Among the early adventurers into the wilds of south Christian, doubt-less, came many who were professed followers of the meek and lowly Nazarene. and who, before leaving their homes in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and elsewhere, had attached themselves to one or other of the Evangelical churches. It is impossible now to tell which came first, or which at first preponderated, but probably the Baptists were first-that is, the Hard-shells, as there is a tradition of a church of that sect near James Davis’ very early, which is noticed in a preceding chapter. One of the earlier organizations of the later Baptists of which we have any account is that at Pembroke, a sketch of which is appended, and the facts of which are furnished us by Mr. E. J. Murphy.
Bethel Baptist Church
This church was organized January 22, 1814, at Salubria Springs, with the following-named members: Benjamin Bradley, James Davis, James Hughes, William Tandy, Mills Tandy, John Pendleton, Vincent Snelling, John Jackson, Mary Bradley, Hannah Davis, Sarah Hughes, Elizabeth Tandy, Frances Pendleton, Amelia Tandy and Mary Jackson. At first it was but an arm of the West Fork Church, but on the 22d of March, 1816, it was constituted by Elders Leonard Page, Reuben Ross, Jesse Brooks and several lay brethren an independent church. The present church edifice, built and dedicated in 1823, stands on a lot of nine and a half acres of ground near the village of Pembroke. Though a large, commodious and comfortable house, the present membership has it in contemplation to build a more modern and tasty structure in the town near by, and will doubtless soon have it under way. The church also owns in Pembroke a comfortable parsonage with some three or four acres of ground attached. Among the pastors who have served this church are to be found the names of some eminently pious and good men, as will be seen from the following list: Elders William Tandy, J. M. Pendleton, Reuben Ross, J. M. Bennett, R. W. Morehead, George Hunt, T. G. Keen, E. N. Dickens and J. M. Peay. The church is still in a very flourishing condition and has a large membership.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
At Salubria perhaps one of the first Cumberland Presbyterian churches in Christian County was organized. It dates back to the early times when the primitive Christians were too weak in numbers and means to afford church houses, and held their services in groves, arbors and private houses. It was a famous camp-meeting point for both Cumberlands and Methodists, and perhaps Baptists, though the latter had an organized church near by at Bethel, in which they worshiped. The first house of worship used by the Cumberlands here, it is said, was the Finley School-house, which was used by them in common with the other denominations, and which was afterward deeded to them by the owner, Finley. Finley or his legal representative had moved to Missouri or Texas, and one of their number went out there to secure the deed. The old log schoolhouse for many years stood on the same lot where now stands the present neat, attractive brick edifice. Among the first members of this church were Dr. Usher and his wife, and perhaps other members of his family, Rev. James Y. Barnett and wife, Henry Bollinger and wife, Fountain Clark and wife, Dr. and Mrs. Porter, Massie and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Wethers, John, and perhaps Dabney Finley. Among the pastors who have ministered to this church may be mentioned James Y. Barnett. The names of the very early pastors, who, like the Methodists, itinerated from church to church and neighborhood to neighborhood, and who, doubtless, ministered at their family altars and in their camps and groves, it is to be regretted have not been obtained.
The Salubria Methodist Episcopal Church South
The Salubria Methodist Episcopal Church South was organized at a very early day in Dr. Peyton Harrison’s house. This was before the building of the schoolhouse on the Finley place, in which afterward they, in common with the other denominations, worshiped through the summer seasons. In the winter they would return to Dr. Harrison’s more comfortable residence, and hold their regular meetings. The church as first organized consisted of the following members: Dr. Peyton Harrison, local preacher, Mrs. Dr. Peyton Harrison, James Cosley, an old bachelor, Mrs. John Lander, Joseph Williams, and a daughter, Mrs. Cobb, George Stevens, local preacher, Mrs. George Stevens, Mrs. Louisa Coleman, Mrs. A. Watson, Mrs. Patsey Kenner and Miss Sarah E. Lander, afterward Mrs. William Payne. After worshiping in the schoolhouse as before mentioned for several years, Dr. Harrison gave them an eligible lot, and on it they soon had erected a very comfortable house of worship. The building is a large frame, 40×50 feet, surrounded by a grove of noble oaks, and still stands a monument to the liberality of Dr. Harrison and a few others. The present membership numbers between ninety and 100. The present Superintendent of the Sunday-school, which holds its sessions through the summer, months only, is William McRae. The present pastor of the church is Rev. Vol P. Thomas.
Pembroke Reformer Church
The next church to organize was at Pembroke, and belonged to the Reformers. It was organized under the auspices of Elder John Furguson about 1849. Among its members were Dr. John Grubbs and wife, CASKY, PEMBROKE AND LONGVIEW PRECINCTS. 273
Mrs. Perrington, Patience and Nancy Perrington, Thomas Perrington, Dr. Samuel Grubbs, Thomas Grubbs, Joseph P. Grubbs, Taney Grubbs, Prof. I. B. Grubbs, William Harrison, M. V. Metcalf, etc. Their present church edifice is a neat, commodious frame house, 35×50 feet, and capable of holding several hundred people. Among the pastors who have served the church to the present time are: Elders W. E. Mobley, Henry T. Anderson, Robert Dulin, J. W. Gant, McChesney, John T. .Johnson, Charles Day, J. C. Chastain, and J. W. Hardy. Present membership between seventy-five and eighty, and Elder Hardy is pastor.
In the three precincts there are some seven or eight villages, St. Elmo, West Fork, Hinsleystown, Pembroke, Salubria, Fairview and Casky Station, neither of which with the exception of Pembroke contains more than a dozen or so of houses, a store or two, one or two churches, and as many shops of various kinds.