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About Elijah Craig:

Elijah Craig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the Baptist preacher. For the bourbon whiskey, see Elijah Craig (bourbon).

 

Elijah Craig

Elijah Craig (1738 – May 18, 1808) was a Baptist preacher in Virginia, who became an educator and capitalist entrepreneur in the area of Virginia that later became the state of Kentucky. He has sometimes, although rather dubiously, been credited with the invention of bourbon whiskey.

 

Early life and education

Craig was born in Orange County, Virginia in 1738, the 5th child of Polly Hawkins and Taliaferro or Toliver Craig, Sr. Converted by Baptist David Thomas in 1764, Elijah Craig soon began holding meetings in his tobacco barn. In 1766, he convinced David Read to travel from North Carolina to baptize members of the new congregation, including himself. His older brother Lewis and younger brother Joseph Craig also became Baptist preachers. In 1768 Lewis was imprisoned with John Waller, James Childs, James Reed and William Marsh in the Fredericksburg jail for several weeks, for preaching without licenses from the established Anglican Church.  In 1771 Elijah Craig was ordained and became the pastor of Blue Run church, halfway between Barboursville and Liberty Mills, Virginia. He was jailed at least twice for preaching without the required Virginia license from the Anglican Church. Such preachers were considered a challenge to the entire social order of the colony, as the established state church received funding from the colony. In 1774, the convention of independent Baptists designated Elijah Craig and John Waller as apostles (missionaries) to evangelize north of the James River

Although Virginia had adopted the principle of freedom of religion in its Declaration of Rights in 1776 and again in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, Baptists still faced persecution during the early statehood period, particularly when they preached to mixed congregations of freemen and slaves, white and black. In these years, Baptists encouraged planters to free their slaves; and numerous slaves were freed in the Upper South during the first two decades after the Revolution. Later, the Baptists reconciled with the slavery institution, encouraging planters to use Christian values to improve treatment of slaves.[citation needed]

Craig became politically active as the legislative liaison of the general convention and general association to Virginia's legislature as well as the ratification convention of 1788. As such, he worked with Patrick Henry and James Madison to protect religious freedom federally and in Virginia after the Revolutionary War. Ultimately, religious freedom became protected in Virginia by statute (and the Anglican Church was disestablished, i.e. lost government financial support), as well as in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Baptist membership grew, particularly among common planters with smaller holdings of land and slaves.

Migration and settling in Kentucky area of Virginia

Seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity, in 1781 Elijah's brother Rev. Lewis Craig led an exodus of up to 600 people known as "The Travelling Church" (composed of his parents, younger siblings, and most of his congregation from Spotsylvania County) to the area of Virginia known as Kentucky County (they were the largest single group to so migrate). Elijah Craig did not go with this group but followed a few years later.

In 1782 (just after the Revolutionary War), Elijah Craig led the immigration of his congregation from Orange Co., VA, and purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) in what was then Fayette County of Virginia, where he planned and laid out a town originally called Lebanon, which was incorporated in 1784. (In 1790 the town was renamed Georgetown in honor of Gen. George Washington, first president of the United States.) Craig preached at several churches with John Waller.

In 1786 Craig became pastor of the Great Crossing Church, which they had founded the previous year. Joseph Redding succeeded Craig in 1793 after a controversy concerning some of Craig's economic activities, and the expulsion of Craig and his party. In 1795 Craig was among the 35 founding members of McConnell's Church, near McConnells Run (that later moved and became known as Stamping Ground Baptist Church).  Both churches were part of the Elkhorn Association of Baptist churches.

Elijah Craig was active in education, establishing the first classical school in Kentucky in 1787. His advertisement in The Kentucky Gazette read:

Education. Notice is hereby given that on Monday, 28 January next, a school will be opened by Messrs. Jones and Worley, at the Royal Spring in Lebanon Town, Fayette County, where a commodious house, sufficient to contain fifty or sixty scholars, will be prepared. They will teach the Latin and Greek languages, together with such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries, at twenty five shillings a quarter for each scholar. One half to be paid in cash, the other half in produce at cash prices. There will be a vacation of a month in the spring, and another in the fall, at the close of each of which it is expected that such payments as are due in cash will be made. For diet, washing and house room for a year, each scholar pays £3 in cash, or 500 weight of pork on entrance, and £3 cash on the beginning of the third quarter. It is desired that, as many as can, would furnish themselves with beds; such as cannot may be provided for here, to the number of eight or ten boys, at 35s a year for each bed. ELIJAH CRAIG. LEBANON, December 27, 1787.

The school was later linked to the Rittenhouse Academy, which Craig founded in 1798.  Elijah Craig also donated land for Georgetown College, the first Baptist college founded west of the Allegheny Mountains. The college continues today.

Craig became a businessman and local magnate. He built Kentucky's first fulling mill (for cloth manufacturing), its first paper mill, its first ropewalk (for manufacturing rope from hemp), and the first lumber and gristmill at Georgetown. Craig played a major role in forming the Georgetown Fire Department and also served as Fire Chief.

Distillery

In approximately 1789, Craig founded a distillery. This last enterprise led to his subsequent dubious reputation as the inventor of bourbon whiskey. Craig has sometimes been claimed to have been the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste".

Craig built his distillery in what was then Fayette County. The location later became part of Woodford County in 1789, and then Scott County in 1792. It was never in Bourbon County, as some have claimed. As it happened, both Fayette County and Bourbon County were named in honor of the noted Revolutionary War Gen. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat of the royal House of Bourbon.

American whiskey authority Charles Kendrick Cowdery believes Craig was making exactly the same kind of whiskey as most of his contemporaries, and historian Henry Crowgey calls his reputed invention of bourbon simply a "charming legend". By 1785, when Bourbon County was formed, dozens (if not hundreds) of small farmer-distillers west of the Alleghenies made corn-based whiskies, which they called 'bourbon', to distinguish them from the rye-based whiskies commonly distilled in the East. No historical evidence indicates that Craig's whiskey was unique in its time, nor that he practiced charring of the aging barrels. The first known publication potentially alluding to Craig as bourbon's inventor was in 1874 (this includes a brief entry in a densely packed list without mentioning Craig himself or providing any documentation of the claim, and without any elaboration as to what distinguished the product as the first bourbon).

Death

Craig continued to prosper, eventually owning more than 4,000 acres (16 km2) and enough slaves to cultivate it, and operating a retail store in Frankfort. He died in Georgetown in 1808.  John Taylor wrote of him in A History of Ten Baptist Churches, "His preaching was of the most solemn style; his appearance as of a man who had just come from the dead; of a delicate habit, a thin visage, large eyes and mouth; the sweet melody of his voice, both in preaching and singing, bore all down before it."

