A SERIES OF LIFE-SKETCHES INDICATING THE GROWTH AND PROSPERITY OF THE BAPTIST CHURCHES AS REPRESENTED IN THE LIVES AND LABORS
BY J. C. MAPLE, A.M., D.D.AND R.P. RIDER, A.M.VOL. I.
At the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society, in Nevada, Missouri, October 20, 1910, on the earnest suggestion of our Moderator, Hon. E. W. Stephens, steps were taken by which the memory of our honored dead might be preserved for the Denomination.
On motion of Rev. G. W. Hatcher, it was unanimously voted that Rev. J. C. Maple be requested to prepare a history of representative Missouri Baptists of the past, for publication.
Immediately after this action, Dr. Maple, realizing that he must have assistance in this work, requested Prof. Rider to join him, and, subsequently, Prof. Rider's name was associated with that of Dr. Maple, by action of the Society.
Vigorous effort in search of material upon which to base records of the lives and labors of eminent Missouri Baptists, was immediately begun. In most instances the friends of those who had departed this life, were prompt in furnishing satisfactory data; and Prof. Rider's knowledge of the available material in the Archives of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society gave added efficiency to the enterprise, so that the editors soon found that the field they were attempting to cultivate, was not only of much greater extent than it had at first seemed to be, but was richer in available biographical material than they had supposed it was, and that justice to the memory of our worthy dead, could, by no means, be done in the issue of a single volume just completed, the editors, believing that the work will be of continued interest to Missouri Baptists and their friends, have, in addition to the completion of this volume, prepared material for a second and a third volume – now ready for the press – still leaving many more memorials, with data for still others coming in, that must await the issue of subsequent volumes.
In keeping with the historical spirit and aim of this work, it has been deemed wise to give the sketches in the first volume, their historical setting, as far as the editors are able to do so. In following this plan, the material of this book has been treated as belonging to three distinct periods of the Baptist history of Missouri, viz:
I. The Pioneer Period
1797 – 1834 – from the beginning of the record to the organization of the General Association.
II. The Period of Development
1834 -1884 – from the organization of the General Association to the Semi – Centennial Meeting.
III. The Period of Achievement.
The years subsequent to 1884 - the Period of Missionary and Educational Activity – and, as space is wanting, it includes only a section of that prolific period, ending with the Centennial date, 1906.
Of course, we have not nearly exhausted the material available for each of these periods; but to give the volume greater interest for all, have employed representative lives from each period, and propose to bring forth other outlines in a second volume. This course was unavoidable on account of the irregularity and, and at times, tardiness, with which materials came to the hands of the editors.
As will be seen, several of the sketches have been written by relatives or intimate friends of the deceased. This is a pleasant feature of the contents of the volume, as thus the editors have, in many instances, been able to secure that intimate and personal atmosphere that is so desirable in biography, and they desire here to express their grateful acknowledgment of the kindness thus shown.
The editors wish also to express their gratitude to their honored friend, Hon. D. C. Allen, for lending his efficient aid in furnishing several of the outlines of characters with whose records he was familiar.
With an earnest prayer that those who shall build upon the foundations laid in toil and tears by our faithful pioneers, may be as true to the trust committed to them as were their predecessors, this volume is given to the public.
In the year of our Lord, Nineteen Hundred Fourteen.
Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them. (Rev. XIV: 13.)
At the beginning of this period, i.e., from 1796 to 1800, the territory bordering on the western banks of the Mississippi River was, politically, under the control of the Spanish Crown, and, ecclesiastically, subject to the Papal See. In 1800 it was retransferred to France, the prevision possessor; but, while the political control was changed, the ecclesiastical domination remained the same until 1803, when religious liberty came to the Territory through the cession thereof to the Government of the United States by France.
During the years of Papal proscription, many sturdy men came to the Territory from Kentucky and Southern Illinois, bringing their families with them for the purpose of making a home in this naturally inviting section of the West. Among these new settlers, were many Baptist families that located themselves in those parts of the Territory whose centers were St. Louis, St. Genevieve, and New Madrid. They came with the definite purpose of remaining, and they remained, notwithstanding the prohibitions and persecutions that they encountered in endeavoring to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their own consciences. Some one has said that the Baptists are like the Canada Thistle; given a favoring spirit laden breezed, and they may be wafted to the remotest parts of the earth, and wherever they light, they take root.
The settlements made during this time were of the crudest character, such as would be expected under the primitive and social conditions of this frontier region. Their log- cabin homes were often placed in the depths of trackless forests, and were so scattering as hardly to admit of the term, neighborhood: of churches and schools they had none, except those under Roman Catholic control in central parts along the banks of the river, and hence, inaccessible to them.
To these people, dwelling in the "region beyond, " the earliest of our pioneer preachers came as self appointed missionaries, bringing the Word of God to the hungering people. The casual visitations soon attracted the attention of the vigilant priesthood, who at once took measures to check the sowing of the "seeds of heresy," and those who had been meeting for religious purposes were haled before the governmental authorities of the Province. Had the zeal of these political governors for the welfare of the Church been as great as was that of the priesthood, the difficulties to be encountered might have been even greater than they were. But the dread of the "calaboza" was often lightened by the leniency of the Commandant. For example, the officer placed over the St. Louis settlement, application having been made by a Baptist for permission to have preaching at his house and call it a church, nor suffer anyone but the parish priest to christen your children, but if any of your friends choose to meet at your house, sing, pray, and talk about religion, you will not be molested, provided you continue, as I believe you to be, good Christians."
But upon the completion of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, these difficulties from church and governmental interference were removed, and churches were organized; Tywappity in 1805, Bethel in 1806, and Fee Fee in 1807. The Canada Thistle had taken permanent root. But these hindrances having been removed did not lighten the physical difficulties arising from want of roads through the forests, bridges across streams, and long distances intervening between settlements, etc. The heroism with which obstructions to freedom of communication were met and overcome, will appear in some of the stirring stories of the consecrated efforts of our noble Pioneer Preachers.
REV. JOHN CLARK
(1758-1833) RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY IN MISSOURI (1798 – 1833)
John Clark was born near Inverness, in the northern part of Scotland, November 29, 1758. The family was highly respected and well connected. John's mother was a very pious woman and taught her children the catechism, as all strict Presbyterians did in that land. The father, Alexander Clark, owned and cultivated a farm in a secluded parish not far from Inverness. He was not a total abstainer from intoxicants, and when he inherited a large estate from his brother, Daniel, who had accumulated wealth by trading in Georgia in the early days of the settlement of America, he became dissipated and wrecked his fortune. He was later reclaimed and became a sober man, and , it is believed, a Christian. It was the wish of John's parents that he should have a thorough classical education. He did not, however, like the study of ancient languages, but was fond of mathematics and completed a full course, including surveying and navigation.
His ambition was to be a sailor. After making a few voyages in the transport service, he sailed as mate for the West Indies. Upon the arrival of the ship at the Barbadoes, he was seized and forced on board the British man of war, the Tobago. He made an effort to escape from this ship, but was captured and put in irons. Seeing a ship that was supposed to be an enemy, he was released and ordered to his post, to engage in battle. England was then at war with Spain and other maritime powers, and placed the war vessels in the Caribbean Sea, and adjacent waters, under command of Admiral Rodney. This heroic sea fighter having captured a number of Spanish sailors, treated them with great kindness, and thereby secured an order from the king of Spain that any English prisoners should be treated with like consideration. After serving some months on the Tobago, Mr. Clark again escaped from what he regarded as an unjust imprisonment. He now sought to find his brother, Daniel, who was, as he knew, living upon the island where the ship was at anchor when he made his escape. He found his brother, but was so utterly disgusted with the dissipated life he was then living that he would not remain with him.
He now sought to return to his old home in Scotland, but was again pressed into the service of the English navy. The man of war on which he was, perforce, serving was captured by two Spanish warships and he, with others, was kept a prisoner in Havana for nineteen months. The war having ended, he, now a free man, made his way to Charleston, South Carolina. Here again he was seized by a "press gang" and carried aboard the Narcissus, an English warship. With three others, who, like himself, had been taken aboard against their will, he escaped by night and swam ashore.
He was now among strangers and almost without clothing and was forced to remain in hiding. He found three Scotch tailors, who were at work changing the uniforms furnished by Britain to the sailors so as to be wearable by men of varied sizes. They were as anxious to escape from this enforced service as was John Clark. He had been furnished clothing by some of the old sailors he had met, and with these three tailors he managed to get across the Ashley River, and after many hardships and dangers of capture, they made their way to the camp of General Francis Marion. Reporting themselves as deserters from the British navy they were received with open arms and their wants were supplied to the fullest extent that the possessions of these genuine patriots allowed. The war having ended and the American colonies being freed from British tyranny, Mr. Clark engaged for a time in a sea-faring life. He made voyages from New York to Southern ports and also to some of the West India islands. His knowledge of the laws and principles of navigation was soon recognized, and he was chosen first mate, in which position he gave satisfaction to both owners and shippers.
