Marker # 1596, “Silas Baptist Church, “ Russell Cave Road, KY 353, Bourbon County.
Historical Marker #1596 gives the history of Silas Baptist Church in Bourbon County. It is twelve miles from Paris at the junction of the Silas and Collins Pikes, organized August 30, 1800. It has held continuous services, making it the oldest continuous running church in Bourbon County.
In September of 1781, the Reverend Lewis Craig with his Baptist congregation of men women and children, guided by Captain William Ellis, left Spotsylvania, VA for the wilderness of KY. In an Anglican environment, they had been persecuted for expressing their Baptist beliefs.
These devout people took with them, not only their personal belongings but also their official book of records, communion service and Bible. Each night on the trek, they held a religious service. According to old records, the group was help up by high water on the Holston River for three weeks. They held services there and converted many travelers, who were also delayed.
By the middle of December, they reached their destination, now known as Craig’s Station, on Gilbert’s Creek near Lancaster, KY. After traveling 600 miles, the group built the first Baptist Church west of the Alleghenies there in 1781.
In 1796, twenty of the members of the Reverend Lewis Craig’s church withdrew and moved to Bourbon County. With the help of George Eve, Augustine Eastin and Ambrose Dudley, they organized a separate church.
In 1799, Charles Smith, a member, deeded the ground for a regular Baptist Church. By 1801, the members erected a log church with a balcony for the people they enslaved, a window at the rear of the pulpit and a closet under the pulpit for important papers. In August, 1802, the Elkhorn Baptist Association received this new church into membership and named it Silas.
The present brick structure was built in 1850. In 1902, the church was enlarged with eight stained windows and a baptistry. In 1944 the members added space for Sunday School rooms. In 1967, they added a new wing for more Sunday School rooms and modern bathroom facilities. Later, they constructed a separate building for recreation, meetings and dinners.
Silas is an active church today (2013).
Silas Baptist Church History written by church members; on file at John Fox Jr., Genealogical Library, 323 High St, Paris, KY.
Historic Architecture of Bourbon County, Kentucky, Walter E. Langsam and William Gus Johnson, Paris, KY, Historic Paris-Bourbon County, Inc., 1985, p. 54.
History of Bourbon Scott, Harrison, & Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, edited by William Henry Perrin, O.L. Rankin, Chicago, 1881, p. 145-6.
Ambrose Dudley (1788-1823)
According to the Annals of the American Pulpit, 1860, in a letter from the Reverend James E. Welch, Ambrose Dudley was six feet tall, and had a commission as a Captain in Continental Army serving from Spotsylvania County Virginia in the Revolutionary War. He became a preacher and moved to Kentucky in 1785 where he settled near Bryan’s Station near Lexington. He was part of the great revival, which was most well known at Cane Ridge in Bourbon County.