History of the Restoration Movement

Boyhood Home Of B. C. Goodpasture

On Flatt Creek, Overton County, Tennessee

A Boy On Flat Creek

After John Jefferson Goodpasture moved from Rocky Mound to Flat Creek, he built a home for his family which is still standing. The house was weather-boarded, sealed, and painted white. The home was heated in the wintertime by a fireplace and a stove. The family first carried water from a spring and later a well was dug. The farm buildings were of the usual kind—a corn crib, smoke house for curing and hanging cured pork, hen house, and a barn for the livestock and storing grain.

(L-R) John, Ray, Ethel, Carrie, Elora, B.C. Goodpasture
-From The Anchor That Holds: Biography Of B.C. Goodpasture, J.E. Choate

There were two hundred acres in John Jefferson's farm. It was described as average land with some creek bottom acreage. When Cordell was growing up, he helped his father clear two or three fields. They cut the timber, rolled the logs, and piled the brush for burning. The father and son grubbed and plowed the new ground as in frontier days.

Each year about sixty acres of row crop were cultivated for harvesting. The main crops were corn, hay, and soybean. A new orchard was set out sometime after John Goodpasture was settled on his land. Cordell helped his father dig the holes and set the fruit trees.

Their farm tools were of the kind commonly used in the South—the Oliver turning plow, double shovel for cultivating the row crops, and a bull tongued plow for "laying off" corn rows and splitting out the middles. At first corn planting was done by dropping the corn a grain at a time in the row. Later John Goodpasture used a one row corn drill. He kept horses on the farm—no mules. Other livestock included milk cows, grazing cattle, sheep, and hogs. B.C. Goodpasture remembers a gray horse they owned named "Old Bob" who lived to be thirty-two years old. "Old Bob" seemed to have instinctive concern for children. Once Cordell fell from the saddle while riding the horse. "Old Bob" stopped as if he had been suddenly frozen to protect the boy.

The neighborhood Cordell grew up in was little more than a generation removed from a pioneer community. The neighbors helped one another out of mutual concern because it was still a necessity of life. A farmer who had a new ground to clear invited his neighbors for a log rolling. The women folk would be preparing dinner, and the children too small for working would be playing. Occasionally there would be a corn shucking or a house raising, and in two or three days a house would be built. If a man was sick, his neighbors planted his crop, or even cultivated and harvested the crops if his sickness lingered on and with no charge to the sick man. In such cases, the man being helped would provide dinner and supper for the workers.

There was one special summer vacation enjoyed by the John Goodpasture family. After the summer crops were laid by and the general farm work slackened, John Goodpasture took his family on an annual visit to the home of his sister, Mrs. Florence Pate, in Jackson County, near Gainesboro, Tennessee. This was a wonderful week for the Goodpasture children. It would be watermelon time, and none grew riper and sweeter than the melons on the Pate farm. The children spent their time fishing, wading, and swimming; and the older folk spent their time catching up with their talking and just visiting.

The most memorable and important years in a person's life are his school days. Benton Cordell Goodpasture had started his first year of school at Rocky Mound in 1902 just a short distance from his home, but he finished the school term that same fall at the Flat Creek school. Jess Fleming was Cordell's second school teacher who was teaching at Flat Creek that fall of 1902. Teachers came and went in the Flat Creek school. One of the teachers was B. H. Hunt. B.C. Goodpasture remembers B. H. Hunt as one of the best teachers he ever had. He was the kind of a teacher who could explain things and made the students see what he had in mind. Hunt was able to inspire students to study and to fire them with ambition to amount to something in life. B. H. Hunt later practiced law in Overton County.

B.C. Goodpasture At 21 Years of Age
-From The Anchor That Holds:
Biography Of B.C. Goodpasture, J.E. Choate

A school day at Flat Creek stretched out over eight hours. Books were taken up at eight o'clock and school was dismissed at four in the afternoon. The children enjoyed a ten or fifteen minute recess in the morning and another around two-thirty p.m. The lunch hour lasted from twelve to one. These periods were spent mostly in playing games in the schoolyard.

