Joseph Addison Clark
Gospel Preacher/Educator In Texas
Sketch Of Joseph A. Clark
Hettie Esther D'Spain Clark
The names, Clark and D'Spain, are among
the first great leaders of the Restoration Movement in the state of Texas. Hetty
D'Spain was but a child, when she, along with her parents, her mother Rachel,
brother Lynn, and over three hundred members of the Church of Christ left the
city of Waterloo, Alabama in the mid - 1830's to move west. The wagon train,
whose scout was none other than Davy Crockett, headed to the new land of Texas,
still under the control of Mexico. However, lest we move too quickly, it is good
to go back two generations and see the process of events that led up to the
great work both J.A. and Hetty Clark did in Texas.
In 1772 Hetty's grandfather, Benjamin
Lynn, of the state of Pennsylvania, moved and settled in Bardstown, Kentucky. He
brought two men with him, John Ritchie and John Gilkey. The three men started a
distillery business together in the groves of North Central Kentucky. To
this day Bardstown is known for its production of liquor. However this was a time before Bardstown got its name. The area was
still relatively untouched. It had rich virgin timber land. The Indians were
very spread out in the area, and there were only a few cabins together that made
up the little community. Very soon after arriving the Revolution began, the
British had stirred up the Indians against the white man. As a result, Indian raids
broke out, people were killed, and homes were burned. Many of the area
settlers fled to nearby Fort Harrodsburg, including Lynn and his friends. It was
during this time that Lynn was studying his Bible.
To better set the stage, it should be
known that the man who was overseer of Fort Harrodsburg was none other than George Rogers Clark. Clark was the brother of William Clark of the famed
duo, Lewis & Clark, whose famed expedition to the west is a mainstay in early American
History. It should be remembers that George, too, was famous as well. Had fought
against Chief Pontiac in Indiana during the Indian wars. Clark was appointed to
protect that region in Kentucky, and his headquarter was at Fort Harrodsburg.
But most importantly to this story, he was a friend to Benjamin Lynn.
one occasion the Fort was surrounded by Indian
attackers. Their onslaught went on for six months. Then the battle came to a
stalemate when neither of the two sides could gain the victory. The Indians
could not get in, which meant, the settlers could not get out. Little did the
Indians know that inside the Fort lived a man who had lived among the Indians
back in Pennsylvania for seven years who know their language and their ways.
That man was Benjamin Lynn.
a six month siege, the hope of the Indians was to starve the settlers out.
However, Lynn foiled the plans of the Indians single-handedly. Late at night, he
would slip out of the fort to spy on the Indians. In the
dark he would converse with them to find out their plans, and while outside
would gather food to bring back for the starving settlers. In the end, the settlers
withstood against the Indian invasions.
the wars with the Indians, Lynn went back to Bardstown,
deciding to preach. He didnít preach Baptist doctrine, just the Bible. As a
result, the local Baptists didnít like it, which caused him to pull away from
them. In 1805, Lynn had heard of Barton W. Stone, but
did not know him personally. He traveled 80 miles northeast to ask him if he
would baptize him. It took several days to make the
journey to Cane Ridge through the woods. He found Stone who baptized him for the
remission of his sins.
Lynn then moved south with his family, to Huntsville, Alabama in around 1810. His daughter Esther,
married John Chisholm of Kentucky. His other daughter, Rachel married
Marshall D'Spain (sometimes DeSpain). With his family he began preaching in the
Huntsville area. He was probably Alabamaís first located preacher. In 1814 he
organized the church, but died in the fall of that year. It is believed that the
location of Lynn's final resting place is in an unmarked grave somewhere on the property of
the University Of Alabama, Huntsville campus.
In the year of 1814, Alexander Campbell is still working among, and affiliated
with the Baptists, and Stone has broken with the Presbyterians, but his
influence had not reached this far south except through Lynn.
the death of Lynn, the D'Spains and Chisholms moved westward to the northwest corner of Alabama,
to a few miles north of Florence. They began worshipping in their home, studying with neighbors,
and God gave the increase. In 1824 a church was organized that still meets to
this day. This congregation, just a couple years after its inception, was where
B.F. Hall preached baptism for the remission of sins, resulting in the obedience
of the young man, Tolbert Fanning. Today this
congregation is called Stoney Point Church of Christ, the oldest continuing
congregation in Northwest Alabama. The Chisholm Graveyard
is the oldest cemetery in Northwest Alabama, located on Chisholm Road about six
miles north of Florence.
