In the Fifth Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Kentucky, on Wednesday, before the third Sunday, August 1865 messengers from twelve different churches met to organize the State Convention of Colored Baptists in Kentucky, with the late Rev. H. Adams, pastor of Fifth Street Baptist Church, Louisville as President; Brother Vincent Helm, Green Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Vice President; Rev. E. E. Hansbrough, Secretary; Brother Peter Smith, of Frankfort, Kentucky, Treasurer. Certain Baptists purchased the Hill property at Frankfort, which was later transferred to the convention. At the first session the committee reported about 5,000 members. The first report of Missionary work by Baptists in Kentucky was made and the first trustees were elected; four from Frankfort,, four from Louisville, and one from Lexington.
It seems there must have been an understanding among the preachers relative to establishing a Baptist College in the State before the meeting of the convention, because certain Baptists had purchased the Hill property at Frankfort, which subsequently was transferred to the convention. From the records, this property was purchased John H. Thomas, Robert Martin, Tabb Smith, and Henry Samuels, under deed dated, August 12, 1865, from E.A. Dudley, and wife, the consideration being two thousand dollars, which was before the convention was organized. This same property was conveyed by John H. Thomas, R. Martin, Tabb Smith, and H. Samuels, to Richard Sneethen, Henry Adams, W.W. Taylor, Solomon Patterson, Peter Smith, Tabb Smith, Henry Samuels, J.H. Thomas and Jas. Monroe, trustees of the Colored Baptist Association of Kentucky. The consideration was the same that it was when they made the purchase, and the deed is dated, August 21, 1866. Among the first acts of this convention was one to begin the establishing of this school, and appoint a committee to look after the matter.
The Convention of 1867 was held at First Baptist Church Lexington. Officers were re-elected and plans were adopted to raise money to pay for the Hill property. The convention was in session a full week. The convention 1868 returned to Louisville and opened at Fifth Street Baptist Church on Friday August 7. At this session 6,620 members reported from 27 churches. For the first time in history of the convention a visitor from the Chicago attended. At this session it was determined to change the convention to General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky. The offer of White Baptist Association to assist in the evangelization and education was accepted.
In 1869, the General Association was formed at First Baptist Church at Lexington, Kentucky with Rev. H. Adams, moderator; Rev. R. T. W. James, Recording Secretary; Q. B. Jones, Corresponding Secretary; Peter Smith, Treasurer. Several new churches were added membership totaling 12,260. The association formed on Tuesday morning, and continued until Sunday.
From 1870-1914 many changes in leadership and progress was evident as the association grew and met in various cites and towns throughout the state. In that era, one of the largest and most enthusiastic sessions of the General Association was the 48th annual session held in Emmanuel Baptist Church, Louisville, KY, August 13-17. 1913.
The General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky as it was called at that time, now the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky’s main objective was to own and run the Kentucky Normal & Theological Institute, which was in 1918 renamed Simmons University. It is presently named Simmons College of Kentucky.
* This is a partial history.