History of the Restoration Movement

Clinton C. Potter


Mary J. Dunn Potter


The Lives of Clinton C. And Mary J. Dunn Potter

Mary J. Dunn was born on a large plantation located in the Smith Grove-Oakland area of Warren County, Kentucky, November 5, 1842. She was raised in the lap of luxury. In her lifetime, she would experience the extreme changes of the new south following the Civil War. She was converted under the preaching of a brother "Smith" (believed to be Edward H. Smith, gospel preacher around Horse Cave, Kentucky) March 9, 1859. She was married to Albert T. Potter (1833-1873), February 15, 1866. The last day of that year she gave birth to a daughter that died the same day. Her second son, Eldon S. was born June 19, 1871. When Eldon was a little over two, his father died suddenly September 23, 1873.

Six years later, Mary remarried Clinton C. Potter, the younger brother of her first husband, October 15, 1879. The Potters were to the enjoy the next fifty-five years of marital bliss.

Young Eldon grew to maturity with grace. He obeyed the gospel of Christ under the administration of J.W. Grant. Upon his confession of faith Eldon was buried with Christ in baptism, September 16, 1889. In the summer of 1899, the little band of Christians at Bowling Green were seeking to build a modest building for worship. Eldon contributed $420 to the building of it, equalling to a third of its cost. However, it was not his joy to see the building to completion, as sickness led to his sudden death on October 9th of that year.

Such love and respect for the life that could have been for the cause of Christ, the grieving parents determined to do something on a grand scale to honor the life of their son. Having never married, Eldon had received an inheritance of $60,000 at his 21st birthday. His parents having control of their late son's estate, they determined to start a school to educate young men and women in his name.

Contact was made with the president of Nashville Bible School, James A. Harding. After several discussions, brother Harding and his son-in-law J.N. Armstrong, announced in the spring 1901 of their plans to depart Nashville to begin Potter Bible College in Bowling Green. A buiding was built on an 87 acre farm about two miles form Bowling Green and classes began October 1, 1901. One hundred seven students were enrolled. The following year there were 132 students. In 1912, J.A. Harding gave up the presidency. George A. Klingman became president. With it, however, student body attendance began to decline. Seventy students enrolled for the fall quarter. This, along with the struggle to pay staff and utilities, the college had to close its doors at the end of the year.

Thinking long and hard about what to do with an organized and available college campus, with its buildings and dormitories, the Potters decided to deed the property to a Board of Trustees in view of starting Potter Children's Home. Clinton selected the first Board members, seven in number, including preachers and business men. The deed for the property was signed on November 7, 1914. Minister and former student at Potter Bible College, J.H. Hines, was selected as the new superintendent of the children's home. Eleven children came from the care of members of the Portland Ave. church in Louisville to begin living on the premises in February 1915.

The Clinton and Mary Potter continued to lend support to the Potter Childrens Home the remainder of their days. Brother Clinton Potter passed from this life October 22, 1934, and was buried next to Eldon in the family cemetery. Mary followed in less than two years on August 28, 1936.

-Scott Harp, Sources: Search For The Ancient Order, Vol. 2, pages 338ff; The Eyes Of Jehovah, different chapters, History of Potter Children's Home, by Ben F. Taylor; Hands of Service, by Allen Phy.

C.C. Potter

Clinton C. Potter was born in Warren County, Kentucky on October 21, 1849, of pioneer stock. He belonged to a large and influential family. The Potters were among the sturdy settlers who rescued a great continent from a wilderness filled with wild beasts and inhabited by a few tribes of primitive people; and built upon it a great nation in which the principles of political and religious liberty have been fundamental, and individual freedom has been a way of life, the worth of the individual recognized, and individual initiative cultivated.

His father was Lewis Potter who was born in Warren County, Kentucky January 10, 1810. Lewis Potter died in Bowling Green, Ky. July 7, 1895. His mother was Elizabeth Hagerman who was born in Louden County, Virginia March 21, 1816. She and Lewis Potter were married on February 10, 1831 in Warren County, Kentucky. She died in Warren County on June 21, 1893.

