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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Tompkinsville in Monroe County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Meetinghouse

 
 
The Meetinghouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 21, 2021
1. The Meetinghouse Marker
Inscription.  The word meetinghouse means a building for religious assembly (especially Nonconformists, ex. Quakers) This term is used repeatedly throughout the Book of Records of Mill Creek Baptist Church; spelled meetinghouse and meeting house.

When settlers first arrived in Monroe County their primary concern was shelter. Building homes, barns, and businesses took priority over building a church. In order to be able to worship, the church met in its members' homes. By 1798 the congregation had gotten so large that local homes couldn't accommodate and the first meetinghouse” was built. There aren't any records regarding the construction of the first meetinghouse, but local history indicates it was approximately 600 feet west of the current building.

The congregation flourished under John Mulkey's leadership and by 1804 they saw the need to build a larger meetinghouse. The church established a seven member committee: "John Wood, Nathan Breed, James Harlin, Ephraim Ellis, Frances Baxter, Joseph Guest (sic) and Thomas Sullivant"; and charged them to fix a plan for building a meetinghouse.” The committee presented their plan the
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following month. It is shown below.

The report was very thorough. It specifics the building's exact size, how it would be shingled, its precise number of doors and windows and how it would be paid for. The term subscription means "a sum of money given as a payment. The committee intended for the church to pay the building debt during the construction and after as funds became available until the debt was paid. One notable omission from the report was shape. Nothing was stated as to the intended shape of the new Meetinghouse; yet it was obviously built in the shape of a cross. Was the cruciform shape dictated by the church or was it the discretion of the builder? No one can say for sure.

When the building was five years old it housed the most notable series of trials in Monroe County history, the heresy trials of John Mulkey by Mill Creek Baptist Church. As a result of these trials the Meetinghouse became home to the first Christian Church in south central Kentucky. The intended name of that church is not known, but ultimately it became Mulkey's Meetinghouse. John Mulkey and his followers met here until 1850 when for reasons unknown they abandoned the site. Without a congregation to care for it the Meetinghouse fell into disrepair. In the late 1870's a group of local residents took charge of renovating the building, installing a new clankboard
The Meetinghouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 21, 2021
2. The Meetinghouse Marker
roof and building a split rail fence around the cemetery. But the building couldn't maintain itself and-by 1890 it would receive a second renovation at the hands of Interested citizens. Following this renovation the Meetinghouse was used for weekly religious meetings and singing.. but was abandoned again around 1910. In the summer of 1925, the Honorable Joe H. Eagle, a United States Representative and Monroe County native, visited the Meetinghouse with Willie Thomas of Tompkinsville. They were discouraged at what they found and soon after a Board of Trustees was established to oversee another restoration of the building. The trustees are pictured below. Look carefully and you will see "through” the Meetinghouse as both the chinking and the roof are missing.

When the trustees completed the third renovation, the Meetinghouse was in every aspect back to its original form. But what was to keep it front deteriorating as it had following previous renovations? The answer came from the state park system which had been established by the Commonwealth of Kentucky in 1924. Local trustees applied for admission of the site as a "State Historic Shrine”. In November of 1931 the site was dedicated as the ninth inductee into the Kentucky State Parks. Approximately 4000 people attended the service. Electricity was added to the building at a later date. In the winter of 1995-1996
The Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 21, 2021
3. The Meetinghouse
the Meetinghouse was raised and the stone foundation was built under it.

By 2007 the benches in the Meetinghouse were becoming a safety hazard. Park staff turned to a unique group of citizens for assistance.. students from the carpentry class at the Technology Center. Three years later during a special ceremony, those students placed the last of the new benches in the Meetinghouse. They spoke with pride as they described the processes involved in the production of the benches. As you look at the benches, pay particular attention to the legs. Like their ancestors over 206 years ago, the students sat on a wooden drawing horse and "worked out” the legs by hand.

Photo Caption:
This is a photo of the "Board of Directors” (seated on ground) and other interested citizens at the first meeting in August 1925 for purpose of reconstructing The Old Mulkey Meeting House near Tompkinsville, in Monroe County. It is now a state shrine. The photo is a favorite of Mrs. Cap Harlan, Route 2, Tompkinsville. Shown are: (1) Cap Harlan, (2) L. P. Hagan, (3) Sam Chism, (4) John Emberton, (5) Laura Miller, (6) Mrs. Bob Turner, (7) Mrs. Rebecca Chism, (8) Harrison Burks, (9) Judge Joe Miller, (10) Ike Emmert, (11) Jim T. Wood, (12) J. H. Goad, (13) George Miller, (14) Bily Martin, (17) Belle Rouse, (18) Jemima Gee, (19) Genie Armstrong, (20)Ella Burks,
The Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 21, 2021
4. The Meetinghouse
(21) Bob Turner, (22) Rowan Leslie, (23) Clara Geralds, (24) Andrew Gearlds, (25) Doc Roddy, (26) John Baskett, (27) Martin Balley, (29) Bud Philpott, (30) Pinkie Browning, (31) Mrs. Pinkie Browning, (33) Melissa Chism, (35) Bud Page, (36) Clay Turner, (39) Turner Emberton, (40) Johnny Davis, (42) d. E. Leslie, (45) Luther Rouse.

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Churches & Religion.
 
Location. 36° 40.667′ N, 85° 42.459′ W. Marker is near Tompkinsville, Kentucky, in Monroe County. Marker can be reached from Old Mulkey Park Road, 0.2 miles west of Old Mulkey Road. Located at the Old Mulkey Meetinghouse State Historic Site. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 38 Old Mulkey Park Rd, Tompkinsville KY 42167, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Truth Will Prevail (a few steps from this marker); William & Jane (Hart) Howard (a few steps from this marker); Ephraim Dicken (within shouting distance of this marker); Five Generations of Gospel Preachers (within shouting distance of this marker); Revolutionary War Veterans (within shouting distance of this marker); African Americans and Mill Creek, Baptist (within shouting distance of this marker); James & Mary Howard Chism
Interior of the Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay
5. Interior of the Meetinghouse
(within shouting distance of this marker); Hannah Boone (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Tompkinsville.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 20, 2021. It was originally submitted on October 16, 2021, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. This page has been viewed 205 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on October 16, 2021, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 23, 2024