Trinity Episcopal Church

Historical Marker #1442 notes that Trinity Episcopal Church is "one of the oldest church buildings in Danville." Constructed in 1830 by resident Robert Russel Jr., the early members of the church included Dr. Ephraim McDowell, who performed the world's first successful abdominal operation in 1809.

Three years after the church was built, tragedy struck the congregation. That year, Asiatic cholera struck central Kentucky with a vengeance, killing thousands. Among the dead was the Reverend Gideon McMillan, the first rector. The Irish-born McMillian is now buried under the church altar and his tombstone is located in the churchyard.

In February 1860, a fire swept through Danville and burned much of the town. Trinity Episcopal was consumed in the fire and only the church walls were left standing. Many of the bricks were cleaned and used for the reconstruction, which was completed in 1862. That October, however, the Battle of Perryville was fought ten miles from Danville. After the battle, thousands of sick Union soldiers were crammed into the Boyle County Courthouse, businesses, private homes, and churches, including Trinity Episcopal. One resident, Mrs. H. L. Newlin, stated, "I know some of the members were dreadfully distressed to think their church was being used for a hospital when they had just gotten it fixed up."

The house of worship reputedly contained both Union and Confederate soldiers and conditions were difficult for these ill and injured men. When Dr. A. N. Read of the United States Sanitary Commission visited the site he found 161 patients. Only three kettles and three frying pans were available to feed these sick men. Most of the patients lay on blankets that were tacked between the pews.

When the church was vacated by the soldiers, it was heavily damaged. One witness noted that "the walls were written over and blackened considerably." In addition, doors, lights, and windows were broken, prayer books were destroyed, and the carpet was ruined. Churches all over town suffered similarly.

Trinity Episcopal Church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Images

Trinity Episcopal Church

Trinity Episcopal Church

Located in downtown Danville, Trinity Episcopal Church was a hospital for Union and Confederate soldiers following the 1862 Battle of Perryville. The first rector of the church, who died in an 1833 cholera epidemic, is buried under the church altar. Image courtesy of Centre College. View File Details Page

Trinity Episcopal Church and downtown Danville

Trinity Episcopal Church and downtown Danville

This late nineteenth-century image shows downtown Danville, Kentucky. Trinity Episcopal Church is located on the left. Image courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Danville, Kentucky

Danville, Kentucky

Trinity Episcopal Church is located in downtown Danville, Kentucky. Image courtesy of Centre College. View File Details Page

Ephraim McDowell

Ephraim McDowell

Danville doctor Ephraim McDowell, who performed the world's first successful ovariotomy in 1809, was an early member of Trinity Episcopal Church. Courtesy the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Sanders, “Trinity Episcopal Church,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed July 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/106.
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