History of Gallatin County, Part 13b
Three miles south of Warsaw, on the Johnson Road is a grave yard, once connected with Old Providence Church, one of the earliest churches in the County. m This church-yard, now is but a tangle of briars, bushes and trees with only a few grave stones to mark the resting places of these early Christians. The back part of the church yard was used as a burying ground for the slaves.
Only those familiar with the place would ever be able to point out the spot where the old church house stood, yet somewhere down in the midst of leaves and soil, a large square rock may be found and recognized as the cornerstone of the church.
Old Providence dates back to the year of 1820 when folks rode horseback for miles to hear the Gospel preached. Many others walked, carrying their shoes in their hands until nearing the church, where they would put them on and continue their journey.
Of the ministers preaching there in the erly days, the names of Rev. John Lee, uncle of Rev. J. A. Lee, of Glencoe, and Rev. Paschal Todd are recalled.
Rev. Todd, or "Uncle Pack" as he was familiarly called, came from a long line of Baptist ministers. His grandfather, Rev. Wm. Hickman, a circuit rider, was said to have preached the first Baptist sermon on Kentucky soil in 1776, when he and Rev. Thomas Tinsley carried on a series of meetings at Harrodsburg. There, under an elm tree beside a spring at Harrod's Fort the sturdy backwoodsmen had gathered with their families to hear the word of God. The text as near as I can repeat it was: "Let me die the death of the righteous and my last end be like His." This famous old circuit rider rode horseback through the woods and was conducting three revivals at different places, morning, afternoon and night when his sudden death occurred at home of a friend.
Rev. Todd spent 54 years in the ministry, and was riding through the country from Owen County to Ten Mile to preach once a month when a woman ran out and said "Uncle Pack, I notice you pass here every month. Where do you go?" Upon being told she replied, "Will you preach for us?" He replied he would if a stand was built for him and the next time he left home earlier so as to have time for the extra service and stopped at a large oak grove near Oakland Church where a large congregation had gathered. He preached here until cold weather.
When the winter of 1860 came, “Uncle” Alfred Arrasmith, a large landowner at that time gave a lot and the people met to build a church. "Uncle Pack" ws among them and cut the first chips to build Oakland Church which now remains in use. A committee was appointed to solicit aid and the people responded greatly to the call. This committee was composed of Josiah Ellis, Thomas Ellis, Elkaniah ["Eck"] Crouch, John Crouch, Ben Duncan, David Lilly, Alfred Arrasmith, Henry Crouch, Alfred Kemper and others.
The membership of Old Providence was then moved to Oakland. The old church was torn down and the logs moved to the old Clements farm on Dry Creek now owned by Mr. Walter Smith where they were used as a distillery. This farm was also famous for the Clement's cap and ball rifles that were made there for many years.
When one passes the spot, near the Union school house, where the church house once stood he little thinks that the soil on which the trees and bushes grow contains the bodies of some of our early men and women who devoted their lives to the furtherment of Christianity. But at this place the germ of Baptist religion took root and the present church at Oakland is a continuation of its growth.