History Of The Christian Churches In Mississippi
Chapter 1 - The Beginnings Of The Restoration Movement In Mississippi
Chapter 2 - Early History Of The Christian Church In Mississippi
Reminiscence And Preachers Of Mississippi, by B.F. Manire
Reminiscence - Chapter 1 - Autobiography - Manire
Reminiscence - Chapter 2 - Early Years Of My Ministry - Manire
Reminiscence - Chapter 3 - From 1856-1860 - Manire
Reminiscence - Chapter 4 - From 1860-1866 - Manire
Reminiscence - Chapter 5 - From 1867-1875 - Manire
Life Of T.W. Caskey - Chapter 1 - Harmon
Life Of T.W. Caskey - Chapter 2 - Harmon
Chapter 3 - First Christian Church In Jackson
Chapter 4 - Bryan Memorial Christian Church
Chapter 5 - Tupelo Christian Church
Chapter 6 - Hattiesburg Christian Church
Chapter 7 - Tate County Has Oldest Church
Chapter 8 - Woodville Christian Church
Chapter 9 - The Southern Christian Institute
Some Mississippi Evangelists
The Christian Churches
(Disciples of Christ)
Compiled and Written By
M. F. HARMON
This Book Is
Affectionately Dedicated to my wife
Hatty Wooten Harmon
Who for nearly forty years has been a Loving and Helpful
Companion to me in all my ministerial Labors, ready
always to go with me wherever Duty called,
sharing with me the joys and Hard
ships of a preacher's life.
MARION FRANKLIN HARMON, AUTHOR
FOR several years the author has had in mind the compilation of this volume, and from time to time has gathered all the information possible so as to make a History that would be worthy of our Brotherhood, and thus preserve for the coming generations of the Church, much material that was in my possession, that possibly no one else had. It is more a desire to preserve this History than it is to write a book that has urged me on. I have endeavored to get the "beginnings" of the various congregations, so as to make the work both historic and interesting, but have had to work against odds in this respect. The pioneers who were in possession of the facts of the "beginnings" and who naturally would have been the most interested, in many instances have gone to their eternal reward, while the younger generation lacked both incentive and the information. Hence this part of the book has necessarily been slow of accomplishment. And even now I am sure that many things have been overlooked because of this indifference, that will be regretted by many when they see the write up of their individual congregation.
I am indebted to Brother Frank K. Dunn, our worthy State Evangelist, who has used freely the columns of the Southern Christian Courier to promote this work. Bro. J. W. Bolton, of Ruleville, but recently of Utica, Mississippi, has rendered valuable service in procuring the history of many of the smaller congregations that have been in his fields of labor during the past 20 to 25 years. Then, too, I have printed in full a small booklet which I printed for the "Sainted Manire," in 1892, entitled: "Reminiscences of Preachers and Churches, in Mississippi, " which besides being an autobiography of the author, gives material that can be found nowhere else. For this booklet, I am under obligations to Mrs. Ella V. Hipple, of Jackson, the daughter of George A. Smythe, one of the pioneer preachers of the church in Jackson. For nearly forty years I have known this good woman, and have always referred to her as the "angel of the Church in Jackson." I am sure that no preacher who has served that church during this nearly half century will think that I am extravagant in my reference to her.
Because of the high cost of printing, and the limited patronage that can be expected, this edition is small, and when it is exhausted, it will be out of print. It has been a labor of love on the part of the author, without any hope of financial gain, and I trust that this volume will be received by the brotherhood of the state as joyously as it has been a pleasure to the author to produce it. ‑
Marion F. Harmon Aberdeen, Mississippi, February 1929.
The Beginnings of the Restoration in Mississippi
OUTSIDE of Reminiscences of Preachers and Churches in Mississippi, by B. F. Manire, found elsewhere in this book, and a chapter on the same subject by the editor of this volume, written in 1891, we have sought from every source at our command to find everything of interest bearing upon the subject of our earliest work in this state. The most prolific source of in, formation available is the Millennial Harbinger, the most noted paper ever published in the interest of primitive Christianity. This book, or rather monthly paper, and afterwards put into book form, was begun in the year 1830, published in Bethany, W. Virginia, and edited by Alexander Campbell, who for nearly half a century was the outstanding writer, debater, educator and preacher among the Churches of Christ. Bethany was the center of what was known as "The Restoration, or Reform Movement," and the Harbinger was the clearing house, so to speak for all the workers throughout the whole country. We have in our possession the following bound volumes of the Millennial Harbinger, from which we have quoted, practically every, thing written from Mississippi during these years: These volumes are for 1832, 1835, 1839, 1842, 1850, 1852, 1854, 1856, 1868, 1870. We have also the following volumes, in which no report from the state was made: 1837, 1838, 1845, 1869. We have also scanned the "Memoirs" of A. Campbell, by Richardson, to see if we could find anything concerning Bro. Campbell's activities in this state, for we have heard of his making visits to Columbus and Jackson. In these "Memoirs", we find a letter dated from Jackson, Louisiana, February 8, 1839, from which we take the following: "I expect to be in Natchez in about a week, and in Vicksburg in some two or three weeks. I have spoken here to very large and attentive audiences several times, and expect to leave tomorrow, if it does not rain, for Woodville, Mississippi. I think much good has resulted from my labors here, as well as in other 1833, to take the Word of God for our only rule of faith and conduct. Our number was nine when we commenced; but since that time it has increased to nineteen; most of them have been immersed; eight of them had been Methodists, one of them a lady of 70 years of age, who had been a member of that society for 26 years. Opposition runs high here as in other places. The world and the sects all oppose us; bestowing on us many harsh names, such as Campbellites, Infidels, &c.; but we are still looking and praying for better times, believing that the Word of God is mighty and will prevail. W. P. CHAMBERS.
An appeal had evidently been sent to Bro. Campbell for help in Mississippi some time during the year 1839, for we find the following letter from him addressed to "The Brethren of Mississippi" in the September, 1839 issue of the Harbinger:
TO THE BRETHREN IN MISSISSIPPI
I have succeeded, according to my promise to you, in obtaining a brother of good standing and of ability to do the work of an evangelist among you. I am not, indeed, personally acquainted with brother Carey Smith, now of Ohio, who has consented to remove with his family among you; but I have ascertained from various respectable sources his credible, intellectual, moral, and religious character; and I have no hesitation in recommending him to the brotherhood in Grand Gulf, Port Gibson, Natchez, Consolation, Woodville, and their vicinities, as worthy of their patronage. Brother Smith did, while a Baptist minister, itinerate in South Carolina and other southern regions, and is well acquainted with southern manners, customs, &c. I think he ought to locate not far from Consolation or Woodville, and cultivate that region well, and make excursions to other points. He will devote, he has indeed devoted himself to the Lord and the brethren, and will give himself wholly to the work. The brethren will, no doubt, discharge their duty faithfully to him.
I stand pledged for them. If on a fair trial you think, brethren, you ought to have another evangelist, and can sustain him, please inform me. I will endeavor to obtain another. I will not recommend to you one that will not, in my judgment, deserve your cordial support. You need help‑we sympathize with you. May the Lord bless you all, and the labors of our beloved brother Smith among you! You may expect him about the middle of November. A. C.
As will be seen from the date attached, the next news from Mississippi was in 1842. Utica, Mississippi, October 9, 1842. I lately attended a meeting some twelve miles north of Jackson, during which twenty‑three united‑eighteen by immersion, and five who had been united before. The occasion was one of peculiar interest. All the brethren and sisters were active. At recess and at night each one was found doing his part. Under circumstances of this kind truth has always been found to prevail. In other places prospects are quite promising.
Please give notice, that on the second Lord's day in April next, a state meeting is designed to be held in Brandon, Rankin County, 12 miles east of Jackson, to commence on Friday before. All the churches throughout the state are requested to send delegates, with concise statements of their date of organization, numbers, increase, &c. We wish to organize and prepare for more efficient operations. J. H. JOHNSON
On November 5th, 1849, Bro. W. S. Speer writes from Oakland, Mississippi as follows:
Oakland, Miss., Nov. 5, 1849
Brother Campbell: By request of Brother Wilcox, I hasten to inform you that, during the month of October, we have gained 17 additions to our members, in the bounds of our labors. Brother Wilcox has planted a new and interesting church (Berea) seven miles south from Oxford, Lafayette County, of about 30 members. The brethren have done themselves much credit in erecting a neat house of worship, and the Elders there requested me to notice them in a periodical, so that preachers might call on them. The house is at Browning's Springs, on the Sheen Pike Road from Oxford to Coffeeville. Bro. Wilcox is still in the field, and doing effective service. Truly yours, W. S. SPEER
And in the same issue, on Nov. 26th, William Baxter writes as follows: Port Gibson, Mississippi, Nov. 26, 1849.
Brother Campbell: My health has improved so much that I have recently been able to deliver eleven discourses in twelve days, and, during their delivery, had the pleasure of seeing several persons yield to the Savior. I trust, if life and health are spared, still to be more useful than ever in the good cause. WM. BAXTER
For many years there was a flourishing church in Port Gibson, but for more than 25 years now the work there has gone down. After coming into this state in 1891, during the lifetime of Bro. John Andrews, the editor of this book preached a time or so for the brethren there. But even at that date, the membership was small. After the death of Bro. Andrews in the early nineties, as he was the moneyed member and most faithful attendant, it was an easy matter for the work to lag.
On July 25th, 1850, we find a brief letter from that stalwart soldier of the cross, J. A. Butler, dated at Athens, Mississippi. It follows: Athens, Mississippi, July 25, 1850 Brother Campbell: I am now at Athens. Yesterday I immersed 3, and 4 more have just confessed. Among them, Dr. Robinson and his most intelligent and dignified consort, and her brother‑in‑law and consort. One of the individuals immersed on yesterday, Sister Hardy, was a bright luminary in the Methodist society. Your tracts on baptism are wielding a most salutary influence upon this whole floral south. The good cause is onward. Truth is mighty and will prevail. Its ultimate triumph is in the hands of the brotherhood. If we do our duty, the cause is safe. In hope, J. A. BUTLER.
In 1852 we find the following news items from Mississippi: Mississippi.‑Bro. D. C. Gordon, of Aberdeen, under date of February 4th, writes as follows: "Bro. W. M. Brown, of Illinois, is now with us—has been here twelve days, lecturing in a schoolhouse, for want of a church. I think we will have one of the right sort soon, as it is now under contract. Bro. B. has added only 1 to the church. Says he will remain in this section a few weeks, and then pursue his journey to North Carolina. He is a pious, able, and persevering Christian."
Mississippi.‑Bro. W. V. W. M'Lendon, under date of August 9th, (whose favor has been so long mislaid,) gives us cheering news from the region of his late location, in Chickasaw County. Our brother, with a few other *Disciples, in the year 1847, emigrated from East Alabama to where they now reside. Latterly they have been visited by Bro. T. W. Caskey, an evangelist, whom they had invited to visit them occasionally. The results of his labors have added much to the spiritual comfort of the brethren in that hitherto desolate region. Some 7 or 8 additions have been made to their number, in which is included the entire family of Bro. M'Lendon. These brethren now number 13 in all. They have formed themselves into a Bible Class, and meet every Lord's day.
Mississippi. ‑Bro. D. L. Phares, under date of February 12, reports 21 additions during a meeting held at Whitesville‑1 from the Baptist, 2 reclaimed, and 18 by baptism. Bro. Wm. Baxter, who expects to labor for the brethren in that place during the current year, was the speaker on that occasion. Prospects were, it is said, never more favorable than at present for the advancement of the good cause in that portion of the State. ‑Under date of April 7th, Bro. T. M'Caskey, of Columbus, writes, "Bro. Brown, of Illinois, has been with us for some weeks. We held a meeting at Mount Olivet Church, now Palo Alto, Chickasaw County, which resulted in 28 additions to the church, some of the Baptists united. From thence Bro. Brown proceeded to Houston County‑12 were added to the church there, 7 from the Baptists and 2 from the Methodists. From thence to this place, (Columbus)‑7 have been added, 3 from the Baptists. Meeting still in progress.
"‑Bro. D. L. Phares, of Whitesville, writes March 31st, "Since my last, we have added to our church here 4 members at the Christian Chapel; also, in this county, 6 or 7 additions recently."
Mississippi.‑Bro. D. L. Phares, of Whitesville, under date of June 25th, reports 39 additions to the church of that place since the early part of February.
In 1854, we find four letters written to the Harbinger during the year from the state, and are as follows:
Mississippi‑Bro. W. V. W. M'Lendon, of Chickasaw County, under date of September 24th, reports 9 additions‑7 of whom confessed the Lord, and 2 united from the Baptists. This church, a little over two years ago, numbered only 18 members, and now numbers 34. After closing his labors in the aforesaid county, Bro. Ben. Cooper visited Choctaw, some thirty miles distant, where he preached about ten days, and immersed 12 persons. Thence he goes to Oakland, whence we hope to hear from him next month.
Mississippi‑Bro. W. Clark, of Jackson, under date of September 14th, reports 10 additions‑7 of whom were added by the labors of Bros. Casky and Mays, during a meeting held at Liberty Grove, Madison County; and the remaining three, judge Mays, wife and daughter, Mrs. Potter, by Bro. Clark himself, who, though not professedly a preacher, is indeed a most zealous disciple, and exerts a most excellent influence wherever he goes in favor of the Truth. Bro. C. informs us that the judge has become a public advocate of the good cause. We trust that his ability in the advocacy of the cause of his Redeemer, may be equal to that which, in the legal department, has placed him in the foremost rank of the profession. "A better meeting," says Bro. C., " I have not seen for a long time. My heart's desire and prayer to God is, that my fellow‑citizens may be saved."
Mississippi.‑Bro. J. M. Baird, of Crawfordsville, under date of January 9th, says: "We have an interesting little church here, some most excellent and worthy members, mostly females; but, unfortunately for us, we are at this time without a preacher, and without anyone having the qualifications requisite for an overseer or instructor of the little flock. We need some one who could present with force, and defend with ability, the great truths which we as a people are striving to promulge. We are, unfortunately, surrounded by as much talented opposition, and that, too, from those of whom we might have expected better things as falls to the lot of any who are striving to restore the primitive gospel. Sanballat‑like, they are doing all they can to obstruct us in building again the walls of Zion, because we will not mingle with them and speak half the language of Ashdod and half the language of Canaan." "Could you send us an able preacher, who could live on $700 or $800 per annum? This we could pay, or perhaps more, if necessary."
(Who, brethren, will respond effectively to the Macedonian cry? ‑A. C.)
Mississippi.‑Bro. W. H. Hooker, of Palo Alto, April 9th, writes: I held a meeting in Columbus a few days since, at which we had 5 accessions to the good cause."
There has been through all the years a brotherly feeling existing between the Southern states, and often has this spirit been manifested by the closest cooperation between the brethren. Especially has this been true of the states of Alabama and Mississippi. The same climate, same needs, same character of people are to be found in both states. As will be, seen from the following letter of Bro. P. B. Lawson, who writes from Mississippi, but is trying to get Bro. Campbell to visit Selma, Alabama, where it is evident that Bro. Lawson then lived.
CONTEMPLATED SOUTHERN TOUR
Crawfordsville, Miss., June 18, 1856. Brother Campbell‑Dear Sir: As corresponding Secretary of the South Alabama Co‑operation, I write you to solicit a visit from you the coming fall. Our Co‑operation will hold its Annual Meeting in the city of Selma, commencing Friday before the 1st Lord's Day in November. Our brethren will be represented there, and are exceedingly anxious you should be with them, to comfort and strengthen them. We have a new and handsome house of worship in this pleasant and growing city, and the route from Wheeling there is all railroad, except from Montgomery to Selma, which is by river. The brethren of North Mississippi wish you to meet them in Columbus or Aberdeen, or both places; from either of which you can take railroad to Mobile. Great anxiety is manifested in all the South for you to pay us one visit, and a willingness expressed to do all in their power towards the endowment of Bethany College. If you can possibly do so, do come, for no point of the compass is struggling against more fearful odds than the South, nor is there any people more in need of encouragement, or who would appreciate it more. If you can visit us, please announce it through the Harbinger, and let your stopping places be at Augusta, Atlanta, Griffin, Georgia; Montgomery, Selma, and Marion, Alabama, and at Columbus and Aberdeen, Mississippi. You will find this a pleasant and accessible route. The brethren of North Mississippi and Alabama sent a special messenger last year to meet you at Nashville; but he failed, I believe, to get there in time; yet they still urge you to come; they wish to see you face to face in the flesh, and feel satisfied a visit from you will strengthen us very much.
In hope that your life may long be spared to the church, to the world, and your family, I remain most affectionately, yours in hope of immortality.
P. B. LAWSON
(In response to the request of many brethren in the South and South‑West, and to those especially represented by Bro. P. B. Lawson, in the preceding kind invitation, I intend, the Lord willing, to make them a visit during the coming winter, and that with special reference to the claims of Christianity and of Bethany College, in raising up an efficient ministry, for which they have been long praying. We will, at as early a day as possible announce our appointments‑A. C.)
Mississippi. ‑Bro.W. V. W. McLendon, writing from Chickasaw Co., Aug. 23rd, says: "Brother Robert Usrey has been laboring in our midst, (at Union Valley,) for about a week. Our meeting closed last night; 14 accessions was the result; 5 from the Baptists, 1 from the Methodists, and 8 from the world, most of them valuable additions.
Besides the above, Bro. Usrey immersed 3 last Spring, and 2 from the Baptists united with us‑making in all 19 accessions the present year.
We now number 52 at Union Valley.
From the last clippings from the Harbinger, 1856, to the letter following, 1868, is a long jump, 12 years. Alexander Campbell had died in the meantime, 1866, the year after the close of the civil war. The great and bloody war lasting four years had been fought and peace declared. The South was left in a deplorable condition, and our churches had been wrecked, and congregations died out. But there is one bright spot in the midst of the gross darkness of that period, and that was that the Christian Church had not divided over the war. There was no Christian Church South and Christian Church North. After the death of Mr. Campbell, Bro. Pendleton, who was connected with Bethany College, became the editor of the Harbinger. To him this letter is addressed. Notice its spirit, the spirit that permeated the entire South after the war was over.
GOOD WORDS FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS
Columbus, Miss., June 26, 1868 Dear Bro. Pendleton:‑ *Recently the brethren at this place "sent" me out evangelizing. We have some twenty congregations, more or less, in North West Alabama and North, East Mississippi, and no general evangelist (except perhaps Bro. Manire) and but few preachers, many of the smaller churches "gone down" for want of preaching and discipline, having never enjoyed the necessary instructions in the "all things whatsoever Christ commanded." Some of these, like the church in Pergamos, "dwell where Satan's seat is." Others again, like the church in Sardis, "have a name that they live, while they are dead," their "works" not being "perfect before God." Many unfortunately, from a variety of causes, are in this situation, and hence the great need and necessity of good men in the field, to "set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders." I opine that you brethren in Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee, where you have so many good meetings and good preachers, have never fully realized our situation. Since the death of our excellent old brother Usery, I know of not over half a dozen preachers in this great state, now contending for the faith once delivered to the saints; perhaps not more than a dozen in the State of Alabama. Therefore, my dear brother, when it goes well with you, think of us.
Owing to the great preponderance of sectarianism through, out all this region, we have long since learned how to be thankful for even a little success. Some weeks since, I held a meeting at Caledonia in this county, preaching every nig ht and on Lord's Day. A single sister was, at the commencement, the only one in the neighborhood found contending for "the more sure word of prophecy." You can only imagine how our hearts rejoiced together and were glad, when, at the close of the meeting I had the pleasure of immersing 6 intelligent persons in a creek hard by, for the remission of their sins,‑one of whom was the husband of the sister aforesaid. These seven gave themselves to each other and to God, and promised to keep the ordinances as delivered to them in his word. The first Lord's day in July we commence a protracted meeting at that place, at which we hope and expect to gain several more.
But, "thanks to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ," the best is yet to be told. Since the meeting at Caledonia, I have visited the brethren at two of their places of worship in Fayette Co., Ala. And (as I cannot communicate all the good results with pen and ink) will say, I commenced preaching at night to the brethren of Berea, on New river, near Doublin, in Fayette Co., as before; continued over Lord's day,‑audiences increased in size from the beginning. On Saturday evening a Baptist brother came in and was introduced, who arose and stated (he was a preacher, and said to be a most excellent man) that the Baptists from his congregation, some four miles south of where we then were, had sent him up to invite me down on Lord's day to preach for them. The invitation was accepted, and after morning service at Berea, 1, with the congregation at Berea, went down to preach for the Baptists at 4 o'clock P. M. A very large audience' assembled, for a country meeting, I arose and sung, "Let Christians all agree and peace among them spread," knelt and prayed, arose and read the 17th chapter of John, and spoke an hour and a half, urging the union of Christians upon the foundation laid in Zion‑the first article of the Baptist "Confession of Faith", ‑‑at the close of which a proposition to this effect was submitted, viz.: to throw away to the moles and bats all partyism and human creeds as bonds of union and communion among Christians, and unite in fact on the foundation of prophets and apostles. Descending to the floor from the pulpit, an aged Baptist arose with tears running thick and fast down his furrowed cheeks,‑"I give you my hand and my heart to this work," said he; "I have long prayed for it, and believed Christians ought to be united, but could not see how it could be done, until you explained the difference between faith and opinion." So saying, he extended his hand. Next came the preacher; then a perfect rush of all the Baptists, numbering, I judge, some 60 or 75 persons, including males and females. All came forward and extended the hand. Then our brethren, all shaking hands and actually hugging each other. Never but once have I witnessed such a scene. Some shouted, some laughed, others cried. And "I too wept, though not to weeping given." To prove their sincerity in this glorious union movement, the Lord's Table was spread (at Berea) at night, and there around one common table they met and ate and worshipped together. Oh! surely, no one present will ever forget this meeting! And if there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, what a commotion was then created among those heavenly messengers. The Lord grant that this may be the commencement of one grand and yet more glorious movement for union between our brethren and the Baptists in Alabama! I left them Monday morning trying to agree upon another union meeting, to come off some time between this and the coming Fall. Some of the other brethren there propose to give you other particulars, which, will obviate the necessity of my extending further this already too lengthy epistle.
The churches mentioned in the first part of this letter, are all earnestly soliciting to meet through their delegates or messengers at Columbus on Friday before the 2nd Lord's Day in Oct. next, in a general consultation meeting; the prime object of which is, to put two general evangelists in this field. Many other things will also come up for consideration and consultation. Meantime, "a call" for such a meeting is now being circulated among the churches, which, when completed, with names, &c., will be forwarded to the Harbinger for publication. The attention of the brethren is now merely called to the time and place, of the proposed meeting, and, as the phrase is, it is greatly desired to make this meeting a success.‑In hope of eternal life, your brother in Christ,
C. S. REEVES
In 1868, soon after the Civil War had ended, Bro. R. V. Wall wrote from Utica, Irinds County as follows:
Utica, Hinds Co., Miss., Oct. 31st, 1868 Bro. Pendleton: I have been waiting a long time hoping to get some cheering words to write you; as yet I have but few. I have been laboring in word and doctrine, as best I could, to gather up some of the fragments of the ruined Temple of the Lord in this waste place of Zion.
Recently we have had some little encouragement. Several of the old members of the church have rallied around the banner of the Lord, five have been added by immersion, two from the Baptists, and one from the Methodists. There is a great want of ministerial labor throughout all this portion of the vineyard of the Lord. The churches have been broken up. The members have gone from their labors‑some to sectarian churches, some to the kingdom of the wicked one. And so the cause of truth is bleeding for want of suitable men to bear the Banner of Truth. Could we get some ministerial aid to conduct a protracted meeting at this place, much good might be done with the blessing of God. The field appears white for the harvest.
But from whence shall such aid come? We have but three or four preaching brethren in this state. I am of opinion that an evangelist might be well sustained in this section. Yours in hope, R. V. WALL.
It will be observed that Bro. Wall writes to Bro. Pendleton who was then the editor of the Harbinger. Bro Campbell had passed to his reward in 1866, Bro. Pendleton, who had been associated with Campbell as a teacher in Bethany College assumed editorial management of the Harbinger. The outlook for the cause in the state as presented by Bro. Wall, was very gloomy, to say the least of it.
Two years following the foregoing from the pen of Bro. Wall, of Utica, we have a letter written by Bro. B. F. Manire, of Winona, Mississippi, which gives a little more roseate condition of affairs of the Kingdom. This was in 1870, the last year the Harbinger was published, and this letter was in the last monthly installment of the paper. Bro Manire's letter follows:
THE CAUSE IN MISSISSIPPI
Bro. Pendleton:‑The Annual Meeting of the brethren in this State was held in the city of Jackson, on the 24th, 25th and 26th of November. Thirteen preachers were present,, twelve white and one black, being about half the entire number of preachers we have in the State. I give their names and address Dr. S. R. Jones, Hon. Geo. L. Potter, Geo. A. Smythe, Esq., and J. W. Harris, Jackson, Miss.; Eld. W. H. Stewart, Utica; W. C. Scholl, Woodville; Eld. W. T. McKay and Dr. J. H. McKay, Madison Station; J. P. McKinley, Waterford; N. B. Gibbons, Ellistown; Alex Ellett, Starkville; B. F. Manire, Winona.... and Win. Ramy (colored), Carrollton. Bro. J. C. Oliver, Baldwyn, reported his labors and success since the middle of July last by letter. These and other brethren present represented at least three‑fourths of the entire brotherhood of the State.
Eight business sessions were held, in addition to which there was preaching every night and on Lord's Day. The utmost harmony prevailed throughout the entire meeting. Not a discordant note was heard. There was no discussion of "plans." "Plans" were not mentioned; and I doubt if "plans" were thought of during the meeting.
The time was spent in hearing reports from Evangelists and others; in learning the condition, wants and prospects of the churches; and in active efforts to ascertain what could be done to meet these wants for the coming year. Special attention was given to the subject of Sunday Schools, and the religious wants of the Freedmen. The Evangelists were requested to bring these subjects before the churches. To the latter of these, it is my purpose soon to call the attention of the entire brotherhood throughout the United States.
The reports were all very encouraging. They showed that about 450 persons had been added to the churches; that four new congregations had been planted, and several old ones revived and reorganized; that a nucleus had been formed at several points around which it is hoped self‑sustaining congregations will soon be collected; that the brethren generally had been much strengthened and encouraged, and in many places a deep interest had been excited in the whole community by our labors, and the labors of other Evangelists. It was also shown that almost two thousand dollars had been paid during the year for State work, and something over this amount for home work. Full reports from all the preachers in the State, would doubtless have largely increased the number of additions, and to a considerable extent the amount contributed to the support of the Gospel.
About eleven hundred dollars, partly in cash and partly in pledges, were raised by the meeting, mostly from the members of the church in Jackson, for the purpose of canceling the indebtedness for labor already performed, and starting the work again. A contribution of seventy‑eight dollars in cash was raised for our colored brother, to enable him to extend his labors among the colored people He represented a congregation of 140 members, ',0 of whom have been added this year, and are included in the number given above.
On reviewing our labors, we feel that we have great cause to thank God, renew our courage, and redouble our efforts.
Three years ago when the writer of this, without the promise of a dollar, entered the field, relying on the providence of his Heavenly Father, and the justice and liberality of his brethren, there was not another preacher in the State devoting his whole time to the work. Now there are six; and we trust there will soon be four more, as the fields in which they can be sustained are looking out for the laborers. In these three years more than a thousand persons have been added to the churches, and the truth more widely disseminated than at any previous time. Bro. Ellett and myself are again in the general field, relying wholly on the voluntary contributions of the brethren; and we expect to be joined soon by our able, eloquent, and beloved brother Caskey.
In God is our trust. Pray for us, Bro. Pendleton, that the word of the Lord may have free course in this our afflicted country. ‑Your Bro. in Christ, B. F. MANIRE
Winona, Miss., Dec. 21, 1870
Thus ends the scattering history of the Church as gleaned from the columns of the Harbinger. From 1870 to 1884, the year when the State Work was organized in a more permanent way than had been done previously, there is but little to learn concerning the dooings of the church. About all we can learn is from Bro. Manire's "Reminiscences of Preachers and Churches," which forms a part of this book, and from whatever may be said by the older members of some of the congregations of the State. But as there are few now living who remember back that far, it will be next to impossible to get much information covering this period.
In this connection, and as the last letter was written to the Harbinger by Manire from Winona, Mississippi, recalls a statement which we have heard Bro. Manire make many times concerning the work in Winona. For a number of years the church in that city was one of our very best churches in the state. When I came to this state in 1891, 1 visited the church there and preached one night to a very good audience, but the church was without ministerial oversight, and the work gradually went down till sometime early in the present century the church house was sold and the money loaned to the church in Gulfport, (I believe it was) and there has been no work there for years.
But the story of Bro. Manire. He said that there was a debate there, just what year we do not remember, between Bro. Caskey and a Methodist preacher. Caskey was in his prime, and there were but few better debaters ever among us. Bro. Manire said that Caskey so outmatched his opponent, and was so bitter in his attack on the Methodist that it reacted against Bro. Caskey. Whether or not this had anything to do with the decline of the work there we do not know, as the work has declined in towns where there never was a debate held.
EARLY HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN MISSISSIPPI
IN 1891 there was published from Jackson, Mississippi, a large book the title of which was "Memoirs of Mississippi", in two immense volumes. The Goodspeed Publishing Co., of Chicago, were the publishers. This book contained the history of Mississippi in all of its varied make up, together with many Biographical sketches of prominent men in the State. One of the features of this book of "Memoirs" was the Religious feature of the State, and among the various religious organizations was a write up of the Christian Church, prepared by the editor of this book. While he was a new man in the State, there were living in Jackson at that time some women who remembered personally many men and events connected with the Church from its earliest days. We mention especially Mrs. Goodyear and Mrs. Smythe, who furnished the information. These good women have long since gone to their eternal reward, and it is doubtful if there is a living soul in the state who could reproduce the facts contained in this Church sketch. And as the volume in which it is contained is so large and cumbersome, and possibly very few of them in the hands of members of the Christian Church we reproduce here that sketch. Mrs. Goodyear was the daughter of General Clark, who founded the church in Jackson.
"The history of the Christian Church in Mississippi is less important than in most of the Southern States, as their membership is smaller, the progress of the church being greatly impeded by the late war. Since that time the great mass of emigration has gone West, made up mostly from the central states, where the Christian church is very strong, and it furnished a great many emigrants, and consequently is very strong in the West as in the central states.
The first organization of this church in the state was at Battle Springs, about the year 1836. This congregation was organized by Gen. William Clark, (the father of Mrs. Goodyear spoken of above) who preached for them once a month for many years after. This church was about eight miles from Jackson, but no organization has existed there for many years. An organization was effected at Utica, about 33 miles from Jackson, on the Jackson and Natchez road, about the same time as the one at Battle Springs. Jefferson H. Johnson was the organizer of this church. About the year 1838 President Tolbert Fanning of Tennessee and James A. Butler, two prominent ministers of the church, organized a congregation at Columbus, in the North, eastern part of the state, while William E. Mathes, an able minister, organized several small congregations in Wilkinson County. General William Clark, who was state treasurer, and Joseph E. Mathews, state auditor, organized a congregation in Jackson in 1841. The first regular pastor laboring for the Jackson congregation was T. W. Caskey, a talented man, who served from 1854 to 1860, when he went into the army as chaplain, where he served in that capacity very acceptably till the close of the war.
Since then the church has been ministered to by Elisha Pinkerton Elder Snow, of Virginia, George A. Smythe, for several years and lately by James Sharp, Robert Mayes, T. A. White, and by the present pastor, M. F. Harmon.
The congregation in Jackson previous to the civil war was one of the wealthiest and most influential churches in the state. The church house, which was a brick, and a good one for its day, was greatly damaged by soldiers during the war and was in 1884 condemned and torn down. A small neat chapel stands in the rear of where the old church stood, and a fine modern style building is soon to be erected on the old site.
There are in the state now thirty-two church houses reported, and valued at $34,000. There are about sixty organizations in the state, thirty of them having no meetinghouse, and there are about forty unorganized bands. The total white membership is between five and six thousand. There are thirty-two preachers who give part or all their time to the ministry, and about fifteen who give but little or no time. There are twenty-seven colored congregations in the state, with about two thousand membership; twenty-one church houses valued at $8,630, and thirty-two preachers.
This church teaches strict adherence to the New Testament as the "all sufficient rule of faith and practice," are opposed to all human creeds, believe in the co‑operation of all their congregations in sending the gospel to all parts of the earth. They believe in every Christian reading, studying, and interpreting the Bible for himself. They have an educated ministry and believe in a consistent Christian life. They hold, in common with all the so‑called evangelical churches, the fundamental principles of Christianity, rejecting from their faith and practice only those things, which are not commanded in the New Testament, or are not of divine precedent. They believe in the union of all Christians upon the Bible, and the Bible alone. They call themselves Christians or Disciples of Christ, as the followers of Christ were called in the beginning of the church. This people believe in Missions both home and foreign. Besides collections taken from the congregations at regular times for foreign missions they have a regular state board of missions that keeps an evangelist in the state all the time. This state work was begun with labors of T. W. Caskey from 1841 to 1854, and William E. Hooker and Robert Usrey labored in the same capacity from 1854 to 1860. B. F. Manire, a talented Christian minister, evangelized throughout the state for several years independent of any board. The Mississippi Christian Missionary Convention which is operating now in doing state missionary work, was organized in 1884, with Dr. D. B. Hill, of Palo Alto, president, who served till 1887. From that time to the present, (June 1891) Dr. D. L. Phares, of Madison Station, has been president. This board holds annual conventions, the last week in August, for the purpose of reviewing the work of the past, and planning for the future. Their work is altogether advisory. James Sharp was the first evangelist under the new board, serving from 1885 to 1890, A. C. Smither, serving from January 1890 to August of the same year. January 1st 1891, John A. Stevens accepted the position of evangelist, and is filling it acceptably yet. (He filled the position for about ten years‑Editor)
Newton College, located near Woodville, was opened March 7th, 1843, to both sexes. It closed in 1860. A great many young men were educated here, several for the ministry, who have made useful men. A number made distinguished doctors, lawyers and educators. A great many grand women were educated here.
Southern Christian Institute is a mission school with plantation, organized in 1877, for the colored people, with an organized stock basis of $10,000. The present site of the Institute was selected in 1882, near Edwards, in Hinds County, twenty six miles west of Jackson, on the Virginia and Mississippi railroad. The plantation consists of 800 acres of number one cotton land. The school at present is under the control of J. B. Lehman and wife, thorough educators.
In 1875 S. R. Jones edited a paper known as the Unitist, in the interest of the church. It continued for a year or more and suspended. An attempt or two has been made to publish a church paper, but owing to the weak condition of the churches, and perhaps more properly to bad, inefficient management on the part of the projectors, none of these attempts have amounted to much, except the last, which promises to prove a valuable church organ,‑The Messenger, an eight page, three column paper, published monthly in Jackson, by M. F. Harmon.
It would be unjust to the man, as well as to the church in Mississippi, to fail to make special mention of B. F. Manire, a consecrated minister, who has spent a great portion of his life in evangelizing throughout the state, and adding more souls to the church than any other man of his church. The Christian Church stands in the front ranks in every reform movement that is calculated to benefit humanity."
Reminiscences of Preachers and
Churches in Mississippi
By B. F. Manire
N0 ONE in the State of Mississippi has added as much OX to the early history of the Christian Church as B. F. Manire. Late in the year 1892, in the month of October, to be exact, he began a series of articles in the Messenger, the State paper, under the heading above, which were later put into pamphlet form, and published by the Messenger. As there is possibly only one copy of that pamphlet in existence now (1927), and likely not a single copy of the Messenger to be found any, where except the copy preserved by the editor, we are reproducing this pamphlet here in this permanent form for the coming generations of the church. A brief history of the Messenger will be found in another part of this book, together with the work of its editor in helping to establish the work of the church in the early nineties.‑ (Editor's Note.)
Introductory and Auto‑Biographical
ACCORDING to the family record, I was born in Bedford County, Tennessee, on the 11th day of February, 1829. I was the only child that my good little mother ever gave to the world; and to my rearing and training she sacredly devoted the remaining eighteen years of her toilsome and self‑sacrificing life. To her gentle loving nurture and my father's rigid discipline, I am indebted, next to the blessing and guidance of my Heavenly Father, for whatever of success I may have achieved in this life. Upon every remembrance of them, I thank God for such a mother and such a father.
The first event that I distinctly remember was the baptism of my father and mother which occurred in the summer of 1834, when I was only a little over five years of age. This event made a deep and lasting impression on my juvenile mind; and if I were an artist I could paint the scene‑the clear, winding, little stream, the grass‑covered banks, the over‑hanging trees, the hushed and solemn crowd that came to witness the act, and the candidates themselves as they were led into the water and buried with their Savior by a faithful servant of God, while I trembling and awestruck clung to the hand of a loving and beloved aunt. The memory of that scene has ever dwelt within my heart, and often cheered me along life's dark and rugged way.
My father and mother were both religiously of Baptist descent. My great grandfather Manire lived and died a Baptist preacher before the great Baptist family became so unhappily divided. My grandfather and grandmother Manire, my grandmother Smith, and my great grandmother Dixon were Baptists; but in the year 1828, in response to the call of their preacher, Joshua K. Speer, they laid aside the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, and, with almost the entire church took their stand on the Bible alone, accepting the New Testament as the all sufficient Rule of faith and worship. It was by the hands of this saintly man who thus led the way of return to New Testament Christianity in Middle Tennessee, that my father and mother were baptised on a simple confession of their faith in Jesus as their only Lord and Savior. In this faith I was brought up, to this faith I still cling, and in this faith I expect to die.
My father and several others who came into the church about the same time he did, soon began to read and talk and pray in the Lord's day service; and in order to their own improvement they would often meet at private houses, especially at my father's as he was a leading spirit among them, and spend hours at night in such exercises. If there were a dozen of these embryo preachers present at one time, every one of them had to try his hand, or mouth rather, before the meeting adjourned; and often the exercises were protracted far beyond the hour of midnight. Sometimes a poor fellow's mouth would fool him by failing to go off, and then he would sit down, bow his head between his hands, and look the very picture of despair; but the others would tenderly console and affectionately encourage him, and the next time he would try again usually with a better result. Such efforts as these were a part, and a large part too, of a preacher's training in those days. When any one had advanced far enough to talk to the edification of a household audience, and could conduct Lord's day services satisfactorily, then one of the old and successful preachers would take him around through a series of protracted meetings for a year or two and graduate him. Some of our most devoted and most successful preachers were made in this way fifty and sixty years ago. It was in such meetings as these that the idea got into my little heart that I must be a preacher, and that idea is there yet, and will remain there till I die.
