Doors to the Past
Mud River Baptist Church
Mud River Baptist Church
This is the oldest church in the Guyandotte Association of Baptist Churches. The typical church on the frontier began in homes. Later a log structure was built with crude benches for the congregation. This one room structure with stone chimney was used once a week.
A picture of the 1841 building shows two doors, one for the men and one for the women. Men traditionally sat on the left side and women on the right. Traditionally they were served communion from different cups as well!
Two County Court record books corroborate the organization of the Mud River Baptist Church in 1807. Also from the Court records: “The Baptist Society of Mud River, May 5, 1821, John Dundas, Thomas Dundas, and Henry T. Dundas, consideration of 1.00, adjoining the the plantation formally in the occupancy of Col. John Everett, and at the present occupied by said society as a church lot and burial ground…..Beginning on the South side of the main road containing an acre to have and to hold said piece or parcel of ground unto the said Baptist Society of Mud River and their successors forever.”
The 1807 church covenant, in part, states; “The Baptist covenant of a number of members….a home God hath fixed our habitation on Mud River and Guyandotte and adjacent parts an arm of the Valley church with full consent of their body have assembled with out assistant elders and helps from our sister churches.
John Alderson and John Lee”
After the Battle of Barboursville on July 16, 1861 and the battle at Pore’s Hill in August of 1861, the last regular meeting of the Mud River Baptist Church
during the Civil war was in September of 1861. There were 23 pastors from 1807
to 1953 at which time they received their first full time pastorate.
West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia, supplement Vol# 6, Hardesty's published by Jim Comstock, Richwood, WV 1974
The First Baptist Church. Everywhere in the settlement of the western wilderness the Baptist missionary has been seen by the side of the Methodist evangelist, and so it was in the territory now embraced within the present
limits of Cabell. Their first organization was perfected in 1807, and was known as the Mud River Baptist Church.
Its founder was the celebrated John Lee, one of the earliest Baptist ministers west of the Alleghenies. He was born and grew to manhood in the southern part of Virginia, and near the close of the last century, like many others, he crossed the mountains and sought a home in the then "Far West." Mr. Lee, before leaving the scenes of his childhood, had become a member of the Baptist Church, and soon after he felt it to be his duty to call others to repentance. He located in Teays Valley, and soon after began to proclaim the glad tidings to those around him. At the time he began preaching he was very illiterate, but by persevering industry he not only learned to read, but became well acquainted with the scriptures. He was remarkably successful in the ministry, and in him was verified the scriptural declaration that "God hath chosen the weak to confound the mighty." By the year 1806, he had organized the Teays Valley Baptist Church, which in that year was admitted into the Greenbrier Association with a membership of fifty-two. Mr. Lee extended his field of labor and continued to gather in the sheaves. At the meeting of the association in the year 1808, the Mud River Church, organized entirely by his own labor, was admitted into the body with thirty-two members. When we remember the sparsely settled condition ofthe country at that time, we are astonished at the success that crowned the labors of this extraordinary man, and at once recognize him one ordained of God to proclaim the gospel of His Son to the inhabitants of the wilderness. After a number of years' residence in the valley, Mr. Lee left the two monuments -- the Teays Valley and Mud River Churches, raised by himself -- behind him, and removed beyond the Ohio River, where he continued to declare the glad tidings of "Peace on earth and good will to men." He died many years ago, beloved and respected by all who were acquainted with his noble
character and consecrated labors.
A diagram of churches that were offshoots of Mud River Baptist Church.
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