Historical Marker #1980 marks the location of Benham Shaw’s pioneer settlement and the Beaver Dam Creek Baptist Church.
Benham (Bonum) Shaw originally settled near Elizabethtown around 1779 with a group of Baptist settlers. Shaw was a ruling elder for Severns Valley Baptist Church, which he helped found that same year. After that winter, in 1780, Shaw traveled south to present-day Leitchfield. There, he established Shaw’s Station at the headwaters of Beaver Dam Creek. Beaver Dam Creek was named by Martin Kohlmann from Germany who was so impressed by the number of large beaver dams along the creek near his farm.
There is a long history of Baptists in Kentucky. They first appeared in Harrodsburg in 1776, but then returned to Virginia. There was no Baptist congregation until 1779, when Shaw and his Baptist members settled at Severns Valley (now Elizabethtown). After Shaw settled in Grayson County, the Beaver Dam Creek Baptist Church was established in 1804. There, Shaw was a deacon. The church became a member of the Salem Association, and later the Goshen Association, both of which are Baptist organizations that offer financial, leadership, and training support for all the churches belonging to a particular association.
The Great Revival, or Second Great Awakening, swept across Kentucky between 1801 and 1803 and mostly affected Methodists and Presbyterians. However, the excitement also affected Baptists, resulting in the number of Baptist churches doubling and the number of Baptists tripling. Beaver Dam Creek Baptist Church is now the First Baptist Church of Leitchfield.