Robert Burns Neal
The Passing Of R.B. Neal
by M.C. Kurfees
For many reasons it makes me sad to record the passing of R. B. Neal. His home for many years has been in Grayson, Ky.; but he was called to Huntington, W. Va., on business, and died suddenly on the street in that city on Monday, September 14, 1925. His death was caused by heart failure, and his home town with all that region is in mourning over the distressing event.
Robert Burns Neal was born in Georgetown, Ky., February 19, 1847, and, hence, died in his seventy-ninth year. It is seldom that a preacher of the gospel dies leaving behind him a greater number of devoted and faithful friends to mourn his departure and cherish his memory than are left by this lamented servant of God. They are not only numerous in Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and Tennessee, but there are many of them in other States. His body was removed to his home on Tuesday morning, September 15, where it lay in state until the funeral and burial services on Wednesday, the following day, and Grayson and the surrounding region are mourning their great loss. That the reader may see how deeply they are touched, I republish the following clipping from the East Kentucky Journal, of Grayson, Ky.:
"The death of Brother Neal has removed one of our most trusted and beloved religious leaders who has been called into the rewards and joys of life everlasting. It has taken from our midst a powerful and law-abiding citizen who made himself servant of all and enemy to none: it has claimed a man who has had more to do with the education of the Christian young men and women in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky than possibly any other person, and it leaves a vacancy in the home and in the hearts of his friends and loved ones which none other can fill.
Brother Neal never seemed to grow old. He was ever filled with that good nature and optimism which made him a friend to all and caused the children to love to sit beside him and listen to his wonderful words of wisdom. One loved to shake hands with him and see that pleasant smile brighten upon the face that was the symbol of his happy and unselfish life. The memory of this noble life will ever be a beacon light to guide the young people, in whom he had an abiding interest.
Brother Neal was educated in Georgetown College, Georgetown, Ky., and in Transylvania University, at Lexington, Ky. Much of the work of his early life as a preacher of the gospel was done here in the city of Louisville. The monument erected by his energetic and untiring labors in this city, while only a few remain who were contemporaries with him in that work, still stands to commemorate his name. It was back during the seventies that his work began in Louisville. He was the active and leading evangelist who did the work resulting in the establishment of the Campbell Street Church, now the Haldeman Avenue Church. This church was established by what was then the Floyd and Chestnut Streets Church, now the Broadway Christian Church, and Brother Neal was the wide-awake evangelist who carried forward the work under the direction of the Floyd and Chestnut Streets Church. He was thus largely instrumental in establishing the Campbell Street Church and was its first minister. It was during a part of that work while he was yet quite a young man that he fell from a buggy and sustained a severe injury. It was first thought that he would probably not recover at all, but by careful nursing administered by his host of friends he rallied and became able to resume his work, though he never recovered entirely from the injury resulting from the fall, and it was more or less a handicap to him the rest of his life.
At the time of this serious accident he was engaged to be married to Miss Lucy Snyder, of Louisville, whom, on account of the apparently helpless and hopeless condition in which the injury had left him, he offered to release from the engagement; but "Miss Lucy," as she is still familiarly known among her many friends and acquaintances, being then the rare and noble specimen of womanhood that she has ever been, declined to be released, and they were married on December 6, 1877. From that day to the day of his death she was a helpmeet to him in the highest sense of the word—the mainspring and inspiration of his life. She thus stood by him to the end and still survives him, and I am sure that, as she wades the deep waters of sorrow, the Lord will sustain her and verify to her his promise: "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." (Isa. 43:2.)
In spite of the handicap resulting from his fall, Brother Neal's energy and zeal in the work of the Lord were never diminished, and it may be truly said of him that, after he became a member of the church of God on March 4, 1866, he was a ceaseless, energetic, and untiring worker in the church throughout his life. In fact, he was one of the most indomitable and indefatigable workers with whom I have ever been acquainted. In addition to this, he possessed the tact and the ability to surround himself with a host of cooperators to help in the prosecution of his aims. One of the greatest and most telling works of his life in recent years has been his magnificent fight against Mormonism. It is my judgment that he did a greater work in this field than any other man. With both tongue and pen he has exposed its misleading tenets, and his work in this field, as in others, will live after him. I think he was looked upon by that mistaken movement as its most dreaded foe. He most severely exposed its fallacies, and the friends of truth owe him a lasting debt of gratitude for his splendid achievements in that line.
