We cannot too much admire God in the special providence he exercises in carrying on his militant kingdom, or in planting or establishing churches.
Sometimes we see it the case that he moves upon and impresses the hearts of his people to emigrate from one country to another, thereby disposing of them and mixing them with the world promiscuously that the way may be opened up for the gospel to get into the wicked, dark and destitute corners of the earth. It is worthy of remark that wherever his people go the gospel will follow. Such a providence God seemed to exercise in the establishment of Rose Creek Church.
Sometime from 1816 to 1819 Hugh Bone and family emigrated from Wilson county, Tennessee, and settled in a dark, destitute, and very wicked part of Hopkins county, Kentucky, where such a thing as the gospel or the worship of God was hardly known. But here God had an altar erected upon which sacrifices were offered. Gospel ministers were invited to this section, and the gospel began to be preached.
After this some of the family connection of the said Bone removed to the same place. Among them were Jas. Hill and others. A small society or church was established composed of these families. The Rev. William Harris was then called to take charge of the church. The Rev. Jas. Johnson was the next pastor through whose ministry God greatly revived his work and many were added to the church. Rev. Jas. Johnson lived in the Rose Creek settlement on what was known as the Cox farm. He took the young preachers, Hugh Hill, M. H. Bone, Thos. Bone, and others, and instructed them in the Bible, in theology, and in literature. Being scarce of house room they slept and studied in the kitchen. Such was the humble start of some of our great preachers.
The exact date of the organization is lost in obscurity. Some think it was organized as early as 1817. The historical prelude to the Rose Creek minutes says that the first Bone family came in 1819. According to the minutes of Anderson Presbytery it was a church of sufficient prominence of this Presbytery to hold its first meeting in 1822 with this congregation. It seems that the organization could not have been later than 1819, possibly about that date. The first elders of Rose Creek congregation were Hugh Bone, Matthew Houston Bone, Eli M. Lansden, Harvey Graham, Isaac Gore, Thos. L. Hill and B. L. Porter.
In the fall of 1820 or 1821 there was a camp meeting held within the bounds of this congregation by the Barnetts and others. The organizers of the church, who are mentioned above, met in a beautiful grove in one of the native forests of Hopkins county and selected a spot adjacent to a large black gum and a large white oak whose branches were intertwined with the sprangles of a massive grape vine which sprung from the fertile soil. In connection with the dense foliage of this arbor of nature they built a shed in which the first camp meeting was held. God gloriously rewarded their labor in great power and many were added to the little struggling band of faithful Christians. Camp meetings were held here annually, with but few exceptions, until 1859. Often there would be fifty or sixty professions of religion at one of their meetings. In the early years of these meetings every member of the families that organized Rose Creek professed religion and joined the church. From these families three young men were called to preach the gospel and rose to eminence in the ministry of the C. P. church; viz., Hugh Hill, Matthew Houston Bone and Robert Hill. Later on two other preachers sprang from this congregation; viz., Cyrus Graham and Wilson Bone.
Anderson Presbytery was organized in 1820. The first meeting of this Presbytery was held at Rose Creek church April 5, 1822. The Rev. John Barnett was moderator and David W. McLin was clerk. Ministers present; John Barnett, William Barnett, David W. McLin, Aaron Shelby, William Henry, Woods M. Hamilton and James Johnson. John Clifton, James Hill, John Travis and others were representatives. The licentiates present were Henry T. Delaney, Thos. Campbell, Hiram McDaniel, Gilbert Dodds, Geo. Robertson, William McCord, James Y. Barnett, Carl Stephens, William Hutcheson, Jesse Pierce, Nimrod Ferguson, Joel Knight, Thos. Bone and Franceway R. Cossitt. The following were received as candidates for the ministry: Hugh W. Robb, William Bryant, William H. Bigham and John W. Ogden. Presbytery adjourned to meet at Salubrious Springs, Christian county, Kentucky.
About this year a sacramental meeting was held at Rose Creek by James Barnett and Aaron Shelby. There were no conversions but great power and blessing.