In my boyhood days it was my privilege to hear Joshua K. Speer, Ephraim A. Smith, C. F. R. Shehane, Elijah Craig, Willis Hopwood, James C. Anderson, John M. Barnes, J. J. Trott, and others who succeeded them. But of all whom it was my good fortune to hear in that formative period of my life, no one made so deep an impression on my heart as Joshua K. Speer. He was not learned, nor logical, nor eloquent, but he was by far the most emotional preacher I have ever heard. He not only felt himself, he made others feel. He not only wept himself, but he made others weep. I can see him now, as the tears would flow in one continuous stream down his cheeks, while he talked of Jesus and his love. Old as I am now, and short as is the time that is left for me to serve my Master in, I would gladly give the wealth of a Gould or a Vanderbilt, if I had it, for the power, the gift of exhortation which he possessed.
Most of our pioneer preachers were good exhorters, and to this fact their great success was to a great extent due. Since their day our preachers have developed a logical ability that is truly wonderful, but have lost, it seems to me, almost immeasurably in the power to stir and move the hearts of men. One of our greatest needs to prosecute the great work which in the providence of God has been committed to our hands, is heart power‑such heart power as was possessed by our pioneer preachers. This is the direction in which our young preachers should cultivate and develop themselves. We have debaters enough, and more than enough. We already have enough published debates to last for a generation at least. We now need preachers who can stir men's hearts to their very depths, convict them of sin, and turn them to righteousness. Our clear convictions of truth and duty are all right as far as they go; but we need more heart power to drive these convictions home to the heart of others.
In the summer of 1846, when in my eighteenth year, I made the good confession under the preaching of J. J. Trott and W. S. Speer, and was baptized by the hands of my revered teacher, John M. Barnes, to whose pains‑taking and skillful instructions I am mainly indebted for whatever literary attainments I may have made, and to whose memory I now gladly pay this tribute of undying affection. In the autumn of the same year, I began to teach school, and continued in the same business for more than thirty years. Although I never attained any great distinction as a teacher, I think I can safely say that my influence on my pupils was always for good, and never for evil; and that through my instruction and example they became better and more useful men and women.
In November, 1851, 1 came to Mississippi as a teacher, and entered at once upon that work in the vicinity of Van Buren, a little village on the Tombigbee River in Itawamba County. I soon visited Smithville and Cotton Gin in Monroe County and afterwards taught school at both places. It was at old Cotton Gin Port, as it was then called, that I formed those associations and fell under those happy influences that led me in February, 1853, to begin that work to which my heart had been turned in boyhood days.
Robert Usrey and James A. Butter.
The first of our preaching brethren whom I met in Mississippi was the faithful old soldier of the Cross, Robert Usrey. This was in February, 1852. He stopped one night in the village of Smithville, and preached in the house of a prominent Baptist brother, as church doors were generally closed against us at that time. Though nearly forty years have passed away since that night, I remember the subject of his discourse and the manner of its treatment. It was a plain, practical, scriptural, and earnest presentation of "The Word of Truth as the Medium of God's Saving Power." He showed that from the creation of the heavens and the earth down through all the ages, God has always used agencies and means in the accomplishment of his own purposes. He then presented the Holy Spirit as the agent, and the Word of Truth as the instrument of conversion. I can look back through the mists of the many years that have since passed away, and see him now as he stood before that little audience, and pleaded with men so earnestly to receive and obey the truth.
Bro. Usrey was then evangelizing with great success in the North Eastern part of the State. He told me some years afterward that in the first seven years of his evangelistic work, he baptised over a thousand persons on a confession of their faith in Jesus; and in addition to these, many baptised believers united with us from the various denominations under his plain and earnest presentation of the great plea for Christian unity and brotherly love‑a plea that was then urged in almost every sermon, and thus kept constantly before the religious world. In view of the deep-seated prejudice that then existed in the minds of both the religious and irreligious, and the unrelenting warfare that was waged against us from almost every pulpit, this success was truly remarkable. Indeed, Robert Usrey himself, all things considered, was truly a remarkable man. He was a poor, hard workingman till he passed the meridian of life, and had become somewhat addicted to the use of intoxicating drinks through the social customs that were prevalent at that day. He was running a sawmill near Columbus, Mississippi, when Tolbert Fanning, President of Franklin College, Tenn., came there to conduct a protracted meeting. On hearing a few sermons from that able expounder of the truth, Robert Usrey confessed his faith in Jesus and obeyed the gospel. From that time onward, he was emphatically a new man. He soon began to pray and talk, first in the prayer meeting and then in the Lord's Day service, the result of which was that he soon developed into an efficient and useful preacher. His education being somewhat limited, he studied hard; and under the instruction of W. H. D. Carrington, then a lawyer but afterwards an able preacher, he learned to read the New Testament in Greek. Having a good mind he made, rapid progress, and finally became an able expounder of the Scriptures, especially of the New Testament from which he usually preached.
He had a large endowment of strong common sense, and rarely, if ever, attempted to do that which was beyond his ability. He was careful not to venture into water beyond his depth. He had good natural speaking ability, and could present a subject that he understood with great plainness and power. Having put his hands to the gospel plow, he never turned back, or intermitted his labors. In the fall of 1867, if I am not mistaken, he died of Typhoid fever in Itawamba County, away from home, but tenderly nursed by loving brethren, and also by his faithful and devoted wife who went to his assistance when the case became dangerous. He was buried at or near Smithville; and I was told a few years ago that his grave was unmarked. If this is still the case, the brethren of North Mississippi owe it to themselves and to the cause for which he labored so faithfully for some twenty years, to erect a neat plain monument to his memory over the spot where his dust reposes.
The second of our preachers whom I met one month later was the genial, versatile, eloquent, eccentric, effervescent, brilliant, belligerent, uncompromising, indefatigable, irrepressible, and inexhaustible James A. Butler, the like of whom I had never seen before, have never seen since, and will never see again. From boyhood I had seen in our periodicals his short, rich, racy, epigrammatic letters, and long desired to see and to hear him. One Sunday morning, unannounced and unexpected, he put in his appearance at the Sunday school in the Baptist church, the only house of worship then in the town of Smithville. His physique was peculiar and striking. He was about six feet high, perfectly erect, with broad shoulders and full chest. He weighed, I think, about one hundred and sixty pounds, and was well formed. He had a piercing eye and an intelligent expression. His hair was coarse, and when cut short as he usually wore it, every hair seemed to stand out by itself, which gave his head the appearance of an enormous cockle burr, and added to the sternness and fierceness of his looks. One _____glance at him. ed me to anticipate a rich treat, and I was not disappointed.
At the close of the Sunday school exercises, Dr. James Elliott arose and announced that Mr. Butler was present, and at the hour of eleven A. M. would preach in a house which he designated. This was an unoccupied business house which the young men had temporarily seated for the purpose of airing their oratory in a debating society. "What's the matter with this house?" said brother Butler, when the announcement was made; "I would just as soon preach here." The Dr. smiled and pleasantly said, "This house is not for your sort to preach in." "All right sir! All right sir," said Bro. Butler, "we will go to the other house;‑ and to the other house we went. I afterwards had the pleasure of preaching in that same church with the hearty consent of all concerned; and Bro. Butler held a debate in it of six days with W. P. Harrison, a young Methodist preacher of fine ability.
The discourse which he delivered that day I shall never forget, although I do not remember the passage which he read, nor the subject which he announced. Indeed it mattered but little whether he announced a subject or not, or from what passage he took his start. He could cover more ground in one discourse, and come nearer going everywhere and touching upon every theme than any other man I have ever heard. In that discourse, as in most others that I heard him deliver, eloquence and logic and rhetoric, wit and sarcasm, poetry and philosophy, patriotism and religion, education and the study of the Bible, conversion and the Christian life, earth and heaven, were all mingled together with the hand of a master. He was emphatically a product of the strong period through which he was brought up, and in which the greater part of his life was passed. He preached all over the country‑in churches, in schoolhouses, private houses, under brush arbors and shady trees, wherever there was an opening; and where there seemed to be no opening he rarely, if ever, failed to make one. He took more interest in bringing out young preachers and putting them forward than any other man I have ever known. His zeal in this respect sometimes got the young preacher into a very tight place, as I well know from my own experience. His oratory was of the Ciceronian type; and I have heard him deliver off‑hand speeches, which, in my judgment, surpassed Cicero's famous invective against Cataline. He was not successful to any great extent in adding members to the churches, but he broke up the ground, set men to thinking, and opened the way for the preachers who followed him to reap the harvest. If ever I have seen the man who could have gloried in martyrdom, that man was James A. Butler.
He never abandoned the pulpit, yet during the ten years preceding the war he took an active part in the political contests of that stormy period. In this, I think he made the mistake of his life. It is not because of his attitude during and after the war, that I say this; but because his participation in political affairs injured his influence as a preacher, and hindered his efforts to promote the cause of Christ. He made many political friends on the one hand it is true; but he made just as many political enemies on the other hand. There was this difference however. The friends he made were friends only so far as the party was concerned, caring nothing whatever about his religious convictions, while the enemies he made carried their political hostility into the religious camp, and did all they could to destroy his religious influence. Thus he lost more than he gained, as does every preacher of ability and of good repute who goes into the political arena. I write these things not for the purpose of casting any reproach on his memory; for I thought then, and think yet, that he verily believed that he was doing more for the good of his State and his country than he could do in any other way. In this, I think he was mistaken, and I thought so then, although on the great issue then before the people, I thought and voted as he did. I say these things, and emphasize these things, for the benefit of those now living who are wasting on barren political issues those splendid talents, which ought to be devoted wholly to the service of the Lord who gave them. How a man whose heart is in the work can turn away from the high and holy calling of preaching the gospel, to the dry and barren husks of political contention, is something I cannot understand As a rule, whenever a preacher of ability and reputation enters the political arena, his usefulness as a preacher is greatly impaired, if not totally destroyed. There are many sad wrecks along this line.
The day on which I first met Bro. Butler, he gave me a cordial invitation to visit him at his home near Cotton Gin. This I did in April of the same year, and from that hour he took me under his wing to use an expression of his own, carried me around, and almost forced me on the attention of the people. It seemed to me he was second only to Alexander Campbell. His good wife also took me to her heart, and was truly a mother to me as long as she remained in the state. There never was a purer, better, woman than Sister Butler. Peace to her sacred memory. There is one other mother in Israel to whom in passing I must pay the tribute of undying affection, Mrs. E. E. Bates, still living, and now residing at Houston, Miss. Into her hospitable home, I was most cordially received forty years ago, and under her hospitable roof I rested my weary body, and eased my lonely and aching heart the first night I spent in a private house in Miss. The affection then formed grows only stronger as the years pass away. She is growing old, but gracefully, beautifully, and sweetly, as becomes a true disciple of Jesus. May the Lord spare her yet many years to exemplify the purity and sweetness of that religion which is the only hope of the world.
The Early Years of My Ministry, And Those Who Helped Me.
On the second Lord's Day in February 1853, in a little log schoolhouse some two miles from Cotton Gin, I delivered my first discourse to a small but very intelligent audience. Some two years before, it is true, in another log schoolhouse near, New Lasea, Maury County, Tenn., I had made some sort of an effort, but as it was not followed up, I have never counted it. I have always been willing to throw that effort in for good, measure; and many of the efforts that I have made since, I would be willing to dispose of in the same way. The actual beginning of work as a preacher was in that school house in the pine woods of Miss.; for from that day to this, although I have spent much time in the school room, and some between the plow‑handles, yet few Lord's days have passed on which I have not spoken for Jesus. And even while teaching and cultivating my patches with my own hands, I have usually preached as many times during the year as most men who do nothing but preach. I do not, however, recommend this course to young preachers, or old ones either, if they can possibly avoid it. If I have any serious regret with reference to my life‑work, it is that I did not, from the very beginning, throw myself upon the churches, and devote all my time, labor, study, and prayer, to the preaching of the gospel.
My next effort was in Itawamba County, at the house of Bro. Nathan King, and I mention it only to mention him and his good Christian wife, both of whom from that night gave me their full confidence and Christian affection. Though unlearned and learning under many disadvantages, Bro. King afterward became a very devoted and efficient preacher of the gospel.
The, New Testament Scriptures were his daily study, and he preached the gospel I have been told, not only with plainness, but also with power. I never met him after he began to preach; but from brethren who often heard him I have learned that he did much good in Itawamba and adjacent counties. He it was who baptised Dr. M. M. Davis, and thus planted the church at Eureka, Lee Co. He long since went to his reward, but still lives in the hearts of those who knew him, and in the good that resulted from his labors. His life was a living sermon of great power.
Pushed forward by Bro. Butler on every occasion, I soon had all the work I could do in addition to my labor as a teacher. During the remainder of that year, and through the two succeeding years, I preached regularly at Cotton Gin and Richmond and occasionally, at Aberdeen and Prairie Mount, at all of which there were well organized, working churches. I also frequently preached in schoolhouses and sometimes in private houses in the intervening neighborhoods. The churches at these places were all young churches at that time, and had been planted, I think, between '45 and '50. I can not say who was the first preacher at each place, nor can I name all who had labored in that field; but I think that Bros. Butler, Caskey, and Usrey had done the greater part of the work at these places up to this time, although they frequently had the help of visiting preachers. President Fanning, of Tenn., Dr. B. F. Hall, of Ky., and W. M. Brown, of Ill., had each visited Aberdeen, and perhaps also Alexander Graham, of Ala. In 1852, I heard Bro. Brown in a series of discourses at Cotton Gin. He was a brilliant speaker, and was quite successful in holding protracted meetings. He preached for a year or two in the State, mostly at Columbus and Palo Alto, and then returned to Illinois. He held some fruitful meetings at other points in North Miss., and among them was one at Holly Springs with over forty accessions. We then had a flourishing church at the last named place; but alas! Where is it now? I also met T. W. Caskey twice the same year and heard him speak twice; but I was with him so short a time that I did not learn to know and love him as I afterward did; hence I will write of him further on.
During these years from 1852 to 1856, I made the acquaintance of, spent much time with, and received much encouragement from, Bros. Ben Cooper, Dr. J. M. Hackworth, Dr. Wm. H. Hooker, and Dr. J. P. Deanes. Of Dr. Deanes, I will write when I come to Palo Alto. To the others, I will pay my tribute of affectionate memory now.
Ben Cooper, as he was familiarly called, was a man of only moderate ability and moderate attainments; but his fervent zeal, diligent labor, and pure life, enabled him to accomplish much for the master's cause. As he traveled around, he sold books, and thus scattered the works of Bro. Campbell and others all over the country. Wherever there was an opening, he would stop and hold a protracted meeting, usually with some success, and sometimes with marked success. I remember one meeting, which he held in the northern part of Choctaw County, which resulted in over sixty accessions to the church. He had one discourse on Christian Unity based on the metaphor of the Vine and Branches, which for a plain, practical, forcible presentation of the truth on the subject, I have never heard surpassed by any one. After laboring for several years in Mississippi he went to Arkansas, where he remained till the Lord called him away from the toils and trials of earth to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
Dr. J. M. Hackworth was a dentist, a physician and a preacher. He sometimes traveled and practiced dentistry, and then for a time he would locate and practice medicine; but whether traveling as a dentist, or located as a physician, he always availed himself of every opportunity to preach on the Lord's day, and frequently held protracted meetings. By such labors many were persuaded to turn to the Lord. He was a hard reasoner, and could preach two hours and five minutes every time without looking at his watch. He was very fond of debate, and in all his discourse always had a man of straw before him, whom he never failed to demolish. He would often lay down a proposition that was startling even to the brethren; but in the end he would come out all right. As an old brother expressed it, he would set his own house on fire at the beginning of his discourse in order to show how easily and how effectually he could put it out in the conclusion. He had Indian blood in his veins, and was upon the whole a peculiar man. He was devoted to his friendships, but somewhat extreme in his dislikes. He was painfully aware of his own weaknesses and faults, and frank to acknowledge them. He often told me that it was a hard struggle with him to live the Christian life. I have heard him say in the pulpit that his life was so imperfect that he did not presume to preach to Christians, that all his discourses were to sinners, which he felt that he had done what they had not done, and was earnestly trying to do what they were not trying to do. He knew that he had confessed Jesus as his Savior, had humbly bowed to his authority, and was earnestly striving to live as a Christian, none of which had they done, hence he felt that it was his duty and his privilege to preach to sinners, and exhort them to come to Jesus and be saved. Suffice it to say that he fought to the end, and died in the triumphs of a living faith.
Dr. Wm. H. Hooker was a man of large natural endowments, good scholarship, and superior speaking ability. He began to preach, if I am not mistaken, in Middle Tennessee, under the tutelage of Pres. Fanning, thence went to Alabama, and from Alabama came into Mississippi. For many years he devoted himself mainly to the practice of medicine, but continued to preach whenever his practice did not interfere. During the three or four years in which I was occasionally associated with him, he was resting from the practice of medicine, and engaged in preaching as opportunities for so doing presented themselves. He was not then employed for any stated time by any church, or any number of churches; but as he was extensively known both in Alabama and Mississippi, he usually had all the work that he wished to do. He was better adapted to the work of evangelizing than to that of teaching and training the churches, as most of our early preachers were. When he threw his whole soul into a meeting, and all the energy that he was capable of exerting, he was a power indeed. Had he devoted his whole time to evangelistic work, he would doubtless have achieved signal success. And if to his superior mental ability, he had added that close and diligent application by which many have become distinguished whose natural endowments were far inferior to his, he might have become distinguished as a scholar and as a Biblical exegete. Dividing his time and labor as he did between the practice of medicine and preaching, he nevertheless added many to the churches for which he labored both in Alabama and Mississippi. In 1856, or '57, he returned to his former home in Alabama, and resumed the practice of medicine. During the war, as I was informed, he removed to Georgia; and not a great while after the war, I saw in the Gospel Advocate a notice of his death. The brother who wrote the notice paid a suitable tribute to his ability, and spoke of the good he had done in that, his last field of labor in the Master's vineyard.
Some time in the year 1854, in the early summer, as I remember, at a meeting held at Prairie Mount, by Bros. Butler and Deanes, George Plattenburg made the good confession, and was baptised the same afternoon by Bro. Deanes. A year or more previous to this time, he had come into the State from Alabama, and he had engaged in teaching. While on his way to the state, Bro. Butler made his acquaintance in the stage in which they were traveling, took a deep interest in him, and on their arrival at Aberdeen introduced and commended him to some prominent planters out in the prairies who gave him a school. I soon made his acquaintance, and we often met at Bro. Butler's various appointments and also at his house which was quite a center of attraction to young preachers and young men of literary tastes. From the time I first met him, I loved him as a brother; and I have reason to think that the affection was fully reciprocated.
One month from the day on which he was baptised, he preached his first sermon which for a beginner, was a masterly effort, and gave full promise of that distinction which he has since attained. Having received a thorough training at Bethany when Bro. Campbell was in the very prime of his power, being gifted in intellect, and possessing rare speaking ability, he took his stand at once in the very front rank of pulpit orators. On the third Lord's day in July 1855, if I remember aright, George and myself were ordained, or set apart to the work of the ministry, at Prairie Mount, by Bros. Butler, Deanes and Hooker with the approbation of that church and also the churches at Cotton Gin and Palo Alto. Bro. Butler was the prime mover in the matter, as he regarded George and myself as his own sons in the ministry; but Dr. Hooker preached the sermon, and Dr. Deanes delivered the charge. It was a solemn service, and one that deeply impressed the entire audience.
I did not think then, nor do I think now that it conferred on us any grace, knowledge, ability or even authority, that we did not possess before; yet it was a public, solemn covenant between us and the churches participating, in which we gave ourselves to the work and they pledged to us their hearty support, sympathy and prayers. It made a deep and lasting impression on our hearts and lives, had a good effect on the brethren, and exerted a favorable influence on those without. I have always looked back to that day with joy and gratitude, and the very memory of it has been a strength and comfort to me in many a dark and trying hour. I doubt not that Bro. Plattenburg feels as I do with reference to this matter. Although I had been preaching about a year when he began, and although I preached the sermon at the close of which he confessed the Savior, yet I have always regarded him as my twin brother in the work of the Lord.
After our ordination, Bro. Plattenburg preached for some time in the northern part of the State, at and around Thyatira. Thence he went to Little Rock, Arkansas, and remained there several years. From that place he went to Henderson, Ky., and thence to Dover, Missouri, where he now resides. Missouri has many great preachers, but none greater, in my judgment than George Plattenburg. Missouri is also indebted to Mississippi for Alexander Ellett, and the Terrell brothers; and we can also claim an interest in W. H. Cooke. George and I parted in the latter part of 1855, to meet again at Fayette, Missouri, in 1889, 34 years, or a full generation afterward. The preachers and elders who so fervently besought the Lord on that day to bless us in the work to which we were then set apart, have all passed away; but the memory of them and of their prayers will ever be green in our hearts. When these lines are published, I will probably be in Florida, and you, dear George, in Missouri; but across the States intervening, I extend to you a brother's hand with the same loving heart that beat so hopeful on that hallowed day, now more than 36 years ago. Though our fields of labor have lain far apart, yet our work in the Lord has been one, our hearts have been one, and our reward will be one. We have not grown weary in the Master's service, and we never will. We have not become soured against the brethren because of any supposed neglect, nor jealous of younger preachers; and may the Lord forbid that we ever should. Our faith and hope have grown stronger and brighter with our increasing years; and though we realize that the outward man is failing, we feel and rejoice that the inward man is renewed day by day. I fervently pray the Lord to spare your life and mine yet many years and give us health and strength, grace and courage, to contend more earnestly than ever before for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints.
I cannot close this chapter without paying a tribute of deep and undying affection to the entire membership of these four churches that so gladly received and so warmly encouraged my earliest efforts at preaching. Cotton Gin, Aberdeen, Prairie Mount, and Richmond. There were aged men in these churches who were well informed in the Scriptures; yet they listened to my feeble efforts with rapt attention, and bade me a hearty God‑speed in the good work. A more devoted sisterhood I have never seen and never expect to see. A change of business centres broke up the towns of Prairie Mount and Richmond; and the church at each place became extinct. Many of the members, however, carried the light of truth whither they went, and planted churches in other localities. Cotton Gin as a town has ceased to be; but the church still lives in the church at Armory with prospects of increasing usefulness. The church at Aberdeen had a hard struggle for many years for existence, but still survives, and is, we are persuaded, on rising ground. May her light and that of the church at Amory shine brighter and brighter till the Lord comes.
From 1856 to 1860
In the autumn of 1855, 1 was called to the church at Columbus, but did not begin my work there till February, 1856. 1 remained there only eight months; but they were fruitful months to me, though almost barren to the church in the way of additions. Up to this time, my appointments had all been monthly, and I could make one sermon do service at all points, I visited. I do not think that I had more than ten or a dozen different sermons when I went to Columbus; and now I had to preach twice every Sunday to the same audience, and made a brief talk at the prayer meeting Wednesday night. Then there were funerals and other occasions on which my services were required. I soon exhausted my little stock of sermons; and then I had to go to work in good earnest. I do not think I ever studied harder or to better purpose than during those eight months. In sermon‑making, it was truly a seed time with me. I would advise all young preachers to labor for a time at least for one church. It will give them an opportunity for study which otherwise they could not have, and force them to study as they otherwise would not do. I have always felt, and still feel, under deep and lasting obligations to the members of the church at Columbus, especially the older ones, for the encouragement they gave me, and the interest they always manifested in my feeble, halting efforts.
The church at Columbus has been truly a mother of churches; and nothing short of a volume could do full justice to its history. From its organization in 1842 to the present time, although often and for long periods of time without a regular preacher, few Lord's days have passed on with the death and resurrection of the Savior were not commemorated. It has been visited by many able preachers, Alexander Campbell included, and has been served at different times by men of superior ability. It became at once, like Thessalonica, a radiating center from which the Word of the Lord was sounded out through a large portion of North East Mississippi and North West Alabama. I will let its first regular preacher tell of its planting and its prospects at that early day. In the "Christian Loyalist" for February (1843‑a paper published at Whitestown, Mississippi by Dr. Wm. E. Matthews, I find the following letter.)
"Columbus, Mississippi, February 4, 1843. Bro. Matthews, Dear Sir. Some three months ago, I came to this place, where I found some 69 Disciples, "continuing steadfast in the Apostles' doctrine, breaking of bread, fellowship and prayer." This congregation is the fruit of the labors of the beloved T. Fanning of Nashville, Tennessee. I have been preaching for the brethren about three months, during which time our Bro. Butler of Alabama has been with us two or three weeks; and, as the rest of our joint labors, 27 have been added to the ranks of King Emanuel. The prospects for successful proclamation of the truth in Mississippi, are gloriously encouraging to the friends of Reform. There is a noble independence of soul, characteristic of the people of Mississippi which is always favorable to the claims of free investigation; and which, consequently, has proved to be highly conducive to the interests of primitive Christianity. The people are anxious to hear; and this is all the Gospel claims at the hands of an enlightened and liberal community. Vincitveritas. JAMES H. CURTIS.
Dr. Curtis had himself come from Alabama, and was at that time quite a young man, but from all accounts of superior ability for one of his age. He possessed a vigorous intellect, had received a liberal culture, was of a studious disposition, and was highly gifted with a fluent and eloquent delivery. For some years he preached with success at and around Columbus, both in Mississippi and Alabama. How long he continued these labors I know not. When I went to Columbus in 1856, he was engaged in planting in the Yazoo valley near Greenwood. He had quit preaching, much to the regret of all the brethren who knew him; and for some years he stood aloof from the church, yet his convictions remained unchanged. His course during this period of his life, he afterward deeply regretted, and always frankly acknowledged.
When I made his personal acquaintance in 1870, he had returned to the church, and returned to the pulpit. While he had now passed the meridian of life, he was still a man of great power in the pulpit and on the rostrum, and he could have given his whole time and study to the work, either as a pastor or an evangelist, he could doubtless have accomplished much for the cause which he loved so well. But he was now of necessity tied up in business; and the brethren, impoverished as they had been by the war, were unable to untie his hands, and say to him, "Go and preach the gospel." Yet he was always ready to speak a word for Jesus, and preached at Columbus and at many other points as he had opportunity. He was a warm friend and sup, porter of all our co‑operative efforts, and often made it convenient to go out and lend a helping hand to the evangelists who were laboring under many disadvantages. On such occasions, he always preached with great power. In my own work from 1870 to 1876, 1 had no warmer friend, no more ardent supporter than Dr. Jas. H. Curtis. He was one of the most diligent students of the Scriptures, amidst all his cares, that I have ever known, and has a large amount of varied matter in manuscript‑sermons, essays, addresses, criticisms, and notes from which a large and valuable book might be published. Had he continued from the beginning to devote his whole time to the ministry of the Word, instead of side‑tracking for so long a time, he would have stood in the front rank of our ministry, by the side of such men as T. M. Allen, D. S. Burnett, Benj. Franklin, and Isaac Errett‑the full peer of any of them. A few years ago, in connection with a heavy financial loss, a severe physical affliction fell upon him, by which his vocal organs were partially paralyzed, and his eloquent tongue silenced from preaching. He still lives, however; still loves the service of the Lord's house, and as far as able still gives his presence and encouragement to the services and work of the church. May his remaining years be serene and hopeful, and when the Master calls him hence may he be ready to depart in the full assurance of a blissful immortality.
I can here only mention the names of some others who preached at Columbus before the war, either regularly, or occasionally‑James A. Butler, Dr. J. P. Deanes, G. W. Elley, of Kentucky, T. W. Caskey, Dr. W. H. Hooker, W. M. Brown, of Illinois, T. N. Arnold, of Kentucky, P. B. Lawson, and doubt, less many others of whom I never knew. Bro. Panning paid it a number of visits. Bro. Campbell was there twice in the interest of Bethany College, first in 1857, and again in 1859. On the latter visit, he was accompanied by W. K. Pendleton. Since the war the church has had the labors for a time of Knowles Shaw, J. M. Pickens, W. E. Hall, J. J. Haley, and others; and has been visited by Dr. Win. J. Barbee, Alex. Ellett, Moses E. Lard, B. B. Tyler, J. B. Briney and many others of varied ability. May the church at Columbus put on new life, and by the blessing of God be enabled to achieve greater conquests in the future than she has done in the past.
In the fall of 1856, I removed to Palo Alto, and took charge of a school which I conducted for four years. The church at this place was planted a few years after the church at Columbus by brethren who had removed from Columbus, including Dr. J. P. Deanes and family, Dr. D. B. Hill and family, and perhaps some others. Having the best of material to begin with, and the best of material to work on, the church grew rapidly, and soon became the largest and most flourishing church in all that part of the State. When I went there and when I left I think it was the largest church among us in the whole State, and the wealthiest too except perhaps the church at Jackson which at that time was very strong‑ in men and means, though it may not have had so many members as the church at Palo Alto. Bro. Caskey had lived and labored at Palo Alto for a number of years, and had added largely to the membership of the church. Dr. Hooker had practiced medicine there in partnership with Dr. Deanes, and had preached there often. "Billy" Brown, as he was familiarly called, had held some very successful meetings there. Butler, Curtis, Lawson, and many others had been heard there on occasional visits; and I can truly say that a better instructed church or a more intelligent community, it has never been my fortune to find anywhere.
Dr. Deanes, though engaged in the practice of medicine from youth to extreme old age, was nevertheless a preacher of much more than ordinary ability. He was a ready speaker, possessed a fine flow of words, and was a man of deep and tender feeling. He could rarely talk about Jesus without shedding tears. As an exhorter, of all the men I have ever heard, he was second only to Joshua K. Speer of Middle, Tennessee. As an evangelist, he would have been grandly successful. He often went with me to my school‑house appointments, and always closed with an appropriate and touching exhortation. It was my great desire for years that the churches would send him and myself out together to evangelize‑me to teach and him to exhort. The church at Palo Alto itself could easily have done this. They would thus have laid up treasures in heaven; and with the mammon of unrighteousness, so much of which had been entrusted to them, they would have made friends both on earth and in heaven. But they did not see their duty in this light. They let the opportunity pass. In a very few years the war came, and away went the wealth. Bro. Deanes was truly a father in Israel to me; and I often think of his faithful, loving counsel, and paternal blessing. The last time I saw him, he was full of faith and hope and love. He died as he had lived, trusting in Jesus.
Dr. Hill was associated with Dr. Deanes in the eldership of the church from its beginning. He still lives to guide the flock that remains, by his pure example, faithful teaching, and wise counsel. As a teaching elder, he has had no superior, and but few, if any, equals in the entire State, so far as my acquaintance extends. Although he has reached his four score years, he is still hale and hearty, able to practice his profession, and meet his Bible class every Lord's day. But few men who are not preachers are so well informed in the Scriptures as he is; and many preachers, both old and young, could sit at his feet for months with great profit to themselves. May he live to see the dawn of the twentieth century, if not the dawn of the millennial age.
It was at Palo Alto that I became fully acquainted with Bro. Caskey and learned to appreciate his unique talents and sterling work. He made two visits to this, one to his old home churches, while I was preaching for it, at each of which he delivered a series of sermons which, for original thought, severe logic, keen wit, cutting sarcasm, eloquent delivery, and deep pathos, all combined, I have never heard equaled, much less surpassed. As a preacher, he had faults, it is true‑and who has not; but he had great merits that largely overbalanced the faults. The absolutely faultless man is very apt to be a cipher so good that he is simply good for nothing. He could say the hardest things in the hardest way, the sharpest things in the sharpest way and sometimes the ugliest things in the ugliest way; but then he could say the prettiest things in the prettiest way, the tenderest things in the tenderest way; and the good and grand always largely predominated.
The substance of all the sermons alluded to above, and the substance only, is found in "Caskey's Book." The grand declamation, or thrilling exhortation, with which he closed each sermon, lifting the soul to the very gates of heaven, or melting the heart into penitence and love, is wanting in the written and published discourses. The line of original thought is there, the logic is there, and many descriptive passages of great beauty are there; but those impassioned outbursts of poetic eloquence that were called forth by the occasion and the audience, and that seemed to well up spontaneously from the very depths of his soul, are not there. Hence to me, and doubtless to many others also, his published sermons, able and interesting, grand and original as they are, all seem to have been chopped off at the end. In subsequent years, I heard him preach the same sermons many times, and always with increasing interest. He was then in the very prime of manhood physically and intellectually; but for the next twenty years or more, he seemed to grow in power of thought, logical acumen, and beauty of diction, but some, what at the expense of power to stir and move the heart. Or, to put it in another way, he expended his time and strength on the argument and its illustration, and then had neither time nor strength for an appeal to the emotions. Hence he was more successful as an evangelist in his earlier, than in his later ministry.
Bro. Caskey is a born debater, and has always been ready and anxious to defend with all his power what he believes is right, and to oppose with all his might what he thinks is wrong. Having strong convictions, he always put things in a strong light. What he believes, it is with all his heart and avows most positively with full confidence of its truth, and has but little respect for the man who has not the courage of his own convictions. Hence, by many he has been regarded as not only dogmatic in his manner, but also as hard and uncharitable in his feeling towards all who may differ from him. This. is a great mistake, and does him much injustice. His heart is as tender as that of a woman. He deeply sympathizes with the erring and the afflicted. He is liberal and magnanimous in sentiment toward all candid and honorable opposers. He asks nothing for himself that he is not willing to grant to any and every opponent. If his bitterest foe was in want, he would divide with him the last crust that he ever expected to have on earth. While he has no mercy on a man's dogmas, which he thinks are false, he will take the man himself to his heart and treat him as a brother. While his physical man has been broken and almost crushed, having had both a hip and a shoulder dislocated, yet his mind is still vigorous; and in his heart he cherishes a growing love for his savior, for his brethren, and for his fellow man. There is but one T. W. Caskey, and he is ours. May he long live to think and talk for Jesus.
The beloved P. B. Lawson, of Marion, Alabama, visited Palo Alto several times while I was there, and held two successful protracted meetings, at the latter of which he baptized my wife. Bro. Lawson was not a profound scholar, nor a great logician, nor a grand orator; and yet he was decidedly a great preacher. He had a natural gift by which he was enabled to ingratiate himself into the good will and affections of all parties, both religious and irreligious, regardless of denominational affiliations or predilections. He was a plain, faithful, earnest and. devoted gospel preacher. He had a smooth and flowing delivery and a very persuasive manner in addressing the unconverted. He was one of the few men who could succeed about equally well as an evangelist and a pastor. He labored a great deal both in Alabama and Mississippi, and lived first in the one and then the other for a number of years at a time, and was to both about what Geo. E. Flower was to Illinois and Kentucky. Indeed they resembled each other very much, not in person, but in manner and method, in loveliness of character and usefulness of labor. Bro Lawson finally returned to Alabama, where he died universally regretted by those who knew him. Would that we had a score of such men now in every southern state.
It was at Palo Alto that I made the acquaintance of J. W. Harris, in the summer or fall of 1858, as I remember. He was then quite a young man, engaged in teaching, and just beginning to preach. A brotherly love at once sprang up between us that will never end. Death may separate us for a time; but the survivor will cherish the memory of the one gone before; and when we meet on the other side, the golden chain will be reunited to be severed no more forever. The next year he entered Bethany College Virginia, and remained there till some time in the spring of 1861. Since the war he has devoted his time mainly to teaching and partly to farming for a livelihood; yet during all this time he has faithfully preached on Lord's days and during his vacations. His time has been so pre‑occupied during the week by his teaching and farming, one or both, that he never had the opportunity to develop himself fully either as an evangelist or as a pastor; yet, laboring under so many disadvantages for so many years, he is nevertheless an excellent teacher for a church. His consistent Christian life is a daily sermon, known and read by all, wherever he goes; and some of the best meetings that I have ever held have been where he had lived, taught, and preached for a time. He has spent his life so far in planting and cultivating while others have almost invariably reaped the harvest; yet no pang of envy or jealousy of his brother preachers has ever clouded the serenity of his mind or blighted the joy of his heart. He has doubtless received less pecuniary compensation for his preaching than any other man in the State who has labored so long. When he had been preaching twenty years, he had received, all told, up to that time just One Hundred and Fifty dollars, or an average of seven and a half dollars a year. Yet not one goes to the work more cheerfully and willingly than he, whenever the brethren call, if within his power. There will certainly be a bright crown laid up for him in heaven. He is at this time able both physically and intellectually, as well as morally and spiritually, to do better work in the Lord's vineyard than ever before; and his whole time and service ought to be called into this field.
During my stay at Palo Alto, I preached for the church there two Sundays in each month. The other two Sundays I put in elsewhere. For two years I visited Aberdeen, 22 miles distant, and Prairie Mount, 30 miles distant, each once a month. I would preach Saturday night and Sunday morning, and return home Sunday afternoon to be ready for school Monday morning. As these visits were made on horseback there was much physical as well as mental labor connected with them. In vacation I would remain over and preach Sunday night, and sometimes would continue to preach of nights through the week. At Prairie Mount I held my first protracted meeting without help of another preacher. It was only a week long, and resulted in only five additions; yet it was to me a great meeting, and I still look back to it with the greatest pleasure. Among the converts were two lovely girls who grew up to be noble women, but have long since gone home. For two days I sat at the bedside of the younger in her last illness, and read and talked and sang to her of God and Christ and Heaven, and prayed with her for the loved ones she was leaving behind. When I bade her farewell, she took a ring from her hand, put it upon mine, and asked me to remember the little girl of thirteen whom I baptized at my first protracted meeting. Oh! there are hallowed memories of souls saved and other good done connected with the preacher's work that are worth infinitely more than all the wealth of this world.
During the year 1859, I preached monthly at Union Valley, a church 22 miles west of Palo Alto. This church had been planted in 1849, according to my memory of what the brethren told me, by Bro. Caskey and had been ministered to by Bro. Usrey, Bro. Cooper, and others. I had a good hearing at all my appointments, and in the summer quite a successful protracted meeting, in which I was assisted by Dr. J. M. Hackworth. The brethren promised me one hundred dollars on subscription for my year's service. Of that subscription, every dollar was paid; and at my last visit, a young man who was not a member of the church chipped in an extra half dollar in silver. If I had known as much about church subscriptions then as I have since learned, I would have kept that half dollar as a curiosity. At any rate, I have thought of it oftener in the many years that have since rolled away, than any other half dollar that has ever passed through my fingers. That church has changed its local habitation twice since that time, and now meets at Mount Hope some three miles from Cumberland. It has been my happy privilege to participate in many joyful meetings with that church since; and there are few dwelling houses belonging to the older brethren in which I have not preached. At my last visit, 32 years from the time of the first, there were 24 additions, 22 of them by confession and baptism.
In the summer of 1858, I visited Carroll County for the first time, and assisted Bro. Usrey in holding two meetings, the first with the church at old Middleton, the second with the church at New Bethel in the vicinity of what is now called Hemingway. Both of these meetings were successful, but the number of additions I do not remember. At the first of these W. Frank Parker, a young Baptist preacher of good education and fine speaking ability, united with the church. He was then teaching at Middleton. When that school closed, he taught for a term in the vicinity of New Bethel. Then for a year or more he evangelized mostly in North East Mississippi. In the fall of 1860, he went to Georgia. Thence during the war he went to Kentucky, and from Kentucky to Indiana. For several years he was the pastor of one of the churches of Indianapolis. For the past few years, he has been evangelizing, I think, mostly in the West, where I suppose he now is. May the Lord greatly bless his labors wherever he may go. The next year, I visited these two churches again, and held a short meeting at each. These two visits led to my removal to Carroll County in the latter part of 1860; but of my sojourn there, and those whom I knew, I will write in another chapter.
