Biographical Sketch of Reuben Dooly
Birth. Education. Conversion. Preaches to the Indians. The death of his wife.
His removal to Ohio. His second marriage. Trip to Missouri.
Sickness and death. His character and talents
Elder Reuben Dooly was born in Bedford County, Virginia, on the 14th day of November, 1773. His father's name was Moses Dooly. He was an Elder in the Presbyterian church before his son Reuben was born. Moses Dooly emigrated with his family in the year 1781, and settled in Madison County, Kentucky. At this time the savage barbarities of the Indians compelled the settlers to live in forts strongly garrisoned to guard against the cruel depredations of the savages. They felt that the white men were intruding on their rights, and they fought to desperation to save their hunting ground. In the years 1782 and 3, many of the white people became discouraged, and were well nigh leaving the country to the Indians. The bloody defeat at the Blue Licks and several other cruel massacres took place in these years, which disheartened the settlers very much. But the fertility of the soil, and the scenery of the country, tempted them to risk their lives to gain what they thought to be almost the Eden of the world. Moses Dooly became very tired of being cooped in a fortress, where the associations were calculated to corrupt the morals of his children, and concluded at all hazards to move to his farm. Several others followed his example, and made a small settlement in the midst of the cane. They erected a school house, and endeavored to educate their children. It is difficult to imagine the feelings of those parents when their children started for school. They felt it to be very uncertain whether they would ever see them again or not. In the settling of Kentucky, many children were carried off by the Indians, never to be seen by their parents again. At this school Reuben Dooly received the greater part of his education. His father had a large family, and being settled in a new country, he was necessitated to keep his sons closely at work, which prevented a further education. At the age of nineteen, with the consent of his father, he went to a trade. In about two years he became master of his business. He then returned home to his father's. He then lived in Barren County, Kentucky, and there Reuben followed his trade for about two years, and then married Lean Raileback. His father was still a ruling Elder in the Presbyterian church, and his children were raised to believe the doctrines contained in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The doctrine of unconditional election and reprobation had a powerful influence on Reuben's mind, and finally he came to the conclusion that he was one of those God had eternally reprobated; and under these impressions he gave loose reins to his appetites and passions, and became somewhat dissipated. Doctor Rice was their pastor; but in the great revival at the commencement of the nineteenth century, a very talented and devoted Presbyterian preacher, by the name of Samuel Findly, paid them a visit, and delivered a sermon on the parable of the prodigal son: Luke. chap. 15. His discourse was energetic and powerful, and the truth found its way to Reuben's heart. He saw clearly that it was not the Father's will that he should perish. He determined to arise and go to his Father:
"He said and hastened to his home.
To seek his Father's love;
The Father saw the Rebel come,
And all His bowels move.
Take off his clothes of shame and sin.
The Father gave command;
Dress him in garments white and clean,
With rings adorn his hands.
A day of fasting, I ordain,
Let mirth and joy abound;
My Son was dead and lives again.
Was lost, but now is found."
