Preacher came to Danville from Shelby County in late 1800s

Published 6:21 am Saturday, September 29, 2018

A long-time Methodist minister who served as pastor in a Danville church in the late 1800s was a Shelby County native.

The Rev. Hartwell Jefferson Perry was the oldest member of the Kentucky Conference of the Methodist Church at the time of his death in 1855, according to The Advocate-Messenger archives.

While in Danville, he and his wife Jerusha Gildersleeve Perry and children Sara Bell, Hartwell Jr. and Lillie, lived on Fourth Street, according to Census records. He was active in the Masons organization and Temperance Union.

Email newsletter signup

Born in Shelby County

Perry was born on Nov. 1, 1806 in Shelby County. His parents moved to Fayette County, where he attended school. When he was 12 years old, the family moved to Henderson.

Perry united with the Methodist Episcopal Church on April 16, 1838, and four years later, Perry received his license to preach and was employed by the Rev. George W. McNelly as an assistant to the Rev. C.S. Clifton in the Henderson circuit.

In 1838 Perry was appointed to the Cumberland Circuit in Southeastern Kentucky and Campbell County, Tennessee.

He preached in 23 churches once a month and traveled more than 1,300 miles and preached 150 times. He was paid $1.50 travel expenses and 68 cents as salary during a six-month term.

Perry went on to the Somerset District and a year later came to Danville and moved on every two years to other churches in Kentucky including Harrodsburg, Salvisa and Buena Vista.

While serving in Woodford and Jessamine counties in May 1853, Perry’s house caught fire and he lost his library, diary, manuscripts and sermons and most everything he had.

He moved to other churches in central and northern Kentucky. While he and his wife were in Nicholasville in May 1845, their three daughters perished in another house fire.

In 1865, he severed his connection with the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He continued to preach in Methodist churches and was in the Lexington District for three years serving churches in Danville and Harrodsburg.

Lived in Danville

He lived in Danville for 15 years before he died Sept. 7, 1885.

He apparently died from injuries in an accident on Aug. 28, 1885 while on a camping trip at Linnetta Springs resort near Junction City.

He was injured 10 days prior to his death when his carriage was nearing the entrance on Linnetta Springs and a passing train frightened his horse. In the confusion, Perry got out of the carriage and tried to get the horse under control. He was thrown to the ground and trampled.

He was under the animal and sustained a fracture to his lower leg and severe cut to his head.

He is buried in Bellevue Cemetery.