My removal to Carroll County in the fall of 1860 was due mainly to the influence of J. W. S. Merrill who had established a school on his own place, of which he wished me to take charge. He was then, as he is yet, the senior elder of the church in that vicinity. In the winter of 1842‑3, he had removed from Tennessee to Carrollton, where he lived for several years. While residing at that place, he and a few others kept up the Lord's day service in memory of the Savior's death and resurrection. Preachers in passing would stop occasionally and deliver a series of discourses, but did not succeed in establishing a church there. The same may be said of Paul at Athens. In 1849, he removed to the place on which he still resides, about 13 miles southwest of Carrollton. The church in that vicinity had been planted a few years previous to this time. It was first called Bethel; afterward when a new house was built, it was called New Bethel; and now in its fourth house on a different site, it is called New Hope. Long may it live, and may its hope never grow dim. It was at New Bethel that my work was done.
In 1842, or '43, Ananias Pate had removed from the vicinity of Whitestown in Wilkinson County to Carroll County, and had settled on Coila creek where he opened a large plantation. Through his influence Dr. Wm. E. Matthews was induced to remove from Wilkinson County in 1845, and to settle in the same neighborhood. It was through his labors and the support of Father Pate that the church at Bethel was established. When Bro. Merrill settled in that vicinity he entered at once most heartily into the work, and in consequence of his zeal, energy, and ability to teach, was soon put into the eldership. When the health of Dr. Matthews failed, as it had done before I made my first visit, the burden of church management fell mainly on Bro. Merrill's shoulders where it has since remained. That the church has had a continuous existence through all these years, and that it still exists with a reasonable prospect of continued existence and prosperity, is due mainly to his wise management, untiring energy, and unwavering fidelity. Although he has passed his three score years and ten by some years, and is now on "borrowed time," as old Bro. John Hadley of Aberdeen was won't to express it, yet he is still full of zeal and energy; and though his outward man shows some signs of age, his inward man seems to be renewed day by day. May he yet live many years to lead the young by his wise counsel and pure example, and to see some of the fruits of his arduous labors in the past.
It was at New Bethel that I made the acquaintance of Dr. Matthews on my first visit to that church in 1858. His lungs were then so weak, and his cough so easily excited that he rarely attempted to make even a short address to the church; but his conversations in the family circle were a rich treat to a young preacher. He was the pioneer of our reformatory work in the State of Mississippi. He was first a Baptist preacher, but from his study of the Scriptures he was soon led to lay aside all unscriptural names and usages and to conform his teaching and practice to the examples given in the New Testament. He came into this state from Alabama in 1828, when according to my memory of his age at his death, he was only about 23 years of age. I have not met any one who knew any thing previous to this time. His appearance was almost as sudden and unexpected from all accounts, as that of Jonah in Nineveh; but he had a different message, and staid much longer.
As the result of his first year's labor, four Baptist churches responded to his plea for Christian union on the basis of apostolic teaching and practice, and took their stand on the New Testament, to be known henceforth simply as churches of Christ, and individually as Christians, or disciples of Christ. During the same year one hundred and twenty persons being convinced of the truth of what he preached, and being convicted of their own sins, confessed the Savior and were baptised. Of these churches, two were in Wilkinson and one in Franklin County, Mississippi, and the other, I think, was a church in West Fehciana Parish, Louisiana. Of the two in Wilkinson, one was called Ebenezer, but in 1830 a large brick church was built and the name was changed to Consolation. This house has not been used for years, being in need of repairs, and not being convenient to the present membership. It was still standing last year, but I learn has since been sold. The church, however, is represented by Mathews' Chapel a few miles south. The other was called Mt. Moriah, but when a new house was built on a new site, it was called "The Chapel." This house still stands, and the church still lives, four miles west of Woodville. The one in Franklin County was on Well's creek, and called "Well's Creek." The old log house decayed, and a new one was built near by. A short time before the war, a neat frame house was built some two miles distant on the other side of the creek; but the old name was retained. A few years ago that house was removed to Knoxville, on the railroad, and now stands within half a mile of the place where the first old log house stood. The church in Louisiana, which I suppose was the fourth, from the conversations which I had years ago with some of the old brethren, was called Fairmount, and is now represented by Fairview some miles distant.
Like most of our preachers at that day, and for a long time afterwards, Dr. Matthews was compelled to follow some secular calling for a living. Hence, wherever, he lived; he engaged in the practice of medicine, and was unusually successful as a physician, not in accumulating wealth, but in healing the sick, and in alleviating the sufferings of the afflicted. At times he sold drugs in connection with his practice, and for some years he sold goods.
It is astonishing to think how much preaching he and many others did amid so many cares and under such diversified labors, and how successful that preaching was. For a number of years, he lived near Whitestown in Wilkinson County where he had the hearty co‑operation and strong support of Dr. D. L. Phares of whom I will speak before these reminiscences close. Here in October, 1842, he began the publication of a small monthly styled "The Christian Loyalist" which lived only one year. Were I writing a book instead of brief reminiscences, I would quote largely from its columns. This so far as known to me was the first effort ever made to establish in this state a paper devoted to the restoration of primitive New Testament Christianity, as it antedated by several months, "The Disciple," which was published 'in Columbus by Butler and Curtis, and which likewise lived one year. These efforts were premature; yet they doubtless did some good at the expense of their publishers. In 1945, as already stated, he removed to Carroll County, and settled on a little farm on Coila creek a few miles north of Black Hawk, and there he lived and died.
Take him all in all, Dr. Wm. E. Matthews was probably the ablest of the many able preachers who have lived and labored among us in this State. Mr. Campbell once referred to him as that distinguished Christian philosopher, Dr. Wm. E. Matthews of Mississippi. He was a giant intellectually, morally and spiritually. He was profound and original in thought, and eloquent in speech. His physique was Peculiar, and his manner was as original as his thought. He was firm in his convictions, and absolutely without fear. He never stopped to count the odds that were against him but dashed into the thickest of the fray, and always came off victorious. Excepting Alexander Campbell with ‑whom I never compare any one, he stood in the very front rank of pulpit orators and fearless reformers. If he could have been freed from all secular engagements and enabled to devote all his time, thought, and labor, to the work of the Lord, the results would doubtless have been far greater than they were.
The loss that churches sustain by permitting their preachers to be thus hampered is simply irreparable. A heavy responsibility rests on both preachers and people in this respect.
In the fall of 1860, I found him confined to his house, and sometimes to his own room. I frequently visited him from that time till his death in August, 1861, and always found him cheerful, and hopeful, too, not of recovery, for consumption held him in its relentless grasp, of which he was fully aware, but of a brighter home beyond the skies.
It was my sad privilege to watch by his bedside through the last night of his stay on earth. His mind was clear to the very last. Only a little while before he breathed his last, he sat up in the bed and reasoned like the Christian philosopher that he was on the firm foundation of the Christian's hope. Then lying back upon his pillow as if in deep meditation, he sweetly fell asleep in Jesus. Without a single gasp for breath, without the quiver of a muscle, he so gently passed away that the loved ones who stood around his bed knew not that he was gone until my hand was placed upon his eyes to close them in their last sleep. The next day, in the midst of a large concourse of sorrowing brethren and friends, I paid such a tribute to his memory as I was able, and then we silently and tenderly laid his body away in the old churchyard in which he had laid away so many before, and behind the pulpit, from which he had so often, so eloquently and so persuasively preached the gospel of Christ to dying men and women. So far as known to me, his grave is yet unmarked by monumental stone; but he lives in the memory of God and the Savior whom he loved and served so well. My own darling boy, my first‑born, my boy who wanted to live that he might become a preacher, but cut off in childhood's sunny hours, sleeps near by, also in an unmarked grave.
The church has built a new house on another site, the old log church is rotting down and the graveyard has been abandoned, but to my heart it will ever be a hallowed spot. The wintry winds may rustle among the fallen leaves that cover the ground, but when the springtime comes the buds will appear again, the trees clad in their new foliage will wave their green branches over this resting place of the dead, and all nature, rejoicing in the sunlight of heaven, will point forward to that happy day when the graves will give up the dead, and sad partings will be no more.
During the entire period of the war I kept up my school for ten months of each year, and preached three Sundays of each month at New Bethel, and one Sunday of each month at Middleton, which was 25 miles distant from my home. Although the times were perilous, and the minds of the people were preoccupied and troubled by the great conflict then raging; yet the gospel fort was firmly held, and there were some additions at each place every year. I remember that one bright sunshiny Lord's day afternoon, I baptized two most estimable young ladies while the battle of Fort Pemberton was raging some 15 miles distant, the booming of the cannon mingling with the prayers that were offered.
The church at Middleton was planted by W. S. Speer, about the year 1848, perhaps a little earlier, or a little later. It was afterward visited by Dr. Matthews, T. W. Caskey, Jacob Creath, and other, whose names I have not. Robert Usrey labored there regularly for several years immediately preceding the war, as he also did at New Bethel. His labors at both places were remarkably successful. As the business all went from Middleton to Winona after the railroad was built, the residences soon followed, and then the churches. As a town, Middleton was, but is not. Judge W. Y. Collins was a strong pillar of the church from the time of its organization to the day of his death. Col. W. T. Townsend has been identified with it in all its various fortunes, from its planting to the present time. His wife who died last year was the first one, I have been told, who responded to the invitations given by W. S. Speer. In respect of obedience, therefore, she started the work there, and died as she had lived, full of faith and hope and love.
Sister Heslip, or "Aunt Nancy," as she was familiarly called was for many years and up to her death one of the most faithful members and untiring workers. She rests from her labors, but her works are following after her.
In the summer of 1864, at my urgent solicitation, Dr. Win. J. Barbee came down from Senatobia where he was then living, and held a meeting for me both at New Bethel, and at Middleton. Each was continued for about two weeks, and, considering all the circumstances, was reasonably successful, as there were several additions at each place, and the brethren were greatly edified and instructed. This was the beginning of my personal acquaintance with Dr. Barbee, although I had known of him both as a writer and a preacher for twenty years previous to that time, first at Franklin, Tenn., and then at Jackson, Mississippi, and then at Memphis, Tennessee. At Jackson, Mississippi he lost his first wife, and found his second. The latter was a daughter of James E. Matthews, a preacher of great ability, but at that time or previously auditor of the State. It was by him that Tolbert Fanning was baptized. In noticing his death many years afterward, Bro. Fanning said that before he turned his attention to politics, James E. Matthews was the ablest man in the pulpit that he had ever heard. This was high praise; for Fanning had heard the Campbells, Scott, ??? Channing, and a great many others. Gen. Win. Clark, another able Christian preacher, was Treasurer of the State at the same time, I think; and the governor, Joe Matthews, was a member of the Christian church. Dr. Barbee could give us many interesting reminiscences of those men whom I never met, and of their labors, as well as his own. Will he do so?
From the beginning of the war up to the time of Bro. Barbee's visit, I had been all alone as a preacher, and could have had a field a hundred miles square all to myself, if I could have spread over that much territory. An ordinary man, who could have delivered only ordinary sermons in an ordinary way, would have been greeted by me with delight; but such a man as Dr. Barbee, such sermons as he delivered, and in such elegant style too‑only those who have been similarly situated can imagine what a rich treat it was to me. He was scholarly and logical in the treatment of his subjects, always chaste and elegant in diction, and at times grandly eloquent. He was then, as I remember about 48 years of age, was in the very prime of life; and I have never seen the man who made a finer appearance in the pulpit than he did then, and for years afterward. During the succeeding seven or eight years, I often met him and heard him preach and always with increasing interest and admiration. He was one of the most companionable men whom I have ever met. He has always been a most diligent student, and is a born teacher much of his life having been spent in that profession. He has had the presidency of two or three colleges, and filled the position with honor to himself, and benefit to his students. His ability as a writer is fully equal to his ability as a speaker. For years I have been looking for him to give us some of the results of his lifelong study in book form, either a volume of his best sermons, a work on the Life and Epistles of Peter, or a treatise on Romanism, one or all. I would like to have them all. I hope it is not too late yet to get them. I know of no one who is more competent to discuss some of the great burning questions of the day than Dr. Barbee; and I doubt not that his pen has been busy during all these years, as well as his mind and his tongue.
While it has been some twenty years since we met, I am happy to think from what I see of him in the papers that he is growing old gracefully and lovingly. He knows how to encourage the young preachers, and is always willing to lend them a helping hand, and to bid them a hearty godspeed in the arduous work on which they have entered. God bless you, Bro. Barbee. You know not how much you helped me in those years of darkness and toil, and I cannot tell you, but God knows, and he will measure to you a rich reward. May you be spared to us yet many years to speak and write for Jesus.
One Sunday morning in the spring of 1866, Dr. S. R. Jones dropped in on us at New Bethel, unannounced and unexpected. I had seen his name in some of our papers before the war; but knew not what manner of man he was. He staid with me some days during which we had a "feast of reason and flow of soul." From that time onward till we parted in the latter part of 1876 to meet no more on earth, the relation between us was virtually that of father and son. In his boyhood, he was a pupil of Thomas Campbell, and as the printer boy set type for the pages of the Christian Baptist. In his early life, he was personally acquainted with all the prominent co‑laborers of Mr. Campbell in Virginia and Ohio, and thus had exceptionable advantages for the training both of his mind and heart. His reminiscences of those great men and their labors were deeply interesting and instructive. He was a man of extensive and varied information. As a printer, an editor, a lawyer, physician, and a preacher, he could have set up a man in each of these professions, and still have had a good stock of information left. Years before the war, he lived at or near Utica, Mississippi, and practiced medicine, preaching also whenever and wherever he had the opportunity. It was at Utica, I think, that he lost his first wife and married his second who was a sister of judge Fisher. Although much younger than he was, she survived him but a short time. At one time he filled a chair in a Medical College in Memphis, Tenn. He was living in Ohio when the war broke out, but returned to Mississippi, and located at or near Preston, where he practiced medicine for a number of years. He then lived at Garner's Station for a year or two, and from that place he removed to Crystal Springs, where he started the Christian Unitist. In a short time however, he removed from that place to Jackson, and remained there or in its vicinity until he died.
He was an elegant writer and a close reasoner. The subject‑matter of his sermons was always sound and instructive, and his language chaste and appropriate; but in consequence of an injury which his vocal organs received when he was quite a young man, he had an impediment in his delivery which greatly hindered his usefulness as a preacher. Had he possessed a smooth and flowing delivery he would have stood well up to the front among our able and popular preachers. His defect in this respect drew me perhaps still nearer to him; for "a fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind." A bad delivery has been my "thorn in the flesh" during all my preacher‑life, and a sharp thorn indeed it has been. If Paul's was any worse than mine has been, I am sorry for him even now. I have never been able to decide whether mine was from the Lord, or the adversary‑whether the Lord gave it to me to keep me from becoming vain and puffed up, or the adversary to hinder my usefulness. At any rate it has determined to a great extent my fields of labor, keeping me in the background mostly, where perhaps I have done as much good, as I could have done in more prominent places with the tongue of a Cicero. I have preached almost all my life in places where, for the time being at least, they could not get any one else; and hence the good that has resulted from these labors has been so much clear gain. I have never been in any other preacher's way, and never intend to be; and I have no fear of any other preacher ever getting in my way. But all this concerning myself the reader "can put within parentheses and read in a lower tone of voice," as Bro. Butler was wont to say.
With all his vast and varied information, the chief greatness of Dr. Jones was found in his pre‑eminent goodness. If I have ever known a man who was absolutely without any mark of guile, and totally destitute of all feelings of selfishness, Dr. S. R. Jones was that man. He seemed to think of the good of others only, and to labor for their good with an unwavering devotion. He loved everybody, and always had a sunny smile and pleasant word for all whom he met whether old or young, rich or poor, white or black. His very presence was a benediction to all. He was especially fond of children, and always tried to say something to make them happy. I have as little use for the man who is not fond of children, as Shakespeare had for the man who had no music in his soul. Such a man is "only fit for treason, stratagems, and spoils." That I knew him and possessed his confidence and affection to the fullest extent, will ever be a happy memory to me. He had the love and confidence of all who knew him; and I doubt if he ever had an enemy in all his life. Who could have been the enemy of such a man? His stainless life was above criticism and his unselfish love for his fellow man disarmed all hostility. Ever blessed be his memory!
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In the latter part of 1867, at the call of Bro. J. M. Pickens, of North Alabama, a meeting was held at Columbus, Miss., for the purpose of consulting with reference to the condition and needs of the church in Alabama and Mississippi, and of inaugurating a co‑operative meeting, I know not what churches, nor how many, were represented. From the report made at the time, I learned that the brethren in attendance had a very pleasant and harmonious meeting, discussing the state of affairs, and listening to the good sermons that were delivered by the preachers who were present, The only practical result of the meeting so far as I know, was that Bro. Pickens was selected to evangelize in Alabama and Bro. Manire in Mississippi. The selection of myself was at the suggestion and urgent solicitation of Dr. S. R. Jones, as I learned from him on his return from the meeting. It was resolved that our salary for the year's labor should be fifteen hundred dollars each, that is, provided that we raise it ourselves. This proviso, it is true, was not expressed in the resolution; but it ought to have been, for so far as our financial support was concerned, it was the very gist of the whole matter. An executive committee was appointed to solicit contributions for the work; but, if that committee ever received a dollar, or even a penny, I never heard of it. That treasury was filled with emptiness from beginning to end. Bro. Pickens entered on the work in his State, but for want of an adequate support was soon compelled to enter the schoolroom as a teacher, and that ended the Alabama part of that co‑operation.
J. M. Pickens was then comparatively a young man, although he had been preaching for several years. He was a man of superior ability both natural and acquired. He afterwards labored extensively both in North Alabama and North Mississippi, and had more than ordinary success, considering the times and the circumstances. In 1870, as I remember, he began the publication of the "Southern Christian Monthly" in Columbus, Mississippi. This was afterward changed to the "Southern Christian Weekly," which was published for a short time at Eutaw, Alabama, then at his residence, Mountain Home, Alabama, and finally at Jackson, Tennessee, where he sold it to William E. Hall, who moved it to New Orleans, and changed it into the "Iron Preacher."
Only a man of Bro. Pickens' indomitable perseverance, untiring, energy, and inflexible will, could have sustained such a work so long under conditions so unfavorable. He was fond of discussion, and had a number of debates, the most noted of which was with the renowned Jacob Ditzler. With all these, the brethren who heard them were not only satisfied but also delighted, and with none more so than with his debate with Ditzler. The doughty Dr. not expecting to find such a man in the mountains of North Alabama, had anticipated an easy victory, but was doubtless as badly disappointed as in any debate he ever held, for Pickens picked him all to pieces. The last year of Bro. Pickens' regular work as a preacher was spent in Columbus, Mississippi. Returning to his home in Alabama in 1880, he became a candidate for Governor of the State on the Greenback ticket, but was defeated. Resuming his studies and labors as a preacher, he was wantonly murdered in the spring of 1881, in broad daylight, and within sight of his own house. He was in the very prime of a vigorous manhood, and had hardly reached the zenith of his power and usefulness, when he was so strangely and so sadly cut off.
I now return to the co‑operation in Mississippi. Perhaps I should have said, the operation; for the co was conspicuous by its absence. Being already engaged in evangelistic work in Carroll County, I accepted the work to which I had been called by the Columbus meeting, and at once entered upon it. The facilities of travel were much more limited then than they are now; yet my labors in 1868 extended from Thyatira, then in DeSoto, but now in Tate County, to Battle Springs, in Hinds. It was to me a year of toil and trial, of hard privations and bitter disappointments. During the entire summer and fall, I suffered with chills and fever; yet I continued the work, rarely missing an appointment. I was sick at home, and sick away from home. I would shake one day and preach the next. Sometimes I would shake in the morning, and preach at night and more than once I preached with the fever on me. ‑ Instead of the fifteen hundred dollars resoluted to me, I received, all told, from the voluntary contributions of those to whom I preached about $450.00. Of this amount, Bro. James H. Buster, of Goodman obtained $110.00 from the merchants of Louisville, Kentucky, of whom he bought his goods, and contributed $40.00 himself, making one‑third of the entire amount. But for his help I would have been compelled to abandon the field. He was one of the best men I have ever known, as well as one of the best friends I ever had. My association with him will ever be a green spot in the memory of my past life. If any of his children are living, I pray God's blessing on them for his sake. How I ever pulled through that year, paid my traveling expenses and supported a wife and three children on $450.00, at the prices then prevailing, is one of the unrevealed mysteries of a poor preacher's life. But I got through somehow, I suppose, as I am yet here; so is my wife, and so are those three children with one more, thank the Lord.
Much of the result of that year's labor is still visible. The Church at Union in Carroll County was revived, re‑organized, more than doubled in membership, and enabled to build a house of worship. It has fallen to pieces‑the church not the house ‑two or three times since, and been set up again, and is once more on the up grade under the wise and faithful care of Bro. Kilby Ferguson.
Dr. Matthews, Dr. Chambers, T. W. Caskey, Dr. Jones, James Sharp, and my father have all labored there, and others have doubtless visited the church whose names I cannot recall. My venerated father and my good loving stepmother are buried in the old graveyard near by which will always be a sacred spot to me.
A church was planted in the vicinity of Huntsville, but not fully organized until two or three years afterward. For several years the brethren met in school‑houses, private houses, and bush arbors, but finally, built a house of worship a few miles north of Huntsville, which they named Antioch. Some have died, and many have moved away, but there are a few faithful ones there yet. There is a large church at Burton, Kansas, which was planted by several families that removed from the vicinity of Huntsville.
A few disciples were brought together at Goodman, who met for a time and worshipped in a hall over Bro. Buster's store; but after he died, the little band was scattered.
The church at Antioch, in Tate County was organized the same year out of a part of the membership of Thyatira, and quite a number added to its membership. A house was built either that year or the next, which is still standing, and in which the church still meets. Dr. W. N. McCain, who was one of its first board of elders, has been for a number of years past, an able and successful preacher. Although approaching his three score years and ten, he still possesses great mental and physical ability; and if he could cut loose entirely from the practice of medicine, there are few men who could be more useful in the vineyard of the Lord.
Thyatira is one of the old churches of the State. It was in a healthy condition when I first visited it in February, 1868, and has remained in a healthy condition ever since. It is one of the few churches that I have known that have had an efficient eldership; and its long continued and almost unvarying prosperity is doubtless due as much to this fact as to the great amount of good preaching which it has had. Holmes, Deupree, Webber, Barbee, Hackworth, Plattenburg, Caskey, Lauderdale, the Cookes, Ellett, and others have labored there, either regularly or occasionally. Of those who were the leading members in 1868, but few are left, some having died and others moved away. R. W. Locke is there, and to his faithful, watchful oversight the present prosperity of the church is largely due. Thyatira has been a fruitful mother of churches, and still numbers about three hundred, more than double the number it had in February, 1868. I do not remember that I ever held a meeting there without some additions; and the largest number I ever bad at one meeting was there. May her prosperity long continue.
Battle Springs was also one of the old churches, but of its planting and early history I know but little. It was in its sere and yellow leaf when I first visited it, although our faithful old brother, James R. Baskin was making a heroic effort to keep it alive. We had a few additions, and it seemed to revive for a little while; but the breaking up of the large plantations, and the great changes in the population that followed, soon placed it among the things that were.
In all there were over a hundred additions under my lab, ors that year, mostly by confession and baptism. It was truly a day of small things; but that year's work awakened an interest among the churches of the State, the influence of which has not yet ceased to be felt. I am confident that I reached more with my pen than with my tongue, not only through our periodicals, but also by personal correspondence.
In the fall of 1868, in company with Bro. Baskin of Battle Springs, I visited Jackson for the purpose of consulting the brethren with reference to the convenience and propriety of holding a State meeting there in December. This was the beginning of my personal acquaintance with the church at Jack, son. While its wealth had vanished, and its membership had been greatly diminished in number, it was still strong in the mental and oral worth of the few who were left. Judge Geo. L. Potter, one of its elders, was a lawyer of acknowledged ability, and a preacher of great power. His Christian integrity was recognized by all who knew him. Gen. W. T. Withers was a lawyer of great practical ability, a man of unquestioned integrity, and a Christian of more than ordinary activity and liberality. He carried religion into business, and business into religion. Geo. A. Smythe, at that time the teaching elder of the church and a lawyer also, was of sprightly and versatile talent. He had at that time one of the best Sunday schools that I have ever seen, and while attending to his varied business preached for the church twice every Lord's day for a number of years succeeding the war. There were other men of sterling worth in the church at that time; and the sisters were as good and faithful and zealous as only Mississippi sisters can be. The whole church entered heartily in the proposed work, and the meeting was called.
When the time came, a few zealous brethren were in attendance from different parts of the State; and many letters were received, some containing contributions for the work, some calling for the help of a preacher, and all most heartily approving the work. It was a small meeting, but it was the beginning of a work, the good results of which eternity alone will fully reveal. The contributions sent in and those made at the meeting amounted to $250 to which Gen. Withers added his personal pledge for $250 more. With this amount I was employed for six months to visit as many of the destitute churches as I could reach in that time for the purpose of helping them and enlisting them in the co‑operative work thus begun. It must be remembered that at that time there was not another preacher in the entire State who was devoting his whole time to the work, and that many of the churches were without any preaching at all, and had been for years, some of them from the beginning of the war. I was to report at a semi‑annual meeting to be held at Jackson, the first week in July, 1869.
It was at this first meeting in Jackson that I made the acquaintance of Bro. R. V. Wall, of Utica, between whom and myself there sprang up at once a warm personal friendship. He was a graduate of Bethany College, and a preacher of good ability; but the condition of the country, the poverty of the churches, and the necessities of his family, tied him down to business, and prevented him from devoting his time and talent to the advocacy of that cause which he loved so well. He was a hearty supporter of our co‑operative work, having brought a contribution of $50 from the church at Utica to our first meeting. On my visits to Utica, I spent many delightful days with him at his home, and on the road between Utica and different points on the railroad. A few years afterward he was called to the better life beyond.
The month of January 1869 was spent in visiting the churches in my home field, and in corresponding with other churches. Early in February I visited Wilkinson County for the first time, and spent a month at and around Antioch, the Chapel, and Whitestown, working both day and night, and preaching from house to house. There were but few families among the brethren in whose houses I did not preach, and not unfrequently did I preach in the houses of members of other churches and also of friendly outsiders, who kindly opened their doors and invited us in. In the fall of the same year I made these churches a second visit, and did similar work. By these two visits the membership in the county was about doubled and the churches enabled to put on new life.
It was during the first of these visits that I began to get acquainted with Dr. D. L. Phares, and to learn something of his great mental and 'Moral worth, and of his unsurpassed Christian liberality. I had met him once some eight years before, and had been simply introduced to him after he had listened to some sort of an effort that I had made to preach a sermon, but I had no opportunity to cultivate his acquaintance at that time. What he thought of that effort I never knew, and have always been "afraid to ask him." I had of course known him for years through the papers, and had heard many good things concerning him from those who had been intimately associated with him and especially from my bosom friend and family physician during the war, Dr. John H. McKay; but the half had not been told and now I began to learn and know the man him, self. His eminence as a physician, as an educator, and as a writer on medical, scientific, agricultural, and occasionally on religious topics, is well known, not only in the South, but also through out the whole country; but his charities to the poor and needy, his whole‑souled hospitality to all who knocked at his door, and his large‑hearted Christian liberality, are known only to those who have been the beneficiaries of the same; and the sum of all these is doubtless known only to our heavenly Father, for I do not suppose that he ever kept an account of these things himself. Of his contributions for the support of the gospel before the war when he was possessed of a considerable portion of this world's goods, I know nothing. They were doubtless large and generous. But since 1868 out of the wreck of almost all things previously possessed, he has to my knowledge contributed largely more than any other man I have known during the same time; and I very much doubt if I have ever known of half that he has done in this direction. To him I feel more indebted upon the whole than to any other man living or dead. His literary, scientific, classical, and biblical attainments are equaled only by his own modesty, humility, uprightness, and purity. Would that his life could be adequately written. What a bright and shining example it would be to the young men of our country! His "outward man" is now rapidly failing; but his "inward man" is stayed on the sure promises of our heavenly Father, and he is calmly and hopefully awaiting the call of the Master to come up higher into the light of an eternal day.
As I returned from my first visit to Wilkinson, at the urgent request of Sister Sarah Stowers whose zeal increased with her age, I stopped at Payette and held a meeting of some days. This church, as I was then informed, had not had a meeting for eight or nine years, I mean for preaching, yet there were a few faithful ones still left who were longing and praying for better things. These were brought together, a few were addled to them, and a work was begun that saved the church from extinction, and brought many into the fold within the succeeding five or six years. If I had at hand the biography of John T. Johnson, I would be pleased to write of the planting of that church, and of those who labored there in years before the war; but for the present this pleasant task must be deferred. My visits to Fayette from '69 to '76, and again in '87 will always be a pleasant memory to me.
The churches visited within the six months were so revived and strengthened that when the semi‑annual meeting came on the co‑operation was not only able to keep me in the field for the remainder of the year, but also to employ three others Dr. Barbee, Dr. Jones, Alexander Ellett. This was the beginning of my personal acquaintance with Bro. Ellett who became at once a true yokefellow in the gospel work in which I was then engaged. He was a good scholar having graduated at Bethany when the college was in its most flourishing condition, a deep thinker, a profound reasoner, and a forcible, if not an eloquent speaker. He was, as he still is, a grand good man, and did a good work wherever he went; yet for the want of those flashy qualities that are so popular with the multitude, he was not appreciated at any thing like his true value, except by the discerning few. With a more eloquent delivery, more brass, and less humility and modesty, he might have stood in the very front rank of popular preachers. At one of our annual meetings he delivered a sermon on the "Coronation of Christ," which for profundity of thought, richness of scriptural truth, and beauty of diction, I have never heard surpassed by any one. He was very pleasant in the social circle, and could be equally at home with the rich and the poor, the learned and the unlearned. His daily walk was a living sermon of great power. From Mississippi he removed to Burton, Kansas, where he remained for several years, and did much to plant the Master's cause in that part of that rapidly developing State. From that place he went to Bethany, Mo., and thence to Chillicothe, where he has resided and labored for the past six years. When I saw him last in August 1890, he seemed to be as vigorous both in mind and body, as when I first saw him twenty‑one years before. May the Lord preserve him yet many years to preach the truth and exemplify the Christian life.
Some time in May of the same year, 1869, Eld. W. H. Stewart, of Louisiana, having started to Kentucky to engage in evangelizing work, stopped at Bro. Newsom's near Utica to spend the night, expecting to pursue his journey the next day. Bro. Newsom succeeded in convincing him that the man and the field had already met, and that his labor was needed much more in Mississippi than in Kentucky. He went to work at once, soon collected the scattered flock, revived and reorganized the church, and by the end of the year had added some two hundred to its membership. A grander work than this considering all the circumstances, has never been done in the State. He was so well pleased with the field around Utica that he bought a little farm in that vicinity and removed his family thither. Soon after this he purchased a residence in Utica in which his family lived for a number of years while he preached all over that and adjacent counties, and in other parts of the State with marked success at all points. Bro. Stewart was not a learned man except in the Scriptures, nor was he an eloquent speaker; but he was truly a gospel preacher, and one of the most zealous and most untiring workers that I have ever known. He was instant in season and out of season; and was always ready to reprove, rebuke, exhort, and entreat with all diligence and longsuffering. He worked incessantly from house to house, and his fireside talks doubtless did as much good as his pulpit sermons, and perhaps more. He brought Jonathan Stanly, A. P. Terrill, and G. W. Terrell into the church, and persuaded them to go to Lexington and prepare themselves for the work of the ministry. They in turn induced H. G. Fleming of Fayette to do likewise. They all became able ministers of the word; but one of them, Jonathan Stanly already sleeps in the old churchyard at Utica. Bro. Stewart finally removed to Thorp's Springs, Texas, where I suppose he still lives, though at an advanced age. What joy must thrill his heart, as he looks back over his toilsome life, and thinks of the many whom he has led to Christ, some of whom have gone before, and some of whom will follow after! With what exultant hope must he look forward to a happy reunion with all these in the heavenly home!
Some time in the summer or fall of the same year, Dr. Jones and myself went to Thyatira to hold a meeting there and at Antioch. Soon after our arrival, Dr. B. W. Lauderdale of Collierville, Tenn., R. A. Cooke of Bell's Depot, Tennessee, and a Bro. Carter from some other point in West Tennessee, all joined us, and a grand time we had. We spread out all over the country between and around the two churches, carried on two or three meetings at the same time in different neighbor, hoods, and in three weeks gathered in 77 souls, 38 at Thyatira and 39 at Antioch. This was my first meeting with these three brethren, and also my last one with Bro. Carter.
R. A. Cooke, with whom it was my privilege to hold several meetings afterward, was a man of very fine personal appearance, and as graceful a speaker as I have ever heard. His style was conversational, his language chaste and elegant, and the flow of his words as smooth as the flow of oil. He had complete control of himself, and always held his audience spellbound from the beginning to the end of his sermon. He was truly eloquent; but it was the eloquence of thought and diction, and not of declamation. I always felt that I would have given the wealth of a Vanderbilt, if I had possessed it, for the ability to speak as easily, fluently, and gracefully as he did. But different men have different gifts, and some seem to have no gift at all. I am very thankful to the Lord that he said, "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required," from which I infer that where little is given little will be required.
Dr. Lauderdale was a plain, earnest, straight‑forward teacher of the truth. He had a ready utterance, and more than ordinary power of exhortation. "The common people heard him gladly," and he was therefore quite successful as an evangelist. He gave up a lucrative practice of medicine to devote himself to the work of the ministry among those who were comparatively poor. For a number of years he spent a large portion of his time among the churches of North West Mississippi, and did as much good doubtless as any man who has ever labored in that part of the State. A few years ago, he removed from Collierville, Tenn., to Nevada, Missouri, and after remaining there some two years he removed to Breckenridge in the western part of Texas. He will let the light of Christianity shine wherever he may go. Would that we had hundreds of such men as Dr. B. W. Lauderdale!
Bro. Carter was a cyclone. When he preached, he preached all over. Every muscle of body, as well as faculty of mind, seemed to be strained to its utmost tension. His physical powers would seem to be utterly exhausted at the close of his sermon; and yet when the next preaching hour came round, he would be fresh and vigorous, and as ready for the fray as ever. I doubt if five preachers more dissimilar in style and manner were ever brought together in one series of meetings; and yet I am sure that no other five preachers ever worked together more harmoniously than we did. That series of meetings will be lovingly remembered as long as the participants, both preachers and hearers, live.
Our second annual meeting was a great improvement on the first. Bro. Thomas Munnell of Cincinnati was with us, and presented what was called the Louisville Plan to our consideration, and advised its adoption. At my suggestion, the matter was referred to the churches for their consideration, and they were requested to report at the semi‑annual meeting to be held in July 1870. Some changes were made in our working force, but none in our methods of labor. Dr. Jones had made arrangements to begin the publication of the Christian Unitist, and this took him out of the evangelistic field. Dr. Barbee had engaged half his time to evangelistic work. Bro. Ellett and myself were engaged for all our time, the north‑eastern part of the State was assigned to him, and the western to me for the sake of convenience.
The semi‑annual meeting for 1870 was held in Columbus, and was well attended. The preachers present were T. W. Caskey, Dr. Barbee, J. M. Pickens, W. A. Crum, R. A. Cooke, W. H. Cooke, Dr. Curtis, Alexander Ellett and myself. I think the Bros. Randolph from Alabama were also there. The Bros. Cooke had each spent several weeks in the state previous to the meeting, and had visited a number of churches to the delight and profit of the brethren. W. H. was then quite a young man, and had been preaching but a short time; yet he made a favorable impression wherever he went. He then gave promise of much usefulness in the Lord's vineyard, and that promise has been fully realized. He afterward labored for a year or two with the churches at Thyatira and Antioch. For some years he labored in Kentucky, but finally removed to Missouri, to which grand State so many good preachers go. He is now in the very prime of a vigorous manhood, and has, I hope, many more years of usefulness before him.
It was at this semi‑annual meeting that I made the acquaintance of W. A. Crum of Hickory Flat for whom I at once form, ed a deep attachment which I have every reason to think was fully reciprocated, and which has grown deeper and stronger with our increasing years. W. A. Crum is no ordinary man; and it is to be deeply regretted that his entire time could not have been devoted to the preaching of the gospel for the past 25 years. He has a logical mind, clear conceptions of the truth, and ready utterance of the same. He is a born debater, and the greater part of almost every sermon is argumentative; yet has sufficient power in exhortation to have become a successful evangelist. Whether running a farm, practicing law, or conducting a political campaign, he finds some time to plead the claims of Jesus, and frequently holds a successful protracted meeting. Through all his political contests he has maintained an untarnished reputation, so far as I know, for Christian firmness and integrity. He is yet strong both in body and mind, and it is to be hoped that he will devote the remainder of his life to the service of the Master in that work which he is so able to do.
At this semi‑annual meeting the Louisville Plan as it was called, which had been referred to the churches, came up for consideration. Bro. Caskey, then from Paducah, Ky., delivered an address, setting forth the main features of the plan, and advising its adoption. Bro Pickens made a very determined speech in opposition. We then had for an hour or two a spicy discussion of the supposed merits and demerits of the plan, in which Bros. Caskey, Pickens, Curtis, Crum and others participated. Between Pickens and Curtis especially there was some sharp shooting, but it all passed off pleasantly in the end. After all had ‑spoken who desired to do so, I read a number of letters from churches in different parts of the State, some favoring, and some opposing the proposed plan, but all heartily approving the work as it had been carried on up to that time, and promising their support to the same. I then stated that while I did not entertain the fear that possessed many of the brethren concerning the proposed plan of labor, I was persuaded that we were doing the best we could under the circumstances, and that to adopt the Louisville Plan by resolution would be to introduce a cause of contention, and perhaps a wedge of division among the churches. This settled the matter, and our work continued as before, a simple co‑operation of churches and individuals with the church at Jackson, the elders of that church having supervision of the whole work. Had the matter been pressed to a vote at that meeting, the resolution to adopt the Louisville Plan would have been carried by a considerable majority of those present; but it would have produced no little contention throughout the State, and would have driven out of the co‑operation some of the best churches of the State. I still think that under all the circumstances, we acted for the best. Bro. Crum has often said to me that but for my conciliatory course, the churches would have divided then and there.
The annual meeting for this year (1870) was held at Jackson on the 23, 24, 25, and 26 of November. The work during the summer and fall had been crowned with abundant success, all circumstances considered; and our meeting was harmonious and encouraging. From the minutes of that meeting, I copy the following report which tells the story better than I can from memory.
"Bro. Ellett, chairman of the committee on State Work, submitted the following report:
The committee appointed to consider the necessity of continuing the work of State evangelizing, beg leave to report,
1. That when the present work was commenced, just two years ago, the cause of Christ in the State was prostrate; churches which had once existed had become disorganized, and their membership scattered; only three congregations in the whole state met for worship and mutual edification on the first day of every week; the disciples every where in the State were greatly disheartened many being willing to sell their meeting houses, and make no more effort to build up the church.
