History of the Restoration Movement

Simon I. Smith Cawthon


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Barron and Cawthon Became Significant Evangelists In County

Two prominent religious leaders in what is referred to as the “Restoration Movement” came to Covington County during the 1870s. The two men, Samford P. Barron and Simon I. Smith Cawthon, brought with them a zeal for planting a church in the area, which follows the simple pattern of organization and worship outlined in the New Testament.

Samford Barron had become a member of this non-denominational church while residing in Pike County before moving to Andalusia in 1875. The date of Simon Cawthon’s conversion is not known, but it is believed such occurred possibly in Barbour County before his move to Andalusia between 1876 and 1878. It appears that he was born in Henry County in the Columbia community. It must have been providential that one of Barron’s daughters married one of Cawthon’s sons.

Samford Plina Barron was born in 1844 in Merriweather County, Georgia, to Dr. Marcus Newton Barron and his wife, Mary Ann Selina (Perdue), who were both natives of Georgia. When Samford P. was but three years old, the family moved to Pike County, Ala., and settled in the Henderson community where Samford would spend his youth. In 1866, he was married to Susan “Tudie” Darby, daughter of Jeremiah and Nancy (Stoneworth) Darby of Pike County.

Samford and Tudie began their family in Pike County, but circa 1875, the young family moved to Andalusia in Covington County where he became an influential leader in the growing little town. Both began teaching in a private school in their home, and Tudie also operated a small mercantile business there as well. Samford served for a short time as city clerk during the 1920s, but he soon resigned. Interestingly enough, he was succeeded by Dr. Cawthon’s son, W.C.W. Cawthon.

Samford also entered into a business arrangement with Ed Tatum to operate a steamboat, The Mary Alice (his oldest daughter’s name), for shipping on the Conecuh River between Montezuma and Pensacola. The venture failed due to the river being too shallow in places to accommodate a heavily loaded boat. His son, Marcus Barron, served as general clerk for the shipping company.

Samford and Tudie reared the following children: Marcus William, b. 1867, d. 1931, m. Ella M. Scott; Mary Alice, b. 1870, d. 1941, m. William C. W. Cawthon; Jere Darby, b. 1873, d. 1884, single; Fannie Sabina, b. 1875, d. 1960, single; Samford Plina Jr. “Bubba,” b. 1879, d. 1963, m. ?; and Justus Mack, b. 1881, d. 1941, m. Katie Mary Kierce. “Miss Fannie” was a well-known schoolteacher in the area and operated her own private school.

When the Samford Barron family first moved to Andalusia, they worked immediately to establish a congregation of the church of Christ. This was accomplished during 1875, their first year of residence. The group assembled initially in the Barron home, an old schoolhouse, and the Masons’ building until a meetinghouse on Dunson Street was secured. Circa 1900, a commodious structure was erected on Church Street at a site just west of the current Regions Bank. (It has been reported that the concrete baptistery still exists in the back of a current building on the same site.) This building served the congregation for more than 50 years and until a modern brick one was constructed on South Three Notch Street. It was known as South Three Notch Church for many years until the current name of Central Church of Christ was selected.

Around the turn of the century, a number of other congregations of this New Testament Christianity were established throughout the county. Currently in 2012, there are some 12 different congregations, and a few former small ones have ceased to exist.

Very little is known about the early life of Simon Cawthon, but it is understood that his father, William Wilson Cawthon, was a large slave owner indicating reasonable wealth. At least his father was able to afford him a quality education, which resulted in him earning a medical degree. Cawthon was born in 1836 to William W. and Charity Gertrude (Smith) Cawthon, and he was married to Miss Lydia Pines upon reaching adulthood. Their lives were interrupted while Cawthon served as a private in Kolb’s Batter, Alabama Light Artillery, for the Confederate Army.

When the Cawthons settled in Andalusia, Dr. Cawthon could have easily become the leading physician of the small developing town. However, he chose to devote most of his time to preaching the gospel and converting others to New Testament Christianity.

Just imagine the state of the young town when Dr. Cawthon arrived. It did not have a railroad, so it was quite rural. The few stores and even the courthouse at the time were all wooden buildings. Cawthon began to preach by traveling around the area by horseback and road cart and eventually by horse and buggy. There were few places in this section of South Alabama that he did not visit and preach the gospel. No gathering was too small or large for him to share the story of Christ. He conducted meetings in schoolhouses and brush arbors, and he also made many converts by stopping in private homes.