Brother Clinton C. Potter had an older brother who has a prominent place in this story. Albert T. Potter was born September 18, 1833. Albert married Mary J. Dunn, daughter of Spencer Dunn, Sr. Mary J. was born in Warren County, Kentucky November 5, 1842. Albert Potter and Mary J. Dunn were married February 15, 1866. To this union was born a son on June 19, 1871, to whom they gave the name of Eldon S. Potter.

It seems appropriate at this point to go back over a little time with the genealogy of the Potter family.

Thomas Potter, paternal great grandfather of C. C. Potter and his wife Susannah lived in North Carolina in colonial days. Later, they moved to Virginia and Frederick Potter, grandfather of C. C. Potter, was born to them there on August 12, 1785. In 1790 when Frederick was five years old the family moved to Kentucky. George Washington was President of the United States when the Potters came to Kentucky; thus the sterling character of this great family is woven into the basic fabric of Kentucky society from the very beginning. They helped to build the great American civilization, and make it what it has become in the hopes of human progress through the years. Thomas Potter died in Warren County, Kentucky August 9, 1806.

Frederick Potter was born in Virginia August 12, 1785 and came to Kentucky at the age of 5 years. He married Elizabeth Kirby April 29, 1807. He died in Warren County Kentucky in 1867.

This brings us down to Lewis Potter, father of C. C. Potter.

Clinton C. Potter's maternal grandfather was Joseph Hagerman, who was born in Virginia May 25, 1769; and who died in Warren County, Kentucky February 18, 1846. His wife, Ruth Hagerman, was born December 8, 1782 and died in Warren County, Kentucky July 1, 1870.
Frederick Potter, grandfather of Clinton C. Potter was descended on his mother's side from the Jesse Kirby family also pioneers of early Warren County history.

Jesse Kirby was born in Stokes County, North Carolina October 23, 1753. He married Sophia Choice in Rutherford County, North Carolina in 1778. She was born September 23, 1760 in Henry County, Virginia. To this union was born a daughter in North Carolina, whom they named Elizabeth. Elizabeth became the wife of Frederick Potter, grandfather of Clinton C. Potter.

They were married April 29, 1807. Their son Lewis, Clinton C. Potter's father, was born January 23, 1810 in Warren County, Kentucky.

Jesse Kirby was a citizen of high character recognized as such in North Carolina, and in Kentucky after he became a resident of that state. He was a soldier in the Colonial Army during the American Revolution. He was present at the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, and heard the address of General George Washington to his soldiers after that historic victory.

The family of Mary J. Dunn has a history as illustrious and honorable as that of the Potter family. Her ancestors, the Dunns, also came from Virginia, where one of the earliest known was a revolutionary soldier.

Edmund Dunn was a descendant of William Dunn a Revolutionary soldier of Essex County, Virginia, whose wife's name is unknown. He was born in Virginia in 1756, came to Kentucky and in Warren County in 1819. His wife, Sally, was born in Virginia in 1758 and died in Warren County in 1830.

Spencer Dunn, Sr., father of Mrs. C. C. Potter (Mary J.) was a descendant of William Dunn, who had a large number of descendants in Kentucky.

Mary J. Potter, who for more than fifty years was the faithful companion and co-worker of Brother Clinton C. Potter, and who with him founded the Potter Orphan Home and School, was the daughter of Spencer Dunn, Sr. and Ann F. Duncan. She was born Nov. 5, 1842, and grew up to cultured womanhood in elegant circumstances.

She was married to Albert T. Potter February 15, 1866 at the age of 24 years. One son was born to this union who survived to maturity, another who died at birth remained unnamed.

The other son, Eldon S. Potter, was born June 19, 1871 and passed from this life in early manhood, October 9, 1899. Thus was ended in an early grave the hopes of loving hearts for a long life, that was already successful, but from which much was hoped. Only those who have passed through the experience can ever know the bitter anguish and the profound disappointment in living hearts that must pass through the agony of such a loss.