2. During the two years in which our work has been in progress, one thousand have been added to the churches from the world and sectarians, through the labors of evangelists employed by our co‑operation, and by other brethren not supported by the same but working in sympathy with it. Ten churches have been revived, some of which are fully organized, and at work in the performance of their public duties; seven new churches have been created, and several nuclei have been formed, which may be enlarged by the preaching of the gospel into fully organized and efficient bodies of disciples; and the brethren every where have been greatly encouraged, and inspired with new life and spirit.
3. The churches throughout the State manifest the liveliest interest in the continuation of this work; some of them expressing the opinion that not only their growth and prosperity as congregations, but their very existence are dependent on it.
4. Six districts have been formed, and four district evangelists are now at work, and many congregations are ready to go into district organizations as soon as they can find evangelists to serve them.
5. A large number of persons holding membership in sectarian organizations have been convinced of the erroneousness of their doctrines, but are hindered from leaving the churches to which they belong and joining the church of Christ by the fear that our present work can not be continued, and that by consequence, our churches will fall to pieces, and disintegration and death again ensue. This fact calls loudly for the continuation of our work.
6. Very many non‑professors are convinced of the truth of what we preach, and are almost persuaded to become Christians, but for the present are yielding to the same fear named above, and are procrastinating.
7. It would be difficult indeed, if not entirely impossible, to describe the lamentable effect which must follow any abatement of our present work; in the dying out of many churches now warming into life and power; in the discouragement of hundreds of brethren now animated with zeal and hope; in confirming the boasts of our enemies that our efforts are only spasmodic and must soon cease; in the drowning of many souls in perdition, and in bringing upon us the disapproval and condemnation of the Head of the Church. All this imperatively demands of us that we shall permit no abatement of our work, but rather go on to perfection. All of which is respectfully submitted.
B. F. MANIRE,
W. H. STEWART, Committee."
My own report for that year shows that two thousand dollars were paid for State work, and twenty‑five hundred for district work as reported; and a considerable amount was doubtless paid by the churches for home work that was not reported. In the six districts that were formed, about five thousand dollars were pledged for the support of the work in these districts, and twelve hundred dollars were pledged at the meeting for the State work for the following year. From the same report I copy the closing paragraphs, but one.
"On reviewing the work of the year, I feel that we have great cause to thank God, revive our courage, and renew our efforts. The weak have been made strong, the strong have been made stronger, the wavering have been confirmed, and an impression has been made that needs only to be followed up to tell powerfully and permanently on the prosperity of the cause throughout the State.
Three years ago, when the writer of this report, without the promise of a dollar, relying on the providence of his Heavenly Father and the justice and liberality of his brethren, closed his school and entered the field, there was not another preacher in the State devoting his whole time to the work. Now there are six, and we trust there will soon be four more, as the means will doubtless be provided for their support. Hitherto the Lord has helped us. Here let us erect a fresh memorial, and inscribe upon it, "His name."
During the years, 1871 and 1872, the work was continued with perfect harmony so far as I know, and the results were not satisfactory but greatly encouraging. In July 1871 the semi‑annual meeting was held with the church in Aberdeen. Nine preachers were present, a large number as we thought at that time, the beloved P. B. Lawson, of Alabama among them. This was the last time I saw him and doubtless many others can say the same; but we hope to meet him in heaven.
At the close of our work for 1872, I took a smaller field of labor, embracing the counties of Carroll and Choctaw; and Bro. Caskey who had just returned from Paducah, Ky., was employed as State evangelist. This arrangement continued for two years, 1873 and 1874. Hard times, however, were upon us, and the churches being unable to sustain the work at home and in their immediate districts as it needed to be sustained, could not contribute much to the work of general evangelizing through the State, hence Bro. Caskey was compelled to give most of his time to a few of the larger churches that were able to give him a partial support. Much good, however, was done during these two years, and many were added to the churches. While I was bless, ed with my usual success in the way of additions, my promised support fell short fully one third which greatly embarrassed me in more ways than one.
As Bro. Caskey had made arrangements to move to Texas, at our annual meeting in 1874, I took the State work again, and continued in it through two years more, 1875 and 1876. These were hard years in many respects. In 1875 we barely escaped a war of races and in 1876 the political excitement was at fever heat during the entire year; yet I had a good average success in gaining additions, though my financial support was somewhat short. As the time had come when all my children must be in the school room or fail to be educated, and as I was not able to send them off to school, at the close of 1876 I removed to Saltillo, Mississippi, and resumed my old occupation of teaching, engaging however, with four churches to visit each monthly for work on Saturday and Sunday, vacations to be given to protracted meeting work. This ended that Co‑operation of the churches in Mississippi. The full results of that work will be fully known only in the world to come; but many of the results are yet visible in many parts of the State. That work laid the foundation on which all subsequent work has been building.
I would like to speak at some length of all the younger preachers whose acquaintance I made from 1870 to 1876, and of the work they did in Mississippi‑of the devoted and ever to be lamented J. C. Oliver, who for the time he was with us did as much good doubtless as any other man, who ever labored in the State, and whose sad and untimely death was so deeply deplored‑of the brilliant Wm. E. Hall, who has since become so extensively and so favorably known‑of J. J. Haley, who then gave promise of what he has since attained, and whose labors belong to three continents, North America, Australasia, and Europe‑of the faithful, pious, zealous Joseph Shields, the purity of whose life was the most eloquent of sermons‑of Jonathan Stanley who became a giant in the pulpit, but was cut down in the very prime of his stalwart manhood and whose remains lie in the old graveyard at Utica‑‑of the genial, wholesouled, enthusiastic, and energetic Homer T. Wilson who has developed up into a grand preacher‑ of his elder brother, Dr. B. F. Wilson, who was fully matured when he came into the State, and who possessed many rare endowments‑but of all these a younger hand must write when they have passed into the sere and yellow leaf, and are waiting for the Master to call them away.
I would like to speak of my own preacher boys' of J. M. Whitten whom the Lord has taken up to his reward, who from the day of his baptism gave his heart and strength to the service of the Lord, and under many disadvantages became a useful preacher‑of Stark Deupree, Robert Deupree, Lee Jackson, Hatley Armor, and Willie Crum, all of whom were mere lads when they gave themselves to Jesus, and all of whom give promise of much usefulness in the Lord's vineyard. May God bless them and grant them long life and good health to labor for Him who gave Himself for them. They all have my per, mission to preach all the sermons they ever heard me preach, if they cannot get up better ones of their own; and if they can preach them better than I did, so much the better for their hearers than it was for mine.
I would like to speak of many others‑quiet, humble unlearned, but faithful men, who without any earthly reward labored as they had opportunity in their own neighborhoods and other out‑of‑way places, whose toils and sacrifices and unrequited labors a loving Heavenly Father will surely hold in remembrance, and for which he will finally bestow upon them a rich reward‑but these reminiscences must be brought to a close. The writing of them has been to me a labor of love; and if the reader derives half the pleasure from reading them that I have derived from living over these old times, sad as many of the memories have been, I will feel amply repaid for the time and labor of writing them.
If life and health are spared, and opportunity is given, I may rewrite and extend them, bringing them to date; and then, if the means are at hand, put them into book form, or rather booklet form. I am fully aware of their fragmentary character; but the life of every man, however long and useful it may have been, is only a fragment. Our work is all fragmentary. We never succeed in doing all that we desire to do, but always have to leave something unfinished. Life itself is a fragment. Is not this fact a strong proof of a never‑ending life beyond the grave?
Life Of T.W. Caskey
MEN WHO have helped to make the Work of the Disciples of Christ in Mississippi what it is today. Men who labored long and unselfishly to make the "Restoration Movement" occupy its legitimate place among the religious bodies of the State.
T. W. CASKEY
Born January 12th, 1816‑Died August 10th, 1896
THE GRANDPARENTS of T. W. Caskey were from Ireland. His parents moved from South Carolina to Mauray County, Tennessee in 1810, and T. W. Caskey was born in that county, near Spring Hill on January 12th, 1816. His boyhood days were spent on a farm in Mauray County, working with his father. His school days were few and far between, having gone to school about six months when he was 8 years old. After he was fifteen years old he went to school another six months. At sixteen he learned the blacksmith trade, which he followed in his home community for a few years. Desiring a change, he tied up all his belongings in a bag and departed for Mississippi on foot. He landed in Holly Springs in August 1835, and bought a shop and tools in a small place about three miles of Holly Springs known as Follapona. In a short time his shop was disposed of, he bought a horse, saddle and bridle and headed farther South, coming to Port Gibson, Mississippi, where he got a position as overseer on a large plantation at $1,000 a year. Held this position for two years. He returned to blacksmithing in 1837. Was married this year to a Miss Lucy Jones, an orphan, whose ancestry was not known, but who was an educated and an accomplished woman.
Shortly after his marriage to Miss Jones, he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of which his wife was a devout member. Manifesting some speaking ability, Bro. Caskey was urged by his friends to become a preacher. Through his wife's influence and by her help he worked hard from early mom till 8 at night, and from 9 to 11 at night he studied by a pine knot light. His progress was fast and steady.
In 1849 while studying for the Methodist ministry, he became dissatisfied with the doctrine of the Methodist church and with its Discipline. This dissatisfaction was a result of his study of the Bible for himself. He then joined the Christian Church. His wife died on the 29th of October 1843, when he abandoned his trade and went regularly into the Ministry, evangelizing, for the most part in Alabama and Mississippi. He married the second time on April 14th, 1845. He lived in Alabama till 1849, and established churches in Gainesville, Clinton and Mt. Hebron, Alabama.
In 1849 he moved to Chickasaw County, Mississippi, settling near Palo Alto, where he found a church of 26 members. When he left this community in 1854, the membership of that church numbered over 300. Palo Alto at that time was one of the wealthiest and most influential communities in the State.
Early in his ministry, because of his knowledge of the scriptures and devotion to its teaching, he was forced into public debates. In this line he won victories on all occasions, was the decision of his friends. During his lifetime he held fifty, six different public debates ranging from four to seven days and nights each. Among the debates, the following are cited:
With Apostles Tyler and Thomas, Mormons, Sandsing, Baptist, at Palo Alto, J. L. Chapman, Methodist,
Two debates with William Harrison, author of Theophilus Walton, (These debates were held at Crawfordsville, Miss.)
D. E. Bums, Baptist, Utica, Miss.,
A. B. Fly, Methodist, Paducah, Ky.
D. B. Wray, Baptist, Editor Battle Flag,
John Bums, Universalist, Editor Religious Herald,
William Price, Methodist, Three times, at Fort Worth, Dallas and Cleburne, Texas.
W. J. Brown, Cumberland Presbyterian, Mt. Vernon, Mo.,
Twice with Elder Sledge, Baptist, Woodbury and Alvarado, Texas.
After leaving Palo Alto, Mississippi in 1854, Bro. Caskey had charge of the following churches:
Jackson, Mississippi, six years
Memphis, Tennessee, two years
Paducah, Kentucky, two years
Traveled two years as State Evangelist in Mississippi.
Sherman, Texas, pastor for three years, from 1875 to 1878.
From 1866 to 1875 Bro. Caskey's planting interests were superintended by his step son, Mr. W. E. Ferguson, who lived about ten miles from Jackson, Mississippi, and who was a partner of Bro. Caskey.
In 1870 by resolution of the State Board of Mississippi, Bro. Caskey was requested to go North and East in the interest of the Freedmen of the South, which he did, and lectured in New York, Philadelphia, Syracuse, N. Y., and Worcester, Mass., and other points.
After the election of Lincoln in 1860, the Bell and Breckenridge parties selected a committee of fifteen non‑politicians to consider what was to be done. Caskey was chosen on this committee. Hon. Wylie P. Harris and T. W. Caskey were chosen from the fifteen to draft the resolutions for the entire committee, which resolutions were adopted as a whole in a mass meeting which assembled at the State House.
When war was declared Caskey was appointed as Chaplain of the 18th Mississippi Regiment of Volunteers. He was in the first battle of Manassas, and shouldered a Colts Rifle and a double cylinder sixteen shooter revolver and went into the fight against the wishes of his regiment. During the battle a fragment of a brigade became demoralized, broke ranks and fled. Mounting a horse, Caskey headed them in a narrow pass, rallied them at the point of a revolver, made appeal to their patriotism and carried them back into line. He discharged his duty every way, and became known as the "Fighting Parson."
During these troublous times, Caskey addressed both houses of the Legislature on a hospital bill for a hundred thousand dollars, which' was passed. He was appointed by the Governor of the State as Hospital Agent for the Army of the West. The University buildings in Oxford were turned over to him as hospitals for the sick and wounded. Under his management the machinery ran like clock work.
In his time he was connected with Masonry, Oddfellowship and Temperance organizations.
In 1878, his salary being too small for his support, he began the practice of law, was eminently successful as a criminal lawyer but on the increase of his salary he gave up the law practice and devoted his whole time to the ministry.
The above facts concerning the life of Bro. Caskey were taken from his first book known as: "Caskey's Book." The editor of this History of the Christian Church in Mississippi first met Bro. Caskey in Jackson some time during the summer of 1891. At this time he was well on the shady side of life, but full of fire, wit, sarcasm, together with much of his old time oratory. I began the publication of a book of Caskey's sermons, under the title of: "Caskey's Last Book." The editing was done by B. F. Manire, who Bro. Caskey always spoke of as, "The Sainted Manire." The devotion of these two warriors in Israel was sublime, and as beautiful as sublime.
These two men were as much unlike as you usually find men, but each seemed to be the complement of the other. Caskey was an orator. Bro. Manire was hard to listen to because of an impediment in his speech, but his sermonizing ability was faultless, as was his life, and no script copy plate could surpass Manire's writing. Bro. Caskey's writing could scarcely be read when it got dry. So Caskey got Manire to take his manuscript and prepare it for the printer. Bro. Caskey made many trips over the state in the interest of his "Last Book", when he should have been at home with his friends and relatives. During his visit to Ackerman, Mississippi, on one of these trips, he fell in the pulpit and had to have the attention of a physician. When he came to, he rebuked them for molesting him, for he said he was supremely happy. He said when he came to himself, he thought the women standing around were angels ministering to him. I am profoundly sorry that this good man could not live to see the completion of his last book. A tribute to his memory is appended hereto, by the "Sainted Manire."
A TRIBUTE TO THE MEMORY OF T. W. CASKEY
By B. F. Manire
HE, AGED and afflicted, the gifted and beloved T. W. Caskey has passed over the river to the cloudless land that lies beyond. His frail and worn-out tenement of clay now lies beside the body of his first-born son who died in early manhood some thirty-seven years ago.
Whether at the anvil, in the pulpit, on the platform, in the hospital, on the battlefield, or in debate, the life of T. W. Caskey was one of unyielding devotion to what he thought to be his duty. He faltered not on any field, nor ever stopped to count the odds that were against him. In the thickest of the fray his tall rugged form was always found, bravely battling for what his judgment and his conscience said was right.
As long as he could think, he thought for Jesus; as long as he could speak, he spoke for Jesus; and as long as he could write, he wrote for Jesus. He went as long as he could go, he stood as long as he could stand, and fell at last from sheer exhaustion. His crushed and tired frame the burden could no longer bear, and laid it down that he might be at rest with God. As the news is flashed along the liner, many eyes will fill with tears, many hearts will heave with sorrow; but all will say, 'tis best for him.
"Servant of God, well done,
Rest from thy loved employ,
The battle fought, the vict'ry won,
Enter now into thy joy."
For more than forty years, I knew and loved him well. He was to me a father; I was to him a son. I heard him in his palmy days, and in his failing years. For many years he was to me the prince of orators; and though his voice failed as age came on and strength declined, yet his thoughts were clear and striking to the end. I am glad that he was spared to us so long, and that so calm and peaceful was his end. It is a source of joy that loved ones dear could stand around his dying bed and close his sightless eyes‑that loving friends and brethren who had known him well for many years could bear his lifeless form to its final resting place beneath the sod he loved so long and well. We laid him down, and turned away with sorrowing hearts, grieving, not for him, but for ourselves, that we should see him here no more; but yet we have the hope that we will meet him on the other shore where partings are unknown.
I would that his own tribute to the State of his adoption, written some twenty‑five long years ago, could be inscribed upon a monument erected o'er his grave:
"Mississippi has never called on me that I did not answer. On her altar I have offered labor, life and fortune, and all were lost but life. She is bound to my heart by many a tie, by many a memory; some sad and mournful, others bright and sparkling as gems of night. Within her borders my earliest manhood days were spent. Among her hills and dales my ministerial life has measured out its length. Along her lonely roads, among her sighing pines, often too, when stars looked down from quiet skies, I arranged many of the best sermons I ever preached, or ever shall preach. Within her bosom sleeps the dust of those I loved and lost. My beauteous wife of almost boyhood days; my stalwart boy of man's estate, together with his brother dear who met untimely death; and the last little bud from the maternal stem of her who has borne, and nobly borne, with me the ills of life, are lying in the dust, nipped by untimely frost, but blooming bright in heaven. And last, but hardly least, the devoted slave, who for long and weary years, in her faithful arms, carried her own babes and ours, and nursed them both, sleeps quietly, not far from the other loved ones. I stood over her grave and wept. But she was a Christian, and lives above."
"Poor Mississippi! You sit like a queen dethroned and uncrowned, by the side of the great father of waters, whose onrolling waves, lave your way‑worn feet. Beneath your bright sky the notes of your native mocking‑bird are heard "from early morn 'til dewy eve," and through the starry watches of the night. Among your groves the magnolia and the orange bloom, the odors of which, when blended, surpass the richest perfumes of the far-famed garden of pomegranates of Israel's wisest king.”
"State of my adoption! Thou sittest with tear‑bathed face and pallid brow, sorrowing much and sad at heart, in mourning clad because thy sons have perished from thy side, and thy daughters fair cease not to weep their fall and thy misfortune."
"A few more months at most, and my weary feet shall tread again thy soil, never to wander more till life's labor close; then on thy gentle bosom my head shall lie pillowed, and dust to dust shall turn."
And yet again he wandered from her sacred soil, but not through fault of his; and after more than twenty long and weary years, he wanders back again, led doubtless by the hand of God, to finish up his work on earth, lay down his life, and his own prophecy fulfilled by resting in the bosom of the State he loved so well, and for whose weal he had so long and ably toiled. Sleep on, dear brother. Thy sufferings all are past, and will no more return. The last great battle has been fought, the victory has been won, and thou wilt henceforth wear the crown of everlasting life. Adieu, until we meet around the throne of God, to sing redemption's song, and live with God and Christ forever.
The following is the first announcement of Bro. Casey’s death, appearing as an editorial announcement in the Messenger, of August the 14th, 1896. The Manire tribute appeared in the Messenger the week following.
Last night, August the 10th, at nine o'clock, the spirit of T. W. Caskey took its flight to the great God whom he had so long honored and worshipped. Scarcely had the ink dried on the paper, in which Bro. Caskey was defending Christianity against the attacks of Skeptics, when he was called to come up higher where this defense is turned into praise. His Autobiography and Addresses is now nearing completion, and it is sad that his life was cut off before the appearing of his book that he has spent his last days struggling to issue. But so is all things temporal. Thus ends a bright, though stormy career. Original in his thoughts, brave as a lion, eloquent as Cicero, kind hearted and true, full of energy and sympathy, has passed into the great beyond one of the most striking, original and worthy characters that the Christian Church has ever had. He has fought many a battle and won many a victory for the armies of the Lord. An appropriate obituary will be prepared for the MESSENGER of next week by the man who has known him longer and better than any man in Mississippi, and one who Bro. Caskey always spoke of with tenderness and love as the "Sainted Manire."
SOME OF CASKEY'S SAYINGS AND WITTICISMS
Bro. Caskey had an aversion to. dogs, especially in church. It is said of him that one Sunday he was preaching away as usual, and moving from one side of the pulpit to the other, he observed a small dog on the platform looking dreamily up into his face. He walked over to the dog, put his big foot under the dog and sent him sprawling down into the audience remarking as he did so: "Go, you may be called and sent to preach the Gospel, but this is my appointment."
I was told this one by a friend out in Texas some years ago, in Terrel, Texas, I think it was. Bro. Caskey was holding a debate with a Seventh Day Adventist in that city. One morning Bro. Caskey walked up town early and perched himself on the steps of one of the stores, to sit and think. He had a fashion of putting his face down in his hands, seemingly in a deep study. His opponent happened along, saw Caskey in this position, and he slapped him on the shoulders and said: "Bro. Caskey what's worrying you?" As quick as a flash Caskey replied: "There is a passage of old Testament scripture which is greatly worrying me." "Pray tell me Bro. Caskey, what it is," Caskey replied: "that passage which says: Thou shalt not yoke up an ox and an ass together."
It was reliably reported to me that before the civil war in Jackson, Mississippi, while Caskey was pastor of the Jackson Christian Church that one winter while the Legislature was in session, the town went wild over all kinds of amusements, especially on the subject of dancing. Members of all the churches, or at least large part of them, were engaging in dances constantly. The various pastors got worked up over the subject, held a "Council of War," to determine what steps, if any, to take to put an end to so much frivolity. It was finally decided to have Caskey preach a sermon on the subject of dancing in the Presbyterian church on the following Sunday. Caskey preached it. It was a red hot sermon, but was sane, and no abuse was used. He took the position that if men or women wanted to dance for the sake of the dance, just put down a big wide plank in the middle of the street and "cut the pigeon 'Wing" to your heart's content, and nobody will take any offence.
But only let the brethren dance alone and the sisters dance by themselves. Its not the dancing that appeals to the average dancer, but the "hugging" that goes with it that you are after not the dance.
It is said that his sermon had a salutary effect upon the community, but it evidently riled one of Caskey's society young women, for the next morning one of them called at his study and demanded her church letter. Caskey asked her what she was going to do with her church letter. She said she was going to put it into the Episcopal church. "Oh you believe in Apostolic Succession, then do you?" he asked her “and in their infant sprinkling?" Her reply was that she cared not for any of these doctrinal tenets. "Why do you want to join the Episcopals for then," she was asked, and her reply was :"They will allow me to dance." "Well then sister, blank, I will give you a letter to the Episcopal church stating that you want to join them because they will allow you to use your heels instead of your head." She left without the letter.
The following anecdotes have been furnished us by W. W. Phares, editor of the Christian Courier, of Dallas, Texas:
Though my first pastorate was at Fayette, Mississippi, within 20 miles of the early home and "Anvil School" of Uncle Caskey, the first time I ever met him was at a state Convention at Terrell, Texas, many years ago. At the noon hour the chairman announced that it lacked two minutes of time for adjournment and asked what the assembled hosts desired to do with that time. Somebody shouted, "Hear from Uncle Caskey!" Immediately "Caskey!" "Caskey!" came from a hundred throats.
A naturally homely man whose looks had in nowise been improved by a recent street car accident arose and, by means of his crutches, pulled himself to full height‑some six feet and several inches. Between vigorous chews on his tobacco he slowly drawled, "Brethren, I believe that I am the oldest man in this convention" (three chews and one expectoration‑on the floor). "If I am mistaken in that (two chews and one champ), I know I am the ugliest man in this convention." He was nearly ready for another chew of tobacco before the laughter subsided enough for the chairman to call for the benediction.
For many years, before it was annexed to the Illinois Central System, a railroad ran from Bayou Sara, La., an inland town of Mississippi, some thirty-five miles away. The one mixed train made a single round trip a day. The locomotive was fired with cordwood, which necessitated frequent stops to fill the tender from woodpiles on the roadside. The train was of the type commonly called "accommodation train," and it was very accommodating. While there were regular station stops, it would halt at the "big gates" of any plantations and unload a car of lumber or drop off a sack of farm seed. Uncle Caskey was riding this train to Woodville, where he was scheduled to begin a revival meeting. Late in the afternoon, while the train was lightening its burden, he espied a patch of wild blackberries loaded with luscious, ripe fruit. Soon he was "loading" about as fast as the several freight handlers were unloading. Finally, the signal to start was given; the engineers blew the whistle, the conductor rang the bell, but Uncle Caskey continued his berry picking. Exasperated, the conductor yelled, "Come on, man; don't you see that you are delaying the train?" Reaching up for a fat ber, ry at the top of the vine, Uncle Caskey waved disgustedly with his other hand and replied, "Go on, you fool, you; I'll catch you when I get enough blackberries?"
When Uncle Caskey was pastor of the First Christian Church, Ft. Worth, Texas, the ladies noticed that he “worshipped" during the song service before the sermon by vigorously chewing tobacco and expectorating on the pulpit carpet. To save the carpet they purchased two elaborate cuspidors and placed one on each side of his chair. To their horror they saw that he still spat on the floor. When he arose to speak he prefaced his sermon with words of appreciation of the beautiful "flower vases" at his sides, but added: "Sisters, I know you mean well, but if you don't move those things further away, I'm going to spit in them as sure as you live." By the way, this tobacco, chewing habit was continued till his death; but when he was on his last tour among the churches, vainly trying to prove that he "could preach as well as ever," he told me that if he had ten years more to live he would quit that filthy habit at once. He was stricken on this journey and died before he reached home.
One day Maj. J. J. Jarvis, a leading member of First Church Ft. Worth, told Uncle Caskey that his hat was "seedy" and, with characteristic generosity said, "Go into A. & L. August's store and get any hat you want and have it charged to me." The salesman tried on two styles that were a perfect fit. Uncle Caskey found it hard to decide between them and asked the clerk their respective prices. He was told that the one on his head sold for $3.50 and the one in his hand for $5. Quickly changing places he said, "Well, I like this one a little better, and if I were to pay for it myself I would take it, but it is to be charged to Jarvis, and I want to get all out of him I can."
I never heard this told but once. Uncle Caskey related it to me in private conversation. I give it in his words as nearly as I can remember them:
"Meridian, Miss., is now a beautiful city, but during the Civil War it was a forlorn looking pine woods village. One day after a battle in that part of the State, I went out as chaplain to comfort the dying. Seeing a lad that was nearly gone, I said 'Is there anything I can do for you my boy?' 'Yes,' he replied, 'I'm dying, parson, and I want you to carry me over to Meridian and let me die there.' 'Why?' he was asked. 'Well, I know where I'm a‑goin' to and I think the change would be less from Meridian than any other spot I know." This was told as a real occurrence and it may have been, but it was told in the last year of Uncle Caskey's life, and he may have come to connect a current war story with the scene of his own service, unawares.
The following letter was written by Bro. Caskey from Topeka, Kansas, while he was out West in the interest of his "Last Book." This letter was published in the Messenger, of Jackson, January 1st, 1892. It is reproduced here to show the style of his writing.
DEAR MESSENGER. My heart was made glad at the home of our well-known and well beloved brother and fellow laborer, F. M. Raines. He is not at home, but his wife, who is as good as he, and a helpmate to him (wish I could say so much for all preachers) looks for him today. I am rambling over this, to me, strange land, and among strange people, and meet with strange experiences, some places receive me with cool courtesy, others with Christian cordiality and open hearted hospitality, making a poor old wanderer feel like he was in the bosom of the "Sunny South." This diversity grows out of the fact that many professed Christians allow their politics to master their religion, and forget that the war is over; that slavery is dead, and that the slave holder is no more in the South. That institution has passed from "Dixie," to Massachusetts, in fact though, under a different name. The only difference between the two, in Dixie we held the whip in one hand and made them work as we pleased; they hold the bread in their hand, and make them not only work, but vote as they please. In Dixie they were black, there they are white. In Dixie, when old and worm out, they were cared for; there they are turned out to starve. In some places I am simply ignored. It seems that the passing years have but intensified the bitterness of feeling against any and everything of southern birth. The title of my poor book kills it too dead to hope for a resurrection. But thank God, there are exceptions. A warmer welcome I have never met than in this, the beautiful capital of the state, both from pastor and people. They began a meeting of weeks on Sunday with one of our most popular and successful evangelists, Bro. Boyer. He is all he gets credit for. Their pastor, one of the almost extinct race of Smiths, genial, warm‑hearted, talented, knows how to receive and treat an old man far from home, and loved ones dear. After an eloquent short sermon, to which I listened with gladness in my heart, and tears in my eyes, Bro. Smith with a few fitting remarks, introduced me to the large audience. The things he said of me, my well known modesty forbids repeating. I spoke a few minutes; what I said is nobody's business. I presume I said something good, for the brethren and sisters came up to take my hand in warm cordial Christian grasp. So many came that Bro. Smith quit, and they introduced themselves. For how long, I know not, I was too happy to take any note of passing time, (for not long before I had been snubbed). I have not felt happier since I got old fashioned Methodist religion, at a Methodist mourning bench, and I am satisfied it will last a great deal longer. I spoke a short time again at night. Last night was too cold for me to venture out. I go to‑night. But I am not writing what I started to write, nor anything like it. I wanted to express the joy I felt, that we have such a Stevens at the helm, and so many able and true men to aid. His sermon on the "New Birth," old as the subject is, and old as I am, I got a valuable thought from it. I rejoiced at his report of the work in dear old Mississippi. Then comes the beloved Manire's pen, sketches of Bros. Butter and Usrey, creating mingling feelings of joy and sadness; joy be, cause for long and weary years of toil when we were called baptised infidels, I worked shoulder to shoulder by their side. The fact is, as Bro. Manire knows, I half made old Bro. Bob what he was‑I made the worst half, the good Lord the best half. He learned much of his earliest preaching from me, that is, he got the framework, and clothed it in his own garb. He being a better looking man than I, and having a better-rounded and more melodious voice, and also more pathos, he could take one of my sermons and add more to the church than I could, when he was a three-year-old clerical calf on poor range at that. He could ball louder in the ears of communities than the older calf from whom he learned to bleat. I can in fancy hear his hoarse voice across the lapse of time, as in yore, saying, "Bro. Tom, when you go to Cotton Gin, if you preach on certain subjects, naming them, you change them, or you will get the credit of stealing Bob Usrey's thunder; I can't and would not if I could." May the Merciful God forgive the churches for letting him labor as hard and die as poor as he did. But I must bring these rambling thoughts to a close. I am simply enjoying myself at Bro. Raines' delightful home. Am stronger, can walk farther and faster than since I got hurt, and as to preaching and lecturing, can't get enough to do. I go from here to Kansas City, thence to Chillicotha, the home of Bro. Ellett. Let me hear from you there. God bless you and yours,
T. W. CASKEY
Topeka, Kansas, January 1, 1892.
The following article was written by T. W. Caskey, of Mississippi, for "Seventy Years in Dixie," in 1890, when he was an old man. This shows the estimation in which all "Black Mammies" were held by the white people of the South.
The relationship between a child and its black mammy was both intimate and affectionate. Any Southern man would resent an injury to his old black mammy, as a personal insult, as long as he lived. Distinguished men of the old‑time South never visited their old home without tenderly greeting the old slave whom they had known only as a mammy, early in childhood. It was no unusual thing for Congressmen and Senators to sit on a rude stool in the old mammies log cabin, and listen with courteous patience, if not with deep interest to her story of what had "been gwine on since you left de ole place."
My grandfather bought my old black mammy, from a Massachusetts slave‑ship, when she was only six years old. She was just from the dark continent then, and not a word of our language could she speak. She was about forty‑five years of age when I was born. If there can be a feeling in the human heart stronger than a mother's love for her first born, that love burned in the deepest depths of her passionate, African heart for me. Her skin was as black as night, but her heart was as pure as the virgin snow. I don't believe she ever saw the day, when I was placed in her swarthy arms, when but a few hours old, to the day of her death, in my 18th year, that she would not have laid down her life for me. For her tender care and motherly love, and for the sleepless nights she passed in ministering to the wants and in trying to alleviate the pains of the poor, motherless waif, I have never ceased to give her the unstinted devotion and adoration of a grateful heart.
I love to linger upon the memory of that faithful old slave. Hers was the dusky hand that rocked my cradle. Often times tears from her loving eyes fell upon my baby face, as she soothed me, as she crooned me to sleep in the silent, and to me suffering hours of the night. In my melancholy restrospections, I often think of her now with tearful eyes and weary heart, and wonder whether she ever comes from her far‑off home in the glory land, to watch over her old‑time wayward charge. Does her glorified spirit ever hover about me now, with the old‑time tenderness and love, and long to help my weary soul onward and upward to that better land?
While strolling through a Southern forest one balmy evening in early spring, not many years ago, I came upon a lonely dilapidated negro cabin nestling among the trees. To me it was a precious souvenir of the sweet long ago. The full moon, just rising, cast long, wavering shadows over the moss‑covered roof, and briers clung about the long deserted walls. Whippoorwills chanted their lonely solo in the forest, a mocking bird warbled his medley from the top of an oak, magnolias perfumed the air, and owls hooted dolefully in the distance. To me, the whole scene was desolation, and, by contrast, reminded me of the blessed days gone by. And there, by that lonely cabin in the woods, I thought long and seriously of my old black mammy, and, amidst such environments, I went and prayed away some of the sorrows and burdens of my weary heart.
And there, mid the stillness of nature, by her grave in the woods, I solemnly vowed to cherish her memory, to strive to imitate her love and labors for the motherless and homeless suffering little ones of this sorrow blighted world, and to love and pray earnestly and constantly, while I live, for the amelioration of the sufferings of her down‑trodden race. And here now, with all the earnestness of a loving, grateful heart, I deliberately record that vow, and seal it with a penitential tear.
First Christian Church, Jackson, Mississippi
THE FOLLOWING sketch was prepared by Mr. A. S. Coody, an Elder in the church in Jackson, gotten up for the Ninetieth Anniversary of the church, which was celebrated in September 1925. Some few corrections have been made by the editor of this book, who has held two pastorates in that church, the first from January 1st., 1891 to September 15th, 1896. The second pastorate was from January 1st., 1904 to December 31st., 1905.
The Beginning of The Jackson Church
It is fairly well established that the church at Jackson was the first church of the Restoration movement established in Mississippi. At the beginning of the nineteenth century Mississippi territory was a new country, and as settlers began to come in, they brought their church affiliations with them. The state was organized in 1817, before the Disciples of Christ or Christians had become established as a separate group of people. Being a new, sparsely settled country religious differences were never pronounced, and there was not that strong adherence to established practice so marked in the older states. Therefore, the forces that brought a division in the older communities were not active in the new country, and many unauthorized church practices were gradually dropped, without the formation of a new body, founded on the simple teachings of the New Testament. The spread of the restoration movement in Mississippi was undoubtedly partly checked by the larger denominational churches voluntarily correcting errors, and reforming their services and creeds in keeping with progress and learning.
As the Restoration movement spread in the older states, some of its members came to Mississippi with the tide of immigration from the Carolinas, Kentucky and Tennessee. These were pioneer folks, seeking new homes, and not purposely intending to carry a new movement to a fertile field. The proportion of Christians or Disciples to the entire population was small, and it was not often that a sufficient number could be gathered into one community to form a congregation.
But about 1835 there came to Mississippi one General William Clark of North Carolina, who located in Jackson. General Clark had been a Baptist preacher of the "Hardshell" group. A division in his own religious body, forced him to a study of the New Testament, and to the conclusion that both parties to the dispute were in error. For expressing his views, and advocating a return to New Testament Christianity, General Clark was "turned out" of the Baptist church. He later became affiliated with the Campbells, and moved to Mississippi. General Clark does not appear to have come to this state for the purpose of preaching, or serving as a missionary, and yet almost simultaneously with his coming we find the beginnings of a church in his hometown.
General Clark was a well‑to‑do man of considerable educational attainments, and marked qualities of leadership. He was a Whig in politics, and must have been active in his party because he served as Treasurer for two different periods; first from 1843 to 1847 and again from 1851 to 1854.
The following story of General Clark, and the early history of the Christian Church in Mississippi is taken from The North Carolina Christian of January, 1925, and was prepared by a member of the brotherhood in that state as a part of the history of North Carolina's share in the Restoration movement:
"We present General William Clark, first North Carolina reader of The Millennial Harbinger. He and his wife, Louisa Lanier Clark were the first fruits of the "Restoration Movement" in North Carolina. He was the son of William Clark and Mary Ann Woodward Clark and was born May 15, 1790, and died in Jackson, Mississippi, August 15, 1359. The first forty‑five years of his life were spent in Pitt County, North Carolina, at Pactolus and Greenville. His "Tavern Home" in Greenville stood on Second Street, between Catanch and Reade. In this home on February 14, 1834, he received Thomas Campbell on his tour of Eastern North Carolina. He was also "long a devoted friend" of Alexander Campbell. He married Jane Roe Fuller, July 26, 1810. His first wife having died, he married Louisa Lanier, September 29, 1814. When Thomas Campbell came, “she readily united in the work of the reformation." She died in 1841. General Clark later married Miss Patton, of Hopkinsville, Ky. The General was a consistent prohibitionist and never allowed any strong drink in his home. But this Kentucky wife smuggled in some brandy occasionally for seasoning her wonderful dishes. A large portrait of the General hung in his Jackson, Mississippi, home during the War between the States. When the Federal soldiers occupied the city, one of them ran his sword through the painting against the tearful and spirited protests of the widow.
"General Clark was first a Primitive Baptist preacher be, longing to the Kehukee Association. He was clerk of the Association and played an historic part in the memorable session at Kehukee in 1827 when the missionary movement forced an issue resulting three years later in the formation of the Baptist State Convention, at Greenville, N. C., and the progressive isolation of Kehukee as an anti‑missionary group. The General, finding a better contact for his more liberal mind in the Neuse Association, comprised of twenty‑three churches situated for the most part within the triangle bounded by Greenville, Kinston and New Bern, united with it. His deep and earnest study of the New Testament, however, led to his independent and decisive rejection of the creeds of the day. For preaching this conviction the Neuse Association excluded him from the Baptist church at Fort Barnwell, October 21, 1833, together with John P. Dunn and Abraham Congleton, two others of a like militant loyalty to the all‑sufficiency of the scriptures as the Christian's creed.
"After General Clark went to Jackson, Mississippi, in 1835, he owned seventeen acres in the heart of the city. He gave two of these acres for our church lot and it is said built up the most prominent and flourishing church of the city before the War between the States. He was Treasurer of the State. In North Carolina he was an active "old line Whig," a follower of Henry Clay, and made many a stump speech against secession. He preached to his numerous slaves and baptized them. These blacks in the topsy‑turvey days of Reconstruction repudiated "Ole Massa's" baptism and were rebaptized by a negro. It is said that his six daughters were all beautiful, brilliant, talented women, shone as stars in society, and lived up to the best of old traditions. His oldest great‑grand‑daughter, Mrs. James Craig Cowan, was in Germany when the World War broke out. She has written a book describing conditions there as of that period and this was brought out recently by the Christopher Publishing House of Boston. Another great‑grand‑daughter, Miss Elaine Thompson, is now in Texas Christian University, preparing for a life devoted to religious service."
Below is given an extract from a letter written by General Clark to Alexander Campbell, and published in The Millennial Harbinger 'of May 1851. The Harbinger was Mr. Campbell's paper and was published in the interest of the brotherhood.
