How they watched over them as they forded the roanoke; as they heard them creak and groan up the rugged ascent of the Allegheny "divide and as they went; down the mountain road and crossed New river through its craggy lines of curious rocks. A "long halt as the sunday rest was called, occurred upon the way but so complete was the organization of the church 31 that no feature of the regular services was omitted. But the thought that they were cut off from the world and the awe inspired by the overshadowing mountains affected every heart, and the deep feeling which pervaded the congregation made tremulous the voice of the pastor and lent a touching eloquence to every hymn. The trip from New river to fort Chiswell, which was located about nine miles east of the present Wytheville, was soon made and the weary baptists gathered with thankfulness about the rude stockade. They found it occupied by State militia quartered there to protect the lead mines to which the war had given increased importance, and by traders who sold supplies to the settlers who continually sought the protection of the station while on their way to the. 32 The stay at Fort Chiswell was short. The emigrants camped only long enough to barter with the traders and prepare for the changes and the difficulties which they knew must come with blazed paths and narrow traces, for they were eager to push on while the weather was good.
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But how silent and how solemn everything appeared and how few the signs of human life. Here and there was a cabin, but it was deserted. The scattered settlers threatened by the Indian allies of the British and by marauding Tories of the revolution had sought the protection of the blockhouses and the forts. The emigrants had traveled far already but they had never felt so desolate as now. They had left behind them the open towns and comfortable villages. They had seen the last of the old colonial farm-house, the lumbering stagecoach and the cheerful wayside inn. No cottage window gleamed at night, no anvil rung by day. The soul depressing solitude of the wilderness was upon them. 29 They had passed for the boundary of civilization. Through a region strange and wild, and over a route which promised no brighter feature than a lonely post or a picketed station, the emigrants commenced their march for old Fort Chiswell, 30 more than eighty miles away. No danger threatened them as yet, and the dry weather which kept passable the roads enabled them to still retain their wagons which became more and more precious in their sight as they realized that soon they would have to give them.
Even here, though many miles away, the Blue ridge could be traced along the horizon by a waving line of misty azure which grew and deepened and became more real as the emigrants advanced, and when the old red road through the rolling tobacco lands. 28 The emigrants were impressed but troubled. They knew that though "distance lent enchantment to the view" this was but the beginning of that great succession of mountain barriers, which was to cut them off forever from home and old Virginia. They felt this more and more as they toiled over the Blue ridge at Buford's Gap, and realized it to the full when they reached the crest of the winding way and beheld the mighty and illimitable mountains that rose before them in solemn grandeur. Some of the women were already in tears when Capt. Ellis quietly spoke to one of his Negro men whose willing hands began at once to make a well-worn banjo "talk." like magic the signal passed along the dusky lines of chattering slaves who trudged beside the wagons with their bundles on their backs and. The merry negroes sang as only the old time "darkies" could sing. The children screamed with delight and the emigrants descended the mountain road with lighter hearts. The Blue ridge was crossed.
Its official books and records, its simple communion service, the entry treasured old Bible from the pulpit - nearly everything in fact but the building itself was moving away together - an exodus so complete that for several years Upper Spottsylvania church was without either congregation. 25 There were few in that long procession as it moved out upon the old Catharpin road who did not turn to give a last lingering look at that silent, sun-lit, sanctuary. 26 How little the sad gazers dreamed that days would ever come when that quiet, unpretentious building would echo with the thunders of one of the most tremendous struggles that modem times would be destined to know. 27 But the lengthening distance soon cut off the dear, familiar view as the emigrants journeyed on past one great tobacco farm after another on the way up to Orange court house, and when they camped that night they had left behind them old Spottsylvania. Their route now led them southward by "the mountain road" past the hamlet of Gordonsville and thence to the cluster of houses known as Charlottesville which they viewed with no little curiosity as Washington had been quartering some of his captured Hessians there and Tarleton. Here they found themselves in the midst of the noted piedmont country and passing under the shadow of Monticello, so famous now through the greatness of its immortal master, their road extended from Albemarle to the james through the broken but fertile area, since divided. By this long established route the now dusty travellers soon reached the river James, and after they had slowly forded it, to the little knot of dwellings on its southern bank, where lynchburg was to be, they camped and cooked and rested.
