The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Big Fork Baptist - Stockton Valley Association Era

A Timeline of Known Events Related to the Big Fork Baptist Church

Big Fork Baptist Church Intro Big Fork Baptist - Stockton Valley Association Era Big Fork Baptist - Caney Fork Association Era


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On the third Saturday in June, 1800, at Mt. Tabor Church, Barren County, Kentucky, the Green River Association was organized with nine churches.  By the time of their regular meeting, in 1804, A.D., they had increased to thirty-eight churches, covering a vast territory.  It was deemed advisable to divide.  One territory was divided into three parts:  One retaining the old constitution;  one of the other divisions constituting Russell's Creek Association the same fall;  the other division, which lay partly in Kentucky and partly in Tennessee, meeting in 1805, and constituting Stockton's Valley Association with fourteen churches, eight of which were in Kentucky, and six in Tennessee.  So it will be seen that this is one among the oldest Associations to cover any part of Middle Tennessee;  there being perhaps but one in existence today which is older.  They did not long have peace.  About 1808 they had to exclude several of their churches and some of their most influential preachers for adopting the "New Light" and heretical views of Barton W. Stone.  They were blessed and their borders were so enlarged that, in 1813, the churches on their southern border formed themselves into the Caney Fork Association.  Some of these churches extended as far south as Warren County.  They also had their share of the disturbances brought about by Alexander Campbell.  They had hardly survived this shock until the mission question arose which brought to them more trouble than any former disturbance.  Churches were rent asunder, friends alienated, preachers excluded, meetings disturbed, and the devil turned loose in general.
Source:  Pages 537-538 of History of Middle Tennessee Baptists by J.H. Grimes (Nashville:  Baptist and Reflector, 1902)

The Stockton Valley Association
Note:  Unless otherwise indicated, the source of the following material was microfilm #0836 which contains the Stockton Valley Association minutes.  It and/or printed copies of page from it are available from the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives in Nashville, TN (

These annual associational meetings were held on the 4th Saturday weekends in September.

1805 Stockton Valley Association Formed (location unknown)
  • "It appearing that when our minutes were placed on record in a Book by order of the Association in 1853 the minutes for the year 1805, containing the Constitution was lost..." 
    Source:  On a page numbered "1" from the associational records
1806 At Roaring River Meeting House in Overton County, TN
  • Caney Fork Baptist Church was newly constituted as of this 1806 meeting.  This church changed its name to Big Spring Baptist and later to Town Creek Baptist.  It was located in White County, TN.
  • William Ray (he was ordained minister) was with Sinking Spring Church in this year.  He will later appear as a preacher for the Big Fork Church.
  • Andrew Gimlin (brother in law of Abraham and Daniel Hiestend, originally from Shenandoah/Page County, VA; his signature is on Heinrich Hiestend's 1777 will, as well as a document signed by Daniel Hiestend at about the same time) was a messenger from Mashek’s Creek Church of Monroe County, KY (later, Words Run Church).
  • Note:  John Mulkey, Philip Mulkey, & Thomas McBride were prominent in the early years of the Stockton Association (particularly, John Mulkey who was the association's moderator).  They were all three in this 1806 meeting.  These men all defected to the "New Light" (Stone-Campbell "Restoration Movement") movement a few years later.
1807 At Mill Creek Meeting House in Barren County, KY (later Monroe County, KY)
  • William Rhea (Ray) was now at Big Spring (formerly Caney Fork Church) in White County, TN.
  • The Hopewell Church was newly constituted.  But this was not the Hopewell Baptist Church located to the west of and not far from the Big Fork Church.  This was a church in Franklin County, TN.
  • Andrew Gimlin was a messenger from Words Run Church (formerly Mashek’s Creek).  This was the last time Andrew Gimlin appears in the Stockton Valley Association records.  It is assumed that he died shortly after this time.