D'Spains went to the very corner of the state, what is now
called Waterloo, Alabama. There Marshall and Rachel established the Lord's
Church in this small village that borders Tennessee and Mississippi. In 1826 the
church at Waterloo was established. In 1830, it is reported that Mansil
Matthews and cousin James Matthews ordered 300 song books for a church meeting
in Waterloo, Alabama from Stoneís publishing house. In 1835, the church at
Waterloo disappears. No records in the State or County show what happened to
this group of Christians. A few years ago, in the library at Texas Christian
University, a letter by Dr. Mansil Matthews, in his own handwriting explained
what happened to the Waterloo Church of Christ. The Christians living in
Waterloo packed all their belongings and moved to Texas. They hired David
Crockett to be their guide. However, Crockett grew tired of scouting for the
group because they stopped every Sunday for worship all day, too much down-time
spent for Crockettís liking. He left the group at Memphis, and moved on to
Southern Texas to fight against Santa Ana, and the Mexicans. He left Tennessee
on this trip never to return. He was killed at the Alamo, San Antonio, Texas. It is
not known if he ever obeyed the gospel, but it is certain that he heard it.
The group finally arrived in Fort Clark, Texas.
On January 1, 1836 the church was established on Texas soil. So, the church at
Waterloo disappeared, but showed up in Texas. Over the next 30 or 40 years many
churches were started from this group and its influence.
Note some other things of interest concerning the Lynn family.
Benjamin taught his family well. His daughters married good men. They were
Christians who taught their children the gospel. The Mansell D'Spains in
Waterloo had two children. A son, Lynn DeSpain, was a gospel preacher in Tennessee,
Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. They also had a daughter, Hetty Esther D'Spain (named
after aunt Esther Chisholm.)
When the migration to Texas took place, Hetty met
and married Joseph
Addison Clark. The Clarks had two sons, Addison and Randolph. Both of these
young men grew to be gospel preachers. The Clark brothers, along with their
father, established a Christian college at Thorp Spring, Texas. Joseph named
the school AddRan College, after his sons' first names. Some of what would now be called ruins, remain on
the site in Thorp Spring. The state of Texas has declared it as public domain,
and keep up the park area.
The Incident At Thorp Spring Church
1860, the addition of instruments of music into the worship of the disciples
began to increase in different regions of the country. Texas was no different.
The disciples at Thorp Spring had considered the instrument. Both Addison and
Randolph, the sons of Joseph and Hetty, saw no problem with the innovation.
However, father Clark, did not consider its addition with the same sense of generosity.
At one point, Joseph Clark had told his sons that to
bring it in would cause the church to split. As the controversy hit its peak, a
petition had been signed by 3/4 of the congregation saying they did not want to
see the piano added to the worship.
The will of Joseph and anti-instrument group was
put to the test when a minister was coming into the area for a revival meeting.
The younger Clarks knew that the preacher enjoyed the instrument, and saw the
opportunity to introduce it into the worship. They came to their father
encouraging him that the visiting minister would enjoy the musical accompaniment.
To this J.A. Clark sternly warned his sons of its folly, but to no avail. On the
given day for the revival beginning, the woman prepared to begin playing the
piano. When the accompaniment began, the old Joseph Clark, now in his 80ís,
got up, and with cane in hand, slowly walked out of the church building with 2/3rds
of the congregation following behind him. The other 1/3 left were in tears at
the sad parting. See more this event here.
the death of Joseph Clark, the campus briefly moved to the city of Waco, but by
the turn of the 20th century, the schooled settled in the city of Ft. Worth, and
is now known as Texas Christian University.
Clarks are buried in the old city cemetery in Thorp Spring. It was a joy for me
and one of the elders at FC/C, Ray Cozart, to visit both the old Thorp Spring
campus and the city cemetery in the late summer, 2000. It was a joy and honor to
visit the graves of Joseph and Hetty Clark. Also, their son Addison, and his
son, Addison Jr. are buried nearby. The
pictures and directions below should make any Restoration Movement enthusiast
want to make the trip to the little town of Thorp Spring, Texas.
Note: The story of the work and lives of the Lynn family, and the planting of
numerous churches as a result of their labors, is one that would entice anyone's
interest in Restoration Studies. It is this story, and many others like it, that
I heard from my mentor, teacher, and friend, Wayne Kilpatrick, History Professor
at Heritage Christian University. I first heard of Benjamin Lynn in his classes
while I attended HCU (formerly International Bible College), taking his classes
on Restoration History in the late 1980s. Wayne's love for the history of the
church was easily seen in class, making his passion for the past easily
To Thorp Spring Cemetery
Thorp Springs Church of Christ head over one block further to Clay Rd. and turn
left. The pavement will end. Continue another half mile and the cemetery is on
the left. When you enter the cemetery, all the graves will be to right.
The Grave Of J.A. & Hetty Clark
Thorp Spring Cemetery, Texas
Joseph Addison Clark
Nov. 6, 1815
Jan. 11, 1901
Hetty Esther D'Spain Clark
Apr. 20, 1824
July 9, 1894
We Loved Her
(L to R) Addison, Sallie McQuigg, &
Addison, Jr. Clark
Campus Of Thorp Spring Christian College
This More In-Depth Article On The History Of The Early Church In Texas
On Miss Bertha!"
On AddRan College