The Kentucky Gazette eulogized Craig as follows, "He possessed a mind extremely active and, as his whole property was expended in attempts to carry his plans to execution, he consequently died poor. If virtue consists in being useful to our fellow citizens, perhaps there were few more virtuous men than Mr. Craig."

Legacy

Elijah Craig brand Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey produced by Heaven Hill

Craig may be most widely known by the bourbon brand Elijah Craig produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries.

Elijah Craig bourbon whiskey is made in both 12- "Small Batch" and 18-year-old "Single Barrel" bottlings. The 18-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon is touted by its producer as "The oldest Single Barrel Bourbon in the world at 18 years ..." made in oak barrels that are "hand selected by Parker and Craig Beam", losing nearly ​2⁄3 of the barrels' contents in Angel's  Share

 

 

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THE BOURBON BAPTIST:

A LOOK AT ELIJAH CRAIG’S LIFE

Church History

[By: Mark Nenadov]

Introduction

The vaults of church history are rich storehouses that should be plundered regularly. We have an embarrassment of riches and yet at times large swaths of history lay on the shelf, dusty.

It can be tempting for us Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians to jump from the New Testament times to the 16th and 17th century and then into the 20th century. And yet, the American Baptist community of the 18th and 19th century is, in my opinion, comparatively neglected. I love and appreciate the life and theology of the 17th century Particular Baptists, but sometimes I think we’ve underestimated the legacies of those who came after them.

As an independent, amateur researcher, I’ve been writing short biographical sketches of some noteworthy and yet sorely neglected individuals in 19th century American Baptist history. For instance, I’ve written two soon-to-be-published papers on John Newton Brown: “A Recipient of Inestimable Legacies”: The Early Life of J. Newton Brown (1803-1868) and “Sweet Temper, High-toned Piety”: The Life of John Newton Brown (1803-1868). They should be appearing in Kettering soon. And I’ve focused in on S. Dryden Phelps in “An Eloquence in Nature’s Voice” The Pastor-Poet S. Dryden Phelps (1816-1895).

Most of my writing has been about Baptists in New England. The Baptist community there was surprisingly vital just a couple centuries ago! As of late, though, there is an intriguing character who takes me further down South: the 18th-19th century Virginia and Kentucky Baptist preacher and entrepreneur Elijah Craig (1745?-1808).

This article is much less formal than the other ones I’ve written recently. Also, I do not pretend to have researched Elijah Crag’s life as thoroughly as John Newton Brown or S. Dryden Phelps. Nevertheless, I aspire here to a lighter, more casual treatment of his life, which brings into focus some interesting angles in an age of perennial concerns about religious liberty!

Early Life and Conversion

Though Elijah Craig was “one of the most remarkable of the early Kentucky Baptist preachers,” very little is known about his early life in Orange County, Virginia. We don’t even know whether his birthdate was in the 1730s or 1740s and have essentially no details dating before 1764.

By the mid-1750s, colonial American Baptists were often identified as either “Regular” or “Separate.” Both were solidly Calvinistic in their theology, but the “Separate Baptists” closely identified with the Great Awakening and are known for emphasizing evangelism and heart-felt religion, whereas the “Regular Baptists” in some ways distanced themselves from this orientation.

In 1764, Elijah was converted while sitting under the preaching of the Regular Baptist David Thomas (1732-1812), who had organized one of the first Regular Baptist churches in Virginia. Almost immediately upon conversion Elijah “began, at once to exhort.” In the early days, his chapel was located in his tobacco house! By 1766, he became a Separate Baptist.

Ministry in Virginia

Elijah’s preaching was “of the most solemn style,” often bringing listeners to tears. He had “a thin visage, large eyes and mouth” and was “of great readiness of speech.” His voice was melodic, and both his preaching and singing were so loud that it “bore all down.”

At some point, Elijah married Frances Smith and had three children: Joel, Simeon, and Lucy. When Frances died, Elijah married a widow, Margaret, and had three more children: Lydia, Polly, and John.

Baptists were persecuted in 18th century Virginia. Like the Carolinas, Georgia, and Maryland, Virginia had an established church—the Church of England. The principle of religious liberty had not taken hold in the social culture of the day and “the rage of the persecutors had in no wise abated.” Baptist pastors were often mocked, slandered, and jailed. In 1779, over 40 pastors were placed in jail. Elijah was arrested twice.

While ploughing his field in 1768, Elijah was arrested and imprisoned for seventeen days for preaching “schismatick doctrines.” Apparently, prison couldn’t keep Elijah down and he preached the gospel through the bars of his jail window and, consequently, the authorities built a high wall around the prison to keep people from hearing.

After release from prison, Elijah pastored Blue Run Baptist Church, which gathered just a few miles from the Madison family plantation. The church chose him as their pastor upon constitution in 1769, and formally ordained him into the ministry in 1771. Under his pastoral care, the church flourished.

Though political upheaval began earlier, it wasn’t until 1775 that the American Revolutionary war began. During the war, Elijah served as a chaplain. He also “played a vital role in communicating the views of the Virginia Baptists to the new state government.” It is highly likely that Elijah Craig played at least an indirect role in some of the early musings that eventually led to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

 

Life in Kentucky

In early 1786, Elijah brought his congregation, the Great Crossing Church, from Virginia into the vicinity of present day Lancaster, Kentucky. It was a large group of perhaps half a thousand people. Persecution hastened the move. Hence, Virginia’s established church appears to have brought many Baptists to Kentucky.

While in Kentucky, Elijah got busy. He laid out plans for the town of Lebanon, later renamed Georgetown. He also founded one of the earliest classical academies in the state, the Rittenhouse Academy, which according to some would evolve into Georgetown College, though the connection is somewhat debatable. An advertisement for the academy in the Kentucky Gazette observed that it “will teach the Latin and Greek languages, together with such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries.” Legend has it that the “stately columns” of Giddings Hall at Georgetown College hide “a keg of whiskey belonging to Elijah Craig.

Speaking of whiskey, Elijah distilled whiskey. He may have begun as early as 1789. Yes, Baptists used to distill whiskey. Just two years earlier, a Baptist minister, James Garrard, was indicted for retailing whiskey without a license. One source notes that John Schackelford received thirty-six gallons of whiskey for his preaching in 1798. In 1796, the Elkhorn Baptist Association, a Kentucky association (constituted in 1785), ruled that denying a member church membership because he sold intoxicants was unjustified. It should also be remembered that it wasn’t until 1886 that the Southern Baptist Convention began passing resolutions against alcohol.

