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Horse Cave Church of Christ   


120 Cave Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Phone:  270-786-2550

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   HISTORY of the Horse Cave Church of Christ

   The earliest recorded date we have for the existence of the Church in Horse Cave, KY is September 15, 1868.   Members banded together to draw up a covenant “to keep house for the Lord.”   The Church of Christ shared a two-story building with the Methodist, Presbyterians and Baptist.  The Union building was located on Church Street.  Much to their dismay, the Christians at that time were often called “Campbellites”  by the people in the community. The town of Horse Cave was previously known as Caverna as records in 1870 so indicate.    

    The meeting that was held Sept. 15, 1868 was noted as follows:  “Church of Christ meeting at Horse Cave, Ky.” The purpose of the meeting was to form a covenant for this young Christian community. The covenant read as follows: “We whose names are hereunto subscribed do covenant together to keep house for the Lord and do adopt as the mover of our covenant and the rule of our action, the writings of the Old and New Testaments to the exclusion of all human productions as bonds of aversion and commensuration regarding them as usurpations tending only to the perpetuating of evil".

      The history of the Church before 1868 is perhaps lost due to the passing of time; however, there is a possibility that the establishment of the Church was influenced by some of the following factors:

    (1).  There was already a congregation established east of Horse Cave in a community known as Bear Wallow.   Edward H. Smith founded the congregation at Bear Wallow.  He preached there on the second Sunday of each month for 48 yrs.  He was well respected and recognized for his many years of service.  He gave up preaching duties in 1890 due to his advanced age, and he died a year later in March of 1891.  A congregation located so close to Horse Cave certainly could have played a big part in the establishment of the Church in Horse Cave.

   (2).   John Mulkey, born in South Carolina on Jan. 14, 1773, was later to become a Baptist preacher following the footsteps of his father, Jonathan Mulkey.  It is reported by W. C. Rogers in his book Recollections of Men of Faith on page 225 that in the year of 1809 while preaching on the 10th chapter of John, in the home of William Sims, making one of his strongest efforts to establish Calvinism, his own argument convinced himself that the doctrine was false.  John would later propose a dissolution of the church, to which all agreed.  John and his followers met together on the third Saturday in November in the year of 1809, and after prayer, organized a church on “the Bible alone,”  the Bible without human creed, confession of faith or book of discipline.”

      Later a son would be born to John Mulkey on Feb. 11, 1806 two miles SE of Tompkinsville, KY by the name of John Newton Mulkey.  John N. Mulkey was immersed into Christ early by Samuel DeWhitt. John preached his first sermon in east Tennessee about 1831.  Again, according to W. C. Rogers’ book on pages 226 and 227 this account is given:  “In the year of 1850, that some of the churches of Kentucky south of the Green River sent delegates to Glasgow to form a co-operation of churches, in order to 'call and send' a suitable evangelist to preach the gospel within their bounds.  Then after organizing, the next business was to inquire, ‘Whom shall we send, and who will go for us?’  And as all eyes were fixed on Brother Mulkey, they said, ‘Newton Mulkey is the man’ , and he was unanimously called and sent.”   This account is given only to show that it was possibly the influence of this “great man of faith” that could have influenced people in and around Hart Co. and Horse Cave since it is south of Green River.   W. C. Rogers in his book on pg. 221 states that while John was living in Warren Co., he made a visit to Elder Smith, then residing near Bear Wallow, Hart Co. Ky.

(3)    W. C. Rogers in his book on page 183 gives this account of Barton W. Stone.  “Late in the summer, or early fall of 1821, I accompanied B. W. Stone on a tour to the southern part of Kentucky embracing, chiefly, the counties of Adair, Barren, Monroe and perhaps others.”   Barton W. Stone with all of his popularity would certainly make a case for interest in all surrounding areas, including Hart Co. as well as the city of Horse Cave.  When the plea to “speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent” swept across Ky, the Gospel was somehow introduced to people in and around Horse Cave.  They became simply, “New Testament Christians.”  We thank God for the Gospel and for His Church that was introduced into the lives of those in Horse Cave.   So it seems very possible that there were members of the Church of Christ in Horse Cave even before the signing of the document mentioned earlier being signed in 1868, declaring they wanted to be free from the “doctrines of men”.

