1845 - History of the Bedford Christian Church - 1945
One hundred years of age! Few people or organizations attain the distinction and dignity of the century mark. Therefore, we proudly celebrate the One Hundredth Birthday of the founding of this church. And how thankful we are that our church has lived through the past one hundred history-making years. Our world has seen more progress during this time in science and invention, in education and culture, and in religion, than occurred in all the preceding four thousand years.
On the first day of December in the year 1845, when men were talking about the Mexican War, and when James Polk was guiding the affairs of the nation as President, after having defeated Henry Clay, Eleanor Young deeded a tract of land in the Town of Bedford, County of Trimble, State of Kentucky to the trustees of the Bedford Christian Church. They were John E. Farley, Thomas W. Yager, William Campbell, Seth Duncan, John Brent, and Thomas W. South. This ground was to be the property of the church so long as it was used for religious purposes.
The church, a brick building, was built by Mrs. Betty Bell, the grandmother of Dr. W. P. Bell. IT was started in December and completed in early 1846. The labor was principally contributed by Mrs. Bell and was done by her slaves, with her overseer in charge.
The church membership was small. The work flourished for several years, and then as older members died and others moved away, the number on the church-roll decreased and services were discontinued for a time.
In those early days other organizations of especial interest to our Brotherhood were struggling to be recognized. Our first college, Bacon College at Harrodsburg, was established in 1839, where it remained until destroyed by fire in 1864, when it merged with Transylvania College in Lexington, the oldest educational institution west of the Alleghanies. Alexander Campbell was elected as first president of the American Christian Missionary Society, which was organized in 1849 to promote Christian evangelism in America and in foreign countries. In October 1849 the Kentucky Female Orphan School was officially opened at Midway, Kentucky.
Following the Civil War, when the people of Kentucky again knew peace, a Mr. Price started a college with religious influence in our church building in the late sixties. Mr. F. Mahoney, his sisters, the Hardin girls and several others attended. This school was in operation for some time, and church services were not resumed until 1874.
In the year 1874 Madison Mayfield, a grandson of Dr. Trout, visited homes all over the county and a new membership was started from people who had no other church relationship or whose churches were far away. Most of the members lived in the Pleasant Retreat, Palmyra and Providence communities. R. T. Mathews, a young man from Transylvania, was the pastor at that time. The church membership was increased and the church began to prosper after two revivals, one held by Bro. Will Maddox in the late nineties, and one held the following year by Bro. J. B. Yeager.
In 1907, the church board felt there was a need for a more modern structure. A committee composed of E. W. Tandy, C. W. Hood, W. B. Gilles, J. W. McMahan and A. J. Giddons was appointed to move the old church and erect a new building on the old foundation, adding foundations for the tower and alcove. The contract for the construction was given to W. R. Jackson and the building was completed for the sum of $1,650, in the year 1909. Mrs. Lydia Adams contributed generously, as did other members, towards its construction.
In later years the shingle roof of the church was damaged by fire and replaced by a new one of metal.
As the church and Bible School grew, the need for Sunday School Rooms was realized in 1940 with the addition to the church of a basement with four rooms and a hall over it. The building committee was composed of John Rand, Wallace Wright, W. O. Coombs, and Joe Frost. The contract for the building was given to Iva McClure of Madison, and completed at a cost of $1500. A furnace was later installed to heat the building, replacing the old stoves.
Every improvement made to the building throughout its one hundred years existence has had the whole heated support of its members, who have contributed generously both of their time and material means toward its realization.
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