The lives of these people are largely the history of Potter Orphan Home and School. Without them and their vision, their love for humanity, and their liberality there would have been no Potter Orphan Home and School.
The Potters were industrious, thrifty hard-working people. They were honest in their dealing; known and respected for integrity. They were deeply religious people.

They became leading citizens of the community and have remained leaders in the social, business and religious activities of the country for several generation. The Potters were examples of the sterling character of the pioneers who built this nation.

Their interest in the welfare of their neighbors is alive today in the many ways in which they used their ample means to help needy humanity during their lives; and after passing on to their eternal reward.

Brother Potter as a Business Man

Clinton C. Potter was for many years a very successful farmer in Warren County. He was a progressive farmer who cared for his land and produced the best crops of the kind common to the area. He was financially fortunate in his farming efforts as he always was in business generally.

He used the most advanced methods in his farming operations.

He was honest and upright in his relationships and in the use of his money and other property. He was never extravagant or wasteful. He was a careful business man.

Liberality was a trait of character prominent in the constitution of Clinton C. Potter and his financial contributions to the needy and to the church were always liberal.

C. C. Potter loved the Lord, and his loyalty to the truth and to the church for which Christ died and the principles of New Testament Christianity was unwavering and continued to the end of his life. In all of these characteristics and activities Sister Mary J. Potter fully shared. She was all for Brother Potter and was in his sight, and her own right, a great lady. As this work continues and unfolds her part in it will be clearly seen.

The brethren then began meeting in a private home in Bowling Green for worship early in January 1896. These meetings continued till June when they secured the help of Brother M. C. Kurfees of Louisville, and as a result of these efforts the Church began meeting that same year in a public hall. Later they met for a time in the Court House.

During November 1896 Daniel Sommer conducted a meeting for them in the Court House in Bowling Green, and the congregation was set in formal order with Elders: R. W. Hendrich, E. T. Smith, E. T. Bush, Sr., and Aron Lawson; Deacons; R. L. Carter, Ο. P. Tuck.
After this the church met in the Court House till December 31, 1899. In October 1897 James A. Harding of the Nashville Bible School began to preach monthly for the Church and continued till March 25, 1901. In 1898 a meeting was held in the Court House and was continued under a tent by Brother James A. Harding. There were several additions.

A lot was secured to build a house for the congregation. This action came in 1899. A lot was bought on Twelfth Street by C. C. Potter, 73 feet front by 200 feet deep, at a cost of $502.54, and a building was erected upon it. When completed and furnished the building cost was $3,833.97.

The following table showing the Potter contributions is in point and interesting here:

C. C. Potter $646.07
Eldon S. Potter $420.00

This belongs in a history of Potter Orphan Home and School because it illustrates the interest and activity of Brother Potter and young Eldon S. Potter in the establishment and advancement of New Testament Christianity in Bowling Green and Warren County. They loved the Lord and his Cause and were intensely devoted to the spread and maintenance of the truth.

Being dead they still speak by the provisions they made, for their works on earth do continue after they have gone on to their eternal reward. It is sad to note that if Brother C. C. Potter were living today he would not be welcome to worship with the congregation at Twelfth Street because that church has been opposed to the support of the orphan home which Brother Potter loved so dearly. In the memory of members still on the Board of Trustees of Potter Orphan Home and School many meetings of the Board have been held in the building of the Twelfth Street church.

Religious Life

Brother and Sister Clinton C. Potter were deeply interested in the restoration of New Testament Christianity and their whole lives were devoted to this great cause.

Religion is natural to man and the person whose religious nature is not nurtured can never reach the full measure of a man as God created him and intended him to be.