Baptists who enjoy reading this article and are not teetotalers may like to know that they can indeed drink the Elijah Craig brand bourbon whiskey this very day. There is a bit of legend swirling around about Elijah’s involvement in the whiskey trade. It is commonly stated that he was the first person to make bourbon, but that is likely untrue. The legend states that Elijah accidentally charred some white oak staves and, due to frugality, stored the whiskey in them anyway, noticing the taste difference and afterwards producing it that way purposely. This legend seems to have its origin in a history of Kentucky from 1874 and has been further propagated by Heaven Hill Distillery who produces the Elijah Craig brand bourbon whiskey.

In reality, Elijah was probably making the same sort of whiskey that others in Kentucky were making at the time. Whatever we may make of the legend, it is clear that Elijah was a prominent distiller and one of Kentucky’s earliest and most zealous “industrialists.” Beside his whiskey production, Elijah kept busy building a saw mill, a grist mill, making paper and rope, and fulling cloth. He also got caught up in some land speculating, which involves risky financial transactions which attempt to profit from fluctuation in real estate prices. As we shall soon see, the speculating seems to have had a negative effect on him.

In 1791, for some reason Elijah became “obnoxious” to his church and was excommunicated. Very little is known about the specific circumstances, but we can infer a few things from what was going on in Elijah’s life at the time. He remained excommunicated for some amount of time, but was eventually restored to fellowship. We may speculate that Elijah’s excommunication was related to a spiritual decline which may have been in some way connected to his involvement in land speculation, a trajectory which appears to have dragged down his ministry. Robert Baylor Semple, who wrote A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia, observed that Elijah had a “censorious” temper, a temper that was kept in check as long as he was “warm in religion.” However, Semple opines that a period of religious decline in his life connected with his land speculation involvement might have caused his censoriousness to become unchecked.

Semple cites Elijah’s two published works as examples of his censoriousness. While in Kentucky, Elijah published A Few Remarks on the Errors That Are Maintained in the Christian Churches of the Present Day (1801), in which he argued that “pastors…are precluded by the Scriptures from receiving any compensation for their services,” and A Portrait of John Creath (1807), which is the account of some private dispute between a Mr. Creath and a Mr. Lewis. The later pamphlet is no longer accessible. Semple described it colorfully as having been written with a pen “dipt in poison.”

We do not know when and under what circumstances Elijah was restored to fellowship, we merely know that he was a member of the congregation when he died in 1808.

Whereas John Newton Brown, who also ministered for a time among slave-owners in Lexington, Virginia, spoke loudly and clearly against the institution of slavery, Elijah Craig, like many Southern Baptists, seems to have quietly profited from the cruel institution of American slavery. According to tax records from 1800, Elijah owned “over 4,000 acres of land, eleven horses, [and] thirty-two slaves.”

His Death

For one reason or another, Elijah lost a good deal of his wealth by the time of his death. According to his last will and testament, he had only one slave left to leave for his children, a slave boy named Harry.

On May 13, 1808, Elijah was “in a low state of health but of sound mind & memory,” and penned his last will and testament. He died by May 18, 1808. On May 24th, the Kentucky Gazette wrote the following eulogy:

“He possessed a mind extremely active and his whole property was expended in attempts to carry his plans to execution—he consequently died poor. If virtue consists in being useful to our fellow citizens, perhaps there were few more virtuous men than Mr. Craig.”

Conclusion

You will find the story of Elijah Craig’s life unsatisfying if your use history to cherry-pick laudable heroes in which you expect to find no wrinkles or complications. If you want a hero, I’d argue you can find much more unalloyed hero material in someone like John Newton Brown or S. Dryden Phelps.

Nevertheless even this slave-owning and allegedly censorious Baptist makes for a fascinating historical study in our Baptist heritage. In particular, his involvement in pre-Revolutionary happenings concerning religious liberty and his location at the early development of the Baptist church in America makes him a remarkable character. He also provides a fascinating early case study for a variety of other reasons. He provides us with an early example of Baptist church discipline being put into practice. He shows how the earliest Baptists were generally not teetotalers or prohibitionists. He is an early example of a Baptist entrepreneur. He is involved in debates for and against bi-vocational pastorates.

We do not know enough about Elijah Craig to form a substantial impression of his theology and piety. There are, however, a number of fascinating aspects of his life which would make him an interesting study, if more information could be found.

I don’t pretend to have done Elijah Craig’s legacy justice, nor do I claim to well-suited to be the individual to uncover and connect further details about him. I merely hope I can stir up some interest in him. We can only hope that some more information is uncovered in the future! Such is the optimism of history, there is always the hope that more will be discovered some day.

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Elijah's parents and maybe beyond

MARY POLLY HAWKINS

 

DESCENDANTS LIST

 Member:  -- Name Restricted --    Nat'l #: 762502     Ancestor #: A027259

1.-- Generation Restricted --

2.-- Generation Restricted --

3.-- Generation Restricted --

4.

The Said -- Name Restricted -- was the child of Robert Henry West Jr born on 2 - Oct - 1865 at Quincy Adams Co IL  

 died at Coffeeville Montgomery Co KS on 14 - Mar - 1933 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Norma Nora Cornelius born on 7 - Apr - 1880 at St James Phelps Co MO

 died at Bartlesville Washington Co OK on 30 - Dec - 1974 married on 4 - Oct - 1904 

 married at Cherokee Nation OK Terr

5.

The Said Robert Henry West was the child of Robert Henry West born on 10 - Dec - 1832 at Frankfort Franklin Co KY  

 died at Coffeeville Montgomery Co KS on 24 - Aug - 1912 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Annie Rebecca Crutcher born on 1 - Mar - 1841 at Parris Monroe Co MO

 died at Shawnee Pottawatomie Co OK on 13 - Mar - 1915 married on 30 - Nov - 1864 

 married at Quincy Adams Co IL

6.

The Said Robert Henry West was the child of James William West born on 1 - Aug - 1810 at VA  

 died at St Louis St Louis Co MO on 1 - Jan - 1849 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Joanna Pitts born on 23 - Jul - 1812 at Scott Co KY

 died at Monticello Lewis Co MO on 7 - Jan - 1841 married on 5 - Nov - 1829 

 married at Georgetown Scott Co KY

7.

