John Thomas Poe
Ligon Portraiture Picture
Brief Sketch On
The Life Of John T. Poe
John T. Poe was born in Tuscaloosa,
Alabama, August 30, 1836. He was the son of Larkin C. and Rachel Harrington Poe
of Chatham County, South Carolina. He was said to have been one of the pioneer
preachers of Texas, who came into the vineyard at the third hour, and helped to
bear the burden and the heat of the day. He lived and worked for years in
central and east Texas. He helped to strengthen the churches at Corsicana,
Dallas, San Marcos.
He was 25 years old when the Civil War
broke out. He volunteered for service, reaching the position of Corporal in
Company F, of the 4th Regiment of Texas Volunteers. He, along with
other pioneer preachers like B.F. Hall, and
Gen. R.M. Gano, did their part in fighting for the
cause of states’ rights.
After the war he served a number of years
he served as Texas editor of the Gospel Advocate, and wrote for other
papers as well, including the Firm Foundation.
In 1874 the church in Longview was
organized. Poe was the minister. Until 1884, the congregation did not use the
instrument in their worship services. Poe opposed its entrance. It was not until
1895 that the instrument was added under the influence of L.A. Dale. Poe, along
with 25 others, left the group to form a congregation after the simple New
Testament order. Heartbroken, he ended up leaving for a few years, but returning
in February, 1900. The church of Christ in Longview increased under his
Through his writings, and personal trips
to struggling churches, he fought against the additions of the instrument into
public worship assemblies. He also fought against the Missionary Societies. In
1899 he helped to have the instrument removed from the church house at Dawson,
Navarro County, Texas. He wrote articles in the Gospel Advocate, and other
papers encouraging brethren to stay and fight for their buildings rather than
give them over to those who wanted to bring the instrument into the assembly.
When efforts to reunite with brethren who had added the instrument, he opposed
it saying that decisions of whether to use or not to use instruments in worship
had to be decided on the congregational level, and not through a state run
He organized a number of churches
including the Christian church at Wills Point, Van Zandt County, in 1886.
He passed from this life December 23,
1917, and was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Longview, Texas. Buried beside
him are his wife Carrie, and his son William.
—Sources: Texas Pulpit by Christian
Preachers, The History of the Catoma Street Church, Gospel Advocate; Firm
Foundation Vol 35, No. 1 Jan. 1, 1918;
More On Poe's Activity In Alabama
JOHN T. POE
The subject of this sketch illustrates the power and
influence of Christianity on a life. Wonderful are the blessings of
Christianity. It can take one from the lowly walks of life and exalt him to the
honorable station of a preacher of the gospel; it can take one from poverty and
obscurity and place that one amidst the wealth and inheritance of the blessings
of God on earth; it can take one from ignorance and simplicity and instruct that
one in the wisdom from above; it can take one who is idle and useless and make
that one a servant of the many; it can take one from the lowly depths of sin and
make that one an honor add glory to God on this earth. We have all of this and
more illustrated in the life and character of John T. Poe.
John T. Poe was born on August 30,
1836, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. He was reared in the midst of poverty and obscurity.
When he was one year old, his parents moved to Texas in the early days of the
history of that great State. They settled on a farm in Polk County. There was a
large family of boys and girls, and John T. was the oldest of the children. He
was reared to know the dangers and hardships of frontier life in that country.
All the members of the family had to work hard, and enjoyed but scant
opportunities for an education. Neighbors were few, and there were very few
opportunities for social intercourse at that time. Young Poe spent six days in
the week working on the farm and had no opportunities for cultural advantages.
John T. Poe early in life developed
an ambition to know more than could be gathered from the prosaic and ordinary
routine of farm life and a community of simple folk. He read and studied at
night while others were asleep. At the age of eighteen he took a contract to
carry the mail from Livingston, in Polk County, Texas, to Huntsville, in Walker
County. For several years he made this trip on horseback, and he seldom ever
missed carrying the mail. The weather was never too inclement nor the dangers
too hazardous to prevent his making the trip. He met a Mr. Winnie in Huntsville
and engaged with him to learn the business of watchmaking. He applied himself
diligently to his task and soon became very proficient in this business. After
learning his trade he formed a partnership with Mr. Winnie, and continued in
this business with his partner until the Civil War. His partner, Mr. Winnie, was
a Union man, and he was forced to flee to the Northern States, whence he came.
Brother Poe was about twenty-five years old when the war began, and he enlisted
in the war and continued until the close. He was wounded severely at the battle
of Gloretta, in New Mexico; was taken prisoner in Santa Fe and retained as a
prisoner several months; was parolled there and returned to Texas; reentered the
army and remained in active service until the end of the war.
