Whitesville Baptist Church

This prosperous village Church was the outgrowth of the missionary labors of Elder Joseph P. Ellis in and adjacent to Whitesville community. In the year 1853 a revival meeting was conducted in the log-cabin residence of William Bartlett, which resulted in a large number of professions of faith, among them being thirteen men who were the heads of families, together with a number of women and children. These converts first united with the old Panther Creek Church in Ohio County, which was nearest at the time.

The organization of the Church took place on August 5, 1854, by the following charter members:

  • S. C. Arington
  • A. L. Hays
  • Mary A. Burton
  • J. B. Hobbs
  • Caroline Bryant
  • Cassander Haynes
  • Sarah Carter
  • John T. Norris
  • Isaac E Day
  • Mary E. Purcell
  • Sidney Purcell
  • Nancy Roseberry
  • L. C. Ellis
  • J. S. Taylor
  • Eliza Griffith
  • Nancy Purcell
  • Matilda Griffith
  • Horace Burton
  • Upton Hawkins
  • Charles Bryant
  • F. W. Haynes
  • Helm Bartlett
  • Rachel McCarty
  • Francis Ditto
  • Horace Purcell
  • J. H. Evans
  • Sibelia Purcell
  • W. P. Ellis
  • Tach Sinnett
  • Mary Griffith
  • James M. Weatherhead
  • Catherine Arington
  • Emily Hays
  • Thomas Bryant
  • Mary Hobbs
  • Susan Bryant
  • Justin McCarty
  • Hardin Ditto
  • D. Mc. Norris
  • Perlina Day
  • A. T. Evans
  • Jane Evans
  • James Sinnet
  • Isaac Griffith
  • Nancy B. Taylor
  • Deborah Griffith

The constituent membership numbered forty-six. Shortly after the organization of the Church a special revival service was held in a school house on the farm of Elder J. P. Ellis in the fall of 1854. This meeting resulted in thirty-one additions to the Church.

The first house of worship was erected in the year 1855 in the town of Whitesville. It was a frame building, 30 by 40 feet, two stories high, and was put up by the Baptists and Free Masons together, on a two-acre lot. The Masons held their lodge meetings in the upper part and the Baptists their meetings on the ground floor. This building was occupied by the Church until 1877 when a movement was started to erect a new brick house of worship. This building, 36 by 56 feet, was completed and dedicated on the second Sunday in July, 1878, with Dr. J. S. Coleman preaching the dedicatory service. This building was erected at a cost of about $3,000.00, and continued to serve the congregation until the year 1929 when an annex for Sunday School rooms was added to the building at a cost of about $15,000.00. This Church now has one of the finest Sunday School plants in the entire Association. The floor of the auditorium was raised, and the new baptistry and the dressing rooms, were completed in 1900 at a cost of about $1,000.00. The parsonage was built on a lot adjacent to the Church property in the year 1915 at a cost of $4,000.00. This building makes an excellent pastor’s home.

Since her organization this Church has been served by the following pastors and clerks:


Pastor Years
Joseph P. Ellis 1854-1859
J. B. Haynes 1860
Joseph P. Ellis 1861-1870
J. M. Dawson 1870-1873
Joseph P. Ellis 1873-1876
J. D. Arnold 1876-1881
R. S. Fleming 1881-1882
F. P. Purcell 1883
J. S. Coleman 1884-1896
E. W. Coakley 1897-1899
T. J. Ratcliff 1900-1907
Otto Whitington 1908
P. E. Gatlin 1909-1912
I. B. Timberlake 1912-1914
A. S. Pettie 1915-1919
Herbert Haywood 1921
J. L. Henderson 1921-1923
Arthur Holland 1924-1929
C. W. Bowles 1929-1933
W. G. Potts 1934-1943


Clerk Years
S. C. Arington 1854-1856
J. C. Miller 1856-1877
R. E. Haynes 1877-1878
J. F. Hite 1878-1879
Wallace Haynes 1879-1892
J. E. Pate 1892
W. A. Sinnett 1893
D. B. Whitely 1893-1901
E. E. Miller 1901-1904
Josie Wheatley 1904-1908
E. E. Miller 1908-1911
Josie Wheatley 1911-1914
Sophia B. Sinnett 1914-1916
J. W. Dunn 1916-1927
William Griffith 1927-1943

The Church adopted full time preaching during the pastorate of Bro. Arthur Holland and has continued such work to the present time.

Horace B. Burton and J. S. Taylor were the first deacons of the Church. Bro. Taylor was ordained to the ministry by the Church in May, 1856, and Bro. M. D. Wells was chosen to fill the vacancy in April, 1858. Brethren J. C Miller and I. W. Haynes were elected as deacons in July, 1860, at which time all four of the deacons were ordained, the first two having served up to this time without ordination. This in itself was an unusual procedure. In April, 1874, Brethren G. W. Mullen, G. T. Brack, and J. L. Sinnett were chosen and ordained to this office. In March, 1879, Brethren A. P. Brooks and Wallace Haynes were elected and ordained as deacons. J. B. Burton was elected to this office in 1885. He was ordained with Brethren C. M. Mullen and J. A. Smart in July, 1885. Brethren D. F. Brooks and J. E. Haynes were ordained by the Church in April, 1894. Brethren J. G. McCarty and J. W. Dunn were ordained in January, 1898. Brethren Frank Brooks and M. J. Holbrook were ordained in June, 1924. Several men came to this Church by letter and were recognized as deacons. Brethren Dr. F. V. Chambers and C. T. Day were ordained as deacons in May, 1936. Bro. S. F. Whitely has also served the Church for a number of years in this office.

The Church has had a Sunday School almost from its organization. M. J. Holbrook filled the office of Superintendent for a period of twenty-five years and was followed by Prof. J. Frank Farmer who served for a considerable length of time in an acceptable manner. The Church has also sponsored a Women’s Missionary Society for years with its attendant auxiliaries. A Young People’s group was sponsored for some time also.

Besides Bro. J. S. Taylor, who was ordained in 1865, this Church received Walter Stevens into the fellowship of the Church by baptism in 1883. He had been preaching for the Campbellites and was a home man; the Church ordained him to the Baptist ministry in June, 1884, and he pastored the Walnut Street Church in Owensboro for some time thereafter. In August, 1917, R. L. Clark came to Whitesville and united with the Baptist Church. He also had been preaching for the Campbellites. He was baptized by Dr. A. S. Pettie and was soon ordained to preach. He became the third man this Church has sent out to preach. Although he was not licensed or ordained by the Church Bro. Denzil Probus made a profession of faith in Christ at this Church and was baptized by Bro. W. G. Potts and held membership here for some time. He later moved his membership to Walnut Street Church in Owensboro and was licensed and ordained by this Church only recently.

For many years, Bro. W. B. Wells was treasurer of the Church, and no church ever had a better one. If the Church fell short, he paid it out of his own finances. At his death in 1924, he will the church $10,000.00 to be put into the hands of Brethren W. P. Simpson and M. J. Holbrook as trustees. This money was to be invested by them and the interest paid to the Church annually.

The Whitesville Church all during its history has been one of the strongest Churches in the Association. Its gifts to missionary and other benevolent work have been outstanding throughout the years. Her present membership is about 375. She has helped to constitute the Karn’s Grove, Deanefield, and Friendship Churches and has given her membership to strengthen other churches in the Association.

Source: A History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association in Kentucky, 1844-1943. Wendell H. Rone, Messenger Job Printing Co., Inc., Owensboro, Kentucky, 1944.