Country schools were conducted in much the same fashion in rural regions in the early years of this century. Classes were not closely graded. The children studied their primers, readers, geography, arithmetic, spelling, and physiology. A student advanced through the grades as he was able to master the subject matter. In the Flat Creek school, the smaller children recited their lessons in the morning and prepared their lessons in the afternoons while the older students recited their lessons. Sometimes the boys and girls just day-dreamed their hours away when their classes were not in session. The Goodpasture boy would usually sit and listen to the older students recite their lessons absorbing a great many facts in the process. This was one of the advantages of such a school. A bright student could greatly advance his learning by paying attention to the recitations of older children.

While Cordell was a very small boy attending the Flat Creek school, he spent the night with his best little friend, Barlow Smith. Barlow had a baby brother just a few days old. The mother asked the Goodpasture boy if he would like to see the baby and he said that he would. So he went in and took a look at the baby named William E. who has been a lifelong friend of B.C. Goodpasture. William E. Smith enjoys telling that Cordell was the first nonmember of the family to see him. The Smiths were distant relatives of the Good pastures.

The Flat Creek school house was a small log building with two windows on each side and one in the back of the building. The school was equipped with long benches made out of yellow poplar boards. There were two blackboards in front of the auditorium where the children sat. The blackboard surfaces fashioned from poplar planks were painted black. No writing desks of any kind were in front of the students. The benches at Flat Creek too were of the same height making the day even harder for the small children since they could not reach the floor with their short legs. The regular school session at Flat Creek started sometime in July or August after the crops were laid by and the children were no longer needed to help with the farm labor. School was usually dismissed a week or two in September for the children to help pull fodder for the winter feeding of the livestock. Then the school would run on for about eight weeks. Public money for the support of the school was limited. The winter months set in and the schools were closed. Some of the books they studied were Stickney's Readers and Lee's Readers, McGee's History of Tennessee, and Hunt's Speller.

Benton Cordell Goodpasture never played second fiddle in his life. He has always played the leading role at whatever he set his mind to. He has from childhood stood out in a class to himself. A favorite pastime of students in the "old time" schools was to excel in the spelling bees and rapid calculation contests. Whoever advanced to the head of the spelling class or worked his problem first knew he must beat the Goodpasture boy.

William E. Smith who was the baby that Cordell first saw recalls his childish impression of the larger boys. Cordell was about seven years older than William :

I can remember that in the little one-teacher school where we attended; he was a big boy as I thought then, and could do anything. When we divided for town ball, cat ball, or spelling matches, the person who got fir t take always took Cordell. He could out run, out jump, out spell anyone in our school. My eldest brother was the teacher, and Cordell pretending to study geography with a New Testament in his textbook memorized the second chapter of the book of Acts. He could nm so fast that none of us could catch him, or e cape his speed. He could knock a ball into the woods from our small playground so far that we often lost them. He likes to hunt. He could beat anyone shooting. When he fired, you could well know there was a dead bird, or whatever he was shooting at was hit. None of us dared challenge him on anything. In what was called 'rapid calculation,' his slate was first on the table (paper writing tablets were not used). He had a sister who was his equal in learning. He could out swim a fish and climb equal to a squirrel. There was a paw paw thicket near our school. We smaller boys would get him to climb the trees and get paw paws for us. He would climb the big chestnut trees and shake them. The entire school would pick up the nuts.

Children living out in the country played such games that they could improvise. Their games were seasonal and especially the marble playing when school was in session. One of the marble games was called euchre. A square would be marked on the ground and nine marbles were placed in the square. The players started from a shooting line. The purpose was to knock all the marbles from the square, and the boy who came out with the most marbles was the champion. An expert marble player could often knock out each marble from the square without bouncing his marble out of the square. During the summer months when the boys were not in school and when they could not work in the fields on rainy days, they would gather under the shed of the Goodpasture barn to play marbles.

The boys in the Flat Creek neighborhood liked ball games, and they especially enjoyed playing "town ball." Several boys had to be present to play the game. The bases were run as is in baseball. Two boys chose sides by running their hands alternating up to the small end of the bat until one boy had the last firm grip covering the end of the bat with his clasped hand. If a small portion were exposed, the other boy would grip the exposed end. If he could manage to throw the bat some ten feet, first choice belonged to him.