The Said Joanna Pitts was the child of Josiah Pitts born on a - - 1780 at Spotsylvania Co VA  

 died at Scott Co KY on c - - 1815 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Lucy Craig born on a - - 1780 at _______________

 died at Scott Co KY on c - - 1815 married on a - - 1802 

8.

The Said Lucy Craig was the child of Elijah Craig born on c - - 1743 at Spotsylvania Co VA  

 died at Scott Co KY on - Jun - 1808 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Frances Smith born on - - at _______________

 died at Stamping Ground Scott Co KY on a 13 - May - 1808 married on - -  

9.

The Said Elijah Craig was the child of Tolliver Craig born on c - - 1704/5 at at sea  

 died at Woodford Co KY on c - - 1795 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Hawkins born on - - 1716 at King Wm Co VA

 died at Georgetown Scott Co KY on 1 - Jan - 1804 married on c - - 1730 

 married at VA

 

ASSOCIATED ANCESTOR (REVOLUTIONARY) RECORD

CRAIG, MARY POLLY HAWKINS   Ancestor #: A027259

Service:  VIRGINIA    Rank(s): PATRIOTIC SERVICE

Birth:  1716    KING WILLIAM CO VIRGINIA

Death:  1-1-1804     GEORGETOWN-NEAR SCOTT CO KENTUCKY

Service Source:  DRAKE, KY IN RETROSPECT, P 209

Service Description:  1) CARRIED WATER TO THE SOLDIERS AT BRYANTS STATION 1782

TOLIVER (TALIAFERRO)  CRAIG

DESCENDANTS LIST

 Member:  Elizabeth Thatcher Klem    Nat'l #: 394187     Ancestor #: A027277

1.

Search»

  Bernard William Klem born on 19 - Jul - 1930 at Union City OH  

 died at Campbell Co KY on 14 - May - 1984 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Elizabeth Thatcher born on -- Blocked -- at Cincinnati OH

 died at _______________ on - - married on -- Blocked -- 

 married at Hamilton Co OH

2.

The Said Elizabeth Thatcher was the child of Jack H Thatcher born on 31 - Jul - 1893 at Alexandria KY  

 died at Ft Thomas Campbell Co KY on 22 - Apr - 1973 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Lillian Cole born on 8 - Oct - 1896 at Elbert Co GA

 died at Ft Thomas Campbell Co KY on 4 - Nov - 1980 married on 2 - May - 1925 

 married at Winston Salem NC

3.

The Said Jack H Thatcher was the child of Frank Spillman Thatcher born on 27 - Apr - 1856 at Alexandria KY  

 died at Alexandria KY on 7 - Aug - 1939 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Mary Elizabeth Grant born on 23 - Dec - 1857 at Grants Bend KY

 died at Alexandria KY on 9 - Jan - 1929 married on 27 - Apr - 1882 

4.

The Said Mary Elizabeth Grant was the child of Wm Squire Grant born on 9 - Feb - 1807 at Yadkin River NC  

 died at Grants Bend KY on 10 - Jun - 1887 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Lydia Ann Grant born on 31 - Jan - 1820 at _______________

 died at Grants Bend KY on 20 - Jul - 1886 married on - - 1839 

5.

The Said Lydia Ann Grant was the child of Elijah Grant born on - - at Fayette Co KY  

 died at Campbell Co KY on liv 1 - Jun - 1820 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Kitturah Grant born on - - 1790 at Woodford KY

 died at Campbell Co KY on - - married on - - 1810 

 married at prob Scott Co

6.

The Said Elijah Grant was the child of Samuel Grant born on 29 - Nov - 1762 at _______________ 

 died at Woodford Co KY on 13 - Aug - 1789 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Lydia Craig born on 25 - Jul - 1771 at _______________

 died at Fayette Co KY on 28 - Apr - 1812 married on 23 - Jul - 1784 

 married at Orange Co VA

7.

The Said Lydia Craig was the child of Elijah Craig born on c - - 1743 at Spotsylvania VA  

 died at Scott Co KY on - Jun - 1808 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Frances Smith born on - - at _______________

 died at Stamping Ground Scott Co KY on a 13 - May - 1808 married on - -  

8.

The Said Elijah Craig was the child of Tolliver Craig Sr   born on - - 1704-05 at at sea  

 died at Woodford Co KY on 5 - Aug - 1799 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Polly Craig born on - - 1716 at King Wm Co VA

 died at Georgetown Scott Co KY on 1 - Jan - 1804 married on - -  

 

ASSOCIATED ANCESTOR (REVOLUTIONARY) RECORD

CRAIG, TOLLIVER SR   Ancestor #: A027277

Service:  VIRGINIA    Rank(s): PATRIOTIC SERVICE

Birth:  CIRCA 1704    ON SHIP

Death:  ANTE 8-5-1799     WOODFORD CO KENTUCKY

Service Source:  DRAKE, KY IN RETROSPECT, P 210

Service Description:  1) DEFENDER OF BRYANTS STATION, 1782

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Both of Elijah's parents are listed with the DAR as American Patriots

Toliver Craig, Sr. (born Taliaferro Craig; c.1704–1795) was an 18th-century American frontiersman and militia officer. An early settler and landowner near present-day Lexington, Kentucky, he was one of the defenders of the early fort of Bryan Station during the American Revolutionary War. It was attacked by the British and Shawnee on August 15, 1782.

Craig and his family were early converts to the Baptist Church in the Colony of Virginia. His sons especially preached their religious views during the 1760s and 1770s. As a young man, his son Rev. Lewis Craig was a Baptist preacher jailed in Fredericksburg, Virginia for preaching without a license from the established Anglican Church, in a case considered important for religious freedom.

Toliver and his sons Lewis and Joseph Craig led 400-600 members of their congregation as "The Travelling Church" into Kentucky in 1781. A younger son, Rev. Elijah Craig, worked with James Madison on state guarantees for religious freedom after the Revolutionary War before following his kin to Kentucky, where he became a successful preacher, educator, and businessman.

Toliver Craig, Jr., became an important landowner in Scott and Logan counties, Kentucky. He was elected as a representative to the Kentucky state legislature.

Biography

Sources disagree about the circumstances of Taliaferro Craig's birth. According to traditional accounts and his own descendants, Taliaferro was the illegitimate son of Ricardo Tagliaferro, an Italian sea captain, and Jane Craig, a young Scottish woman descended from reformer John Craig, who traveled with him to the Virginia colony. She was pregnant and Tagliaferro never married her. Craig gave birth to a son she named Taliaferro Craig in 1704. His name was later anglicized to Toliver or Tolliver. Jane Craig never married.