But I come now to notice one of the chief things in his remarkable life and character. He was not only an active and persistent worker himself in the kingdom of God, but perhaps his main forte was his tact and remarkable success in getting others to work. He was a past master in dealing with young people and in putting them to work, and he never failed to win their affections. They were frequently as devoted to him as if he had been their father or brother. When he met with the accident before mentioned, hosts of them crowded around him and seemed ready to give their all to help him. To them he seemed their own possession, and they were ready to make any sacrifice in his behalf. Such a man, of course, could exert only a happy and salutary influence over the people.
Thus a faithful and sainted man of God, loved and admired by thousands of his fellow citizens, has finished his earthly career. He is now free from all handicaps and has joined a host of his coworkers who had preceded him to the heavenly country. "There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary are at rest." (Job 3:17.) In the Patmos vision it was revealed: "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them." (Rev. 14:13.) The works of R. B. Neal will follow him and will long tell the eventful story of his life.
"Servant of God, well done;
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy."
Gospel Advocate, M.C. Kurfees, October 8, 1925, pages 970-971
R. B. Neal
Feb. 19, 1847-Sept. 30, 1925
by Ruby H. Ogden
R. B. Neal was born at Georgetown, Ky., Feb. 19, 1847. He received his education at Georgetown College and at the College of the Bible and Transylvania University, Lexington, Ky. He united with the church and was baptized Mar. 4, 1866 (the night Alexander Campbell died.)
About the years 1875-76, he was City Evangelist of Louisville, Ky., during which time he organized two new churches in that city.
He was married to Miss Lucy Snyder, of Louisville, Dec. 6, 1877 and with his lovely bride spent one summer evangelizing on Prince Edward Island, Canada. In this work, he was associated with John Simpson, and his son, R. N. Simpson, now minister with the Shawnee Church in Louisville.
Brother and Sister Neal came to Grayson, Ky., Mar. 20, 1893. The writer was then a little girl of children who gathered about Bro. Neal, in groups, to hear his marvelous stories (always with a moral lesson) and to watch bits of colored wrapping paper turn to tiny "Christmas trees" and other works of art, under his magic touch. He brought into the mountains the very first stereopticon outfit, and was never irritated by the groups of boys and girls who crowded close to "see how it worked." The machinery interested them even more than the pictures. I have never forgotten how beautifully he told the "Story of the Other Wise Man," as he showed the pictures. As a little bare foot mountain girl, I rode many a mile perched behind him, on his beautiful mare, Daisy. I was somewhat necessary to the meetings in rural communities as I could "start the hymns" and lead them; Bro. Neal did little singing himself, but that seemed to be the only thing he could not do. Whether we mired in quick-sand in a river bed, or crossed a swollen stream so deep that we must draw up our feet to keep them dry, we could depend on Daisy to carry us to safety. And no matter how trying the circumstances, how cold the weather or how warm, there was never a sign of impatience nor a disgruntled remark from Bro. Neal; usual just a soft chuckle when some dangerous bit of road or creek bad been negotiated. For years he rode about over Carter County, keeping alive the churches established by the earliest preachers of the Restoration movement in that county. He organized and built the church at Oak Grove in that county, and some others. His activities extended to other counties nearby, and up the Big Sandy River to Pike County. For four years be was minister of the Church at Pikeville, during which time they built the house of worship. One of their missionary societies is still named for his wife. Bro. Neal also organized the church at Strong's Chapel in Floyd County, and many others in that section.
Outstanding, among his many activities, was his interest in the former Morehead Normal School, which was sponsored by the Christian Woman's Board of Missions. His contributions to the Christian Standard, under the caption, "Saddle Bags," did much to advertise that institution. On his preaching trips over the mountains, he was ever on the alert for "preacher timber" or prospects for the ministry. He selected many young men and women who gave promise of worth-while service, and contacted men and women of means, who helped to pay their expenses at the Morehead institution, and often through college. Later, when this school was sold to the Kentucky State Board of Education, Christian Normal Institute, at Grayson, Ky., took over the training of mountain youth, and R. B. Neal did much in a promotional way, for the young institution in his home town. One of the beautiful, buff brick buildings was named in his honor. He often remarked that he did not wish to live beyond his years of usefulness, and that wish was granted him. On September 30th, 1925, after preaching a sermon at Vinson Memorial Church in Huntington (this church was then in its infancy) he was walking with friends to the home where he was being entertained, when he suddenly collapsed and died. Those who heard that last sermon said he had preached as one "inspired." His body rests on a beautiful slope facing Neal Hall, at Christian Normal Institute.
