Why does the church have the name "Forks of Elkhorn" when it is nowhere near the Forks of Elkhorn Creek?
When the church was established in 1788, the church was located to the northwest on the hills overlooking the confluence of the North and South Forks of Elkhorn Creek – the Forks of Elkhorn. Back then, it was common for settlers to name their churches after landmarks, such as creeks, valleys and rivers. From our original location the closest, most significant landmark was the Forks of Elkhorn. That’s how we got the name and we’ve kept it ever since, even though we are no longer near the Forks of Elkhorn or even in the same county where the Forks is located.
How did the church get from it's original location to it's present location at Duckers?
The route from “Forks” to Duckers has lots of twists and turns. Since its founding in 1788, the Forks congregation has met in 8 different meeting houses in 5 different locations in three different counties in two states and surviving two fires along the way.
The journey starts at the John Major home on the Glenary Farm in Two Creeks near the Forks. Shortly after the church was constituted, a log church was built near the intersection of Leestown Road and Steele’s Ferry Road. That was later replaced with a frame and then brick meeting house. It was at this location where the Forks’ worshipped until 1866.
Then it was on to Woodford County to the “Harmony Church” and to Duckers in the “Sampey Church”. After that was destroyed by fire in 1943, the “Little Church” was built on its ashes. In 2003, Forks outgrew the “Little Church” and moved to its present location in the “New Church.”
It’s been quite a journey indeed … and we’re still going … and growing!
Where was the original building located?
The answer to this question is not simple because it all depends on which "original church building" about which you are asking.
If you are asking about the first place the settlers gathered to hear Rev. William Hickman preach his first sermon, then you are asking about the John Major house. This building still stands today, serving as the office for Glenary Farm in Two Creeks. It is visible from Country Lane and can be seen by entering Two Creeks, driving past the guard station and proceeding past the entrance to Glenary Farm. The small, two story stone building located on the hillside on the left is the John Major house.
If you are asking about the first meeting house constructed by the Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church, that question is a bit more difficult as time has been hard on the Forks Meeting House site.
Site descriptions say it was located near the intersection of Steele's Ferry Road and the Lexington-Leestown Road. Steele's Ferry Road no longer exists-it is now a tree line. The Lexington-Leestown Road (US 421) in that area has been relocated and widened. The meeting house was dismantled shortly after Forks moved from the site in 1866, removing any physical trace of its location. And although we have the 1795 and 1809 deeds for the land on which the meeting house and cemetery sat and an 1832 map locating the site, all boundaries and landmarks have been eliminated by time and area development.
A recent search of adjacent deeds place the site in the northeastern portion of the US 421Industrial Park (old Bendix property), but the precise location of “God’s Acre” has yet to be positively determined.
1776, April – William Hickman and Thomas Tinsley deliver first Baptist sermon west of the Alleghenies at Fort Harrod.
1781, September – Rev. Lewis Craig and the Upper Spotsylvania congregation begin their pilgrimage from Virginia to Kentucky to escape widespread persecution of Baptists
1781, December – The “Travelling Church” arrives at Gilbert's Creek (now Garrard County) and constitutes the third Baptist Church in KY
1783 – Rev. Lewis Craig and members of Gilbert’s Creek move to Fayette County and constitute South Elkhorn
1787, October - William Hickman is called from Marble Creek (now East Hickman) to start a church at “Dry Run”
1788, January – Hickman preaches first sermon at John Major’s home
1788, June 7 - With Rev. William Hickman as pastor, Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church constituted. Begin meeting in members’ homes around area.
1788 - Church unites with Elkhorn Association
1790 - Forks builds log meetinghouse
1792, April – Two Forks members, Hosea and Jesse Cook are massacred on their farm at Innes Station, a few miles north of the meeting house.
1792, June – Kentucky becomes the 15th state
1795 - Church purchases 1 acre of land from John Brown near crossroads of Steele's Ferry and Lexington-Leestown Roads to take advantage of increasing road travel and there construct frame meeting house
1796 - Church increases to 123 members
1800 - Great countrywide revival sweeps Kentucky with week-long camp meetings drawing as many as 20,000 people, triple Baptist membership and allows William Hickman to baptize 500 people in two years
1801, February - Church releases six Forks of Elkhorn members including William Hickman, Jr. and his wife Obedience to develop South Benson Baptist Church where he would serve as pastor most of his life
1801, April - Church releases six members to seed congregation on the North Fork of Elkhorn (Switzer), fourteen for the development of Mouth of Elkhorn (Zion) Baptist Church
1801, May - Ten or more Forks of Elkhorn members help charter Glen’s Creek Church
1804, April – Rev. John Gano, “The Fighting Chaplin”, Gen. George Washington’s chaplain during the Rev. War, dies and is buried next to his wife in the Old Forks Church Burying Grounds
1809 – Forks purchases 1.25 acres containing the meeting house, cemetery and school from Daniel E. Brown
1812, October - Eight Forks of Elkhorn members help start Big Spring, later called Spring Station Church
1816, February - Eleven Forks members leave fellowship to organize First Baptist Church of Frankfort
1818, January - Eleven members transfer from parent church to establish Buck Run Church
1820 - Brick building replaces original frame structure
1821 - With South Benson, Salt River, Twins, Hopewell, Mt. Pleasant, Mouth of Elkhorn and Big Spring, charters and moves membership to Franklin Association
1829 - Brick building replaces original frame structure
1830 - Alexander Campbell's teaching causes rifts in Baptist churches and leads to two factions at Forks of Elkhorn with the Baptist meeting on the second Saturday and Sunday; the new denomination meeting on the third, and the African-American congregation also sharing the building.
