Religious History of Grant County

In respect to the early religious and educational history of the county we have been able to gather only the following facts: For two or three years previous to the organization of the county, Elder Jerard Riley, of the Old Baptist Church, had been preaching to a congregation in a meeting-house which stood near the late location of the Free Will Baptist Church, one-fourth mile south of Dry Ridge.

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One of the earliest of his converts was the venerable Wm. Conrad, who is still living, and is well known throughout the county for the earnest zeal which he has for more than fifty years manifested. The first itinerant Methodist preacher was Jesse Robinson, who lived on Crooked Creek, and for several years traveled over the county and preached in private houses. He organized the first Methodist congregation at the house of Clement Theobald, at or very near the present residence of John W. Clark. Christian Tomlin, father of Elder Asa Tomlin, first proclaimed the doctrine of the Free Will Baptist to the early inhabitants.

About the year 1827 one Barton Stone, of the sect then denominated New Lights, came down from Bourbon county several times and preached in the Court House at Williamstown. He was soon after followed by Elders John T. Johnson, a brother of Vice President R. M. Johnson, and John Smith, well known to many still living in the county as 'Raccoon' John Smith, so-called from an anecdote which he loved to tell of having, on one occasion, been paid a marriage fee of $1.00 in coonskins at ten cents each! The sect for which they preached is now known as Christians, or Reformers. At the time of the organization of the county there were only two meeting houses in its boundary-the Old Baptist Church near Dry Ridge, and the Methodist Church that is still standing on Forklick Creek.

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