The Pilot Baptist Church is located in Waynesburg Kentucky. It is several miles from nowhere, at the corner of dust and asphalt. It sits on approximately 6 acres of land at the Northwest corner of what used to be my Grandfathers farm. I call it Grandpa’s church because as far as I know, he donated the land, and materials that went into construction. According to records compiled by relatives the original Pilot Baptist Church was built-in 1914. My Grandfather was born in 1889, so he would have been 25 when the church was built. For as long as I can remember, I was told that grandpa had donated the land and the materials to build the church. I know that he did donate the land for the graveyard, and that when he passed away, my Mom and her sister donated additional land from the farm to add to the existing graveyard. I also know that I am related to about 75 percent or more of the people buried at the Pilot Baptist Church.
I suspect that in addition to the land for the graveyard he donated the materials to add an addition to the church (2nd picture below).
A little about grandpa as I know it, he was born in November 1889, and he passed away in October 1974. Only 6 months after grandma passed away. Before grandpa became a Farmer, he was in the US Navy (as a Marine), he had a job in San Francisco as a trolley operator. It is my understanding that he took a series of jobs as he traveled from California back to the Waynesburg Kentucky. I remember seeing his military uniform in the storage shed along with other little trinkets he had collected. I wish now that I had that stuff, I have no idea where any of it ended. The church is as small as it appears, and the building to the left was recently (built within a year before this picture) now houses the Sunday school classes. At the time of my mom’s funeral the message board in the front of the church said 78 members. Why that is important is beyond me, I know the sign was just above Mom’s casket, so I saw it a lot that day.
The Church has a center aisle with about 22 pews on the left and 18 on the right. Each side had a narrow aisle, and the stage and pulpit took the entire width of the church. The pulpit was centered on the lower stage, with the choir on the next level. The original additon housed the kitchen, the bathrooms, and meeting rooms, plus storage.
When I was a kid when the family visited grandpa’s farm, going to church was a mandatory event on Sunday morning. I remember that the church always had good attendance on Sunday’s morning service. The Sunday evening service was almost as popular. I don’t remember another church in the area. The next closest church was probably in Eubank, KY, which is about 8 or 10 miles away. Grandpa had the 1st pew on the right side of the church, and anyone with him shared that pew. I suspect if Grandpa was alone no one shared the pew with him. He may have been a deacon for the Church, but I wouldn’t swear to that in a court. I do know that he had final say on who the preacher was. It was one of those things that Mom would talk about from time to time.
This was and is a Southern Baptist Church, services there were meant to be heard, you were told of your sins, many many times during the sermon, and even if you wanted to nap, the preacher’s voice would keep you awake and somewhat alert. As a kid I remember many a time as I sat in the front row with grandpa that the preacher was speaking directly to me, I could see the fire in his eyes, telling me that he knew the sins I had committed, and that I was going to rot in hell if I didn’t repent. And he did it in such a very loud demanding voice. The preachers at grandpa’s church used their hands, and made all manner of gestures when they spoke. On the coldest of days their faces gleaned with sweat, on hot summer Sunday mornings they looked like they were going to melt. The sermons lasted no less than an hour sometimes as long as 90 minutes. And there was almost no participation from the attenders. We all sat there with stoic looks on our faces. I was born a southern Baptist, and I have been baptized as a southern Baptist. This church was the embodiment of what a Baptist Church should be.
The graveyard in the picture above has family members who were born as far back as the mid 1800’s. There is a second graveyard on Grandpa’s farm located northeast of the farmhouse. This graveyard has markers for families which were buried from the early 1800’s to as far back as the mid/late 1700’s. I remember seeing and reading them. The one time my wife was at the farm was for my father’s funeral, we had so much time after the service we took a walk with the purpose of finding it. I remember the gravestones going as far back as the early 1700’s. What was unique was a lot of the markers had how these individuals died. I remember small pox took a few, and on one was killed by Indian.
There was a blackberry patch very close to this small graveyard, and both Mom and Grandma would go to this spot to pick. This second graveyard had long ago been abandoned, but was a prime spot for finding good blackberries. But that is a story for another time.
As always your comments are welcome. Take Care