This change was so manifest, that all his acquaintances were constrained to acknowledge that he had been with Jesus. "His feet were taken out of the mire and clay, and placed upon a rock, and a new song was put into his mouth, even praise to God." His daily deportment proved him to be a changed man. But in a very short time he had a severe trial to pass through. The missionary fire soon began to burn in his heart, and he felt it to be his duty to preach the gospel to others. But in the Presbyterian church, none are permitted to preach, who do not possess a liberal education and understand the principles of theology, according to the creed of their church. In these particulars he knew he was deficient. Yet these words seemed to follow him whereever he went: "Go preach my gospel." The impressions were so great that they often overcame his physical powers, and he would fall prostrate on the ground, and lie almost in a lifeless condition for sometime. When he recovered from this state, he would frequently burst forth into an energetic and powerful exhortation, generally directed to the unconverted, which had a very salutary influence; many through his instrumentality, were converted to God. After struggling on in this way for sometime, he yielded to the Holy Spirit of God, and determined to resist no longer, and stepped boldly out on the word of the Lord, and went from place to place holding prayer meetings, and exhorting, and most fervently pleading with sinners to be reconciled to God. He very soon saw the pleasure of the Lord to prosper in his hands. The missionary fire continued to burn in his heart, until it led him to preach to the Cherokee Indians. He went three successive times among them. He was very successful, and has often been heard to say that he never enjoyed happier meetings in his life than he did among these poor neglected creatures. When parting with them, they always strongly solicited him to return and preach to them again. In returning home the last time he visited them, his money became exhausted, and he was necessitated to give his hymn book to pay his passage over a river. After this he prevailed on his friend and brother. David Haggard, to visit them and preach to them. Brother Dooly resided at this time in Barren County, Kentucky. In the year 1801, he attended the great camp-meeting at Caneridge. Soon after the separation in the Presbyterian church, he became well acquainted with Barton W. Stone and David Purviance, and received the doctrines taught by these men, and united with them, and was in a short time set forward to the work of the ministry. From this time forward he labored extensively in the gospel field, and was very successful in turning many to righteousness. In the summer of 1807 he made arrangements to move with his family to Ohio. His brother, David Dooly, went from his Father's in Ohio to assist him. Soon after David arrived he was taken sick and died. Reuben's wife also died four days after her brotherin-law. In this dispensation of God's Providence Brother Reuben Dooly was left alone with five small children. He was thus compelled to abandon the idea of moving at that time. His brother-in-law. Mr. Huffman, took him and his children into his family, and Brother Dooly was necessitated to work at his trade, and was measurably confined with his children that winter. The following summer he made arrangements a second time to move, and in the fall of 1808, he emigrated to his Father's in Preble County. Ohio. His children were then taken by his friends and sent to school, and he again gave himself up wholly to the work of the ministry, and travelled and preached dav and night. He was very successful in both Ohio and Kentucky. The Shakers took great pains to ensnare him and proselyte him to the Shaker faith. They very well knew that his influence was great, and if they could succeed in leading him into their faith that he would be a valuable prize. John Dunlavy followed him from place to place, and seemed determined not to give up the chase. Finally Brother Dooly became impatient with his different intrusions, and said to him in the language of Paul to Elymas, the Sorcerer. Acts 13: 10. "O full of all subtlety, and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?" After this he was no more perplexed with the Shakers.
Elder Dooly took one preaching tour that led him through Kentucky, Virginia. North and South Carolina. He met with some strong opposition from the different sects. But he never became discouraged — he trusted in the powerful arm of the Christian's God.
In Norfolk, Virginia, he became acquainted with Rice Haggard, a very talented man of good character. He had once been a Presiding Elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, but becoming somewhat disaffected with some of the doctrines and the discipline of that church, he had withdrawn. Dooly and he formed an intimacy that lasted during life.
In about the year 1810. Elders Dooly and Stone commenced traveling together in Ohio. They were both widowers at this time. They commenced operations at Eaton, Preble County. The following extract from Brother Stone's journal will be interesting: "We preached and baptized daily in Eaton for many days. No house could contain the people that flocked to hear. We had to preach in the open streets to the anxious multitude. At night, after service, the cries and prayers of the distressed in many houses around were truly solemn. Almost the whole town and neighborhood were baptized and added to the Lord. We left this place and preached and baptized in many other places. We were poorly clad and had no money to buy clothes. Going on at a certain time through the barrens, a limb tore Brother Dooly's striped linen pantaloons very much. He had no other, nor had I another pair to lend him. We consoled ourselves that we were on the Lord's work and he would provide. He tied his handkerchief over the rent, and we went on and preached to the people. That night we lodged with Brother Samuel Wilson, whose wife presented Brother Dooly a pair of home-spun linen pantaloons." — Stone's Biography, page 7.
