Yelvington Baptist Church

This Church is the oldest Baptist Church in Daviess County and the second oldest in the entire Association at the present time. The Buck Creek Church has the distinction of being the oldest in the Association. The Church was organized in a private home on June 30, 1813, about two miles southwest of the present location, at what was then known as the “Rock Spring.” Eleven persons went into the constitution of this Church. They were:

  • Matthew Rogers
  • Henry White
  • Elizabeth Keith
  • Susan Calhoun
  • Samuel Bristow
  • Jacob Miller
  • Mary Rogers
  • Jane Wright
  • William P. Hudson
  • Elenor Rogers
  • Elder John Weldon

Elders Benjamin Tolbert and John Weldon formed the council of rec­ognition for this Church. A Church Covenant was adopted along with nine Articles of Faith. One of the Articles of Faith recognized “Feet Washing” as a Church ordinance to be observed immediately after the ob­servance of the Lord’s Supper. Another Article required the members to contribute to the support of the pastor according to his necessities and in accordance with their ability to give. A third Article on the action of baptism repudiated “Alien Immersion.”

The first regular meeting after the organization was held on July 11th, 1813. At the second meeting, in August, Elder John Weldon was called as the first pastor of the Church. William P. Hudson was chosen as the first clerk and Matthew Rogers was elected as the first deacon. He was or­dained later by Elders John Weldon and Job Hobbs. What is known as Daviess County was then Ohio County and the Church assumed the name of the “Panther Creek Church of Ohio County, near the Yellow Banks.” The Church opened correspondence with the Wabash Association in Southern Indiana and sent messengers to that body with the Church letter, but the correspondence was soon discontinued. Samuel Bristow and Matthew Rogers were both licensed to preach by the Church near the end of the year 1813.

The Church became a member of the Gasper River Association in 1815 and remained as such until the year 1818 when she went into the Goshen Association, which was more convenient and had been recently organized. Her membership remained with that body of Baptists until the organization of the Daviess County Association in November, 1844, when she became a constituent member of this new fraternity. She withdrew her membership in the year 1878 and united with the Blackford Association only to return to the Daviess-McLean Association, in the year 1935, to which she still belongs.

During her more than one hundred and thirty years of history the Church has been served by the following pastors and clerks:


Pastor Years
John Weldon 1813-1816
Thomas Downs 1816-1840
William Head 1841
Thomas Downs 1842
William Head 1843-1848
Darnell Dowden 1849-1851
Carter J. Kelley 1851-1854
William Head 1855-1856
T. N. Robinson 1857-1859
Kinchen G. Hay 1859-1861
James M. Dawson 1862-1865
Daniel E. Yeiser 1866-1868
H. T. Lampton 1869-1873
B. E. Cosby 1873-1875
H. Dawson 1875-1907
T. J. Ratcliff 1908-1909
W. W. Williams 1909-1911
Norris Lashbrook 1912-1913
G. H. Hamilton 1914-1915
Robert  Bruner 1916-1917
L. W. Clark 1917-1918
J. J. Willett 1918-1919
Albert  Maddox 1920-1921
C. H. Nichols 1922-1924
Foster E. Howard 1924-1926
Frank Farmer 1927-1936
I. P. Phillips 1937-1938
H. Chissom 1939-1941
Dale McCoy 1942-1943


Clerk Years
William P. Hudson 1813-1815
No record has been found of the clerks of the Church 1815 to 1844
M. J. Whayne 1844-1850
S. H. Jesse 1851-1859
R. W. Hawes 1860-1880
Irwin Head 1881-1883
J. E. Hawes 1883-1885
B. W. Hawes 1885-1907
E. L. Lyons 1907-1912
Roy Anderson 1913-1926
DeWitt Rowland 1927-1931
Roy Jarvis 1932
S. J. McIntyre 1933-1937
DeWitt Rowland 1938-1943

The quarter of a century pastorate of Elder Thomas Downs was one of the main factors in the early growth of this Church.  Soon after he began his pastorate the Church took steps to erect a house of worship as she had been meeting in the homes of the members since her organization.  A suit­able piece of land was secured, trustees were appointed, and the name of the Church was changed to “Rock Spring.”  In a little less than twelve years the building was  sufficiently advanced for the congregation.  It was a large frame building, very substantial, but never entirely com­pleted.  By the year 1842 the Church had reached sufficient financial and numerical strength to erect a new house of worship which was accord­ingly done. The colored members who had been in the membership were or­ganized into a separate church under the supervision of the white church as the members were still in slavery.  In the year 1858 the  Church com­pleted her third house of worship which was a large brick structure and in the year 1860 the name of the Church was changed for the third time to “Yelvington.”  The name of the Church was changed to “Rock Spring” in November, 1904, only to be changed back again to “Yelvington” in 1906 which has remained to this day. On Tuesday, March 7, 1911, the third structure was totally wrecked by a storm that did much damage to the community. Efforts were immediately set on foot to erect a new house of worship. When this fourth building was completed we are not informed. It must have been completed in the year 1911 or 1912. This is the present structure used by the Church as a house of worship. Since the year 1858 the Church has been located in the village of Yelvington from whence it gets its name.

