When I commented that a newspaper supplement in the Madison Courier about the bicentennial was very accurate and one clunker I have found was a statement that the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church on Madison's hilltop was the parent to Madison's First Baptist Church.
"That's what the church says," was the response I got from a friend. It was that same week that I realized how often in writing church histories, writers neglect to read the church's own minutes.
For example, in the late 1900s, the claim began being made that the Indian-Kentuck Baptist Church was founded in 1812. The difference isn't terribly important, except that a statement written in the minutes said it was founded in 1814 (the minutes up to 1817 are missing). This was probably the same church history published by the Madison Association in 1860 and written by the church's long-time minister, Robert Stevenson.
Of course, written history can lead people astray. A History of Milton Township that was published around 1910 for the Jefferson County Historical Society and probably written by the group's president, William E. Ryker, said the Manville Christian Church grew out of the Manville Baptist Church.
The problem is that there is no record of a Manville Baptist Church. And all evidence points to Manville's growing out of the Milton Baptist Church which sat on the East Prong of the Indian-Kentuck Creek and operated 1829-1836 and 1840 until about 1880.
Annual minutes of meetings of the Coffee Creek Baptist Association, which covered Jefferson County during the second half of the 1820s, show no Manville Baptist Church. What they do show is that John Lanham and William Yates were messengers from Milton Baptist to the Coffee Creek Association meeting of Sept. 5, 1929, just after that church formed.
However, Manville Christian Church records show John Lanham was member No. 2 and William Yates member No. 4. Although this part of the list is undated, it appears members were listed as they joined and that the list dates to Manville's founding in 1830 and these two had jumped ship within a year of Milton's founding.
Back to the Madison Church. While it didn't directly originate in Mt. Pleasant, the real story is more remarkable.
Mount Pleasant voted to disband in April 1831 in order to promote the formation of a Baptist church in Madison and most members joined the newly formed Madison Baptist Church, which is clear from a biographical sketch of Mt. Pleasant's minister, Jesse Vawter.
But Madison had formed a building committee in June 1829 and on December 18 that year, a committee was organized to form a church. The charter members, and these dates, were in a sketch published in the 1869 minutes of the Madison Baptist Association.
And, oh yes, they are in the minutes of the Madison Baptist Church.