The sketch here given of the Presbyterian Church was prepared for
this work by Judges Landes and McPherson: The history of
Presbyterianism in Hopkinsville, up to the date of separation in
1867, is the common heritage of both Northern and Southern divisions
of that church. The first Presbyterian Church organized in the
county was in Hopkinsville in the year 1813, and under the auspices
of the Rev. Edwin Blackburn. The earlier records of the church have
been lost and it is impossible to give the precise date of the
organization, or the names of the original members. For a number of
years the church was irregularly supplied with preaching, and
worshiped in the old log court house on the public square. It is
thought the first church edifice was erected some time about the
year 1820. It stood upon the lot of ground on the south side of
Nashville Street, where now stands the present church edifice of the
Southern Presbyterians. This last-named edifice was built in the
year 1849. It is a large, substantial brick building, with basement
The following-named ministers served the church up to the time of
the division, July 20,1867: First, Rev. William K. Stewart was
pastor for several years, but just how long cannot now be
ascertained. Second, Rev. Joseph Cushman supplied the pulpit for
eighteen months or more. Third, Rev. R. Lapsley from 1824 to 1829.
Fourth, he was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Caldwell, who died November
5, 1833, while supplying the church. Fifth, Rev. William D. Jones
became pastor in 1834, and continued in that relation until 1848.
Sixth, Rev. B. H. McCown filled the pulpit acceptably up to 1852.
The church was without a pastor for a short time. Seventh, in 1853,
the Rev. F. G. Strahan became the stated supply and continued to
serve the congregation up to October, 1858. Eighth, shortly after
Mr. Strahan left, the Rev. H. V. D. Nevius, now of Jacksonville,
Ill., became pastor and continued in that relation from 1859 to
March, 1867. A few months after the departure of Rev. Nevius, (July
20, 1867) the division referred to above took place, one part of the
congregation (about forty) adhering to what is known as the -"
Northern Assembly," the other (about forty-four) adhering to the "
Southern Assembly." The two churches continued to occupy jointly the
church building on Nashville Street, dividing the time equally until
1878, when the church property was divided. By the terms of this
agreement the " Southern Assembly " congregation retained possession
of the church building and lot, while the " Northern Assembly "
congregation retained possession of the parsonage lot and building,
the former paying the latter the difference between the two
properties. The further terms of this agreement were that the
"Northern Assembly " should be known as the First, and " Southern
Assembly " congregation as the Second Presbyterian Church of
Hopkinsville, Ky., while both were to continue to occupy the old
building jointly till the 1st day of January, 1879. The two churches
were subsequently incorporated under the respective names agreed
upon, and on January 1, 1879, the First Church surrendered their
interest in the church property.
First Presbyterian Church
In the year 1880 this congregation erected its church edifice,
situated on the southeast corner of Russellville and Liberty
Streets. The first service held in it was on the 7th day of
November, 1880. The building is of brick and of the English-Gothic
style of architecture, and cost including lot and church furniture
the sum of $7,500. It has a seating capacity of 275, but on special
occasions with the use of chairs has accommodated 400 or more
persons. This church is connected with the Presbytery of Louisville,
and through it with the Synod of Kentucky, and the General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Since
the division it has had the following pastors, viz.: Revs. James H.
Dinsmore, W. T. Hall, A. W. Colver, Heman H. Allen, D. D., and
Richard H. Coulter, the present pastor of the church, who was
installed September 14, 1881. He commenced his ministry in the
church as a licentiate, in May, 1880; was called to the pastorate
January 15, 1881, and ordained to the full work of the Gospel
Ministry by the Presbytery at Shelbyville, Ky., April, 1881. The
present membership of the church is seventy-two; Acting Elders, R.
H. Kelly, Jr., Allan Wallis and Joseph I. Landes; Deacons, Walter
Kelly, W. T. Bonte, and J. M. Starling.
The Sunday-school numbers about fifty, officers, teachers and
scholars, with an average attendance of forty pupils. The
Superintendent is Judge Joseph I. Landes, who is also the present
Clerk of the session.
Second Presbyterian Church
As already mentioned, the adherents of the "Southern Assembly "
at the time of the separation retained possession of the church
property on Nashville Street, and consented to adopt the name and
title of the Second Presbyterian Church of Hopkinsville, Ky. The
first stated supply after the division of' the church, was the Rev.
H. M. Painter, who served them up to 1870, at which time (about
April) the present pastor, Rev. John C. Tate, succeeded him.
The present officers of the church are: Elders, Thomas Green, G. W.
Jarrett, S. H. McCullough, J. B. McKenzie, and John W. McPherson;
Deacons, James C. Moore, J. E. McPherson, Dr. J. M. Dennis and G. A.
Champlin; Trustees, Charles B. Alexander, C. L. Dade, James C.
Moore, and G. A. Champlin; Sunday-school Superintendent, J. E.
McPherson. The present membership of the church is about 120, while
the Sunday-school numbers some sixty officers and scholars.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
The following sketch of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of
Hopkinsville was furnished for this work by the pastor-Rev. A. C.
