By Mary Jo Wolfe
In 1911 construction of mining facilities, business offices, and homes was underway in the town of Jenkins. Mr. John G. Smyth, manager for Consolidation Coal Company, wrote to Bishop Maes of Covington,a late that year requesting that he send a representative to visit the site and ascertain the needs of the Catholics.
At that time, there were two routes open to Jenkins. One was by C & O Railroad to Hellier, Kentucky and then •twenty miles by horseback. The other was through Norton, Virginia to Pound Gap to Jenkins. Bishop Maes chose Father Ambrose Reger of Corbin, Kentucky to go to Jenkins and report his findings. Taking the Norton, Pound Gap route, Father Reger visited Jenkins early in 1912. He found a large part of the population were immigrant European Catholics who were engaged in the construction work. There were about four hundred Italians as well as smaller number of Polish, Albanians, Hungarians, and Slavs.
On receiving Father Reger's report, Bishop Maes immediately arranged for a priest to visit Jenkins once a month. Meanwhile, he worked to secure an Italian priest for the parish. Father James Massa, a young priest of Levoni, Italy,b was the first resident priest of Jenkins, coming in January, 1913. He immediately began work among the Catholics in Jenkins as well as those in the surrounding coal camps. At that time his mission territory included Pike, Letcher, Knott, and Perry Counties — an area of •1800 square miles. By November, 1913, Father Massa was making regular monthly visits to Hazard.
By 1914, the present church and rectory were completed. They are frame buildings set on a sloping hillside along the banks of Little Elkhorn Creek. Father Massa chose the site because of its nearness to the main part of the new town and its privacy. The lot set aside for church property was large enough to allow for a school building in the future. Another smaller lot was set aside for a Catholic cemetery. Holy Cross Cemetery is located on a knoll below the B & O section of town and there are nearly sixty graves there, most of them dating from the early years of the parish.
The church was dedicated under the patronage of St. George in honor of the first Bishop of Covington, Bishop George A. Carrell. Bishop Carrell was an ancestor of the Jenkins family who were major stockholders in Consolidation Coal Company and for whom the town was named.
Father Massa expanded his work throughout the mountain area until his death on July 20, 1918 at St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky. He was buried in that city. Priests of the diocese continued to have charge of St. George and the mission territory after Father Massa's death until 1948. Priests of the Third E‑2Order Regular of St. Francis had charge of the parish from 1948 until 1958. From 1958 until 1969 the diocesan priests again had charge of the parish. In 1969 Bishop Richard Ackerman asked the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to care for the parish and mission area. The present pastor, Father James MacGee, is a member of that order. Among the priests who have been at St. George are some prominent names — Father John J. McCrystal, Father William Gockel, Father M. Paul Spain, Father John V. Jegenauer, Father Albert McCracken, and Father Raymond A. Baumann.
In 1946 the Congregation of Divine Providence sent a small group of Sisters to operate the Sharon Heights Hospital, formerly the company-owned Jenkins Hospital. Other members of their order opened a kindergarten the same year. It was gradually expanded to an eight-grade school, and the present modern school building was built next to the church. The Sisters continued to operate the hospital until 1962 and the school until 1971. The hospital has been leased to a community action group which operates a nursing home. The Sisters continue to teach religion classes in the school building which is also used by the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for meetings and as a Day Care Center.
The population of most mining towns tended to be somewhat transient, and so it was with Jenkins. This characteristics is reflected in the parish records of St. George. After the initial construction period of the town, many of the European workers left the mountains. Some stayed on to work in the mines or at other coal company jobs. Some were transferred to other coal towns. The resident pastor at Jenkins continued to serve the surrounding counties.
In 1939, the Mother of Good Counsel Church was established at Hazard and Perry County separated from the St. George Mission. In 1949, the St. Francis of Assisi Church was established at Pikeville and Pike County was separated from the mission territory. Letcher and Knott Counties remain as the St. George Mission Center with the parish church in Jenkins, Holy Angels Chapel in McRoberts, and Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Whitesburg.
In September, 1972, the parish observed the sixtieth anniversary of regular church services with a special Eucharistic celebration. Father Raymond A. Baumann, a former pastor, returned as guest of honor for the day. Another special event of the year was cleaning of Holy Cross Cemetery and celebration of All Souls Day Mass there. The number of Sisters doing social work in the parish increased. The Parish Council was set up and is developing plans to expand the work of the religious and the laity in the counties of Letcher and Knott.
The church was organized March 20, 1948, in the home of Leslie Ellis, with eleven members present. The church building was completed and on New Year's Eve, 1949, the first service was held in the church.
The church was first called Dixon Chapel of the Rural Missionary Baptist Church. J. E. Dixon was the first pastor. Viola Fleming was elected clerk and Edna Daniels was treasurer.
Hugh Ellis held associate pastor for ten years, after J. E. Dixon became ill. Carl Layne was chosen pastor. Next in line was Ray Hodges of Nicklesville, Virginia, who served for only one year.
Nick Jurick served two years as pastor; Elmer Hughes of Clintwood, Virginia served approximately six years, and Lee Llewellyn of Florida for only one year.
The present pastor of the church is Archie Conn of Calvary College, Letcher, Kentucky. He is attending Pikeville College working for a degree in teaching and teaching ministry.
The church now has some 50 members and has been blessed with many souls saved and working toward the eternal goal of heaven.
The church helps sponsor two full-time missionaries — Mary Lou Weber of New York and JoAnn Dearhart of Pennsylvania. Both now reside in the Jenkins area. They work with Bible clubs. The church also helps sponsor one foreign missionary, Mike Pepper.
