There is much of romance in the story of the first settlers who came to these Western wilds. They were allured by the spirit of adventure as well as the hope of bettering their condition, and to attain the realization of their dreams they braved the perils and privations of the journey to this vast Western wilderness. And what a journey ! From Virginia and from North and South Carolina to Kentucky. Surely only stout hearts and brave spirits dared make the venture. Braver spirits and stouter hearts never dared the perils of the way or faced the onset of a foe, than these same sturdy pioneers into the wilderness of the then ” far West.” They took their lives in their hands, and with their wives and families, on foot, on horseback and in rude wagons, made the journey. This, it is true, was ” the dark and bloody ground,” but this also was the ” happy hunting ground ” and the very ” Canaan of Promise ” to their imaginations. Dangers might lie on every side, and painted warriors lurk behind each tree, but beyond was a land of inviting plenty and abundance-beyond was a land of more than fabled wealth. Here were lands for the mere having-homes, food, raiment and freedom. Here were forests of fine timber, streams of flowing water and broad stretches of fertile prairie lands, deer, buffaloes, bears, turkeys and all the smaller game.
The Universalists still hold services in the old Macedonia Church, near W. B. Clark’s, four miles east of Crofton. It is a frame, 30×60 feet, with a Masonic Ledge above, and built about 1860. It was a union church, and for some time jointly occupied by the Universalists and Missionary Baptists. Some of the original members of the former body were O. A. West and wife, G. N. Johnson, G. H. Myers and wife, James M. Clark, E. R. Gray and wife and William Brown and his wife. Some of the ministers who have from time to time served them: Dr. R. Medley, Joab Clark, Dr. J. E. McCord, and his son Dr. William McCord. Owing to some disagreement among them about 1872-73 the Baptists built a log church of their own called New Macedonia, on the Scott’s Mill road near John A. Lewis, where they now worship. The building is about 20×25 feet, and comfortably seated. The original membership consisted of some seven or eight members, of whom were George Myers and wife, Mrs Nancy Carr, John A. Lewis and wife and Needham Nixon and wife. The pastors who have been conspicuous for their piety and worth are, Revs. Spurlin, Mitclunn, Shandy Holland and E. Vaughn.
Vaughn’s Chapel of the Methodist Episcopal Church South was organized about 1870 in the Mount Vernon Precinct. It has some 150 members. Among the early members were Hiram Steele and wife, J. D. Steele and wife, Samuel McClellan and wife, George W. Shaw and wife, Samuel P. Elgin, Robert Berry and wife, John Berry and wife, John W. Campbell and family and others. Vaughn’s Chapel was a combination of several smaller churches, which were absorbed in its formation. The church edifice was built in 1871, and cost some $2,000. The pas-tors have been: since 1871, J. W. Emerson; 1872-73, William Alexander; 1874, Thomas Bottomley; 1875, D. Spurrier; 1876, J. F. Redford; 1877-78, William T. Moore; 1879-80, James A. Lewis; 1881, T. C. Peters; 1882, J. W. Emerson; 1883, B. F. Orr.
Fairview Methodist Church was organized about 1852. It was formerly known as Providence Church, and was an old log-house situated one mile west of Fairview Village, and had been in existence for many years. The present church edifice is a frame, and was built in 1852. It is old and much dilapidated, and efforts are now being made with good hopes of success to build a new house. The one in use cost about $1,400 when it was built. Rev. B. F. Orr is the present pastor.
Among the important Baptist churches may be mentioned the Pleasant Hill church on the Hopkinsville and Greenville road near William Wicks. It is a frame, about 40×60 feet, with a seating capacity of between 200 and 300, and was built about 1840. Among the early members were: Col. James Robinson (an Elder) and wife, Wyatt Meacham and wife, Mrs. E. A. Cash, Winchester Meacham, John West, George Myers, Robert Barnes, Mrs. Amy Weathers and Mrs. John West. Pastors: Revs. Robert Anderson, Robert Williams, W. Meacham, Calvin Meacham, N. Lacy, James Spurlin and James Barrow.
The Rock Bridge, another Baptist church, was built about 1849-50. It is a log structure, and about 30×25 feet in dimensions. Nothing has been gathered as to its past or present membership, and only that the Revs. Spurlin and Meacham were for a time its pastors.
The Old Baptists, who had churches at Barren Spring, Rock Spring, Petersburg and. elsewhere have fallen somewhat into decay, and are fast dying out or being absorbed into other denominations. With the exception of occasional services at Macedonia, they seldom have preaching any-where.
The schools of this portion of the county compare favorably with those of other sections. Schools of the pioneer type were taught here very early. In later years schools supported by the public money have largely improved the educational facilities of this region. There is, however, room for still further improvement.
The Natural or Rock Bridge which is spoken of elsewhere is in the wedge shaped strip, running up between the West Fork or McFarland’s Creek and Pond River, and about six or eight miles from the confluence of those streams.
There are some coal deposits in the northeast part of the county-mostly in Stewart Precinct, but they have not been developed to an extent to render them valuable. Plenty of energy and enterprise with a liberal investment of capital will make Stewart one of the richest precincts in the county.