Methodist Episcopal Church, Todd County, Kentucky

The Methodist Church was probably about the earliest represented in Kentucky. At the conference of 1800 there were five circuits, to which six preachers were appointed, and a total membership in the State of about 1,741 communicants. At this point the remarkable revival of the time greatly added to its influence and numbers. During the following decade the membership was increased to 7,057, with such men as William McKendree, Lewis Garrett, Peter Cartwright and others as preachers, and Gabriel and Daniel Woodfield, Joseph Ferguson, John Graham, etc., as local preachers. The great revival began in 1799 under the preaching of John and William McGee, the former a Methodist and the latter a Presbyterian. Peter Cartwright and John Grahame were the only apostles of Methodism in Todd County up to about 1810, and their labors were carried on all over the county. Services were held in the cabin home of some member of the church, the class being guided by its leader on ordinary occasions, and preaching had when the pressing calls of the itinerant would allow. The King’s business demanded haste, and services were not deferred until Sunday, but whenever a preacher arrived word was sent round and an audience convened. Church buildings were not constructed in Todd County by this denomination until some years later, camp-meetings in the meanwhile serving to bring the people together, where they could enjoy the continued services of the church conducted by the few but efficient men to whom this large field was given to cultivate. The earthquake of 1811 ushered in a great revival in this church in Todd County. The natural phenomenon announced itself by shaking the furniture until it rattled, knocking down stones from the chimneys, and with a deep muttering sound that to the superstitious pioneers was ominous of the end of the world. Those learned in the Scriptures quoted with telling effect, ” Yet a little while and I will not only shake the heavens, but the earth also, and ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, and earthquakes in divers places.” The times lent confirmation to the earthquake; the Indian war in Ohio was only a mask which covered the more dangerous struggle with Great Britain, and what was not supplied by the facts was made good by the popular imagination. The pioneers had more than the average amount of superstition, and the general expectation would have hardly been exceeded if a large portion of the unrepentant people had been swallowed by some yawning gulf. Near Bell’s Chapel had been a dancing school, and here the excitement was intense. Prayer-meetings were inaugurated on the instant and held throughout the day, subsequent to every meeting. All churches profited by the event, and large accessions were received. The growth of the Methodist Church has been gradual, and did not have its usual early lead in numbers and influence in Todd County. It is probable the reason is found in the fact that other churches, which came as close to the common people, divided the field usually occupied entirely by the Methodists. At present this church has its organization in every village and center of population in the county.

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