But he was in mental agony. He fully realized his lost condition as a sinner in the sight of God. He sought and found salvation through the atonement made by the Divine Christ. He wrote thus of this period of his life: "I resolved to go into the country and teach school, where I could have opportunity to read my Bible, meditate, and attend to the salvation of my soul." He now went to the western border of South Carolina, and for a year taught school. He then went to Georgia. As that country was rapidly filling up with homeseekers, he thought he might find employment as a surveyor of the new lands. But he again engaged in teaching. Here he met with some Methodist ministers who had made their way to these frontier regions. He attended their meetings, and was led out of self-righteousness into an humble trust in the merits of the Lord Jesus for salvation. This was in the year 1786, and Mr. Clark was therefore now about 28 years of age. He had wandered over the seas and been brought-in contact with the very roughest class of men; had, at one time, become very much alarmed, lest the passion for strong drink would obtain the mastery over him as it had over his father and brother; but he was an humble Christian. "His amiable temper, courteous manners, and kind feelings, without any effort on his part, gained for him the confidence and good will of all with whom he held intercourse." He united with the Methodist church, and was active, as a beginner, in the public and social meetings.
Mr. Clark now resolved to visit his native land. He parted from his friend, Col. 'Wooten, with whom he had made his home for two or more years, while the host wept tears of gratitude for the good influence the teacher had exercised in his family. One son, who was inclined to a reckless life, had become a Christian through Clark's instrumentality. Arriving at Charleston he could have paid the fare and taken a cabin passage, but he shipped as a regular seaman. The sailors, when he came aboard, at first spoke of him as "a green un, " and "a land lubber." But when a severe storm came upon them they discovered that he was the best hand on board. "He could run up the shrouds and out on the yardarms like a monkey; hold on with one hand and take in a reef with the other in the quickest time."
In those early days it took from two to three months for these vessels to cross the Atlantic and arrive at London. In good weather the sailors had much time to lie on deck and spend their time in "spinning yarns." On one of these occasions a sailor inquired "what book is it that Jack Clark reads so much?" A sailor who had been sick for days, answered, "It is the Bible." Another one inquired, "Is Jack a Parson?" "I do not know about that," said the one who was yet pale from his severe illness, "but he read to me out of the Bible and then he prayed and did not have to read it out of a book, either, and that is more than many Parsons can do."
This sailor with whom "Jack Clark" had prayed when he was dangerously ill, was in a most serious mood, but he had let out the secret that they had a praying sailor on board; and he had shown so much familiarity with the sea that some had no doubt he had once been in command of some ship upon the high seas. This sailor, Thomas Halyard, was himself now a Christian, and when they had landed in London, went with John Clark, and a number of the other sailors joined them, in looking for a place where they could hear the gospel. They were led to the church where they heard John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist brotherhood.
John Clark then took passage on another ship and went to the northern part of Scotland in search of his own family. He learned that his father, his mother, his brother, and one sister had died. One sister only remained on earth. This sister was married and living on the little farm where he had grown to manhood. She did not recognize her brother. He told her he had once lived in that region, and asked about many of the neighbors. She then told him of his father, mother, brother, and the deceased sister, but said nothing about John. He inquired if there was any other member of the family. Then her lips quivered and tears came in her eyes, and with great effort at composure, she replied, "Yes, I had a brother John, but he went to sea, and the last we ever heard of him he was captured by the Spaniards, and we suppose he, too, is dead." He then said to her, "Sister, I am your brother John." With tears of gladness and inexpressible gratitude to God for his protection they rejoiced together. The sister went to a drawer and brought to him $45.00 in money, the last he had sent to his mother, and told him it was her dying request if he ever returned to give him this with her blessing. There were also other mementos of his mother's love that had been kept for him at her request. He assured his sister he did not need the money and she must use it for her own comfort and that of her family.
After praying with and for all his relatives, and a few weeks' stay with them, he assured them he must return to America ans there spend his life in preaching the gospel upon the frontiers of that rapidly populating country.
He spent a few years in Georgia and the Carolinas, l where he served as a member of the Methodist Episcopal Conference. He preached upon a large circuit, but made all his journeys on foot. He now asked for and received a discharge from the Conference, and traveled on foot to Kentucky. There he preached and taught school for a few years and then came to Missouri.
Dr. John M. Peck, in his life of John Clark, says, page 215: "We will now pass over a few months, till some time in the spring or summer of 1798, when Mr. Clark carried out his long cherished project of visiting the Spanish country west of the Mississippi River, and which made him, in a peculiar sense, The Pioneer Preacher."
In his history of Missouri Baptists, Rev. R. S. Duncan says that David Green came to Missouri in 1805. He gives the date of the arrival of Thomas Musick at 1803 or 1804; Peck says 1803. The visit of Thomas Johnson was in 1799, but he did not remain long, but baptized one woman, Mrs. Ballou.
Mr. Clark was not a member of any Baptist church when he came to Missouri, but was a Baptist in principle. If these dates are correct, and there is, so far as I know, no reason for doubt as to their correctness, then Dr. Peck is right in saying he was The Pioneer Preacher in the State of Missouri. For eight or ten years Mr. Clark taught school in Illinois, but spent Saturdays and Sundays in preaching.
His baptism would, in the present day, be regarded as irregular, to use no stronger word. There was a local Methodist preacher, who, like John Clark, had become dissatisfied with his baptism. A public meeting was held and both preachers, with others, related their Christian experiences. They then went to a near-by stream where Mr. Talbot baptized Mr. Clark, and then in turn Clark baptized Talbot and several others.
There was held by the churches, an annual meeting, as soon as the restrictions of the Romish hierarchy were removed, by the Louisiana Territory becoming a part of the United States, though they had not organized themselves into a regular Baptist Association. At one of these meetings, John Clark was examined on his experience, views of doctrine and practices, and, after prayer, the hand of fellowship was given him by all the membership present. This was his ordination, and though informal, was satisfactory to all the churches where he ministered to the end of his life.
Mr. Clark's local church membership was at Coldwater in St. Louis county. He also preached regularly at Florissant, Owen's Station (now Bridgeton), Spanish Pond, and Fee Fee. He journeyed as far west as the Boon's Lick country on one or more occasions. He also continued to preach at many points in Illinois. He made his varied journeys on foot. At one time his friends gave him a horse, bridle, and saddle; but he did not know how to handle a horse and was so sympathetic that when he came to a stream or a very muddy place in the road, he would remove his nether garments and lead the horse, fearing it would be cruel to force the animal to carry his weight. After a single trip he returned the hose to those who had given it to him and begged them to take him back.
On one occasion he was in the northern part of St. Louis county, when he started on Friday to walk to an appointment in Jersey County, Illinois. When he arrived at the Mississippi River he found that a storm had swept away all the boats, and he therefore walked to St. Louis, and crossing the river just before dark, walked all night, calling early next morning at the home of a friend a little below Alton. The friend, discovering his weariness, questioned him until he learned of his sleepless tramp through the long hours of the preceding night. Upon remonstrating with him for so exposing his health, he received the reply: "This is nothing to what my Savior endured for me. Then, too, time is short and souls are precious. The people expect me to meet my appointments."
Bye eleven o'clock that day he was at the appointed place a number of miles north of Alton, and preached to a waiting assembly. He received no salary. The good women provided him with such clothing as their own families wore. He was always welcome in every home where he was known, and there were few families that did not know "Father Clark." He spent the larger portion of his time in Missouri, with occasional visits to Illinois. "For ten years before his death he made a regular circuit, monthly, extending from Fox Creek on the Meramec River, west-south-west from St. Louis, round by Coldwater, where was the church to which his membership was attached, and of which he was pastor" (From J. M. Peck). He joined heartily with J. M. Peck in the establishment of Rock Spring Seminary, which grew into Shurtleff College. Everywhere, and on all fields, he was ready to give the best service that he possibly could to help the needy, to instruct inquirers, and to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus to the multitudes. He was never selfassertive, but was unyielding in his defense of the gospel, and faithful in preaching the truth.
He died at the home of Elisha Paterson in St. Louis County, on the 11th day of October, 1833, aged nearly 75 years. He was buried in a churchyard near where he had for many years been pastor. A modest stone was placed by his friends to mark the place of his sepulture. A more consecrated, self-denying follower of the Christ has never found a grave in the State of Missouri.
Many years ago, almost two centuries in the past, a small boy was found "wandering alone" in Wales. All that the child knew about himself was that his name was George. Those who discovered him could find no trace of his origin and therefore knew nothing of his parentage. He was kindly cared for, and when he grew older exhibited great fondness for music and enlarged capacity in acquiring a knowledge of its science. As no other surname seemed to fit his case so well, he was called George Musick. The word was then spelled with the final "k."