Not far from this time. Brother Dooly was on his way to some of his appointments, and the waters were high and difficult to cross. In company with his brother-in-law he attempted to pass over Seven Mile creek in a canoe; the stream was so strong and ran so rapidly that it carried them over a mill dam, and precipitated them into the flood beneath. Brother Dooly felt that the prospect was very fair for drowning. But he was not afraid to trust that God who had been his help in days past. The force of the current carried them to shallow water, and they made their escape, but Brother Dooly lost his hat. He pushed on towards his appointments — an elderly lady gave him an old low-crowned wool hat. He received it with thankfulness and went on to preach. At one of his appointments he met a good brother that gave him a good hat and took his old one. No man was more resolute than he was. "Whatsoever his hand found to do, he did it with his might." His heroic mind soared above discouragements.
In the year 1811, Brothers Dooly and Stone traveled to Tennessee in company. On their way the circumstances of their families came up in conversation. Brother Stone remarked that they were commanded to raise their children in the nature and admonition of the Lord, and under existing circumstances, it was difficult to do it for their children were measurably under the tuition of others; and further observed that it was his opinion that if they could obtain suitable companions that it would be their duty to marry and situate themselves so that they could pay some particular attention to their children. This led Brother Dooly to reflect on the situation of his children: they were scattered and moved from place to place.
Finally he addressed a letter to Miss Rachael Martin, daughter of Samuel and Mary Martin, all members of the Cane-Ridge church, and made a proposition of marriage: he succeeded, and they were married in September, 18ll. In her he obtained a pleasant, agreeable, and intelligent companion, and a kind, affectionate, and attentive mother to his children. He now settled on a new farm in Preble County, Ohio. He was not able to hire his work done; and consequently had to labor with his own hands to support his family. He was one among the most industrious men, and when at home worked excessively hard, and as soon as he could spare the time from his family, he would be out in the gospel-field proclaiming salvation to a dying world.
In one of his preaching excursions, in Miami County. Ohio, he was afflicted with the milk-sickness, (a disease very fatal in the first settling of this country); from this he partially recovered but never enjoyed uninterrupted health afterwards.
Late in the fall of 1817, he went to Missouri to preach, and continued during the winter, mostly in the neighborhood of Boonslick. His labors were much blessed. The following April he left for home. His way led through unbroken forests, and uncultivated prairies, the weather was unpleasant, and the waters high, and the accommodations poor. His health was much exposed and on his way he became very sick and feeble, and often while alone in the wilderness, he was compelled to stop and lie down to rest. His horse was also sick and he felt that it was doubtful whether he would ever meet with his loving family and kind friends on earth again or not, but after a tedious and laborious struggle he arrived at home, and remained there until he recovered his usual health. He then commenced traveling again: former difficulties could never deter him from what he believed to be duty. In the year 1821, he paid a second visit to Virginia, in company with his father. He continued for some time preaching principally in Bedford County; late in the fall he returned home. The following winter through the strong solicitations of the brethren in Kentucky, he went and spent part of the winter with them.
In Feb., 1822, on his return home the news met him that his father was sick and likely to die. He traveled day and night if possible, to get to see him alive, but in this he failed: before he arrived the spirit had fled from the house of clay to that "rest prepared for the people of God." He saw the body cold and lifeless, "but sorrowed not as those who have no hope."
His health was poor at this time, and he appeared to have an. impression that his race was almost run, and that "the time of his departure was at hand." He procured the assistance of Elder David Purviance to hold a protracted meeting in his own neighborhood, at Point meeting-house. The word of God "was quick and powerful" at this meeting and "much good was done in the name of the holy CHILD, JESUS." Elder Dooly spoke but little during the meeting, until the last day of the meeting he spoke on the resurrection; he appeared to be perfectly carried away in the spirit of his subject. In view of that great tremendous day, he seemed to entirely forget his own weakness, and his soul was overwhelmed with the glorious prospect of eternal life; his bodily strength was somewhat exhausted when he closed. The congregation were in a flood of tears and great solemnity rested on the people. The meeting soon came to a close. As soon as he left the house, his wife said to him, "Reuben. I am afraid you have killed yourself." He answered, "If I had been sure that I would have been carried of the house a corpse, I would have said just what I did say." This proved to be his last sermon. He was taken sick in a short time afterwards and was measurably confined to his room, until the 22nd day of April. 1822. he left all his toils, labors, and afflictions in view of immortality and eternal life. He bore his last affliction with Christian fortitude and resignation, and died without a murmur.