Young Poe had joined the Methodist
Church before the war began. He was faithful to that church during the time he
served in the army. He read the New Testament while a soldier and became
dissatisfied with sprinkling as baptism. He determined to take the New Testament
and follow it. He appealed to a Methodist preacher to immerse him, but the
preacher refused. He next went to a Baptist preacher and stated his case. At
that time he had learned only the mode of baptism. His attention had not been
called to the church of the New Testament. The Baptist preacher gladly received
him and baptized him. For several months he was happy in the Baptist faith. He
continued to study the New Testament. One day he heard a Baptist preacher preach
on the "final perseverance of the saints." He did not understand the sermon, but
it disturbed him. He read the New Testament to learn what was taught on that
subject. While studying the New Testament he learned more about baptism, and was
ever ready to engage in conversation with any one who would talk with him on
religious subjects. He soon became very skillful in arguing his position.
However, he always had an open mind and a love for the truth. He had a good
friend in H. C. Wright. These two studied the Bible together, and they made a
team in arguing the different points stressed by the different denominations in
that country. His friend, Mr. Wright, married a young lady who was an active
member of the body of Christ. He and his wife agreed to attend church with each
other, going to "her church" in the morning on Sundays and to "his church" at
night. Soon his friend learned the truth and as readily accepted it. He talked
over all of the points with John T. Poe, and they both saw the truth about the
same time. Young Poe thought that by continuing in the Baptist Church he would
be able to influence some of the younger members to accept the truth with him.
Some of the older members of the Baptist Church took a very decided stand
against young Poe, and he stoutly contended with them for the truth and against
the errors maintained by the Baptist Church. This continued for some months.
Finally the Baptist Church withdrew from him because he was a "factionist" and
had espoused heresy.
Brother Poe left the Baptist Church
in 1870 and soon began preaching the gospel. When he left the Baptist Church, he
was so persecuted that he was forced to justify himself in what he had done. He
was careful not to accept anything that he could not find in the New Testament.
He learned so well what he read in the New Testament that he was able to present
it with clearness and force against any one who could be found bold enough to
dispute with him. In this way he became a public pro-claimer of the gospel. He
continued to work at his business, repairing watches, and preach as he had
opportunity. He began to make appointments in adjoining counties, and soon he
had calls sufficient to keep him busy. His services were in great demand, and he
was successful from the beginning as an evangelist. He was so interested in
preaching the gospel that he neglected his business. Preachers were supported
with very little in those days, and he had a hard time in making a living for
his family. In 1880 he was called by the church at Longview, Texas, to come and
labor with it. He moved his family to that place and devoted all of his time to
preaching the gospel. He soon received calls from many points in Northeast Texas
and preached all over that section of the State. He was instrumental in starting
mar y churches and strengthening and edifying others. He received calls from
other States and made extensive tours through Tennessee, Alabama, and
Brother Poe was a good writer. He
wrote much for the religious papers. He was clear in expressing himself, and his
writings were read by thousands. He did not claim to be a profound reasoner, and
yet he was logical in the presentation of his subjects, both in oral and written
teachings. He had a number of debates, and he was always able to meet
successfully his opponents. He knew the Bible and could present its teaching
with force and simplicity. He was just such a preacher of the gospel that the
common people heard him gladly. Brother Poe made many sacrifices for the truth.
He struggled through poverty in his early life and continued the struggle to the
He died at his home in Longview,
Texas, December 23, 1917. His body was laid to rest in the cemetery there.
Brother Poe said as the end grew near: "I have fought the fight, but have not
always made as good a fight as I might; but I have kept the faith." Many today
are still rejoicing because he helped them to see the truth.
Biographical Sketches Of Gospel Preachers, H. Leo
Boles, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, Tennessee, 1932, pages
Directions To The Grave of John T. Poe
From Dallas: John T. Poe is buried in
Longview, Texas, in the
Greenwood Cemetery. If traveling from Dallas, take Exit 589 off
I-20, and head seven miles north. Follow Hwy. 31 north to Hwy. 80E. Go 4
or 5 traffic lights and look for the hospital. The cemetery is behind
the Good Shepherd Hospital. Just past the hospital, turn right on N. 5th
St. and the north end of the cemetery should be at the corner of Paden
St. & N5th. However, the entrance should be one block further down on E.
Magill Street. The address is 705 E. Magill St.
From Shreveport: Heading
west on I-20. Take Exit 596 and head north on Hwy. 259/149 (S. Eastman
St.) Turn left on E. Marshall Ave. (Hwy. 80) and just before the
hospital, turn left on N. 5th St. and the north end of the cemetery
should be at the corner of Paden St. & N5th. However, the entrance
should be one block further down on E. Magill Street. The address is 705
E. Magill St.
Acc to 14 ft.
N32º 02.582' x WO 96º 28.753'
Grave Faces East
8th Addition / Section B/ Lot 10
Cemetery Map Showing Location Of Kearley Monument
Aug. 30, 1836
Dec. 22, 1917
H. Wife Of
Feb. 21, 1843
Sept. 13, 1922
Wm. F. Poe
Oct. 15, 1866
Feb. 22, 1909