Clearfork Baptist Church

From THE ALBANY-CLINTON COUNTY SESQUICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION, 1836-1986, published in the Mountain Echo and transcribed and submitted by Lisa Haug.

Few churches in Clinton County, or in the nation, have a longer, more colorful history than Clear Fork Baptist Church. The church, which was established in 1802, is believed to be the oldest church in Clinton County.

The church has had only 22 pastors in 184 years. The pastors and their dates of service are as follows: Isaac Denton, 1802-1848; Daniel Hancock, 1849 (three months); James Abston, 1852 (two years and four months); Joseph C. Denton, 1853 (32 years, 11 months); Alvin Bertrum, 1887-1889; J.C.J. Selvidge, April 1889-November 1889; Alvin Berturm, 1889-1926; James M. Fairchilds, 1927-1929; O.G. Lawless, January 1929-May 1932 and May 1942-January 1945; Printis A. Bertrum, 1932-1933; Isaac Huckaby, December 1933-December 1933; J.D. Selvidge, 1934-1936; W.R. Bradshaw, 1936-1942; Charles Newman, January 1945-July 1945; T.L. Cummins, 1946-1950; Ora C. Jones, 1951-1952, 1964-1968; Walter Peavyhouse, 1953-1956; Arnold Cool, 1957-1964; Morris M. Gaskins, 1968-1978; Dan King, 1979-1983; Bill Brewster, 1984-1985; Rod Harmon, October 1985-present.

There is no record of ClearFork having had a place to meet other than in private homes or in buildings given over to such use prior to the year 1808. In August of that year item two of the minutes reads: " The Church agrees with the neighbors that it is necessary to build a meeting house and appoints five person (to wit) Bro. L. Ferrell, Joseph Crawford, James Williams, James Smith and Jessie Roberts to superintend the building of same."

Nothing more is said of the building for the next ten years. It is noteworthy that in the next few months following the agreement to build there was a considerable decline in membership. Most of these were dismissed by letter at their own request.

In April 1818 a floor was added to the church building. The record reads: "Bro. Phillip Smith and Jessie Smith agrees to procure nails and lay the meeting house floor under the superintendence of Bro. Wm. Wood, Thomas Scott, and Wm. Goodson (Sen.)."

Logic would tell us that this was a log building since it could be used without a floor, but there is no proof of this. This building was used for regular meetings through August 1861. From there until May 1865 there is nothing but this entry in the records: "There being a war broke out in our government and division amongst the people, the association never met and the Church is doing no business and seldom meets."

The Church met again in May 1862 and an entry dated March 1863 states that the church is doing nothing.

The next meeting was held at the ClearFork School House in June 1865. From there they met in different Church buildings in the surrounding communities. In May 1867 they met in the Baptist Church in Albany and a motion was passed that they could set in business in the bounds of this church (Albany), Beech Bottom, Locust Grove or any where sufficient number of members may meet in its boundary.

In July 1869 item 3 of the records states: "The Church says by her action that she wants a meeting house build on the old cite where the one that stood was burnt down"... they also appointed the Trustees: R.R. Woodson, R.W. Wood, Wm. Cross, D.R. Carr and J.J. Wood to get a plan for the building and to raise by subscription what they could to aid in the building.

From this date forward there is no mention of the church having met in any of the other church buildings. The new building was of "boxed" structure and was used until 1928. When the building was torn down, much of it was used in the present building. All of the rafters were used, among which were four hand-hewn yellow poplar rafters measuring four by four inches.

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