Ellis was astir and giving orders, and the repeated blasts of a horn completely changed the scene. In a few moments all was noise and bustle and excitement. There was no time now for anything but a "campaign" breakfast, the gathering of horses and cattle, a general hitching up and the stowing away of pots and skillets and eating utensils and at the rising of the sun a mighty sound of tramping feet. The modern exodus was no small affair for its day and generation. The moving train included with church members, their children, negro slaves and other emigrants (who, for better protection, had attached themselves to an organized expedition between five and six hundred souls. 24 It was the largest body of Virginians that ever set out for Kentucky at one time. And not only the members but nearly everything else pertaining to Craig's Church was going.
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The remainder of the day, after the dinner that the neighbors had provided, was spent in tearful communings, agonizing embraces and heart-rending scenes, for the emigrants knew what this separation meant. Some of them were want aged, some were feeble, many were helpless women and not a few were poor. A weary journey of nearly six hundred miles stretched out before them. Even "the mountains" they so much dreaded were far away, and beyond the mountains extended a long and bloodstained path, which ended at last only where the tomahawk and scalping knife seemed never at rest. No wonder their hearts were breaking. They knew that for them there would be no return, that they were leaving home and old Virginia forever.
They felt as the tenants of the mayflower felt when they gazed for the last time upon the shores of England. The crowd summary slowly dispersed. The sun went down upon a strangely silent camp. For the first time the emigrants slept in their wagons - slept after many a prayer and many a tear. Before daybreak the next morning Capt.
He was not an Apollo in figure for he was barely of ordinary stature and was stoop shouldered, but his eye was expressive, his voice musical and strong and his manner earnest and impassioned. They all knew him. Many of them had participated with him in "the great awakening" which followed the efforts of the zealous Samuel Harris in 1765, and well remembered the day when he so boldly arraigned the famous grand jury of which "Swearing Jack" was a member. 16 Some of them had been arrested with him on that memorable 4th of June 1768 17 when he was seized by the Sheriff while conducting public worship in the very building which they now surrounded; and had sung with him "Broad is the road. Many of them had heard the unflinching Craig preach through the grated window at Fredericksburg jail, others had ministered to him during his subsequent imprisonment in Caroline, 19 and all had rejoiced in the prosperity of Upper Spottsylvania church which had continued to grow from. After the usual preliminary services he spoke.
Only echoes of that farewell sermon have reached. Tradition says that he recalled the sudden rise of the baptists in Virginia ten years before the revolution; their persistent struggle for religious liberty 20 and their rapid increase 21 in spite of oppressive laws, royal power, and a "roaring dragon." 22 That he claimed. That he reminded them of the encouraging fact that now, when the country was scorched and wasted and impoverished by the war, the rich and illimitable acres of a western Canaan were offered to them almost "without money and without price and declared in earnest. He is said to have closed with one of his characteristic exhortations and with farewell words of solemnity and feeling as only such an occasion could inspire. The eyes and hearts of all were full indeed. How deeply they were moved we may faintly imagine when we remember that they believed as he believed and that they had passed as he had through the days and the scenes he had depicted. Unfortunately, but one other feature of these last touching services has survived - the farewell tribute offered by john Waller beginning with the stanza: "Great sorrow of late has filled my poor heart, to think that the dearest of friends soon must part; A few. Waller's powers as a poet were not Miltonic, but he had been to the people who heard him much more than a poet, and his sympathetic words brought many an answering sob.