In the early days of the settlement of North America by the white race, he came to Virginia, and there married and reared a family. The fourth son of George Musick, named Ephriam, was the father of Thomas R. Musick, who came to Missouri among the first permanent settlers. He was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, October 17, 1756. When 17 years of age he gave his heart and life to the Lord Jesus, and proposed to join a Baptist church, but his father who was a member of the Episcopal church, very positively opposed this action. But Thomas had carefully and prayerfully studied the New Testament, and his conviction of duty was too clear to be thwarted. He followed his enlightened conscience.
A short time after his conversion and baptism he began preaching. Soon thereafter he moved to North Carolina, and was there united in marriage with Miss Mary Nevil.
The place and date of his ordination have not been ascertained. We have no record of his, according to the custom of ministers in that day, he made a preaching tour into the Green River country of Kentucky, and thence continued further west, leaving his family in North Carolina. While on this tour he made his first visit to the new settlements west of the Mississippi River. He had been in a great revival in Kentucky in which about one hundred had been converted and joined the Baptist church where he had preached. He came to Missouri filled with the spirit of this evangelistic work. He visited many families in the St. Louis and St. Charles districts, and preached wherever the people could be brought together to hear the gospel. Though he was threatened with arrest and imprisonment by the minions of the Pope, he was undaunted.
After preaching for a time to the scattered residents in this wilderness, he returned to his home in North Carolina. He felt that he was needed here where there were so few to preach the gospel, and, in either 1803 or 1804 – which of these dates is not certainly known – he moved his family to Missouri and became the first Baptist preacher who permanently settled in this Territory. If the date of 1799, at which time Thomas Johnson preached in Cape Girardeau County, and John Clark preached in the St. Louis district the same year, be correct, then they preceded Mr. Musick several years. We know that each came for the same motive, that the gospel might be proclaimed to the destitute; and each one acted from the propulsive force of the love of the Christ. There never came into their minds a thought of rivalry. They lived too near the Divine Christ to have a thought of who should be first, either in the order of their coming or the honor that those who follow might bestow upon them. They were not troubled over the thought that some one might have told the story of "Jesus and His love" before their arrival. It was the greatest joy to each of them to find on the new field those who loved the Christ and welcomed His servants. The records seem uncertain whether it was 1808 or 1804 that Thomas R. Musick made his home in St. Louis County, Missouri, but there is no question but that Fee Fee church was constituted in 1807. Thus we learn that three or four years of arduous labor were necessary to gather enough prepared material to organize a church.
It would be hard for any one today, in the great State of Missouri, to realize what trials and anxieties the preachers endured while thus laboring for these years without seeing the fruit of his sowing so taking root that the vine would surely grow and become itself fruit-bearing. But the plant still lives. It is now, and has been for many years, the oldest Baptist church in Missouri that has maintained a continued existence. The place where these pioneers worshiped is now made doubly sacred by having become the site of the Missouri Baptist Orphans' Home.
In 1811 a great revival sprang out of the labors of this good man. He went all over the many counties, which constituted his large parish, and for months preached both night and day. It is said of him that he came out of this constant labor with his voice so shattered that he never fully recovered.
After a residence of some twenty years in this territory, he suffered the great sorrow of the loss of his wife by death. Their home had burned at Bridgeton, St. Louis County. He then sold his home and for the remainder of his earthly life gave himself to school teaching and preaching. He would teach school until he had a little means upon which to live and then go forth and preach as the Lord opened the way, until all his money was exhausted, and then repeat the same. Thus he persevered as long as strength enabled him to travel and preach.
In the latter part of his life his ministerial labors extended over the Counties of St. Louis, Franklin, Gasconade and Osage, south of the Missouri River, and St. Charles, Lincoln, Pike, Montgomery, Audrain and Callaway, north of the river. This earnest and faithful preacher of the gospel continued his itinerant labors until he was called to the rest above. He died December 2, 1842, and was buried in the cemetery at the Fee Fee church by the side of his beloved wife. There, too, lies the body of Rev. Lewis Williams, who had been for some years his co-laborer.
The name of Thomas R. Musick will be held in high esteem as long as the Baptists of Missouri continue to hold aloft the banner of truth in this great State, and this they will do until the Great Master comes again and calls all His loved ones to end their toils here in the body and enter the mansions He has prepared for them.
He was certainly blessed with very unusual vitality. His labors were incessant and attended with much exposure. In those early days there were not many of what we today call the comforts of life. Everywhere the people shared with the minister the best they had, but their small and rude log cabins were not like the palatial homes that dot the prairies and adorn the hills and valleys of the present day. In not a few instances he had to spend the night with the starry heavens as his roof and his blanket as his only covering. Yet when in the 86th year of his age, one of his friends wrote that when he saw him in June, 1842, he was then "able to ride and preach as much as most men of sixty-five." At his death, December, 1842. he was about two months past 86 years of age. His was a noble life of more than four scores of years well spent.
A biography of Missouri Baptists would be incomplete if the name of J. M. Peck should be left out. Though his home, for the most of his life in the central portion of our great country, was in the State of Illinois, yet, not only for a time was he a resident of Missouri, but he continued, to the end of his life, to be an integral factor in all religious and educational affairs on the west as well as upon the east side of the great river.
Two things deprived Missouri Baptists of the most valuable records of the early periods of our history in this State. One was a fire in the Peck home that destroyed most of his great collection of early records and his carefully preserved library of printed documents. The other was the reckless destruction of his journals, by a thoughtless custodian of the Mercantile Library of St. Louis, who, thinking they were worthless, burned them.
John M. Peck was the son of Asa and Hannah Peck. He was born on a farm in Litchfield South Farms, Connecticut, on the 31st day of October, 1789. His father was a man of infirm health, and able to do but a small portion of the work upon the unproductive farm. And so the boy from his fourteenth year was compelled to earn the most of the living for the family. He did attend the public school for a few months each winter, but the remainder of the year was devoted to the hard manual labor of a farmer boy in those days when there was no labor-saving machinery for the cultivation of the soil.
His ancestors were Congregationalists. They were earnest and practical Christians. Their children were carefully educated in all the teachings of the denomination and in every possible way were made familiar with their understanding of the Bible. The solid principles of morality were woven into every fiber of the brain. They learned to think, as well as to act, in harmony with the principles of the Decalogue.
Sarah Paine, providentially destined to become his wife, grew to womanhood in the home of her grandparents upon a neighboring farm. Both she and J. M. Peck became Christians in early life, and when she was twenty years and four months old, and he nine months younger, they were united in marriage on the 8th day of May, 1809.
In the spring of 1811 Mr. Peck moved with his family, consisting of a wife and one child, from South Farms, Connecticut, into the town of Windham, Green County, New York. The immediate location of the new home was called Big Hollow, a settlement consisting of seven families, his making the eighth. The heads of these families were, as he says, Congregational Puritans. There was in the locality a small log building, which was occasionally occupied as a school house and on Sabbath by a religious meeting, conducted by Deacon Hitchcock, the patriarch of the little settlement. Mr. Peck joined in these religious exercises, reading at times a printed sermon, "and if the sermon was short, speaking some words of his own, extempore."
A careful and prayerful study of the New Testament resulted in both of the young people becoming Baptists. Dr. Peck wrote of this period of his life: "Learning that the Baptist church of New Durham held meetings monthly in a school house, some five miles north of our residence, and over the mountains by a winding path, the writer might have been seen with his wife and babe about thirteen months old, wending his way up the side of a steep mountain, on a beautiful Sabbath morning the 10th day of August." The following September the same couple again climbed the mountain range on their way to the place where the church would assemble. "This time they carried a small bundle of light clothing." After a most careful and searching examination by the pastor, with questions by other members of the church, on "points of doctrine and experience, " they were received, and "every person in the congregation walked half a mile to a clear beautiful mountain stream, of half a sufficient depth, hid away in a romantic dell, where the two candidates put on the Lord Jesus Christ and made oath of allegiance to the King of Zion in the scriptural form of administration." From the beginning of his acquaintance with the membership of this church, Mr. Peck says he seldom held a conversation with any of the members that they did not ask him, "Don't you think you ought to preach the gospel?" He also writes, " It was a fact known only to the writer that from the first hour that he indulged a hope of pardoning mercy, this subject lay with weight upon his mind, which at times was fearfully oppressive." The Holy Spirit moved upon the mind and heart of both Mr. Peck and the membership of the church in putting him into the ministry. It was not long after his baptism that he was called upon to relate to the assembled membership the exercises of his mind as to his duty to preach the gospel. The church then voted him a license to preach, and he preached the next day. It was necessary that he should cultivate the soil for support for himself and family, but he was constantly preaching from the date that the church authorized him to "improve his gift."
