History of Cane Creek Church

Submitted by Marvin Beatty

Springs Valley Herald, May 10, 1973

The following article, contributed by Mrs. Desco McFarland, was first printed in the September 8, 1932, issue of The Springs Valley Herald.

"About the year 1792, a company of people, consisting of several families, for reasons unknown to us, decided to leave their home in Virginia and seek new homes in the Carolinas. Accordingly, they loaded their household goods and other belongings in covered wagons, yoked the oxen, and hitched up and started on their way to a new land yet unknown to them.

A long and tiresome journey followed, and a settlement by them was established in North Carolina. Among this pilgrimage of pioneers was a family by the name of Cox, consisting of husband, wife and two children. The names of the other members of this party is unknown to us today. The duration of their stay is not given. However, there was some desire of broadening the civilization, of finding a better land in which to live and rear their families, on a command from the God of man. For whatever reason, they soon were taken with the idea to move on further west. They had probably heard stories of the wonderful Blue Grass Country that lay beyond the then great barrier, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the horizon of civilization.

Soon again they were on their way to a land of adventure and perilous dangers, infested with the horrors of the Red Man who had wrought death to many white settlers; to a land where trails were yet unblazed by courage and ambition, by iron will and determination. They moved out on their journey, by pack horse and afoot, through narrow mountain passes, over valleys, across rivers, and through forests They winded their way, the women and children riding while the men walked beside them. The long and tedious journey was broken by stopping at night to unpack and rest. Unpacking was also necessary at times to get through the narrow mountain passes.

Young Mr. Cox and his family were with this caravan, the wife riding with little Tom behind his mother and little Molly tied in front of her. A sad and tragic incident happened to this little company of pioneers on this journey. When three days out, they discovered they had forgotten something and Mr. Cox endeavored to return and bring it back while the party waited. They waited for days and days, but they waited in vain, for Mr. Cox never returned.

Grief stricken and sad, they moved on in search of this new land and to the destiny that only God knew was theirs. They learned in later years that Mr. Cox never arrived at the Carolina settlement, leaving us to suppose and wonder as to his fate, along with many other mysteries hidden deeply in the bosom of Mother Earth. There are only a few lines of history that tell us that this Mr. Cox had lived.

This company settled in what is now LaRue County, Kentucky. It is unknown whether there were Flicks in this company. However, Polly Cox, the little girl who rode with her mother on the pack horse from Carolina, had grown to womanhood and married a Christopher Flick, Tom Cox married Elizabeth Ash and his mother married John Harmon while in Kentucky.

These people were great believers in Christ and it is supposed they belonged to the Baptist Church. However, while in Kentucky, they became followers of Barton W. Stone whose work there was much the same as that of Alexander Campbell in the east. The new denomination was known as The New Lights. Young Mr. Flick became a minister in this faith during the winter of 1815. In the spring of 1816, some of these people were again taken with the restless and adventurous spirit to move on. Whether they were displeased with the oppression of slavery which was practiced in their community at that time or if the call of adventures of the wilderness prompted this move it is not known. It is not so much why they moved that interests us, but the fact that most of us are descendants of these people who we later learned caused the early settlement of this grand community which we all love.

In the pilgrimage from Kentucky were Thomas Cox and wife and Christopher Flick, his wife and children, who arrived in Indiana in the spring of 1816. This little band reached its journeys end on April 10. They gathered dry grass along the little stream known to us today as Cane Creek, to make their first beds. Soon they fell to the task of building homes from this primeval forest. Why they picked this spot, we know not, but by them a civilization was started here of which we are a part. To them go our many praises.

Arriving at Cane Creek, they discovered friendly Indians, who later moved on to the western area. The two families of Cox and Flick built a typical pioneer home of logs and lived together in it for the first year.They cleared four acres of land that first year and planted it in corn which yielded a good crop

One of the great events in the lives of these people was the day a stranger and welcome visitor arrived in the settlement with a cow. They had no cows as they had brought with them the bare necessities, some chickens., and some meal for bread, which spoiled. The men had to go to New Albany for more. They had brought with them their seed corn, but the chickens, left unguarded, soon devoured the corn. They were then compelled to kill the chickens to get the corn from their craws. They immediately planted the corn which yielded them a good crop for the coming year.

In the spring of 1817, the group began another cabin for Thomas Cox, he having then taken 50 acres of land which is part of the farm now owned by Descoe McFarland, also the land where the Cane Creek Church and Cemetery now stand. Christipher Flick had taken the land north of here. Soon after this, other families came. With these were Polly Flick’s mother and husband, Mr. Harmon (sic), and several children; Preacher Jacob Wise, the Pinnicks, the Hubbs, the Winingers, the Drakes, and others. They came scantily equipped to this country of the forest to make their homes. With no church house. the people worshipped in turn in their homes.

