Mary Lucille Burgin



February 22, 1977 

Ms. Matheny: The following is an unrehearsed interview of Miss Mary Lucille Burgin of Crab Orchard, Kentucky by Elsie C. Matheny, interviewer, for the Kentucky Bicentennial Oral History Project.  The interview was conducted in Crab Orchard in the home of Miss Burgin, on February 22, 1977 at 3:00. 

(tape goes off, then back on) 

Ms. Matheny: Mary Lucille, you have lived in Crab Orchard quite a long time, haven’t you? 

Miss Burgin: Yes, I have; practically all my life. 

Ms. Matheny: Were your parents from Crab Orchard? 

Miss Burgin: My mother was from Crab Orchard.  She was Betty Edmiston and she married Dr. Welby Wilson Burgin from Madison County. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, her mother was from Crab Orchard also. 

Miss Burgin: Yes, she was Nancy Lucy Pleasants.  Now, Pleasants were some of the first settlers around Crab Orchard. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, it is so nice to have somebody who knows a lot about Crab Orchard and their relatives have come from Crab Orchard.  I’m sure that you know a great deal about its history, and we would like to…you to give us something about the Crab Orchard Baptist Church…the history of the Crab Orchard Baptist Church. 

Miss Burgin: Well, the Baptist Church here was formerly called Cedar Creek Church.  Now, it was organized in 1791 by William Marshall.  And, they had 40 members that were dismissed from the Gilberts’ Creek Church.  And, the Gilberts’ Creek Church was Craig’s travelling church that was going through the country and it was settled this side of Lancaster, and they dismissed the 40 members to come here in town and start this church. 

Ms. Matheny: Do you have any information as to who the first pastor was? 

Miss Burgin: Yes, the first pastor was William Bledsoe.  And, then, in 1792, Jeremiah  

Vardiman (sic), and he was baptized by Bledsoe.  And, then, later, he was licensed to preach.  And, he became the second pastor of the church in 1802.  And, it was during his pastoring that the name of the church was changed to Crab Orchard Baptist Church, and the cause of a new house of worship was built in the village of Crab Orchard.  This building was a brick structure facing the North built in 1808. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, what did they do with the former church?  Did they use it for some other purpose? 

Miss Burgin: Well, they built this frame church that was larger to take care of the members.  And, my mother told me that she went to school in an old brick building in back of this church, so it sounds like this old church could have been used as a school building. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, do you know anything about the size of the membership or anything about that building that was built in 1810? 

Miss Burgin: Well, they had a large membership.  There was over 400, and that’s why they had to move out of this brick and build this larger frame building.  And, during the civil war, the United States, the government, used this building for a hospital, and, so, some of the members were scattered around and they didn’t have any services for several years in there. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, a lot of churches became disorganized during this time.  And, I’m sure that the Crab Orchard Baptist Church did too, and probably had to build their membership up again.  Do you know anything about the history during the period from 1866? 

Miss Burgin: It was that time that the church began to grow.  And, Reverend John James was called in as the pastor.  And, at that time, they had less than 40 members.  But, by 1870, the church was moving forward and a great revival was sweeping over the state, from 1870 to 1873. 

Ms. Matheny: Now, this is an outstanding period in religion in our state.  And, I’ve been told that fire destroyed this frame building. 

Miss Burgin: Yes, that was in 1948.  And, then on June 18, 1950, the brick structure that is there now, was dedicated. 

(tape goes off and then back on) 

Ms. Matheny: And, your present membership is what, now? 

Miss Burgin: Well, we have around 380 members, but they are not all resident members.  I would say it would be 225 resident members at the present. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, then, you would say that the Crab Orchard Baptist Church has more membership than any other church in Crab Orchard? 

Miss Burgin: Yes, I would so. 

Ms. Matheny: And, it is the leading place of worship.  Well, I thank you very much, Mary Lou, and this has been quite interesting.  And, could you tell me the source of your information? 

Miss Burgin: This was from some old church records. 

Ms. Matheny: And, did that come from any of the old church books or records…. 

Miss Burgin: A lot of our church books and things was destroyed when the fire destroyed our building in 1948, so we lost a lot of records.  But, some of the records, they had enough that they knew that this was how our church started. 

Ms. Matheny: Well, I think this is very interesting, and this has been quite a fine interview, and I thank you very much.  This concludes it. 

Miss Burgin: Thank you. 



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