The Heritage of Daniel Haston


Big Fork Baptist - Caney Fork 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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The Caney Fork Association
Note:  Unless otherwise indicated, the source of the following material was microfilm #0674 which contains some of the Caney Fork 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 (at least that was true of the meetings in the middle of the 1800s).


No minutes available for these years


Elder Ozias Denton - Was He a Minister of Big Fork Baptist Church?
Baptist minister, Rev. (Elder) Ozias Denton frequently represented the Caney Fork Association at Stockton Valley Association meetings, from 1825-1839 (see above).  During the 1940s, this same man officiated at least six weddings for people in Van Buren County, several of whom are known to have lived in the "south of the Caney Fork" - Cane Creek area, near Big Fork Baptist Church.  This might possibly indicate that he served as a minister at Big Fork Baptist Church, during that era, and perhaps earlier.
  • April 11, 1841:  Reuben W.P. Mooney to Nancy A. Johnson
  • June 24, 1841:  Isaac Whittenburg to Marite Walling
  • November 2, 1843:  McGreger Earls to Nancy J. Haston
  • September 15, 1844:  Joseph W. Lane to Roseanna Dodson
  • August 28, 1845:  Alfred Mulden to Sarah Couch
  • September 25, 1845:  David Couch to Clarinda Moulden (by Rev. Isaac Denton)
  • January 31, 1849:  William Anderson to Elizabeth Smallman

Please contact us if you have additional information related to Rev. Ozias Denton and his possible involvement in Big Fork Baptist Church, or if you know of people who were married at Big Fork Baptist.

Source:  WPA transcriptions of 1840-1861 Van Buren County, TN Marriage Records.

In 1849, O. (presumably "Ozias") and Isaac Denton were elders in the Sinking Creek Baptist Church, at the eastern foot of Gum Spring Mountain, in White County, TN, which was north of the Caney Fork River and approximately ten miles away (north west) from Big Fork Baptist Church.   Source:  Page 521 of Pioneer Baptist Church Records of South-Central Kentucky and the Upper Cumberland of Tennessee, 1799-1899.

In 1852, Rev. Isaac Denton, Jr. was an elder at the Hopewell Baptist Church in the Sparkmantown area of north-western Van Buren Co, TN, just a few miles from the Big Fork area.

1842 Nancy Lawson, Big Fork Baptist Church Member:  Nancy Lawson, wife of Wiley Lawson, was  a member of Big Fork Baptist Church in Van Buren County, TN in 1840.   Thomas Moore was the church clerk at that time.  See the copy of her church letter from the Big Fork Baptist Church.
Source:  Mary Bell who received this information from Janet Lawson Trubee of Cookeville, TN.
April 24

School at Big Fork Church?  On April 24, 1843, John and Terry Gillentine sold a 96 acre tract to William Moore (who was a member and probably an elder at the Big Fork Baptist Church).  This was part of the 139 acre tract on which Nicholas Gillentine (father of John & Terry) settled some time before 1812 (see map), on which the Big Fork Baptist Church was probably situated.  The tract began "on Jacob Stipe's line directly east of the spring now commonly used by Simon Doyle."  That could possibly (although there are several other springs in that area) have been the spring that is just south of the Big Fork Cemetery.  At the end of the deed, this brief comment was made:  "the shade trees is reserved for the use of a school."  This location was probably about a mile away from the school on the land donated by Wyatt Ogle.  Would there have been two schools existing simultaneously in this area?  Was the school mentioned in this 1843 Gillentine-Moore deed conducted in the building of the Big Fork Baptist Church?
Source:  Page 434 of Van Buren County, TN Deed Book B, TSLA reel # 26.


