Freedom Church is situated three or four miles north of Garfield, and about eight miles east of Hardinsburg, the county seat of Breckinridge County, Ky. A more beautiful site for a church would be hard to find. The pretty flat on which it stands is nearly surrounded with oaks, which are a shield from the blasts of winter, and furnish plenty of cool shade in summer. In about the year 1825 Cumberland Presbyterians first began to preach in this vicinity at what was then known as Huckelby's School House. Corby and McDowell were the preachers. The people worshiped in this school house and under a bush arbor until the year 1828, when it was decided that a church house was needed. Cumberland Presbyterians together with the Baptists of the community built a substantial log house, with the understanding that it was to be free for all denominations to worship in. Therefore the name "Freedom" was given it. For some unknown reason the date of the organization of this church was not recorded, but the names of the original members stand recorded on the old church book as follows: William Macey, Serritt Beard, Geo. St. Clair, Joel Jared, Jane Hall, W. M. S. Jones, Susanna Jones, Sarah St. Clair, Little Berry Dowell, Nancy Miller, Polly Jared, Maria Fisher, (colored) Jane Kennedy, Abigail Norton, Priscilla Huckelby, Anderson Wood, Margaret Wood, Israel Jared, Warden Clemmons, Susanna Hall, Sarah Jared, Rhoda Jared, Clarissa Hall, Catherine Rawlings, Jincy Dowell, Francis Jared, Coleman, a black man, Alfred Grissim, Phoebe Grissim, Rev. W. M. C. Long, Amanda Wiseheart, Elizabeth Long. The first elders were Geo. St. Clair, Little Berry Dowell, and Israel Jared; clerk, Joel Jared. There is no church record showing the results of the labors of this congregation until in 1833. During the month of August of that year there was a great revival. There were forty-five accessions to the church during this meeting (or year). Brother James Kennedy testifies to being one of twenty-three who joined this church August 15, 1833, during this meeting. He is the only one of the twenty-three positively known to be living. If the other twenty-two were as faithful soldiers of the cross as Brother Kennedy has been, and is to-day, their bodies may have returned to dust, but their spirits certainly inhabit the haven of eternal rest, and their godly example is fondly cherished. From 1833 until the present, with probably three or four exceptions, there has been an annual protracted meeting held at Freedom, embracing the second Sabbath in August every year. There have been but three years--1838, 1845, and 1864--during the sixty in which there were no additions to this church. There has been from one to sixty-three accessions yearly. The total number of accessions, including the original members, is 820, an average of a fraction over thirteen yearly. No attempt has been made at keeping a record of the professions. But from what has been observed it is not unreasonable to suppose that 1,200 or 1,500 have found the Savior in this church. In 1875 there were upwards of sixty professions and only forty-four additions. The six other Cumberland Presbyterian Churches that are from four to seven miles distant are directly or indirectly the offsprings of this mother church. Almost every year some converted here join some of these neighboring churches or churches of other denominations. The present membership of Freedom Church is 180.
Shortly after the erection of the log house it became necessary to erect a large shed in front of the same to accommodate the crowds who came to the protracted meetings. The house would not hold half the people. From 1835 to 1845 were camp meeting days. A great many people would come each year with provisions, cooking utensils and bedding. They erect little cabins and tents, remaining until the close of the meeting. The people would bring wagon loads of straw and cover the ground under the shed to prevent the dust from disturbing them. There are many living witnesses to-day in this and other States who first sought the Lord with the whole heart under this shed and on this straw. During those camp meeting days people would be seeking the Lord day and night, and there would be some kind of public service going on more than half of each twenty-four hours.
The names (we give only the surnames) of the pastors and some of the preachers who assisted in those meetings previous to 1870 are as follows; Shannon, Venoy, Calhoon, Neal, Long, Mansfield, Harris, Chapman, Hunter, three of the Wards, Newman, Barton and Dadisman. This brings us up to 1869 or 1870, at which time it was decided that the old log house and shed were not sufficient for the needs of the day. During one of the years last named a frame building 36x50 feet with twelve or fourteen feet ceiling was erected. Several logs of the old house are there yet, and they show the rare skill of the broadaxeman of that day.