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Only a few weeks before the father of the eloquent "Henry of the west" had ceased from his labors forever. Preachers were not lacking in the expedition itself. Joseph Bledsoe of the wilderness Church and father of the afterwards noted Senator Jesse Bledsoe of Kentucky; Joseph Craig, "the man who laid down in the road 9, william cave, a connection of the Craig's, and Simeon Walton, pastor for a season of Nottaway church. Many more came after them, so many in fact that an early chronicler of the churches in Virginia calls Kentucky "the vortex of Baptist preachers." 10, mingling with the crowd in front of the church was a young man noticeable for his fine physique, soldierly. William Ellis, 11 son of the patriotic Ellis imprisoned in 1775 for denouncing British tyranny, 12 kinsman of the aged pastor of Nottaway church and the military leader of this roles expedition. Experienced as an officer of the continental army, and having already aided in the planting of one of the earliest estate outposts 13 in the wilds of central Kentucky, he was especially fitted both as a soldier and as a woodsman for the position to which. But the attention of the assembly was soon turned to the little temporary pulpit which had been hastily erected in the open air, and all eyes were fixed upon the master spirit of this unique movement - it's religious leader so to speak - lewis. 15 The man who arose to address them was then about forty-one years of age.
Of these, not a few were baptist preachers of Spottsylvania and the neighboring counties. Among them, according to tradition, was Elijah Craig, the bold exhorter of the Blue run church who had lunched in jail more than once on rye bread and water for conscience sake; Ambrose dudley who had often labored with him; William. Waller, pastor of county line; and William Ellis the aged shepherd of the nottaway flock who had realized what "buffetings" meant long before the revolution brought it's blessed heritage of religious freedom. They had many relatives among the departing throng and all of them but the venerable Ellis soon followed them to the land of boone. 5, john Waller, pastor of Lower Spottsylvania church, and the most picturesque of the early baptist ministers of Virginia was also there. 6, he was the "devil's Adjutant" no for longer. The former persecutor, whole-souled in everything he undertook, had for years been one of the staunchest defenders of the people he had once so energetically reviled. One familiar figure was missing from the crowd. John Clay, the struggling preacher for the struggling church in the flat and desolate "slashes" 8 of Hanover was not there.
though occurring as it did so near the exciting close of an eventful revolution. Numerous squads of adventurers, it is true, had already followed boone into the blood stained depths of that magnificent wilderness "beyond the mountains but here was a whole flourishing church about to journey to it, pastor, officers, members and all. Even as that greater church had journeyed from Egypt to the rich but ensanguined plains of Canaan. How this singular unanimity happened to come about nobody knows but the fact remains and these stout-hearted Baptists, once resolved, turned not back. Even the places of settlement were selected. Most of them were to locate in the neighborhood of Logan's Fort in the dick's river region of Kentucky, while others would seek the centre of what is now called "The Blue grass Region" and establish new homes a few miles east of Lexington. 4, they set the day for their departure and their own familiar meeting-house was chosen as the place of final rendezvous. Then came weeks of energetic, hopeful and regretful preparation. All kinds of property were disposed of, all kinds of arrangements were made and the farewell Sunday found them heavy-hearted but ready for the start with packing completed, homes abandoned and surrounded by friends who had gathered from far and near to bid them.
Ranck 1891, the grammar and spelling are unchanged; the footnotes are changed to Endnotes and are numbered instead of the symbols used in the original. Insertions are in ; an occasional sic is used to let the reader know it is not an error in scanning. Jim duvall, it was plain that something very unusual was transpiring at an isolated building in Spottsylvania county, virginia, one sunday morning in September, 1781. 1, the house, which stood on the old Catharpin road leading to the then little village of Fredericksburg, 2 and which was located about four miles south of the spot since known as Parker's Station, was surrounded by such a gathering of men, women and. The crowd was too great for the house and most of the people were assembled under the trees in front of it where the women had been provided with seats. It could not be a camp meeting - there were no signs of either cheerfulness or enjoyment. It was not a funeral though all were sad and many were deeply dejected.
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"the travelling church an account of the baptist exodus from. Virginia to kentucky in 1781 under. The leadership of, rev. Lewis craig and captain william ellis. With Historical Notes bY, george. Ranck, author of o'hara and His Elegies; History of Lexington,.; Girty: the White Indian; sketches of Kentucky history, etc. Press of Baptist book concern 1891, the Travelling Church.