building constructed at Fairview stood until the fateful fire on Sunday night, April 16, 1916, which was caused by lightning.  The modern brick edifice now stands on the very spot where the other building burned.

The early history of the church is obscure since the minutes burned in the tragic 1916 fire.  According to the preserved records as sent to Bracken Association in its meeting at Sharpsburg, August 31, 1861, there were 173 members of the church, meeting twice a month.  There was no Sunday school or mid-week prayer service.  Elder W. Wright was the pastor.  Four years later, the report sent the association showed an increase in membership of 37, making a total of 210.  Six of these were negroes.  Dr. George Varden was pastor.  The report sent the Association in 1875 had an average of 40 attending Sunday school.  In 1885, a membership of 301 was reported.  Sixty-five years later (1950) the membership was 142.  This year (965) the membership is 97.

The parsonage was built in 1941, a nice six room house, well adapted to the needs of a pastor and his family.  In 1950, a new ceiling was placed in the church.  [Barbara Cowan notes:  “It isn’t in good shape now (2000) so we are letting the pastor stay on weekends in our parsonage (we are without a pastor) at Ewing.  Membership might be in the 50s.  Not for sure.]

Below is listed the pastors since 1860 (no church records found before 1860, but there was one John DeGarmo who served sometime during 1850-1860):  W. Wright, George Varden, George Bagby, John Fairchild, M. M. Riley, A. N. White, J. H. Wright, J. W. Bruner, Hugh Y. Harvin, ? Hibbs, C. T. Farris, J. A. Davis, T. J. Marksberry, L. C. Kelly, Louis Stephenson, E. H. Brookshire, T. J. Hudson, J. E. Fulton, A. H. Webb, A. M. Smith, M. L. Matthews, George Eubanks, O. L. Robinson, T. H. Kingston, A. D. Odom, G. E. Mearns, Worth Grant, Tom Nix, H. M. Gregory, John J. Bandy, Jack Clark, J. E. Chapman, ? Bennett, H. H. Welsh, J. McKee Welsh, and Howard V. Reuter.

Gerald Tudor submitted a letter dated 8 April 1917, regarding the dedication of the new church.  It is from William Joseph Fields (his Great Grandfather) to his daughter Annie Belle Fields Graves (Charles Washington Graves, son of William Henry and Caroline Swart Graves) in Garrard Co., KY.

"Dear Mrs. annie graves I thought it has been Some time sinc I have Wrote any one a letter and I will try to confine myself to the truth it is snowing Nicely now We got a letter Yesterday fom Isabell and She Said that She got a letter from you some days ago and They Was all well this leaves us all well and hope it will find you all well  We have got our new Church dun and it is going to Be dedicated the 2 Sundy in May and I want you to come down  We want to see you and all the rest of you  We are looking for a large Crowd at that time  We have the nisest Country Church in the State so the papers say and let us no whether you can come and what day and what train so we can meet you  Com as many of you as can don't fail to avail yourselves of this opertunit."
W. J. Fields

Mt. Pisgah Cemetery

Updated 8 May 2007