Ricardo Tagliaferro was said to have settled in Virginia, where he later married and had a family. He was said to have a brother there, Robert Tagliaferro (or Taliaferro). The Taliaferro families became distinguished in Virginia.

But this story about a connection of Craig's father to Robert Tagliaferro may not be accurate. The Robert Taliaferro who was the ancestor of the prominent Taliaferro family of Virginia (later anglicized to Toliver or Tolliver), arrived in Virginia from England in the mid-17th century. His ancestors had been in England for some time, with the first serving as a court musician to Queen Elizabeth I in the 16th century.Tolliver Craig became a modest farmer and member of the Virginia militia. In 1730, he married Mary (Polly) Hawkins (descendant of John Hawkins), with whom he would have 12 children. Like most people in Virginia, he and his family were largely illiterate. He was presumed to have decent social standing, as the Hawkins family were prominent in Virginia society at the time.

During the 1760s, Craig and his family embraced the Baptist movement. His sons Elijah, Lewis, and Joseph Craig became Baptist preachers. Elijah and Lewis were jailed in Fredericksburg, Virginia for preaching without a license from the Anglican Church. One account had them defended by Patrick Henry, but other historians call that apocryphal.

Near the end of the Revolution, Craig and his family emigrated to Kentucky with the famous "Travelling Church," about 500 people led by his son Rev. Lewis, arriving to settle first at Gilbert's Creek in December 1781. Both in the group's own self-identity and in later church history, the journey was likened to the people following Moses in the Exodus. Arriving in April 1782, Craig lived briefly with his wife, many children, and grandchildren at Bryan's Station (near present-day Lexington). When the fort was besieged on 15 August by a British Canadian and Shawnee raiding party under Captain William Caldwell and Simon Girty, Craig and his wife Polly, although both were elderly, were some of the more well-known defenders. The 66-year-old Mary "Polly" Craig was reported to have led a group of women outside the fort to fetch water from a spring to quench burning arrows. Their courage was honored in 1896 by a DAR memorial located near the spring and naming all the Craig defenders.

Craig later became a prominent landowner, purchasing the David Bryan estate from John Bowman.  He donated large amounts of land to the Baptist church. He died in Woodford County, Kentucky in 1795.

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Craig Family Dilemma

Generation I (Immigrant), Jane Craig

John Craig Jr.? (1650-1704) or __Taliaferro? and Jane Taliaferro [ or Craig?] (1670/80-1705/10)

The Craig family is said to be from "Craig Ellachie, a rocky eminence in Scotland," not far from Aberdeen[see Craig site].
Jane is said to have emigrated to VA with brothers, Robert & James. No evidence has been found of either. Family tradition says Jane was married in Scotland around 1703 to John Craig, Jr, descended (grandson?) from John Craig, a Dominican Friar who read John Calvin around 1600, was condemned to burn at the stake for heresy, but managed to escape with the help of a soldier friend (see Railey, copy of his life). He presumably died before his wife came to Virginia.


   However, Francis Craig, Toliver's grandson, said his grandfather told him that he was the illegitimate son of Jane Craig, daughter of John Craig, by a Taliaferro who brought her and her two brothers from Scotland to Virginia. [document in Filson library?] An autobiographical sketch written by Toliver Craig III begins with "My grandfather was the illegitimate son of Jane Craig who was from Scotland and he married Mary Hawkins by whom he had Twelve Children." However, the word "illegitimate" was erased before it was sent to H. L. Craig, a family genealogist.


    Certainly the Taliaferro family, descended from Robert Taliaferro, coming to VA in 1645, was long established in the Spotsylvania County area and had several sons who would have roughly been Jane Craig's contemporaries Francis (1654-1710); John (1656-1720); Charles (1663-); Richard (1665-), and Robert (1667-); they also had sons. One son, Richard, was a sea-captain at this time (and already married) and he had some interesting dealings with at least one successful pirate in Bermuda! Francis Craig also said that Jane Craig "sustained an unblemished character through life", so she may not have died immediately after her son's birth. Could she have been a sister of Dr. Andrew Craig (who was closely associated with the Taliaferro family in Spotsylvania)? On the other hand, in April, 2004, a male Craig descendant had his DNA compared with a male Taliaferro descendant; there was not a match. That would not preclude his mother being a Taliaferro, however. Also, his Craig DNA matched rather closely a Freeman from Henrico County. Hmmm....!

 

The plot thickens.
   At any rate, even if there isn't a "real" connection , the stories about "Maister John Craig" of St. Giles' Church are fascinating and worth retelling. Born in 1512 (father slain at Flodden) in Edinburgh, he was educated at St. Andrews, joined the order of St. Dominic and went to Bolgna. He married very late in life--to a 15 year old girl--and had one son, William, who taught theology in France at the beginning of the 17th century at the Huguenot University of Saumur.(but did he marry and have children? I can find no evidence of this.) A colleague of John Knox, John Craig was considered more tolerant and compromising. His widow often told the story of his "salvation" by the dog with a purse. A plaque recounting his accomplishment (and a picture of the dog) is on a column in St. Giles, Edinburg.

NOTES

THE CRAIG FAMILY

 

DESCENDANTS LIST

 Member:  -- Name Restricted --    Nat'l #: 762502     Ancestor #: A027259

1.-- Generation Restricted --

2.-- Generation Restricted --

3.-- Generation Restricted --

4.

Search»

The Said -- Name Restricted -- was the child of Robert Henry West Jrborn on 2 - Oct - 1865 at Quincy Adams Co IL  

 died at Coffeeville Montgomery Co KS on 14 - Mar - 1933 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Norma Nora Cornelius born on 7 - Apr - 1880 at St James Phelps Co MO

 died at Bartlesville Washington Co OK on 30 - Dec - 1974 married on 4 - Oct - 1904 

 married at Cherokee Nation OK Terr

5.

Search»

The Said Robert Henry West was the child of Robert Henry West born on 10 - Dec - 1832 at Frankfort Franklin Co KY  

 died at Coffeeville Montgomery Co KS on 24 - Aug - 1912 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Annie Rebecca Crutcher born on 1 - Mar - 1841 at Parris Monroe Co MO

 died at Shawnee Pottawatomie Co OK on 13 - Mar - 1915 married on 30 - Nov - 1864 

 married at Quincy Adams Co IL

6.

Search»

The Said Robert Henry West was the child of James William West born on 1 - Aug - 1810 at VA  

 died at St Louis St Louis Co MO on 1 - Jan - 1849 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Joanna Pitts born on 23 - Jul - 1812 at Scott Co KY

 died at Monticello Lewis Co MO on 7 - Jan - 1841 married on 5 - Nov - 1829 

 married at Georgetown Scott Co KY

7.

