Centerville Presbyterian Church

(Livingston Presbyterian Church)
(from articles by Middleton Groom)

Centerville Presbyterian Church was organized early in the year 1797 by Rev. Terah Templin and a group of former members of his Hardin's Creek Church (Lebanon, Ky.) and his Road's Run Church (Springfield, Ky.). Each of these churches had been organized by the Rev. Templin in the early 1790s. They were located in what was then Washington Co., Ky. General John Caldwell, in whose home the bachelor minister (Templin) lived, and who was an elder in the Road's Run Church, was one of the laymen who assisted Templin in organizing the Centerville Church. He was one of its first elders.

The loss of the church records forbids the naming with certainty all of the founding laymen and laywomen of this church. However, from the few Presbytery references and the existing land conveyances records, enable us fairly well to establish the identities of certain of those early settlers and church members.

Robert T. Leeper and his wife Jane aided in the organization of the Centerville Church. Mr. Leeper also became one of the new church's first elders. In addition to the Leepers and Gen. Caldwell and his wife, Judith, some of those early settlers were:
Francis M. and Nancy Caldwell, David and Catherine Caldwell, Alexander and Mrs. Maxwell, John and Anna Armstrong, William and Elizabeth Hamilton, David and Mary Hill, John and Mary Elder, Joseph and Sarah Dunkin, William and Esther Love, John and Susanna Wheeler, John Hamilton, Isaac Hicks, Isaac Cruce, James Cruce, George Witherspoon, Charles Slaton, William Dickey, David Dickey, James Deacon, John McElroy, John Reed, Dr. John Rice, John Travis.

Terah Templin and his group of former Washington County parishioners, guided by General Caldwell, headed west in the summer of 1796. Arriving at the chosen site for their settlement-it must of nessisity have been one supplied amply with wood and water - the first major activity was the erection of housing and shelter for the families and their livestock. That being done, attention was turned to the organization of a church. This is not to say that religious services had not been conducted from time to time. Their pastor and friend was not one to neglect worship. Liking a meeting house, he conducted services in the open, in private houses, in the presence of individual families, anywhere two or three could be gathered together in the name of his Master.

The formal organization of the Centerville Church took place in the spring or early summer of 1797. A church building of logs was soon erected. Its floor was of dirt; its pews were split logs; its winter heat a wood fire with the smoke escaping through a hole in the roof. Later, when it became necessary to enlarge the building, an addition was made at one end of the existing structure, the end where a fireplace and chimney had been added. It was found that the fireplace and chimney would be directly in the center of the sanctuary when the addition was completed by removing the logs of the intervening wall. The congregation was not at all fazed by this. They simply inserted another fireplace on the other side of the chimney.

People came from 30 to 40 miles around to attend the services, either walking or riding horseback as the wilderness did not permit the use of vehicles.

No record of the deed to the property occupied by the church has yet been found by the writer. However, many of the churches in our early days failed to record their deeds.

Caldwell County Court Clerks records show a deed to two acres of land from Sarah McElroy (widow of John McElroy), to Francis M. Caldwell, John Armstrong and John Miller, trustees of the Centerville congregation. Deed is dated Feb. 15, 1829 (in pen is written 1820) very likely conveyed land used for the church cemetery

Note: These papers were found at the Glenn Martin Research Library and show the name of the author as Middleton Groom.
The 1900- 1910- 1920 Caldwell Co., Ky. census shows his name as Littleton Groom