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of fire,” as the heralds of the cross, shedding the mellow light of Christianity, and spreading the triumphs of the gospel, through every settlement of the State; winning many trophies to the Redeemer from the ranks of sin. It was their mission to lay the foundations of a system, deep and wide, whose teachings should bless the nations; to plant here, upon this virgin soil, the evergreentree of Christianity—which, though the storms of opposition should gather around it, and the lightnings of persecution play upon it, should . continue to grow, until its boughs should spread over every hill-top and upon every vale—offering a shelter to the weary and way-worn pilgrim on his journey to the grave.
Hitherto there had been but two circuits in Kentucky: the Minutes this year report four, adding the Limestone and Madison ;* and nine preachers, instead of six, are appointed to cultivate this field. The names of Henry Birchett, David Haggard, Samuel Tucker, and Joseph Lillard, appear on the roll for this department of the work, for the first time.
Henry Birchett had entered the itinerant ministry in 1788, and, before coming to Kentucky, had traveled on Camden and Bertie Circuits, in North Carolina. He was a Virginian by birth. Surrounded in childhood with the comforts of life, and reared amid ease and abundance, he cheerfully consecrated
* The Cumberland Circuit is in the Kentucky District; but as it was almost exclusively in Tennessee, we do not refer to it as a part of Kentucky Methodism.
himself to the work of the ministry. To leave the comforts of home and the society of friends, and become identified with the fortunes of the itinerant work was, at that day, no ordinary sacrifice. The wants of the Church in Kentucky required ministerial help, and Mr. Birchett cheerfully volunteered for this distant and dangerous field. In the circuits he traveled, he was eminently useful and remarkably popular. His talents were good. He was regarded
. “an excellent preacher;" while his zeal scarcely knew any bounds. Nor did he confine himself to the labors of the pulpit. He looked on the children as the future hope of the Church, and in their moral and religious instruction he took the deepest interest. “In every neighborhood where it was practicable, he formed the children into classes, sang and prayed with them, catechised them, and exhorted them.”* For many years after he had “ entered into rest,” his memory was green and his name was fragrant among the young people.
David Haggard accompanied Mr. Birchett into Kentucky. He was admitted to the ministry in 1787, and had labored on Banks and Anson Circuits, North Carolina, and on Halifax, in Virginia. In connection with Henry Birchett, he was, this year, as well as the succeeding, appointed to Lexington Circuit. In 1792, he was sent to New River Circuit, Virginia; and, in 1793, to Salisbury, North Carolina; after which his name disappears from the Minutes. He, however, returned to the East, and became connected with the O'Kelly schism; but finally joined the New Lights, and died in their communion.* During the two years of his labors in Kentucky, and indeed during all the time of his connection with the itinerancy, he was a faithful, acceptable, and useful preacher.
* Western Methodism, p. 69.
Joseph Lillard was a Kentuckian by birth. He was born not far from Harrodsburg, † and this year entered the traveling connection. His appointment was to the Limestone Circuit, with Samuel Tucker. He traveled his second year on the Salt River Circuit, as colleague to Wilson Lee; after which his name disappears from the Minutes. After his location, he settled near Harrodsburg, Kentucky, not far from the place of his birth, where, among his friends and neighbors, he lived to a good old age. In his local relation to the Church, although as a preacher he was unpretending, yet, by the sanctity of his life, and by his devotion to the Church, he was very useful. In his home the weary itinerant always found a cordial welcome and a place of rest, while by his liberality he contributed largely to the promotion of the Church. Neither the precise date nor the manner of his death is known.
* Collins's Kentucky, p. 126.
t Collins, in his History of Kentucky, p. 127, makes this statement. If correct, Lillard must have been very young when he entered the itinerancy.
IIn a letter to the author, the Rev. S. X. Hall, of the Kentucky Conference, says: “The best information I can get in reference to the Rev. Joseph Lillard is, that he was born in Kentucky, in what is now Mercer county. He was esteemed to be a good man, truly
Samuel Tucker, just admitted on trial, was also appointed this year to the Limestone* Circuit, but did not live to enter upon his work. On his way to Limestone, in descending the Ohio River, at or near the mouth of Brush Creek, the boat was attacked by Indians, and the most of the crew killed. We also learn that Mr. Tucker exhibited that most extraordinary coolness during the attack, by which the brave man is always distinguished. He continued to defend the boat with his rifle, until every man was killed except himself, and he mortally wounded. He reached Limestone alive, but soon died of his wounds. His remains now lie, with no stone to mark his grave, in the cemetery at Maysville.
In alluding to the death of Mr. Tucker, the Rev. William Burke, in his Autobiography, † says:
“There is one thing worthy of notice, and that is, that, notwithstanding the constant exposure the traveling preachers were subjected to, but two of them fell by the hands of the savages, and both of them by the name of Tucker. One was a young man, descending the Ohio on a flat-boat, in company with several other boats—all were family boats, moving to Kentucky. They were attacked by the Indians, near the mouth of Brush Creek, now Adams county, Ohio. Several boats were taken possession of by the Indians, the inmates massacred, and the property taken by them. Every man in the boat with Tucker was killed, and Tucker wounded mortally. The Indians made attempts to board the boat, but, notwithstanding he was wounded, the women loaded the guns, and Tucker kept up a constant fire upon them, and brought off the boat safe; but before they landed at Limestone he expired, and his remains quietly repose somewhere in that place. Brother James O’Cull assisted in burying him, and is the only man now living who could designate the spot. I think the Kentucky Conference should erect a monument to his
pious, but somewhat eccentric. He is said to have been a very ordinary preacher.
About nine miles from Harrodsburg there is a large brick church, with a somewhat prosperous membership, principally built by the Rev. Joseph Lillard, and bearing the name of Joseph's Chapel, named for its builder. He died some fifteen years ago, while on his
way from Missouri to Kentucky. It is not known how, when, or where he died. His friends and relatives think he was murdered.”
* The point where Maysville now stands was originally called Limestone.
† Western Methodism, p. 44.
The other was shot near a station south of Green River, not far from the present town of Greensburg."
The Rev. Jacob Young, himself a minister for more than half a century, gives the following interesting account in his Autobiography:
“We had a great and good quarterly meeting at Tucker's Station, near Briceland's Cross-roads, between Steubenville and Pittsburgh. This was among the oldest stations west of the Alleghany Mountains. Father Tucker was living here at the time that Adam Poe had the famous battle with the Wyandot chief, 'Big-foot.' They were both brave
* Autobiography of the Rev. Jacob Young, pp. 414, 415.