A short time after this he visited his old home in Connecticut. Here he had been from his youth a member of the Congregational church. He had failed to inform them of his change of views and of his union with another fraternity. He was called upon, therefore, to stand trial for a violation of covenant vows with them. They stated to him that "what they had against him was neither scandal, nor heresay, nor even his renouncing their sentiments and joining the Baptists; but for leaving them a hearing thus virtually excluding them without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves and if they could, to reclaim him." Being regularly arraigned before the church, he offered his defense. He admitted that it was his duty to try to reform them and to make all proper efforts for reclaiming them from what he regarded as their error in reference to baptism. "But according to the rules of the gospel he must reform himself, by being baptized, and then endeavor to reform them, which he was willing to attempt both by precept and example; by scripture argument and the alluring act itself – the best of all arguments. It is to the credit of all parties in this affair that no harsh words are recorded as passing between them; yet the separation was final. He could not return to them and they could not see their way clear to follow the example he had given them.
ORDINATION AND FIRST PASTORATE.
He had been called to the pastorate of the church at Catskill. It was by no means a strong church, and he served as school teacher in order to support his family. His services in preaching were abundant. In private houses and at any other places where the people could assemble, he preached, and form the very beginning showed marked ability. At the end of the first year's residence and service with them, his ordination was called for, and on June 13, 1813, he was ordained by a council called for that purpose. The names of six ministers are mentioned as composing this council, namely, Rev. Harvey Jenks, and Elders Stewart, Streeter, Mack, Herve, and Pettit. "The next Sabbath he baptized several candidates and administered the Lord's Supper, and within a week officiated at his first marriages," of which he wrote the form he adopted, and mentioned that the fee paid him was one dollar.
AWAKENING TO THE IMPORTANCE OF WORLD-WIDE MISSIONS.
It was about this time, June, 1813, that the first news of the change of views of Judson and Rice was received by the American Baptists. This event stirred the Baptists churches in our home land as no other event had done up to that period. It was the call from God to awake and begin the world-wide mission that the World's Conqueror had given to His followers. In the mind of no other person did this fact produce a stronger or more lasting impression than it did in that of John M. Peck. He was now about 24 years of age. He had formed habits of study. The books within his reach were eagerly read and remembered. He also studied men and their needs, and soon became inspired with the idea that the field for gospel preaching was the whole world, and that he dare not limit his exertions to the narrow region of his own immediate neighborhood. He saw that in some way each Christian could touch cords that would vibrate to the ends of the earth, and that each saved soul must exert himself to the utmost of his strength to save the lost of all nations. He soon realized that his lack of qualifications and his family ties made it impossible for him to go to the foreign field.
In the year 1814 he gave up his work at Catskill and became the pastor at Armenia, in Dutchess County, New York. Here he formed the acquaintance of Daniel H. Barnes, principal of Dutchess Academy in Poughkeepsie, under whose instruction he began the study of Greek. Mr. Peck used great industry in his new field of labor. That he accomplished as much as any one else could have accomplished, is very evident. While living among his new parishioners he attended the Warwick Association, and met Rev. Luther Rice, "who with characteristic ardor was posting from one association to another, fanning the flame of missionary zeal." In this meeting two kindred spirits were brought into contact. Peck was ready to drink in the message Rice had brought; so that when after a few years Rice saw the importance of planting a mission in the Louisiana Territory, Peck, who had already thought of this as a prospective field for gospel missions, was prepared to look, even with longings of heart, to that as his life work. About this period of time, by what the men of the world would say was accidental,l but by that which the "children of the Kingdom: know is providential, a correspondence was opened between John M. Peck and James E. Welch, These two men were born the same year. Welch began life in Kentucky, near where the city of Lexington now stands, February 28, 1789; while Peck was born in Connecticut on the 31st day of October, the same year.
Early in the year of 1816 Mr. Peck wrote to Dr. Straughton, of Philadelphia, who was then conducting a school for those who desired preparation for the ministry. In this letter he says: "By communication with Brother Rice" - Rev. Luther Rice- "I learn that it is in contemplation to establish a mission in the Missouri Territory. On this subject I found my own mind such a correspondence of feeling and sentiment, that I could not forbear opening my mind to him. Ever since I have thought upon the subject of missions, I have had my eye upon the people west of the Mississippi, particularly the Indian nations, and have wondered why no attempts were made to send the gospel to them." The result of this correspondence was that he became a student in the school there conducted by Dr. Staughton. Here, after a time, he was joined by James E. Welch.
Knowing that it was the purpose of Peck and Welch to devote their lives to mission work on the frontier of our rapidly settling country, Dr. Staughton arranged for them that in addition to their regular studies in Theology they should attend lectures in the medical schools. Early did this great and good man see the importance of missionaries having ability to meet the needs of the human bodies as well as to minister to the spiritual welfare of those among whom they labored.
On the 7th day of May, 1817, the Triennial Convention of Baptists met in Philadelphia. At this meeting the constitution of the convention was so changed that "with the foreign field certain portions of our own country" were included "under the denomination of Domestic Missions." In his record of this meeting, Mr. Peck adds: "This secures the great object of a Western mission." It will be seen from this record that the oft-repeated statement that J. M. Peck and J. E. Welch were sent to Missouri "as foreign missionaries" is not correct.
After the convention had finished his business and adjourned, the new board met to plan the work for the next three years. The two men, Peck and Welch, made application for appointment to the Western Mission. Dr. Rufus Babcock, to whose life of Peck I am indebted for the facts in this sketch, says that Peck "presented a written document fully explaining his views and feelings, offering himself as a candidate for appointment in the Western Mission."
APPOINTED MISSIONARY TO THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY
The records made by Mr. Peck lay open to the reader his inmost thoughts. He had set his heart upon this Western Mission. He says after he had placed his application before the board: "I retired to rest, but slept little, on account of the agitation of my mind on the painful suspense under which labored with regard to the mission." The next morning he writes, "The long agony is over." He and Mr. Welch were appointed to go west and establish a mission at St. Louis, Missouri. The board had appropriated one thousand dollars to defray the expense of the missionaries and their families to St. Louis and for the support of the mission. Mr. Peck went at once to his old home in Connecticut and began preparation for the long journey. It became necessary for him to attend a number of meetings, where he made effective pleadings for the missionaries in all lands.
The separation from his parents was most pathetic. The invalid father was overwhelmed with grief at parting with his only son. The mother was more courageous, and said, "If the Lord hath need of him – only son as he is, and we are growing old – let His holy will be done." and on the 25th day of July, 1817, a little one horse wagon, containing J. M. Peck, his wife and their three children, started from Litchfield, Connecticut, for the long journey of twelve hundred miles to the frontier village of St. Louis. The way was long and the method of traveling a slow one.
Passing over the many delays and severe trials encountered, it is enough for this brief sketch to say that on the first day of December, 1817, they arrived at their destination. Mr. Welch and wife were there before the arrival of his colleagues. But Mr. Peck was quite seriously ill. He was suffering from a severe cold and intermittent fever. They found a single room on the corner of Myrtle and Main Streets as the only possible shelter. Here for two months he remained unable to leave his bed most of the time.
The reception awaiting these resolute missionaries was far removed from that which awaited the Apostle Peter, when he went to Caesarea to preach the gospel for the first time to the Gentiles. The Apostle found an assembly awaiting him and was greeted with the cheering words, "Now wherefore we are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." But these men knew why they had come and to whom they must long for success. There was no thought of discouragement. Here there were people who needed the gospel and they were here for the one purpose. To preach the gospel of salvation to the lost.
After Mr. Peck had recovered his health there was no delay in beginning his part of the work. Mr. Welch had not been idle. He had "engaged a room in the rear of a store, about fourteen by sixteen feet, for school purposes, for $14.00 per month." It seems strange to us in this Twentieth Century, with the great system of public schools – and these schools free to all of school age – That less than one hundred years ago, the first work of missionaries in St. Louis was to provide for a school where the simplest rudiments of an education could be imparted. The two comrades – Peck and Welch – were as earnest in their advocacy of the public schools, and Sunday Schools, as they were in preaching the gospel.
In 1823, when Joshua Barton was killed in a duel in St. Louis, Mr. Peck preached a sermon upon the horrid custom of settling grievances by murder. His text was, "Your hands are full of blood," Isa. 1:15. The sermon was preached in the house of worship of the First Baptist Church, which stood on the corner of Third and Market Streets. In his record of this event, he says the house "was crowded by all classes, amongst whom I discovered Hon. David Barton, then a Senator in Congress, whose lamented brother was one of the victims, and the late Rev. Samuel Mitchel, whose eldest son was another. I had taken the precaution to write every word of my discourse. I did my utmost to hold up the practice of dueling to the abhorrence of all right minded men, as a crime of no small magnitude against God, against man, against society." It required a large amount of moral courage in that day and among the people then living in the "wild Western city," to take such a stand. But John M. Peck was a man who seemed never to have a thought of his personal safety. He was wholly absorbed in doing just what he thought was right, and there was a total absence of any consideration of selfinterest or "personal popularity.