Biddle. It is necessarily brief, as the early records, we learn,
have been mislaid or were destroyed in the disastrous fire of 1882:
The first organization of a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in
Hopkinsville was effected in the year 1825 or 1826. The meeting for
organization was in what was then known as the Unitarian Church,
located at the corner of Virginia and Court Streets. Its officers or
Elders were David Usher, John Finly and Rezin Elliott. The little
flock, not being able at that time to erect for itself a house of
worship, entered into an agreement with the Unitarian people, by
which they were to complete the unfinished house of the latter, and
occupy it alternately with them, under a lease of ten years. In the
meantime, in the year 1829, the Rev. James Y. Barnett had settled
near Hopkinsville, in Christian County, in the bounds of the
Salubria Springs congregation. Soon thereafter he took ministerial
charge of the struggling enterprise, and in 1839 the church was in a
flourishing condition. In this year (1839) the Green River Synod
first met with the congregation, still worshiping in the Unitarian
Church, and the Rev. S. G. Burney, D. D., now Senior Professor of
Theology in Cumberland University, preached the opening sermon.
Soon, however, the church was to be called upon to build for itself.
On the night of the 20th of January, 1840, the church house was
unroofed, and otherwise badly injured by a violent storm, so that it
was considered more wise to build than to repair. On the 23d of
March, 1841, a lot was purchased of George Poindexter, 65x82-6, on
Russellville Street. The trustees appointed to receive this property
at the hands of Mr. Poindexter, were Rev. James Y. Barnett, Magnus
T. Carnahan, Rezin Elliott, William R. Payne and James Edwards. Upon
this lot the Building Committee, composed of Rev. Mr. Barnett, Rezin
Elliott and Magnus T. Carnahan, began at once the erection of a
house of worship. The building was of brick, 37x45 feet; and here
they continued to worship with but few interruptions until the
breaking out of the war.
In 1848 the Rev. James Y. Barnett died at his home near Pembroke,
and was followed in his pulpit ministrations by the Rev. A. J.
Baird, D. D., now of Nashville, Tenn., and he in turn was followed
by the Rev. Samuel B. Vance, now of Henderson, Ky. For some years
before the war it seems that the congregation was without a settled
minister, and when at last the war was over, it left not only the
congregation wholly disorganized and badly scattered, but the
building itself in a deplorable condition. It had been used first as
a hospital by the Confederate army; then as a carriage shop, during
which time it narrowly escaped destruction by fire, and then again
it was used as a schoolroom.
From this date (1869) the facts in the history of this congregation
are taken from the records of the church session. It appears that
some time during 1868 or the early part of 1869, the congregation
had been re-organized by the Rev. Joel M. Penick, for at the fall
meeting of the Daviess Presbytery, October 9, 1869, a representative
from the Hopkinsville Church appeared before the Presbytery, bearing
a petition asking to be received under the care of that body. In
that petition is found the following statement: " We would
respectfully represent that we now have a membership of thirty-two,
with four Ruling Elders, viz.: Henderson Wade, Edwin Edwards,, G. W.
Wyley and A. H. Ferguson, and also have a house of worship in the
town of Hopkinsville." The congregation was served from this time
until May, 1870, by Mr. Penick, and from that time till March, 1871,
by Rev. J. M. Gill, D. D.; of Elkton, Ky. On the 4th of March, 1871,
the congregation formally called to the pastor-ate the Rev. A. H.
Berry, now of Horse Cave, Ky., and he was shortly thereafter
installed as pastor. At the spring session of presbytery, April,
1873, this relationship was dissolved, and in August of the same
year the Rev. R. J. Beard now of Petersburg, Ill., took charge of
the church. In May of 1876 the congregation found itself again
without a pastor, in which condition it continued until October,
1877, when Rev. M. 0. Smith took charge, and was formally installed
in the following November. Under the guidance of Revs. Beard and
Smith, the congregation had grown to nearly 100 members. But
unfortunately Mr. Smith was compelled to resign on account of a
throat affliction, and his resignation was accepted October 5, 1881.
Rev. J. A. Francis, of Lebanon, Tenn., was then employed for several
months as a supply. On the 24th of October, 1882, occurred the
disastrous fire, which must remain a memorable land-mark in the
memories of the citizens of Hopkinsville, and in this fire the
Cumberland Presbyterian church-house fell. The congregation at once
determined to rebuild. On the 16th of July, 1883, Rev. A. C. Biddle
accepted a call to take charge; a building committee was appointed,
and the work of rebuilding progresses.
At the present time (March 25, 1884) the officers of the church are
as follows: Pastor, Rev. A. C. Biddle; Elders, Edwin Edwards,
Henderson Wade, Gustavus W. Wiley, James P. Braden and A. Campbell;
Deacons, John A. F. Brown, William W. Twyman, M. W. Williams, R. D.
Reader. The membership numbers eighty-eight. The Sabbath-school is
now under the efficient conduct of M. 0. Smith as Superintendent.
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