Life is very brief and we do so little during the few years God gave us to work, it is no wonder that Christ said, "I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work." (John 9: 4.)
When we come near the end of life we realize how little we have done and how much we would like to do, so we plead with God to give us more time. We read in 1 Chronicles 4:10 that Jabez called on the God of Israel, and said, "Oh, that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested." Should not we pray to God to enlarge our coast, or extend the field of labor. If I had a thousand years to work to save lost souls, I would see many places untouched where the gospel has never been preached to the lost souls who are blindly going to death and destruction. So this little story of my brief life is not written to boast, for I am more like Paul when he said, "I am less than the least of all saints." So if after he had given a life as a faithful missionary he could say, "I am less than the least," then what do I have to offer God or mankind for what I have done for the Lord?
I, William S. Long, was born in Union City, Tennessee, January 9, 1875, and spent my first twenty years in that beautiful little city. My grandfather was born and reared near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and my grandmother and grandfather were baptized by Alexander Campbell at Hopkinsville. My father was a farmer, and minister, and I worked on the farm until I was eighteen years of age. My mother was a teacher and taught grammar school when I was in my teens. Her name was Mary Harper. No better or nobler mother ever lived. I had five brothers and two sisters of which four remain and three have passed on into Eternity.
A severe depression came to our country and corn sold for only twenty cents per bushel, consequently, there was little money and work was hard to find. I had to work my way through school. I found a job as a school teacher with a salary of thirty-five dollars per month. After paying eight dollars for board and my few other expenses, I was able to save twenty-five dollars each month which I set aside for my college education. I spent four years at Freed-Hardeman College and then began to preach in destitute fields. My first meeting resulted in several baptisms and many restorations. For this meeting I was paid thirty cents and two handkerchiefs. My second meeting paid me one dollar and fifty cents and the third and fourth, three dollars and nine dollars.
On November 10, 1905, I was called to the Harbert Avenue Church which was the only congregation in Memphis. It had a membership of thirty-five and rapidly grew to a total of one hundred fifty-one. While connected with the Harbert Avenue Church I held sixteen meetings in and around Memphis. Many people were baptized and about ten new congregations were started in Memphis and Jackson, Tennessee, and some in Arkansas.
In 1906 I was married to Miss Effie Foy of Fulton, Kentucky. No nobler Christian ever lived, and she was all a good wife could be. We lived happily together for twenty-five years. While we were in a series of meetings in Winnepeg, Canada, she was suddenly seized with a heart attack and passed away. Her body now sleeps in the family cemetery at Fulton, Kentucky.
For several years I kept a record of my baptisms. In one meeting at Sistersville, West Virginia, which lasted forty-five days, we had about one hundred added . . To the best of my knowledge my last counting of baptisms was near five thousand.
It was while I was holding a meeting in Detroit that Brother Claude Witty and I were called to the Federal Penitentiary to baptize Machine Gun Kelley's wife, Katherine Kelley, and her mother, Mrs. Cora Shelly. These two ladies had been influenced to take part in the kidnapping of a wealthy oil man. I was always a person who despised smutty jokes and vulgar language. And when used in my presence I merely asked the guilty person to refrain from such talk. The scripture I used in my argument against such talk is "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." (Matt. 4: 8.) And, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virture, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Phil. 4: 8.)
I spent much of my time in work in mission fields. My first six years were given to work in Memphis and surrounding territory. Then I was called to Washington, D. C. The church there was very small, so I supported myself and my family by working for the Coast and Geodedic Department of the Government, and preached for almost nothing. Since the church there had no building in which to meet, I set out to raise the money to build one. I spent three months traveling about to raise the money. On my ten thousand miles of travel I raised ten thousand dollars from which the new building was built. This church was my home church for thirty years. While there I spent much time in a vast mission field which included Baltimore, Maryland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York.
Later I was called to Detroit and preached four years in that city. My next call was in Chicago where I spent nine years. It was during that time that our country was plunged into a great depression. The church there was in the midst of paying for a twelve thousand dollar building and it looked as though we would lose it. But God was with us so with hard work and courage and the extra financial help of three wonderful people the debt was cleared and the building paid for.
