Bethel Church, Butler, KY
The ladies sitting on the rock wall are unidentified. The date of the picture is unknown.
At the time of his death, William J. Bradford owned land five miles north of Falmouth, Kentucky on the Falmouth and Grassy Creek Turnpike. His will, probated 16 Mar 1876, stipulated that the farm be surveyed and divided among his wife and children and that one and a half acres was for the community to use for a church and a cemetery. He designated one acre for the cemetery and a half acre for the church building.
Two Baptists and two Methodists were chosen to supervise the construction of the building. T.J. Campbell and Arthur Purdy were the Methodists and J.K. Bradford and Bryan Parsons were the Baptists. T.J. Campbell, a carpenter by trade, and his sons Frank and James Campbell built the church with help donated by both men and women. African American men from Falmouth were hired to do the plastering. These men had to be transported to Bethel from Falmouth daily until T.J. Campbell offered them a place to stay, according to Mrs. J. H. Bush, daughter of T.J. Campbell. Campbell also provided meals for them.
Mrs. Bush also reported that funding was low before the building was completed. To raise additional money, J.W. Campbell and a teacher who was teaching in the community at that time went throughout the county soliciting. They were successful and the church was completed.
The building was dedicated in 1881 and was named Bethel by Mrs. T.J. Campbell. The Baptists and the Methodists shared the building for several years. The first sermon was preached by Baptist minister, Reverend Spillman. Reverend Gabe Mullins became the first regular minister. Reverend S.A. Day was the first Methodist minister.
At first, there wasn't a charge for grave sites. In 1895, the one-acre cemetery was fenced off by Elex Emerich and graves were sold for $5.00 each. It was everyone's responsibility to keep the cemetery in good condition.
In 1911, when Mt. Moriah Christian Church was constructed across the road, many from Bethel Church moved their membership to it. A church roll does not exist for Bethel Church. Church and cemetery papers were destroyed in a fire.
The stone wall in front of the church was erected in 1921. Will Stephens was paid $66.00 on 29 Jul 1921 for building it. The receipt was signed by Stephens. and committee members, Virginia Utley and C.C. Purdy.
By 1940, the cemetery was neglected. In 1950, several of the descendants of those buried there, cleaned the brush and built a new fence around the cemetery.
In 1950, Mrs. Corinne Hunold led a movement to incorporate the cemetery. She had the vision of a permanent organization that would care for the cemetery into the future. On September 15, 1952 the Bethel Cemetery was incorporated. Officers, elected on 30 May 1953 were: Mr. Henry Dance, President; Mrs. Nora Schafer, Vice-President; Mrs. Rosella Wyland, Secretary; and Mrs. Corinne Hunold, Treasurer. President Dance appointed John Dance, Mattie York, Mrs. John Dance, James Hall, and Otto Hunold to serve as the Board of Directors.
Cost of Fencing at Bethel Cemetery.
Fence at Bethel Cemetery
Other Expenses Incurred During a Renovation at Bethel Church/ Cemetery
In 2006, a tree fell in the cemetery resulting in volunteers cleaning up the cemetery. This sparked an interest in restoring the church building. Over the next four years, the building was restored to it's original one-room spl endor. This restoration was made possible entirely by donations of money, time, and skills. In May 2008, the Bethel Church and Cemetery was recognized as a "Kentucky Landmark" by the Kentucky Heritage Council. In May of 2013, the four men who worked to preserve the church, Obie Fardo, Frank Hussung, Bill Newman, and Charlie Pyles, received the Grassroots Award given by the Ida Lee Willis Memorial Foundation. The Bethel Church was destroyed by a tornado on 23 Dec 2015.