Brother Potter was baptized into Christ in March 1874 by Brother E. G. Sewell. As a result of Sewell's work the Church at Richpond, Kentucky was established May 12, 1874. Sister Mary J. Potter was baptized into Christ March 8, 1859 by an Elder Smith. Both Brother and Sister Potter were charter members of the Richpond Church. The Church at Richpond is still alive and active.

Sister Potter's baptism occurred at Old Pleasant Hill Church in Warren County, which is no longer in existence. Only the cemetery, where most of the Potters are buried, remains at the old site. There under the trees lies the sainted dead awaiting the call of the Lord on the resurrection day to call them from their silent repose.

Very instrumental and active in the establishment of the Richpond Church was Benjamin Franklin Rogers, a well known preacher of that day, and father of Sister A. C. Bettersworth, Sr., widow of a former member of the Potter Board of Trustees, and mother of Mrs. Paul Ward, whose husband Paul Ward is presently Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Church in Bowling Green

Lewis Potter was a member of the Church in the city of Bowling Green located on 10th Street, and calling itself, The Christian Church. About the year 1880 instrumental music was introduced into the worship of this congregation. Gradually other innovations were introduced; and certain pious members protested against these things, but as is usual in such cases, their protestations were disregarded.

-Allen Phy, Hands Of Service, pages 49-55

Gospel Advocate Obituary of Clinton C. Potter

C. C. Potter, of Bowling Green, Ky., whose name has become a house word in connection with the Potter Orphan Home, passed to his reward Monday, October 22. The burial was Tuesday afternoon, October 23.

Brother and Sister Potter have been blessed, through their long lives, with remarkable health, and Brother Potter, although eighty-five years of age, showed little signs of breaking and was sick really little more than two weeks before his death.

Ben F. Taylor, resident evangelist of Twelfth Street Church, preached the funeral discourse, and was assisted in reading and prayer by F.L. Rowe and W. L. Karnes. The body was laid to rest in the old Potter burial ground, some distance from town, where most of the Potter family and the Hagermans are buried. The memory of this great character will live on.

The following biographical sketch is taken from the local paper:

Brother Potter was born at the old Potter home in the Trinity neighborhood of the county on October 21, 1849, and was a son of Lewis and Elizabeth Hagerman Potter. On October 15, 1879, he married Mrs. Mary J. Dunn Potter, who survives. Mr. Potter was the last member of a family of thirteen children.

Mr. and Mrs. Potter established and built the Potter Bible College, on the Nashville road near the city, in 1901, and financed the school until 1913, conducting it for the benefit of young people, many of whom would have been denied the advantages of an education but for the presence of the institution.

In 1914 the buildings were converted into an orphanage, and the property has been used for that purpose since. The Potter home and surrounding grounds opposite the school property were turned over to the Potter Orphan Home Permanent Endowment, and the church of Christ also supplied about $10,000 to the permanent endowment fund, which is used for maintenance of the orphanage. About three years ago Mr. and Mrs. Potter made a contribution of $15,000 to the endowment fund.

Mr. Potter was prominent in the affairs of the Twelfth Street church of Christ, which he served as an elder. When the original building was erected, he gave the lot on which the church stands, and was the principal donor to the fund with which the construction was financed.

The floral decorations were many and beautiful. The tribute from the Twelfth Street Church was a large floral blanket over the casket. The orphans sent in a beautiful floral piece, and the directors of the home also had an immense white wreath, and other offerings were elaborate and beautiful.

Gospel Advocate, December 13, 1934, page 1207.

Resolutions Of Respect

We, the trustees of the Potter Orphan Home, in meeting assembled, this, the fourth day of December, 1934, pass the following resolutions: Resolved, That the Potter Orphan Home has lost, through the death of Clinton C. Potter, its founder and dearest friend. As founder of the home, Brother Potter, together with his wife, Sister Mary J. Potter, gave eighty-seven acres of land and all the buildings thereon to be a permanent home for destitute orphan children.

