It didn’t take long to find an explanation about the land grants to Rev. Poythress and his
fellow trustees of Bethel Academy.
This passage from Chapter 2, The Bethel Academy Story (pg. 18) in the Asbury Theological
Journal, Fall 1994.
..., the land on which Bethel Academy was built was granted to the school only by a verbal
agreement between John Lewis, the owner, and Bishop Asbury in 1790 and a verbal agreement
between John Lewis and Rev. Francis Poythress,
James Hord, Nathaniel Harris, and Andrew Hynes on May 16, 1794, (perhaps this date
supports the fall opening of the school). A written deed was not drawn up until November
28, 1797, delivered to the Fayette County Clerk's office May 24, 1804, and recorded
April 15, 1805." For several years the school operated without official endorsement
by the state legislature.
The act which recognized Bethel as an Academy, along with others, was passed on February
10, 1798, recognizing Francis Poythress, John Knobler [sic, Kobler is correct], Nathaniel
Harris, John Metcalf, Barnabas M’Henry, James Crutcher, James Hord and Richard Masterson
as trustees of the Academy.
On the same day, the Legislature passed an act that granted to each academy named,
including Bethel Academy, a tract of 6,000 acres west of the Green River. Each could sell
one-third of the tract granted to pay for erecting buildings, buying books for a library
or other necessary academic equipment.•• The land seemed to be a significant gift, but
land was so plentiful in the state and prices so low that the expenses of the grant
outweighed any gains.
So, while the land grants are interesting historical artifacts linked to Rev. Francis
Poythress, they seem unlikely to shed new light. Disappointed but undaunted;)