The Kentucky Wool Festival saw the first light of day
while the winter winds whistled throughout the hills of
Pendleton County. A small group of interested citizens
who saw the untapped potential of the area met in
January of 1983 desirous of creating a unique festival.
With the guidance of a University of Kentucky Extension
Specialist, it was decided to look to the past for a
source of a “theme.” Thus the Kentucky Wool Festival was
conceived and in the first week end of October 1983,
this group’s baby was born.
Kentucky was at one time a leading state in wool
production with Pendleton County among her leaders.
Woolen factories, many family run operations, soon
sprang up across the state. The Woodhead family, English
immigrants who had settled first in the “textile areas”
of New England, came to Falmouth and very soon after the
Civil War opened a woolen mill. Their business “The
Pendleton Woolen Mills”, flourished for many years. To
pay homage to important aspect of early Pendleton County
economy and heritage, the theme of “Wool Festival” was
chosen. The Kentucky State Legislative recognized the
sincere efforts of the festival committees by
sanctioning the Kentucky Wool Festival as the state’s
official wool festival in the spring of 1986.
Old time demonstrations recapturing the harsh
realities of pioneer life are demonstrated, foods for
everyone’s taste, crafts, and music are enjoyed by all
from near and far.
In just a few short years the Wool Festival has
become so widely know that thousands of people attend
The first church in the county was the Baptist
denomination formed in part by people who had been
dismissed from Bryan’s Station in Fayette County. This
construction was effected on the forth Saturday in June
1795 and had eighteen members. It was known as the
“Forks of Licking Church” and probably gathered and
pastured by Alexander Monroe. It struggled and declined
until about 1825, when Mr. Monroe was succeeded by Mr.
L.C. Abernathy, who left with the Campbellites and
carried a large portion of the membership with him.
In 1830 a new church was built on Main Street. It was
known as the “Middle Fork Baptist Church” or “Grassy
Creak Baptist Church” nicknamed “The Ark”. In the first
minutes book, now in the hands of Pleasant Ridge Baptist
Church, dated March 1986, speaks of their last meeting,
so evidentially they never kept records before. A
committee of William Caldwell, William D. Belew and
Henry Thornton helped the clerk transfer the
constitution and riles of decorum from an old book to a
new one. Moderator was Elder Martin Lummis. It is not
known what became of the old book.
Some of the members of this church were; Caldwells,
Belews, Thorntons, Manns, Twentys, Schlueters, Eglestons,
Mullins, Blackburns, Beighlies, Dulaneys, Duckworths,
Daughtertys, Clevelands, Smiths, O’neals, Reeds and
others. The first pastor mentioned was brother Martin
Lummis. Others pastors were Rev. William H. McMillian,
Rev. Asa Tomlin and Rev. Charles Bagby. Gardnersville
Baptist Church was a branch of this church as were
others in the community. The Ark was about two miles
down the creek from where the Knoxville and
Gardnersville Roads cross the Middle Fork of Grassy
Creek. There was a dirt road from about the Smith
Cemetery, across the middle ford to Caldwell Ridge, at
Bill Caldwell’s place. The church was just below where
that dirt road crossed the creek. It was located on an
island in the creek, thus the name of Baptist Island
used today for that small piece of land. A large grove
of beech trees surrounded it, a beautiful location.
When the creek was up the water was all around the
church. The island was on the lower part of John (Slick)
Dougherty’s place. Asa Tomlin and John (Slick) Dougherty
had a disagreement about something and at one time
Dougherty had cut a tree, falling it into the baptizing
hole, just before the set time for a baptizing. After
that when Asa Tomlin was preaching at the Middle Fork
Church he referred to the incident of falling trees into
the baptizing hole. Asa described the beauties of heaven
and the joys of the blessed redeemer and said there
would be no John (Slick) Doughertys there to fall trees
into the baptizing hole.
People came from miles around to see the old church.
It was two stories high, built of logs. The floor of the
upper story was not laid all the way over the pulpit, to
enable those in the second story to see the preacher and
hear the sermon. It was sort of a balcony. The upper
floor was supported by hews 2 x 2 feet beams. The floor
joist rested upon these beams running the length of the
building and these beams were supported by 2 x 2 feet
hewed post and walls. Along each side wall was a row of
cut spike nails for hanging hats and wraps on. These ran
nearly the full length of the building.
The next Christian denomination that held regular
meeting in the county were the Methodist. Perhaps the
first preacher being Robert Graves, who was soon
replaced by the circuit rider, who preached private
homes and school housed. The first Methodist Circuit of
which Falmouth was a part, commenced at Newport and
extended to the territory lying between the Ohio River
and Licking River at Falmouth. Today there is the
Falmouth United Methodist Church at Shelby and Maple
Streets, Falmouth Wesleyan Methodist Church at Beech
Street, Carters Chapel Methodist Church in
Gardnersville, Concord Methodist Church at Concord,
Butler Methodist Church and Pine Grove Methodist at
There was Presbyterian denomination at Concord that
shared the Methodist Church building and a Presbyterian
Church in Falmouth.
A Lutheran Protestant Church was at the corner of
Second and Chapel Streets.
In a few years all the other Protestant denominations
established themselves in the county until it may be
said that out county is as thoroughly furnished with
public worship of God as almost any other county in the
state of Kentucky.
History of Bethel Church
According to the division of the estate of William J.
Bradford, who owned land five miles north of Falmouth,
Pendleton County Kentucky, on Falmouth and Grassy Creek
Turnpike (now Hwy. 17), who’s will was probated by his
son, Thomas K. Bradford, 16 March 1876, stating the farm
be surveyed and divided to his wife and children, with
the exception of 1 1/2 acres on the west side of the
turnpike. This 1 ˝ acres was for the community to use
for a church and a graveyard.
To build the church, two Baptist and two Methodist
were to supervise the building. The two Methodist were
T.J. Campbell and Arthur Purdy and the two Baptist were
J.K. Bradford, and Bryan Parsons. T.J. Campbell, being a
carpenter, he and his son, Frank James Campbell built
the church with donated help, both men and women.
The first sermon was preached by Rev. Spillman, a
Baptist minister. The first regular minister was Rev.
Gaberial Mullins. The first Methodist minister was Rev.
S.A. Day. Both denominations used the church for several
The cemetery section was given one acre in the will
of William J. Bradford. No one paid for grave sites at
first. In 1895, Alex Emerich fenced of one acre, more or
less on the west side. Graves were then sold for $ 5.00
each and everyone was to keep the cemetery in good
When the new Christian Church (Mt. Moriah) was built
in 1911, many members moved to the new church. There is
now listing of the charter members of Bethel Church. The
church and cemetery papers were all destroyed in a fire
some years ago.
By the late 1940 the Bethel Cemetery was in thick
brushes and vines. In 1950, several people who had loved
ones buried there cleaned the cemetery and built a new
fence. On September 15, 1952, Bethel Cemetery was
incorporated, officers appointed and permanent care for
the graves begun.
The Bethel Church building is now being used for
Bethel Cemetery, Inc. meetings. Very little has been
done to keep the building in repair, therefore it is in
need of painting both inside and out, new widows and
doors. The original pews are still in the building.