1834 January - William Hickman dies on his return from preaching at South Benson and is buried in family cemetery at his home on Steele’s Ferry Road (now South Scruggs Lane).
1835, January - First steam railroad west of the Alleghenies and the second in the United States, adjacent to the meetinghouse, establishes Duckers as one of the first railroad stations serving the Lexington to Frankfort route.
1845-50 - “Reform Church” cease using the Forks of Elkhorn meetinghouse
1850 - Robert W. Scott establishes the first Sunday School at Forks
1866 – Seeking a site more accessible to buggies and carriages, the Fork of Elkhorn exchange buildings and land and move to the Harmony Presbyterian Church building on US 421 in Woodford County
1867 - Sunday School reopens and prayer meetings held on Wednesday and Sunday nights
1872 – Robert W. Scott sells land containing the old meeting house and cemetery to Hillery Bedford, who dismantles the building and uses it for construction of his home.
1876 - Women's Missionary Society organizes; church purchases organ
1885, September - Church ordains John R. Sampey, age 22
1886, January - Rev. Sampey lists in diary 40 nonmembers of congregation and vows to pray for them everyday; a revival in August results in 41 additions.
1904 - John Sampey proposes new building; congregation chooses Duckers for its proximity to train station and village.
1912 - Church completes new thirteen room brick “meeting house” seating 300 and costing $9,000.
1916, July – Rev. Hickman’s body removed from family cemetery on Scruggs Lane and reinterred in the newly established DAR Lot of the Frankfort Cemetery. Rev. John Gano and wife Sarah’s bodies are removed from Old Forks Church Burying Grounds and reinterred there as well.
1920 - Congregation of 280 divides into groups of ten with a deacon or deaconess in charge of each group.
1926 - Dr. Sampey completes slightly more than twenty-three years of his pastorate at Forks of Elkhorn
1934 - Church revival; Rev. Leo Green receives sixty-four additions
1938, June - Dr. Sampey leads sesquicentennial observation
1943, October – “Sampey Church” and contents burn; meetings held in Woodburn School until new church built
1947 – New brick, 200 seat “meeting house”, built on the ashes of the “Sampey Church”.
1957, June - Dedication of stained glass windows
1982, April - Fire severely damages interior but spares stained glass windows; members use parsonage and later Hearn School for services
1982, October - First service in refurbished building.
1988, June – Forks celebrates its bicentennial with a three day Homecoming which includes marker dedication at Rev. Hickman’s grave in the Frankfort Cemetery.
1998, June – Historical Marker (above) dedicated at Homecoming 210.
1998, July - With an average of 30 in the Sunday morning congregation, Forks of Elkhorn calls Rev. Todd Lester as its fiftieth pastor.
- 2000, Easter - Add second morning service to accommodate growing attendance
- 2000, June – Church votes to purchase 7 acres across the road from the Hill family
- 2001, June 20 - Congregation approved (100%) plans to build a new 700 plus seat “meeting house” across the road from current one.
- 2003, December 14 - Congregation moved into new church building across the road from the original site constructed on the site where the Hill’s tobacco barn once stood.
- 2007, February – Church votes (100%) to purchase 25.5 acres around the “new church” campus from the Webster family
- 2007, June –Rev. Walter Hickman and brother Bob Hickman, direct descendents of founding father Rev. William Hickman were special guests for Homecoming 219.
- 2009, June – Rev. Hugh T. Busey, Forks oldest living pastor at 100 years of age, opens Homecoming 221 with a video message to the Forks.
- 2009, November – “Bonds Burning” held as the mortgage for the new church building and additional land paid off
- 2012, March 4 – Congregation approved plans to build Family Life Center and begins the “Forks Forward in Faith Emphasis”
- 2012, November – Groundbreaking ceremony held for Family Life Center
- 2013, February 5 – First concrete is poured for the Family Life Center
- 2013, June 2 – Forks’ 50th Pastor, Rev. Todd Lester delivers the Homecoming 225 message and over 1000 “raise their forks” in response. Rev. Bill Adcock, completes his seventh year at Forks’ and leads the orchestra-accompanied Forks’ Choir in the premiere of the anthem, “Our Faith In God Alone”, written by Ms. Mary McDonald for this occasion and dedicated to the congregation on our 225th anniversary.
- 2014, October - Forks, the last remaining founding member of the Franklin Baptist Association, hosts the Association's 200th Annual Meeting.
- 2014, November - CROSS Center completed and hosts local Y youth basketball leagues, reaching over 800 people weekly.
- 2015, April - Kentucky's newest archery tournament, "Best of the Bluegrass," held at the CROSS Center with over 1300 attending.
- 2015, May - Replacement for "Fehsal's Cross" erected.
- 2015, June - CROSS Center formally dedicated at Homecoming 227 celebration.
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