Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Kehukee Association

One of the earliest Baptist Associations in America was formed in northeastern North Carolina. The Kehukee Baptist Association was founded in 1765 at the Kehukee meeting-house near Kehukee Creek in Halifax County, North Carolina. It included the following churches:

1. Toisnot, in Edgecombe County;
2. Kehukee, in Halifax County;
3. Falls of Tar River, in Edgecombe County;
4. Fishing Creek, in Halifax County;
5. Sandy Creek, in Warren County;
6. Sandy Run, in Bertie County;
7. A church in Camden County.

The Kehukee Association was the fourth Association of Baptist Churches in America. Philadelphia, formed in 1707, Charleston, formed in 1751, and Sandy Creek, formed in 1758, preceded the Kehukee Association. The first history of the Association was written by Elders Lemuel Burkitt and Jesse Read, and published in 1803.

Not everyone accepted the doctrine of the early Baptist Church and the pastors often endured persecution for their beliefs. One example involved Elder John Tanner, an Edgecombe County pastor, who was seriously injured and almost lost his life.

A woman named Dawson from Windsor in Bertie County, NC was converted. She wished to be baptiaed and to join the church of a certain Elder Dargan. Her husband was greatly opposed to it, and threatened that if anyone baptized his wife he would shoot him. For a considerable time, the baptism did not take place.

Eventually, Elder Tanner visited Elder Dargan's church at Cashie and Mrs. Dawson applied to the church for baptism. She related her experience and was received. It so happened that Elder Daran was old and feeble, and he asked Elder Tanner to carry out the baptism. It is not known whether Elder Tanner knew of Mr. Dawson's threat to shoot whoever baptized his wife, but, at any rate, Elder Tanner baptized Mrs. Dawson.

The following June, in 1777, Elder Tanner was coming to preach at Sandy Run Meeting House. Mr. Dawson had not forgotten his threat of revenge. He heard of the expected arrival of Elder Tanner and travelled from Windsor to Norfleet's Ferry on the Roanoke River. With a large horseman's pistol, he lay in wait near the bank of the river. As Elder Tanner and Elder Dargan came up from the ferry landing, Dawson shot Tanner at close range.

Elder Tanner was carried to the house of Elisha Williams, near Scotland Neck in Halifax County. Elder Lemuel Burkitt, who was co-author of an early history of the Kehukee Association, was present when the surgeon dressed Mr. Tanner's wound. He revealed that rhe result of the shooting was that seventeen shot went into Tanner's thigh. One of the shot was so large that it went through his thigh and into his clothing.

Mr. Dawson, frightened and fearing Elder Tanner's death and a charge of murder, sent a doctor to attend him, not just once, but on a daily basis. Tanner was ill and near death for several weeks before finally recovering. He never attempted to sue for any damage for the injury, regarding the matter as a persecution for Christ's sake.

In Virginia, Elder Tanner suffered further persecution for his beliefs. He was and six other preachers— William Webber, Joseph Anthony, Augustine Eastin, John Weatherford, Jeremiah Walker and David Tinsley— were jailed in Chesterfield for their preaching.

In describing the event, Burkitt and Read said, "The people were so desirous to hear preaching that they would attend at the prison, and the ministers would preach to them through the grates. In order to prevent their hearing, Colonel Cary had a brick wall erected ten or twelve feet high before the prison, and the top thereof fixed with glass, set in mortar to prevent the people from sitting on the top of the wall to hear the word."

Elder Tanner later moved to Kentucky and then to Missouri.

This story appears in several different places. Among them are:
1. Colonial Records. Vol. VIII.
2. History of Edgecombe county, North Carolina by Joseph Kelly Turner and John Luther Bridgers: 1920.
3. A history of Kentucky Baptists: From 1769 to 1885, including more ..., Volume 1 by John H. Spencer: 1886
4. A history of the Baptists in Missouri: embracing an account of the ... by Robert Samuel Duncan: 1882

A search of the internet will find a number of other references to the incident.

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