Search»

The Said Joanna Pitts was the child of Josiah Pitts born on a - - 1780 at Spotsylvania Co VA  

 died at Scott Co KY on c - - 1815 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Lucy Craig born on a - - 1780 at _______________

 died at Scott Co KY on c - - 1815 married on a - - 1802 

8.

Search»

The Said Lucy Craig was the child of Elijah Craig born on c - - 1743 at Spotsylvania Co VA  

 died at Scott Co KY on - Jun - 1808 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Frances Smith born on - - at _______________

 died at Stamping Ground Scott Co KY on a 13 - May - 1808 married on - -  

9.

Search»

The Said Elijah Craig was the child of Tolliver Craig born on c - - 1704/5 at at sea  

 died at Woodford Co KY on c - - 1795 and his ( 1st ) wife

 Hawkins born on - - 1716 at King Wm Co VA

 died at Georgetown Scott Co KY on 1 - Jan - 1804 married on c - - 1730 

 married at VA

 

ASSOCIATED ANCESTOR (REVOLUTIONARY) RECORD

CRAIG, MARY POLLY HAWKINSAncestor #: A027259

Service:  VIRGINIA    Rank(s): PATRIOTIC SERVICE

Birth:  1716    KING WILLIAM CO VIRGINIA

Death:  1-1-1804     GEORGETOWN-NEAR SCOTT CO KENTUCKY

Service Source:  DRAKE, KY IN RETROSPECT, P 209

Service Description:  1) CARRIED WATER TO THE SOLDIERS AT BRYANTS STATION 1782

 

About Elijah Craig:

Elijah Craig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the Baptist preacher. For the bourbon whiskey, see Elijah Craig (bourbon).

 

Elijah Craig

Elijah Craig (1738 – May 18, 1808) was a Baptist preacher in Virginia, who became an educator and capitalist entrepreneur in the area of Virginia that later became the state of Kentucky. He has sometimes, although rather dubiously, been credited with the invention of bourbon whiskey.

 

Early life and education

Craig was born in Orange County, Virginia in 1738, the 5th child of Polly Hawkins and Taliaferro or Toliver Craig, Sr. Converted by Baptist David Thomas in 1764, Elijah Craig soon began holding meetings in his tobacco barn. In 1766, he convinced David Read to travel from North Carolina to baptize members of the new congregation, including himself. His older brother Lewis and younger brother Joseph Craig also became Baptist preachers. In 1768 Lewis was imprisoned with John Waller, James Childs, James Reed and William Marsh in the Fredericksburg jail for several weeks, for preaching without licenses from the established Anglican Church.  In 1771 Elijah Craig was ordained and became the pastor of Blue Run church, halfway between Barboursville and Liberty Mills, Virginia. He was jailed at least twice for preaching without the required Virginia license from the Anglican Church. Such preachers were considered a challenge to the entire social order of the colony, as the established state church received funding from the colony. In 1774, the convention of independent Baptists designated Elijah Craig and John Waller as apostles (missionaries) to evangelize north of the James River

Although Virginia had adopted the principle of freedom of religion in its Declaration of Rights in 1776 and again in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in 1786, Baptists still faced persecution during the early statehood period, particularly when they preached to mixed congregations of freemen and slaves, white and black. In these years, Baptists encouraged planters to free their slaves; and numerous slaves were freed in the Upper South during the first two decades after the Revolution. Later, the Baptists reconciled with the slavery institution, encouraging planters to use Christian values to improve treatment of slaves.[citation needed]

Craig became politically active as the legislative liaison of the general convention and general association to Virginia's legislature as well as the ratification convention of 1788. As such, he worked with Patrick Henry and James Madison to protect religious freedom federally and in Virginia after the Revolutionary War. Ultimately, religious freedom became protected in Virginia by statute (and the Anglican Church was disestablished, i.e. lost government financial support), as well as in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Baptist membership grew, particularly among common planters with smaller holdings of land and slaves.

Migration and settling in Kentucky area of Virginia

Seeking religious freedom and economic opportunity, in 1781 Elijah's brother Rev. Lewis Craig led an exodus of up to 600 people known as "The Travelling Church" (composed of his parents, younger siblings, and most of his congregation from Spotsylvania County) to the area of Virginia known as Kentucky County (they were the largest single group to so migrate). Elijah Craig did not go with this group but followed a few years later.

In 1782 (just after the Revolutionary War), Elijah Craig led the immigration of his congregation from Orange Co., VA, and purchased 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) in what was then Fayette County of Virginia, where he planned and laid out a town originally called Lebanon, which was incorporated in 1784. (In 1790 the town was renamed Georgetown in honor of Gen. George Washington, first president of the United States.) Craig preached at several churches with John Waller.

In 1786 Craig became pastor of the Great Crossing Church, which they had founded the previous year. Joseph Redding succeeded Craig in 1793 after a controversy concerning some of Craig's economic activities, and the expulsion of Craig and his party. In 1795 Craig was among the 35 founding members of McConnell's Church, near McConnells Run (that later moved and became known as Stamping Ground Baptist Church).  Both churches were part of the Elkhorn Association of Baptist churches.

Elijah Craig was active in education, establishing the first classical school in Kentucky in 1787. His advertisement in The Kentucky Gazette read:

Education. Notice is hereby given that on Monday, 28 January next, a school will be opened by Messrs. Jones and Worley, at the Royal Spring in Lebanon Town, Fayette County, where a commodious house, sufficient to contain fifty or sixty scholars, will be prepared. They will teach the Latin and Greek languages, together with such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries, at twenty five shillings a quarter for each scholar. One half to be paid in cash, the other half in produce at cash prices. There will be a vacation of a month in the spring, and another in the fall, at the close of each of which it is expected that such payments as are due in cash will be made. For diet, washing and house room for a year, each scholar pays £3 in cash, or 500 weight of pork on entrance, and £3 cash on the beginning of the third quarter. It is desired that, as many as can, would furnish themselves with beds; such as cannot may be provided for here, to the number of eight or ten boys, at 35s a year for each bed. ELIJAH CRAIG. LEBANON, December 27, 1787.

The school was later linked to the Rittenhouse Academy, which Craig founded in 1798.  Elijah Craig also donated land for Georgetown College, the first Baptist college founded west of the Allegheny Mountains. The college continues today.