Another favorite game was "cat ball.'' Two boys would stand with bats in their hands with a hindcatcher behind each boy. The other boys would be out in the playing field. The ball would be thrown to alternate batters. If a boy caught a fly driven out in his direction, he took his turn at the bat.

Other games the mountain boys played were not conventional, but one was universal. Snowball fights go on wherever the snow falls and it falls in the Cumberlands. Barlow Smith said while they were growing up in the Flat Creek neighborhood, the boys frequently got into snowball fights and that "Cordell could make the hardest snowballs and throw them the straightest and they always seemed to land on his head." About the only way a boy could elude Cordell was to outrun him if he could. And Barlow said, "He would run me down; he was a long-winded rascal like a fox hound." The old saying goes that "boys will be boys'' and Cordell Goodpasture was an all-around Cumberland mountain boy. He was the champion among the boys in the neighborhood. William E. Smith said he was a natural born peacemaker and would umpire the squabbles the children got into. But sometimes an argument took a different turn when a bully thought to take over. Barlow said, "If anyone interferred when we got into a spat, we would quit and both of us would jump on him. We fought each other. but we would fight for each other just as quick."

In front of the Goodpasture home and just across the road. Flat Creek rushed along between its deeply wooded banks. The neighbor boys enjoyed swimming in the "whirl hole" where the water course took a turn forming a slow moving whirlpool with just enough force to make the swimming exciting with?ut the danger encountered in swift deep water. The boys enjoyed water fighting, swimming, and diving contests. The boys would divide up into teams to compete as teams and as individuals.

There were numerous other diversions for the children. They all enjoyed pitching horse shoes—"the kind that came off of horses." Cordell also wanted to excel in the swimming matches; he was often—but not always—the champion. In the fall the children would gather hickory nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, and chestnuts for their mothers to make "goodies" to eat. In those days the children worked hard on the farms, but they were encouraged to play childhood games. Money was scarce, but the children nevertheless had their toys and many of them they made for themselves such as the sling shot (the kind the shepherd boy David had—not a rubber-band flipper), bows and arrows, flutes from elder berry stems, cornstalk fiddles, and other homemade devices.

For the more adventuresome boys, there were the caves to explore (it was not called "spelunking" then). The boys explored with fascination the wilds of the Cumberlands. It was not a formal course in natural history as the boys studied the curious and colorful rock formations and the flora and the fauna. They examined the moss growing from the bark on the north side of the trees, and they enjoyed the wild flowers and ferns. They saw the squirrels and the chipmunks in their natural habitat. Sometimes they saw a fox streaking across an open field and occasionally a beautiful doe and her faun. Long before the boys were allowed to hunt with guns, they hunted the wild animals. Rabbits and possums were chased by clogs belonging to small boys. It was great fun for the boys when their clogs treed an animal in his den and they smoked him out. Tarzan would have enjoyed swinging on the grape vines that grew long and stout in the Cumberlands.

Country people in past generations grew their own orchards with trellises for grape vines back of the house. They picked the wild berries that grew in abundance for their jams and jellies. The father of the Smith boys had an apple tree that produced an apple that Cordell especially enjoyed because of its flavor. Barlow said that he and Cordell got into an apple eating contest. He ate  twelve apples and Cordell ate thirteen. Barlow came out twice a loser. He got a stomach ache and Cordell did not.

Cordell, Ray, and Ethel Goodpasture remember one game they played they wished they had not. A farmer will not allow the farm animals to be run or abused in any way. Anyhow a boy or a girl can take a wild run by holding on to a calf's tail. The point is to turn the animal loose before his running momentum causes a child to suffer a painful fall. The Goodpasture children were running the calves. Their father saw them and warned them they could expect thrashing if they were again caught running the calves. Cordell saw his father one day slipping along a paling fence while they were running the calves, and Cordell dropped down in a cedar grove to hide. Ray and Ethel got a switching and they told on Cordell. And the father said, "I'll whip him too." But he never got around to it.