At Roaring River Meeting House in Overton County,  TN
  • 15 churches were represented.
  • Big Fork Church sent a letter, but no messengers.
  • Hopewell Baptist Church (not far from and to the west of the Big Fork Church, in Sparkmantown) messengers were William Dodson and Daniel Hollingsworth (Hollingsworth was an ordained minister).
  • "Brethren S.W. Dodson, A. Moss, James Herd, Isaac Denton, and Wm. Denton, requested to meet at Big Fork Meeting House on the 1st Saturday in April, 1850, and ascertain the cause of her not representing herself in this Association, & report to our next meeting of this body.”
  • “The order heretofore made at Big Fork Meeting House, Van Buren County, Ten., requiring the election of Moderator and Clerk by ballot, be rescinded, and for nothing esteemed, so far as relates to the election of Clerk.”  (The Caney Fork Association, apparently, had recently met at the Big Fork Meeting House.)


No minutes available


At the Sinking Creek Meeting House, White County,  TN
  • John Green (ordained minister), Nath. Earl, and E. Cunningham were messengers from the Big Fork Church.
  • Big Fork statistics:  22 members & 25 contributions (whatever "contributions" means)
  • Wm. Dodson and Samuel Hollingsworth were Hopewell Baptist Church messengers.
  • Hopewell statistics:  17 members and 30 contributions
A biographical sketch of John Greene's grandson, Angus Clark Avery, says that "John Green...died at an advanced age in 1850." 
Source: Page 495 of The History of Henry and St. Clair Counties, Missouri (St. Joseph, MO: National Historical Company, 1883).

Obviously, the 1850 date of death is not accurate, John Greene died on March 30, 1853. His death may explain the demise of the Big Fork Church which appears to have occurred in the early 1850s.

The surname should be spelled with an "e" at the end - "Greene," even though the "Green" spelling frequently appeared in documents.

Mar 24, 1777
Mar 30, 1853
A Baptist minister for 45 years
Servant of God well done rest
From thy loved employ:
The battle fought the victory won
Enter thy master's joy.
By his daughter Nancy Bell

John Greene Grave in the Greene Cemetery in the Lost Creek Community of White County, Tennessee.


At the Hopewell Meeting House, Van Buren County,  TN
  • Wm. Moore, E. Cunningham, and Thomas Lewis were Big Fork messengers.
  • Big Fork statistics:  0 baptisms, 0 received by letter, 0 dismissed by letter, 0 excluded, 0 restored, 0 died; 21 members and 25 contributions

  • W. Dodson, D. Hollingsworth (ordained minister) and _ Godard were messengers from Hopewell.
  • Hopewell statistics:  0 received by baptism and 0 by letter, 3 dismissed by letter and 1 excluded, 0 restored and 0 died; 13 members and 30 contributions

  • Text of the minutes of this meeting

  • Photograph of the messengers to this meeting

  • List of messengers to this meeting


At the Bildad Meeting House in DeKalb County,  TN
  • Letter but no messenger sent from Big Fork Church.
  • Big Fork statistics:  2 had died, 0 received by experience, 0 received by letter, 0 dismissed by letter, 0 excluded, 0 restored; 19 members and 25 contributions

  • D. Hollingsworth, Wm. Dodson, and B. Sparkman were Hopewell messengers.
  • Hopewell statistics: 3 were received by experience. 0 had died, 0 received by letter, 0 dismissed by letter, 0 excluded, 0 restored; 17 members and 30 contributions


At the Cane Ridge Meeting House in Putnam County,  TN
  • “No intelligence” from the Big Fork Church. 

  • William Dodson and Fielding McBride were Hopewell messengers. 

  • Hopewell:  0 received by experience, 0 received by letter, 0 dismissed by letter, 0 excluded, 0 restored, 1 died; 16 members and 30 contributions


No minutes available


At the Caney Fork Meeting House in Warren County,  TN

  • “No intelligence” from the Big Fork Church.