Dr. Cawthon’s zeal and earnest sacrifices made a great impression on those who knew him, and many regarded him as a “hard” preacher. He had no compromises to offer anyone regarding his teaching of God’s word. Brother W.T. “Tip” Grider, a later pioneer evangelist, stated, “Cawthon knew and believed all the Lord said, and he insisted if man wanted to be saved, he must obey the will of the Lord.”

Cawthon once conducted a gospel meeting at Hamilton’s Cross Roads for 40 days in 1888 and used one subject, “Preach the Word!” This was his theme regardless of the subject, whether it was how to study the word, “What Must I Do to Be Saved?,” or any other.

Cawthon was also an able debater and was often thrown into religious discussions. He was quite able to fend the truth against any opponent. Even though he may have had some enemies, those who knew him best loved and admired him for his great determination to place the whole truth before the world. He did just that and even his death came during a gospel meeting, which he shared with Brother Ernest Garrett in August 1913.

Cawthon’s dear wife, Lydia Elizabeth Pynes, daughter of Fair and Maryanna (Creech) Pynes, preceded him in death by four years. A fitting tribute was paid her in an obituary written by J.M. Barnes for the Gospel Advocate, which was published in Nashville, Tenn., on November 17, 1921, page 1128.  She died on a Sunday, April 25, 1909, at their home in Andalusia. A Mr. Emerson, who had lived in Andalusia and knew Sister Cawthon well, stated with feeling, “That was a good old woman. I wish I thought my chances for heaven were as good as hers.”

Simon I. S. Cawthon and wife, Lydia Elizabeth, reared at least the following children: William C. W., b. 1859, d. 1927, m. Mary Alice Barron (1870-1941); Ella E.M., b. 1863, m. ? Lewis; and Joseph Speight Winfield, b. 1964-, d. 1932, m. Willie Emma Lloyd. These children reared their families in their hometown of Andalusia.

These two men, Barron and Cawthon, and their families contributed greatly toward the establishment and maintenance of simple New Testament Christianity in Covington County and surrounding area.

Sources for today’s writing include family records, obituaries, church records, The Restoration Movement web site, several issues of the Gospel Advocate, the October 10, 1941, issue of Sound Doctrine, and Ancestry.com.

-Curtis Thomasson, Andalusia Star News, April 13, 2012

Simon I.S. Cawthon, was born in Georgia, but he moved with family to Henry County. The identity of his parents is not clear, but records reveal his father was prosperous and had a large number of slaves. This means Simon had significant advantages as a child, which would have included a good education even to the level of becoming a medical doctor.

Simon was married in 1859 to Lydia Elizabeth Pynes, daughter of Fair Pynes (ca 1804-1854) and his wife, Maryanna Creech (ca 1810-after 1860). Simon and Lydia came to Andalusia between 1876 and 1878. They were the parents of several children including the following: Joseph S.W., m. Willie Lloyd; and W.C.W., m. Mary Alice Barron (1870-1941).

When the 1900 census was taken in Covington County, Simon and Lydia were residing in Andalusia in the home of their son, W.C.W. Cawthon. W.C.W. was head of the household at 40 years of age with his wife, Mary Alice, who was 30. At the time they had two children, Sam K., 2; and an infant, one month. His parents, Simon and Lydia, were both 65 years old. Mary Alice (1870-1941) was the daughter of Samford P. and Susan (Darby) Barron of Pike County who moved to Andalusia circa 1875.

In an article published in Sound Doctrine, a religious publication, in 1941, Bro. Tip Grider, an evangelist in Covington County, paid tribute to the evangelistic work of Simon Cawthon. Even though Simon was a trained medical doctor, he chose to devote his life to preaching the gospel in Andalusia and throughout South Alabama. When he arrived in Andalusia circa 1876, he worked with another preacher, Samford P. Barron, to build the first congregation of the church of Christ in the county. The town was small and quite sparsely populated at the time.

Even the courthouse and the few buildings in Andalusia were of wooden structure at the time. Simon Cawthon loved the cause of Christ so much that he was willing to travel far and near by horseback, road cart and later by horse and buggy. There were few sections in South Alabama where he did not preach the gospel. He made converts through gospel meetings as well as in private homes where he would visit. The meetings were held in homes, schoolhouses, and brush arbors and anywhere people might gather. No crowd was too small or too large for him to address.

