Friday, October 17, 2008

Henry Rhoads

Henry Rhoads was probably the first among the early pioneers who settled in what was then known as Logan County in Western Kentucky. Born in Germany in 1739, he came with his father, Henry Sr., and landed in Philadelphia in 1750. His family was among the first to move across the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania to Brothers Valley in what is now Somerset County.

Henry, Sr. was a minister in the German Baptist Church and built the first meetinghouse in the Brothers Valley on high ground in a clearing belonging to his son, Henry, Jr.

Henry, Jr. was married to Elizabeth Stoner on October 9, 1760. He received his education in the Cloister School at Ephrata, where he received much training in the Bible, which aided him greatly as a minister in Kentucky. In 1774, he and several other young men joined the Brothers Valley militia to protect the pioneer families against the Indian marauders. This action led to the disfellowship of Henry and the other young members.

After further military service during the Revolutionary War, he became eligible for free land in the Kentucky wilderness. At the urging of his wife, he returned to the faith of his fathers after the war had ended. Meanwhile three Rhoads families began the move to Kentucky, settling in what was then called Severns Valley. The settlement at Severns Valley was later renamed Elizabethtown in honor of Henry's wife Elizabeth and has kept that name to the present day.

Henry eventually moved to Logan County where he obtained 2500 acres of military land upon which he first built his log cabin, which was replaced by his two-story plantation home built in 1792 and still in a fairly good state of preservation. It continues in the possession of the Rhoads family.

Henry was a minister, or at least he preached the Gospel to his neighbors, preaching in both German and English. His Bible was of the 2nd edition of Sauers Bible. Henry passed away on March 16, 1814 just a few months before the Muhlenberg County Church of the German Baptist Brethren was organized on June 18 in the so-called "Dutch Settlement."

Source: Lest We Forget and Tales of Yester-Years, Vol. III, Rolland F. Flory