Another game they enjoyed was frightening the sheep. Their Grandfather Goodpasture killed hogs and salted them down to take into town later in the year to sell. He had large meat sacks sewn to hold the meat. Cordell would take one of the old sacks and cut a hole in it and stick his head through the hole. He would lie down while the sheep came down the path driven by Ray and Ethel. Cordell would rise up just as the sheep approached him. No matter how high he raised himself, the sheep would make the jump without once touching the boy.

A good practical joke has been a joy of B.C. Goodpasture early and later in life. Once he played a joke on his uncle, Herschel Goodpasture. One rainy day when the boys could not work in the fields, they made one of their frequent visits to their Uncle Herschel's farm. He suggested that the boys crawl under the house to hunt for eggs and he would award them with an egg fry. Cordell volunteered to crawl under the house for the eggs. He also picked up a dozen eggs out of the store house while he was about it. Uncle Herschel was very much surprised at the number of eggs. The boys had really a big egg fry and equally a big laugh, but the uncle was a good sport. The boys enjoyed riding horses and playing games on his farm, and they were always welcome.

Every boy somewhere along the way wants a wagon. Cordell and A.R. Hill made their own. Their Uncle Jim Thomas helped the boys build their wagon by allowing them to use his tools to fashion such iron work that they needed. The wheels were made out of small black gum logs. The wheels were sawed off at the end of the log and rounded. John Goodpasture had given his son a calf that he named "Porter." Cordell fashioned a yoke for the calf and trained him to pull the wagon with the smaller children riding in it.

Front Row (L-R) Charles, John, Elora, Jennie & Lydia.
Back Row (L-R) B.C., Ethel, Ray, Carrie
-From The Anchor That Holds: Biography Of B.C. Goodpasture, J.E. Choate

Cordell was eleven years old before his father allowed him to use a shotgun. The first gun he carried into the woods and fields was a Remington single barrel, twenty-gauge shotgun with a thirty-four inch, full-choke barrel. He used the gun first to hunt squirrels. The first time he left the house with the gun, he shot down a "blue darter" hawk that killed the neighborhood chickens. He did not go any further that day, but carried his trophy home to show to his mother and father. This put him in good standing with the neighborhood women because the numerous hawks posed a constant threat to their growing chickens. That gun is still in his possession.

The first gun he owned was a twenty-two rifle. His Grandfather Thompson bought the rifle for his grandson while he was in Louisville, Kentucky. The boy enjoyed roaming the fields and woods with his gun. Occasionally he would bag a rabbit. In time he became an expert rifleman and his skill would have impressed a Davy Crockett.

Cordell learned the art of trapping fur bearing animals in the Cumberland high country. He made rabbit traps and sold a few rabbits for a nickel each. He trapped other animals for their hides. A good possum hide brought twenty-five or forty cents; a skunk sold for a dollar; and a fox hide brought about the same. The hides first had to be dried and cured. This was done by stretching the hides tautly over a board and allowing them to dry. The hides were carried into town where poultry, eggs, and hides were sold at a produce establishment.

During the years that Benton Cordell Goodpasture was growing to young manhood. he attended schools other than the Rocky ' Mound and the Flat Creek schools. These schools were called "subscription schools." Such schools were conducted in the winter months after the public schools were closed and did not start again until the following summer. The schools were called "subscription schools'' because the parents paid a small tuition fee for their children to attend the winter sessions. The salaries of the teachers and other expenses were paid out of the fees.

Cordell attended his first subscription school at Holly Springs about two miles from their Flat Creek home. In those clays the school houses also served as a community gathering place for socials, public meetings, programs for entertainment, debating, and church services. Such meetings were usually held on Friday evenings. The school was widely known around the country for such activities. The Holly Springs school sponsored a debating society and the eleven-year-old Goodpasture boy was one of the members; and at the age of eleven, he engaged in his first public debate. A.R. Hill remembers one of the occasions-it may have been the first debate. When time came for Cordell to speak, all he could do was to address the chair. But later he got up and made an excellent speech. B.C. Goodpasture said that since those early speaking experiences, he has felt little if any embarrassment standing before an audience.