Craig became a businessman and local magnate. He built Kentucky's first fulling mill (for cloth manufacturing), its first paper mill, its first ropewalk (for manufacturing rope from hemp), and the first lumber and gristmill at Georgetown. Craig played a major role in forming the Georgetown Fire Department and also served as Fire Chief.

Distillery

In approximately 1789, Craig founded a distillery. This last enterprise led to his subsequent dubious reputation as the inventor of bourbon whiskey. Craig has sometimes been claimed to have been the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste".

Craig built his distillery in what was then Fayette County. The location later became part of Woodford County in 1789, and then Scott County in 1792. It was never in Bourbon County, as some have claimed. As it happened, both Fayette County and Bourbon County were named in honor of the noted Revolutionary War Gen. Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat of the royal House of Bourbon.

American whiskey authority Charles Kendrick Cowdery believes Craig was making exactly the same kind of whiskey as most of his contemporaries, and historian Henry Crowgey calls his reputed invention of bourbon simply a "charming legend". By 1785, when Bourbon County was formed, dozens (if not hundreds) of small farmer-distillers west of the Alleghenies made corn-based whiskies, which they called 'bourbon', to distinguish them from the rye-based whiskies commonly distilled in the East. No historical evidence indicates that Craig's whiskey was unique in its time, nor that he practiced charring of the aging barrels. The first known publication potentially alluding to Craig as bourbon's inventor was in 1874 (this includes a brief entry in a densely packed list without mentioning Craig himself or providing any documentation of the claim, and without any elaboration as to what distinguished the product as the first bourbon).

Death

Craig continued to prosper, eventually owning more than 4,000 acres (16 km2) and enough slaves to cultivate it, and operating a retail store in Frankfort. He died in Georgetown in 1808.  John Taylor wrote of him in A History of Ten Baptist Churches, "His preaching was of the most solemn style; his appearance as of a man who had just come from the dead; of a delicate habit, a thin visage, large eyes and mouth; the sweet melody of his voice, both in preaching and singing, bore all down before it."

The Kentucky Gazette eulogized Craig as follows, "He possessed a mind extremely active and, as his whole property was expended in attempts to carry his plans to execution, he consequently died poor. If virtue consists in being useful to our fellow citizens, perhaps there were few more virtuous men than Mr. Craig."

Legacy

Elijah Craig brand Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey produced by Heaven Hill

Craig may be most widely known by the bourbon brand Elijah Craig produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries.

Elijah Craig bourbon whiskey is made in both 12- "Small Batch" and 18-year-old "Single Barrel" bottlings. The 18-Year-Old Single Barrel Bourbon is touted by its producer as "The oldest Single Barrel Bourbon in the world at 18 years ..." made in oak barrels that are "hand selected by Parker and Craig Beam", losing nearly ​2⁄3 of the barrels' contents in Angel's share.

 

THE BOURBON BAPTIST: A LOOK AT ELIJAH CRAIG’S LIFE

Church History

[By: Mark Nenadov]

Introduction

The vaults of church history are rich storehouses that should be plundered regularly. We have an embarrassment of riches and yet at times large swaths of history lay on the shelf, dusty.

It can be tempting for us Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians to jump from the New Testament times to the 16th and 17th century and then into the 20th century. And yet, the American Baptist community of the 18th and 19th century is, in my opinion, comparatively neglected. I love and appreciate the life and theology of the 17th century Particular Baptists, but sometimes I think we’ve underestimated the legacies of those who came after them.

As an independent, amateur researcher, I’ve been writing short biographical sketches of some noteworthy and yet sorely neglected individuals in 19th century American Baptist history. For instance, I’ve written two soon-to-be-published papers on John Newton Brown: “A Recipient of Inestimable Legacies”: The Early Life of J. Newton Brown (1803-1868) and “Sweet Temper, High-toned Piety”: The Life of John Newton Brown (1803-1868). They should be appearing in Kettering soon. And I’ve focused in on S. Dryden Phelps in “An Eloquence in Nature’s Voice” The Pastor-Poet S. Dryden Phelps (1816-1895).

Most of my writing has been about Baptists in New England. The Baptist community there was surprisingly vital just a couple centuries ago! As of late, though, there is an intriguing character who takes me further down South: the 18th-19th century Virginia and Kentucky Baptist preacher and entrepreneur Elijah Craig (1745?-1808).

This article is much less formal than the other ones I’ve written recently. Also, I do not pretend to have researched Elijah Crag’s life as thoroughly as John Newton Brown or S. Dryden Phelps. Nevertheless, I aspire here to a lighter, more casual treatment of his life, which brings into focus some interesting angles in an age of perennial concerns about religious liberty!

Early Life and Conversion

Though Elijah Craig was “one of the most remarkable of the early Kentucky Baptist preachers,” very little is known about his early life in Orange County, Virginia. We don’t even know whether his birthdate was in the 1730s or 1740s and have essentially no details dating before 1764.

By the mid-1750s, colonial American Baptists were often identified as either “Regular” or “Separate.” Both were solidly Calvinistic in their theology, but the “Separate Baptists” closely identified with the Great Awakening and are known for emphasizing evangelism and heart-felt religion, whereas the “Regular Baptists” in some ways distanced themselves from this orientation.

In 1764, Elijah was converted while sitting under the preaching of the Regular Baptist David Thomas (1732-1812), who had organized one of the first Regular Baptist churches in Virginia. Almost immediately upon conversion Elijah “began, at once to exhort.” In the early days, his chapel was located in his tobacco house! By 1766, he became a Separate Baptist.

Ministry in Virginia

Elijah’s preaching was “of the most solemn style,” often bringing listeners to tears. He had “a thin visage, large eyes and mouth” and was “of great readiness of speech.” His voice was melodic, and both his preaching and singing were so loud that it “bore all down.”

At some point, Elijah married Frances Smith and had three children: Joel, Simeon, and Lucy. When Frances died, Elijah married a widow, Margaret, and had three more children: Lydia, Polly, and John.

Baptists were persecuted in 18th century Virginia. Like the Carolinas, Georgia, and Maryland, Virginia had an established church—the Church of England. The principle of religious liberty had not taken hold in the social culture of the day and “the rage of the persecutors had in no wise abated.” Baptist pastors were often mocked, slandered, and jailed. In 1779, over 40 pastors were placed in jail. Elijah was arrested twice.

While ploughing his field in 1768, Elijah was arrested and imprisoned for seventeen days for preaching “schismatick doctrines.” Apparently, prison couldn’t keep Elijah down and he preached the gospel through the bars of his jail window and, consequently, the authorities built a high wall around the prison to keep people from hearing.