It seems worth while to the writer of this outline of the life of this great missionary, to mention the care and accuracy with which he records the beginning of the work of the Presbyterians in Missouri. He mentions that in the summer of 1813, "the late Rev Dr. Blackburn, of Tennessee, made a visit to this remote village (St. Louis), and preached to an audience of respectable numbers. This was the first gospel sermon ever preached in the town, for I never call the addresses of Romanists gospel preaching." But if we follow his faithful and kind references to all those who labored for the moral and religious upbuilding of the early residents on both sides of the great river, we shall be carried far afield from out purpose to present a mere outline of the work of him of whom we write.
Mr. Peck had found that there were "seven Baptists churches associated" in the southeast corner of Missouri. These churches had organized the Bethel Association, and were doing all they could to evangelize the scattered dwellers in this wide wilderness. This was both a surprise and a great joy to the one who had come for the purpose of giving his life to this new country. He was soon in direct communication with the workers. He attended the first meeting of the Bethel Association that he possibly could. When he visited Bethel church in 1818, he received for missions $31.37, "the largest missionary offering, up to that time, ever made west of the Mississippi River." He describes minutely the various forms of opposition met from those who, having failed to inform themselves of the purposes of the missionaries, and yielding to their own ignorant prejudices, fought with a tenacity worthy of a better purpose, all efforts to send the gospel of Christ to those who were perishing for the want of a knowledge of the Way of Life. These early advocates of the world-wide mission of the churches may not have been wise on all occasions, as to their methods, but as their position was scriptural and their zeal all-conquering, they could not, therefore, be always politic in their approach to their opponents. Their work certainly did establish, beyond all possible doubt, the fact that they were right; and though we may now, that the victory is won, see some of their mistakes, yet we have abundant reason to thank our Great Master for sending these men upon this wide Great Master for sending these men upon this wide field at the very time such labor was needed.
DR. PECK'S WORK IN ESTABLISHING SCHOOLS.
We know that from the very beginning of their work in the Mississippi Valley, both Peck and Welch sought to encourage schools of all grades for the education of the masses. But the purpose to found a college for the education of men for the ministry was ever uppermost in the mind of Mr. Peck. At an early day his attention was directed to St. Charles, Missouri, as the place for such an institution. Here he found a man, whose name he withholds, giving only his initials, with whom he co-operated in establishing a school. He writes: "During the first week in March 1819, it was decided that a new mission station should be established at St. Charles, a seminary planted there, and that I should take charge of that station and that my colleague (Mr. Welch) should maintain the post at St. Louis."
Having changed his residence to St. Charles he engaged with the nameless helper in the new school enterprise. But it was not a success. Slickness invaded his home, and his eldest child, a most promising boy, was removed by death, and his wife, for a time, was seriously ill. Another location for the proposed seminary must be found. At the suggestion of a friend he visited Upper Alton, Illinois. His account of this visit is very amusing to those who know what a beautiful college town Upper Alton now is and has been for more than half a century. Having passed through the city of Alton, then the mere beginning of a town, he made his way to the present site of Upper Alton. "It was cloudy and dark, but on emerging from the forest, we found on every side the appearance of camp fires. Log heaps, piles of brush, old stumps, and other combustible materials, were glowing with heat and spreading illumination over the plateau. Inquiry was made for a tavern or boarding house, and we were directed to long, low, ill-looking log house. It was about forty feet in length and probably sixteen feet wide, the door way for entrance at the west end, and the dining room, as it seemed to be used for eating purposes, was the first room entered. The table was supported by forks driven in the ground, on which rough, newly sawed boards, extended perhaps twenty feet. An old cloth, filthy like the rest of the establishment, covered a portion of the table. A supply of dirty dishes indicated that several boarders might have had a late supper. * * * On inquiring for the landlord, a shock head, begrimed features, and soiled garments that appeared to belong to a 'human' came in. The first thing was to find a stable and feed for a wearied horse." Having secured for his horse some food and a very muddy place in which to stand for the night, he left this undesirable hostelry and found the home of Dr. Erastus Brown, whom he had known in St. Louis. Here he met a most cordial welcome, though it was long after nightfall when he asked for a shelter for the night. "In the morning, after an early breakfast, in company with my friend, Dr. B., I made an exploration of the town, was introduced to several citizens, and learned all that was necessary, of Upper Alton at that time, as a site for a seminary of learning. There were on the spot between forty and fifty families living in log cabins, shanties, covered wagons, and camps. Probably not less that twenty families were destitute of houses, but were getting material and getting up shelters with industry and enterprise."
On the 19th day of July, 1820, the two missionaries were notified that the Board of Missions at Philadelphia had decided to withdraw further aid to the "Western Mission." Mr. Peck was requested to go to Fort Wayne, "near the northwest corner of Ohio," and join Rev. Mr. McCoy in his work among the Indians. That this action of the Board was a great disappointment to Mr. Peck, was evident, but he made no bitter complaint, yet decided not to leave the field of his present operations, and expressed a wish to remain in close touch with the Board, but would ask for no support from that source. In March, 1822, he was appointed to the Western Mission by the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society. And from this source there came to him and his family some financial aid.
He was moved to Rock Springs, Illinois, and , with some aid from local friends, secured a half section of unimproved land, upon which he made his home to the end of his earthly life. Here he established the Rock Springs Seminary. This school, of which he was the founder and principal, was, after some years, moved to Upper Alton and became Shurtleff College. The village of Upper Alton had greatly improved since his first visit. It was now a thriving little town, with an upright and intelligent population. It was, in almost every respect, an ideal location for a college. Rev. Hubbell Loomis, from Connecticut, had established a seminary here and was conducting a first class school. He was a Baptist minister of wide culture and was abundantly endowed for the head of such an enterprise.
Mr. Peck had made frequent journeys to the Eastern States, and was always pleading for the establishment of an institution where the higher education should be within reach of the youth of the Mississippi Valley. On one of his visits to Boston, he met a physician, named Shurtleff, who gave him $ 10,000 to endow a college that should be under the control of Baptists. In due time the charter of the school was so changed that it was named for the donor of this fund. In that day a gift of $ 10,000 was regarded as a princely donation, and entitled the giver to great honor. When the name of J. M. Peck is honored as the founder of Shurtleff College, due credit should be giver to Rev. Hubbell Loomis. He lived in Upper Alton until the end of his long life, and ever cherished the college with genuine affection. He was permitted to attain to the great age of 97 years, and to the last day loved the school, its teachers and its pupils. He had one son, Prof. Elias Loomis, who was the author of a full course in Mathematics that was a standard text book in most American colleges, for many years.
But here I find I must cease to follow the checkered career of John Mason Peck. His great attainments were recognized by Harvard, and that institution gave him the merited degree of Doctor of Divinity. He prepared and published a Gazetteer of Illinois. He edited a religious periodical. He wrote for almost all the Baptist papers of the land. He was Corresponding Secretary of the American Baptist Publication Society. He was one of the founders of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. While at home he was constantly preaching and lecturing at all places within his reach. But his parish extended from the western borders of Missouri to the Atlantic Ocean, and from the Lakes to the Gulf. In Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington City, Cincinnati. Louisville, Chicago, St. Louis and all intervening cities he was a welcome visitor and a constant helper. He had collected with great care all printed documents that gave light upon the progress of the Western Country. The minutes of Baptist Associations and State Conventions were most carefully treasured and cataloged/. He had also made a collection of geological and mineralogical specimens from all places that he had visited. These, too, were carefully labeled as to the locality whence they came. But the destruction of his home by fire caused the loss of nearly all of this most valuable material. Of this sad event he writes:
"But an important branch of my labor for more that thirty years is wholly lost. My collection of files of papers, periodicals and other pamphlets, amounting to several thousand volumes, mostly unbound, but carefully filed, and my mineralogical collection from every part of the country where I have traveled, thoroughly arranged and labeled, together with much other matter, which I had intended for some public institution to be preserved for generations to come – these can never be replaced. Well, it seems to me to be providential. I have done what I could, and failed. I am afraid my materials are so destroyed that I cannot obtain means to prepare my projected work on the Moral Progress of the Great Central Valley of the Western World. I can only say, the will of the Lord be done."
Dr. Peck continued to make long journeys, always advocating, at every place, the extension of the Kingdom of Christ. His wife died at their home at Rock Springs, in November, 1856. This was the most heartrending of all the afflictions that had befalled him. The light and joy of his home life was gone. But with true Christian courage, and that submission that had characterized his whole life, he stood firmly fixed in the faith that the Lord doeth all things well.
