Religious Revivals and Your Kentucky Genealogy

In 1801, Cane Ridge, Bourbon County Kentucky hosted a non-sectarian camp meeting.  Ministers from Baptist, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches preached from stumps throughout the grounds.

20,000 to 30,000 people attended–from Tennessee, from Pennsylvania, from Ohio, they came.  They arrived on foot, on horseback, in wagons, and carriages filled with supplies for the six-day event.  From as far away as NC!

In 1804, the Cane Ridge Disciples of Christ was organized.

Let me share a strategy with you that can lead you to the origins of your Kentucky ancestors–follow the minister.  Your ancestors frequently emigrated from Ireland in a group of “saints” on their way to “Zion.” Lead by a clergyman they had already followed.

If your ancestor was…– or you suspect he was–a Presbyterian, check the Fasti of the Irish Presbyterian Church, 1613-1840, compiled by James McConnell.  304 pages, printed in 1936.  See The Genealogists’ Magazine (1936-37) for a short review.

There are many other Fasti for both Ireland and Scotland, as well as those published in America for ministers of the American churches.  Some are contemporary with the time your ancestors emigrated to America, some are compiled from church records by modern scholars like:

Fasti  of seceder ministers ordained or installed in Ireland 1746-1948,
arranged and edited by W D Bailie and L S Kirkpatrick.
[Belfast, Northern Ireland] : Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 2005. Includes
short biographical sketches of ministers of various groups which seceded from the Presbyterian Church starting in 1733: Anti-burgher ministers 1747-1818, Burgher ministers 1749-1818, United Synod ministers 1818-1840, Other Seceder ministers 1816-1948.

If you do a key word search in the Family History Library Catalog for Fasti, you can review a major list of these publications. Copies are available on fiche, film, and in print through the Library and its branches.  Use the FHL Catalog as a finding tool for titles, then check your local library environment for copies that you can access close to home in person or on loan.

Google these titles to see if the older ones are already scanned online at  Also run the titles of interest onWorldcat which gives you the nearest library to you where a copy is on deposit.

Look also for ministers’ diaries, journals, memo books, and correspondence–where they might keep a record of persons they baptized or visited or persuaded to attend their own congregations.

It is such an amazement when a book or article provides a list of clergymen who served particular churches.  And I examine their footnotes and lists of sources.  These personal records may not be cited–I find them in library and archive catalogs, first.  Then I try to locate copies or search them when I am in the vicinity of that library or archive.  Do you?

Camp meetings provided contact points for young people seeking a husband or wife–the meetings ran morning, noon, and night.  And the families camped at the meeting grounds or stayed with relatives who lived nearby.  So there was plenty of opportunity for young people to meet.

Have you ever speculated where your ancestors met each other?  In Ohio?  In Pennsylvania?  in Kentucky?  You can see from the places of birth in census entries that family members were there.  What if…?  Your favorite Kentucky genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Local county histories and heritage books may also list the ministers.  And they are identified in the census–problem:  when you only search online census entries, you need a name.  The census used to be the first place you got the name of a local churchman.  Oh well…progress requires adaptation.  Right?

About Arlene Eakle

I trace your family tree; or, teach you how.
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