"I am the only preacher of our denomination in this section of the State and we have four or five churches. We have, for years past, kept an Evangelist in the field but last year employed none, which leaves me alone. Brother J. E. Matthews is now employed in business in the Northern portion of this State. We got Brother J. T. Johnson to spend about a month with us, hoping from his well‑known reputation, that he could produce an interest. He labored faithfully but obtained no accessions either in this city or in Brandon. In Raymond he labored about two weeks and only obtained three. I think by baptism. It is generally believed that were you to come, you could give a start and overcome all obstacles. We perhaps, are as needy as any poor souls can be. The few of us here have toiled and stemmed the current, but at present we seem to be at a stand."
The date of the founding of the church at Jackson can only be approximated from the two dates referred to in available publications. The North Carolina Christian gives the date of the coming to Mississippi of General Clark as 1835. He was elected State Treasurer in 1841, and it is reasonable to suppose that he had been a citizen of the state for a number of years before being nominated for this responsible post. If we fix the date of the founding of the church at Jackson with the arrival of General Clark, we can definitely place it between the years 1835 and 1840, as will be seen by a reading of the following quotation taken from a history of "The Churches of Christ" by Jno. T. Brown. The quotation which follows is from an article written by B. F. Manire, one of the early evangelists in the Mississippi field.
“By or before 1840 the church at Jackson was planted by General William Clark, who came from North Carolina, and spent the remainder of his life in Mississippi. Other churches were soon planted in Hinds and adjacent counties, Gen. Clark being the leader in the work. All who ever knew him testify to his lovely character and superior ability. He was once treasurer of the state; and at the same time James E. Matthews, an other able Christian preacher, was the auditor. Matthews was the man who baptized Tolbert Fanning, and when he died, Mr. Fanning said that before he went into politics, James E. Matthews was the ablest preacher he had ever heard. The church at Jackson has had many other able ministers, and many distinguished preachers have visited it, Mr. Campbell included. Since 1866, the church has had a hard struggle to keep alive. The old brick building became unsafe, and had to be taken down. Two new houses have been built; the first a small, neat frame structure by James Sharp; the second, an elegant brick building by M. F. Harmon. The condition of the church is improving, and we hope that its future will be more prosperous than its past."
The Church Building
The date of the church building at Jackson cannot be determined with any degree of accuracy. Any date would be a mere conjecture, from the records now available. All that is known is that it was constructed before the Civil War, and was a substantial brick building. A picture of it, is imperfectly reproduced in this book. Following the removal of this church, a temporary frame building was erected, and served as a place or worship until the erection of the present building. The second church building, jocularly referred to as the "Blacking box," has been remodeled and converted into a residence, now used as a home for our minister.
The location of the church building has always been the same.
The part that follows has been contributed by various members of the congregation, and represents their recollections of the events narrated. The material furnished is included in this way, because it will be more interesting than it would be if made into a continuous story by the editors.
Among the families contributing to the Christian churches in Mississippi, and especially the church at Jackson, the name Stovall stands out as a bright star. H. T. Stovall moved to Jackson and became identified with the church here in 1891, being closely connected with the life of the church till the time of his death in 1917. All his children and grand children are members of the church.
For generations this family has been contributors to and builders of Christian Churches. Before coming to Jackson, they made donations to the building of the church here. When H. T. Stovall came to Jackson, the church was using the little frame building, slightingly referred to by Sam Jones in his meeting here as "the little blacking box around the comer."
This frame building was sold several times, divided and made into two apartments. The south half still stands and is serving as the pastor's home. The north half has been moved into the block just in front of the church, and is the second house from the corner on the cast side of the street.
In November, 1851, there came to Itawamba County as teacher, B. F. Manire. His forbears, in 1828, had come under the influence of Joshua K. Speer and "had turned from the Philadelphia Confession of Faith and accepted the New Testament as the all sufficient Rule of faith and worship." He, too, became a preacher of the "Restoration" and was constantly associated with the various influential men and strategic points in the Mississippi church. He wrote a short history of his activities and from it we learn that he "visited the Jackson church in the fall of 1868 in company with James R. Baskin of Battle Springs, to consult regarding the convenience and propriety of holding a State meeting in December." The wealth of the church and its membership had been greatly depleted by the war but he says it was still strong in the mental and moral worth of the few left and makes particular mention of the activities, liberality, and endowments of Gen. W. T. Withers, Judge George L. Potter, and George A. Smythe, while to the latter he pays the additional tribute of saying that he had at that time one of the best Sunday Schools he had ever seen and while attending to his varied business, preached for the church twice every Lord's day for a number of years succeeding the war. As we know, Mr. Smythe did this service without any remuneration other than the good conscience which comes from the faithful performance of duty.
The report of this State meeting is interesting. "It was a small meeting but the beginning of work, the good results of which, eternity alone will fully reveal. The contributions sent in and those made at the meeting amounted to $250 to which General Withers added his personal pledge for $250 more. With this amount, I was employed for six months to visit as many destitute churches as I could reach in that time for the purpose of helping them and enlisting them in the co‑operative work thus begun. It must be remembered at this time there was not another preacher in the entire State devoting his whole time to the work and many of the churches were without preaching at all and had been for years, some of them from the beginning of the War." That Brother Manire was energetic, consecrated, and courageous is evidenced by the report made eighteen months later when the contributions had reached the sum of $2,000.00 for State work and $2500.00 for district work with an increased pledge for the following year. We, who are now enjoying the benefits of these sacrifices, cannot value too highly the devotion of these courageous men and women who, out of devastated fortunes and weakened bodies gave to the utmost to preserve the Truth. Their symbol is the Rhode Island "Color Bearer" the Vicksburg National Cemetery, who with death written in every line of his face and figure, still runs eagerly toward the goal bearing high above him his tattered and bloodstained banner. "But this one thing I do ‑forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me with my eyes fixed on the goal I push on to secure the prize of God's heavenward call in Christ Jesus," this was their inspiration.
Mrs. E. V. Hipple says one of her earliest recollections is being carried to church and Sunday School where her father George Smythe, conducted the morning service, the expenses of the church being for the most part kept up by Mr. Smythe and judge Potter. At this same time Colonel W. L. Withers along with Dr. Jas. Sizer, H. E. Sizer and Henry Musgrove, then State Auditor, were our leading members. Of course many preachers visited here and the State Convention which was called the State Missionary Convention, always met in Jackson.
In 1869 William McCabe, a great singer, visited the church and the memory of his sweet voice and lovely solos can never be forgotten. This was during the early youth of Ida Withers, now Mrs. Harrison, and she later became our chief soloist, developing into a lovely Christian woman who is now prominent in the missionary work of our brotherhood. When Colonel Withers, his wife and their family of nine children moved to Kentucky, the Jackson church suffered a great loss.
In 1876 Knowles Shaw, a man nationally known, held a meeting for us and although the membership numbered but a handful, they were active workers and the preacher presented such a convicting message that thirty additions resulted. Knowles Shaw was a wonderful preacher and a charming singer whose influence was a lasting benefit to us. Some few years later, he was killed in a railroad wreck.
In 1885 Sam Jones held a meeting in Jackson. Our church at that time had no resident pastor so Bishop Galloway was asked to receive any who might desire to unite with us. At the close of the meeting he approached one of the members saying: "I have caught a big fish for you." The big fish proved to be our beloved brother Capt. W. W. Stone. He had been separated from the church for years but wished to renew his allegiance to it, and we can testify to his ardent support and faithfulness since that time. It was during these years, too, that Mrs. V. H. Kirk, land kept up the Sunday School, many times with no one in attendance except herself and little son. She and Brother Stone almost unassisted paid the preacher, who came twice a month and kept up the other expenses of the Church.
A later group, consisting in part of Ben H. Wells, Frank B. Neal, S. P. Barton, John Gillentine, Hillery M. Quinn and W. A. Sessions are deserving of special mention. During troublous times and under adverse conditions, these men gave service and financial support, giving service at all times and in all ways, some of them not only giving money – “until it hurt" but until insolvency and dependence threatened.
For years Brother Arthur W. Smythe served as faithful and efficient Secretary of the Board, his term of office being ended in 1912. He was succeeded by Brother Ernest Smith and he in turn by J. D. Clements in 1921. No more faithful member ever lived than Arthur Smythe. For a long time, in addition to his duties as Secretary, he acted as sexton, janitor, and leader of the prayer meeting. He looked after the lights, made the fires, and did whatever his hand found to do, and all without price. Through years of discouragement, he fought on, seeing little fruit from the labors put forth. Of such men as Arthur Smythe the poet wrote:
"Made of unpurchasable stuff,
He went the ways when ways were rough.
He, when the traitors had deceived,
Held the long purpose and believed.
He, when the face of God grew dim,
Held through the dark and trusted Him;
Braver soul that fought the mortal way,
And felt that faith could not betray."
Sister Hipple boasts that no church anywhere has a finer set of Elders and Deacons and her opinion is authoritative as she has had fifty‑two years' active experience in the Jackson Church and should be a capable judge. As to what the rest of the member, ship think, watch us stand by them and then speak.
A Catholic Priest once remarked that the devil never yet got in to a church that he did not come in through the choir and thanks be that our choir is composed of such devoted members and such a loving faithful, and self‑sacrificing organist, that the "Old Boy" has been successfully barred. We never tire of hearing the voices of our sweet musicians, we miss their dear faces whenever absent, and half the uplift of the worship would be gone were there no choir. Special mentioning is due Mrs. A. F. Hawkins who for a number of years has served as organist. Her sister, Mrs. Vernon Davis has also rendered invaluable service as Choir director during the same length of time.
Our Sunday School is growing, superintended by' S. M. Meisburg and his Assistant, A. S. Coody, with J. D. Clements as Secretary, men whose hearts and minds are ever in harmony with the great educational program and who love the work. Through this agency will be produced trained leaders to carry forward the Message and hasten the coming of His Kingdom. It is a matter of pride with us that already many young people have been trained to special service through the influences brought around them in our Church Bible School.
The old original church building stood on the corner at the same spot now occupied by the present building. It was a long rectangular, red brick building. It had ten large windows on each side, and two large windows at the North end; and two doors at the South end leading into a lobby. At each end of the lobby was a room for wood and coal. From the lobby on the outside was a small porch with steps leading down to the sidewalk.
The belfry was on the South end of the building, and the bell rung for Sunday School and for Church services. The bell belonging to the church was given to the Confederate Government to be used in making cannon; all churches in town did the same thing with their bells. In the early seventies a tall frame belfry was erected outside the church and a new bell bought and installed. This was used for a number of years, but when the custom of ringing the bell passed away, the bell was sold to one of the colored churches in town.
During the Civil War, at the time Jackson was attacked by the Federal Army, the city was subjected to a bombardment, and a cannon ball struck the North end of the church and knocked a large hole in the wall and did considerable damage inside. The damage was repaired, but the patch on the brick wall was always noticeable.
About 1885 a Mr. Douthitt came to Jackson from Pennsylvania, and is said to have given the church $5,000‑00 to be used in making repairs. As a result of this gift, the building was overhauled, and put in good order; the coal oil lamps were supplanted by gaslights, and other changes of a minor nature were made.
The oldest member of our church is Mrs. S. E. Terrett, whose name has been on the roll since 1860. Also Mrs. Fannie P. Thompson since 1870, and Dr. D. M. Potter, who joined about the same time.
The writer hails from the Western Reserve in Ohio, the home of the Mahoning Association which was the first organized body of the Restoration Movement, and my mother, who was a Presbyterian by training and a Methodist by profession, was inclined to look upon the "Campbellites" as hardly within the pale of respectability. Nor was her attitude that of an isolated individual during the years from 1856 to 1874. If, then, there was so intolerant a spirit in a community where whole churches transferred themselves bodily to the new Movement, what courage it must have required to uphold and preach the new‑old Truth, and what consecration and sacrifice were demanded to work continually and faithfully where believers were few, opportunities for inspiration fewer still, and opposition and prejudice so much wider spread!
It was the pleasure of George A. Smythe to purchase and present to the church the first communion set. This was of solid silver and consisted of two plates and two goblets for which he paid $75. It would require many times that amount in this day to represent a like value. His wife was organist and choir leader up to the time of her death. His son, Arthur Smythe, was for a number of years the faithful Clerk of the Church. One daughter, Mrs. Carpenter, succeeded her mother as organist and with characteristic determination, bought an organ which she placed in her home so that with no expense to the church, choir practice might be held every Friday night, nor was she content with preparation only but insisted vigorously on the performance. The only remaining daughter is our beloved Mrs. Ella V. Hipple, Assistant Pastor, invaluable to all of us, "instant in season and out of season, and always abounding in all good works," blessed and blessing, having come up out of great tribulations to stand on the highest plane of her generation.
To this history of the Jackson church, gotten up for the 90th anniversary celebration, Mrs. Ella V. Hipple has appended the following, which is self explanatory:
One of the outstanding ministers who have come to Mississippi is M. F. Harmon, who is now retiring from the ministry and is living in Aberdeen.
He came to the Jackson church from Bowling Green, Ky., in 1891, bringing with him a young and charming wife, who was before her marriage, Miss Hatty Wooten, and together, they gave to the Jackson church one of its happiest and most prosperous pastorates.
The congregation at that time was small, and was not well known in the state and even in Jackson, except by a few loyal friends. There were some consecrated, devoted members who gave every possible assistance. Soon after he began his pastorate he became ambitious for a new church building and by his enthusiasm and earnest efforts, others became interested. By his interest in civic affairs and in all churches in the city, he became very popular with the public and many donations of money for the new building came from friends outside the church and from members of other churches who saw his fine work and believed in him.
His salary was small and it was necessary for him to supplement this by outside work, and he was always interested in the printing business, so by having a printing business and coming in contact with the business world, he became well known in the city and gained innumerable friends in this way. No preacher who has ever ministered to the Jackson church has been more beloved, or had more friends in the state as a whole, then he and his good wife.
He it was who first conceived the idea of a "state paper" and for many years, through great trials, and under trying circum, stances, he published the "Messenger" and it was due to this paper and its circulation through the state, that kept the Christian church. In Mississippi in touch with the churches at large and kept before them the work all over the state.
I believe the churches of Mississippi owe a great debt of gratitude to him and his faithful wife, for many years of unselfish, faithful, service for the Lord. He held two pastorates in Jackson, first from 1891 to 1896. The second, from January, 1904 to December 1905.
Those Who Have Served As Ministers of First Christian Church Jackson, Mississippi
________IS ??? to 1851, Gen. William Clark.
1851 to 1854, Elisha Pinkerton.
1854 to 1855, Elder Snow.
1855 to 1861, T. W. Caskey.
1867 to 1880, George A. Smythe preached in the morning and judge George L. Potter in the evening, both giving their services free.
1885 to 1889, R. A. Bishop preached twice a month. 1889 to 1890, R. B. Mayes preached part time.
1891 to 1896, M. F. Harmon.
1896 to 1898, Walter A. Neal. 1898 to 1899, J. E. Riley.
1900 to 1903, Walter White, a Bro. Mobley and Bro. Willis served for a short time each.
1904 to 1905, M. F. Harmon, Second pastorate. 1905 to 1906, Jas. T. Lawson. 1906 to 1907, W. W. Phares. 1907 to 1908, George L. Chaplain.
1909 to 1915, E. L. Edmonds. 1915 to 1921, L. E. Lakin. 1921 to 1924, W. G. Eldred. 1924 to (?) , James Faulconer.
The above is as accurate as the editor can recall from memory. There was a time between my first and second pastorate, 1896 and 1904, that the beloved Manire and one or two other men held short pastorates. But the above is pretty correct from 1891 down to date.
BRYAN MEMORIAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
ON A LORD'S day morning in the month of November in the year 1913, a little band of disciples gathered in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Bryan, then residing on Cherry Street, for the purpose of organizing a Bible School and preparing the way for the establishment of a church after the New Testament ideal. Besides Mr. and Mrs. Bryan and their three children, there was present R. A. Hovious, a retired minister, the father of W. R. and John Hovious and Mrs. E. C. Brumitt all of whom have been faithful members of the congregation for many years. There were also present Mrs. E. T. Heard and daughter, Mrs, E. W. Buchanan. Then there was Mrs. W. F. Motte, who was a visitor in the Bryan home at the time. She was the wife of Minister W. F. Motte who had served the church at Tupelo, Mississippi, when the Bryans resided there.
From this small beginning just a few brief years ago has grown the present live and growing congregation of more than two hundred souls. Others came to join the little group in the worship of God in the Bryan home. Early in 1914 the meetings were transferred to the K. P. Hall and there the church was established. J. B. Lehman, Superintendent of Southern Christian Institute, at Edwards, became the first minister, preaching on alternate Sundays, serving the church for more than four years without salary.
The first church home was erected in 1916 on Locust Street, just north of Grove. It was a substantial structure of concrete blocks and is now used as a Bible School annex and the meeting place for various church societies. At the time of its erection this building was ample for all the needs of the congregation. But the building of 1916 was very soon outgrown and the need for a more commodious structure became imperative. This need found expression in 1916 in the erection of the present 50x8O auditorium, adjoining the original Locust Street structure and facing Grove Street. It is of concrete foundation and floor, the superstructure being of concrete blocks. When fully completed and furnished it will answer very well all the needs of the congregation for some time to come.
The first resident minister of the church was H. R. Allegood, who served from November, 1920, to September, 1921. There followed an interim of about one year when the church had no regular minister. J. E. Franklin served for one year, from September, 1922, to October, 1923. D. D. Dugan's term of service extended from February 1, 1924 to September 1, 1925. R. S. Thompson served from September, 1925, to September, 1927. The present minister began service with the church November 1, 1927.
It will be noted that the tenure of service has in every case been brief, only one minister having served for as long a period as two years. At least two of these men were students in college for a part of the time they were serving the church, visiting the church only ‑for the Lord's Day preaching services. Others had other work in connection with their ministerial duties, always a poor arrangement. Probably no one of these thought of his ministry with the church as being anything but a temporary tenure. When these facts are considered, the growth and development of the work becomes a source of wonder, and the building operations that have been carried out to a successful conclusion appear as almost a miraculous accomplishment. It is remarkable that the work did not languish and fall instead of going forward. What is the answer? From the first the church has had an inner circle of heroic souls, men and women possessed of the martyr spirit. Whole‑heartedly and with Christ‑like unselfishness they have given themselves to the service of Christ and the church. Their number has increased with the passage of years and is now being augmented through the activities of as fine a body of young people as ever graced any church. May God abundantly bless these earnest and faithful souls who have always stood true to Christ and the church. They belong in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews.
R. A. Hovious was an able preacher of the Word, a Kentuckian and a product of Transylvania University. J. R. Bryan was a Christian business man who gave himself without reserve to the service of his Lord. These men were the first and only elders of the church for five years. This office has since been filled by the following named brethren: W. M. Robertson, W. C. Ferguson, E. C. Davis, D. H. Starnes, B. F. Schultz, W. R. Hovious, R. S. Tandy, E. C. Brumitt, J. W. Moss and R. M. Edwards.
The following have served the church as deacons: A. E. Lanning, B. F. Schultz, F. N. Penley, G. N. Harper, J. E. Rominger, E. W. Buchanan, John Base, W. R. Hovious, W. E. Smith, Thomas Farris, E. B. Henderson, J. D. Miller, E. C. Brumitt, F. C. Stone, John Hovious‑ C. W. Hanna, R. L. Allen, Otto Hearn, R. M. Edwards, F. H. Penley, S. L. Blass, R. W. Young, R. H. Findley, T. J. Findley, R. F. Fultz, P. H. Rominger.
The church has had but six trustees. The first board being composed of J. R. Bryan, A. E. Lanning and B. F. Schultz. J. E. Rominger, W. R. Hovious and Mrs. J. R. Bryan are the present board.
J. R. Bryan, J. E. Rominger and A. E. Lanning were the building committee for the first church structure erected in 1916. Of the original charter members who helped to found the church, eight are here as useful members of the congregation: S. L. Bliss, Mrs. J. R. Bryan, Mrs. E. W. Buchanan, Mrs. E. T. Heard, Mrs. J. E. Hearn, Mrs. Ada B. O'Kelly and Miss Crystal O'Kelly.
A BRIGHT PROSPECT
The Bryan Memorial Christian Church has made great progress during the short period of its history. It is now scarcely out of its swaddling clothes. With faith and courage and filled with hope it faces a prospect that is bright and filled with promise for the future. Wisdom prompted its location in a part of the city not already over churched. We have never been made to feel that we were in competition with any other body of Christians.
The membership is made up almost entirely of people who labor with their hands for a livelihood. From the first the church has been known as "a poor man's church." That fact should not be discouraging. When Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth and entered into the synagogue on the Sabbath, there was given him the book of the prophet Isaiah to read. We are told that he opened the book and found the place where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor." He applied this prophecy to himself, saying, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” When John the Baptist had been cast into prison he sent messengers to Jesus, asking, "Art thou be that should come or do we look for another?" In his reply Jesus enumerated the great things, which were being done, ending with this, "And the poor have the gospel preached unto them."
It is the pride and glory of this congregation that it is "a poor man's church." Such it is and such it will ever remain. It craves no higher encomium. The rich and well‑to‑do may come and find a welcome here, a spiritual home and a place of service. They will find here a friendly atmosphere and a delightful fellowship. But we never wish to see the time come when the lowliest and humblest of God's poor will feel embarrassment in God's house here because of their poverty. We accept the compliment. This is "a poor man's church."
The Bryan Memorial Christian Church from its first humble beginning has stood true to the position and plea of the Disciples of Christ. Stated in the fewest possible words that position is No creed but Christ; no name but that of Christ; no rule of faith and practice but the teachings of Christ." We never have and we never shall apologize for this position. We stand unequivocally and uncompromisingly for the restoration of primitive Christianity in doctrine, ordinances and life. But we know there are good, honest, earnest, sincere and devoted Christians in other communities. We see no reason why we should wage war against them. We stand for "preaching the truth in love" for keeping the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Our platform is as broad as the gospel of Jesus Christ and its foundation as deep as the love of God for men. Upon this platform, this plea, this position we know all Christians should stand. If you can come with us on Christ, and on Christ alone, we shall be glad to have you in our fellowship in the service of our common Lord and for the realization of His prayer‑"that they all may be one."
NETTLETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Dr. M. M. Davis was the first to build a residence and business in Nettleton, when he moved from Eureka, which is three miles East. I shall give the history of this church as taken from the history of the town. The Christian Church was the first church built in Nettleton, and was completed in the spring of 1889, Dr. M. M. Davis taking the lead in financing it. The membership was very small at first, a few from the rural district placing their membership here. Prominent among the early membership were the families of Dr. Davis, judge Duncan, Rev. T. A. J. Wade, Banks, Ussery, Wilson, and Mr. Evains, of Shannon, who donated liberally. Later Gentry and J. D. Bryan.
Pastors who have served the congregation from time to time are the following: Crum, Armor, Patterson, Reynolds, Coleson, Marshall, Sr., and Jr., Broome, Fisher, Cunningham, Harrell, Hutcherson, Ferguson and Lucas.
The first Sunday in each month has been the regular preaching day since the beginning of our organization. The first and only Sunday School in town was held in this church for some time. A Sunday School and communion service have been maintained to the present time. The Church Extension Board helped in our building program at first, as Dr. Davis who was the leading financial help of the church had reverses in his business, was not able to pay the indebtedness off. When Mr. J. D. Bryan who married Miss Eva Buchanan, the only member of her family being a member of the Christian Church, moved to Nettleton, he was a member of the Methodist Church. He came into the membership of our Church shortly before our father's death, and was instrumental in removing the indebtedness to Church Extension. The church is practically maintained by two families.
EUREKA CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Eureka Church was erected around 1870 as a non‑denominational place of worship, but later on when a preacher by the name of Ellett held a revival, Dr. Davis and one or two other families became members of the Christian Church, and from that day on, Eureka has been a Christian Church. In the early days some great preachers held revivals here, viz., Knowles Shaw, Bro. Stewart, Snyder and Inman, and great numbers of folks from Aberdeen and old Cotton Gin Port would attend. But the work did not go forward without opposition. It is said that a certain man of the community who was asked why he did not, attend the services at Eureka replied that he had as soon be seen in hell as to attend that "Campbellite Church." He relented in his opinion however, before his death. B. F. Manire who lived at Saltillo and preached for the church there and taught school, preached once a month for several years at Eureka. Most of the preachers of the Christian church in those days were known as "Fighting Campbellites," but Manire by his sweet spirit and gentle manners won a place in the hearts of all the people. There has been only infrequent preaching in Eureka for the last few years, and this generally by the pastor of the Amory Church, who usually preaches for Nettleton once a month. This information is furnished by Miss Bet Davis, who also supplied the Nettleton history.
THE GREENVILLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In the year 1887 there were some two or three of that religious body known as Disciples of Christ in the town of Greenville. Mrs. Chas. Starling and her sister, Miss Lennie Johnson, also Mrs. Galloway, of Wayside, Miss., who attended service here, the occasional visits of Capt. W. W. Stone, then of Jack, son, Miss., for a period of years preceding his removal to Greenville. It was a source of pleasure when he came with his family to make his home in Greenville in the year of 1896.
In 1887 Greenville was a small town on the bank of the Mississippi, uninviting and constantly in danger of being washed away. There was no church of our faith in this part of the country. These few disciples, like those of Jerusalem who fled after the stoning of Stephen, comprehended their mission, and finally decided to build a house of worship. The suggestion was taken as a jest by some of the people of the town, and one liberal donor offered to invest a nickel in the undertaking. The nickel was received in a solemn way and the work was begun. It may be said that not all the gifts were offered in the spirit of the foregoing. The first gift was for $100.00, and was made by Mrs. Sophie Campbell, mother of our esteemed Mrs. Pilcher and her sisters, all of whom are well known in and around Greenville. Mrs. Campbell was a grand daughter of the noted scholar, Christian gentleman and able pioneer preacher, John T. Johnson, of Georgetown, Kentucky.
In 1889 an upper room in an old store was rented, and James Sharp, who was State Evangelist held a short meeting. There were no additions at this time, but the determination of these two or three disciples, with their success in raising funds for their cherished undertaking, brought out the prophecy that some day there would be a "Campbellite Church" in Greenville. At that time the Disciples were known as "Campbellites".
In 1891, John A. Stevens, the State Evangelist of the Christian Church in Mississippi, bought the State Tent, and with Evangelist Everman as singer, held a four weeks meeting. The result of this meeting was two additions and the organization of a congregation. A Sunday school was organized and the entire membership now numbering FIVE souls, met regularly to study the Word of God and to break bread. The meetings were held in private homes, in empty storerooms and in various other places. During all this time no help was received from brethren outside of Greenville and the immediate vicinity. Even the State Board was paid the salary of the State Evangelist while he was here at work.
In 1894 John M. Talley was called to minister to the little band and served from September till December of that year, preaching twice a month. During his ministry a lot was bought and a little building was erected which would seat about 100 people. Right here the editor of this book inserts the following: "Immediately upon the completion of this small building, I was called from Jackson, where I was located as Pastor of the Jackson church, to hold a few days revival. I stayed in the home of Sister Starling, and as best my memory serves me, I think I baptized one or two of her children. I was also editor of the Messenger, the State paper, and as I have lost in my travels over the South the issues of that paper for 1894, cannot speak with accuracy upon that point. But I do remember well that at that time the little church was credited for its existence to our dear Sister Starling who worked in season and out of season, selling pies and other commodities on public days in the town, in order to make the building possible. It was frequently said that that church was built out of ??? "pies". Soon after my short meeting Bro. Stephens made a visit to the town to hold a few days meeting, and he was met at the depot by Sister Starling's boy, who was then not in his teens even, but he was very enthusiastic over the little church, and his first word to Bro. Stevens was: "Bro. Stevens, the church is completed and you just ought to see it; I tell you she is a Huckleberry."
From 1804 to 1901 the battle with poverty and misfortune continued. During this period some good and useful men labored here both in evangelistic work and as settled pastors. On the other hand there were some who constituted a burden that was worse than poverty. They came from NOBODY KNOWS WHERE, and they went away to the same unknown country. The young shepherdless flock was easily imposed upon by such men. The difficulty in securing ministers made such a state of affairs possible.
In 1901, J. A. Bennett was secured for a meeting. The Washington County courthouse was used for these meetings the most of the time, as the little church was too small to accommodate the people. A three weeks meeting resulted in 13 additions. The membership now numbered about 25 or 30, and the life inspired by this success resulted in the calling of George D. Weaver of Canada for full time. Another lot was purchased and a parsonage was ready for him and his family, shortly after his arrival. The work continued to grow under his wise leadership. Greenville became a more inviting place and many disciples were among the people who began to settle here. The church soon became too small for the regular services and plans were set on foot during the first years of this ministry to erect a modem building large enough for any demand that might be made upon it. The outgrowth of this plan is the present church building, which was erected in 1903 at a cost of $7,000.00. The Church Extension Board loaned $2,500.00 on the property. Other money was borrowed, and the Disciples while in a new building had a debt which was a problem hard to solve. Misfortunes added still to the indebtedness, but difficulties were surmounted, the membership was increased, current expenses were met, and some of the indebtedness paid.
In 1905, Mr. Weaver resigned, after five years of faithful and profitable service. A strong man was needed to steer the ship, but it was not found and much was lost by a period of inactivity.
I In March of 1906, L. E. Lakin, of Lexington, Ky., was called to take up the work. Mr. Lakin was just out of college, but was recommended by the President of Kentucky University as one of the most promising men of his school. Mr. Lakin began his work in July 1906. By his scholarship and his courteous Christian character, he did much to win public confidence and to correct many mistaken views with respect to our belief. However the task was hard. He found a debt aggregating $3,000.00. The lack of a leader and the burden of debts had been very discouraging, but the encouragement, gathered from the fact that a regular minister was coming to take up the work, though personally unknown to the congregation, occasioned the formation of plans to raise a part of the indebtedness which had long been neglected. Upon his arrival the work was prospering. It continued to prosper. Mr. Lakin remained with the work for three years, resigned only on being offered one of the most prominent pulpits in the West, namely, Seattle, Washington. During his ministry most of the indebtedness upon the church was paid.
Following Mr. Lakin, and upon his recommendation, the church called, C. M. Summers, of LaGrange, Ky. Mr. Summers' untiring services won the commendation of all. During his stay we reached the top of the hill, which we call Freedom from Debt. On Thanksgiving Day, November 24th, 1910, in the presence of a large crowd of Disciples and a host of friends assembled at the church, the last Deed of Trust was burned to ashes. And as this deed of Trust was consigned to the flames, our Secretary Treasurer repeated the following: "As it bums to ashes in this sacred place may it fertilize the soil that the trees of the Lord may be trees of righteousness, which shall take root downward and bear fruit upward unto life eternal."
This little church is known far and wide for its heroism. It has been called throughout the land an ideal church in many respects. Heroes and heroines worthy of eternal mention, have been numbered among us. We are justly proud of them. Sister Rabb, of Wayside walked up the levee many times and came to the meetings, although in very moderate circumstances, yet she always brought her contribution of 25 cents. The name of Sister Lennie Johnson, also that of Sister Chas. Starling, who have passed to their reward, are well known to all who lived in Greenville at that time. They are long to be remembered. Any eulogy that I can give would detract from the sublime beauty of their lives. They live‑they are not dead; their works do follow them.
Some of those w ho had formerly been identified with churches of our faith at other places, upon coming to Greenville and finding prospects for a church of their choice so poor, united with the various denominations which were already established. Others were urged to do so, but being unable to consent, have lived and remained to see this happy day.
Mr. Summers resigned the work here during the summer of 1911 on account of ill health. From then the church had various experiences, some times on the mountain top and some times in the valley of despondency. Sometimes preaching and sometimes none, but always met for Bible study to break the bread, until 1914, when Mr. J. E. Jensen was called to take charge of the work and did so. He was a quiet and unassuming Christian gentleman, and by precept and example did quite a lot of good in the church, as well as on the outside.
In November 1917, Mr. Jensen resigned, preaching his last sermon the last Sunday in December 1917. About May 1st, 1919 Wright T. Moore was called as Pastor, and filled the place acceptably till the fall of 1922.
From the fall of 1922 till March 1924 the church was with, out a pastor, when Jno. W. Tyndall, Jr. was called, but remained only a few months. Again the church was without a pastor till the first Sunday in June, 1926 when E. L. Finley, who had gone out from the church to study for the ministry, was called, and he remained with the church till the morning of April 21st., 1927, when the levee gave way and we were washed away, and we were scattered as sheep without a shepherd. When the floodwaters receded, it was a sad plight to behold the church filled with mud and slime; it made one feel like giving up. But not so with our beloved heroine, Mrs. Fred O'Bannon, through whose heroic work conditions were soon restored to normal. And now (July, 1928) the church is moving forward as though nothing ever had happened, under the leadership of our pastor, Mercer P. Ware.
In closing I must not forget our dear Brother, Capt. W. W. Stone, whose willing and liberal hands have, during a number of years in the past, ferried the boat over many rough places. Also Sister C. H. Campbell (now of New York) who moved to Greenville in the early 90's and cast her lot with the little band of faithful Disciples, and by her prayers, time and money was a great help and inspiration in strengthening the determination to succeed by the grace of God.
Many of our heroes and heroines are still living, all of whom you know or know of, but many in the cemetery lie; we love them all. God bless their memory. Their ideas were one. Those who have gone have entered into rest; those who are here have that rest awaiting.
J. WALL WILSON, Elder
ABERDEEN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
On the cornerstone of the new Christian Church in Aberdeen, which was completed and occupied for the first time the first Sunday in November, 1925, is this inscription: Christian Church, 1925, 1890, 1852. Through a mistake that came in somewhere, the parties who furnished that "corner stone," got the middle date wrong, for it should have been 1893. I have two sources from which I calculate, first is that I remember the date of the finishing the church which I found standing when I moved here in 1920, and this memory is corroborated by records in the Messenger, the church paper of the state, which I have in bound volumes from 1891 to 1897. M. H. Armor was the pastor of the church at that time and continued to be for some eight or ten years.
It is regretted that there are no old records of this congregation, they having been destroyed by a fire. But from the oldest members now living, we get the following facts:
The lot on which the present new building now stands, and which is the same lot on which all three of the buildings have stood, was donated by John A. Walker, who was a convert of Alexander Campbell, when Bro. Campbell made one of his trips to old Palo Alto church, in the early fifties. Afterwards Bro. Walker moved to Aberdeen and was one of the leaders of the movement here, and he gave the lot which has been used for church purposes since 1852. The three houses that have stood on this corner have all been brick buildings. The first one was built in 1852, and was torn down in 1890, during the pastorate of John Friend, who preached for the church here and at Columbus at the same time, half time each, for about two years. The second building was erected under the ministry of M. H. Armor in 1893, who served the church for something like 8 years. The present building was erected in 1925, during the 8-year ministry of M. F. Harmon, who preached for the church from November 1, 1920 till October 31, 1928. See insert for picture of this building in another part of this book. One of the leading families of this church just prior to the Civil War, during the war and for years following was the Orvil C. Bumpas family. Bro. Bumpas was a lawyer and very devoted to the church, and was one of the best educated men in the city, holding three diplomas. Unfortunately this good man went to his eternal reward in early manhood, depriving the church of one of its leading followers. His family have been devoted members through all the years. Another family of prominence and influence in the church and community was the French family, whose home was the preacher's stopping place, and the French money went a long way toward supporting the cause here. Bro. French was a banker.
About as far back as I can go in ascertaining the ministerial leadership of the Aberdeen congregation, is in 1878, when Homer T. Wilson, a young man from Nelson County, Ky., who had not long been in the ministry, was called to this congregation, and was pastor here a year and a half. During Bro. Wilson's ministry, Knowles Shaw, the great evangelist was with Bro. Wilson in a meeting here, after which Shaw went to Texas for a revival and was killed in a railroad accident before beginning that meeting. Bro. Wilson went from Aberdeen to Winchester, Ky. Mrs. T. T. Davenport, who is now an honored member of this congregation, is a sister of Homer T. Wilson, and came to Aberdeen with her brother when she was a mere girl. She afterwards married here and has lived here ever since. Bro. Wilson married a Noxubee County girl.
Some of the ministers who have served the church here since 1890, were John Friend, M. H. Armor, J. H. Stark, (who by the way wrote a book, Mary Ardmore) G. W. Nutter, L. H. Stine, Bob Wilson, A. Rector, E. Linwood Crystal, M. F. Harmon and now (1929) D. H. Matherly. The present membership of this congregation is a little over 200. The growth here has always been slow, but the present outlook for the congregation is better than it has ever been. Through all the past 25 or 30 years, there have been a few families who have stood loyally by the work, through all the discouragements that came to the congregation. I mention the following families: Wicks, Kimmels, McFarlanes, Flynts, Cliftons, Fitts, Crenshaws, Davenport, Husseys, Jones, Jacksons, Johnsons, Maynards, Mitchells, Paynes Rye, Sanders, Watkins, and Wallings. Aberdeen congregation has one of the finest organists in the state, Mrs. H. H. Harper, who has served the congregation for the past fifteen or twenty years, or ever since she was old enough to sit on the organ stool. There are many others in the congregation who have been devoted workers, but for shorter time.
No preacher ever labored for a more kindly congregation than the Aberdeen church, or one that was more considerate of its preacher. Through the generosity of Dr. W. W. Watkins, before his death about 1910, a member of the congregation bequeathed the sum of $10,000 to be known as the "Watkins Fund," to be invested in good bonds, the proceeds of which should go to help pay the preacher for all time to come. At the present time, (1929) this congregation has five octogenarians in it. H. E. Fitts, 85, born in Ohio; T. J. McMahan, 84, born in Illinois, W. M. Brown, 84, born in London, England; Mrs. Laura Loyd, 83, born in Mississippi, and N. W. Hatch, 81, born in Mississippi. Capt. Fitts is our Senior Elder, and one of God's choice men. He came to the South just after the Civil War, and after living in Tennessee for a short time he came to Aberdeen and has lived here ever since. He had one daughter, who now lives in California, hut who during her young womanhood was the very acceptable organist of the congregation for years. The association with these good people is always a hallowed spot in the life of any preacher who has ever served the church.
M. F. HARMON
TUPELO CHRISTIAN CHURCH
(Note: This history is given from the memory of the older members of the organization. In some points it may not coincide with the recollection of some of its readers. In the main, after comparison with the various recollections of the members, we are led to the belief of its accuracy.)
IN THE latter part of the years of 1880's or the earlier part of the 1890's our ministers, more especially Bro. M. H. Armour, occupied the pulpits of the Baptist and Presbyterian Church buildings through courtesy of the members of these organizations, during such times as the above churches did not have regular preaching service. There was no organized congregation of believers in Tupelo known as simply Christians, though there were several members of the Christian Church who were active in the other congregations of the town. During this period, the town was blessed in having Bro. John A. Stevens come and hold a meeting. Under his leadership and the influence of his preaching the First Christian Church of Tupelo had its birth. In this meeting many of the present older members of the Church came in and though the congregation was small, a beginning was made and an organization was perfected. Bro. and Sister D. F. Gentry, who are yet active and valued as well as faithful and regular attendants of the Church came in at this time. Mrs. Gentry was the organist. Plans were made to purchase the old Methodist Church building, which stood where Mrs. M. A. Kincannon's home now stands, on North Church Street, first door north of Mr. F. L. Kincannon's home. This was a one story frame building with main auditorium, seating about 200 people, and two Sunday School rooms. The building was substantially constructed, neat in appearance, and in good repair; neatly painted, carpeted, and furnished comfortably. Mr. Carroll Mitchner, husband of our own faithful Mrs. Mittie Belle Mitchner, was one of the first officers of the new organization; he giving of his valuable time and means to the cause until his untimely death. Dr. Hoyle, father‑in‑law of Mrs. Victoria Hoyle, was another of the first officers.
