THERE SHOULD BE ONE IN EVERY FAMILY
One of the most interesting benefits of doing historical research is the discovery of the things that tum up unexpectedly. Not only are important facts uncovered in this manner, but numerous human interest stories, or side lights to other events, that turn up from time to time. Two similar incidents came to my attention recently in some correspondence with friends in Alabama. The first came from Horace Randolph of Fayette County. I first met Horace in June 2005 when he joined Larry Whitehead, C. Wayne Kilpatrick, Frank Richey, and me on a tour through Fayette and Marion Counties visiting old cemeteries where some of the first Christians in the state were buried, home sites where some of them lived, and church buildings at the place where many of them worshiped.
There was a family of Randolphs who came to Alabama from Kentucky by way of a sojourn in Warren County, Tennessee. They settled first in Morgan County, Alabama, where they conducted camp meetings and established churches. Then in the late 1820s they moved to what was then Marion County, where they established the old Berea church in what is now northeast Fayette County. This was in about 1830. In addition to the Randophs there were the families of Hugh White McCaleb, Robert Logan, and Thomas Lauderdale, Logan's brother-in-law.
There were five Randolphs that were gospel preachers: Elisha, his sons, Jeremiah, Lorenzo Dow, and Simeon, and Jeremiah's son Virgil. I wanted to get these straight in my mind, so I wrote to Horace, a great grandson of Virgil Randolph, asking about these men and also for a correct list of Elisha's children. A monument set up near Elisha Randolph's nearly inaccessible grave on Randolph Mountain in later years had more names than he had children. Horace corrected the list and told about the Randolph preachers. Horace believes, with some degree of possibility, that Elisha Randolph's father was named Jeremiah and that he was an early gospel preacher in Tennessee. But that is another story.
In telling about the three Randolph brothers who were preachers, Horace said Simeon was not well known and he further announced that "Simeon was a rascal." He was withdrawn from by the old Berea church in 1870 and his wife left him about the same time. He then went to Fulton County, Arkansas where he had three True Bills drawn against him for practicing medicine without a license. The family there could not get along with him. His sister Anna Mariah Billingsley, whose husband Jeptha Billingsley was also a gospel preacher in Arkansas, wrote a letter to the folks in Alabama. She said of Simeon that: "He acted like he owned the whole state of Arkansas and had no money and thought that anything done for him was not enough." In a later letter, Horace wrote: "About the time of the church with-drawing from Simeon his wife gave birth to a child which was red headed. Simeon accused her of being unfaithful and said that red headed child 'can't be mine.' She told him when she was able to get out of bed she was leaving him and she did." It was then that he left for Arkansas. Horace added: "In our family if any of us shows an unaccepted emotion, or does any stupid thing that person is called 'Simeon.'" (Letters from Horace Randolph, July 13 and Aug. 4 and 5, 2005.) Soon after I received the letters from Horace Randolph telling about Simeon Randolph, I got a letter from Hilda Jean Logan of Russellville, Alabama, with a similar story-not about a red headed baby but about an uppity uncle of hers. In the letter she was explaining how we are related. Her mother and my grandmother were first cousins. She then mentioned her mother's brother, Wiley James, who was, she said, "by his own admission and self-appointment, 'The smartest man in the world' and 'smart enough to be president.''' Hilda, who is a great granddaughter of Robert Logan mentioned above, concluded: "Needless to say, when someone in our family got 'heady' we called them Uncle Wiley, which got their attention." (Letter from Hilda Jean Logan, August 12, 2005.)
After hearing about these similar family experiences voluntarily given within about a week of each other, I began to wonder if every family somewhere has a "Simeon" or an '''Uncle Wiley" in its archives. I could make a contribution myself but I won't. In my way of thinking, if every family doesn't have such a relative, perhaps they should have, just to provide a good negative example, or, as Hilda said, to get their attention when they get "heady."
- EARL KIMBROUGH, Alabama Restoration Journal, 2007, Vol. 2, No. 2, page 28
The Work of Elisha Randolph
"Elisha Randolph preached and established churches of Christ in Morgan County as early as 1825. Some of his converts, including the Robert Logan and Hugh White McCaleb families, moved to the Berea community in about 1830-1831. Elisha Randolph moved his family there a little later, in about 1832. A letter from some members of the Berea church to the Millennial Harbinger in 1870 said: "This is the oldest congregation of disciples in this region of country, has numbered over 100 members, some of us whose names are annexed have been Christians almost half a century, some have lived here [emphasis theirs] more than forty years, one an elder and preacher for more than a quarter of a century." (Millennial Harbinger, Dec. 1870.) The clear implication is that some of these were Christians before moving to Berea and some had been there for more than forty years. This would put them in the Berea community as early as 1830."
-Alabama Restoration Journal, 2008, Vol. 3, No. 2, page 4 (As part of an articles written by Earl Kimbrough on the life of John Taylor).
Directions To Grave
Randolph is buried in a very remote, and small cemetery on the side of Randolph Mountain in Fayette County, Alabama. It is located a few miles north of Berry on County Road 63.
From Birmingham: travel northwest on Hwy. 78 through Jasper. The new Corridor X is being completed that links Memphis, Tennessee and Birmingham, Alabama. So, part of the way can be traveled on Corridor X and part of the way is on Hwy. 78. When you get to the little community of Elderidge turn left on Hwy. 13 and head south ten miles to Hwy. 102. (It will be the next stop sign). Turn left on Hwy 102 and go 4.4 miles. Turn right on Cty. Rd. 63 toward Berry. Go 3.8 miles to the top of a mountain, and turn left on an old logging road. Just past the turnoff there is a little sign facing the south that says, "Randolph Cemetery" The logging road is very steep and could be dangerous. If the weather is a little bad, or has been wet a few days, this cemetery is not one you want to try to get to, unless you go on foot or 4-wheeler.
The Randolph Cemetery is 1865 feet from the pavement (0.35 miles). Also, it might be useful to note that a left-turning smaller road has been put in 1450 feet down the logging road from the pavement. It leads to a small green field which must have been planted for deer. So, don't turn there, walk 415 more feet down the main logging road to reach the 1865 feet, where the Randolph Cemetery is located on the left side. In March, 2014 a wooden sign was placed at the entrance of the cemetery so you should not miss it. Many thanks to Bobby Graham for these recent and more accurate directions to the cemetery.
I was at this grave in July, 2002, and again in 2005, and still again in the summer of 2010. On the earlier trip I had to move a couple of limbs and a tree trunk out of the road to get down the hill. I was a little concerned about getting back up, but did alright. If in the area, and it is a good and dry day, it is a grave you will not want to miss. It is a much larger cemetery than you would imagine. If it has been cleared, you will easily see that. Fortunately, Elisha Randolph's grave is close to the entrance.
*The names of the children of Elisha Randolph have been revised after further research made by the Randolph descendents. The revised list of children include Jeremiah, John D., Anna Mariah, Lorenzo Dow, Mahalia, Simeon, Orpha Theresa Clementine & Benjamin Evans. The names now in question include Robert, Rebecca, Martin, and Priscilla. These may have been nieces or nephews. This information was provided November 1, 2003 by Horace Randolph of Fayette County, Alabama.