History of Gallatin County, Part 11
Eagle Creek Bridge Connects Sparta Houses in the Year of '73
Until the building of the bridge across Eagle Creek about 1873, Sparta really belonged to Owen county. With the bridge to connect the little group of log houses, the store with Masonic Lodge room above and the blacksmith shop all clustered near the gristmill on the Owen side. With the depot and little group of houses on the Gallatin side, Sparta began to feel the need of school and church.
The children on each side of the creek had been going almost a mile out to the country school. After the bridge was built a Sparta school district was laid off, part in Gallatin and part in Owen. Then Mr. and Mrs. Mason gave a large lot for the building of what was later known as the Old Red Schoolhouse.
This was on the Owen side. The "Samuel Boys," J. J. and J. B., Frank and Mann Samuel, planed a fine grove of trees in front of the building. A plank fence was built around the yard which was used for picnics and other outdoor affairs. This school building was a real community center. The Masonic lodge occupied the second floor, the large school room was used for entertainments, debating and literary societies, and here visiting ministers often preached.
The people in Sparta at that time held their church membership with Drury Chapel, Lick Creek, Poplar Grove, or New Liberty, and had to drive several miles to church.
Early in 1875, Brother John T. Hawkins, then minister of the Christian Church of New Liberty, Ky., came over to Sparta and held a meeting in the school house which resulted in a number of additions to the church. Bro. Hawkins saw the great need of a local church in Sparta and persuaded this group with the others who lived in Sparta and held membership in the New Liberty Christian Church to form a separate organization under the "watch-care" of the New Liberty Church until such a time as the little group should be strong enough to stand alone.
This was the first church organized in Sparta, their meeting place the old school house, the communion service carefully looked after and observed from the first, and Bible school held at least part of the time.
In 1890 the one room frame church was built near the bridge in Owen county. The officers of the church at that time were: George A. Wigal, elder; Solomen Ellis, Morton Rimelin, Granville Brock, and D. C. Jameson, Deacons; and J. J. Samuel, clerk. The minister was Bro. William Tiller, whose home was near Sparta. The dedicatory sermon was by Bro. H. W. Elliott.
From this time on, Sunday school and other church services have been unbroken. The work was much harder as the town had been without a church and in those first years the teaching service was not considered a vital point of the church's duty to the community. While the church as a whole was careful to have the Gospel preached and the Lord's Supper observed, as it has been every Sunday the church had met since its organization, there were only a few who were determined that the teaching service of the the church should be carried on.
For a number of years Mr. Wigal, Mrs. Jennie Gano, and Mrs. Anna Green were the only teachers. For thirty-three years Mr. George A. Wigal was the faithful Superintendent of the Sunday School, followed the last ten years by Mrs. J. W. Clarke, who has been just as faithful. So there has been a build up through the years of the present Bible school, of which the church feels justly proud. In 1921 under the encouragement of the splendid leadership of Bro. J. W. Clarke, who for a number of years had made his home in Sparta, the Sparta Christian church built its present beautiful church home.
This is a brick with a large auditorium and has six class rooms and is on the Gallatin County side. The dedicatory sermon was preached by Bro. W. J. Clarke, November 27th, 1921. The old church building was sold to the Holiness church, who owned it a few years and held meetings there, later selling it and withdrawing from Sparta. This frame church building is now used as a unit of the Sparta School buildings.
In the same "Old Red School House" where the Sparta Christian church had been organized, six years later the Sparta Baptist Church of Christ was organized, Tuesday, August 30, 1881. There were brethren attending to assist in the organization and to extend to the new church the hand of Christian fellowship from the neighboring churches of New Liberty, Liberty Stations (Sanders), Dallasburg [Wheatley] Long Ridge, Glencoe, Poplar Grove, Ten Mile, Owenton and Oakland. Among these visiting brethren we notice (from the old record which has been carefully kept) the names of Elders R. N. Alexander, P. T. Hale, N. T. Daniel, T. A. Spicer, J. W. Waldrope, and J. T. Garvey, as from the neighboring churches several: R. T. Vories, R. Simeon Coates, J. F. Williams, J. C. Turley and many others - men well known in Owen and Gallatin counties but who have now passed on.
Later plans were made to build a house of worship, a lot was purchased, and a foundation laid. This was on the Gallatin county side where the home of Mrs. Hazel Brock now is. However, there came discouragements to the church and the work progressed no further at this time.
Meetings were held and Bible school conducted at least part of the time. These services were alternated with those of the Christian church, both worshipping in the red school house. At a meeting of the church in January 1890 the members decided to sell the lot in "New Sparta" as the part of town in Gallatin was then called. J. W. Holton and V. A. Brock were to act as the trustees for the church and loan this money out on interest with other with other money that had been collected toward a building fund. At a meeting held August 22, 1897, a church building committee was appointed with the following members: V. A. Brock, P. H. Vories, Morton Baker, and A. B. Tompkin. The house of worship was completed. It was a frame building on the Owen side. On the 5th Sunday in May 1898 [the 29th], the dedication service was held, Rev. M. P. Hunt preaching the dedicatory sermon. The amount of money needed to clear the church of debt was raised, after which the dedicatory prayer was offered by Bro. H. M. Burroughs who had given so freely his time and council to bring this happy day for the Sparta Baptist church.
The Concord Association also met with the Sparta church at this time with the following ministers present: Brethren Anderson, Riley Agee, Bagby, Hensley, M. P. Hunt, P. E. and M. M. Burroughs.
The members were faithful and the church grew. Services were held regularly and a Sunday School organized that did not get snowed under in the winter, Mr. B. F. Wilson serving for years as the faithful superintendent of the Sunday School, which has grown steadily n numbers and usefulness. In 1922 the church was remodeled and enlarged so the good work has gone on to the present day.
April 28, 1928, from the Gallatin County News