The next "subscription school" Cordell attended was in Hilham, Tennessee. Moses Fisk had established Hilham early in the nineteenth century. He was a well known pioneer educator in the Cumberlands. He established Fisk Academy. Schools of this kind served a critical need before the development of the American public school system. Some of the founders dreamed that someday their schools would grow to be great universities.

Fisk Academy was housed in this period in a large frame building with one room at first, and other additions were built as advanced classes were added to the school curriculum. The school opened first with one teacher and later a second teacher was added. The students paid three or four dollars tuition fee. The Hilham school term was scheduled so there would be no conflict with the Holly Springs school.

A.R. Hill said that Cordell was an exceptionally good student who especially enjoyed reading and studying. His mother encouraged him to work hard and make good grades. The other children thought he was "mamma's pet" trying to get out of doing the chores. His mother did favor him because she knew the boy was trying to learn, and she allowed him to burn "midnight oil" in the old kerosene lamp long after the rest of the family had gone to bed.

A.R. Hill, a double cousin of the Goodpasture children, remembers well a great deal about those early days because he was a part of them. John Goodpasture lived on one side of a mountain, and the George Washington Hill family lived on the other side between 1898 and 1900. A.R. Hill remembers the dates because his mother died just when he was eight years old. His father passed away two years later. A.R. and his brother went to live with their uncle on Flat Creek, a mile up the creek from the Goodpastures. The Goodpastures always extended a warm welcome to the Hill orphans. Elora Goodpasture was a good cook and she mothered the boys. They spent a good part of their spare time with the Goodpasture children.

A.R. Hill recalled that John Goodpasture allowed the children to pick field peas for spending money. They spent many happy hours together at the sorghum mill at molasses making time. The children drank the cane juice and ate the skimmings from the cooking sorghum juice. The boys especially enjoyed heating the cane stalks in the fire until they exploded like firecrackers. These social gatherings attended by the old and young often lasted far into the night.

Benton Cordell Goodpasture cannot remember first going to church because John Goodpasture took his family to worship services. The Goodpastures came from an ancestry who were honored to be known as "God fearing" people. The Goodpasture and Smith children who played and went to school together also attended worship services at the Flat Creek church of Christ which was established around the time of the Civil War. Their fathers were elders in the Flat Creek church.

T. C. Fox was holding a meeting at Flat Creek when Cordell was fourteen years old, and he decided then to become a Christian. Barlow Smith, one of his best friends, also made up his mind to accept the gospel. He was fifteen at the time. They were baptized in the "whirl hole" in Flat Creek just across the road from the Goodpasture home. This marked another period in the life of B.C. Goodpasture. The boy could not have reckoned that one day he would become one of the most influential leaders of the church of Christ in this century. Cordell from that time on became a serious student of the Bible.

As Cordell matured, he delved deeper into the Bible in his home study. There were difficult passages he could not understand. A man who took an early interest in the bright eager boy was a country doctor who had his office in Hilham. Dr. T.A. Langford was the medical doctor. He was not a graduate of a medical school. His knowledge of medicines and the healing arts were learned under older doctors; Dr. Langford owned a good medical library. He was held in the highest esteem by all the people around Hilham. Dr. Langford pulled the Goodpasture child through a critical spell of pneumonia.

Dr. Langford also preached the gospel and conducted weddings and funerals. Dr. Langford had accumulated a good and useful religious library containing such books as Johnson's Notes and Adam Clarke's Commentaries. When the Goodpasture boy came to Hilham, he was welcomed to use the doctor's library and he often did. ·whenever he was bothered by some troublesome Scripture, he would write it down to work out later in the doctor's library. He learned early in life to be a good student of the Bible.

It is now clear that B.C. Goodpasture grew up to be a preacher. Whatever his other accomplishments in life have been, it is the great preacher that has always stood out in his life and does so even to this day. While he was growing up, his mother kept before him the names of David Lipscomb, James A. Harding, and E. G. Sewell; and she implanted in him the desire to be a preacher.