Note:  Abraham Hiestend, son of Shenandoah Co./Page County, VA Heinrich Hiestend, was a member of this Mill Creek Baptist Church, pastored by John Mulkey.  John Mulkey and Abraham Hiestend (Haston/Heaston) were members of the Big Pigeon Baptist Church in Cocke County, TN at the same time.  They both moved (two or three years apart) to the Green River area of south-central KY, where John Mulkey started the Mill Creek Baptist Church.  Abraham Hiestend/Hestand/Heaston would have been a member of the Mill Creek church at the time that this 1807 associational meeting was held there.  Andrew Gimlin (messenger from Words Run Baptist Church) was Abraham Hiestend's brother-in-law, so they would have undoubtedly spent time together during this 4th weekend in September of 1807 (even though Abraham Hiestend was not chosen as a messenger to the association's meeting).

The Big Fork Baptist Church Years in the Stockton Valley Association


At Big Spring Meeting House "on the waters of the Caney Fork" in White County, TN
  • John Mulkey preached the introductory sermon. (Philip Mulkey and Thomas McBride were also present here in this meeting in White Co.).
  • Big Fork was one of two “newly constituted churches.”
  • John Hill and Nicholas Gillintine [sic] were the first messengers to represent the Big Fork Baptist Church at the Stockton Valley Association meetings.

Note:  In 1806, Nicholas Gillentine had been a messenger from the Beaver Ridge Baptist Church (north of Knoxville, near Halls and Fountain City) to the Tennessee Association (early East TN association of Baptist churches).  In October of 1807 (less than one year earlier than this Stockton Valley Association meeting), Nicholas Gillentine was a messenger from the East Fork of Poplar Creek Church (in Anderson County, TN, north and west of Knoxville) to the Tennessee Association.  His "south side of the main Caney Fork" White County, TN property adjoined Daniel Haston's property (as per page 662 of Mtn District Land Grants, Book 8, TSLA Roll # 159).  Nicholas Gillentine was the father-in-law of Daniel Haston's son, Jesse Haston.  

  • It appears that the Big Fork Baptist membership was “12” at this time and that they gave .50 to the association.  

Note:  How interesting and helpful it would be to know who these original twelve members were!  John Hill, Nicholas Gillentine, (the church's messengers to the Stockton Valley Association) and their wives would probably be four of the twelve.  That would leave eight unknown members.  

Joseph Haston's purchase of land in this area was dated just a week before this associational meeting.  Joseph's house was built just a few hundred yards from the site of the Big Fork Church.  This time of the 1808 Stockton Valley Association meeting would have been the very week that Daniel Haston's land grant was made official, although it had been surveyed earlier.  Daniel's house ("Haston Station") was located less than a mile from the church site.  David Haston may not have arrived until next year, since he didn't purchase any White Co. land until he purchased, on February 15, 1809, the land that Joseph bought in 1808 (although he had the money earlier, because he had just sold Knox Co. land in 1806).  David's house was probably very near the church site, but David was the first church clerk of the Old Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church in about 1811 (according to Old Union records).  The bio of William Carroll Haston, David's youngest son, indicates that his parents were Cumberland Presbyterians.

  • These statistical columns were blank for the Big Fork Church:  baptized, received by letter, dismissed by letter, excommunicated, restored, & dead.  (obviously, it was a new church at this time)
  • William Rhea (Ray) was still at the Big Spring Church.
  • Hopewell Church (constituted and received into the association at the previous meeting) was dismissed from the association on the basis of the church's petition.  (A group of churches down in the Franklin Co. and surrounding counties area organized the Elk River Association in 1808.)


At the Beaver Creek Meeting House in Wayne County, KY
  • No minutes for this year are available.


