Alfred Taylor was a very distinguished minister of the gospel in his country, and generation. The Green river country had produced no such a man before him.
Joseph Taylor, his father, was a native of North Carolina. In early life he professed conversion and, with his wife, united with the Methodists, and, by them, was put into the ministry. After some years, he became convinced of the scripturalness of Baptist principles, and was baptized by Nathan Arnett of Tennessee. In September, 1804, he and his wife entered into the constitution of Providence church, in Warren county, Kentucky. He remained a minister in this church, till 1811, when he moved to Butler county, and united with Monticelo. Of this church, he became pastor, and served it in that capacity till 1837. He was a preacher of small gifts, but is believed to have served his generation faithfully, and doubtless accomplished some good.
Alfred Taylor was born in Warren county, Kentucky, July 19, 1808. At three years old, he was taken by his parents to Butler county, where he was raised up. His opportunities for learning were so poor, that, at the age of twenty, he could barely read intelligently. After he entered the ministry, he was, for a time, under the tuition of David L. Mansfield, and, at a still later period, he studied under the renowned William Warder. He possessed a strong logical mind, and was an earnest student: so that in the end he was well educated, in the best sense of the term.
Notwithstanding young Taylor was raised by pious parents, he early fell in with evil associates and by degrees, formed habits of dissipation, and finally became profanely wicked. But at length the Holy Spirit found way to his heart. In his journal, he says: “After laboring four years to recommend myself to God’s favor, I was enabled, in my 22d year, October, 1829, to trust in Him whose blood speaketh better things than that of Abel, in whom believing, I was enabled to rejoice with joy unutterable and full of glory. In November following, I was baptized in Sandy creek, Butler county, Kentucky, by Benjamin Talbot.” He soon began to exercise in public, and, on the 3d Saturday in May, 1831, was licensed to preach. He was extremely awkward in his early efforts, and so slow was his progress, that it began to be said freely: “That man had better quit.” But his heart was in the matter, and he persevered.
After three years’ probation, he was ordained at Sandy Creek church, in May, 1834, by Joseph Taylor, David J. Kelly, and William Childress. He was called to Pond Run church the same year, and to Sandy Creek, the year following. In 1835, he was married, and the next year moved to Ohio county, and took charge of old Beaver Dam church. By this time he had gained sufficient confidence and mental discipline to be able to express his thoughts, and he grew rapidly in popularity and usefulness. From this time he had many more calls than he could accept. His success in bringing the unconverted to the Savior was wholly unprecedented, in the lower Green River country. But his pastoral labors, which were faithful and efficient, in an eminent degree, formed but a small part of his work.
Between the time of Mr. Taylor’s ordination, in 1834, and the close of the year 1836, the following eminent ministers left the harvest field, in Kentucky, and went to their home above : Walter Warder, William Warder, William C. Warfield, John S. Wilson, Benjamin Talbot, D. J. Kelley, David Thurman, and James H. L. Moorman. These were the leaders of God’s hosts, in the State. All of them, except the first named, labored in the Green River country. Of all the preachers, of anything like prominence in the general work of the Denomination, in the lower Green River Valley, D. L. Mansfield was left alone, and his labors were confined to a comparatively narrow boundary. At the beginning of the great revival of 1837-40, Alfred Taylor became the leader, by common consent. And few men ever discharged the responsibility more worthily, or with greater success. The question of the propriety of “protracted meetings” was the first one he was called on to decide. Against much opposition, he determined in their favor. His first experiment was made at Walton’s Creek in Ohio county. The Lord decided in his favor. Over 180 people professed conversion. He now gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry, with great activity. From this period, till his delicate frame became too much enfeebled to endure constant labor, near the close of his pilgrimage, he was the leading preacher of the lower Green River Valley. In preaching talent, he had no equal, except his intimate and steadfast friend, J. M. Pendleton, and as a successful preacher, he was without a rival. Besides the churches already named, a number of others, including the first church at Owensboro’ enjoyed his pastoral ministrations, for different periods of time.
Towards the close of his life, he suffered from disease of the lungs to such a degree, that he was compelled to desist from preaching, for a time. But, after a brief rest, he again entered the field of labor. In the fall of 1865, he went to the neighborhood of Providence church in Warren county, to preach a funeral discourse, and then aid his son, J. S. Taylor, in a series of meetings, at that church. He reached Charles Asher’s, in the neighborhood of the church, on Friday night, and was so feeble that he had to be assisted to bed. He continued to sink till the 9th of October, 1865, when he went to his everlasting rest.
Mr. Taylor was three times married, and raised a large and respectable family. Three of his sons, Judson S., William C. and James P., are Baptist preachers, and, it is hoped, are worthy of so noble a father. W. C. Taylor has published a brief biography of his father, in a neat little volume of 123 pages.
Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. I. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886