|History of the Line Creek
I suppose its possible to overstate the importance of churches in our
ancestors lives. After all, like the majority of the population, then as
now, most werent particularly religious. But a churchs influence
extended well beyond its membership. The moral values of an active congregation
often pervaded everyday society, imposing its teachings, to varying degrees, on
churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike. Records from other churches in
similarly-situated rural areas in Kentucky and Tennessee bare this out and
theres no reason to assume differently on Line Creek.
Another result of an active church was the production of strong community
leaders. Many times the deacons and elders in a church were among the most
influential local secular leaders. This is easy to see on Line Creek, as Tilman
Duncan, Mathew Warren, Andrew Warren, Andrew Decker, Amos Chaney, Jeremiah
Brinkley, Perry Bullock, William Shiplet, and Peter Snider all fit this mold.
Churches also provided much-needed social interaction through revival meetings,
picnics, and, on some occasions, even dances. Line Creek Baptist Church
doesnt seem to have been a particularly harsh assembly. While drinking,
gambling, and adultery would get one excluded very quickly, there are no
indications the church spoke out on what might be considered minor vices like
dancing, horse racing, etc., provided those activities didnt lead to
other sins (e.g. drinking, gambling, and adultery).
Surely, many of our ancestors met each other and fell in love at church
gatherings, so its importance to may be hard to overstate after all.
The Line Creek Baptist Church of Christ (most Baptist churches in the area used
the Church of Christ moniker), which exerted its influence over the
community for more than 170 years, was reportedly organized in 1806. It was a
member of the Cumberland River Association of United Baptists (CRA)
sporadically from about 1811 until the formation of the
Association (RBA) in 1871. There are also indications it was a member of a
local Missionary Baptist association for which we have no records.
The establishment date of 1806 may be called into question because the source
appears to be some 1900-era RBA minutes in which other churchs known
beginning dates are inaccurately and inconsistently reported.
At times, Line Creek seems to have been among the stronger Baptist churches in
the Pulaski-Rockcastle County area. Our statistical knowledge of the church is
limited by a lack of early records. Even though CRA records exist for several
years worth of annual meetings, as luck would have it Line Creek was not
an Association member during most of those years; the church tended to
letter up only in the years when the meeting was held close enough
for delegates to actually attend the annual gathering.
High points for Line Creeks
membership in the
19th century seem to have been in the early 1840s and again in the 1890s. While
the attendance figures arent especially impressive for the early period,
they do indicate a growing church. Membership in 1839 was 40, in 1840 it was
42. By 1843 membership had risen significantly to 61. However, by 1860 the
membership looks to have fallen to only ten.
Its not clear what precipitated the dramatic fall-off, but we do know
something of importance took place. A possible cause may be found in an 1851
lawsuit between Andrew Decker and widow Martha Warren (her deceased husband,
Mathew, was one of the church's former pastors) in which Decker sued Warren
over a land boundary dispute when both tried to get a grant for the same
property. The court ordered that the land be resurveyed; Decker subsequently
won the case and was awarded the land, for which Warren refused to make the
court-ordered deed. The court then ordered the Commissioner to make Decker a
deed and for Warren to pay some of Deckers court costs.
This is just the type of incident that could have caused major problems within
the church, as church members were expected to work their difficulties out
without resorting to lawsuits, not to mention the personal animosity which
surely resulted. To make the situation even more potentially volatile, the
Warrens and Deckers were probably the two largest families in the church and
members of both had been held in high regard for at least a decade.
Of course, the decline may have been nothing more than a normal cycle which
coincided with the destruction of the church building in the late 1850s. Two of
the churchs strongest leaders, pastor Mathew Warren and Tilman Duncan,
died between 1848 and the mid-1850s. Others, like
Adam Renner, Andrew
Baker, and Finch Shiplet, had left the church for congregations closer to their
homes. As evidenced by the first entry in todays existing records,
something had happened to the previous building and, presumably, to the earlier
records; probably both were destroyed by fire.
There were two other periods of known troubles. In February 1846 Mt. Pleasant
Baptist Church received a request from Line Creek for help in order to
settle a deficulty in the church. We dont know what the difficulty
was. There was also a split of the church in 1868 over missionary issues.
(Please go to the sections on the
church records and
church location for
longer discussions of these issues.)
The church was still struggling in 1871 (only 25 members), the year the
Rockcastle Baptist Association was formed. Line Creek was a charter member of
the RBA, which was formed for geographical reasons. Perhaps not coincidentally,
Line Creek began growing very quickly shortly thereafter. By 1876 membership
was back to 1843 levels; the century mark was broken for the first recorded
time in 1886. 19th-century membership reached its peak in 1894, when 148
individuals were listed on the church roll.
Membership records for the early 1900s show incredible growth and decline.
Membership numbers approached 200 in the first decade, peaking at 283 in 1915.
Then, in 1916, the numbers fall off dramatically to only 69. We have no
indication of what caused this decline. The decade ended with the membership at
For much of the middle 1900s the church once again struggled. The general
population of the area had fallen significantly, and changing transportation
patterns had left Line Creek isolated. The decline continued until 1976, when
the doors of the church closed for three years. There were no services from
March 1976 until May 1979. The reopening was short-lived, howeverthe
doors closed for good in July 1979.
Tragically, the church building, which was built in 1880, was destroyed by fire
in the fall of 2001.
Line Creek was the mother church of Liberty Baptist Church in
Laurel County, which was organized in 1839 with Mathew Warren as pastor. He was
also the pastor at Line Creek at the time.
When inventoried in the 1970s, the Line Creek Church Cemetery contained 99
marked graves, the oldest dated 1888, and numerous unmarked ones.