On the 15th day of March, 1858, he, too, fell asleep at his home in Illinois. His body was first laid in a grove near Rock Springs, but about a month later, at the earnest solicitation of his many friends in St. Louis, it was taken to Bellefontaine Cemetery, near that city.
John Mason Peck was in very many respects a most worthy man. His industry was gigantic. He seemed never to grow weary. The greater the work involved in any undertaking, the greater was the charm of it to him. He never spared himself. His journeys sometimes compelled an absence from home for from six to nine months. And on these tours he would preach and lecture, often three or four times each day. That he wore his body out before he had reached his sixty-ninth year, is no surprise to any who know that our humanity cannot endure beyond certain limits. He was more nearly a living, walking encyclopedia of facts and dates upon all matters relating to the development of the great central valley of our country, than any one who ever traveled over its wide domain. He seemed never to forget any thing he saw or heard. But the one purpose of his life was to give the healing of the gospel of the Lord Jesus to the people. He mingled with all classes; was at home in the log cabin or in the city mansion; could adapt himself to the company of all classes. But under no possible circumstances did he hesitate to proclaim the fact of his belief in the Christian religion, or to defend the faith when necessary. He was fearless; had no care for his own ease or comfort; he lived wholly for others. And as centuries pass by his labor will be more valued and his character better appreciated. John Mason Peck was both a great and a good man. Let us of this day cherish his memory.
Dr. Peck was a great writer. He committed to paper almost everything he saw and all that came to him by his constant contact with people that he believed to be reliable. One of his intimate friends told me once that, in the extensive journeys he made over the prairies of Illinois, he often stopped at noon and let his horse feed upon the grass while he would lie prone upon the sward, and there, unprotected by any shade, write by the hour, so that no facts might escape him. The writer once heard him say that the speech, attributed to Patrick Henry in defense of several Baptist preachers who were on trial before a Virginia judge, charged with the crime of preaching the gospel, was composed by himself. When asked how that was, he said, in substance, that Xenophon and other ancient historians composed the speeches of their heroes, and so he imitated them by making the address of Patrick Henry.
In Saint Paul's Cathedral in London is a tablet in memory of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect and builder. On this is written, "If you seek his monument look around.." Rev. Rufus Babcock closes his admirable memoirs of Dr. J. M. Peck by quoting these words. And the monument to Dr. Peck is seen in the great system of public schools, the many colleges, the vast number of churches, and the intelligent and Christian citizenship of the Mississippi Valley. This was his parish, and to every instrumentality that would promote the culture and build up a high sense of moral integrity, and make every house a Christian home, he consecrated his life.
One of our noble pioneers of the Baptist hosts of Missouri. The Protestant pioneers of the then Far West --- the early years of the Nineteenth Century – led strenuous, adventurous lives. Even in localities where they were protected from the incursions of hostile Indians, they had almost savage opposition to meet from the Romiah Church, which had already gained possession of the Territory and was occupying the vantage ground in all places.
Then the natural obstructions: Trackless wildernesses, almost unapproachable regions, which, though traversed by trail-like roads, were still so rough as to render progress very difficult, the infrequency of settlements, all conspired to daunt the courage and dampen the enthusiasm necessary to lead the pioneer preacher to persist in carrying the good tidings into the "regions beyond."
The faith that inspired the efforts, and sustained the zeal of these devoted men, the advance guard of the army of the Lord, the Christian pathfinders of the Western wilds, was of a stalwart kind that quailed not in view of obstacles in the van, nor yielded to discouragements in the rear.
When we read of the monumental sacrifices and the disheartening disappointments that were the common lot of these early worthies, and contrast the conditions of that period with the favorable influences that surround the Christian workers of the early Twentieth Century, we involuntarily ask:
"Are there no foes for us to face? Must we not stem the flood?"
But realizing that each period has trials peculiar to itself, we respond:
"Sure we must fight if we would reign. Increase our courage, Lord!"
This worthy pioneer, J. E. Welch, was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, February 28, 1789, of Virginia parentage, James and Nancy Lee Welch. His attendance upon school was fitful, or perhaps intermittent would be the better term, as conditions rather than disposition caused the irregularities in his school life. These conditions were not peculiar to the subject of this sketch, but were the usual lot in the Western States at that time, of children of parents whose financial circumstances did not render them, independent of the necessity to labor.
This intermittent attendance upon the schools of the neighborhood, he continued until his seventeenth year, when he left home and went to work with his brother, a millwright. Here he worked for two years. The next two years, making his father's house his home, taught school during the summer with what efficiency can be imagined, when, from his own statement, we learn, that not till that time, nor yet until several years thereafter, had he studied either geography, history or grammar. During the remaining months of the year he performed such manual labor as the neighborhood gave him opportunity to do.
During this time he came under the spirtual in fluence of the gospel, made a profession of faith in the Christ, and was baptized into the fellowship of David's Fork Baptist Church by Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman, October 26, 1810.
From the beginning his heart was fired with an earnest desire to exhort sinners to flee from the wrath to come; but he was irresistibly restrained from so doing lest his zeal might be construed into presumptuous rushing unbidden into the presence of the living God. This fear was unintentional injected into his sensitive mind by the caution of his spiritual father, who on one occasion checked his extraordinary zeal by the admonition, " You had better take care lest you run before you are sent."
Finally, and fortunately, his zeal for souls overpowered his too conscientious scruples, and he began to preach in Georgia, in March, 1812, whither his spiritual unrest had driven him.
He was not twenty-three years of age, but his judgment not having been warped by the scholastic heresy that it was unnecessary to prepare one's self for the work of the gospel ministry, he found himself seriously handicapped both by the narrow limitations of his education and by the want of schools and instructors, that in these later days stand everywhere to give the enlisting soldier of the Cross the needed intellectual equipment.
In 1814 he returned to Kentucky, and in the same year visited Missouri, and preached here for the first time, but soon after returned to Kentucky and preached in the northern part of that State constantly and earnestly for several years.
On the 2nd day of March, 1815, when he was twenty-six years of age, he was set apart for the gospel ministry by the act of ordination in his mother church, David's Fork. Revs. Jeremiah Vardeman and David Briggs constituted the presbytery by which he was examined.
The following yer, desiring to serve as missionary in the Far West, as he said, "Among a people who have enjoyed no better advantages than myself," he went to Philadelphia and spent one year in study under the training of the celebrated William Staughton, D. D., and at the meeting of the Triennial Convention in May, 1817, he with Elder J.M. Peck, was chosen for the work of establishing a mission in St. Louis, Missouri. (For fuller record of this preliminary period, see the preceding sketch, John M. Peck.)
Previous to starting upon this mission, May 28, 1817, in Burlington, New Jersey, he was married to Miss Sarah Ann Craft, a woman in every way fitted to bear her part of the arduous labor and anxious care incident to the life of a Home Missionary.
After a long and perilous journey of 1,100 miles in their own conveyance, Elder Welch and his young wife reached St. Louis. The details of this interesting journey would make good reading, but we have not space for them here, and so we will let this suggestive outline suffice.
This journey was made during the period of severe autumn rains. The primitive roads were miry, and the unbridged streams overflowing, but pluck and ingenuity brought them through almost insurmountable difficulties to their destination, November 12, 1817.
St. Louis was at this time a town of about 3,000 inhabitants, the great majority of whom were French Catholics. Previous to this a few Baptist churches had been established in the territory west of the Mississippi River, but in St. Louis, while there were a few isolated Baptists, there was no organization.
He at once entered upon his labors with the result, that in three months' time, in February, 1818, he assisted in organizing the First Baptist Church of St. Louis, Missouri. Previous to this, however, four or five other Baptist churches had been organized together in what was then called the Missouri (now St. Louis) Association, so that our noble pioneer had brother pioneers with in reaching distance.
During the Spring (1818) he organized a Sunday School for the colored people of the city. The first fruits of this mission as regards conversion was the baptism of two converts from the Sunday School for the colored people in the waters of the Mississippi River.
About this time he and Elder Peck purchased a lot 40 feet by 80 feet on the southwest corner of Third and Market Streets, upon which to build a meeting house. This house was a brick structure three stories high, one story used for the purposes of the church, the rest for revenue. When in 1821 the city decided to widen Market Street, 12 by 80 feet of the church lot was condemned for the purpose. The building which had cost $6,000, three years previous, was abandoned and sold for $1,200. This was the death blow to this church. It never regained its activity, but dwindled and finally dissolved in February, 1833.
Elder Welch's activity was was not confined to St. Louis. For three laborious years he went here and there gathering together scattering Baptists and organizing them into churches, and organizing them into churches, or, when this was impracticable, merely strengthening them in the faith and counseling patient endurance with the prophetic promise of ultimate success if they continued faithful in prayer and active in the Lord's service. In these itineraries he visited a large portion of the State now known as Southeast Missouri, and many counties north of the Missouri River from St. Louis to Howard County.