The Church being established, Sunday School was organized. Capt. P. M. Savery, who for years had been worshipping with good Baptist people, came in with his brethren and took an active part in the Church School. Too much cannot be said of the faithfulness of this old soul in the struggling history of the little Church. Old, feeble, hair white, yet he was ever there to meet those who clung to the belief similar to his.
After a struggle of about ten years, the organization began to show some growth. The Misses Kimzey, the Long families (George and T. D.), Mr. Guy Mitchell, judge J. Q. Robins, the Dabbs families, and several other families moved in and played a part in its history. With this added strength, the Church being served by Brother Armour and other ministers for part time, and meetings held each year by such men as Brother Hardeman and others, the time seemed ripe for a regular resident pastor, so the Church made up for lost time and opportunity, by calling two ministers in the persons of Bro. T. K. Marshall and his son, Charles K. Marshall.
Growth came slowly but surely. The Church was fortunate in having come into its congregation, about this time, W. J. Hawks and family. I mention them, for Mr. Hawks' entry into the congregation marks a new epoch in the life of the Church. The Presbyterian churches of Tupelo united and left one of their buildings vacant. It was a splendid brick building on Church Street, nearer the center of town. Mr. J. R. Dabbs, who was very active as Elder and Superintendent of the Sunday School, Mr. Hawks, and Dr. Hoyle got busy, raised the money, purchased the building, and paid for it in cash. We are now worshipping in this building. The Trustees were J. R. Dabbs, W. J. Hawks and the late judge J. Q. Robins.
Moving into the new building, new life was immediately injected in the program, and the services showed marked improvement in numbers present. This took place about 1910. The Church called Bro. A. P. Hodges to the ministry. Bro. Hodges was an Englishman by birth, coming to this country for the purpose of attending Johnson Bible College.
Then came Mr. Richard Bryan into the Church, and with renewed enthusiasm, inspired by his active interest in the work, and the combined efforts of the officers of the Church and ??? ally known as the Calvary Baptist Church, which was located on Twentieth Ave. and Ninth Street. This first meeting' organized with only 17 members, of which only five are living to day and are herein named: J. M. McBeath, Mrs. Gertrude Montgomery, Mrs. C. C. MIller, Sr., and Mr. and Mrs. B. H. Grimes. The first meeting was called for the first Lord's day in April, 1894, when Samuel P. Benbrooke conducted the services. From that date the church enjoyed occasional preaching by M. F. Harmon, who was then minister of the Congregation at Jackson. Under his ministry S. K. Cozine, and B. H. Grames were chosen as Elders and J. M. McBeath, G. W. Howell, John Boswell, and R. 0. Smith as Deacons. The first minister called to be the located pastor was S. M. Bernard, now State Secretary for the Christian Churches of Southern California. Following his successful ministry others have been called from time to time and although perhaps not listed in the order of service are named as follows: Ira M. Boswell, now of Georgetown, Ky., W. M. Baker, now of McLemore Avenue Church, Memphis, Tenn., Richard W. Wallace, now of Valdosta, Ga., E. J. Willis, now of Athens, Ala., D. W. Miller, now of New Orleans, under whose ministry the new edifice was constructed, and our present minister, David H. Griffin.
Much impetus was given the work by the succession of meetings held by the following Evangelists: John A. Stephens, Newton Briney, John L. Brandt, R. H. Crossfield, W. W. Phares, Graham Frank and 0. P. Spiegel.
Within a few years after the congregation had organized they bought the Y. M. C. A. property and occupied it up until they moved into their new building located at 23rd Avenue and 13th Street. The present building is built of native stone and is the most beautiful Church building in the City of Meridian. It is modern and most complete in all its appointments and much thanks is due Mr. Wicks our Brotherhood's Architect, operating under the U. C. M. S.
The mark of noble Christian character has been left upon the life of the Church by some outstanding men and women connected with the organization in its earlier stages and who have now gone home to their reward. Among the number whose lives stand out in service and devotion are: S. K. Cozine, Mrs. Phares, Mrs. C. W. Robinson, Alexander George, John Boswell, R. 0. Smith, and Hillrie M. Quinn.
David H. Griffin, late of Melbourne, Australia, has recently been called to the ministry here and is doing a most effective work. Many have been added to our numbers in his short ministry as well as the membership organized for more effective service. The Bible School is responding in an unprecedented manner to his leadership. We look forward to a wonderful growth under his ministry which we hope will be of long duration.
B. H. GRIMES
CHRISTIAN CHAPEL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The first Christian preacher to preach in Copiah County was Bro. William H. Stewart. He preached there in 1870 or 1871 under a brush arbor, about two miles east of the present location of the building.
The church organization was effected in 1872. At that time the congregation consisted of Kendrick Stanley, Branch Foster, J. F. Anderson, William and Henry Crews, Jefferson Bankston, Monroe Hughes and Raleigh Williams with their families besides a scattering membership. Bro Stewart was pastor for several years. He moved from Utica, Hinds County and lived there until he moved to Texas. Bro. Stewart was succeeded by Bro. R. A. Bishop. The church had yearly revivals with such ministers as Morgan Maley, George and Ally Terrell and Jonathan Stanley.
After the Brush Arbor meetings, a school and church house was built in 1872. The school and church occupied the same building but the church was given the preference. Monthly services were conducted most of the time with such preachers as Bro. Dunning, Bro. Broome, Bro. Gammill, J. M. Talley and Lee Jackson until 1905 when the present building was erected.
Other preachers who have preached at Christian Chapel are G. A. Reynolds, Bro. McCarthy, Bro. Dean, Bro. Jack, J. E. Spiegel, W. K. Clements, Bro. Stout, J. W. Bolton, D. H. Starnes, W. H. Alford, C. C. Thompson, J. N. Faulconer, J. R. Havener and F. K. Dunn.
Among the early members were the following women: Ada Sullivan, Catherine Donohue, Susie Donohue, Lula Thompson, Rose Kitchens, Lula M. Templeton, May Channell and Tamar Hood.
At the present time (1928) J. W. Bolton is the pastor, this being his third pastorate with the church.
DENTVILLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The members of the Dentville Church were formerly members of the church at Christian Chapel. The pastors at Christian Chapel were accustomed to preach in the school house at Dentville because so many of the members lived in that vicinity. Bro. Lee Jackson, G. A. Reynolds, W. H. Alford and J. W. Bolton preached there for years.
Finally State Evangelist, C. C. Thompson held a tent meeting and urged the members to effect a separate organization at Dentville so as to do more effective work. On April 21, 1926, a church was organized with 72 charter members, and a neat building was erected by volunteer labor.
Evangelists C. C. Thompson, J. N. Faulconer, J. R. Havener and F. K. Dunn held meetings for this congregation and Bros. W. H. Alford and J. W. Bolton have been their pastors to date (1928).
The elders of the church are Bros. C. W. Douglas, F. G. Thompson and E. L. Cagle. The deacons are Bros. R. S. Templeton, F. T. Powers, Gordon Sullivan, Loyce Douglas, N. E. Davis and V. B. Davis. Clerk, F. G. Thompson and treasurer, N. E. Davis. An ordination service was held August 9, 1928, in which Bro. Pat Sullivan was ordained to the gospel ministry. State Evangelist F. K. Dunn, Pastor J. W. Bolton and elders F. G. Thompson and C. W. Douglas had charge of the ordination service. This church has a graded Bible School and an active Endeavor society. It also has a splendid Woman's Christian Missionary Society and contributes to the various missionary enterprises of the church.
HICKORY RIDGE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
W. H. Stewart was the first Christian preacher who preached in this community. He went from house to house and broke the ground for the preachers who followed.
The church was organized by R. A. Bishop, October 20, 1884, with twenty‑five members. The following officers were elected at the time of the organization: Elders, R. G. Siddon, T. C. Williams and J. C. Ross. Deacons, T. J. Price, R. J. Williams, W. R. Ewell, J. E. Ross, F. A. Peyton and M. M. Mobley. Clerk, T. B. Williams. Treasurer, J. C. Ross.
The preachers who preached as pastors or evangelists were: W. M. Gammille, F. M. Carthy, J. B. Cole, R. G. Siddon, Milton S. Dunning, P. Vawter, Lee Jackson, D. W. Broome, J. B. Nelson, J. M. Talley, J. W. Bolton, R. E. McCorkle, G. A. Reynolds, C. C. Thompson, Roscoe Thompson and Will Thompson.
The larger part of the membership has moved to the Midway Consolidated School neighborhood and services are being held there part of the time. The membership is about 3 5. J. W. Bolton is the pastor at the present time (1928).
NEW HOPE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Some of the preachers who preached in the New Hope neighborhood in an early day were T. W. Caskey, Homer Wilson, Bro. Malone, Bro. McKinley, R. A. Bishop, and B. F. Manire. The first church erected was known as the Bethel Church and stood two miles east of where the present building stands.
In 1888, under the ministry of Bro. Sharp, the present building was erected. It is a neat frame building and is now furnished with a piano. Among the preachers who have preached there are Bro. Ferguson, Bro. Shultz, H. K. Coleson, J. M. Talley (two pastorates), Bro. Burnett, Geo. A. Moore, J. E. Spiegel, J. W. Bolton (two pastorates) and W. H. Alford. Besides these the following brethren also held meetings for the church. C. C. Thompson, M. H. Armor, E. T. Edmonds, John S. Zeran, Paul Merrill and J. A. Clements, and M. F. Harmon who held two revivals, adding something like 20 members.
Among the older members still living (1928) are H. C. Arant, B. W. Wall, A. J. Scruggs, Mrs. Elizabeth Huggins, Horry S. Buchanan, Mrs. J. A. Steen, A. S. Jones, W. C. Moseley and wife, and Dick Motlow. The church numbers about 130 members and J. W. Bolton is the pastor at the present time. He recently held a meeting with twenty‑one additions.
BASKIN CHAPEL (Pocahontas)
Among the first preachers of the Disciples of Christ to preach in this vicinity were Bros. R. A. Bishop, R. B. Mayes, Yazoo City, B. F. Manire and T. W. Caskey. The first service were held in the old Tinnin School House, five miles from Pocahontas. Later services were held at the Fairplay School House and finally at Pocahontas. Among the early families were the Ben Wells family, the William (Doc) Baskin family, the Mrs. L. B. Neal family, the Al Roberts family, the Pone Roberts family and Mrs. Mary Middleton's family, besides others.
Baskin Chapel was named after Bro. James Baskin, father of Mrs. Mary Middleton. The building was erected and dedicated by Bro. B. F. Manire in 1896. This church building is a neat frame structure and is in the same fence enclosure with the Baptist and Methodist Churches and with the High School buildings. The entire premises are adorned with beautiful shrubbery, in fact the community received the $100 prize offered by the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, in 1928, for the most beautiful school premises in Hinds County. A Delco Light plant lights all these buildings.
At the time of the organization the officers were as follows: elders, E. S. Middleton, Jr., and J. R. Lane; deacons, E. K. Middleton and Jesse Hall (deceased).
Some of the preachers who, have ministered to this church are G. A. Reynolds, Bro. Young, H. K. Coleson, C. C. Thompson, R. F. Tandy, Henry Allen Stovall, Roscoe Thompson, J. R. Havener, J. W. Bolton and M. F. Harmon. Besides the above R. B. Neal, J. E. Spiegel, Ezra jacks, W. W. Phares and D. H. Starnes have held meetings for this congregation.
At the present time (1928) the membership is small, thirteen resident members and one non‑resident member. The church has regular monthly preaching and contributes regularly to home and world missions. It has the name of giving the highest average per member to missions of any church in the state. Its average is $7.83 per member.
GRIFFIN MEMORIAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The members of the Griffin Memorial Christian Church were formerly members of the Utica and Hickory Ridge Christian Churches. As a large number of the members lived in this vicinity the Utica preachers frequently preached in their two schoolhouses, the Duke and Wise. This church is five miles west of Utica. Among the early preachers who preached in this community before the church was organized were William H. Stewart, J. M. Talley, W. H. Alford and J. W. Bolton.
In 1920 Bro. R. E. McCorkle held meetings at Duke, Wise, Utica and Hickory Ridge. In 1921 it was suggested by W. H. Owen, Utica and others that an organization be effected uniting the Duke and Wise communities. This was effected in 1922. The family of E. L. Mobley donated the lot and the community built the church. Ground was broken in 1923.
The building was dedicated in 1926 with Bro. J. N. Faulconer, Jackson preaching the sermon. Bro. W. H. Alford was pastor at the time.
The following preachers and evangelists have preached for the organization: R. E. McCorkle, W. H. Alford, D. W. McElroy, I. E. Adams and J. W. Bolton.
The church is known as the Griffin Memorial Church in honor of Bro. T. M. Griffin who was a leading member in the community. Bro. Griffin was not only a leader in religious affairs but was a member of the legislature for a time.
At the present time (1928), the membership of the church is 141 and J. W. Bolton is the pastor, serving his third term with these people.
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HATTIESBURG CHRISTIAN CHURCH
THE STATE Missionary Board being desirous of arranging a working Church of Christ in Hattiesburg, and Brother Will A. Sessions and wife of Jackson having given Five Hundred Dollars to the, American Christian Missionary Society for that purpose, W. J. Montgomery, a student at Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tenn., employed for the vacation period, was sent to begin the work. (This young man was probably sent during the Summer of 1911). In the years to come the work of this young Brother should not be overlooked. He secured the use of the old Methodist Church building, started a Bible School, held preaching services, and prayer meeting and located the scattered disciples. The work done saved much time when the evangelist came later. This young man returned to the College again in September. At this time the State Board, having employed John S. Zeran as State Evangelist, sent him to establish the work on a permanent basis, agreeing to support the work until January 1st, 1913. He visited the work September 24th, 1911, and preached at each service. He returned October 1st from which time the work is dated. Attendance at the morning service on this date (Sept. 11, 1911) was 14, and at night there were twenty present.
Those found as members of the First Christian Church of Hattiesburg were as follows, Mr. and Mrs. L. L. Major, Mr. F. M. Shepherd, Mrs. J. J. Stienweinder, Mrs. J. E. Rooker, Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Brannon, Mr. and Mrs. C. 0. Ward, Miss Tommie Ward, Mrs. R. F. Harrison. Using these as a nucleus, Evangelist Zeran took hold and went ahead with the work.
The Stewards of the Methodist Church having granted the use of the Old Methodist Church free, the new congregation continued to use it for worship. The following brethren were asked to act as Deacons until an organization could be effected: James Netz, F. W. Funk, E. S. Scott, Dr. R. E. Cunningham. Clerk and Treasurer, James Netz.
A Building and Location Committee consisting of the following men: James Netz, chairman, L. L. Major, F. M. Shepherd, Jack Smith and S. R. Brannon, reported to a Congregational business meeting held on January 7, 1912, that the property then being occupied could be purchased for $4,000.00, upon easy terms. On motion made and seconded the committee was instructed to arrange for the purchase of the property at price named on best terms obtainable.
On January 28, 1912, a permanent organization was effected and the following officers elected: Elders, John S. Zeran, S. R. Brannon, M. C. Vanderford, F. W. Funk. Deacons, James Netz, F. M. Shepherd, E. S. Scott, Jack Smith. Trustees, L. L. Major, as chairman of the Trustees and all the Deacons as members of the Board of Trustees.
Deaconesses, Mrs. F. W. Funk, Mrs. J. E. Rooker and Mrs. J. M. Phillips. At this same business meeting all the steps necessary were taken to buy the old Methodist Church property which the church was then using. (This is the property now being used by the congregation) At this same meeting the name of the congregation was changed to "Central Christian Church." (Which name is still in use). The total membership at this date was 49. Preachers who have served Hattiesburg, and the length of service:
John S. Zeran, Oct. 1, 1911 to August 15, 1912.
R. E. Weare, Sept. 21, 1912 to Jan. 1, 1913.
W. K. Clements, Feb. 1, 1913 to May 31, 1913.
John S. Zeran, Sept. 14, 1913 to Feb. 26, 1915.
Lewis A. Kelley, May 1, 1915 to Feb. 1, 1916.
John M. Talley, Oct. 20, 1916 to Nov. 1, 1920.
L. C. Carawan, March 1, 1921 to Feb. 1, 1925.
Albert Roy Adams, Feb. 1, 1925 to Sept. 30, 1926.
Geo. R. Whipple, Dec. 10, 1926 to present time.
The Church has at the present time (August, 1928) about 335 members. During my ministry so far we have added about one hundred and twenty five people of whom about fifty have been baptized. During the last twelve months, or during the National Fiscal year, June 30, 1927 to July 1, 1928 this Church raised in all about $7,620. Dollars for its church work. During this same period of time we built and paid for a fine addition to the Church and remodeled the whole auditorium and built in a complete new Baptistry, and repaired the whole Church on the outside. This is included in the money raised.
We have just purchased a NEW LOT on the corner of Hardy and Mamie Streets and have voted to make that lot the place for the Building of a new Church home whenever we build. The Lot is costing us $6,200.00. We are now in the middle of the task of raising the initial payment of one thousand dollars. We are busy and happy.
GEO. R. WHIPPLE
NEW ALBANY CHURCH OF CHRIST
A Bit of History
Beginning in 1888 or '89 Bro. M. H. Armor preached occasionally in the Baptist church. Previous to this, Bro. Larimore, of Alabama, held some meetings in New Albany. In 1898 a meeting was held by John A. Stevens. After this the Baptist church house was bought. This building was later destroyed by fire. Before the burning of the building the congregation became inactive.
Bro. Armor reorganized the congregation in February 1921, in the home of Sister J. T. Armor. The following were the charter members: Mrs. J. T. Armor, Mrs. S. M. Boren, Mrs. Bunch, S. H. Carradine, Mrs. Jane Cossitt, C. L. Crum, Mrs. C. L. Crum, Lon Goins, Mrs. A. K. Harmes, J. D. Hopper, Mrs. C. S. Kellum, J. W. Lawrence, and one or two children, Mrs. Frank Lee, Mrs. Ella Leigh, Miss Llewellyn, Mrs. Nannie McCane, Riley McMullins, Mrs. R. McMullins, Mrs. R. McMullins, and one child, Mrs. R. McNeill, Mrs. Maud Norton, R. E. Rowland, W. E. Tapp, Mrs. M. E. Wesley, Mrs. Mable Wesson, C. F. Work and Mrs. C. F. Work.
Bro. Armor was called to be the minister. The congregation met in the Court House until cold weather the following fall, after which they met in the home of Bro. C. F. Work, until March 19, 1922, when they began the use of their new building, at Camp Avenue and Oak St.
Present membership 56. Elders: M. H. Armor and Charles Lee Crum. Deacons: R. E. Rowland, J. F. Lee, L. McAllister, D. L. McDonald. Present pastor, 1929, John E. Grasty.
WATER VALLEY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
According to an old record found in the files of the church, we gather the following: "Church Records of the First Christian Church Of Water Valley, Miss., May 20, 1899. Organized by John A. Stevens, State evangelist, who held a meeting under a tent first in the schoolhouse yard for five weeks, then in the Park where he continued two weeks longer. There were only three members of the Christian Church in town when this meeting began, viz., M. F. Jumper, Mrs. M. F. Jumper and Mrs. Mary Lawson. When the meeting had continued to June 24, there had been 14 others received, and Bro. Jno. A. Stevens called these with the original three together and organized the First Christian Church of Water Valley, Miss. There were received from time to time during this meeting until at the close they numbered 50 members.
Bro. Stevens held another meeting in November, 1899 under the tent in the park which lasted three weeks and resulted in the addition of 48 more members to the church.
On January 28, 1900 the following officers were elected: Elders: M. F. Jumper, J. S. Wilkes and G. A. Harris, A. Y. Wood and A. Anderson. Deacons: R. H. Weaver, C. C. Kirby D. W. McMillan, J. P. White, Geo. N. Gooch, R. M. Wood. J. S. Wilkes was elected clerk and treasurer. This certified to by F. M. McCarty, pastor and J. S. Wilkes, clerk, February 13, A. D. 1901."
There is on record the following deed. "State of Mississippi, County of Yallobusha. In consideration of the sum of three hundred and twenty five dollars ($325.), I convey and warrant to J. P. White, C. C. Kirby and Jessee S. Wikes, Trustees of the Christian Church in Water Valley, Mississippi the following described lot of land, viz: Lots 12 and 13 in block four (4) in the Water Valley Manufacturing Company's Survey of the city of Water Valley, Mississippi, and in the N. W. 1/4 of section 4, Township 11, Range 4 West, all in said city of Water Valley, Yallobusha County, Mississippi To have and to hold unto them and their successors in office for the use and benefit of said Christian Church forever. Signed, 14th day of January, 1901. Mrs. Annie Burch."
Bro. F. M. McCarty seems to have been the first pastor, who served several years very successfully and faithfully, and it was under his leadership that the present church building was erected. Jno. M. Talley, served as pastor for some time after Bro. McCarty's departure. The church met for services prior to going into their church in the K. of P. Hall. The Water Valley revival, the two of them, within six months of each other and lasting for ten weeks, was perhaps the longest revival ever held by the Christian church in the state. The church now has a membership (July 1928) of about 130 members. But like many of our churches in the state, the membership has been largely a transient membership, but many have been brought into the Kingdom there, who have gone out to strengthen the cause in other parts of the country, hence the work was not lost.
There have been quite a number of outstanding men and women who have held membership in this Congregation from first to last. G. A. Harris, at one time sheriff of the county in his day was a strong force in the beginnings of the work in Water Valley. So were the Biles Sisters and Mrs. I. T. Blount and Mrs. Dr. Britt. But possibly one of the most outstanding members of the church in the last decade or so is Bro. W. A. Nolen. The church in Water Valley has never had many moneyed people in its membership, but it has been a liberal and active membership. Other pastors serving this church not mentioned in the foregoing, were: J. E. Spiegel, T. L. Young, B. H. Morris and Walter Thompson.
ROME CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The beginning of the Christian Church in Rome was in 1900 when the sainted Brother G. W. Stillions with his family moved into this community. Meetings were held in private homes and vacant stores for awhile and preachers from Drew and other places would come to Rome on the train, the only means of reaching the place, then, preach a sermon or two and return to their homes. In 1902 a union church house was built and this little chapel was used by our brethren for awhile. The church was further organized December 13, 1905 by J. S. Clements as Evangelist, pastor of church at Clinton, Mo., at that time. Bro. Smart of Lamber, Miss., was secured as pastor of Church with membership of 16.
In spring of 1907, J. S. Clements held the second revival having added to membership 61 making a total of 77 members. Bro. H. K. Coleson was the pastor of church during this time. The Woman's Missionary Society was organized with 10 or 12 members by Mrs. Maud Jacobs Brown of Columbus, Miss. In 1910 Bro. V. R. Smith was called as pastor at which time the first Christian Church building was erected on lot donated by G. W. Stillions.
The following pastors have served since that time: V. R. Smith, M. W. Bottom, T. M. Farmer, T. L. Young, J. S. Clem, ents, D. C. Gordon, R. S Tandy, Glent Wilson and E. H. Broome The following evangelists have held meetings: J. S. Clements, V. R. Smith, John A. Stevens, H. K. Coleson, Brickett and Co., and three revivals by John W. Tyndall.
One of the most outstanding pieces of work ever done by the Church was what was known as the Tutwiler 5 year campaign, in which the churches of Ruleville, Clarksdale, Lambert, Sumner, and Rome unitedly engaged. At the suggestion of Bro. G. W. Stillions there was built at Tutwiler a large tabernacle and meetings were held at this place by the following evangelists and many were added to the churches: Carl H. Barnett, Dallas, Texas, 1922; Charles Reign Scoville, everywhere, 1923 Harry G. Knowles, Little Rock, Ark., 1924; 1. E. Adams (U. C. M. S. Evangelist) Monroe, La., 1925; John W. Tyndall, Atlanta, Ga., 1926. The Church in Rome (1929) and the one in Ruleville are being served by J. W. Bolton.
RIENZI CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The first time the gospel was preached by one who was a "Christian only," was in the fall of 1907, by Bro. J. T. Underwood, who conducted a five days meeting in the Baptist church. Apparently it did no good except to encourage a few Christians who had moved to this town from other congregations. These were E. H. Stubblefield, his good wife and seven children, two daughters who were Christians. They are now Mrs. Earl Perry and Mrs. Jeff D. Furtick, who have families, all of Mrs. Perry's family, a husband, two sons and two daughters are now Christians. But back to the few Christians here at the time of Bro. Underwoods meeting, were also Mrs. W. T. Burnett, (being called the mother of the church, being the oldest in years at that time, yet not aged), her daughter who is now Mrs. R. D. Perry of Columbus, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Parker, Mrs. W. A. Timbs and Mrs. John Gammon, all of these had children who later came into the church, all making faithful workers for the Master and now have families of their own, training them in the way they were taught, which shows the work and influence of this few in numbers, but mighty in spirit. After Bro. Underwoods meeting they began to meet in the homes, taking the Lord's Supper and reading the Bible.
In July 1909, Mrs. Earl Perry, Mrs. W. T. Burnett, Mrs. Ed Parker and Mrs. W. A. Timbs rented a tent from the Baptist Church at Corinth and got W. 0. Wagoner to conduct a ten days meeting; four became Christians, three men and one woman, two of them being Earl M. and R. D. Perry, both from the Methodist Church. They have been a great help in the work here. R. D. Perry is an earnest worker in the church at Columbus. This meeting caused much rejoicing, for these women had labored hard to make this meeting possible. The Stubblefields had moved away for a few years at this time, but moving back later, all are now faithful workers.
Following the tent meeting we began meeting in the school building, having men to help, they felt like pressing on to greater things. A Bible school was organized; R. D. Perry was Superintendent, Mrs. Ed Parker and Mrs. Earl Perry teachers. There were only two classes and twelve enrolled members. Our beloved M. H. Armor came up from Tupelo and preached once a month" and holding ten days meeting each summer, till the year of 1915 and 1916 he secured Bro. E. H. Broome, who was pastor of Corinth church who preached regularly once a month till he entered Y. M. C. Work at the beginning of the World War. May 7th, 1916 Bro. Armor organized a church with Elders and Deacons, for we had grown in numbers. The first Elders were: E. H. Stubblefield, W. M. Clark and R. D. Perry and H. T. Stubblefield.
In May 1916 Earl Perry gave the church a lot to build on, a building was started, an attempt was made to build in October, 1916. Bad weather set in and delayed work, then next year the World War. No one had courage to go on with the work, all materials on hand were sold, and all plans for building for the time were given up. But the church met faithfully in prayer and studying the Word of the Lord and breaking bread, and adding to the building fund.
In 1921 Bro. John M. Talley was sent by the State Board to preach once each month. Through his encouragement the building was again begun in May of this year. It was ready to worship in on July 24th, 1921. On August 7th, 1921, Bro. M. H. Armor visited the church preaching the first sermon in it on "The Word of God." September the 18th, 1921, Bro. Robert Harrell conducted a meeting, adding 13 to the church. There were now 44 enrolled in the Bible school. Since the first meeting in the new church they have had meetings regularly each year, and have had a pastor when they could get one, cooperating with the Baldwyn or Corinth churches. Thirty five have been added to the membership. But on account of death or removal the membership is now, (1928) only 28, with an average attendance of 25. The church has never been in debt, has been a helper in all missionary work. Bro. M. P. Durham, pastor of the Corinth church is now preaching for us on the 5th Sundays. They have Wednesday night prayer meetings which is a union service. Have also a Ladies Missionary Society. They have had a struggle in the work, but are moving on to victory.
TATE COUNTY HAS OLDEST CHURCH IN STATE
NORTH WEST MISSISSIPPI IN 1927, WE clipped the following out of the Commercial Appeal, of Memphis. It was a Special to the paper and we suppose the authenticity of the article is not questioned. "The Old Thyatira Church," as it has always been called, is one of the churches that has held to the old methods of church worship, and belongs to what we call the "Non‑Progressives." From my earliest knowledge of that church, dating back to 1891, it was opposed to organized Mission work though no doubt has done a great deal of good in that part of the State. I know Bro. John A. Stevens, who was State Evangelist of Mississippi from 1891 to 1897 used to tell me about getting letters from Bro. R. W. Locke, who was the elder of that church, in which Bro. Locke would score "organized missions," but would in the same letter send Stevens a check for five or ten dollars for the work in the state. Bro. Stevens in reporting the offerings through the paper, would always add that he wished we had some more men in the state opposed to organized work like Bro. Locke. But here is the above mentioned clipping: Senatobia, Miss., Oct. 29.‑Tate County it is believed can claim the oldest church building in Northwest Mississippi. In 1842, just nine years after the Chickasaw session when North Mississippi was opened for settlement after the Indians were removed to the territory, settlers from Cathey Creek in Tennessee, most of them bearing the name of Cathey, settled in the eastern part of Tate County, then DeSoto, and established the First Christian Church in the State of Mississippi.
These settlers brought with them the name Cathey Creek and today there courses through the northeast part of Tate County a Cathey Creek, named by the settlers from Tennessee. The church was located on Cathey Creek, and named Thyatira. For many years it was the largest rural church in the state. For 88 years this church has been a potent factor in the religious history of Mississippi, and today is numbered among the strongest churches in the state.
COLUMBUS CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In 1849 Eli Abbott donated ground upon which stands the oldest edifice in Columbus; First State Missionary Convention held in it during the Civil War. It was this church which was ministered to by our first great evangelist, Knowles Shaw, when he lost his life in a railroad accident in Texas, when he was on his way to hold a revival. It is the editor's understanding that at one time the State Legislature was held in this church. Alexander Campbell made one or more visits to this church on his Southern Tours. The following items were prepared by Bro. I. R. Havener early this year, 1928.
This brief historical sketch of the First Christian Church of Columbus, is in no way a complete history, the writer having no records at hand to gather data.
In 1840, in the center of the square on the south side of Main street opposite the Gilmer Hotel, there stood a long frame building, erected for a storehouse, but converted into what was called in Columbus at that time "The Theatre," there the Christian Church had its beginning. At that date there were no public halls in Columbus and the Courthouse was small and not seated.
One of the first preachers to visit Columbus of the Christian Church was Tolbert Panning.
Some of its earliest members were: H. S. Bennett and family, Isaac and Ephraim Darter, Mrs. Hardy Stevens, Mrs. L. M. Hatch, 0. H. Millican, William Baker, J. H. Lambert, I. M. Boswell, Green Hill, W. H. D. Carrington, Mrs. Patterson, Dr. M. Estes, Misses Bell, McEwen, Mrs. Frances Benoit, Alex Moore, Jacob Isaacs, Mrs. Covington, Mrs. Sarah Fernandis, Min. Duncan, Mrs. Nat Mitchell, James and William Taylor, Daniel Williams, Mrs. H. P. Goodrich, Mrs. Jane Allen, Geo. Saunders, Mrs. George Stillman, Mrs. Harrison Johnson, Maj. John Gilmer, and Mrs. F. M. Jacobs.
The first elder was Green Hill, the first deacon, Alex Moore.
In 1849 the church was given the ground upon which the present building stands by Eli Abbott.
The church itself is the parents of four great preachers, W. H. D. Carrington, Robert Ussery, M. Estes and I. M. Boswell.
Some of the Pastors and evangelists were: W. H. Muse, J. H. Antis, J. J. Haley, Alexander Campbell, T. Fanning, Dr. Moffett, Jacob Creath, James Edmons, Moses E. Lard, J. B. Briney, P. B. Lawson, Homer Wilson, Robert Graham, Wm. Ussery, J. A. Stevens, James Sharp, B. B. Tyler, Wm. Sewell, A. C. Henry, Junius Wilkins, W. H. Annom, A. Growden, Knowles Shaw. The present minister, Rev. J. R. Havener.
The old church is now 79 years old.
The first state missionary convention of the Christian churches was held in it and during the Civil War it was used by the State Legislature.
The oldest living member of the church is Mrs. E. M. Jacobs."
Since the above was written for a trade issue of the Columbus Dispatch, we have come in possession of some history, written from memory, by Bro. Ira M. Boswell, of Georgetown, Ky., who is a brother of Mrs. F. M. Jacobs, mentioned above. This was written to Mrs. Jacobs, and adds many interesting features not included in the Dispatch write up.
"Among my earliest recollections are those connected with the Christian Church, Columbus, Miss. However, it is difficult for me to establish dates; and, therefore, impossible for me to be sure of the chronology. I recall very distinctly the day Knowles Shaw began his meeting. I met him after the Sunday School was dismissed, as he was coming into the auditorium from the vestibule, through the left band door as you enter. It was the fact that we were looking for him and his rather remarkable appearance that fixed this meeting in my mind. It was a cold day. He was tall, rather ungainly, and had a flowing beard. The thing that most impressed me was the exceedingly long scarf he had wound around his neck. I was not taken to church that night, but left at home with some of the other children, in care of the cook (I think it was the cook). When the folk came home they were covered with snow. It was one of the heaviest snows we ever had in Columbus. I am not sure, but it is my recollection that it was during this cold spell that the Tombigbee was frozen over, and many skated across, just below the bridge at the foot of Main Street. The next day I went to church with my father. The day was so bad and cold there were only two or three men there. Baxter in his life of Shaw says that there were two little boys there. I do not recall the other boy. Dr. Lipscomb in his "Columbus, Mississippi," says that Shaw preached for the Columbus church during 1877‑78. However this was, it seems to me, some time after his meeting. I was eleven years old during the beginning of this ministry, and still recall the enormously high collars worn by John Shaw.
The pulpit was, during my early days, at the front end of the auditorium. It was removed to the rear end and the seats all reversed long before brother Shaw held this meeting. At least, it seems so to me. I recall that grandma Goodrich never got over the change. She seemed to feel that the change was not scriptural. To my boy's eyes the pulpit was a most attractive place. The pulpit was rather wide, and either side there was a pedestal or column of the same height as the pulpit. From these arose tall gas fixtures‑black with gold trimmings. This was after the pulpit was moved; but it seems to me that no change was made in the pulpit other than moving it. I recall going to Sunday school before the change was made. One thing stands out. Some one is teaching us a song for some special occasion. The song is, "Oh, Bear Me Away on Your Snowy Wings." One other thing that stands out in my memory is the union picnics that were held when I was a boy by all the churches at the fair grounds. I do not recall how many were held, nor whether this was before or after Shaw's day (I have to date everything about Shaw) or not; but it was while the fair grounds were still being used for fairs. (I recall the fairs because they were such big things to me. I remember the biscuit contest which was won by some lady because her biscuits were such little ones). The several Sunday schools would form at their church and march to a central place; a line would then be formed, and all would march to the fair grounds. Each Sunday school had a banner. Ours was of white silk, about a yard wide and a yard and a half long. The name of the school was painted on in gold letters, and the banner was bordered with gold fringe. On top of the banner staff was an open book, made of tin and painted white, with Holy Bible painted on it in large gold letters. I thought it the most beautiful thing, and that it indicated the fact that we stood for an open Bible, and for the Bible alone. Perhaps that had something to do with my intense loyalty to the book of all books. On the other hand, it may have, and I think it was to a large degree, the teaching received at home, in the Bible school and from the pulpit of the church where I spent so many happy hours when a boy.
Cousin Mary Smith taught a private school in the church for a time. , I attended this school and was mortally afraid of the old fellow who ran a bottling house in the building which stood where Gen. Monroe built his armory. Some of us beat on his door one day, and he ran out and threw an old key about a foot long at us; and threatened to skin us alive.
In my early days I was janitor of the church for a time. Do not recall how long, but do recall the complaints that were made by some of the sisters, when my broom or dust rag‑sometimes both‑went back on me. The key to the church door was almost too big for my pocket. There were no sash weights and it was a job to raise the windows. The big blinds were no easy task to shut. The two stoves, up near the front, had the most terrible appetite for coal. It was also my duty to have a pitcher of water near the pulpit and a bucket of water out in the vestibule. It was while janitor of the church that I bought my first suit of clothes from Mr. Butler, who was treasurer of the church and ran a clothing store. This is fully described in my book, as is also the prayer meeting which I led.
Brother Shaw lived in the house in which I was born, and in the house across the street from Dr. Maxwell's home, and then in the O'Neal house where the Mahons live now, or were living the last time I was in Columbus. I recall that John Shaw kept the bath tub in the house near Dr. Maxwell's full of lizards. It was when Shaw began his meetings that the organ was first put in the church. It was rather a small affair, but it seems to me that, at a later time, it made a considerable trouble. There was a man named Smith who caused some trouble over the organ or the state missionary society, and he was helped in this by a young man, who attempted to preach. His name was Simmons, I believe, and there was not much to him. It is my opinion that he was not much persimmons. While at Columbus brother Shaw published one or two songbooks. One was called as nearly as I remember, "The Morning Star." I heard him sing "The Feast of Beltshazzar" before it was published. There were a few of us near the organ, all that were in the church, and he sat down and played and sang the song. He told us that it was to be published. He was living at the O'Neal place when he lost his life. I think a good deal of material can be secured from Baxter's Life of Shaw. I do not have a copy, but have read it, many years ago. I advise brother St. John to read it before he writes a history of the church. He should also read "Columbus Mississippi" by Dr. Lipscomb. On pages 110‑112 there is a sketch of the church. However, it is very incomplete. It will suggest things that may be further investigated.
On page 89 of this book there is a statement that Green Hill published a paper called "The Evangelist". Hill was a member of the Christian church. I think he must have built the Green Hill Bridge across the Luxapalia. A Major John Gilmer was one of the first members of the church. On page 73 there is a sketch of Col. John Gilmer. It would be well to investigate in order to determine, whether or not these two Gilmers are one and the same. Col. Gilmer was a man of outstanding parts, and did much for Columbus. If he is the same as the Major, it indicates something as to the timber of the early members of the church. I refer to the law, which he was instrumental in having passed. It indicates that he had a good knowledge of the spirit and teaching of the Bible. Among the names of the first members of the church, according to Dr. Lipscomb, is Mrs. H. P. Goodrich. If this is grandma, it should be, H. B. I. M. Boswell.