Benton Cordell Goodpasture remembers distinctly the first sermon he preached, but he cannot remember when he did not plan to be a preacher. He preached his first sermon October 18, 1912, in the Holly Springs school house on a Sunday evening. Cordell had attended the Holly Springs "subscription schools" and knew most of the neighborhood people. Several were members of the church of Christ. The school served as a community center, and members of the church of Christ conducted worship services each Lord's day. The seventeen-year old boy chose this place to start preaching because he had often spoken there in debates, and the older people had heard him on those occasions. He thought the Holly Springs community would be a good place to begin. Holly Springs was widely known around Hilham because of the debates and other such activities of community interest that were conducted there. About that first sermon he said in later years: "Well, I just made up my mind I wanted to begin preaching and had the brethren to announce it."

His first sermon was on the subject of faith divided into three parts: The Importance of Faith; How Does Faith Come?; and What Faith Does. Neither his father nor any other member of his immediate family was present on that occasion. The other Goodpasture children were too young to attend without their parents. And it seems that the boy did not tell his parents. The announcement. had been made from the pulpit and somehow the news did not get down the road to the Goodpasture home. Some three weeks later, Cordell preached his second sermon in the Flat Creek church house. His family and all the Flat Creek community came out to hear him. He remembers that he had a difficult time trying to turn to Daniel 2:44. About all the father said on that occasion was to make some suggestion so that wouldn't happen again. The Cumberland Mountain people were proud of their heritage and still are. They are mindful they are descended from hardy pioneers who won the land from the wilderness. John Goodpasture grew up in a generation of riflemen who prided themselves in being able "to shoot without a rest." There had been times when a man needed to shoot without a "rest." John Goodpasture advised his boy when he preached "to shoot without rest." B.C. Goodpasture said his father did not have much to say about his desire to become a preacher or his preaching because he was "from Missouri" and had to be shown. At any rate the father did not have a long wait to learn what his manly young son could do.

Over the next two years Cordell preached in small rural churches and school houses at such places as the Concord school near Flat Creek, White's Bend in Jackson County, Hilham, Livingston, and Algood near Cookeville, Tennessee. He conducted his first funeral service in 1912 for a young woman, Martha L. Stockton; he was seventeen at the time. And the following year he preached the funeral service for Leslie E. Eldrige who died April 8, 1913, and was buried in the Mount Gilead Cemetery.

The summer of 1914 was filled with pleasant surprises for the eighteen year old boy. He meant to become a preacher of the gospel. The results of his first sermons had been encouraging. The first gospel meeting that Goodpasture conducted was at a place called Baptist Ridge in Clay County. He sent in an account of that meeting July 18, 1914, to the Gospel Advocate:

I closed a week's meeting at Baptist Ridge today. The meeting began under very unfavorable circumstances. The Baptist and Methodist formed a coalition to keep me away but made a failure. The meeting was much better than we expected. The meeting was well attended throughout. Nine were added to the Lord—six baptized and three restored. Two or three of the number were Methodist who had been on the "mourner's bench" the week before. Two Methodist and one Baptist preacher were present on the first day of the meeting. They intended to continue their meeting on into the next week which of course would have broken into our arrangements; but when I arrived, they agreed to let me fill my appointment, which they had announced two weeks before. There are a few faithful Christians scattered around Baptist Ridge. I am now on my way to Pleasant Grove where I am to begin a week's meeting starting next Lord's Day.

The young preacher held other meetings in the late summer months before he entered the Nashville Bible school. Everybody who heard him preach was impressed, and his first efforts promised so much for the future.

Cordell conducted his second revival in 1914 at a church called Willow Grove. The meeting had been planned as a joint endeavor with an older preacher, Marion Harris. He had taken Cordell along to assist him with the preaching. As it turned out, the young man did most of the preaching. The young people were carried away by his fine speaking ability and personal appearance. Benton Cordell Goodpasture has been elegantly handsome from his childhood into the advancing years of his life. In that meeting seventeen persons were baptized.

The Willow Grove meeting house was located on Obey River in Clay County. It was one of the best churches in the Cumberland Country. The church was established during the days of the Sewells. The Sewell family counted among its illustrious sons Caleb Sewell, and Jesse L. Sewell, and E.G. Sewell. Some of the Sewells were still attending Willow Grove services in 1914. Cordell returned for some five or six later meetings. Crowds estimated at two and three thousand attended the later meetings. He baptized forty-eight persons in one meeting and sixty-eight in another. The little church in the first meeting was so crowded that the small children sat on the rostrum. The auditorium was lighted by kerosene lamps with tin pie pans used as reflectors. The old church site is now covered by the TVA Dale Hollow Lake.