Hundreds learned the truth of the gospel from the lips of Simon Cawthon. His fervent zeal and earnest sacrifices in life made a great impression on his listeners. Once he conducted a series of sermons at Hamilton's Crossroads for 40 days using the same subject, "Preach the Word." He was also a splendid writer and able debater. While some may not have appreciate his devotion to evangelism and his firm stand, those who knew him best, loved and admired him for his great determination to place the "whole truth before the world."

Additional information is needed on Simon and Lydia's family, but as stated earlier, in 1900 they were residing in the home of their son, W.C.W. Cawthon. Possibly a grandson, Jimmy Cawthon, was married to Johnnie Kate Locklier (1901-1970). This couple lived in Birmingham and reared three children: Billy; Katharine, m. ? Bailey; and Frances Ruth. m. ? Gilchrist.

-This material was gathered by Curtis Thomasson. It came into the hands of your web editor by way of Gary Hampton in March, 2012

Dr. S.I.S. Cawthon

I am unable to learn very much of the early life of Dr. Cawthon. He was not interested in family history, neither did he glory in the flesh. Through the scant information I can secure he was born, possibly in Barbour County, Alabama. His father was a large slave owner. It is natural to suppose as a boy he had many advantages, such as a splendid education, which finished into the degree of M.D. Dr. Cawthon was born August 9, 1836. Just when he became a Christian is not known. He was married to Miss Lydia Pines, but I could not learn the date. To this union two sons and one daughter grew to above the average age.
Dr. Cawthon came to Andalusia, Alabama, between 1876 and 1878. From this time he devoted most of his time to preaching the gospel. The town of Andalusia was young, not a railroad in that section. The few stores and even the Court House were all wooden buildings.
Brother Cawthon no doubt could have become the leading physician of the now thriving city, had he devoted his efforts to the practice of medicine. But his love for the cause of Christ caused him to forsake all and count them as refuse in order to gain Christ. He traveled far and near, on horse back, road cart, and later by buggy. There were few places in the entire section of South Alabama where he did not preach the gospel. He made many converts by stopping in private homes. He conducted meetings in school houses and in arbors. No crowd was too small or too large for him to tell the sweet old story of Christ. Hundreds of people learned from his lips the truth of the gospel. His zeal and earnest sacrifices made a great impression on those who knew him. Dr. Cawthon was counted by many as a hard preacher. He had no compromises to offer anyone.
He knew and believed all the Lord said, and insisted if man wanted to be saved he must obey the will of the Lord.
He conducted a meeting at Hamilton's Cross Road once for forty days and used one subject, "Preach the Word!" This was his theme regardless of the subject, whether how to study the word, "What must I do to be saved," or any other subject.
Brother Cawthon was an able debater and often was thrown into discussions. He was able to defend the truth against any opponent. Naturally Brother Cawthon had some enemies, some even among the brethren. I believe he cared for none of the praise and glory of man. No doubt oft times he was misjudged as to his real purpose and sometimes people said he was prejudiced, narrow and even a bigot. Those who knew him best loved and admired him for his great determination to place the whole truth before the world.
Brother Cawthon was a splendid writer. He could write more on a post card than many could in a letter. Brother Cawthon would condemn a friend when wrong or commend an enemy when he was right. This truly should be a lesson to us. Why can't I see the good in my fellow man as well as the mistakes he may make?
August 31, 1913, during a meeting conducted by himself and Brother Ernest Garrett the death angel called and said it is enough, come home. Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord for they shall rest from their labors and their works do follow them. It can be said of him "Being dead yet speaketh."

W.T. "Tip" Grider - Sound Doctrine - Vol. 1, No. 15 - Oct. 10, 1941, As reproduced in The Alabama Restoration Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, page 26.

Andalusia Star Obituary Report

Dr. S. I. S. CAWTHON, 73 yrs, Pastor of Andalusia on Sunday at Darlington, FL, funeral on Tuesday in Andalusia, survivors are 3 children, W. C. W. & J. S. W. CAWTHON, & Mrs Ella LEWIS;