While I was with the church in Chicago I was married to my second wife, Miss Aura Burcham of Washington, D. C. She was truly a faithful Christian and a wonderful wife. We enjoyed a happy married life together and wherever the call came for me to preach she was with me as a splendid servant of God.
Our work carried us into many mission fields. We evangelized for several years in Richmond, Virginia; Bristol, Tennessee; Maine; and southern parts of the United States. We taught the Bible to people of all ages. In 1945 we were called back to Union Avenue Church in Memphis to do mission work. While connected with that church and holding a meeting at Crossett, Arkansas, we decided to take off for a few days to come home for a short rest. On the morning of May 27, 1952, we sat at the breakfast table and talked of her sister's impending visit for that day and she was suddenly seized with a heart attack. She was rushed to the hospital at 10 A.M. and quietly fell asleep at 5 A.M. May 28, 1952. Two years have passed since then and no one can realize the loneliness I have had. All I can say is "The will, of God, be done."
I am still connected with the Union Avenue Church and it is my hope and prayer to be able to do more in the coming years of my life than ever before.
While we were serving the Church of Christ at Bristol, Tennessee, I met Miss Clara Blanche Arnold. Her heart was opened to understand the "word of the Lord more perfectly," and I baptized her into Christ on October 15, 1945. Nine years have passed, and she is very faithful to God. After almost a year of visits to her home, and constant correspondence, I found her with a deep spiritual daily life and a willingness to join me in companionship as a wife. So on April 4, 1954, we were united in the sacred bonds of wedlock. So God has again blessed my home with a Christian wife. No better or sweeter Christian ever lived. She is all that a good wife could be. She is true to God and brings great joy to my heart.
-W. S. Long, Collection of Sermons by W.S. Long, c.1954, Gospel Advocate Company, pages 7-11
The Life Of W.S. Long, Jr.
William Slaughter Long, Jr. was born was born January 9, 1874 in Union City, Tennessee. In 1906 he was married to Miss Effie Foy of Fulton, Kentucky. They were married twenty-five years, when she passed away after a heart-attack. She was laid to rest in the family plot in Fulton, Kentucky. He was married to Aure Burcham while doing work in Chicago, Illinois. She, too, passed as a result of a heart-attack in 1952. Two years later, April 4, 1954, he was married to Clara Blanche Arnold. She survived him.
He was baptized in 1899 by J.S Haskins. Long began preaching in Reeves, Tennessee in 1899.
He received his training at David Lipscomb College, Freed-Hardeman College, and at George Washington University.
Churches he served included the Fourteenth Street church in Washington, D.C. from 1918-1924; the Vinewood Avenue church in Detroit, Michigan from 1925-1928; and the Union Avenue church of Christ in Memphis, Tennessee at two different times, 1908-1914 and 1946 until his death in 1957. He held meetings and preached in twenty-five different states from New York to Florida, and Canada, and according to his own count, baptized over 5,000 people into Christ.
W.S. Long passed from this life in 1957 and was laid to rest in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sources:Preachers of Today, Volume 1.
Directions To The Grave of William S. Long, Jr.
Williams S. Long, Jr. is buried in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.
Take I-240 to Poplar Ave exit. Go west and the cemetery will be on your right. Enter the cemetery and travel straight ahead until you pass the little pond, then turn left. Then to the next right. Head toward the rear until it forces a turn to the right. Head around to the right, then take the first left. Then the next left. Bear around to the right just past the service drive and stop. From the road align yourself in fron to big oak tree with little bench beside it. Walk in 6 rows to HOLLOMAN. Then to the right nine graves to W.S. Long. Location: Plot is in Section 4, Lot 74, #2,3.
or D.d. 35.112313, -89.876313
Aura B. Long
May 3, 1886
May 28, 1952
January 9, 1874
June 17, 1957
Courtesy of Scott Harp