If the prophetic vision could have been given to him that he might have had, if only a glimpse, of the prosperous denominational condition that he was at that time active in planning for, how his anxious spirit would have taken courage in the face of seeming discouragement, when he was called to relinquish his loved work in the "Western Mission," in October, 1820. He could then have known that the result of his arduous and successful toil for three eventful years had not been for naught. But this could not be. However, the seed had been faithfully sown, the Word earnestly spoken, and the divine promise, "My word shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I have sent it," has been gloriously honored in the subsequent prosperity of the Baptist cause in this representative portion of His visible Kingdom.
During Elder Welch's sojourn in St. Louis he was instrumental in organizing the "St. Louis Sabbath School Society," a shining manifestation of his progressive spirit. This may be considered the forerunner of the Sunday School Board of the General Association, that was eventually merged into the Missouri Baptist Sunday School Convention, which later, under the efficient labor of Dr. S. W. Marston, its agent, accomplished great things in the Sunday School cause among Missouri Baptists.
When he left St. Louis he returned to Burlington, New Jersey, and for three years (1820 – 1823), when failing health compelled him to relinquish his more active work for a while, he preached in Burlington, Trenton and Mount Holly, New Jersey.
Leaving New Jersey in 1823, he made a trip to St. Louis and return on horseback for the purpose of regaining his health, in which he was comfortably successful. This casual return to the field of his former labors, renewed the impression of the importance of the denominational interests in the West created by his earlier experiences, and he soon – in 1826 – returned to Missouri and settled upon a farm in the section now known as Warren County. He spent the following two years in preaching and improving his farm, but was compelled to return to the East on account of his wife's declining health.
For twenty years subsequent to this he labored under appointment of the American Sunday School Union, either as Sunday School Missionary or as Financial Agent, in both of which offices he was eminently successful.
In 1848 he again removed to his farm in Warren County, Missouri, organized and served as pastor of Union church. In 1851, was elected Moderator of the Ministers' and Deacons' Conference of the State, and to this office was re-elected for several consecutive years.
At the organization of Bear Creek Association he was chosen Moderator and served the Association in this capacity with great efficiency for ten years.
In 1864, she who had shared in his joys and his sorrows, had rejoiced with him in his successes and sympathized with him in his disappointments, a comfort and stay as wife and co-laborer since their united life began in 1817, died. He subsequently married Mrs. Mary H. Gardner, of Burlington, New Jersey, and brought her to his Western home where they lived and labored together for several years.
In 1876, after the death of his second wife, he went to the home of his youngest son, a prominent lawyer of Warrensburg, Missouri, and dwelt there for about two years, preaching as occasion offered, which, on account of his varied experience and eminent merit, was not infrequent.
He was appointed by Governor Hardin to attend the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in July, 1876, as representative from Missouri. While there he was seized with an acute attack of congestion of the stomach, and in an hour's short space, the noble life of 88 years, 64 of which had been spent in the ministry, came to a close.
Let us, in closing this short record of an heroic life, draw pertinent illustrations from two widely diverse sources. A man having a fine horse, good alike for general and specific purposes, upon which, he placed an unusual valuation, thus eloquently descanted upon his varied and extraordinary merits: "He's a fine draft animal, and will work either at the wheel or in the lead. If you wish to break ground, just hitch him to the plow, he will go at that as though it was his main business. He is excellent as carriage horse, active, reliable, a good stepper, will drive single or double equally well. And when you want a saddle horse, there you have him – fine pacer, easy movement, kind spirit and swift."
Carlyle said: "Heroes are intrinsically of the same material. Given a great soul, open to the Divine Significance of Life, then there is given a man fit to speak of this, to sing of this, to fight and work for this, in a great, victorious, enduring manner."
These illustrative passages,. One crude, perchance commonplace, the other elegant, will serve to illuminate the life record of this Hero of the Cross. Zealous, self-contained, temperate, strong in his firmness of character and fixedness of purpose, resourceful and masterful, he was withal, a genial, cultured, Christian gentleman. He left his enduring impress upon the Baptist History of the West, and especially on that of Missouri, and in the memory of those who knew him, the sweet savor of a devoted Christian life.
Among the early pioneer preachers in Missouri, there was none who did more faithful and efficient work than T. P. Green. He was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, June 3, 1790.
In 1807, with his father's family, he settled in Maury County, Tennessee. Here, under the ministry of Elder John Record, he was converted and baptized into the fellowship of the Lebanon Baptist Church in the spring of 1812. He came to Missouri about 1817. He was evidently an ordained Baptist preacher before coming to this State, for, shortly after his location in Cape Girardeau County, he became pastor of Bethel Church. He persuaded the members of Bethel Church to procure another book for their records, and with his own hand, copied the minutes of all their church transactions and arranged that each book should be kept in a different home from the other; and that the custodian of the new book should every three months exhibit the book at a church meeting and show that all the business transacted by the church had been properly recorded therein. He knew that this was the oldest permanent church west of the Mississippi River, and that, in future years, the Baptists would highly prize these records. Accordingly, in a preface to the new book, he gave an account of a time when the Romanists had influenced the Spanish commandant at Cape Girardeau, to issue an order that all people residing within fifteen miles of that place should attend mass in the Roman Catholic Church, or be punished for their neglect.
The few Baptists that organized the Bethel Church, a few years later, called upon this high Spanish officer and told him they could not obey that command. They wished to remain where they were, but if he intended to enforce that mandate they would move to Illinois. He wanted settlers in his territory, and told them that they might remain and the priests would not learn of their negligence, and that they might remain and the priests would not learn of their negligence, and that he would not molest them. Thus narrowly did these first Baptist residents escape persecution. Mr. Green was, from the beginning of his residence in this territory, a leading factor in all religious movements.
Dr. S. H. Ford once said to me that it seemed as if churches grew up around him wherever he went.
So long as he ministered to the church called Bethel, it remained an active missionary body.
In 1818 he was the author of the resolutions on foreign missions adopted by the Bethel Association. Rev. J. M. Peck became very anxious that a religious journal should be started to aid in the work of evangelizing the widely scattered settlers on the great Western field. Some of his friends in the Eastern States opposed this venture because they did not believe it would be self-supporting.
"Among his acquaintances," Mr. Peck wrote, "there was one individual, Rev. Thomas P. Green, resident on the borders of Missouri and Illinois, who had been educating his sons as practical printers, and who had himself attained some little experience in conducting a weekly journal of very limited circulation." Mr. Green was persuaded to move his printing outfit to Rock Springs, Ill., and for about two years he published "The Western Pioneer" at that place. But Dr. Peck's zeal in this was not equaled by his knowledge. The enterprise was not a financial success. Mr. Green preached in St. Louis and at other places, but the salary paid to pastors in that day was not sufficient to support a family and make up the deficit in the paper-publishing endeavor. The paper suspended and the publisher and editor and manager moved back to Cape Girardeau, where, in 1834, he organized the First Baptist Church in that city, with nine members.
For some years he was the field agent of the American Sunday School Union. He organized the First Baptist Church in that city, with nine members.
For some years he was the field agent of the American Sunday School Union. He organized Sunday Schools in many parts of the then inhabited portions of Missouri. He was in the midst of the conflict between missionary and anti-missionary Baptists of the State.
In 1855 the Cuivre Association, which was at that time anti-missionary, met at some church in Lincoln County. Mr. Green was present as a corresponding messenger. It was discovered that he was a man of wide information, a very able preacher and a decided missionary. They felt that they must appoint him to preach on Sunday or lose favor with the more intelligent people. They therefore arranged to have three sermons, but Mr. Green must be sandwiched between the others. The first would make as severe an attack upon Sunday Schools, Missions, Bible Societies, and other such things, as with his limited vocabulary of abusive epithets would be possible. Then, if the visiting brother made any reply to this onslaught, the third man would reply. When the time came for the second sermon, "Elder Green arose, took his text, and without the slightest reference to the former discourse, preached a melting gospel sermon. Almost the entire audience was delighted, and when he quit, the whole house was bathed in tears." The people were delighted with the sermon, and Green was master of the situation. The man who was to preach the third sermon found himself with nothing to reply to, and would have been wise if he had only prayed for a blessing upon the preacher and the message, and dismissed the congregation. Whether he pursued this course or not the writer is not informed. This incident shows how wise and tactful was this man of God.
At his home in Cape Girardeau on the 11th day of July, 1848, he passed on to the great reward. Just before his death, he asked to be helped upon his knees, when he prayed most earnestly for his family; and Rev. John H. Clark, who was by his bedside, told me that the prayer for the church, that he had helped to organize, and to which he had ministered from its beginning, seemed to be the special burden of his loving heart. And though the first Baptist Church in Cape Girardeau has had many trials, and passed through seemingly insurmountable difficulties, yet it has continued to the present day and still seeks to honor Him "who is the head over all things to the church."