At the meeting of Anderson Presbytery at Princeton, Ind., Oct. 4, 1825, Rev. Aaron Shelby was appointed to examine the members of Rose Creek church on their religious life and knowledge of the Bible. Aaron Shelby was a popular preacher in his day.
James Bond represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery at Bethlehem, Ky., Oct. 1826. Eli W. Lansden represented Rose Creek Church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery at Hopkinsville, Ky., April 11, 1827. Hugh Bone represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery at Bethlehem, Ky., which was a called meeting to try Rev. James Y. Barnett, July 29, 1827.
Matthew Houston Bone was ordained at Bethlehem, April 2, 1818.
Hugh Bone represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery which met at Princeton, Ky., Sept. 9, 1828. Isaac Witherspoon represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery which met at Piney Fork, Ky., April 7, 1829. Hugh B. Hill was ordained at this meeting.
In the early days of Rose Creek church, John Barnett frequently preached there, but it cannot be ascertained definitely whether he was ever pastor of this church. Aaron Shelby was also one of the early preachers at Rose Creek, and was pastor at least one year. Rev. Silas N. Davis was pastor in 1832 and 1833. The church prospered greatly during his pastorate. Isaac Witherspoon represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery in Madisonville, Ky., Sept. 30, 1834.
At this meeting of Presbytery Rev. Adley Boyd was appointed to catechise Rose Creek church, but failed to perform this duty. Adley Boyd was poor and illiterate which he started in the ministry, but he was said to be one of the most eloquent ministers that ever preached in Kentucky. He was at no loss of speech to express himself, but words fell from his lips as easily as water drops from the lip of the cataract, and beautiful rounded periods, adorned with all the grace and eloquence of style, flowed from his lips in such rich profusion that he held his audience spell-bound. It seemed not to matter what was the theme of his discourse, or however unexpectedly he had to speak, it was the same entrancing strains of eloquence that enchained his audience into rapt reverie.
It was ordered that a camp-meeting be held at Rose Creek Friday before the third Sabbath in July, 1835. Rev. Charles Byles preached for a few years at Rose Creek, and then moved to Washington territory.
Rev. S. L. Edgar was pastor of Rose Creek church in 1837 and 1838.
This was a period of great religious prosperity. There were many conversions and accessions to the church during his pastorate.
Thos. Hill represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery which met at Elkton, Ky. April 1, 1837. Rev. S. L. Edgar was appointed to catechise the church during this year. Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek church in the meeting of Anderson Presbytery which met at Madisonville, Ky. April 1, 1838.
There was a splendid camp meeting at Rose Creek the second Sunday in August, 1838. The camp meetings usually began on Friday and closed on Tuesday. The following preachers were present and did the preaching: Joel Lambert, Matthew Houston Bone, Thos. Bone and Silas N. Davis.
Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek church in Anderson Presbytery which met at Antioch, Christian county, April 4, 1839. Rose Creek had had seventy-eight communicants at this time.
Robt. P. Hill was pastor of this church from 1839 to 1843. This was a period of great religious power and blessing.
Rose Creek had the following representatives in Anderson Presbytery during this period:
A. Bone at Madisonville, Oct. 1839. Rose Creek now had ninety-three communicants, having received thirteen in the last year.
A. Bone at Elkton, April 1840.
Thos. Hill at Rumsey, Oct. 1840.
Revs. Joel Lambert and Adley Boyd were appointed to visit Rose Creek church this year, to examine the church books, see if they were regular and inform them of their duties to Presbytery.
Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek church in Anderson Presbytery, which met at Madisonville, April 3, 1841. Harvey Graham at Antioch, April 1, 1842. Eli M. Lansden at Madisonville, Oct. 1842. Eli M. Lansden at Hopkinsville, April 1843. Rev. W. L. Casky was appointed to install R. H. Hill pastor of Rose Creek in 1844. T. L. Miles represented Rose Creek in Anderson Presbytery, which met in Madisonville, April 11, 1845. At this Presbytery R. P. Hill ceased to be pastor and Thos. Bone was called.
