James Kennard Blackman
Sketch Of The Life Of James K. Blackman
Kennard Blackman was a native of Alabama. He was born in the northern part of
Alabama, July 14, 1833. His parents died when he was a small child, so he was
left an orphan and never knew his parents. His grandfather on his paternal side
took young Blackman and brought him to Maury County, Tennessee. His grandfather
lived near where Theta now is. Soon after he was brought to Tennessee his
grandfather, who was old at that time, died, and left young Blackman while a
mere lad to make his own way in the world. After his grandfather's death he
rambled around, and finally came to Franklin, Tenn., to live with some relatives
Blackman had but little opportunity to go to school, and consequently had but
little education gained from the study of books; but he made a close study of
human nature and human affairs until he became a well informed man for his day.
He learned the trade of harness making as he grew up and was kept busy making
saddles and harness, as horses were used exclusively in his day. While living in
Franklin and following his trade he met Miss Mary Caroline Ezell, daughter of
James Ezell, who carried the mail on horseback from Nashville, Tennessee, to
Columbus, Mississippi. This was before any railroads were built in Tennessee.
After several months of courtship, he married Miss Ezell, September 21, 1856,
and lived in Franklin three or four years more.
grandfather's people belonged to the Baptist Church, and young Blackman knew but
little about the Bible, as he had never studied it, but he was inclined to the
Baptist belief. James K. Blackman was like many people of his day and many even
to this good day: he had religious belief without knowing or caring what the
Bible taught on any given subject. To him the Bible was a sacred book, but it
had not occurred to him that he should study the Bible to know the will of God.
Soon after his marriage in 1856 he and
his young wife heard Tolbert Fanning preach in
Franklin. His preaching was so simple and direct that it made a profound
impression on Blackman's heart. He resolved to become a Christian and live as
the Bible directed him. The weather was cold and the ice had to be broken in
order that he be baptized. He and his young wife gave their hearts to God, and
with a zeal that could riot be chilled they were baptized into the Lord Jesus
Christ on a very cold day. He was in earnest and was determined, not only to
live the Christian life, but to teach the way of salvation to others. He began
to study prayerfully the Bible, and soon gained a very accurate and full
knowledge of the sacred truth revealed therein.
after he became a Christian he moved to Linden, in Perry County, Tennessee, and
began teaching school. He was successful as a teacher. He continued to teach in
Perry County until 1861, when the Civil War so disturbed the people that he
ceased teaching and came to Davidson County. He helped to establish the church
at Linden. After the war closed, he moved near Nashville and began teaching
school a few miles out of Nashville on the Hillsboro Pike. Here he farmed and
taught school. He was a great reader and studied the Bible with all the help
that he could get and prepared himself well to preach the gospel. While living
near Nashville be made an earnest effort to establish congregations in and
around Nashville. There were very few churches in Davidson County at that time.
Through his efforts, together with other faithful men, a congregation was
established on the Hillsboro Pike. Brother Blackman was largely instrumental in
establishing the church and in instructing it more accurately in the way of the
Lord. Again, he and his family helped to establish the church on the Granny
White Pike, which was known as "Compton's Chapel." When the church
house was built at Compton's Chapel, the brethren desired that Brother Blackman
preach the first sermon in the house. This was done as recognition of his modest
and faithful service to them and to the Lord.
Blackman next moved to Indian Creek, on the river road out of Nashville. Here he
found four or five members of the church, but they were not meeting for worship
on the Lord's day. Brother Blackman began to instruct them and encourage them to
worship God according to the New Testament order. He soon had a congregation
meeting regularly at Hurricane Church, which was near his home. Brother Blackman
helped to establish congregations at Sam's Creek, Sycamore Mills, Greenbrier,
Dog Creek, and Little Lot. He visited all these places, frequently making his
trips on horseback. Sometimes his good wife would accompany him, riding
horseback also. He gave much of his time to preaching the gospel and
strengthening the churches in Davidson and Cheatham counties. In many
communities where there was no house in which to meet for worship, be would go
into the woods and prepare rude seats for the people and invite them to come and
hear him preach. Before the church was established at Cub Creek, in Cheatham
County, he preached many times in a beech grove near there. Later Brother Granville
Lipscomb and Brother David Lipscomb
preached there and established a good congregation.
Blackman possessed a timid, shrinking disposition, but be had a quick, keen
mind. He was a good man, and always studied the Bible closely to know the will
of God. He was a good teacher of the Scriptures and wrote frequently for the
Gospel Advocate. His articles were always thoughtful and instructive. He was not
a forceful speaker, but was a good teacher in the congregation. He was well
informed on the topics of the day, but his chief interest was centered on the
Bible. In the homes and private circles of his community he was a master of the
situation in discussing Bible topics. Much good was done by him in teaching men
in the private walks of life. No man could defend the truth with more power and
simplicity in the private circles than could Brother Blackman. He not only knew
the truth, but be also knew the different theories of religion as taught by the
denominations, and he was able to point out clearly the errors of human systems
and give Scriptural proof of the truth that be maintained.
Blackman reared a family of seven children, and all of these became active
members of the church. It was a rich contribution to the cause of Christ to give
seven well-trained members of his family to the active service of the church.
While Brother Blackman did not become a renowned preacher of the gospel, yet his
preaching, did much good, and many today are reaping some of the fruits of his
labors. During the active period of his life he was associated much with
Brethren Frank Davis and David Lipscomb. He
died on November 16, 1892. Funeral services were held by Brother Lipscomb at
Watkins Chapel. His body was laid to rest in Mount Olivet Cemetery, near
Nashville. Brother Blackman left a noble example of self-sacrificing faith and
trust in God. His labors were many, his earthly rewards were few, but a crown of
righteousness awaited him at his coming.
Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo
Boles, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1932, page 257-260
Directions To The Grave of J.K. Blackman
James K. Blackman
is buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville
Tennessee. The cemetery is located on Lebanon Pike, Southeast of downtown. Click
over to Mt. Olivet for map and location of the grave in the cemetery.
His remains rest in Section 10 Lot #512
N36º 08' 57.5" x WO 86º 44' 11.7"
Accuracy To Within 17'