W. H. (Champ) Clark has been a life long friend of B.C. Goodpasture. The father of Champ Clark, Dr. Edward Clark, and John Goodpasture were good friends. During the meetings at Willow Grove, Cordell would sometimes stay in the Clark home. One night when the young preacher was spending the night in the Clark home, the doctor was roused from his bed. About two o'clock in the morning, a neighbor loudly called Dr. Clark: "Doc, are you in bed?" Whoever was asleep was bound to be awakened. The doctor called back, "Now where would you expect me to be at this hour of the night?" But being a country doctor, this was a normal happening in the Clark home.

Champ who was a small boy at the time remembers the young preacher always brought his rifle along with him. The rifle was a 22 "Hornet." Cordell enjoyed walking in the rugged mountain region, and a large part of it still belonged to the primeval wilderness. The men in the neighborhood would gather on Saturday afternoons on the front porch of the country store to watch the young man shoot targets from the fence posts. He was a superior marksman which excited the admiration of the old timers. Champ Clark was baptized in 1952 at Celina, Tennessee, by B.C. Goodpasture. He also baptized Rufus (Uncle Rufe) Langford who was approaching his eightieth year. Uncle Rufe was the brother of Dr. T. A. Langford of Hilham, Tennessee. That night when B.C. Goodpasture baptized the two men, he said he felt like he was paying off some debts to his old friends, Dr. Edward Clark and Dr. T. A. Langford.

By chance the young preacher got the opportunity to hold a meeting for the New Providence church in Giles County located on Pigeon Roost Creek. Mason Bail, one of the elders of the church, wrote John Dunn in Cookevllie, Tennessee, to recommend a preacher for a meeting. John Dunn sent the names of two preachers and one was that of Cordell Goodpasture; and he said, "I don't know why they selected me. Perhaps it was because of the unusual name that may have attracted attention."

The gospel meeting got under way in September of 1914 on a Sunday evening. A young girl who attended all the services remembers a great many details of that meeting. She was Wilma Wilson, a daughter of John Wilson, an elder of the church. The members of the New Providence church were impressed when the nineteen-year-old Goodpasture walked into the pulpit. He stood straight in the pulpit and almost motionless as he preached. He moved the audience with words he spoke. Although he carried his Bible into the pulpit, he never opened it and never referred to a note. He was "shooting without a rest." When he quoted from the Bible, he called it "the Book."

Cordell never once during the meeting presumed on the ignorance of any member of his audience, nor left the impression that he was not as equally intelligent as he or any other person present. The young preacher assured the audience that they could understand the Bible as he presented his lessons with simplicity and becoming humility.

The first night of the meeting the evangelist announced to the audience that if any person had a Bible question he wanted answered to place the written question on the pulpit each evening. Older preachers made this Bible "question and answer" period a feature of their meetings and the younger preachers usually followed suit. A question was placed on the pulpit stand the following evening by a man who boasted "that he would trap that boy preacher and that would be the end of the meeting." The preacher was not trapped; at least, the audience did not think so. Without opening his Bible, the preacher answered the question to the complete satisfaction of everyone present with the exception of his interrogator. But his somewhat indignant adversary did not give up so easily. On the two following evenings other questions appeared and then they no longer appeared.

A Negro boy who lived nearby expressed a wish to hear the "boy preacher." He was about the same age as the preacher. He came and sat without missing a word. A great deal of excitement attended that first New Providence meeting. At the close of an evening service, Cordell announced that he would speak on the subject of the "Church" the following evening. The older members wondered what a "boy preacher" would do with a subject like that. Most beginning preachers stuck to first principle sermons. The news got around and a large audience awaited him the following evening. Some thought he would be unable "to make his point" as they termed it. At the close of the evening service, Cornell announced he would complete the sermon the following evening. Needless to say that an even larger audience was present. The members of the New Providence church heard him with complete satisfaction. Wilma Wilson said "some of the older members talked about these sermons until they were called from this world." During the New Providence Meeting, the young man would walk about the farm with his twenty-two rifle target practicing. After the evening service, he would return home with the Wilson family where he was staying. He enjoyed eating his supper at that time. One of his favorite dishes was cornbread and milk with the cream skimmed off which had been cooled in the spring house. The family enjoyed sitting around the supper table talking. Cordell returned for later meetings, and the children enjoyed hearing him talk about Nashville and the Old Nashville Bible School which seemed so far away to them.