After release from prison, Elijah pastored Blue Run Baptist Church, which gathered just a few miles from the Madison family plantation. The church chose him as their pastor upon constitution in 1769, and formally ordained him into the ministry in 1771. Under his pastoral care, the church flourished.

Though political upheaval began earlier, it wasn’t until 1775 that the American Revolutionary war began. During the war, Elijah served as a chaplain. He also “played a vital role in communicating the views of the Virginia Baptists to the new state government.” It is highly likely that Elijah Craig played at least an indirect role in some of the early musings that eventually led to the First Amendment of the Constitution.

 

Life in Kentucky

In early 1786, Elijah brought his congregation, the Great Crossing Church, from Virginia into the vicinity of present day Lancaster, Kentucky. It was a large group of perhaps half a thousand people. Persecution hastened the move. Hence, Virginia’s established church appears to have brought many Baptists to Kentucky.

While in Kentucky, Elijah got busy. He laid out plans for the town of Lebanon, later renamed Georgetown. He also founded one of the earliest classical academies in the state, the Rittenhouse Academy, which according to some would evolve into Georgetown College, though the connection is somewhat debatable. An advertisement for the academy in the Kentucky Gazette observed that it “will teach the Latin and Greek languages, together with such branches of the sciences as are usually taught in public seminaries.” Legend has it that the “stately columns” of Giddings Hall at Georgetown College hide “a keg of whiskey belonging to Elijah Craig.

Speaking of whiskey, Elijah distilled whiskey. He may have begun as early as 1789. Yes, Baptists used to distill whiskey. Just two years earlier, a Baptist minister, James Garrard, was indicted for retailing whiskey without a license. One source notes that John Schackelford received thirty-six gallons of whiskey for his preaching in 1798. In 1796, the Elkhorn Baptist Association, a Kentucky association (constituted in 1785), ruled that denying a member church membership because he sold intoxicants was unjustified. It should also be remembered that it wasn’t until 1886 that the Southern Baptist Convention began passing resolutions against alcohol.

Baptists who enjoy reading this article and are not teetotalers may like to know that they can indeed drink the Elijah Craig brand bourbon whiskey this very day. There is a bit of legend swirling around about Elijah’s involvement in the whiskey trade. It is commonly stated that he was the first person to make bourbon, but that is likely untrue. The legend states that Elijah accidentally charred some white oak staves and, due to frugality, stored the whiskey in them anyway, noticing the taste difference and afterwards producing it that way purposely. This legend seems to have its origin in a history of Kentucky from 1874 and has been further propagated by Heaven Hill Distillery who produces the Elijah Craig brand bourbon whiskey.

In reality, Elijah was probably making the same sort of whiskey that others in Kentucky were making at the time. Whatever we may make of the legend, it is clear that Elijah was a prominent distiller and one of Kentucky’s earliest and most zealous “industrialists.” Beside his whiskey production, Elijah kept busy building a saw mill, a grist mill, making paper and rope, and fulling cloth. He also got caught up in some land speculating, which involves risky financial transactions which attempt to profit from fluctuation in real estate prices. As we shall soon see, the speculating seems to have had a negative effect on him.

In 1791, for some reason Elijah became “obnoxious” to his church and was excommunicated. Very little is known about the specific circumstances, but we can infer a few things from what was going on in Elijah’s life at the time. He remained excommunicated for some amount of time, but was eventually restored to fellowship. We may speculate that Elijah’s excommunication was related to a spiritual decline which may have been in some way connected to his involvement in land speculation, a trajectory which appears to have dragged down his ministry. Robert Baylor Semple, who wrote A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Virginia, observed that Elijah had a “censorious” temper, a temper that was kept in check as long as he was “warm in religion.” However, Semple opines that a period of religious decline in his life connected with his land speculation involvement might have caused his censoriousness to become unchecked.

Semple cites Elijah’s two published works as examples of his censoriousness. While in Kentucky, Elijah published A Few Remarks on the Errors That Are Maintained in the Christian Churches of the Present Day (1801), in which he argued that “pastors…are precluded by the Scriptures from receiving any compensation for their services,” and A Portrait of John Creath (1807), which is the account of some private dispute between a Mr. Creath and a Mr. Lewis. The later pamphlet is no longer accessible. Semple described it colorfully as having been written with a pen “dipt in poison.”

We do not know when and under what circumstances Elijah was restored to fellowship, we merely know that he was a member of the congregation when he died in 1808.

Whereas John Newton Brown, who also ministered for a time among slave-owners in Lexington, Virginia, spoke loudly and clearly against the institution of slavery, Elijah Craig, like many Southern Baptists, seems to have quietly profited from the cruel institution of American slavery. According to tax records from 1800, Elijah owned “over 4,000 acres of land, eleven horses, [and] thirty-two slaves.”

His Death

For one reason or another, Elijah lost a good deal of his wealth by the time of his death. According to his last will and testament, he had only one slave left to leave for his children, a slave boy named Harry.

On May 13, 1808, Elijah was “in a low state of health but of sound mind & memory,” and penned his last will and testament. He died by May 18, 1808. On May 24th, the Kentucky Gazette wrote the following eulogy:

“He possessed a mind extremely active and his whole property was expended in attempts to carry his plans to execution—he consequently died poor. If virtue consists in being useful to our fellow citizens, perhaps there were few more virtuous men than Mr. Craig.”

Conclusion

You will find the story of Elijah Craig’s life unsatisfying if your use history to cherry-pick laudable heroes in which you expect to find no wrinkles or complications. If you want a hero, I’d argue you can find much more unalloyed hero material in someone like John Newton Brown or S. Dryden Phelps.

Nevertheless even this slave-owning and allegedly censorious Baptist makes for a fascinating historical study in our Baptist heritage. In particular, his involvement in pre-Revolutionary happenings concerning religious liberty and his location at the early development of the Baptist church in America makes him a remarkable character. He also provides a fascinating early case study for a variety of other reasons. He provides us with an early example of Baptist church discipline being put into practice. He shows how the earliest Baptists were generally not teetotalers or prohibitionists. He is an early example of a Baptist entrepreneur. He is involved in debates for and against bi-vocational pastorates.

We do not know enough about Elijah Craig to form a substantial impression of his theology and piety. There are, however, a number of fascinating aspects of his life which would make him an interesting study, if more information could be found.

I don’t pretend to have done Elijah Craig’s legacy justice, nor do I claim to well-suited to be the individual to uncover and connect further details about him. I merely hope I can stir up some interest in him. We can only hope that some more information is uncovered in the future! Such is the optimism of history, there is always the hope that more will be discovered some day.