There was a big meeting at Rose Creek in 1849 or 1850. Thos. Bone was pastor. Revs. Jas. Frazer and W. G. L. Quaite assisted in the meeting. There were twenty-seven professions one night. Rev. Thos. Bone was pastor from 1845 to 1850.
Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek church in Anderson Presbytery which met at Morganfield, Ky., April 2, 1847. A. M. Bone was representative in the Presbytery which met at Madisonville, Oct. 1, 1850.
In 1850 Union church was organized. It was composed of a part of the members of Rose Creek. Rev. J. W. Sharp was appointed to organize this church, but not being well, Rev. Thos. Bone officiated at the organization. Union church house was built about one mile east of Nebo. It remained a separate congregation until 1865. From 1850 to 1856 Rose Creek had no regular pastor. Rev. Thos. Bone preached occasionally and possibly for short intervals served them as pastor. Rev. Bone was also pastor of Union during most of this period. Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek, and A. M. Bone Union in Anderson Presbytery at Henderson, Ky., April 1851. A. M. Bone represented Union in Anderson Presbytery which met at Greenville, Ky., Oct. 1851. B. L. Porter was representative of Union and Harvey Graham of Rose Creek in the Presbytery which met at Madisonville, April 2, 1851. Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek in Presbytery at Shiloh, Oct. 1, 1852, and A. M. Bone represented Union.
Rev. S. B. Vance held a great meeting at Union in the early fifties. A. M. Bone represented both churches, Rose Creek and Union in, the Presbytery which met at Greenville, March 9, 1854. M. H. Rove represented Rose Creek in Presbytery at Madisonville, Oct. 6, 1854, and R. H. Robertson, Union. Rose Creek church book was in good condition, showing regular monthly sessions, and seventy-six members. At this meeting of Presbytery, Madisonville, Rose Creek and Shiloh were united as one pastorate.
Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek church in Presbytery at Elkton, March 29, 1855. R. A. Harris was representative of Rose Creek at Madisonville, Oct. 5, 1855, and A. M. Bone of Union. The Rev. W. G. McGehee became pastor of Rose Creek church in the fall of 1855, and was pastor one year.
A young preacher by the name of Armstrong preached at Union church for some time. Rev. W. G. McGehee was pastor at Union awhile as well as at Rose Creek. William Roach and Adley Boyd also preached at Union. About 1855 Rose Creek and Union both seemed to be dragging. A proposition was made to unite the two congregations and build a house at Nebo. Herschel Porter's mother bought the lumber and had it put on the ground, but by some disaffection the house was never built, and the congregations remained separate awhile longer. Rev. Cyrus Graham served Rose Creek church as pastor for a short time about this period. In 1857 Rev. J. F. Messick held a great meeting at Rose Creek. There was a great revival and a number of professions. It was a year of revivals all over the country. Bro. Messick became pastor of Rose Creek during 1856, 1857 and 1858.
Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek in Anderson Presbytery at Madisonville, April 9, 1856, and B. L. Porter represented Union. Thos. Hill represented Rose Creek in Presbytery and A. M. Bone, Union, Oct. 1857. Rev. N. F. Jennings preached for Union and Rock Spring in 1857.
From 1850 to 1856 Rose Creek had occasional preaching and pastors for only very short periods of time. Rev. J. F. Messick became pastor of this church in 1856, and had the care of the church at intervals until 1870. Rev. Joel Lambert was pastor in 1859 and 1860. During the Civil War the meetings were very irregular.
About 1860 Dr. T. Rawlins held a very interesting meeting at Rose Creek. Rev. W. H. Browning preached for Rose Creek for two years, from April 1863. He also preached for Union a part of his time. R. C. Harris represented Rose Creek and Union in Anderson Presbytery at Canoe Creek in Henderson county, March 30, 1865.