At the Hickory Creek Meeting House in Warren County, TN
  • Sinking Creek Church (located near Gum Spring Mountain) in White County, TN was newly constituted.
  • Wm. Ray (ordained minister), John Green (father in law to David Haston's son, Daniel McC Hastain), John Hill, & N. Gillentine were messengers from Big Fork Church.
Wm. Ray was a humble, good man, and was one of the first preachers raised up in Old South Kentucky Association, where he began to preach, as early as 1792.  He afterwards gathered a church called, at first, Kettle Creek, which united with Green River Association, in 1801.  The church appears to have gone into the constitution of Stocktons Valley, under the name of Caney Fork.  Again, in 1801, it changed its name to Big Spring.  In 1812, it split, most probably on the subject or Arianism, or Newlightism.  But previous to this, Mr. Ray had moved to Tennessee, where he united with the Big Fork church, which belonged to Stocktons Valley.  He preached the introductory sermon before that Association, in 1811, after which no more is heard of him.

Page 220 from History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume II by J.H. Spencer (original copyright, 1885).

William Ray had lived in Cumberland County, Kentucky prior to moving to White County, TN.  William P. Ray appeared on the 1820 Federal Census in White County, TN.

The Ray (Wray) Family

Source: Page 402 of History of Cumberland County by J.W. Wells (1947).

The Rays came early and in large families.  All the pioneers left off the "W" in their names.  There were Tom, William, Joel, John, and Joseph.  They were Baptists, and still are (1947).  They were natural vocal musicians, and still are.  William settled on Mud Camp, Joseph on Marrowbone, and the other boys in what is now Clinton County.  William was a minister.  He is the progenitor of the present Cumberland County Wrays.  William, Thomas, Joseph in 1810 had seven children to the family, from one to sixteen years old.  They are church folk to the present.  Daniel, the grandson of Settler William, taught singing schools during his life and his sons and grandsons continue the work.  At Bow Schoolhouse Church they hold the only annual Foot Washing in the County.

Note: John, Joseph, Thomas, and William Ray appear on the 1810 Federal Census for Cumberland County, Kentucky.

  • For some reason, no numbers were written down for Big Fork Church in these minutes (although they had messengers there).  That was also true of another church or so.
  • N. Gillentine was appointed to prepare letters to some other associations.
  • Footwashing was said not to be an ordinance, but a duty and privilege.
  • Elder Wm. Ray was appointed to be the backup preacher for the introductory sermon at the 1811 meeting at Renic’s [sic] (Rennix) Creek in Cumberland County, KY.
  • (Isaac) Denton and (Lewis) Ellison were to attend “at Big Fork on Friday before the first Saturday in May 1811.” (to represent the association)
  • “At the request of Mill Creek Church for advice from this association what to do in John Mulkey’s* case respecting his credentials he having been a member and minister of said church but now excluded from it the association advises that the church appoint two members of her body to request his credentials of him and if he does not give them up the church to exercise her own power at discretion.”
  • Nicholas Gillentine (with four others) appointed to visit the Blackburns Fork Church on Tuesday before the 1st Saturday in August 1811 and inquire her reasons for not attending the association. 

*Note:  On the third Saturday in November of 1809 (less than two months after the 1809 Stockton Valley Association meeting, which he probably moderated), John Mulkey took steps that alienated him from the Baptist faith and practice.  


At Renic’s (Rennix) Creek Church (Later, Salem Church) in Cumberland County, KY
  • The minutes of this meeting are not available.

Note:  Some source has said that Abraham Hestend/Hiestend/Heaston and his wife withdrew from the Mill Creek Baptist Church in this year, and were never heard from again.


At Big Fork Meeting House in White County, Tennessee 
  • 4th Saturday in September, 1812 and following days
  • 15 churches presented letters.
  • Wm. Ray (ordained minister), John Green (ordained minister), & John Hill were messengers from Big Fork Church.
  • Big Fork statistics:
    5 baptized, 11 received by letter, 1 dismissed, 0 excommunicated, 0 restored, 1 dead, 
    total of 44 members in the Big Fork Church

  • Nicholas Gillentine was not listed in the minutes as being a messenger, although one source indicates that he was a messenger at this meeting (page 520, Pioneer Baptist Church Records of South-Central Kentucky and the Upper Cumberland of Tennessee, 1799-1899 by C.P. Cawthorn & N.L. Warnell; originally published in 1985 by authors and reprinted by Church History Research and Archives, 1987).
  • Brimstone Church (where Philip Mulkey was preacher) was dropped from the association because of “being disorderly.”