My father is named among the first members. I have always understood that his father, James Boswell, settled near Columbus, just across Luxapalia, in 1820, at which time my father was one year old. This would make him about twenty‑one years of age when the church was established in Columbus. It seems to me from the above and what I know of those who now live in Columbus, that my sister, Mrs. F. M. Jacobs, is the only member of the church now living in Columbus, who is a child of one of the first members of the church. Beside her there are the following children living. Thornton Boswell, Memphis, Tenn.; Mrs. J. W. Hale, Memphis, Tenn.; Ira M. Boswell, Georgetown, Ky.; Mrs. T. L. Young, Osceola, Ark. The last two named, one is a preacher and the other the wife of a preacher. All of the grandchildren are members of the church, and most of them of the Christian Church. Most all of the children and grandchildren are active in the work of the church. Two children died, Herbert and John, who were members of the church. This is mentioned to call attention to the effect of the life and teaching of the members of that early church, which was established in Columbus, upon the Bible and the Bible alone; with no creed but Christ, no outside ecclesiastical control whatsoever.
B. B. Tyler held a meeting in Columbus when I was fifteen years old. It lasted about two weeks, and there were only three additions‑myself, Mary Ellen Goodrich and Katie Boswell. We made the confession on Saturday night and were baptized Sunday afternoon in the Baptist baptistery. At that time the Christian church baptistery was the Tombigbee river. The Baptists wished brother Tyler to preach Sunday afternoon in their church and to do so, we had to use their baptistery. My recollection is that I was fifteen years of age, but I may not have been so old.
The list of preachers given by Dr. Lipscomb is not complete and the names are not given in order of their service. I remember hearing Moses E. Lard. It was in his old age, and was a disappointment to me. He did not come up to my expectations, and he leaned on the pulpit during the delivery of his sermon. I also heard F. M. Rains when he spoke in favor of the missionary societies. Among the names should be James Sharp, Gay Waters and M. H‑Armor. Also the name of J. H. Kinnebrew should be there. It seems to me that there was a preacher named Inman, or something like that; and by name, Lee Sadler. He was a lanky looking fellow, but could preach. J. J. Haley is mentioned as one of the preachers. I have often talked with him about Columbus. He remembered my father with a great deal of pleasure. Joe Stevens was one of the best men I knew in the church. He was faithful as long as he lived. Sam Kline was a charter member of the church, and George Saunders is also mentioned as such. If any of their children are living and are still members of the church, they could be counted with Mrs. Jacobs. Sam Kline, was, according to what was told me, turned out of the church for dancing. He promised not to do it again, but they turned him out because he would not say he was sorry he danced. That is the way the story was told me. Uncle Kline was not a member of the church when I was a boy. At least, not since I can remember.
I have a song book published in 1856 by A. Campbell. It was presented to my father by a Mrs. Letcher in 1867. I also have five volumes of (I mean six) Matthew Henry's Exposition of the Bible. They were published in 1828, with the exception of one volume, which was published in '29. These books were the property of Mrs. Sarah Farnandis, who was a charter member of the church. The books are bound in calf and have her name in black and gold on the outside of the front cover. On the inside of the back cover there is an obituary. It is from the "Disciple", a paper which seems to have been published in Columbus. There is no date by which to know when it was publish, ed. It speaks in glowing terms of James Farnandis and records his death, which took place when he was sixty years old, and two months after his baptism. He must have been Sarah Farnandis's husband. I mention this because it is of interest to discover when the "Disciple" was published and by whom. The article was signed by M. E. There was a Dr. M. Estes, who was a charter member of the church. He may have been M. E. I think the books were among those given me by Mrs. Curtis, and must have been given to Dr. Curtis by Mrs. Farnandis."
THE AMORY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
As the village of "Old Cotton Gin" was suddenly reborn into the town of Amory, so with the shifting of the community the "Old Cotton Gin Christian Church" 1889 was moved and name changed to Amory Christian Church. Following this move the first meeting held was conducted by a very able preacher, Elder James Sharp.
The first regular employed minister of the Amory Church was Brother M. H. Armour, who served the church continually for some ten years. For the space of about one year, Brother Wm. Crumb was called as pastor and following his resignation Brother Armour was recalled for a period of two years. Brother Armour was succeeded by Brother McCorkle.
The first Elders to serve the congregation were: J: A. Nabors, J. M. Grizzle and L. Owens.
Brother McCorkle was succeeded by Pastor C. K. Marshall and after one year, he in turn was followed by Brother Slator, whose pastorate was short, yet after one year of a very fruitful labor of love, he returned to Indiana.
The next in succession of our pastors was Brother Broom, who served two years; then Brother Fisher was called and did a commendable work during the period of one year; after which the church for four years was lead by pastor Cunningham, who was an excellent gentleman and splendid preacher.
Brother Robert L. Harral, a fine minister and gentleman, after two years of fruitful labor among us was followed by E, H. Hutchison.
The first edifice was converted into a residence some years ago and is still standing. The second building was erected on the present site about 1896.
We moved into our new building which is the third one built on the present site, in February, 1927. Our auditorium will seat about 400. We have twelve classrooms, parlor, study, library, social room and kitchen.
Our resident membership totals 175. Thirty-three of these have come into the church during my ministry of seventeen months. The congregation has raised about $6,000 annually for the past three years. The Bible School has had a steady growth and our mid‑week services are well attended.
The following brethren have served this church as pastor: M. H. Armour, Wm. Crumb, R. E. McCorkle, C. K. Marshall, W. B. Slater, E. H. Broome, J. Fisher, L. A. Cunningham, R. L. Harrell, E. H. Hutchinson, W. G. Ferguson and Noble Lucas.
THE UTICA CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Church built and dedicated in year of 1854, dedicated by Bro. J. Jones.
The principle contributors to the building of the church were: Daniel Yates, Anderson Mimms, Baldwin Beauchamp, Henry Newsome and Henry Smith.
The first pastor was Bro. J. Jones, who dedicated the church. Rev. R. V. Wall was pastor during the years 1858‑59 and 1860.
Civil War came on and, had no pastor for a period of ten years.
Had preaching occasionally during this period of ten years, by T. W. Caskey of Jackson, Miss.
Church building used during Civil War by Federal Army as hospital, and at latter end of war, Federal soldiers target practiced in it.
During 1866 to 1868 lay idle, as, had no organization.
W. H. Steward of Jennings, La., came to Utica in year of 1868 and began a house to house work and the work of the church was revived. It was through Bro. Steward's influence that four young men: A. P. and G. W. Terrell, Jonathan Stanley and B. H. Ross went to Lexington, Ky., School to study for the ministry, all of whom came back later and held meetings in the church.
Had no regular pastor from 1869 to 1879, not much progress made; had preaching occasionally by visiting ministers. First regular preacher after this lapse of do nothing, Bro. R. A. Bishop, of North Carolina was called in 1879 and remained until 1882.
Following Bro. Bishop came Brother J. W. Vawter, then Geo. B. Hoover.
(Here there is a mistake in this history, caused I suppose by lack of proper records. Bro. Dunning did not come to Mississippi till the first of the year 1891, the same year that I came to the State. Evidently some other man supplied during this time. ‑Editor.)
In about 1883 or 1884 Bro. M. S. Dunning came to the work and remained a year or so. Then came Bro. G. W. Terrell. After Bro. Terrell came Bro. J. B. Cole who stayed here about two years. About 1889 Bro. B. F. Manire came to the work and remained two years. In 1891 Bro. D. W. Broome was called to the work and remained with us about two years, 1891‑1892.
About 1892 Bro. Manire was recalled to work here. Then Brother R. A. Bishop came back for about one year.
Bro. Lee Jackson was called to the work and remained about one year.
After Bro. Lee Jackson, Bro. J. A. Felix came to the work and was here about one year.
In 1897 Bro. F. M. Carthy was called to the work and remained about three or four years. Bro. John M. Talley was called to the work in 1901 and was here 1901‑2‑3 and 1904. Had no regular pastor during 1905‑06.
In 1907 M. F. Harmon was called to the work for one year. In 1908 Bro'. Jno. M. Talley was recalled to the work and was here 1908 and 1909.
There was no preacher in 1910, but in 1911, Bro. J. W. Bolton was called. He preached for three years then went to
Detroit, Texas. After a year's absence, Bro. Walton was recalled to Utica and remained until 1919. In 1920, Bro. W. H. Alford was called and served the church until 1927, when Bro. J. W. Bolton was recalled the second time to take charge of the church.
D. A. OWEN, Elder; M. D. BRAGG, Sec'y Church Board.
WEST POINT CHRISTIAN CHURCH
About 1866 J. A. Stockard, a very devout man and the Collins family, both from Palo Alto organized the Christian Church in West Point. They went into a sort of union church and held their meetings with the Presbyterians. The first building owned by this congregation was bought from the Baptists, who sold them their old church after building a new one. This was used by the congregation for several years, when they bought the Cumberland Presbyterian church on the East side of the railroad. This building was used for a time, when it was traded for a residence on the corner of same block, and then the congregation bought the old Methodist Church near the Courthouse, where they remodeled it and added to it consider, ably and are using this building today.
From Bro. N. B. Patterson, one of the Elders of the church in West Point, and who has lived there for more than forty years, we get the following:‑‑"The congregation is about 67 years old, and has had pastors as follows: J. B. Inman, 3 years, one fourth time, A. G. Freed, I year, one fourth time, R. P. Meek, three years, one half time, N. B. Patterson, one year full time, W. G. Harbin, three years full time, A. P. Finley, 2 years full time, J. L. Greenwell, four years full time, Wynne Stout, one year full time, J. W. McGarvey, one year full time, I. J. Omer, one year full time, C. E. Moore, seven years full time, N. B. Patterson and E. J. Stanley one year as supply, Sam J. White, two years full time, W. T. Young, one year full time, J. Will, Walters, two years full time, W. T. Donaldson, six months supply, and the present pastor, L. E. Sellers who has been with the church for two years. During this time the church has been served by the following evangelists: J. B. Inman, James Sharp W. B. Howe, T. B. Larimore, Morgan Morgans, R. P. Meek and N.B. Patterson, John A. Stevens, M. H. Armor, S. M. Martin, Hugh McCleland, T. L. Cooksie, J. A. Crossfield, I. J. Spencer, I. M. Boswell, C. E. Moore, W. T. Donaldson, E. S. Baker, Will Sheffer, J. T. Brown, Will Tinsley, O. P. Spiegel, J. W. Walters, C. C. Cole, J. W. Caubel, Virgil Wallace, Frank K. Dunn and Roger Fife."
Bro. Patterson who furnished the above information has been preaching, mostly evangelizing in destitute places in Mississippi for over 46 years, his home being in West Point nearly all this time. He has been successful in his work, and has had nine preachers to enter the ministry under his influence, eight white and one colored. He has held 76 revival meetings and was pastor of the Church in Corinth for three years.
From Bro. Patterson we learn that Guntown and Saltillo Churches are about 55 years old, and have always been small congregations, but have held in their membership some choice souls. Evangelists Larimore and Trumbull have held meetings for these congregations, and R. P. Meek was pastor of them for many years.
PALO ALTO CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Dr. J. P. Deanes came to Palo Alto in 1845 and went to Columbus, Miss., and got Dr. D. B. Hill to move there in 1846. Together they organized a small church including the Huff family. They met in an old school building and Dr. Deanes preached for them until they were able to get a preacher.
A few years later the Bennets, McBees, and Johnsons moved in and the real Palo Alto church was organized in 1850. The church grew rapidly. In 1859 Alexander Campbell held a meeting there. By 1890 there were only 3 or 4 families in the entire community who did not belong to the church. About that time there was a very unique debate held between the Baptist and the Christian preachers in which the Baptist preacher proclaimed that he would kill Campbellism, however, the Christians church thrived and the Baptist church was practically ruined.
For other facts about this congregation, see account of the life of T. W. Caskey.
HICKORY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
Hickory is a splendid little town about 25 miles west of Meridian, and our church there had a very small beginning, and was the outgrowth of the efforts of one lone woman, "Grandma Pinkston," as she was familiarly called by every one. Am not certain just as to the exact date of the beginning there. In 1891 there were just four souls that constituted the church then, Grandma Pinkston, her daughter, Mrs. Fred Hannah, a lawyer and his wife, whose names I do not remember. But Grandma was the beginning of the work, and told me often how she was converted. Somehow she got hold of a copy of Ben Franklin's "Sincerity Seeking the Way to Heaven." which converted her to the position of the Disciples of Christ. Her daughter followed her. Fred Hannah, her son‑in‑law was a lumber and saw mill man. Out of love for his mother-in-law he built her a modest little frame church all by himself, but did not come into the church till some years later. I preached in this little church a few times in 1891. Sometime in the early nineties, J. A. Stevens the State Evangelist held a revival there and had quite a number of additions to put with the four original ones. I have heard Bro. Stevens tell this incident connected with this revival. The depot was close to the church, and the depot agent would go out to church every night, and got very interested in the meeting. But about the time the sermon was half over, the train would whistle for the station, and this agent would have to meet the train, but before leaving the church would say: "Go it Bro. Stevens, I believe every word you are preaching." I have never learned whether this man came into the church or not.
Another interesting thing happened in connection with a revival at this church. Bro. N. B. Patterson, mentioned in connection with the West Point Church, held the next revival, and possibly the year following the one in which Bro. Stevens held his meeting. It was during Bro. Patterson's meeting that Fred Hannah made the good confession, and was baptized by Bro. Patterson. As Hannah came up out of the water, he exhibited to Patterson, a New Testament in one hand, which he told Patterson was to be the guide of his life from that day on. In the other hand he had a ten-dollar bill, which he gave to Patterson, telling him that this was for him. For lack of numerical and financial strength the church languished for many years. The church might have had more preaching than it got, if there had been any preaching material available. But the Meridian church early got a good hold, and required all the time of its preacher, and there was not another congregation close enough to divide time of its preacher with them. I am not aware of the present status of this congregation, but I saw in the papers last year (1928) where some evangelist had gone in there and revived the work, and many members were said to have joined and the work put on a good foundation.
GULFPORT CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The work in Gulfport was begun sometime about 1906, the first preaching being done by W. W. Phares while he was state evangelist. The most startling thing connected with this meeting as I remember it was Bro. Phares getting into an argument with one of the preachers of the town over some doctrinal point, whereupon the aforesaid preacher undertook to answer Phares arguments with a 2x4 scantling which happened to be close by, but when he saw that Phares would not be bluffed, he desisted.
One of the prime movers in the Gulfport work in its beginning was Mrs. Ida V. Hardy, wife of judge Hardy, who was one of the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1890. The Hardys did not live in Gulfport at the time, but Sister Hardy would drive into town each Lord's Day to assist in Church and Bible School services. At first the congregation, as I remember it, through the activity of Mrs. Hardy, bought a lot in not a very desirable part of the city, and built a small and modest frame building. Because of the inaccessibility and undesirableness of this location, sold this property to Bro. Stillions of Rome, Mississippi and a more central location was purchased, in a rapidly developing part of the city, and on this lot later a building was put up, much better than the first one, though never intended to be anything but a temporary meeting place. The property has increased so in value, that we understand that this location can be sold for something like ten times what it cost to begin with, though the church has not seen fit to dispose of it. Bro. Burkhardt of Indiana, was pastor for several years till the present pastor took the work sometime in 1928. One of the Elders, and who is a good preacher himself, is Dr. Richard Cox, President Gulf Park College from its beginning. This church has also had to be assisted with funds from the State Board, as the membership is not strong enough at present to keep a preacher for full time. But the outlook in Gulfport is promising, and in all probability in a few years we will have one of the outstanding churches in our brotherhood there.
McCOMB CITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The work was begun in McComb City sometime about 1893 or 94. There were several fine families who moved in there from other states, among the number being Bro. Losey, who was the Master Mechanic of the I. C. Railroad shops, Bro. J. D. Adcock, from Tennessee, a Brother Evans and his family and Mrs. G. W. Andrews. The first preacher of whom we have any recollection who served this band was Bro. Lee Jackson, who was pastor when the original church building was erected, some few blocks east of the Railroad. The editor of this book had the pleasure of holding a revival for this congregation, one among, if not the first revivals held in McComb. It was held in June, and under a tent which the congregation had secured from some source, but the last few services of the revival were held in the new church building, which was completed a few days before the meeting closed. Bro. Jackson staid with the church for quite awhile, and after his leaving, W. W. Phares, who had preached for the church in Fayette, where he married one of Captain Whitney's daughters, took charge of the work in McComb, and continued the work for a time, just how long I do not remember. After the passing of Bro. Adcock, who was one of the leaders of the work, both financially and spiritually, and the removal of Bro. Losey to Kentucky, the work languished for a time. Some few years after Bro. Phares left the work, from a revival which was successful, several additions were had, the old church was sold and the Presbyterian church was purchased by the congregation, as the Presbyterians had built a more commodious building in another location. This building is on the West side of the city, in the business section, and where all the churches are located.
The last two pastors who have served the church each of them doing a splendid work, were H. E. Steele and R. L. Schwab the present incumbent, (1929). Both of these men have had their salaries supplemented by the State Board, which was necessary for the work to be continued as an all time work. The church from all accounts is in a splendid condition, and bids fair to become a great church some day.
RULEVILLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
An old record tells us that, "The Quiver River organization met at the home of W. H. Sheffield, July 3, 1909, and organized by electing Bros. W. H. Sheffield and J. M. Carson, Elders, and Bros. P. J. Reynolds and Sylvester Mann, deacons, and H. Reynolds as church clerk."
This organization continued until 1911 when a division occurred and part of the membership went to Ruleville.
In August, 1911, Bro. J. Fred Jones held the first meeting in Ruleville. He held the meeting in a tent furnished by Bro. H. Reynolds. As a result of the meeting an organization was effected and the following officers were elected‑Bros. H. Reynolds, E. C. Weed and W. 0. Pepples, Elders; and Bros. A. H. Neareren, John Reynolds and Jake Varner, deacons.
A building committee was appointed consisting of Bros. W. 0. Pepples, A. H. Neareren and E. C. Weed. This building was a frame structure and was used until about 1924 when a neat brick building was put in its place. Bro. Victor Smith aided very materially in the erection of the new building and Bro. W. 0. Pepples had a prominent part in the new structure.
Among the preachers who have preached for the Christian Church in Ruleville are Bros. H. K. Coleson, Bro. Holmes, M. W. Botton, W. K. Clements, Bro. Mormon, W. E. Ferrell, John W. Tyndall, J. Murray Taylor, W. Gaines Lynch and J. W. Bolton (1929).
OKOLONA CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In the summer of 1893, M. F. Harmon held so far as is now remembered the first revival ever held by the Christian Church in Okolona. The old Methodist Church was tended and used for the meeting which was continued for two weeks, and resulted in the organization of a church with the following members:
George Harrell, Mrs. Laura W. Harrell, J. S. Marable, 0. W. Munson, Miss Ellen Arnett, Mrs. V. T. Ashby, Mrs. M. C. Marable, Mrs. H. S. Beatty, Mrs. H. R. Ivy, Miss Mary Gilliam, Miss M. A. Munson, Mrs. S. L. Munson, Greenwood Ligon, Jack Hodges, Prof. Walton, Mrs. Walton and Miss Stella Mauldin. Total of 17.
The evangelist made his home during the revival with Bro. and Sister Harrell, who were the leaders in this first effort, and have continued to be the leaders up till the death of Bro. Harrell; and Sister Harrell, who is now Mrs. Knox, holds her place of leadership still. At this time the Harrells had three children, two splendid girls and one boy. The boy, who then must not have been more than 3 1/2 years old, is now a splendid preacher in the Christian church, and has held some very fine pastorates, one in Birmingham, Alabama. This is none other than Robert L. Harrell, now finishing up for his degrees in old Transylvania, where he was educated quite a number of years ago. I remember during this meeting that the father and mother of Robert would often remark, in Robert's presence that he was to be their preacher when he got grown. The boy grew up with the idea that he was to be a preacher, and his life was arranged accordingly. All of which leads us to say, that if more parents were to consecrate their children to the Lord, and raise them up in the proper atmosphere, we would not have so many pastorless churches in this country today. The girls came into the church very soon after this meeting, and have been faithful members of the church. For something like a year from the organization, I continued to go up to Okolona from Jackson where I lived, and put in the 5th Sundays with the little band.
Of the original membership there are now living the following: Miss Ellen Arnett, Mrs. V. T. Ashby, Mrs. M. G. Marable*, Mrs. Helen Ivy, Mrs. S. L. Munson and Mrs. Laura Harrell Knox. The present membership is about 50, with monthly preaching by M. F. Harmon. Those who have served as pastors from time to time, are: M. H. Armor, John Talley, Bro. Maupin and J. A. W. Brown. Revivals have been conducted since the organization by M. F. Harmon by the following brethren: R. E. McCorkle, J. A. Reynolds, J. E. Spiegel, Robert L. Harrell, John A. Stevens, Dean L. Bond, J. H. Harmon and W. Paul Marsh. It was during the revival that was held by J. H. Harmon, of Oklahoma that the church was put more firmly upon its feet, and the old Methodist church property was bought, which had been used for years as a residence. This the brethren converted back again into a church building. This was in 1923.
HICKORY FLAT CHRISTIAN CHURCH
This congregation was first made up principally of members from "New Bethel," a substantial frame building one mile east of the present town. This building erected mainly by J. B. Armor, was a successor to "Old Bethel" or "Bethel," which was two miles east of New Bethel, which was a log house, and so small that when the congregation increased, they built a board arbor in front that made a splendid place for summer protracted meetings.
When the K. C. M. & B. Ry. ??? was established, the new town of Hickory Flat was a necessity. The depot was erected near the home of W. A. Crum, one of the oldest members of Bethel, an Elder and distinguished minister of the congregation. He began early to plan and erect a suitable building for worship. After some damages by storms etc., the building is substantially as he left it at the end of his eventful life.
Some Fundamental History
So far as human agency is concerned, the foundation of this congregation began somewhere in Indiana. A certain John Smith, a young farmer, a Primitive Baptist, had a letter from a friend, introducing a minister of the Gospel; saying he had some “new ideas" in his preaching, but assuring John that the minister was a Christian gentleman, with great knowledge of the scriptures, a fine teacher, of excellent spirit and preached the Word of God. The preacher requested Smith to secure the use of the Union Church for a series of services. The Union building was controlled by trustees. Smith was one of them. He promptly presented the request to the others, but they had heard of this fellow, and his "sect was spoken against everywhere," so they declined firmly. Smith reported to the preacher and offered the use of his own little log cabin home, which was gratefully accepted. Before the week‑end, Smith, his wife and oldest daughter had accepted a faith which made them "Christians only." Smith was a constant reader of the Bible, and was very familiar with the Book, but in speaking of this preacher and his thrilling lesson in after years, he said his sermon on "Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth," gave him more light and comfort than he had ever secured by "reading and hearing up to that time."
This little family moved from Indiana, and settled about three miles Northeast of the present town of Hickory Flat, Mississippi. His only son was killed by a falling limb or tree before leaving Indiana. There were five daughters, whom Smith taught diligently by his fireside to read and understand and obey the scriptures. In due time, he and his scattered neighbors erected a small log house to be used for school and church purposes. The Smith girls became the center of attraction to the young men of the community. It was not long till Archie Thompson, John Hellums, John Clary, James B. Armor and William A. Crum became sons‑in‑law to John Smith. These young men were from the various denominations, but each girl in some way brought her man to the New Testament faith. These formed the nucleus of the Bethel Church.
The writer is familiar with the way in which two of the young men were won from denominationalism, and it may be of interest to put them on record. Louisa had pledged herself with John Armor, but before marriage she called Armor's attention to the fact that they had not discussed the religious question. She thought it might be very important. She frankly said that she knew nothing of religion, church, etc., except what she had learned from her father and read under his guidance. . . . . but she had this to suggest: Let us read the Bible together, hear our ministers fairly, pray while we study, and do what we believe to be God's Will as revealed to us in His Word.
The mutual reading, listening, learning and praying in a few months lead Armor to become a "Christian Only." And though his Lou only lived with him a few short years, J. B. went marching on in consecrated usefulness in every good work till reaching the seventies, he joined her in the Glory Land.
Mary Malvina, the youngest daughter of John Smith, and W. A. Crum were married while very young. They had no discussion of religious issues till a baby brought it to pass. Up, on the birth of a girl babe, Eli Crum, father of W. A. Crum and a devout Elder of the Presbyterian Church, urged his son to have the babe baptized. Mollie said if God so teaches, I am willing. I have heard that there is neither command nor example for baptizing infants; but show me the scriptures for it and I will consent at once. Eli and his minister hesitated and delayed to furnish William with the "needed word." This led young Crum into diligent research, which resulted in his full acceptance of the New Testament faith. Not only so, but he became one of the strongest preachers and defenders of the Faith in the State. He held many debates on religious issues. After each, held the respect and admiration of his opponents; and the love, confidence and trust of the brotherhood. He too kept up the work till reaching the seventy fourth or seventy fifth year, leaving Mollie to follow some years later. His son, W. E. Crum was a born preacher. He had very little education when he began preaching, but in some way became well informed and one of the most devoted and successful country evangelists in North East Mississippi. He was summoned suddenly while on active duty at about the age of three score and five.
Lucindy Smith married John Hellums. It is reported that one of her sons is now a minister of the Gospel in Texas. Milton Hatly Armor, only son of J. B. Armor is also numbered with the preachers from Bethel, and is now and has been for seven years serving the church at Hickory Flat part time. The enrollment of the congregation is about 50 or 60 resident members. They struggle to hold the marks of Pentecost, "Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers." From time to time this congregation has been served by Robert Ussery, a Bro. Robinson, B. F. Manire, E. G. Sewell, J. W. Johnson, B. W. Lauderdale, W. A. Crum, H. K. Coleson, W. E. Crum, M. H. Armor and others.
The Crums and Armor were all sent forth by this congregation. They in turn have been instrumental in bringing several others into active service of the ministry. Thus the influence of the humble, faithful, fair-minded, friendly and Christly John Smith goes marching on.
Summary: First Bethel, a log school house near Smith's Spring, two miles Northeast of old Hickory Flat.
Second Bethel, another log house a little larger, one mile Southeast of Smith's home, with board arbor front.
Third Bethel, or New Bethel, two miles west on sport where M. H. Armor was born, and built by J. B. Armor, his father, at old Hickory Flat.
Fourth Church at New Hickory Flat, one mile Southwest by W. A. Crum, living and serving today. J. B. Armor, W. A. Crum and Hugh S. Holland were elders of this congregation many years. Houston Powell and Joseph Calthrop are the present faithful officers. M. H. ARMOR.
GREENWOOD CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The present pastor (1929) Noble Lucas has furnished all the information available of this good church, but it, like many of our churches has failed to keep a record of the work. Then too many churches keep a record from the beginning, but it gets lost or is destroyed by fire, or from some other cause. Bro. Lucas writes:
"As early as 1885 there were a number of members of "Christians only", meeting in the Courthouse and in their homes every Sunday for the observance of the Lord's Supper and Bible study. J. W. S. Merrill was their leader. About 1897 or 1898 the church was organized and Bro. George A. Reynolds was called as their pastor. A building was erected about this time and served the congregation until the present building was erected in 1925. It seems that the church was without a pastor quite a number of times. Pastors in order of their service were: G. A. Reynolds, Jno. Talley, Welch, Hart, W. K. Clements, Hornbaker, Grantham, Frank K. Dunn and Noble Lucas."
The present membership of the congregation is about 165, but they are scattered over quite a bit of territory contiguous to Greenwood. The present magnificent building was begun and completed under the pastorate of Bro. Frank K. Dunn. This congregation, like many others in the state, has drawn largely upon nearby country congregations for the better part of its strength. Many members have moved into Greenwood from old Hemingway, where for many years there was a very large congregation, about fifteen miles from Greenwood. From this church, now called New Hope, (see write up elsewhere) have come the families of Youngs, Jumpers, Walls, and possibly many other families.
There have been some very influential families in the Green, wood church from the very beginning. Along in the early nineties, I attended a press convention. (about 1893 or 94) and stopped with a family by the name of Hicks, and this good fam, ily together with judge A. McKimbrough's family were among the first families of the city in wealth, refinement and good standing. I have heard Bro. Manire talk a great deal about these two families during my first years in the state. The McKimbroughs have been staunch supporters of the work through the years. The building of this congregation (see cut) is the largest and most expensive building owned by our people in, the state.
We have tried to get the history of all the churches in the State, but have failed to get some of them sufficiently interested to furnish us the material, so we had to go to press and leave some of them out. The number, we are glad to say is not large. Had we been able, either physically or financially to visit these churches, no doubt but what a very interesting record could have been made of those we are forced to leave out. Of this class, we mention the following: Cleveland, Montpelier, Oak Valley, Drew, Lambert, Houston, Pratts, Hazel, Inverness, and a fine large country church near Kosciusko. There are possibly some small inactive churches which have done valiant service for the Lord in days gone by, that should have been given recognition in this connection, for what they have done in the past, though they may not be functioning at present. But this editor desired to put in permanent form all the church history in his possession, so that in coming years, some other Church Historian can add to this, which if not preserved during my lifetime, might never be recorded. One regret possesses this editor, and that is that so few comparatively speaking seem to have any pride in our History. He hopes that this little volume may be a means of stirring up a worthy ambition in the hearts of the rising generation to cherish the memory of the past achievements of the Church, so that if any other person shall ever undertake the task of writing a History, that they will respond to the appeal. To me, the Church is my life, my better life. I love it with a deathless devotion. I have seen the Church in this State grow from a few scattered congregations to a large brotherhood. Thirty eight years ago there was not a single congregation in this State with all time preaching, and only two or three with as much as half time preaching. In such towns as Meridian, Vicksburg, Hattiesburg, McComb, Water Valley, Tupelo, Woodville, Clarksdale, Cleveland, Rome, Ruleville, New Albany, Summer, Houston, Okolona, Inverness, Lambert, Drew, and many other places of importance where we did not even have a name on the religious map. But today, we have flourishing congregations in these places, and most of them have full time preaching, with beautiful modem Church buildings, as the pictures in this volume will show.
WOODVILLE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
THE FIRST Lord's day in September 1908, J. E. Spiegel who was then State Evangelist for Mississippi, held a meeting in Woodville, which resulted in the organization of the present congregation. The State Board allowed the evangelist to continue the work at Woodville, which he did preaching two Sundays each month. The next year the present church building was erected and dedicated by Mr. Spiegel. While evangelist, Mr. Spiegel, continued at intervals his service at Woodville covering a period of several years as regular minister and in evangelistic meetings. Since the first meeting in 1908, Mr. Spiegel has held some twelve or fourteen evangelistic meetings for this congregation. On December 1, 1916, Mr. Spiegel resigned his work as State evangelist and located as the regular minister at Woodville for half‑time preaching, and the rest of the time doing evangelistic work. During that year the church came to full time preaching. Mr. Spiegel continued this work until April 1921 (four years and four months) when he resigned to accept the position as State Secretary for the Mission Board in Alabama.
During this fruitful pastorate the Church and Bible school grew. Mrs. Woodruff gave her home furnished for a preacher's home.
After six years as State Secretary in Alabama, and a few months in the general evangelistic work, Mr. Spiegel again received a call to become the minister at Woodville, and accepted the call, entering upon his second pastorate the first Lord's day in December 1927, and is just now beginning his second year in this very pleasant pastorate.
In addition to the work of Mr. Spiegel, the Woodville church has enjoyed at different times the services of such able men as, G. A. Reynolds, W. W. Phares, W. L. Morrow, M. F. Harmon, Frank Corley, G. R. Cleveland, R. S. Johnston, J. C. Lawder and others.
We have now and have had from the beginning some of the prominent families of this county in the Woodville church. The members, and especially the older members, of this church know what the Christian Church stands for; and they stand foursquare for the Plea of the Disciples of Christ. The church is loyal and harmonious, and we, therefore, look forward to even a brighter day for the Woodville congregation, and for New Testament Christianity throughout Southwest Mississippi.
J. E. Spiegel was called to become state evangelist of Mississippi, he accepted the call, and entered upon that work February 1, 1906; but after six months service went to Corsicana, Texas. The first of August 1907 he again took up the work as State evangelist in Mississippi and continued for three years and six months. This was a very fruitful period for the Mississippi mission work. Mr. Spiegel was one of the prime movers establishing Southern Christian College at West Point. The school run for several years and did much good. Also during this period as a result of Mr. Spiegel's labors, congregations of "Christians Only" were established at Woodville, Gulfport, Como, Stewart, and possibly some others.
About two years out of the state at Leesville, La., and Columbus, Ga., Mr. Spiegel returned to Mississippi for a third term as state evangelist, Secretary and Treasurer for the state board. This term of service commenced May 1, 1913 and continued for three years and seven months. The State Board had a considerable deficit at this time; and the first year of this term of service was a very strenuous one in the evangelistic work and in bringing the state board out of debt. During the service of these years the Southern Christian Courier was established by Mr. Spiegel and represented the state mission work and Southern Christian College.
In addition to the real missionary evangelistic work in established new churches, evangelistic meetings were held by the state evangelist in most of the older and stronger churches of the state, and the gospel was preached in many new fields. As an evangelist as well as in the pastoral work Mr. Spiegel is sane, safe, Scriptural and constructive, and does a work that lives and bears fruit in the years to come.
BALDWYN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
By Miss Jessie Archer
In the year 1868 there were only four members of the Christian Church at Baldwyn; Capt. P. M. Savery and wife and Lee Lindsey and wife. They had no church building, but met each Lord's Day in the Masonic Hall, which was in the upper story of an old store house.
For several years they had no preaching, but finally secured a minister from* Kentucky, R. B. Trimble, who held their first meeting, which was held in the Presbyterian church, the only house of worship in the town at that time. There were a number of accessions during this meeting, G. W. Archer and Emmett Delany among the number. The weather was cold and the ice had to be broken in the creek before the ordinance of baptism could be performed, which caused much comment among those who had not heard of such things before.
The following year Bro. Trimble held another meeting with a large number of accessions. J. M. Pickens, of Mountain Home, Ala., held the next meeting and the church continued to grow, but was not able financially to build a house of worship, although enough money was raised to purchase a bell and a set of comfortable pews, which, by arrangement with the Methodist brethren, were placed in their new church, just erected, and both congregations worshipped in this church for some time. Meetings were held there by Alexander Ellett, also by J. M. Pickens, assisted by W. E. Hall.
The first church building was erected in 1874, and dedicated in February 1875, during a Co‑operation meeting, with a number of prominent ministers present. A Union Sunday School was organized, with P. M. Savery as Supt., which met on Sunday afternoons, all the churches in town taking part. Some years afterward it was decided to change the Sunday School hour from afternoon to morning, with B. T. Jopling as Supt. For twenty years after the church was built, prayer meeting was held every Tuesday night, regardless of the weather, almost nothing being allowed to interfere.
During the history of the old building, meetings were held in it by many prominent and consecrated ministers, among them being J. J. Haley, W. J. Howe, W. E. Hall, J. B. Briney, T. B. Larimore, R. Officer, Gay Waters, R. P. Meeks, G. W. Archer, Adam J. Adcock, Officer, McGuffey, Broome, Findley, Crystal, White, Goodwin, Hopper, Joe Harding, called the "Hallelujah" preacher, Knowles Shaw, the singing evangelist and song writer, whose meeting probably attracted the largest crowds of any ever held in the old church. R. P. Meeks, B. F. Manire and G. W. Archer were pastors of the church during these years, and it was at about this time that M. H. Armor and John A. Stevens held a meeting which was followed by many years of service as pastor by the beloved Bro. Armor. During the last years of the old building, before it was torn down to make room for the new brick house of worship, it was served by R. E. McCorkle, Milton Easterling, E. J. Suggs, Arch Houston, and J. A. W. Brown.
The new brick church, made possible by the liberality and open hearted generosity of L. C. Prather, a pioneer member of the church, was erected on the site of the old one in 1925, the corner stone being laid July 30th, 1926. L. C. Carawan was the first pastor after the new building was finished, followed by J. Murray Taylor.
CORINTH CHRISTIAN CHURCH
This is another very splendid church from which we have not been able to get a word of history. As it is in the very North Eastern part of the state, know but little about its history.
This I know however, that when I came to Mississippi in 1891, this congregation was young and weak and was ministered to by Bro. R. P. Meek, one of the greatest of preachers among us, who gave them half time service. The church grew, however, and has in its membership some of the choicest spirits of the city. They have now and for many years have enjoyed all time preaching, have a splendid Bible school, and are worthy of a better representation in this book.
CLARKSDALE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In the spring of 1915, five earnest women spiritually hungry and without a church home, met in the home of Mrs. E. B. Johnson, 62 John Street, to devise some plan by which they could have a Christian Church in Clarksdale.
At the insistence of Mrs. M. E. Wade this meeting was held. Those present on this occasion were Mrs. M. E. Wade; her daughter, Mrs. J. H. Hooks; Mrs. S. B. Van Meter; Mrs. J. C. Leeton and Mrs. E. B. Johnson. Three of the ladies had recently moved to Clarksdale, and did not know of‑the struggle that a very few had made for years only to meet with failure. Mrs. Johnson told the ladies of the hard fight and failures and of her discouragement and reluctance to take any leading part. Mrs. Wade was not to be discouraged and insisted on organizing an Aid Society for the sake of knowing each other better and doing "something." Before Mrs. Johnson hardly knew what was happening, she was elected President of the Aid Society, with Mrs. Leeton as Secretary and Treasurer. They organized with the avowed determination to work in any and every honorable way possible to raise money to finance a protracted meeting, pledging themselves to work until their means were sufficient to have one of the very best ministers in the brotherhood. They worked and prayed and almost wore out the promise of "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I, in the midst of them," by reading so often to keep their courage up. By the end of the first twelve months the Society had grown to thirteen members, without a drone or slacker, and enough money in the Treasury to finance the meeting. The Courthouse was secured and Brother J. J. Castleberry, of Mayfield, Kentucky was called. He preached for ten days, winning the respect of the public generally and receiving many courtesies from the ministers of the other churches.
At the close of the meeting, Brother Castleberry organized the congregation to be known as the First Christian Church of Clarksdale, with forty members. The public was so appreciative of the work of Brother Castleberry that little was taken out of the Aid Society Treasury to pay for his services. So their money went to buy an organ, Communion table and service books, etc.
Immediately a Sunday School was organized with S. B. Dickey as Superintendent. The writer has often wondered if any Sunday School ever had a more loyal superintendent. Services were held in the Courthouse. That winter was very severe and the building was undergoing repairs. Many Sundays with windows out and sleet and snow on the ground, this little band met, had Sunday School and the Lord's Supper. Later on, Bro. Will K. Clements of Greenwood, Miss., was employed for half time. A very magnetic speaker he proved to be, one whose sermons were enjoyed by everyone who heard him.
Two beautiful lots were purchased at a cost of $5,000.00 and the last payment was made in January 1917. The World War came on and retarded the progress of the Church. For a long time, they had no minister, but always had Sunday School and Communion every Lord's Day. Through heat, cold, war, and other discouragements, the ladies stood by, worked, prayed and read God's promise to bless the few that gathered in His name. After the war, Brother Powell was called, and during his ministry the church was started by building the basement, and making it large enough in which to hold services, feeling they had used the Court House and City Hall too long already.