On petition of these two churches they were re-united at this Presbytery under the old name of Rose Creek. J. B. Lansden represented Rose Creek Presbytery at Sacramento, Oct. 12, 1865. The six months previous to this Presbytery this church had no pastor. Rev. J. C. Lambert was engaged to preach for them at this session of Presbytery, and was pastor for one year. Eli M. Lansden represented Rose Creek in Presbytery at Madisonville, April 4, 1867, and B. W. Trigg at Pleasant Hill, Oct. 17, 1867. They had a good revival at this church in 1867, and the church was wonderfully strengthened. Dr. T. Rawlins as pastor for six months, beginning April 1868. Rev. J. F. Messick held the meeting at Rose Creek in 1869, but could not tell the number of professions and additions.
J. Booth represented Rose Creek in Presbytery at Pleasant Grove, Webster county, March 31, 1870. At this meeting of Presbytery, Rev. Cyrus Graham was employed as pastor six months.
In July 1874 a big meeting was held at Rose Creek by Revs. W. W. Wynns and Morris, a Methodist preacher. It began at Bethany, a Methodist church, one-half mile from Rose Creek. The congregations became so large that they moved into the grove and continued the services. There were seventy professions of faith, and forty joined Rose Creek church.
Rev. G. W. Bone served this church as pastor one year, beginning Nov. 25, 1876. In the fall of 1876, Rev. W. W. Wynns became pastor. In 1879 the following were elected and ordained ruling elders in Rose Creek church: John Morrow, B. W. Trigg, H. D. Hill, W. W. Harris, John W. Bone and J. B. Lansden.
Rose Creek church session met in Nebo at the close of the great meeting held by Messick and Wynns and received nineteen members into the church. This meeting was held in the Methodist church. Presbytery was held at Rose Creek in 1880. The following candidates were licensed to preach at this Presbytery: J. L. Price, G. W. Dennis, Richard Gwynn and _____ Rice.
November 20, 1880, Rev. J. F. Messick was called as pastor and served the church until Jan. 1882. His last sermon was preached at Rose Creek. He said on Sunday evening after preaching. "This is the happiest day of my life." He went home and died within a week. Rev. R. G. McLesky preached Bro. Messick's funeral at Rose Creek, April 1882.
Immediately after the death of Rev. Messick, Feb. 25, 1882, Rev. G. W. Vanhorn was called as pastor and served the church for six months. Then W. E. West was pastor for six months. Rev. R. D. Smith became pastor of this church in the spring of 1883, and preached for one year. After this Rev. W. W. Wynns became pastor of this church and served it almost continuously until within about a year of his death.
In October, 1884, Rose Creek enjoyed a great meeting. The church was greatly strengthened. Rev. P. A. Lyon assisted Rev. Wynns in this meeting. Rev. Joe Booth, a Southern Methodist preacher, assisted in the meeting in 1885.
Anderson Presbytery met at Rose Creek, Oct. 8, 1886. The opening sermon was preached by Rev. R. D. Smith from 2 Thess. 3:1. The following ministers were present: G. W. Bone, J. T. Barbee, W. D. Blair, W. L. Casky, Cyrus Graham, G. B. McDonald, T. H. Mitchell, J. L. Price, R. D. Smith, W. W. Wynns, Jas. Wilson and T. E. Young. Fourteen congregations were represented. Rev. G. B. McDonald was moderator.
Nebo was received as an organized congregation at this Presbytery. O. C. Womack and David Barnett of Rose Creek church were received as candidates. Rev. Baxter Barbee was received as a member of Anderson Presbytery. June 26, 1886, B. L. Gooch, G. F. Smoot, Frank Hill and W. S. Mitchell were elected elders. They were ordained on Sunday of the Presbytery above mentioned. The protracted meeting immediately followed the Presbytery. Rev. J. T. Barbee assisted in the meeting. There were forty professions of faith, and thirty additions to the church.
A meeting of quite extensive influence was held from the second to the fourth Sunday in August, 1890. Rev. J. T. Barbee, N. F. Gill and Cyrus Graham were present and assisted in the meeting. There were about forty professions and thirty additions. Harvey Graham, eighty-five years old, was a regular attendant at this meeting. He died Oct. 27, 1892. He was an elder in this church for fifty years. He professed religion at Piney Fork when twelve years old.