-Obituaries, Andalusia Star, Sept. 4, 1913

Gospel Advocate Obituary For Sister S.I.S. Cawthon

On Sunday, April 25, 1909, Sister Cawthon went as was her custom to church, and stopped for dinner with her daughter, Sister Lewis. Later in the evening she and her husband, Dr. S. I. S. Cawthon, started home; but she decided to stop on the way to see some of the sisters who were not able to be at church that day. She reached home late and had to hasten out of the rain. Immediately after reaching the house, she called to her husband to come in haste. He just saved her from falling; and after putting her on the bed, he summoned the doctor. The last word she spoke intelligently was to tell the doctor that her head hurt her. Thus passed away one of the good women of the earth. In the year 1868, forty-one years ago, I met Dr. S. I. S. Cawthon for the first time, and he and his estimable wife were Baptists. I never saw two people struggle more earnestly to remain Baptists than these. It was the love of truth and nothing else that seemed to make them yield one point after another until there was an entire surrender. I never saw two people more nearly equal in the yoke, for Sister Cawthon examined every point with her husband and had to be made to see where the truth was. Thus she passed through life studying for herself and reasoning for herself. Her ideas of what God said and meant were not to be slighted by any one. On March 17 she passed her seventieth birthday, and she and Brother Cawthon (to use his own words) had "walked together fifty years and two months." I thought to write a longer notice of so great a woman, but I can give a quotation that will cover more ground than I can. I met Mr. Emerson, who had lived in Andalusia and who knew her well, on returning to Montgomery from the burial. I told him that Sister Cawthon was buried the evening before. With seeming feeling, he said: "That was a good old woman. I wish I thought my chances for heaven were as good as hers." This language cannot be emphasized.

- J.M. Barnes, Gospel Advocate, May 20, 1909, page 631.

Directions To The Grave Of SIS Cawthon

S.I.S. Cawthon and the Cawthorn family are all buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Andalusia, Alabama. Go to the square in downtown Andalusia. Go around the square and turn right on Crescent Street. The street will bear to the left. Then take the first right on Opp Street. The cemetery entrance will be on the right. The Cawthon plot is just behind the Magnolia Cemetery sign. While in the cemetery be sure to see the grave of S.P. Barron, S.I.S Cawthon's father in the faith.

GPS Location

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Magnolia Cemetery
Established Mid 1800s

W.C.W. Cawthon

W.C.W. Cawthon became a successful businessman in Andalusia. He operated a store in town and lived in a fine house located then on the River Falls Road. As the streets were developed, this one became Church Street, and the site of his house was where the two-story house is at the comer of Church and Snowden Drive. For a long time it was known as the Anderson Home, and it is currently owned by Howard and Vela Walden. W.C.W. served as a city councilman when Henry Opp was mayor between 1899 and 1906. There is currently a Cawthon Street running perpendicular to Snowden Drive, which was probably named for W.C. W. Cawthon. Also, the Cawthon Hotel once stood a short distance from the town square on the north side of East Three-Notch Street. Thus, the Cawthon family left had quite an impact on the early days of Andalusia and the surrounding area.

-Curtis Thomasson at Route 9, Box 97, Andalusia, AL 36420 or Email: chthom@alaweb.com

W.C.W. Cawthon
Nov. 30, 1859
Dec. 21, 1927

Gospel Advocate Obituary
Mary Alice Barron Cawthon

Mary Alice Barron was born in Pike County, Ala., April 9, 1870. Her parents were Samford P. and Susan Darby Barron. She obeyed the gospel in her early teens, being baptized by her father, and developed into a strong Christian character, an active worker for her Lord, and one of the best informed Bible students in South Alabama. Her example in following Christ should inspire her children to let her name and good works live in them by their being loyal and active in supporting the cause of Christ in every good way. She became the wife of W.C.W. Cawthon, in Andalusia, Ala., January 12, 1896. Unto them were born seven children. She is survived by three children, Sam K. and Joe Mack of Montgomery, and J. D. of Birmingham; and four grandchildren. The writer conducted the funeral service in the church of Christ in Andalusia, Ala., on May 22.

-James H. McBroom. Gospel Advocate, August 28, 1941, page 839.

Mary Alice Barron Cawthon
April 9, 1870
May 20, 1941

Willie Lloyd Cawthon
Oct. 28, 1874
Apr. 5, 1937

Joseph W. Cawthon
Oct. 3, 1864
Aug. 15, 1932

Lydia E. Cawthon
Born March 4, 1839
Died April 28, 1908

A Faithful Servant To The Lord
And A Friend To Humanity

S.I.S. Cawthon
Born Aug. 9, 1836
Died Aug. 31, 1913
A faithful servant of the Lord and
a friend to humanity
Courtesy of Gary Hampton, March, 2012

Special Thanks

In March, 2010, C. Wayne Kilpatrick, Tom L. Childers & Scott Harp traveled to various restoration location in South Alabama. The photos on this site are from all three. Special thanks to Wayne and Tom in helping to put this site together.

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