|The following is from the 1974 Thornton Union Association Minutes:|
Indian Bottom Church
The early settlers who came to Letcher County from Virginia and North Carolina were mostly deeply religious people, who came here to this beautiful country where they might worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences and to start life anew in this "Happy Hunting Ground." You might say they came here carrying the Holy Bible in one hand and the Kentucky rifle in the other.
The first church to be established in Letcher County was the Indian Bottom Church, established in 1810, one hundred and sixty-four years ago. In the fall of that year (1810) a little band of Regular Baptists, numbering about twenty, met at the home of Isaac Whitaker, near the home of Ance Cornett, about two miles up the Kentucky River from what is now Blackey, near a bottom known as Indian Bottom, so named because Indians had camped there and many Indian artifacts were found there. There this little band of christians organized the Indian Bottom Church.
For ten years or more prior to this time, settlers had been traveling into these hills to find homes for themselves and their children, getting away from the more despotic rule of some of the colonies farther east. Among the first was John Adams, together with his five sons and two daughters, and other kindred, who settled near the mouth of Bottom Fork in the year 1800. James Caudill coming up the Kentucky River, settled near the mouth of Frank's Creek, and nearby, settled James Webb, about the same time. Stephen Caudill, with his family and some of his kinsfolk, settled near the mouth of Sandlick Creek a year or so later, while Isaac Whitaker and John Dixon and others, settled near the mouth of Rockhouse Creek. Others came in the year 1810. There was then about 100 families in what is now Letcher County. These settlers had come in from Virginia and North Carolina, some direct, while others had stopped for a while in what is now Whitley County, and then came on into this section.
These settlers had not more than settled down, until they were desirous of worshiping the One who had preserved them and brought them hither. No doubt letters were sent, inviting preaching brethren back in the land whence they had come, to visit them, and, anyway, we find in the year 1807, one Electious Thompson, a Baptist minister, preaching among these people. Elder Thompson had formerly lived in North Carolina, and had come into this state perhaps first into Madison County, thence to Montgomery and Morgan, and then to Floyd County in 1805. In the year 1808, he settled near the mouth of Rockhouse and constantly preached among the first settlers.
Elder Thompson was the first ordained minister in what is now Letcher County. Then in the year 1809, Elder William Saulsberry came into this section from the Beaver Valley, preaching in company with Elder Thompson. Perhaps had requested him, as he had lived in the same section where Elder Saulsberry had lived in North Carolina, and had been in meetings before. These two ministers, together with Elder Simeon Justice, another noted Baptist minister, who then lived at the mouth of Mud in Floyd County, constituted the presbytery that organized this Indian Bottom Church. These ministers were from the North District Association, which had been organized the first Friday in October 1802, at the Unity Meeting House in Clark County. The North District and the South District Associations, being a division of the South Kentucky Association, which was organized the last Friday in October, 1787, at the Tates Creek Meeting House in Madison County.
These Heralds of the Cross were men of great zeal and ability. They were earnest men, and feeling called to preach, gave themselves wholly to the work, their time, talents and life. They did not shrink from their work, but endured the hardships and fatigue, going through winter's cold and summer's heat, they labored for souls, and today our churches are monuments of their piety and zeal.
Some of the members organized into this Indian Bottom Church were James Webb, and Benjamin Webb his son, who lived over on Cumberland River; John Adams, who lived at the mouth of Bottom Fork; Electious Thompson; John Dixon, Isaac Taulbee, who lived near the mouth of Rockhouse; James Harris, who lived on Rockhouse Creek; Benjamin Adams, another son of John Adams; Stephen Caudill, and his wife Sarah Caudill, who lived at the mouth of Sandlick Creek; Rachel Adams, who was the wife of Benjamin Adams; Mathias Kelly and his wife Amey Kelly, who lived on Cumberland River; James Caudill and Mary Caudill, his wife; Benjamin Caudill, son of Stephen Caudill; Spencer Adams, another son of John Adams; Isaac Whitaker, who lived near the mouth of Rockhouse Creek; Archelous Craft, who lived on Craft's Colly; Isaac Taulbee and John Bunyard. Electious Thompson was chosen pastor and Isaac Whitaker, clerk of this church.
These settlers had brought their letters from the churches to which they belonged back in the colonies from whence they had come, and thus were organized into this new church. Some had come from North Carolina, where Baptist churches had long before been organized by Baptist preachers from Virginia and Pennsylvania, while some had come from the eastern settlements of Virginia, belonging to the older churches of that colony. Most of them had come from churches in the Holstein Association and Mountain Association, and some churches in the North District Association.
The Indian Bottom Church prospered. Its membership by 1815, is shown in the record as 70, but in this year 41 members lettered out to form the Sandlick Church, and they were called together on the 13th day of August, 1815, at the home of Stephen Caudill near the mouth of Sandlick Creek, and there were organized into the Sandlick Church, so named for Sandlick Creek, nearby. This same presbytery, Elder Electious Thompson, Elder William Saulsberry and Elder Simeon Justice, also organized the Sandlick Church, and on October 21, 1820, an arm was given off the Sandlick Church to form the Ovenfork Church.
In 1811, the Indian Bottom Church was received into the Washington Association, which consisted of churches lying in Southwest Virginia. The record shows that the Washington Association met in 1811 with the North Church in Washington County, Virginia, on the third Saturday in October 1811, and states that the Indian Bottom Church asked to be received into that association, and the delegate from Indian Bottom was Electious Thompson, and that the church was received. Again, in 1812, 1813, and 1814, the Indian Bottom Church sent delegates to this association. In 1814, a letter of dismission was asked by the church at the hand of her delegates, who were Electious Thompson, Spencer Adams and James Harris, and the request was granted. The Association met that year with the Castlewoods Church in Russell County, Virginia, and the same year the Indian Bottom Church petitioned admission into the Burning Springs Association and was received by them. The Burning Springs Association met that year with the New Salem Church in Floyd County. In 1815 and thereafter regularly the Indian Bottom Church and the Sandlick Church lettered to the association. In 1825, when the New Salem Association was organized, both churches were in the new association.
These churches moved along very well. The records show that in the year 1842, the Indian Bottom Church had a membership of 40, and the Sandlick Church 42. Regardless of distance these churches were represented each year in the far distant association, most of the time by its ministers.
The Indian Bottom Church remained in the New Salem Association until the year 1876, when the Sandlick District Association was formed and it remained with that association until the Indian Bottom Association was formed in 1895.
In 1876, Elder James Dixon was elected Moderator of the Indian Bottom Church and Brother John W. Dixon, elected Clerk. They each held these positions until their death - John W. Dixon in 1902, and Elder James Dixon in 1914.