 THE YEARS 1868—1937

     The church continued to worship in the Union building on Church St. until the year of 1885.  Marietta Mustain Waters donated land and a new building was erected on Guthrie Street in Horse Cave.  The church during this period of time would have rather lengthy meetings.  One meeting was held by L. K. Hardin and T. B. Larimore which lasted 2 months.  There were 39 souls added to the Lord’s church in that effort.   The well-known, T. B. Larimore, held several meetings in Horse Cave between the years of 1902 and 1911.  It is reported that his messages cut to the heart of 74 souls who were converted and baptized into Christ.   Other Meetings were held by R. H. Boll, H. L. Olmstead, Herbert Hoover  in the years 1917--1923.

    The first preacher we have a date for is G. C. Woodson in 1877.  The first person to be converted and baptized in the new building was reported to be Semmie Smith Carpenter.   On Sept. 6, 1936, the name of D. W. Dunagan was submitted to the elders to be appointed a deacon after first being proved.

    Other preachers during this period of time included:  H. L. Olmstead –Sept. 1924 to Aug. 1926;  J. Scott Green – Sept. 1926 to Sept 1928;  Willis H. Allen – Jan. 1929 to Sept. 1933;  C. Barton Laws – Feb. 1934 to Jan. 1935;  Homer McClain – April 1935 to ??;  Kenneth Spaulding – Feb. 1837 to abt 1940.  The hiring of Kenneth Spaulding was brought about during a regular meeting on Feb. 7, 1937.  Those present were: R. T. Smith, W. F. Murphy, Lige (Elijah) Smith, David Dunagan and R. L. Mayfield.  Bro. Spaulding was to preach at Horse Cave the first and third Sundays, at Bear Wallow the second Sunday, and then at Center on the fourth Sunday.   Some of the earliest elders were T. H. Mustain, W. T. Hodgen, J. B. Mustain, J. P. McKay.  T. A. Dunagan, L. E. Comstock, R. T. Smith, J. T. Lafferty, R. L. Mansfield.

     The church remained at the Guthrie St. location until about 1940.  At that time, a division occurred because of an effort made for a name change and some doctrinal changes as well.

THE YEARS 1941--1948

      As a result, some 56 members left, and the building is now known as the Horse Cave Christian Church.  They signed a document noting their displeasure with the introduction of instrumental music and a few other things.  This small and faithful group of Christians continued to meet in homes for a while until a house was secured at the corner of Guthrie and Woodlawn Streets in Horse Cave.   They continued to worship in this building until the year 1948, at which time land was purchased from J. H. & Emma Edwards, both faithful members of the Horse Cave Church of Christ.


    After acquiring the land, a general contractor had to be hired, and the company of Frank Mouser was selected.  The new building was erected at 120 Cave Street and continues to serve as the meeting place for the Church of Christ in Horse Cave.

   The preaching at first was done without a “full-time” preacher.  Those that did assist in the beginning would have been Emmett G. Creasy and W. F. Neely.  Sam Steward was the first full-time preacher, followed by Harry Rose, Gene Embry, Cletus Stutzman,  John Shelton, Thomas Eldridge, Delbert Carver, Carlos Pitts and Daryl Riley.   

    B. A. Fudge was hired in 1967, after graduating from Sunset School of Preaching in Lubbock, TX.   He left Horse Cave for 2 yrs. or so and moved to Louisiana.  However, he returned to Horse Cave and decided this was going to be their home.  Beauford will be forever remembered in the history of Horse Cave for his 32 years of faithful service.  Due to health reasons, he retired in early 2002.  Beauford and Peggy are much admired and respected by the church and community in Horse Cave.  They both have now gone home to be with the Lord.

   On April 14, 2002,  Wayne Hatcher began work as the new preacher.  He is no stranger to the Horse Cave area having preached at Munfordville just to the north and Cave City just to the south for several years.   We pray that God will continue to bless His Church in Horse Cave with fruit to His honor and glory.

ELDERS WHO HAVE SERVED:  Elders appointed beginning in 1953 were Herbert Edwards (1953-65), Roscoe Bybee (1953-89),  J. H. Edwards (1965-72),  Otis Edwards (1966-96),  Truman Russell (1973-88),  John T. Thompson (1973-93),   Leon Seaton (1989-92)


-Wayne Hatcher   Adapted and revised from a history done by Billy Bybee in 1998 and sources noted from W. C. Rogers’ book, Recollections of Men of Faith