As before stated, the Baptists here, in an early day, were considerably divided, especially on the subject of Foreign and Domestic Missions. There were, besides the "Hard-Shells," or Regulars, the Separate and the United Baptists; and these were divided into the Missionary and Anti-Missionary parties. The Anti-Missionary spirit, however, gradually declined, till, many years ago, there ceased to be any Baptists in the whole country who opposed the missionary work, except the "Calvinists." No people can justly be said to be opposed to missions who enroll among their membership such characters as the Judsons.
Clary's Grove Baptist Church was organized on Christmas Day, 1824. This was the first church organized in the limits of the county, and it was the focal point from which an influence radiated over the surrounding territory. It is not our province, in writing the general history of the county, to enter into detail respecting each separate congregation. For this, the reader is referred to the several township histories. The early Baptist ministers, like all the Evangelical preachers of that time, were earnest, devoted and self-sacrificing in their labors. "Baker's Prairie" congregation of Baptists, three miles east of Petersburg, was organized at rather an early date. A congregation was also formed in Petersburg, early in the history of that town, which has flourished from that time. This Church has a large and commodious house of worship built of brick, and out of debt. At present writing, they have no regular Pastor. In Greenview, the Baptists have a substantial frame church, and a tolerably strong congregation. In Sand Ridge, there is a Baptist congregation; they worship in the New Hope Church, erected by the Cumberland Presbyterians, and, by order of the Presbytery, under the control of the Concord congregation. As full details are given elsewhere, we will merely give a summary here. The Baptist denomination have, in the county, four houses of worship, two brick and two frame. They have, also, some congregations having no church edifice. They form an important element in society, exerting an influence for good that is felt far and near.
Several Baptist ministers are resident of the county. We cannot forbear to mention Rev. William Goldsby, who died only a month ago. Mr. Goldsby grew up from early youth in this county, professed religion here, spent his life here in the ministry, and died at his home, six miles southwest of Petersburg, on the 13th of August, 1879. He was a man of but limited education, and possessed of nothing brilliant, intellectually: but his straightforward integrity, unswerving honesty and devoted piety gave him a wonderful power for good; and while he was not regarded as an able preacher, yet, in his simple way, he won many to the way of righteousness, and will, doubtless, have many stars in his crown of rejoicing. His devoted wife, who was in her usual health at the time of her husband's death, survived him only eleven days; and they were buried side by side. May they rest in peace.
Elder Horney, of Greenview; P.E. Clark, six miles east of Petersburg; H.P. Curry, of Oak Ridge; John Coffee, of Fancy Prairie, and George Bell, of Tallula, are all ministers of this Church, but not all actively engaged in the ministry. Fuller accounts of each are given in the precinct histories, and in the biographical portion of this work.