Note:  Apparently, in the 1811 meeting, association representatives had been appointed "to look into the standing of Big Spring (of White County, TN), Sinking Creek (of White County, TN), Middle Fork (of Jackson County, TN...where Thomas McBride was or had been the pastor), Brimstone (of Clay County, TN...where Philip Mulkey was the pastor), and Martin's Creek (of Jackson County, TN)" churches.  At the time of the 1812 meeting, "With respect to Big Spring, Sinking Creek, and Middle [Fork] churches satisfaction is received..."  The report indicated that they doubted that the Martin's Creek Church "has ever been legally constituted and ...we agree to drop her out of our union."  "And in consequence of the Brimstone Church being disorderly we agree to drop her from our union and declare that we will be no more accountable for her conduct."

Big Spring, Sinking Creek, and Middle Fork had all been represented at the 1810 meeting, so the investigation into their "standing" was probably not because of having missed associational meetings (although they could have missed the 1811 meeting, since we have no record of that meeting).  Were they all three being examined for possible involvement in the "New Lights" (Stone-Campbell) movement, now being led in this region by John & Philip Mulkey?  We do know that Thomas McBride of the Middle Fork Church was influenced by the Mulkeys and soon headed west as a missionary-church planter for this movement.  In this meeting, nothing is said of Thomas McBride, although his church was mentioned.  Probably, failing to lead his church to follow the views he adopted from the Mulkeys, he left the church.  Thus, the Middle Fork Church was cleared of charges of being disorderly.  However, for whatever reason, there was no representative from the Middle Fork Church at this 1812 meeting.

  • “Agreeable to the advice of this Association when held at Hickory Creek the Mill Creek Church have demanded of John Mulkey his credentials as a minister and he refused to give them up and information thereof is received as this Association we therefore declare all his authority as a minister received from our union to be void and we will no more be accountable therefore.”
    Note:  Apparently nothing was done in the 1811 association meeting about John Mulkey, although the problem was underway by the 1810 meeting and was addressed at that time.
  • “This Association being satisfactorily informed that Philip Mulkey is a member in the Brimstone Church and in disorder with her for which she has this day been excluded from our union and we declare it as our opinion that all his authority as a minister received from our union shall cease and determine and we will be no more accountable therefore.”

This 1812 Stockton Valley Association meeting at the Big Fork Meeting House was a historic meeting!


At the West Fork Meeting House in Overton County, TN
  • Town Creek (Baptist Church) is now the name of the former Big Spring Church of White Co..
  • Wm. Ray (ordained minister) and Nicholas Gillentine were messengers from the Big Fork Church. 
  • Big Fork had 54 members at this time.  6 had been baptized during the year, 7 received by letter, 1 dismissed, 3 excommunicated, 1 restored, and 0 had died.
  • Some men were sent to check on the Middle Fork Church (where Thomas McBride had been the preacher…although it doesn’t say that here) because it had not sent representation “for several years.”
  • Gillentine and Ray were to prepare correspondence to other associations.

Note:  Nothing is said, at this time, of the Big Fork Church (and others) pulling out to start a new (Caney Fork) association.  


Some time after the 1813 Stockton Valley Association meeting and (apparently) before the 1814 meeting of that association, some of the southernmost churches in the Stockton Valley Association decided to form the Caney Fork Association.

To learn about the Big Fork Baptist Church during its Caney Fork Association era:

Caney Fork Association  1814-1856

To continue to learn about the Stockton Valley Association, even though the Big Fork Church was no longer a part of that association:

Stockton Valley Association  1814-1856