William Hickman was born in Virginia in 1747. While he was still a child both his parents died, and he went to live with his grandmother. The boy’s educational opportunities were limited, but his grandmother insisted that he learn to read his Bible – which he did. After several years of apprenticeship, learning a trade, he married the daughter of his master. When he heard that there were Separate Baptists in the area, he went to hear them, much against his wife’s wishes. Hickman came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, but he went back to his business and successfully ignored his need of Christ and His salvation.
Later Sarah Hickman, along with several neighbors, were converted to Christ. When she expressed a desire to be baptized, her husband refuse to allow it, vowing to prove from the Bible that her christening as a child was sufficient. But of course, the Bible offered him no proof at all, and after several months he consented to the baptism.
Then in 1773, under the teaching of an itinerant preacher named David Tinsley, William Hickman was born again, and two months later he, too, was immersed. Since there was no pastor in the area, Hickman and four other young men, began preaching to their gathered families. Then on this day in 1776, Brother Hickman joined Brother Tinsley at the site of Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and with a few others, they held the first Baptist church service in Kentucky. William Hickman displayed the ministerial gifts of the Holy Spirit and back in Virginia he was ordained.
In 1788 the Hickman family took up permanent residence in Kentucky, living on the Forks of the Elkhorn River. He pastored a church there for 45 years, while still traveling throughout the area preaching Christ to single families and remote villages. During his ministry in Elkhorn there were two years when he was not permitted into the pulpit. His disapproval of slavery upset some in his congregation. But eventually peace was restored and the pastor returned, continuing a long and blessed ministry.