New settlers continued to arrive in this settlement, to build their homes, to live, to love and enjoy the wonderful hospitality that was then, and still is, the password at Cane Creek. Gatherings of that day were the community log rollings and the gatherings at neighboring homes to help with each others work. They diversified from toil with a few games, including “skinning the cat” and chinning the pole. It was at one such gathering that a tragic end came to John Harmon at the hands of a playful neighbor, While skinning the cat, the neighbor, for fun, let the pole fall, breaking Mr. Harmon’s neck. In his last moment, Mr. Harmon uttered, "do not prosecute him." His widow afterwards married Jacob Wise.

In 1824, eight years after the first settlement, the group ceased to call themselves New Lights and adopted the name of Christians. In the spring of that year a primitive building of logs was built for a church, the people doing the work. It was called Cane Creek Christian Church. This house stood near the site of the present church building. Some of the charter members of that church were Christopher Flick and wife, Thomas Cox and wife, William Pinnick and wife, and others whose names we do not know. Preachers of those early days were Christopher Flick, Jacob Wise, Christian Hostetler, Solomon Hostetler, John Mavity, and Phillip Shivley. In the summer of 1843, Christian Hostetler and Phillip Shivley conducted an interesting meeting in the old log church, which added 40 members. It was then decided to build a new house. Accordingly, the following spring a new hewn log house was built, with members again doing the work. It was in this house in 1850 that one of the greatest meetings in the history of the church was held. Brother B.T. Goodman was the minister at that time and is still talked of today by the few who remain and of the ancestry of those going on. During this period a Sunday School was organized, which has long remained. Brothers Goodman and Shivley conducted many meetings. Aunt Polly Cox, as they all called her, always kept open house and a long table set for everybody.

In 1860 came a period of gloom over this little community when the question of secession and slavery thrust the north and south of this country into a bloody war. Old Cane Creek and the surrounding community gave many grand and noble sons to preserve the Union. Many of them never returned including Charles Cox, James Flick, Dennis Harmon, Allen McCune, John Luttrell, and Ezra Vantassel. Some of the veterans who returned to be honored by their people were Thomas Cox, son of Charles Cox, Thomas Cox, son of Reuben Cox, Jesse Clements, George Beatty, William Bledsoe, Samuel Busick, Christopher Drake, Isaac Flick, Jefferson Flick, Stephen Flick, Nathan Gass, Thomas Hubbs, Peter Luttrell, Benjamin Owen, and Robert Owen, grandfather of Descoe McFarland. T.J. Cave was the last survivor of this group.

The church continued to grow following the Civil War and in 1872 the present building was erected at an approximate cost of $ 1000. This work was done by Wesley Weaver. Christopher Cox, son of Thomas Cox, was the minister of the new church. Chris, as he was known, began preaching the gospel and continued the work throughout his life. The great sincerity of this man was compared with the Duke of Wellington who " stood four square to every wind that blew." Rev. Cox contributed liberally to Butler University and gave three sons to the ministry; Thomas A., Samuel F. and John W. All were like their father, having his great and unimpeachable character and long to be remembered in this community.

The works of Samuel and John were cut short by their early deaths. Thomas A. began his work in the ministry at the age of 16 and continued actively until his death at the age of 77. Chris Parks, grandson and namesake of Chris Cox was a minister of the Christian Church. Now deceased, he was the last direct descendant of the first family of ministers.

Other descendants of Thomas Cox who served as ministers of Cane Creek, Brother Will Cox, son of Charles Cox and grandson of Thomas Cox, and another grandson of Thomas Cox, B.F. Nicholson. The following ministers have had many interesting meetings at this church; John Bobbitt, Brothers Goldman, V.T. Trimble, William A. Crowder, Quincey Short, John Marshall, and Joe Campbell, many of these long gone to their rewards. Ministers more recently are L. N. Collins, James Small, Otho Jackson, who was pastor for twenty years, until his death.

This church, now with 200 members, is the oldest church in the community. The founders have long since crumbled to dust. Aunt Polly Flick was the last to pass away, at the age of 102. Although these people strived to bring up their daughters and sons in the administration of the Lord, some evil influence worked here in spite of all their noble efforts. Old church records indicate that some were expelled for drinking. A general store was erected here in 1840, which brought convenience to the community, but also brought the whiskey barrel which was placed in the rear of the store with cups for the convenience of the customers. Many young people took to drinking. The comfort and luxuries of today were not even dreamed of in those days of the pioneer fathers who established this little church in the wilderness. If they had not believed that God would take care of them, how could they have had the courage and fortitude to endure all their privations."