Overcoming a Big Handicap
By Thad S. Tinsley
Living in the home with Brother Neal for two years, just prior to his going to Grayson, Ky., leads me to feel that I should tell of these heroic days in his useful life while pastor of Campbell Street Church in Louisville. Ky., his horse took fright and ran away throwing Brother Neal against the curb of the street. He was seriously hurt and suffered long lingering bad effects from the fall. It was a bad head injury and he had for several years an abnormal pressure on the brain that gave him extremely bad headaches and left a permanent nervousness that made it impossible to be in an audience or in any kind of large gathering.
It was during this interval that he made research into the Mormon propaganda and prepared his publication materials. He was really the originator of the method of cooperative publication of small congregational church papers, among which we published "The Christian Larder" for the Chestnut Street Christian Church, Lexington, Ky., of which we were Pastor and the Simpsons and Neals were members. We still use here in Brooklyn the "Patent Insides" which is an outgrowth of the Neal method, and one of the most fruitful resources of disseminating missionary information.
Even in that period of affliction Brother Neal was full of cheer and active industry. He was a great practical joker, but all his fun was harmless and of genuine humor. At the head of the table in our double family of the Neals and Simpsons, with Dr. Orr and myself as regular boarders, made quite a large family. I sat at the corner next to Brother Neal. Mrs. Simpson and I often clamored for lead in the lively table conversation. When by some good strategy I gained the family attention and was making one of my long speeches and had mashed potatoes on my plate, Brother Neal would, on the sly, reach over and put a spoonful of red pepper in my potatoes and cover up again. You can imagine the splutter that followed requiring me to leave the table. Many like capers he contributed to the entertainment of the whole family.
Most of all I appreciate his kindly sympathy and untiring encouragement to me as a beginner in the ministry. He was 20 years my senior and it was my first pastoral connection. My work must have been very crass and immature but he was never unkindly critical. He always helped when he corrected. He had thus early in his career that which became paramount in all the years of his service, the true fatherly sympathy with young preachers. Often age is critical of youth, and youth is impatient with age, but it was never so in Bro. Neal's relations with younger ministers. This really explains the results of his long life in Grayson, Ky. The lamented President Lusby was as a son to him, and what a blessing of Providence that we still have a Lusby as President of that more than ordinary institution. Noble son of a noble father. It does not require one to be a prophet to foretell that a large and important contingent of the future ministry of our Christian Churches will come from Grayson. In all this I can see the stream of Brother Neal's influence and love for young ministers widening into the channels that only break against the shores of eternity.
-J.W. West, ed., Sketches Of Our Mountain Pioneers, pages 107-112
The Sword Of Laban
A paper produced by R.B. Neal
Source: Terry Gardner, Friends Of The Restoration (Facebook) 06.20.2020
Noted: The Sword of Laban (August 1908-January 1912?)
Motto: “Our Aim: To Be Good and to Do Good” and “A Live Monthly handling Mormonism without Gloves.” A sixteen page monthly edited by R. B. Neal from Pikeville, Kentucky. The paper was published on the press of the “Grayson, Kentucky, Printery.” Neal printed articles on Mormonism and advertised five tracts: 1) Was Joe Smith A Prophet, 2) The Nauvoo Expositor, 3) Joe Smith as an Etymologist, 4) Origin of Mormanism, 5) Book of Mormon “Caractors” versus “A Pious Forgery,” and 6) Are the American Indians of Jewish Descent?” Each tract first appeared in an issue of The Sword of Laban before being printed as a tract.
R.B. Neal's Work In The Temperance Movement
The Courier Journal, Louisville, Ky, Sunday, April 8, 1883, p.13
Success In Grayson, Ky
Christian Leader, March 15, 1898 p.12
Praise In The Christian Leader For
R.B. Neal's Writings Against Mormonism
Christian Leader, March 13, 1899, p.4
Click graphic to zoom in
Elder Neal Temperance Revival
R.B. Neal's Work
R.B. Neal's Efforts To Get Preachers To Prescribe To The Blue Grass Blade
Obituary For R.B. Neal
The Courier Journal, Wednesday, September 16, 1925, p.2
Directions To Grave
Robert B. & Lucy S. Neal are buried in eastern Kentucky in the small town of Grayson in Carter County, Kentucky. Near the West Virginia border. Take I-64 toward Lexington. At the Grayson Exit head south on Hwy. 7. About a quarter mile turn right on College Street. You will drive beside Kentucky Christian University. Turn right on Landsdowne Ave. At the second street to your left enter cemetery, and head up the left side of the cemetery. Head up the center side walk toward the top. Take the third sidewalk to the right and head till it dead end, and turn left. The Neal plot will be just on the right.
38°20'22.9"N 82°56'56.9"W or
D.d. 38.339705, -82.949150
Photos Taken 09.28.2016
Webpage produced 05.25.2020
Courtesy Of Scott Harp