This Church began very early in her history to establish other churches. In 1815, seven members were granted letters to organize the old Panther Creek Church in Ohio County. An “Arm” of the Church was established near the mouth of Blackford Creek in 1819 but it never grew sufficiently to warrant the organization of another church. In the year 1835 several members were dismissed from the membership of the Church to enter into the organization of the First Baptist Church in Owensboro. Several mem­bers were also dismissed to organize the Pleasant Grove Church at the same time. In December, 1854, twenty two members were granted letters of dismission to go into the constitution of the South Hampton Church. In September, 1867, thirty-five persons took letters of dismission and con­stituted the Chestnut Grove Church. The Church also assisted in the or­ganization of the Yellow Creek Church in 1889, the Dawson Memorial Church in 1896, and the Maceo Church in 1905. She has given of her membership to strengthen other churches located in Hancock County of which we are not informed. Her most prosperous daughter church is the First Baptist Church of Owensboro. For several years prior to 1835 she conducted regular services at “Yellow Banks” as Owensboro was then known and all the Baptists living in the small village at the time held their membership with the “Rock Spring” or Yelvington Church.

During her history she has been served by the following deacons: Matthew Rogers, 1813: Samuel Hemingway, 1819; William T. Mason, 1835; Harvey Beall and Isaac C. Whayne, 1840; T. C. Wells and William E. Moorman, 1848; C. R. Moorman, 1850; W. P. Bennett and R. T. Stewart, 1857; R. W. Taylor and S. T. Hawes, 1868; Peter Cottrell, Gideon Allgood, B. W. Hawes and J. B. Davis, 1874; James Zenos, 1891; George LaFoe, 1892; W. W. Rowland and William J. Kelley, 1896; Lee Estis and Frank Head, 1907; G. H. Mastin, Dr.  – .  – . Moorman, and W. D. Lyons, 1907. From the year 1917 to the present we are not informed as to the names of all the deacons who were ordained or were recognized by the Church but the following are in that number: S. J. McIntyre, J. W. Coons, Roy Anderson, Benjamin McIntyre, Charlie Parker, and William Parker.

This Church has also licensed and ordained a number of her members to the work of the Gospel ministry. Samuel Bristow and Matthew Rogers were both licensed to preach in the year 1813 but there is no record of their ordination. Several colored members were licensed to preach in the year 1827 as a great revival had broken out among the members of this race and their numbers made up over two-thirds of the membership of the Church. William E. Moorman was licensed to preach in 1840 but there is no record of his ordination. M. J. Whayne was licensed to preach in the latter part of the year 1843, but he later influenced the Church to rescind the act. S. H. Jesse was licensed to preach in March, 1856, but he declined being ordained, feeling that he was not fitted for this important work. W P. Bennett was licensed by the Church in April, 1857, after having been or­dained as a deacon, and in April, 1859, he was set apart to the ministry by Elders J. M. Dawson and T. N. Robinson. He easily became the outstand­ing contribution of this Church to the ministerial talent of the Association. There is no record of any persons being licensed or ordained by the Church after this last mentioned date.

This Church entertained the 1820 session of the Goshen Association. This was the third annual session of that fraternity. The Church enter­tained the 1847 and the 1867 sessions of the Daviess County Association. The 1891, 1912, and 1923 sessions of the Blackford Association were like­wise held with this historic Church while her membership was in that frater­nity of Baptists.

Almost from her organization to about the year 1842 the Church had a number of negroes in her fellowship. These colored people were slaves of the large land owners who occupied the surrounding community. After the year 1821 for a period of about five years the colored members were frequently involved in difficulties among themselves and thus became sub­jects of disciplinary action by the Church. A refreshing season soon fol­lowed this period of dissension and a great revival prevailed among the colored members in the year 1825. Many of their number were licensed to preach in 1827 and for several years they enjoyed a state of quiet and progress. After 1842 the colored members enjoyed an organization all their own under the supervision of the white brethren. After the Civil War they were completely freed and have maintained a wholly separate work. Their descendants still carry on the work among the colored people to this day. The negro Baptists of Owensboro at one time held membership with the Yelvington Church and still later with the First Church but were organized into a separate congregation in the year 1843. This was the be­ginning of the Fourth Street Colored Baptist Church, now one of the out­standing Baptist Churches in the entire state of Kentucky, among this race of people. Elder William H. Dawson was pastor of this Church for a period of thirty-three years. This is the longest pastorate in the history of all the Churches of the Daviess-McLean Association. At his death the Church erected a monument to his memory that may be seen in the Church yard to this day. He is buried in the Yellow Creek cemetery at Thruston. This is the only instance the author has ever found that a Church erected a monument to the memory of any person and the monument was not placed at the grave of the person so honored.

This Church at one time reached a membership almost 300 but at present her membership has declined until it numbers about 175. This old mother of churches has been a staunch supporter of the Baptist faith during all of her noble history and her future is encouraging after an existence of over one hundred and thirty years.

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

Yelvington, located in the village from which it takes its name, in Daviess county, was constituted of 11 members, by Ben Talbot, and John Weldon, June 30, 1813. It first took the name of “Panther Creek.” John Weldon was its first pastor, and served it about three years. In 1815, it joined Gasper River Association. In May, John Weldon resigned, and moved from the country. He was succeeded by Thomas Downs, who served the church nearly 25 years. In 1817, the name of the church was changed to “Rock Spring,” and the next year it united with Goshen Association. Since the resignation of Mr. Downs, in 1842, the church has been served by a large number of pastors, prominent among whom may be named William Head, J. G. Howard, D. Dowden, C. J. Kelley, J. M. Dawson, D. E. Yeiser and W. H. Dawson. The church assumed its present name, in 1860. In 1878, it united with Blackford Association.

Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. 2. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886