  • Hopewell:  0 received by experience, 0 received by letter, 0 dismissed by letter, 0 excluded, 0 restored, 0 died; 18 members and 30 contributions

  • “Took up the case of Big Fork Church for not representing herself in the association, agreeable to our Covenant, and appointed a committee (viz.) Elder I. Denton; brethren, E.V. Pollard, J. Gess, J.M. Wilkinson, Wm. Hollingsworth, Wm. Dodson and W. Cantrell to meet at Bro. Wm. Moore’s, the Saturday before the 5th Sunday in November, 1856; clothed with the power of the association to look into the state and condition of said Church, and, if found in order, to letter them out on their request, and report to then next Association.”

The next extant minutes for the Caney Fork Association was for the year 1877, twenty-one years after the meeting in which the Big Fork Baptist Church's situation was investigated.  Thus, we do not know the results of that investigation.  Did the Big Fork Baptist Church dissolve in the mid-1850s?  Or, did it continue on for a few or several more years?  There is no mention of the Big Fork Church or the Hopewell Church in the 1877, 1893, or 1896 minutes.  Hoyte Cook has said, "I can't prove it, but I have heard that my great grandparents, William Mitchell and Margaret Cummings, got married in that building (the Big Fork Baptist Meeting House) in 1869."  If so, was there an active congregation using the building at that time?

Nancy Lawson's 1842 Church Letter from Big Fork Baptist Church

"Nancy was married to Willie Lawson. Willie was born in 1800 but I don't know yet where.  According to census records, Nancy was born in 1805 in Virginia.  I don't know her maiden name." 
--Janet Lawson Trubee (JLTsquaw@InfoAve.Net)  (copy of church letter received from Janet Trubee)

1852 Churches and Messengers to Caney Fork Baptist Association

1852 Messengers to Caney Fork Baptist Association Meeting

Two Seed in the Spirit Predestinarian Baptists

The 1893 and 1896 minutes identified the Caney Fork Association as an association of "Predestinarian Two Seed Baptists."  Just how long it had been identified by this theological label and theology, we do not know.  The Big Fork Church in its early years and other churches on the early Stockton Valley Association era certainly did not espouse this doctrine, which was not created until the mid-1820s.

"This strange group was organized by Elder Daniel Parker of Virginia in the 1820's.  Parker had been ordained in Tennessee in 1806, and labored there until 1817.  Thereafter, he ministered in Illinois until 1836, where he edited a periodical known as Church Advocate.  The latter years of his ministry were spent in Texas.  

While in Illinois, he had published in 1826 and 1829 two pamphlets setting forth his peculiar theory of the two seeds in Eve, imparted by god and Satan respectively.  This was his explanation of the doctrine that some are predetermined to be saved and some to be lost.  According to his teaching, Christ can reach sinners without the aid of ministers or organizations of any kind.  He and his followers, however, believed in a ministry invested with "legal authority" through the laying on of hands by the presbytery acting for a gospel church.  Many were opposed, nevertheless, to a paid clergy.  Like Arminian Baptists, they followed the practice of footwashing, regarding it as an ordinance.  White their number was not larger than thirteen thousand members at the close of the nineteenth century, they were to be found in twenty-four states, though most numerous in Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas.  Their four hundred and seventy-three churches, with a property value of more than one hundred and seventy-two thousand dollars, were organized in fifty associations.  The decline of extreme forms of Calvinism among Baptists is nowhere more clearly apparent than in the diminishing membership of this group which numbered a mere two hundred in 1945."

Source:  Page 262 of A History of the Baptists by Robert G. Torbet (Valley Forge, PA: The Judson Press, 1969).

"History, Doctrine, and Organization" of Two-Seed-in-the-Spirit Predestinarian Baptists -
in the 1936 U.S. report on Religious Bodies in the United States.

More information:  Jordan Family of Texas siteOld Parker Fort site

You can also read about what was happening in the Stockton Valley Association in this same 1814-1856 time period, although the Big Fork Baptist Church was not still in that association:

Stockton Valley Association  1814-1856