Resolved, That the Potter Orphan Home has lost a true Christian friend, who had a deep interest in its future welfare, in so much that Brother Potter laid the foundation of a permanent endowment fund for the home by giving the farm across the pike from the original home site, which was valued at $10,000. His further interest in its future success was manifested in August, 1931, when he gave $15,000 in cash to this permanent endowment fund.

Resolved, That while Brother Potter neither retained nor assumed any authority in the management and affairs of the home, the trustees have lost a wise counselor, whose sound business judgment will be greatly missed.

Resolved, That the children, who have been beneficiaries of the home in the past, have lost a friend who extended a helping hand in the time of their sore need and who never lost interest in their welfare.

Resolved, That the children under the present care of the home have lost the pleasant association of his presence and his kindly words.

Resolved, That the children of the future who shall find care and shelter in this home have lost the acquaintanceship of the destitute orphans' friend who founded a home for the homeless where they might be clothed and fed, educated and cared for when sick.

Resolved, That the heartfelt sympathy of the trustees of the Potter Orphan Home is hereby extended to his aged widow, who suffers deepest and most his going from the earth, and who shared so generously with him in the establishment of the Potter Orphan Home.

Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be incorporated in the minutes of this meeting and become a part of its permanent record; that a copy be sent to the Christian Leader and to the Gospel Advocate, and also a copy be given to each of the daily papers of Bowling Green.

Trustees OF Potter Orphan Home, Bowling Green, Ky.

-Gospel Advocate, 12.20.1934, p.1227

Obituary For Clinton C. Potter

The Park City Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky
October 24, 1934, page 1

Directions To Grave

The Potter Family burial plot is located in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in the community of Matlock in south Warren County, Kentucky. From I-65 in southern Kentucky, take the most southern exit for Bowling Green. It should be Hwy. 231 Scottsville/Bowling Green Exit. Head toward Bowling Green, and turn left at the first light. Cty. Rd 884/Three Springs Road. Head south a few miles and turn left on Matlock Road. In about a half mile, turn left on Mt. Pleasant Cemetery Road. You will turn left into what looks like someone's driveway to the left. As you head over the rise you will see the cemetery on the left. You can pull up into the grass at the edge of the cemetery.

When we visited the Potter's graves March 30, 2017, the cemetery was in a poor state. Accessing the entrance gate of the cemetery we were met with a pack of donkeys. It appeared that they had broken through their field adjacent to the cemetery and were using the cemetery as a place for grazing. They were interested in us, but seemed not to worry when we entered the cemetery and made our way to the rear where the Potters are buried. Their graves are located at the rear of the cemetery. Eldon is buried there to the left of his mother. Clinton is buried to the right of Mary. Her first husband Lewis close by as well as that of Clinton's parents. See photos below.

GPS Location
36.8764, -86.4506

Entrance of Mount Pleasant Cemetery

From rear of cemetery looking back toward the entrance.

Potter Plott in center - rear of cemetery

Potter in rear or cemetery

Eldon S. Potter
June 19, 1871
October 9, 1899
Blessed are the pure
in heart for they shall
see God

Sacred to the memory of
Albert T. Potter
September 28, 1833
September 28, 1873
He was a true and devoted husband,
a fine and loving father
and a good neighbor

Father And Mother
Elizabeth - wife of Lewis Potter - DIed - June 21, 1893 - Aged 81Ys, 3 Ms.
Farewell dear mother, sweet thy rest- weary with years and worn with pain.
Farewell, until in some happy place, we shall behold thy face again.
Lewis Potter - Born - January 23, 1810 - Died - July 7, 1895
'Tis ours to miss thee, all our years.
And tender memories of thee keep;
Thine in the Lord to rest, for so
He giveth his beloved sleep.
Lewis Potter And Wife

Mary J. Potter - November 5, 1842 - August 28, 1936
Clinton C. Potter - October 21, 1849 - October 22, 1934
Founders Of The Potter Orphan Home

Photos Taken 03.30.2017
Webpage produced 11.13.2018
Courtesy Of Scott Harp

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