Lewis Craig, a distinguished pioneer Baptist preacher of Virginia and Kentucky, was born in Orange County, Virginia, about the year 1737. He was first awakened by the preaching of Samuel Harris, about the year 1765. A great pressure of guilt induced him to follow the preacher from one meeting to another, and after the sermon he would rise in tears and assert that he was a justly condemned sinner, and unless he was born again he could not be saved. His ministry thus began before he had hope of conversion, and after conversion he continued preaching a considerable time before being baptized. Many were led to Christ under his labors.
Soon after his conversion and before his baptism (there being no ordained minister near to baptize him) he was indicted “for preaching the gospel contrary to law”. The celebrated John Waller was one of the jurors in the case. The pious and prudent deportment of Elder Craig during the trial was blessed to the conviction and conversion of Elder Waller.
He continued preaching with great zeal until the June 4, 1768, when being engaged in public worship, he and John Waller and James Childs were seized by the sheriff and brought before three magistrates in the meeting-house yard, who held them to bail in the sum of £1000 to appear before the court next day. They were required by the court to give security not to preach in the county within twelve months. This they refused to do, and were committed to jail. As they passed through the streets of Fredericksburg, Virginia they sang the hymn beginning, “Broad is the road that leads to death.”
During his confinement Elder Craig preached through the prison bars to large crowds. He remained in jail a month and was then released. He immediately hastened to Williamsburg, Virginia and soon secured the liberation of his companions. Their imprisonment seemed only to inflame their zeal, and they went everywhere preaching the Word.
Lewis Craig was ordained and became pastor of Upper Spottsylvania church in November, 1770. But this did not prevent his preaching in the surrounding counties. In 1771, he was again arrested and imprisoned for three months in Caroline County, Virginia. He continued preaching with great zeal and success until 1781, when he and a majority of his church moved to Kentucky.
He located on Gilbert Creek, in what is now Garrard County, early in December. The next year he gathered Forks of Dix River church in the same county. In 1783, he and most of Gilbert’s Creek church moved to the north side of Kentucky River and organized South Elkorn church. Here he remained about nine years, laboring zealously in all the surrounding country.
A number of churches were founded, and Elkhorn Association was formed October 1, 1785. He moved to Bracken County, Kentucky about the year 1792. Here he formed several churches, and became in a manner the father of Bracken Association. He died suddenly about the year 1828, of which he was forewarned, saying, “I am going to such a house to die” and with solemn joy went on to the place, and with little pain left the world.
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia