By Harry Enoch
January 28, 2012
Mount Zion Baptist Church was located about seven miles southwest of Winchester at the end of Calloway-White Road.
Calloway-White, now a dead end lane off Combs Ferry Road, was once known as the Mount Zion Dirt Road. In the nineteenth century, the dirt road continued on crossing Boone Creek then turning southward to Athens. That section was part of the Winchester-Athens Road.
Mount Zion Church was established in 1825. Richard Morton sold one acre of land “upon which said Morton now lives” to trustees Robert V. Bush and Flavel Vivion “appointed by the neighborhood in which they reside . . . for the purpose of erecting thereon a Babtist Meeting house for the particular benefit of the Babtist Church.” That year, the church was received into the Boone Creek Baptist Association and was represented at the annual meeting by elders William Webb and Elliott Holladay as well as the aforementioned Morton and Bush. Initial church members, in addition to the five already named, included William Spencer, James Spencer, Waller Holladay, Raney Laforce, David Laforce, William Trowbridge, Henry Chiles, William Marshall, Patsey Haydon, Lucy Laughlin, Betsey Duvall, Eleanor Morton, Suzanna Quin Lowe, Hannah Laforce,Barbara Bush, Elizabeth Chevis, Talitha Morton, Lucinda Browning, Edney Chiles and Lydia Hickman. Many of them previously had been members of the Providence Baptist Church on Lower Howard’s Creek.
An 1827 deed states that Bush and Vivion had completed erection of the “meeting house now called Mount Zion” located at “the corner of Morton’s late farm.” Richard Morton was one of the early Baptist preachers in the area, serving at Boggs Fork Church (1812), Boone Creek Church (1817) and Providence Church (1822). According to a Baptist history, Morton “was a good man and a fair preacher, but his health was delicate.” In 1827, he sold his Clark County farm and moved to Jessamine where he died later that year. Morton, who had married Eleanor Peddicord, was buried in the Peddicord Cemetery located on Boone Ridge Lane off Grimes Mill Road. His father, John Morton (1757-1839) was a Boonesborough pioneer and one of Daniel Boone’s saltmakers captured by the Shawnee at Blue Licks in 1778.
By 1829, Mount Zion had 178 members. At the Boone Creek Association meeting that year, Mt. Zion’s messengers voted to abolish the Association.
In October, Mount Zion held a meeting that included several notable preachers including Jacob Creath, John “Raccoon” Smith, G. G. Boone and others. At that meeting, Mount Zion and several other Baptist churches decided to follow the teaching of Alexander Campbell’s and Barton W. Stone’s Disciples of Christ. The following year, the congregation changed its name to Mt. Zion Christian Church.
In the winter of 1850 while traveling by horseback through the area, the eminent Alexander Campbell stopped to preach at Mount Zion. His letter on the occasion indicated a small turnout due to inclement weather and half-frozen roads. He spent the night with the family of William Webb’s widow, whose home was on Jones Nursery Road. William Webb (1769-1845) had married Richard Morton’s sister Susanna.
The church is shown on the 1861 Hewitt map and the 1877 Beers map of Clark County. These maps may be viewed at the Clark County Public Library and the Bluegrass Heritage Museum; copies of the 1877 map may be obtained at the Museum. Changes occurred between these years that tended to isolate Mount Zion from access by public roads.
Sometime after 1861, the connection was closed between Jones Nursery Road and the now Calloway-White Road. An effort to open another road to the church from Jones Nursery Road failed.
The final blow came a few years later when Robert Nelson closed off access to the church across his farm. James Browning donated the use of his property for a meeting house, and a small frame building was used by the congregation for several years.
Then in 1882, the trustees sold the lot “upon which the Mount Zion Church has stood for more than fifty years” to the Nelsons. A new church was erected on Combs Ferry Road at Becknerville on land donated by George Tebbs. Church minutes state that “the old edifice was razed and the sacred brick was used in constructing the present building.” The new building was smaller than the original and was completed in 1883.
Throughout the 1800s, church membership ranged from 60 to 100. Mount Zion held its centennial celebration in 1925.
In the 1950s, the church faced another crisis. Road improvements led many landowners in the area to move their membership to the larger churches in Winchester. Mount Zion met the challenge and has since prospered.
A new sanctuary was added in the late 1990s and today about 250 people attend Sunday services. The handsome old brick church still stands and is now used as a chapel.
Thanks to Eddie Gilkison for calling my attention to a church located in the Calloway-White area, also to Jim Lane, elder, and Judy Blackwell, volunteer, for current information about Mount Zion.
Sources: James G. Faulconer, “History of Mount Zion Christian Church,” Filson Club History Quarterly (1955) 29:32; Lexington Kentucky Reporter, October 14, 1829; S. J. Conkwright, History of the Boone’s Creek Baptist Association of Kentucky (Winchester, 1923), p. 27, 97; J. H. Spencer, History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 2 (Cincinnati, 1886), p. 349, 351; James R. Robertson, Petitions of the Early Inhabitants of Kentucky to the General Assembly of Virginia (Louisville, 1914), p. 73; Clark County Deed Book 21:184, 22:210, 321, 52:556; Kathryn Owen, Old Graveyards of Clark County, Kentucky (Winchester, 1975), pp. 86, 95-96, 141; Clark County Order Book 15:337, 343, 478, 499.