William Head

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Rev. William Head, son of John A. Head, a native of Virginia, was born in Scott County, Kentucky, November 17, 1807. He was raised on a farm, and received a common school education. In his 22d year he married Sarah Jane, daughter of Joseph S. Norris. She only lived one year after their marriage. In his 24th year, he married Anestasia Teresa, sister of his first wife. Both of his wives were Roman Catholics, as were their parents, but the second Mrs. Head and most of her father’s family afterwards became Baptists.

Mr. Head was converted, in 1834, and was baptized by J. D. Black, at Stamping Ground, in his native county. The following year, he moved to Owensboro, in Daviess county, where he united with a small church which was constituted soon after he arrived there. After this, he became very cold in religious duties, and when awakened to his condition, was deeply troubled. He found George McKay and Elijah Griffin in a similar state of mind. The three held frequent conversations on the subject, and finally agreed to meet at each others houses, and pray together. This being found out, the people began to meet with them, and regular prayer meetings were held, at which considerable crowds assembled. John G. Howard was finally induced to take part in the prayer meetings, and soon a deep religious interest pervaded the entire community.

About this time, (1839) John L. Burrows, agent for China missions, visited Owensboro. Mr. Head laid the condition of himself and his brethren before Mr. Burrows, who promised to return and hold a meeting with them, after filling a series of appointments. The Methodists, learning the arrangement, anticipated the Baptists, and got possession of the Court House, the only suitable place for preaching, in the village. When Mr. Burrows returned to redeem his promise, he obtained leave to preach a few sermons in the Court House. The people, having heard the brilliant young orator, so clamored for his preaching, that the Methodists were compelled to give place to him. He continued preaching for some weeks, and God wrought a glorious work of grace, among the people. The burthened young church members, who had originated the little private prayer meeting, were joyously relieved, and more than 100 converts were baptized. The revival spread to the neighboring churches, and it was estimated that not less than 500 or 600 were baptized, while the spirit of missions was widely diffused.

Mr. Head was very active during the revival, and being licensed by the church to exercise his gift, he proclaimed to all around him, with burning zeal, the joyous news of salvation. He crossed over the Ohio river, and raised up a church at Booneville, and laid the foundation for several others along the southern boundary of Indiana. In 1841, he was ordained at Owensboro, by Thomas Downs and Reuben Cottrell, for the pastorship of Booneville and Bakers Creek churches, both in Indiana. The next year, he was called back to Kentucky, and took charge of Rock Spring and Friendly Grove churches, in Daviess county. In 1843, he was called to Rock Spring, for all his time. He preached twice a month at the church house, once a month at the present site of Chestnut Grove meeting house, and once at the present location of South Hampton church. At these mission stations, he gathered the last named two churches.

In 1849, he took charge of the church at Cloverport, where he labored with success, eight years. He then moved to a farm, near Webster, in Breckinridge county, where he still resides (1885). He preached to Walnut Grove church, 25 years, to Lost Run, 20 years, and to Clover Creek, 17 years. He has also served the churches at Caseville, Flint Island and Little Bend, at different periods. In addition to his pastoral labors, he has done a great deal of missionary work, during his entire ministry. He is a plain, strong, practical preacher, rather than a brilliant one; and it may be confidently said, that few preachers have been more useful to the cause of Christ, in the field in which he has wrought. Although far advanced in years, the old soldier is still able to do good service in the army of the Lord.

Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. 2. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886 Courtesy of the Daviess County Bicentennial Committee