Unfortunately, some of the most active members moved away and dear Mrs. Wade and Mrs. Van Meter were called to their reward. So the faithful, struggling little band held on in the basement for seven or eight years, having other ministers from time to time for two Sundays in the month. Building the basement when materials were so high put the congregation in debt to the United Christian Missionary Society who were most lenient. In January, 1928, they sent Brother I. E. Adams, their representative to see if something could not be done to help revive the spirits of the discouraged congregation. He was a live wire and did much to start a renewed interest. In the meantime, some new members came into the church and helped start the ball to rolling again. Mesdames Arthur Wilson, J. E. Burch and Webb Davis and J. E. Knight raised money to clear the debt on the basement.
In May, 1928, Bro. J. Bryant Young was called for full time. Brother Young and his capable wife have been most loyal to the church, doing everything in their power to put over the work in a fine way. On January 1, 1929, the superstructure of brick ‑veneer was started on the basement, at an approximate cost of $20,000, with $15,000 of the amount in cash donation in the bank.
It would be an incomplete history of the church not to mention the faithful work of Mr. S. B. Van Meter, who succeeded Mr. Dickey as Superintendent of the Sunday School. Later Mr. Arthur Wilson came into the church, serving in any and every way possible to promote the growth, his good wife, a most zealous helper in every way serving as Church Clerk for many years.
In the early life of the church, Mrs. T. C. Burford and Miss Gwendolyn Brown did splendid Christian Endeavor work. Unfortunately, they moved away and this branch of the work was closed until renewed by Mrs. Young. Mrs. J. B. Mitchell was the faithful organist for years, active and zealous in the Aid and Missionary Societies. Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Nail of Cleburne, Texas, came into the church a few years ago and have been a great inspiration to the congregation. Mrs. Nail has meant much to the Missionary Society. During her term as President it was re‑organized and now functions as one of the best in Mississippi. For the past three years Mrs. J. E. Wilson has been its capable and faithful President. Mrs. George Comeaux, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Van Meter, has been one of the most valuable members of the church, ever ready to do a Christian's duty in any phase of the work. Mrs. W. 0. Stewart is now organist of the church and is most faithful, receiving due appreciation.
The largest contributors in dollars and cents have been E. B. Johnson, Mesdames Gertrude McHenry, J. H. Hooks, M. E. Wade (deceased), H. E. Hilliard, John C. Leeton and Ed Wade.
SHERMAN CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The Christian Church of Sherman, Miss., was built on the very spot where the Jones' homestead formerly stood, thereby making it a very sacred place to the members of that family.
The church was organized by Bro. C. E. Moore, September 1893. The Charter members were: J. L. Smart and R. E. McCain, Elders; R. M. Frazier and James Frost, Deacons; D. H. Davis, Secretary.
Other members were: J. W. Linsey, wife and five children; Mrs. Georgia Witt, Mrs. J. L. Smart, Misses Mattie McCain, Key Davis and Minnie Smart. Total number of charter members 17.
Bro. J. L. Smart was the first pastor who was followed by such able and consecrated men as Bro. Crum and son, Will Crum, C. K. Marshall, M. H. Armour, R. E. McCorkle, E. H. Broome and John Tally.
In 1906 under the leadership of C. K. Marshall a new church roll was made, and at that time the membership was 67. At that time new officers were installed: W. A. Gillespie, J. Y. Wright, and J. W. Scruggs, Elders; M. H. Richardson, L. A. Gillespie, A. C. Shands and D. H. Davis, Deacons; J. H. Long, Clerk.
Since the Church was organized it has endeavored to keep the Apostles' doctrine in the practice of observing the Lord's Supper, in prayers, and the grace of giving.
Only on occasion of bad weather or epidemic of sickness have some of the faithful failed to meet regularly on the Lord's Day for service.
Whenever left without a pastor, the church has gone forward with the Lord's work, and for many years, has taken an active part in the activities of the Church work at home and in the foreign fields.
About the year 1922, it became necessary to remodel the church building, which made it a very neat and comfortable place of worship.
This history would not be complete without worthy mention of the faithfulness of W. A. Gillespie and J. Y. Wright, who labored so long and earnestly with the church. They were interested and active in the work of Christ's Kingdom, as long as they were able to attend services, and on till they were called to their reward.
As the years went by we lost many members by death and removal, until at the present time, February, 1929, there are only 30 members in the church, of which 23 are resident and 7 non‑resident.
For several years Bro. M. H. Armour has been shepherd of the flock, and has given courage and comfort as he is so well qualified to do in his quiet and unassuming way and has urged the members to keep up the good fight and press onward under difficult circumstances. He has Just recently given up the work here, and at the present time the church is without a pastor.
SUMNER CHRISTIAN CHURCH
In the summer of 1896 Mrs. S. J. Simpson, a devoted member of the Christian Church, heard that Rev. Kilby Ferguson was conducting a revival meeting at Mattson, Miss., and sent her son, W. M. Simpson, to invite Rev. Ferguson to preach the Gospel in Sumner, Miss., and organize a Christian Church there.
He accepted that invitation and began a revival meeting at Enon Union Church, one mile south of Sumner, in the fall of 1896. At the close of the revival, Rev. Ferguson organized a Christian Church with a charter membership of eleven, as follows: Dr. McKay, Church Clerk; Miss Estelle Simpson, Church Treasurer; Mrs. Sallie J. Simpson, Miss Cora Simpson, G. A. Harris, Mrs. G. A. Harris, Berry Howard, Mrs. Berry Howard, Miss Blanch Howard, Jinks Garrett, Charles Webster.
Rev. Ferguson served the church as Pastor during the win, ter of 1896 and through 1897, with five additions to the Church; Mr. and Mrs. P. S. Fulford and Peter Fulford, W. W. Huffman, and Warren Harris.
The existence of the First Christian Church at Sumner is due, largely, to the interest of a Godly woman, Mrs. Sallie J. Simpson, and the faithful preaching of Rev. Kilby Ferguson.
Rev. Sadler was Pastor in 1898. In the latter part of the year Rev. G. A. Reynolds conducted a Revival, and five were added to the Church: Mr. and Mrs. T. A. Rogers, Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Jones and Mr. W. M. Simpson.
Rev. G. A. Reynolds served as Pastor in 1899.
In 1900 Evangelist John A. Stevens led the Church in a great Evangelistic campaign.
In 1901 Rev. G. A. Reynolds began a most fruitful ministry, which continued through 1902. There were five additions to the Church; Mrs. Dora Simpson, C. J. Burt, Mr. Brown and Mr. and Mrs. T. J. Davis.
In the latter part of 1902 plans were formulated for the erection of a Church building in Sumner.
During 1903, without Pastoral oversight, a modest frame building was erected in Sumner‑Church and furnishings free of debt, except a Loan of Three Hundred Dollars ($300.00) from the Board of Church Extension. Thus quite early in its history the Sumner Christian Church learned the value of Brotherhood service and has always manifested a true Brotherhood spirit.
During 1904 Brethren G. A. Reynolds and Rev. Lee Jackson served the Church. The former preaching fifth Sundays and the latter the First Sunday of each month. Evangelist W. W. Phares led the revival meeting. During the year there were five additions to the church; Mrs. Elisha Walker, Elisha Walker, Mr. Lefler, Ed King and Tom Davis.
Rev. Reynolds preached in March and April of 1905 at which time Mrs. J. D. Biles came into the fellowship. In July and August he conducted special services and Miss Lenora Wisenant, Henry King and Mrs. Ruth Harris obeyed the Gospel.
A Bible School was organized in 1906. An auxiliary to the C. W. B. M. was organized the same year with a membership of seventeen. In the fall Evangelists J. E. Spiegel and Rev. H. K. Coleson conducted a Revival with the following accessions; Miss Ellen Burt, Mr. and Mrs. Tom True.
The following Pastors and Evangelists served the Church as indicated‑the details of their ministry are not available:
1907 and 1908 Rev. Rufus P. Meeks of Humbolt, Tenn.
In the years 1909 and 1910 Rev. Victor Smith of Memphis, Tenn., served the Church. He was assisted in Revivals by Rev. J. E. Gorsuch of Third Christian Church, Memphis, Tenn.
Rev. M. F. Harmon preached once each month during 1911 and 1912.
Rev. M. W. Bottom of Kentucky was the Pastor in 1913 and 1914.
State Evangelist W. K. Clements held revivals in the summers of 1912 and 1913.
Evangelist Roud Shaw, assisted by Mr. and Mrs. Jordan led a splendid campaign in 1914.
Rev. Moorman, Rev. Garland Farmer and Rev. T. L. Young served the church in order during 1915, 1916, 1917.
In 1918 Rev. W. K. Clements began his ministry with the Church, which continued through 1925. At this time the old church house was abandoned and the congregation moved to the Public School building where the Bible School session and worship services were held until 1927.
It was the earnest desire of the heart of Mrs. Sallie J. Simpson, whose interest in the Gospel was the initial cause of the Church in Sumner, that she might also live to see a modern Church erected on the site of the frame building. She died November 12, 1920 with that desire unrequited but knowing that the impress of her sweet firm personality was made indelibly upon the entire Church.
The plan to build a new church home, which has been deferred indefinitely on account of the economic disaster that swept the Delta in Post War days, found definite expression in a church meeting early in 1925. The church building was begun in the early summer. A building committee was appointed and given full authority to proceed in this matter. The committee consisted of Doc Bell, 0. W. Pearson, J. F. Sumner, W. W. Jones and W. M. Simpson. Mrs. F. L. Sumner, Secretary and Treasurer of the building funds.
To give proper credit for the present church building would require the listing of the name of every resident member of the church, but it is the consensus of opinion that to the Building Committee for their generosity, unflagging interest, and constant supervision, the Church is largely indebted for its beautiful Church building.
Mr. Laster, a member of the Church, was the builder.
The Church is of Spanish Mission style. The entrance into the Auditorium is through a triple archway into a paved court, thence through three massive double doors.
The Elementary and Secondary departments have doors opening into the Patio and a connecting door with the auditorium. These departments of the Bible School are a part of the front section of the church.
The rear section of the building consists of the pastor's Study, furnace room and Missionary Parlor.
The building lends itself splendidly to the Worship, Teaching and Social enterprises of the Church.
The building was erected, also, with Pastoral oversight and opened for Sunday School in December, 1926.
On an adjoining lot the church has erected a lovely six, room Mission Style Parsonage.
In January of 1927 Rev. E. H. Broome was called to the ministry by the Christian Churches at Lambert, Rome and Sumner. In July of 1927 Rev. Broome and family moved into the beautiful Parsonage at Sumner. His ministry continues with Lambert and Sumner Christian Churches.
The officiary of the Sumner Christian Church is: E. H. Broome, Pastor; W. M. Simpson, Elder; Doc. Bell, C. W. Pearson, Deacons; Mrs. Doc Bell, Secretary and Treasurer.
W. M. Simpson is the efficient Bible School Superintendent. Edward Sparks is the Secretary and Treasurer. Mrs. 0. W. Pearson is Elementary Superintendent. Mrs. J. D. Biles is teacher of the Bible Class and Mrs. W. M. Simpson teaches the Boy's Class. Miss Frances Sumner is the primary teacher and Mrs. Leo White is the beginners' teacher. We have 45 members on roll‑25 active members.
The Sumner W. M. S. is efficient and vital in the local work and in the Co‑operative work of the Church. Mrs. Doc Bell is W. M. S. President.
The First Christian Church is proud of the Spirit of Unity and Good‑Will that prevails in the congregation; of the fellowship it has enjoyed with preachers and Evangelists, who have made history in Mississippi; of its strikingly beautiful Church house; of its evangelistic spirit. It will try to justify its Slogan "A Friendly Church in A Friendly Town."
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THE SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN INSTITUTE
In order to understand the Southern Christian Institute we must hold in mind that the Disciples of Christ never divided into North and South and there is no organic division between the colored people and the white people. If they had divided into North and South as most of the Protestant Denominations did because of the war, we would have disappeared long ago; for we could not have continued our plea for union under one name and one authority and then divided organically because of sectionalism and race.
Therefore, what was to be done to help the Negroes had to be done by both North and South working together. This was not always the most cordial, but when we take all into consideration; it is remarkable that it was as cordial as it was. Instances are on record where soldiers in the northern Army learned through the slaves that certain southerners were Disciples of Christ and they arranged to have communion between the lines. As soon as the conflict was over General Withers who commanded Pemberton's artillery at Vicksburg had a conference with northerners about starting a school for the preparing of Negro ministers and teachers. He offered to donate a plantation for that purpose, provided they would agree to invest as much as fifty thousand dollars the first few years. This they could not promise at that time, for our missionary contributions were small. The board then bought the old McKinney L. Cook place a mile and a half west of Edwards. This is one of the most historic places in the state.
From the beginning the Board of Trustees had on it south, ern men and they gave their best thought to it. Among these we may mention Brother Jones of Jackson, Judge Cabiness of Clinton, Captain R. H. Smith, A. J. Lewis and Col. W. A. Montgomery of Edwards. The early history of the work was a hard struggle, for our people were not giving much for missions in those early days.
The institution now has 1,265 acres of land, thirteen buildings, and other equipment amounting to about $300,000. The enrollment is about three hundred and they come from every southern state, four northern states, the West Indies and Africa.
The faculty consists of twenty-three members. The graduates of the school have gone out into widely scattered territory and are holding up the cause of righteousness and the simple Gospel. J. B. LEHMAN, President.
ORGANIZED WORK AMONG THE DISCIPLES OF
CHRIST IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Through the courtesy of Mrs. W. A. Hinton, of the church in Corinth, Mississippi, we have been favored with the Minutes of the first and second Annual Conventions of the Christian Church in this State. The fly leaf reads as follows:
Proceedings of the Mississippi Christian Missionary Convention, in its Inauguration and at its First Anniversary held at Winona, Mississippi, November 21‑23, 1884, and at Columbus, Mississippi, November 20‑24, 1885. We note also the first Directory, as follows:
President, D. B. Hill, Palo Alto, Mississippi; Vice President, J. W. S. Merrill; Corresponding Secretary, James Sharp, Winona, Mississippi; Recording Secretary, J. H. Stevens, Columbus, Mississippi; Treasurer, Joseph H. Stephens. Acting Board D. L. Phares, I. M. Boswell, J. H. Butler, James Nance and Joseph H. Stephens.
This Convention adopted a Constitution with 8 Articles in it, brief but pointed. It will be interesting to note the report of the State Evangelist, James Sharpe, for this the first year of work done under the Co‑operation of Churches. It follows: Report of Evangelist For Northern Mississippi For The Year Ending November 21, 1885
Dear Brethren: One year ago to‑day, in the town of Winona, the Mississippi Christian Missionary Convention was born. It was the offspring of a few who met together to devise ways and means for the furtherance of the cause of our dear Christ in the State of Mississippi. The first breath it drew was in a healthy climate, in the presence of congenial spirits and surroundings favorable to its rapid growth and development. One year of its life has passed, and not only has it made many friends but is able to walk and talk for itself.
At that meeting one-year ago only thirty‑four members of the family were present, twenty‑five of them members of the Winona congregation, with which the meeting was held. Looking back to that time, at the responsibility of the task that was then undertaken by so few, and then to see the lively interest now manifest throughout the State for the continuance of this work, it not only brings forth great rejoicing and thankfulness to our dear Heavenly Father, who is crowning our feeble efforts with such rich results, but it prompts us to press on the work with increased vigor and with a generous support.
It is impossible for us at this stage of our work to obtain a large attendance at our meetings, but in this we are encouraged, for the law of growth in every good work is progressive. "First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." If all of you could accompany the evangelists in their visits to the congregations and individual members all over the State, you would hear from the lips of hundreds, "God bless and prosper this great and good undertaking."
The Convention of 1884 saw fit to retain in the field as evangelists Bro. Bishop and myself. In regard to my own labors, unhindered by a day's sickness, I have been permitted to visit most of the churches in the northern half of the State, as well as many destitute places. I have traveled in all conceivable ways 5,449 miles; have preached 307 times; planted two new congregations; received into our fellowship two good preachers and one congregation of baptized believers, and witnessed the addition of 183 persons to the churches, most of these additions being at weak points which were not supplied with preachers.
In addition to my own and Bro. Bishop's labors we remember at this time with pleasure the great benefits the cause of Christ in Mississippi has derived from the labors of such faithful workers as Bros. B. F. Manire, W. A. Crum, W. Crum, C. W. Sadler, J. B. Inman, R. P. Meeks, R. C. Ramsey, Dr. McCain, M. Hendrick, B. W. Lauderdale and others, not forgetting Bros. Briney and Howe, all of whom have added many to Christ and done much to strengthen the brethren.
On reviewing the work, we have cause to thank God and take courage, and renew with redoubled vigor our future efforts. The weak have been strengthened and the strong made stronger. The wavering have been confirmed and the foundation laid for the permanent prosperity of the cause in our beloved State.
We have in the State, known to our evangelists, about 75 congregations, nearly all of whom are in hearty sympathy with our movement, and in my humble judgment all will be when they realize the only design of this co‑operation is to civilize and Christianize.
In looking at both sides of this picture, we find our weak points. There are places where once flourishing churches existed, but now the cause is dead or dying. These places can be revived if evangelists are not forced to visit live churches to obtain a support.
At Winona, we have a few struggling brethren who need help. They have a house of worship, but a debt of between $400 and $500 hangs over it. They will lose it if not paid soon. They have paid all they can, and need speedy relief. I trust this Convention will take steps to help them.
Aberdeen, another very valuable point, has a band of zealous, working sisters. They are doing all they can. They have a good house just repaired and out of debt. Like the Winona congregation, the Disciples meet on the first day of the week, rain or shine. They need help to obtain preaching. Other points present themselves, but these are urgent.
I would now submit to you a financial statement of contributions made for the work the year now past, together with expenses, and also the pledges yet unpaid:
Total amount of money collected in the field ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ $ 855.00
Total amount received from G. C. M. C. $240.00
Amount of unpaid pledges ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ 55.00
Unprovided for ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑40.29
Salary and expenses of State Evangelists ‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑‑ 1,190.29
And now as my labors as Evangelist cease by limitation, I wish to tender my heartfelt thanks to the brethren of this and the Winona meeting, and through Bro. Moffett to the G. C. M. C. for the confidence reposed in me, and to the brethren at the places visited for their hearty support in my work. And into whose‑ever hands the future work is committed they will find in me a warm supporter. Trusting one more able may be found to present and advocate the cause of the dear Redeemer,
Your Brother in Christ,
The foregoing was the report of the State Evangelist at the second Convention which was held in Columbus, November, 1885. James Sharpe was then, and for some years following the State Evangelist, and of him it was said that there were few who could surpass him in the delivery of strong Gospel sermons.
The convention sermon on this occasion was preached by Robert Moffett, who was at that time corresponding Secretary of the General Christian Missionary Convention. After his sermon it is stated that an appeal was made for funds to carry on the work, and pledges to the amount of $508. were secured, and a cash offering of $7.10 was taken up. That sounds natural. At this convention there were 9 preachers present, number of counties represented, 15; churches represented, 21; number of delegates and visitors from abroad, 49; with total number of delegate and visitors present, 200. Not so very bad for the beginning of organized work forty one years ago.
Of the men who were present at that convention, I know of none now living except Bro. L. C. Prather. I doubt if there has been a meeting of the brethren any year since the first organization of our missionary 'interests in which L. C. Prather, of Baldwyn was not present. He still lives at Baldwyn, and‑ was the leading spirit in the erection of the beautiful new brick church which was completed this year, (1927).
WHOM WE DELIGHT TO HONOR
W. W. Stone: A Staunch Disciple
Captain W. W. Stone, of Gulfport, Miss., is not dead, as an announcement concerning him might lead one to infer, but on life's highway beyond the eighty-seventh milestone, and still active.
The writer first came across this staunch Disciple during his pastorate at Greenville, Miss., in 1906. Captain Stone was the senior elder in the church at that time. He had money and influence, he was generous and beloved. His presence and loyalty made possible an almost impossible cause. In 1916 when the writer accepted the Jackson, Mississippi, work, he found his old friend to greet him and to speak a word of cheer. Later, while president of the Missionary Board of Mississippi and organizing some of the missionary fields, he found his old-time friend once more at Gulfport, Miss. Though retired, and a little weary with the long journey, he was a large factor in that Southern city.
When the Civil War began Captain Stone was a student in the University of Missouri. As he was of army age, he had to get into the army. Being a southern sympathizer he decided to join "Lee's Army." He had hardly started until he was captured and thrown into prison at Boonville, Mo. He made his escape at night, found a canoe on the Missouri River bank and began his perilous journey. During the day he tied up among the willows, and during the night he floated down with the stream. Finding his way at last into Dixie he cast in his fortunes with the Southern Cause. At the close of the war he returned to Missouri University, graduating in '67 or' 68.
During the reconstruction days he again turned back into the South, that he might aid in every way possible. He acquired extensive plantation interests at Dunleith, Miss., which is one of the show plantations, of the South. It is owned and" managed by his son, Alf Stone, who is nationally known by his lectures and writing on the race question. Alf was a member of the State Legislature and he was conceded to be the wisest member of that body. For twelve years Captain Stone was State auditor and he could have had most any office within the gift of the people. Nothing marred his life for many years.
Always a loyal Disciple, and intense Southerner in his sympathies, a good business man and a trusted political leader, he made a large contribution to the State of his adoption. It was not until 1920 that his family circle was broken, because of the death of his wife. Since that time he has made his home with one and another of his five children. "Going to church now and then," he reminds us, "taking a walk each day" and "pulling on to the next milestone."
May my good friend and loyal helper reach it safe and sound! Here's my tribute before he passes. Just a flower Brother Stone while you live!
Kansas City, Mo. L. E. LAKIN
To the above commendation, the editor of this book wants to add his words of testimony to a life that has meant more to the good of the Christian Church during the last third of a century than that contributed by no other single man. When I first came to Jackson, Mississippi in January 1891, I found only two families that had anything like a living income, Capt. W. W. Stone was one of them. For nearly six years that I served that church as pastor, Capt. Stone contributed out of his salary, which was only $2,500.00 per year, from $12.50 to $20.00 per month on my salary, and that without ever a complaint of any kind. It was during these six years that we began and got the building now standing on that comer completed with the exception of seating. The original cost of that building was $6.500. We had to resort to all kinds of trades with our contractor, Capt. Taylor, in order to get it paid for. The building of that house was somewhat of a mystery to the inhabitants of Jackson. They would ask Bro. Stone: "Stone, how are you building it without money?" Bro. Stone would reply: "Nobody knows but the Lord and Harmon." But when I left Jackson in the fall of 1896, we owed the Church Extension a debt of $1,000.00. When I returned in January, 1904, after an absence of seven years, this debt had just been paid off. In all of my first ministry with that church, Capt. Stone was ably assisted by the Kirkland family, who shared with him the burden of expenses, after all other gifts were gotten in, in the ratio of 50‑50. I have heard Bro. Stone tell how he was criticized by some of the State officials who worked in the old Capitol with him, when he took his stand with the "little church around the corner." They said, "Stone, you are a wise guy, identifying yourself with that little hand full of folks around there where it won't cost you anything." His reply was: "that shows your ignorance of church affairs, for the burden of expense will fall almost altogether on me." And sure enough it did. But it was his pleasure to meet it. It comes to a community usually only once in a lifetime to have such a man as Captain Watt Stone. His name and influence will remain in our churches in Mississippi for many generations to come.
To the above honored Disciple, I wish to add the names of others who have helped to make the Christian Church the factor for good that it has exercised in Mississippi during the last half century. In 1891, when coming to this state, I was lead to come through the intervention of that scholarly, godly man, Dr. D. L. Phares, of Madison Station, who was a very old man at that date. For many years he was the President of the State Board had given up his practice and was devoting his time, money and talents to the cause of Christ. He passed away I think it was in 1892.
Dr. D. B. Hill. Dr. Hill was also an old man in 1891, and he too passed away early after my coming back to the state. He lived at old Palo Alto, and was the backbone of the church there, which for many years was the largest country church among the Disciples of Christ in the State. He was the first president of the State Missionary organization as will be noticed by reading an account of that organization in another place in this book. There were other good and loyal souls in this part of the state, and from this old church the congregation in West Point was afterward formed. I mention the names of the Deans and Iveys, who till this day are prominent in the West Point congregation.
Drs. John and Hayden McKay. These splendid men came from Western Kentucky to Mississippi as well as I can determine in the So's and located at Madison Station, about 12 miles North of Jackson. Dr. Hayden McKay engaged in Horticulture, and for a long time was the largest strawberry raiser in the United States. The families of these men were all staunch members of the Christian Church, and during the life time of Dr. McKay, they had regular monthly services in one of the churches in that place, but never attempted to build a church house. It was possibly wise that they did not, as it was so close to Jackson, the capital, that the church in Jackson finally claimed nearly all the members at Madison.
Dr. J. W. S. Merrill. In the Northwestern part of the state, East of Greenwood, in the hill section of the state, Dr. Merrill was during his long and useful life a very prominent factor in the development of our cause in the State. He lived to be quite an old man and died in the early nineties. If I am not mistaken he is the father of Paul J. Merrill, who has been a prominent minister of the church in the West for several years.
John Andrews. Down in Port Gibson in the South Western part of the State, Brother Andrews was the life of the cause in his community. He was a very generous man, always attending all our State Conventions. He lived to a ripe old age, and passed to his eternal reward in the early nineties.
The Dardens and Whitneys. For many years there lived at Fayette, Mississippi, a large and influential family of both the Dardens and Whitneys. These families were related by marriage, and their church relations were as strong as their matrimonial ties. Nearly all their children following them in their church choice, and have added to the strength of the church wherever they have gone. A number of successful preachers have married into these families. W. W. Phares and A. T. Felix, both of Texas having married sisters in the home of Captain Whitney.
The Stevens and Boswells. Up in Lowndes County in Columbus, in the lower part of the North East section of the State, there were two or three brothers, Stevens, who were prominent in the work in that city for many years. One of the brothers made a preacher, and in later years moved to Texas. One of my first acquaintances in the State was the Boswell family at Columbus, whom I met for the first time on attending a State convention in this city in the early nineties. This whole family have all and always been very devout members of the church. From this family came Ira M. Boswell, one of our well-known and able preachers, who has the well-developed habit of staying a long time with whatever church he serves. For the last quarter century he has been with only two congregations, those of Chattanooga, Tenn., and now of Georgetown, Kentucky.
Fitts, McFarlane, Flynt, Clifton, Wilson, Wicks, Kimmel. In Aberdeen where this editor now lives and has for more than eight years, he found a number of men well along in life, who date back to times just following the civil war. Only two of these worthies now remain with us, J. C. Wicks, nearly 80 years old, the oldest member of the church in point of service, and our Senior Deacon. The other is Capt. H. E. Fitts, in his 84th year and our Senior Elder. The others mentioned above have passed to their eternal reward since my pastorate began here. They were all loyal to the church. This church was the home immediately after the civil war of a family from whom two very able men went out as ministers of the gospel, George and Homer Wilson. Mrs. T. T. Davenport, a sister of the Wilson preachers is still a member of this congregation and active in all its work. She is possibly the only remaining member of the Wilson family. There is another family who have meant a great deal to the church in recent years, and that is the Watkins family. They have not been leaders in the religious activities of the church, as they are all of timid and retiring disposition, but faithful in attendance, and have done what the great majority of the church has not done, they have served God with their substance, which is as essential as it is to pray or sing. Dr. Watkins before his death made a handsome endowment to the church, the only church of ours in the State in this class.
There are many other men and women of the church in the State whose names are entitled to a place in the "Hall of Fame," which time and space will not permit of being mentioned in this connection, as it was my purpose to deal only with those of an earlier period, who helped to lay the foundations wide and deep, so as to make it easier for the rising generations to build upon what they had laid. But the good Recording Angel has ever kept an eye upon their labors, and their reward will come in the "Sweet bye and bye."
M. F. HARMON
SOME MISSISSIPPI EVANGELISTS
The Restoration Movement in Mississippi has not made the progress that can be claimed by other states farther North or in the West. Before the Civil War, our cause was getting a foot hold in this state, and was possibly as well entrenched in some of the leading communities as were the older religious bodies. But that war wrought havoc with the churches as well as with the general welfare of the country. From this terrible catastrophe the Christian Church was slow in regaining its former prestige. In fact for nearly two decades the church made but little progress. But sometime in the eighties the spirit of evangelism took possession of the brotherhood, and there came upon the scene a number of able and consecrated men who gave themselves without stint to the evangelization of the state. One of the first, and possibly the greatest evangelist that ever labored in the state was KNOWLES SHAW. I do not know where he was raised or educated, or from whence he came to Mississippi, but I have heard many say who had heard him, testify to his matchless preaching, singing, composing a song in the middle of a sermon, playing it on the organ, get up from the instrument, back into the pulpit continuing his sermon as though nothing had ever happened. He had many peculiarities in his methods. I remember of hearing old Bro. Lewis Potter in Bowling Green, Ky., telling that Shaw baptized him and his wife together. He always baptized man and wife together when they came into the church at the same time. I was told in Jackson, Mississippi, when first coming to this state, by members of the Jackson church, that Shaw held a great revival there, which was attended by all the preachers of the city. It was told me that one of the greatest preachers of Jackson was made a Bishop to keep him from joining the Christian Church. I have no records of the revivals that were held by Bro. Shaw in the state, nor just how long he lived in this state. But he was living in Columbus, Mississippi, when he was on his way to hold a revival in Texas. It was on a Railroad platform somewhere in Texas where his life was snapped out. Just before the terrible accident happened which terminated one of the most useful and unique lives, his last words were: “How beautiful it is to preach the gospel to lost men.”
G. A. REYNOLDS. On October the 4, 1852, G. A. Reynolds was born in Marshall County, Mississippi. He was educated in Kentucky University, now Transylvania, under the great and good teachers McGarvey, Grubbs and Graham. The most of Bro. Reynolds life has been given to the cause of Christ in this his native state. He has done some evangelistic work in Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas and one of the Carolinas. But for the most part his work has been confined to this state. Bro. Reynolds, like a great many other of our preachers never “preached for money," but because he loved the cause of Christ, and like the Apostle Paul felt, "woe is me if I preach not the gospel." Under his ministry it is safe to say that he has added to the church, either by confession and baptism, by letter or statement 3,500 souls. In the day of judgment there will be many to rise up and call him blessed for the noble work he did for the cause of our Master in this state.
LEE JACKSON. My first meeting with Bro. Jackson was in McComb City when I held a revival there, about 1894. He was born at Mitchells Cross Roads, in Tallahatchie County about 73 years ago. He was educated in Mars Hill College, Florence, Alabama, under that matchless preacher, T. B. Larimore. Bro. Jackson has given nearly all his ministerial life to the cause in his native state. He has always had some peculiarities in his preaching, like a great many men, and I suppose wholly unconscious of it. Like the lamented Manire, you would soon forget the eccentricities of the speaker by being absorbed in what the speaker was saying. Bro. Jackson is a deep thinker, and original in his thoughts and preaching, and has given his entire life without reserve to building up the "weak places in Zion." He never got for his services in his life a tithe of what his ministry meant to those upon whom he gave his best efforts. He lives now, (1929) in Oakland, Mississippi. Since writing the above tribute, Bro. Jackson has been called to his eternal reward. (H.)
H. K. COLESON. This evangelist came with his father and family sometime in the latter eighties to West Point, Mississippi from Ohio, as I understand it. For a number of years Bro. Coleson was in the printing business. He and the whole family were members of the Christian Church and identified themselves with the Church immediately upon coming South Just how, when or where H. K. Coleson began to preach, I cannot say now. But I do know that from somewhere about end of his earthly pilgrimage, he was a bundle of holy enthusiasm and preached constantly, in season, out of season, night and day. His fort was in going to a good country community, engage a school house, announce a meeting and continue till he had organized a congregation, and left it fully officered, and in most instances money raised and work begun on a new church. He always preached with his Bible in his hands, never laid it down, and would prove every statement he made by an array of scriptural references that never left a doubt in any mind as to the correctness of his position. He began the church in Cleveland, Mississippi, and possibly other places in the Delta, but his strong point was with the substantial country community. He organized several churches in the North East District of this State, and one of the best country churches in the State near Kosciusko, Mississippi. It was at this church, as I recall that he was in the midst of a revival when he developed pneumonia from which he died. I remember hearing one of our preachers say of H. K. Coleson some years before he died, that he was adding more people to the church than all the rest of our preachers in the state put together. Like the others whose names are in this chapter, he went without money and without price. He was fairly well remunerated, however.
JOHN A. STEVENS. Here I am supplying what I asked Bro. Stevens to contribute to this book, but for some reason he has not complied with the request. But for ten years, eight of them consecutively, and then after a pastorate in Chattanooga, Tenn., he came back to the state and put in two more years of very successful work. Bro. Stevens was a Texan, brought up on the Ranch. He spent some years in Arkansas, and it was there that he began to preach. From a story he told me once of his aspirations in this matter, I judge he must have been a poor looking prospect for a preacher. He said of himself that about the time he was 19 or 20, he divulged to his congregation, or to a deacon thereof, the fact that he wanted to preach. The deacon reported the matter to the Official Board for some action to be taken of the matter. He was ungainly in appearance, long and bony frame, with his pants legs and coat sleeves both too short by several inches. Some of the Board said it would never do to allow him to go out and disgrace the church. One of the num, ber who best knew Stevens said: "Brethren, you don't know the stuff that boy is made of. All the demons in the lower regions could not keep him from preaching." The prediction was well founded. I think Stevens came to the State Work of Mississippi from some evangelistic work he had been doing in Tennessee. He began his work on the first Lord's Day in January, 1891, the same day I began the pastorate of the Jackson church. During the next six years I was very intimately associated with Bro. Stevens, as I was Treasurer of the State Board, and also editor of the Messenger, the State paper, to which Stevens was a regular contributer, and a very facile writer withal. "Steven's Notes," were always newsy and spicey, and universally read by every subscriber. He would always shine the brightest, however, at a State Convention in making his annual report. He was a good business man, reported every cent collected during the year, from every source, often reporting as small as a dime contributed by an old negro woman, who had been on the outside of the tent and heard his sermon, and wanted to contribute her mite to the good work. Many are the congregations that were established from the ground up, to say nothing of the older churches that were enlarged by his splendid preaching. One of the most outstanding victories of his work in Mississippi was the organization of the church in Water Valley. Then he organized the church in Greenville, Tupelo, and was the outstanding figure in the development of the Meridian church and many others. He was neat in his dress, very liberal in his gifts to new churches, though he never got more than $1,500 a year for his services. he often said to me, Harmon, that is all a preacher is worth, and most of them are not worth that. That was many years ago. While it has been a quarter of a century since he labored in this commonwealth, yet he numbers his friends by the scores, who are ardent in their devotion to him.
JAMES SHARP. This able evangelist was an Englishman, and his labors began somewhere in the middle eighties. He had been out of the state some years prior to 1891. But the universal testimony of all the brethren was that when it came to pure straightforward gospel preaching, that James Sharp had no superiors, and but few equals. His preaching, however was not of the kind that made immediate disciples, but he so indoctrinated them that they would finally come into the fold. It used to be said that there were people all over the state whom Sharp had "fixed" so that they never would after that make a good denominationalist. He passed to his eternal reward in Florida some ten or more years ago.
J. E. SPIEGEL. For some five or six years this good preacher served the churches in Mississippi as State Evangelist. He never took towns or even congregations by storm, but was a scriptural, logical and thoroughly consecrated man to his work, very business like, and a' constant and steady puller at the task year in and year out. He was nearly all the time of his connection with the state work, editor of the state paper, the Southern Christian Courier. He made a very newsey and readable paper of it. He organized the church at Woodville, has held several revivals for the church, and is now in his second or third pastorate with them, and can if he so wills it, be their pastor the rest of his days. There are very few stronger or better balanced all round men than J. E. Spiegel.
MILTON HATLEY ARMOR. While not an evangelist in the strict sense of the word, yet M. H. Armor has held many meetings in Mississippi, and has devoted his entire life to the state that gave him birth. And that too, within a radius of not much over fifty miles of the spot where he was born. While not an evangelist, I feel like this book would be incomplete without mention of a man who has done so much for the cause of Christ as has Hatley Armor. He was educated in Kentucky University, long before it became Transylvania, and quite a time before he anticipated entering the ministry. He got a thorough education for his life work, let it be whatever it might. Stevens used to call him "old Greek," because of both his looks and his familiarity with the Greek language, I suppose. But for some years after coming from College, Bro. Armor was engaged in the railroad business. All at once he became obsessed with the idea of preaching. But he was getting a fine salary for that day, $100. per month. And there were no strong churches of Christ wanting a preacher and ready to give him a better salary than the Railroad was paying. In fact there were few churches of his choice to be found anywhere close to him to call him at all. But he gave up the fat job he had and found four poor country churches that would all told pay him just half what the railroad was paying. Brother Armor lived here in Aberdeen for nearly ten years, and then lived in Columbus for several years, and then in Tupelo for a number of years. His home for some years was with the church at Baldwyn, and from there he moved back to New Albany, close to where he was born, to spend the rest of his days. No man in the North East District has done more for the upbuilding of the Kingdom than has Hatley Armor.
JOHN TALLEY. Among the tried and true men who have wrought in Mississippi, we must pay a passing tribute to this humble, consecrated and loyal preacher. Bro. Talley was a Tennessean by birth, but came to Mississippi very soon after he began to preach, and held pastorates at various places all over the state. If I mistake not, his first pastorate was with the church either at Griffith of Water Valley. He preached also at Caledonia, Okolona, Greenville, Hattiesburg and many other places. His heart was in his work, and he kept up every phase of his work to the smallest detail. There were few better pastors than John Talley. Many years ago he said that if he passed away before I did, that he wanted me to preach his funeral. This I did in Columbus, Mississippi, some four years ago.
There have been many evangelists to come and go in Mississippi who have added materially to the onward progress of the Kingdom, but they were men mostly who were professional evangelists who had to have a good round sum of money before they would come, or else would have to be allowed to raise their own salary on the ground, and many of these would begin to stress the "financial" end of the meeting from the very beginning, and keep it up till the last amen, when the "big haul" had to be pulled off. But not so with the men whose names appear in this list. They have staid on the field and worked heroically for a lifetime, many of them, and to these the real progress of the kingdom is due.
To this list we would add the name of N. B. Patterson, but for the fact that his labors have been recorded with the churches at West Point and Hickory, Miss.
There are many imperfections in this volume, in every way except in its mechanical construction. In this, I am sure the reader will at once readily see that this part of the work is first class. In this connection, the editor wants to thank his publishers, Connors & Ridsdale, of Louisville, Ky., who made me a very low bid on the publishing of this book, even cheaper than I could have done it when I was in the publishing business myself. Mr. Connors is a devout Catholic, but I want to testify that during a residence of two years on Lincoln Court, in Louisville, when Mr. Connors lived next door to me, when he and his wife were newly weds, we never had better neighbors in all our lives, and during those two years there sprang up between us a friendship that I don't think time will ever erase.
If this volume serves to keep alive the beginnings of the work of the Christian Church in Mississippi, and will in any way add enthusiasm to the adherents of the Church in its future welfare, the editor will feel amply repaid for all the time, labor and expense which he has put on it.
M. F. HARMON
From the press of Conners And Ridsdale
213 original pages