List of deacons are: Ray Pritchard, Leslie Ellis, George Bevins, Wilmer Yonts, Curtis Elswick and Ervin Elswick.
The East Jenkins Church of God was organized in 1941 with the following charter members: Mike Vanover, Laura Vanover, Bertha Barley, Lillie M. Adams, Victor Slaughter, Nellie Slaughter, Mary Hunt, Beulah Fouts, Bell Tyree, J. L. Guthrie.
The first pastor was Rev. J. L. Guthrie, who now resides in Florida.
The present pastor is Rev. O. L. Rose of McRoberts. The pastor has two daughters, Mrs. Ann Steely of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Mrs. Glenda Zunda of Covington, Kentucky and one son, Charles L. Rose at Morehead State University.
This church was established on December 3, 1948, with eleven members who came from the Burdine Baptist Church. The primary reasons for the move were that many Jenkins members who attended the Burdine Church had transportation problems and also for the benefit of the community, which had no Freewill Baptist Church at that time.
The first pastor was Alex Tompkins. Other pastors have been Percy Elkins, Sr., Clyde Huff, Albert Dingus, Lloyd Pike, Andy Timblin, and at present, Charles Gallion.
The Deacons are Hobert Castle, Martin Bolling and Tommy Miller. The church now has a membership of approximately 90 persons.
By Kathy Hancock
According to an article in the Consolidation Coal Company's Mutual Magazine in the early years of Jenkins history, the Methodist Church of Jenkins was established through the combined efforts of the Kentucky Conference and local citizens. This article states that the church was the most modern and up-to‑date church building in the coal section of Kentucky. The first minister was Rev. Crutchfield with J. Marvin Kinzer as Sunday School Superintendent. The Kinzer family was very active in the church for many years.
Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kegan, their three sons and four daughters were early members. Mrs. Kegan was pianist and Mr. Kegan accompanied her on his mandolin. Later they were joined by Mr. A. K. Alley and Mr. W. H. Frye with their instruments.
One member of the Kegan family, Seth Kegan Sr., is still active in this church, having served in official capacities for many years.
Through the efforts of this church, the first kindergarten of Jenkins was formed; a teacher, Miss Fanny O'Brian, was supplied. The early classes had an enrollment of about 80 children.
Through the years, the church has thrived under the leadership of pastors appointed by the Kentucky Conference.
Many people remark even today on its beautiful stained-glass windows. In the past few years, the membership has had wood panelling installed in the sanctuary, basement, and Sunday School classrooms. The kitchen has been completely remodeled and the building as a whole is very attractive.
In 1968 the Methodist Church joined with the Evangelical United Brethren and changed its name to the United Methodist Church. The church hopes to continue to grow both spiritually and in number, and extends an invitation to all to come at any time.
The First Baptist Church of Jenkins was organized on August 29, 1913, with thirty-five charter members. Officers then were: J. W. Crow, Missionary Pastor and S. V. Crum and T. L. Barber, acting deacons.
The church moved into its church home in 1916. Sunday School was organized with 41 members present on February 20, 1916. Officers were W. H. May, Superintendent; E. B. Dawes, Assistant Superintendent; and W. S. Morey, Secretary-Treasurer.
The church adopted rules and by-laws to govern its activities in 1945 and revised them in 1964.
The church sponsors a mission at Haymond with Bobby Dingus serving as mission pastor.
Membership at present (including the Haymond mission) is approximately 261 and the Sunday School enrollment is now 135.
The church has just completed a new educational plant adjacent to the main structure. The new plant contains nine classrooms, a large nursery and modern restroom facilities.
The following organizations are active in the church: The Women's Missionary Union and the Brotherhood. The WMU sponsors the following organizations: Baptist Women, Baptist Young Women, Acteens (for girls ages 12‑17), Girls-In‑Action (ages 6‑11), the Crusaders (boys ages 6‑9) and the Mission Friends (birth to age 5). In addition a Vacation Bible School is conducted each summer.
Officers and staff of the church are: Chairman of Deacons, Church Clerk, Church Treasurer, Sunday School Superintendent, Woman's Missionary Union President, Pastor, Choir Director, Organist, Pianist, Building and Grounds Chairman and Janitor.
Former pastors have been: J. W. Crow, 1913‑17; F. M. Helms, 1918; Rev. Lutten, dates not available; R. Lee Jones, dates not available; T. E. Smith, 1923; J. S. Hale, dates not available; O. M. Shultz, 1934; Nelson Crull, 1937; J. S. Hale, 1938; M. F. Kelly, 1938; R. P. Ringo, 1942; R. Lee James, 1945‑1952; Ben Landrum, 1953; J. Lonnie Bradley, 1962‑64; Guy M. Deane, Jr., 1964‑69; and Floyd Warrix, 1970 to present.
The present pastor, Floyd Warrix, came to Jenkins on January 14, 1970 after having served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Jonesville, Va. for three years and of the First Baptist Church in Robbins, Tenn. for seven years. He also attended the Clear Creek Baptist School for ministers in Pineville, Ky. for 4 years. He has served as interim pastor at his home church, the First Baptist Church in Allen, Kentucky, as Mission Pastor in Drift, Ky. and as pastor at the Young's Grove Baptist Church near Barbourville, Kentucky.
a An idea of Bishop Camillus Maes, and his attachment to Kentucky, can be got from his writings: onsite, his 600‑page biography of Charles Nerinckx, an early‑19c pioneer priest in the northern part of the Commonwealth, and a small piece on Flemish Franciscan missionaries in North America. An obituary biography is also onsite.
b No place seems to exist by that name anywhere in Italy, at least none having more than a hundred inhabitants or so. I suspect Livorno is meant.
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