December 27, 1890, Rev. W. W. Wynns, after serving this church as pastor for a number of years, was called for an indefinite time at a salary of $125 a year. A protracted meeting was held, embracing the fourth and fifth Sundays in October, 1891, in which Charlie Gooch, a Baptist, N. F. Gill and Cyrus Graham assisted. In March 1892, Albert Hodge, Ira W. King and Chas. Mitchell were elected ruling elders. April 23, 1892, Jas. Scott and Mr. Kirkwood were elected deacons. On Sunday, April 24, these elders and deacons were all ordained.
Elder B. W. Trigg from Rose Creek went to the General Assembly in 1892. On Christmas day, 1892, Rose Creek church made up eleven dollars for ministerial relief. In the protracted meeting held, the first Sunday in August, 1893, Rev. P. A. Lyon assisted. It was an excellent meeting and resulted in a number of conversions and twelve additions to the church. In Oct. 1893, B. W. Trigg and wife both died. He had been a faithful elder in the church for thirty-four years. This church contributed ten dollars, May 1894, toward a monument for Rev. Cyrus Graham. In 1894, the protracted meeting embraced the first Sunday in September. Rev. A. L. Goad assisted in the meeting.
Rev. W. A. Boone, assisted in the meeting which commenced the first Sunday in August, 1895. The annual meeting in 1896 embraced the fourth Sunday in September. Rev. P. A. Lyon did the preaching. There were seven additions to the church. Ira W. King was elected clerk of the session at this time. Rev. A. C. Biddle assisted in the meeting, beginning the second Sunday in Oct. 1897. There were a number of professions, and eleven additions.
W. P. King was elected elder November, 1897.
In April 1899, Rev. W. W. Wynns resigned on account of feeble health. He had been preaching to this church the greater part of the time for twenty-seven years. Rev. J. L. Price preached from July to September, 1899.
The third Sunday in October, 1899, Rev. G. L. Woodruff held a good meeting at this church. There were six additions. Bro. Woodruff became pastor Jan. 1900, and has been pastor ever since.
July 19, 1902, Eugene Lewis and Mack Wooten were elected ruling elders. August 20, 1904, John D. Lansden, Neal Parrish and Ernest Wooten were elected elders.
The following are the present board of elders, April 1, 1906: W. S. Mitchell, Ira W. King, W. P. King, Albert Hodge, A. Y. Wooten, Edward Wooten, W. N. Parrish, Jno. D. Lansden and W. E. Lewis.
The first church house built at Rose Creek was a log house. In order to make it of sufficient size, the logs at the side were of double length with a door between the ends where they were joined.
The second church house was a frame built in 1870. Ben Trigg, Wm. Fike, a Methodist, M. M. Givens, Jno. B. Lansden and Robt. Harris were the building committee. The size of the house was 36x48 feet.
Robt. Harris was buried just back of the church house, a spot selected by him.
The last house is a beautiful and commodious frame church, erected in 1905.
M. H. Bone and Hugh Bone were out rabbit hunting one day. They began to relate to each other their impressions to preach. So vivid did these impressions become as they talked over these matters, that they pledged each other to go into the ministry.
There we some shouters at Rose Creek. It was a common saying
that when Aunt Jemina Parker, a sister of Rev. Cyrus Graham,
got happy and shouted at the beginning of the meeting, they always
expected a great meeting. When they got up a big shout Uncle Jake
Mitchell, a colored man, and a regular attendant at the Rose Creek
meetings, would take his round of shouting. It is to be regretted
that we cannot give complete statistics of what this pioneer church
has accomplished. Hundreds have been converted at her annual meetings.
Thousands in the last great day will testify to the blessings
they have received on this consecrated spot. For many generations
the Hills and Bones and Harrises and others will revere the name
of Rose Creek as one of the sweetest their tongues have ever been
taught to utter.
[Source: Minutes of the Princeton Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, April 3-5, 1906, pages I-VIII]