Elder Reuben Dooly as a teacher, was zealous, persevering, industrious, and devoted.
His inclination and talent were better calculated to render his useful as an evangelist or traveling preacher than a settled pastor of a church. He had a peculiar gift of exhortation, but could not be esteemed a very systematic preacher. He was what is eternally esteemed a reformation preacher. He presented truth in a very ingenious and forcible manner, his voice was strong and melodious, and his manner impressive, and when fully in the spirit of the gospel, the truth flowed from his mouth in a flood of living water, calculated to refresh, comfort, and strengthen the believer, and convince and convert the sinner, and reconcile him to God. We can truly say that he was the means in the hands of God of turning many to righteousness. He was esteemed by many to be somewhat enthusiastic, but none (we think) that were well acquainted with him doubted his honesty. But his uncommon zeal, and great fortitude, and that conscientious observance of what he believed to be duty, led some to think that he was on extremes; but there is no doubt but MANY. Yes! VERY MANY preachers at this time are on the other extreme, that is, they have too little zeal, fervor, and conscientiousness. We have never heard a preacher on a death-bed complain that he had done too much in the cause of his Master.
In the domestic circles of life where men's real character is best known, he showed himself to be a good man: although from a sense of duty he was often from home, yet he felt this to be a great privation, for he delighted much in the company of his family: as a husband, he was faithful, tender, and obliging; as a father, he was affectionate and indulgent, but positive and unyielding in his principles of government. What he believed to be right had to be observed; he had no compromise with sin; he was kind and benevolent to both friends and strangers; he was careful to govern himself and to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts. He has been often heard to say that his two greatest besetments were sectarianism and the love of money. While preaching once in the State of Kentucky, in company with Elder James Hughs, at the close of a protracted meeting about thirty dollars was lifted by a collection, and divided between him and brother Hughs. After reflecting for a few moments Brother Dooly handed his fifteen dollars to brother Hughs, and said. "Here take this; you need it more than I do."
-Biography of David Purviance, pages 194-202
Directions To The Grave of The Dooley Family Cemetery
Reuben Dooley and his father Moses are buried in the Friendship Cemetery in Preble County, Ohio. It is remote, but the best way to get there is to take I-70 east of Dayton, Ohio to Exit 10, Hwy 127, and head south toward Eaton. Continue through downtown Eaton, and head sw on Hillcrest Dr./Hwy. 732. A few miles south of town, Hwy. 732 will take a hard turn to the right. When this happens you are very close. Turn left on Winters Road, and the cemetery will be on your left. Enter the gates of the cemetery and head toward the middle and left side (northeast) of gate. There will be a good size plot with the graves of the Dooleys. Reuben, and his father Moses are buried in the plot. While in the cemetery be sure to visit the grave of Elder John Hardy, which was also a preacher among Restoration Churches.
Note: There is another Moses Dooley to the right side of the cemetery. Do not confuse it with the father of Reuben, who is buried next to him.
View Larger Map
Monument before cleaning
Photos Taken May 23, 2012
Page produced October 11, 2012
Courtesy of Scott Harp
Special Thanks to Tom L. Childers. He and your webeditor spent the week of traveling around to different sites involved in the Restoration Movement in America. The graves of Moses and Reuben Dooley have long been on out list, and now information and photographs are now being made available on this site.