The night Cordell started the meeting, the wife of John Wilson was away looking after a sick daughter. The following day she came home and attended the service. The young preacher when he met her at the door said, "I don't believe I have seen you here before."

And she replied, "No, but you have spent the night in my home and I have prepared and served three meals for you." The people standing near by had a good laugh over the exchange of words.

On the last night of the meeting, the elders counted up the money and found they could pay Cordell fifty dollars for his efforts. When they told him how much they could give him, he put his hands together and held them over his head with his voice raised in happy excitement exclaimed, "Now I can go to college!" This was a great moment in the life of Benton Cordell Goodpasture. He was now nineteen years old and fired with ambition to make his mark in life. He had been planning to go to the Nashville Bible School for three years. The year before things were shaping up pretty well. But one night a pack of neighborhood dogs got into his sheep and killed thirteen head. That delayed his going to college one year.

Mason Ball purchased his railroad ticket to Nashville, so he would have the fifty dollars when he got to Nashville. When Cordell left home for the New Providence meeting, he had thirty five dollars in his pocket. He was invited to return each year to New Providence for a meeting as long as he was in school. When his train pulled into Union Station in Nashville, Benton Cordell got off the train with eighty-five dollars in his pocket. About his early preaching experience prior to his coming to the Nashville Bible School he thoughtfully said, "It wasn't discouraging. I felt pretty good about it. I already had six years of debating experience behind me." When the young man enrolled in the Nashville Bible School, he didn't try to impress anybody. But then he did not need to because he was as much at home with his books as he had been walking through his beloved Cumberland Mountains. Cordell found a new friend who would become his greatest friend, H. Leo Boles, the president of the Nashville Bible School who had been personally selected by the venerable David Lipscomb for the position. Both men had been reared in the Cumberland Mountain region that had not been harsh to either of them, but the hard country had put iron in their souls and character in their lives. It is not likely that time will allow either of them to be forgotten. Soon after B.C. Goodpasture entered the Nashville Bible School, A.B. Lipscomb a nephew of David Lipscomb, who was one of the main writers for the Gospel Advocate and later president of David Lipscomb College, introduced the student preacher to the Advocate readers:

B.C. Goodpasture, a promising young preacher of three years, would like to make some regular monthly appointments while he is in the Nashville Bible School. He makes his home with John E. Dunn, 2101 Tenth Avenue South. Nashville, Tennessee. I join with Brother Dunn in recommending our worthy young brother.

B.C. Goodpasture excited the admiration of those who knew him as a boy and that admiration has grown throughout the years. If he has since disappointed his brethren with his performance none have come forward to say so.

-Chapter IV, The Anchor That Holds, The Life of B.C. Goodpasture, Gospel Advocate, c.1971

Directions To The Boyhood Home Of B.C. Goodpasture

From Livingston, Tennessee, head south on Hwy. 111, W. Main St., and turn right on Hilham Hwy. (Hwy.85). Go 4 miles and turn right on Flat Creek Rd. Follow creek bed road up .3 miles. The property is on your right. When we were there in May, 2013 it looked as if no one was living in the house. It is my understanding that the family still owns the property, for it was well kept up. However, this is private property, and permission should be sought for spending time on the property.

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Up the hill toward the Goodpasture homeplace from Flat Creek Road

-Gus Nichols, Sermons of Gus Nichols, pages 250-251

Photos Taken 05.14.2013
Page Built 09.21.2013
Courtesy of Scott Harp

Old Flatcreek Church And School Where B.C. Goodpasture Grew Up

Boyhood Home Of B.C. Goodpasture

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