|The Old Springfield Church, April 2016|
|Cane Ridge Meeting House, circa 1934|
The Presbyterian Movement can be traced back to Scotland, where a reform against the Catholic churches started around the 16th Century. Reverend Francis Makeme is credited as organizing the first Presbyterian church in America at Philadelphia in 1706. The sect of Presbyterians that came to Kentucky were derived from the Irish who had settled in Virginia. David Rice arrived in Kentucky in 1783 from Virginia and is regarded as the 'father or Presbyterianism in Kentucky'. He preached at the Stanford Presbyterian Church and was a member of the Kentucky Constitutional Convention in 1792. As the region that would become Bath County was settled, the need for a place of worship was expressed. In the minutes of the Transylvania Presbytery Meeting held June 12, 1793, the Springfield congregation petitioned to erect a place of worship. Located on the old road that connected Mount Sterling to Blue Licks, four-hundred acres of land was donated by William Robinson to build what would be known as the Springfield Meeting House. At the time, this portion of land was considered part of Clark County; in fact, the Springfield Church as been, at some points in time, in parts of Clark, Bourbon, Montgomery and finally Bath Counties.
|Map showing some of Kentucky's Counties, 1794|
|Grave site of Rev. Joseph Price Howe|
A host of pastors manned the pulpit over the years at the Springfield Church, but the one of the most known aside from Reverend Howe was Edward Owings Guerrant. Guerrant was born in nearby Sharpsburg, Kentucky February 28, 1838. After graduating Centre College in 1860, he received by the Ebenezer Presbytery as a candidate for ministry. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, Guerrant joined the Confederacy and served as a staff officer for General Humphrey Marshall. Later, he achieved the rank of captain in John Hunt Morgan's 2nd Kentucky Cavalry and participated in many campaigns during his time in service. After the war, Guerrant studied medicine, graduating from Belvue Medical College in 1867. Guerrant moved back to his native Kentucky and practiced medicine in Mount Sterling until 1873. He was ordained and licensed by the West Lexington Presbytery October 30, 1875 and preached at Springfield Church, and others in Clark County, Louisville, Wilmore and Woodford County.
|Rev. Edward Owings Guerrant|
The Springfield Church's Centennial celebration was held September 12, 1894 and Reverend Edward Guerrant delivered the address. He gave an historical account of the church's organization and a comparison of notable events and the age of the church, such as the birth of Kentucky in 1792 and the Indian raid at Morgan's Station that occurred the year prior to the organization of Springfield Church. The entire address was published in the Mt. Sterling Gazette and provides some great information about the origins of the church. Reverend Guerrant presided over the American Inland Mission and received the degree of Doctor of Divinity during his ministry. He also became a well known author and published a memoir of his time with John Hunt Morgan that gave an intimate insight of a soldier's life during the Civil War. It is said that Reverend Guerrant's oratory skills and dedication to the church was one of great favor among the congregations he preached to.
|The dilapidated Old Springfield Church, circa 1951|
I recently visited the site for the first time and found it rather peaceful and intriguing; the history the site holds is immeasurable. Just inside the wooden gate, there is a curious stone step-like structure that greets visitors.
|Stones used for mounting horses|
If you decide to visit this historic site, it is located on a remote back road that is populated with some families who are descendants of those who organized and worshiped in the Old Springfield Presbyterian Church; so be mindful and respectful. Recent reality television shows have glorified paranormal experiences and people have been known to gather at the site to see if the spirits of those buried around the church are in a state of unrest. Whether of not they have truly seen or heard something is a matter of opinion. The fact is that the Old Springfield Church is a revered and hallowed place that has outlasted the times for over 222 years.
The Old Springfield Church is located on Springfield Road (KY Route 3289) in Bath County. Directions are: Off Kentucky Route 11 from Sharpsburg - head south out of Sharpsburg toward Mount Sterling approximately 2 miles. Springfield Road will turn off to the left. Go 3.6 miles down Springfield Road, the church will be on the right.
From Mount Sterling, exit Interstate 64 at the 110 exit, go north on Kentucky 11 toward Sharpsburg approximately 7 miles. Springfield Road will turn to the right. The church is 3.6 miles down on the right. An alternate route is to travel out Route 11 to the four-way intersection at Judy Drive In. Turn right onto Kentucky 537 and travel approximately 3.5 miles. Springfield Road turns left at a sharp curve, almost T-intersection. The church is one mile down on the left.
From Owingsville - Travel US 60 West outside Owingsville toward Mount Sterling, go approximately 6.5 miles to Van Thompson Road at the Montgomery County line. Turn right onto Van Thompson Rd (Kentucky 537) and go 2.5 miles to a sharp 90 degree left hand turn. At that point, a road will go straight at the curve, that is Springfield Road. The church is one mile down on the left.