Only one year ago they served as seats for outdoor service. Parts of the large sandstone chimneys are still standing. The house built in 1869 or 1870 is still in use. It has recently been repainted and otherwise repaired, the graveyard cleared off and the fence around it neatly whitewashed. The roads leading to this historic church were early this summer repaired and the people were looking forward to the second Sabbath in August, 1894, as the beginning of a great meeting.
The annual services on the second Sabbath in August mean to a great many, more than the beginning of a protracted meeting. It is the day when the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is administered. Ever Christian present has the opportunity to testify to the death of the Savior. Many of our brethren and sisters from other communities come and join with us in these services. We extend the hand of Christian greeting and many rejoice in the hope that one day we will sit as one family around our Master's table in heaven with those gone before.
The names of the pastors and some of the evangelists who have
preached here since 1870 are: Venson, Crabtree, Ward, St. Clair,
Whatley, Kimberlin, Watson, Mrs.
Woosley, Layman, and H. C. Hook, who is the present pastor.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, October 18, 1894, page 3]
The records that are available show that the deed for the ground of the Freedom Cumberland Presbyterian Church was dated October 4, 1831. The first building was built in the early 1830's out of logs. The building was also used as a school. The present church was built in the 1870's.
The church received members into its communion as early as 1833. Beginning in 1833, camp meetings were held at this location. The camp meeting would begin on the second Sunday in August. People came from great distances to attend these annual camp meetings and some would actually camp on the grounds. Some came in wagons drawn by horses, mules, or ox teams and others on horseback and still others on foot. They all came for one purpose--to worship God. Scores would seek and find salvation in these meetings.
The tradition of homecoming on the second Sunday in August and the revival beginning on the following Monday night continues to this day.
The following is a quote from the records of an early session book. It reads "In the name of Jesus Christ the Great head of the Church, we whose names are hereunto subscribed agree to form ourselves into a society to be known by the name of Freedom Society and approving the doctrine and discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, hereby submit ourselves to the care and government of the Ohio Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States of America December 14th, 1843."
However, baptisms were recorded as early as 1831. Oral tradition is that all denominations worshiped in the Freedom Church prior to it being accepted in the Ohio Presbytery. The term "meetinghouse" was used which indicates the Freedom Church was a place where many groups met for worship.
An elder who is in his seventies, related this story to Bro. Nugent. His grandfather who lived to be 91 was born in the 1840's. He told his grandson that a young minister held a revival at Freedom Church in the early days and during the revival he became sick and died. The story relates that the young man's family could not be contacted and that he was buried in the cemetery adjoining the church.
The young minister's name was Philip M. McDonnold. In an old history of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on p. 96, a Philip McDonnold is mentioned. He had a son--Philip Monroe McDonnold. It is very likely this is the Philip M. McDonnold who is buried in the Freedom Cemetery. The date of death on his monument is 1837.
The Freedom Cemetery has monuments with dates in the early 1800's. A part of the cemetery doesn't have any monuments.
The building itself stayed nearly the same for a number of years on the outside. The interior of the church was renovated slightly in 1941, by adding two Sunday School rooms in the front of the building. In 1958, a basement and four Sunday School rooms were added to the rear of the building. The exterior of the church was bricked in 1969 and central heat and air were installed in 1972. Carpet was laid and cushioned pews were purchased in 1979. In 1982 a fellowship hall was added to the rear of the church and the basement was enlarged. This addition was made possible by a generous gift from the estate of Ida and Virda Brown.
Freedom Cumberland Presbyterian Church has been and still remains a great asset to the community.
We applied to the Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Society to be registered in the Historical Register. The requirements include (1.) Being the oldest Presbyterian Church in the county. (2.) Something significant happened in the church. We met both of these requirements.
[Source: History submitted to the Historical Foundation in April 2000]