This consecrated Christian physician and gospel preacher was born in Rutherford County, North Carolina, January 13, 1779. When about 16 years of age, he gave his heart and consecrated his life to Jesus the Christ. Of this event in the life of the youth, Dr. S. H. Ford wrote in the Christian Repository: "We have heard the old man, after sixty years had intervened, tell the simple story of that work upon his heart, and we have looked around on the congregation, among which were the strong minded, the educated and the skeptical, and have seen all – yes all – melted into tears at the recital. 'Ah!' he would say, with a voice clear and silvery, 'the remembrance of the mercy I found that day will gladden my poor heart, as it beats its last in death, and will gladden my poor heart, as it beats its last in death, and will gladden my soul as it sings its first notes in heaven.'"
In early life he began the study of medicine and continued, in Lexington, Kentucky, until he was thoroughly prepared to follow the blessed art of healing the sick. He had been ordained to the ministry before he left his native State.
In 1816 he joined a party of Kentuckians, and with them came to St. Louis. Here he held meetings in private houses, and thus preceded J. M. Peck and J.E. Welch one year. In the spring of 1817 he went to Howard County and settled in that part that is now the county of Boone. In 1819 he joined with others in the organization of the "Little Bonne Femme" church. This was for years a leading Baptist fraternity in Central Missouri, and still exists. In 1828, Dr. Doyle joined in the constitution of the New Salem Church and for thirty years continued as its pastor. This church has been a fruitful vine. It has ordained, and sent forth into the ministry, P. H. Stienbergen, John M. Black, G. L. Black and W. H. Burnham, and perhaps others.
Dr. F. G. Sitton, who wrote of Dr. Doyle after his death, mentions the following incident: "He believed in receiving answer to prayer. The church was holding revival meetings. One evening a number of young men asked the prayers of the church. The doctor prayed for these penitents. He made a special prayer that God would raise up at least one of these boys to take his place after he was dead. After the prayer he made a few remarks, saying he believed God would choose one of these boys to take his place. He said: 'I wish I knew him. I would like to see him.' The prayer was answered; the wish was gratified. God did call one of these boys. He is a preacher today. He was licensed before the doctor died. He saw him, talked with him on his death bed, and that boy delivered a funeral discourse over his remains and afterward served as pastor of this church four years. That boy is known today as Rev. G. L. Black."
In the clippings from the Ashland Bugle, a paper published at Ashland, not far from the New Salem church and cemetery, I find so many things, and everything so well said, that it is no easy task to select what ought to be here inserted.
Dr. Doyle was as thoroughly unselfish as it is ever possible for any man, in this life, to become. In the ministry and as a physician, he never consulted his own ease or comfort, but thought only of those whom he desired to serve.
Dr. Sitton, quoted above, says: "To illustrate his patience, courage and self-denial, I once sent for him to hold a consultation. It was winter and the roads were almost impassable. It was dark when my messenger reached his house. Hearing my request, he ordered his horse and started on a four mile ride, through deep mud and pitchy darkness. He had only started when rain began to fall. The farther he went, the harder the rain, and the worse the storm; rain, crashing thunder, vivid lightning, howling wind, all combined to make a fearful night, but still onward he labored, until he reached his destination, in the midst of one of the most terrific storms I ever witnessed. He came into the house, water streaming from his garments. His only comment was: 'Did you ever see the like.'
"What caused him to leave his own comfortable fireside (he was now 75 years old), and go out into the cold and mud and pitchy darkness, to encounter the dangers and endure the buffetings of the storm, two dreadful hours? Heaven born charity answers, ' It was I.'"
On the 25th day of July, 1859, Dr. Doyle received from the Great Master his discharges, and was called home to rest from his labors and to be forever with the Lord.
Of this event, his friend and fellow practitioner, Dr. Sitton, writes; "The All Seeing Eye will watch over that mouldering dust until Christ shall come the second time without sin unto salvation. Then shall that body come forth. Not as it went forth shall it come. It went forth bowed with age and decreptitude; it shall come forth clothed with perennial youth. He went in mortality, he shall come in immortality; he went in weakness, he shall come in strength; he went in corruption, he shall come in incorruption; he went a natural body, he shall come a spiritual body."
That friends of Dr. Doyle, and they were a vast host, laid his body to rest in the cemetery by the side of that sacred house he had consecrated with his prayers, his tears and by his faithful preaching the gospel. And there they erected over his grave, as a token of their love, a monument with the following inscription engraved thereon:
PIONEER PREACHER OF MISSOURI BORN IN RUTHERFORD COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA ENTERED MINISTRY AT 19
DIED IN BOONE COUNTY, MISSOURI JULY 26, 1859
His friends to whose welfare his life was devoted placed this stone above the spot where his body reposes to testify their lasting rememberance of his love and constant care.
He devoted his life to the service of God and promotion of good. Was beloved for his social qualities, and revered for his virtues. Liberal in temporal affairs and tolerant in religion, his greatest ambition was to preach Christ acceptably and be useful in his church.
If spirits are permitted to return to earth, then after I am gone you may expect me to be about here when church meeting day comes round. Oh, I shall want to know whether my dear children are serving the Lord, whether His truth is preached in this pulpit, and whether these children are seeking the same.
Searching for material concerning the lives of our heroic pioneers in the early years of Baptist work in Missouri, a few names are met with everywhere. Among these are J. M. Peck, James E. Welch, Ebenezer Rodgers, Thos. P. Green, Fielding Wilhite, Thos. Fristoe and others, whose names cannot now be mentioned.
The two names, Thomas Fristoe and Fielding Wilhite, must ever stand together. Those two men, in all their preaching tours, went as companions. "On behalf of the Name, they went forth taking nothing" for their services. As the early hunters searched for game, they hunted for new settlements where they might find people to whom they could preach the gospel.
In addition to the few facts that have been gathered from tradition, I have found two sources of information on the life of Thos. Fristoe. One is a letter he wrote to Dr. John M. Peck, who had, through Dr. Crowell, asked for some facts concerning the life of this faithful pioneer. The other is an obituary written by Rev. W. R. Painter, who was pastor of Chariton Church at the time of the death of that faithful old soldier of the Cross. In these two papers I find dates differ slightly, and have thought it better to follow those written by the subject of this sketch.
The grandfather of Thos. Fristoe was a native of Wales. In early life he became a citizen of Virginia. Of his four sons, three became Baptist preachers. One of these, Robert, at an early period in his life, changed his residence to the State of Tennessee and made his home near Knoxville. His wife, Elizabeth Lovell, was a niece of Chief Justice Marshall, the greatest of American jurists.
In that beautiful and picturesque part of our country of such varied scenery, Thos. Fristoe was born on the 12th day of February, 1796. Here he grew up to young manhood, and in the war with England, when he was about 20 years of age, volunteered to serve his native country and was an ensign in a company of cavalry, under General Jackson in New Orleans. In his brief and modest sketch, Mr. Fristoe does not say whether he participated in the Battle of New Orleans or not, but as he was there when the news of the treaty of peace became known in this country, it is quite probable that he aided in that great victory for our American arms.
Robert Fristoe was through life a faithful minister of the gospel in his adopted State. It is regretted that we have no available record of the life work of any of the three brothers, who also preached the gospel.
In the fall of 1815 Mr. Fristoe says he left his native home, with his father's consent, and went to Kentucky. Of this period of his life I will use his own words: "I walked out into the barrens one evening alone, and there reflected upon my condition. I had but little means and was in the midst of strangers. I felt the want of a friend to counsel and advise me. I felt solemn, wept and retrospected my past life. While in this situation it was plain to my mind that if I had Jesus Christ for my friend I would have one that would stand by, sustain and guide me in every situation in life. I there resolved by the help of God to seek forgiveness and the favor and the friendship of the Savior, until I died or obtained it, and bowed the knee to God in prayer. I continued by day and by night in prayer and reading God's Word, and in reflection upon the character of God and Christ as a Savior, and upon my own condition as a sinner, until I thought there was no hope for me, when I would have clear views of Christ as a glorious Savior, and myself as a condemned, miserable sinner. The idea would arise, 'I have come too late.' The sin of ingratitude in having slighted and turned a deaf ear to the Savior and trampled on His mercy and goodness, bore heavier on my soul at that time than any other sin that I had committed. If ever I had anguish of soul and a contrite spirit, it was then. But what shall I do/ was the question. The answer of my heart and mouth was, 'Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.' Immediately the guilt and condemnation that had borne heavily upon my soul for eight months, passed away and I enjoyed peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I can say in the honesty of my heart, that I have never loved sin from that time until now, and I am now 60 years old, and I do not think I ever shall. Though I will say this, I am conscious that I am a poor, imperfect, sinful being by nature and have many temptations and trials."
I have made this quotation from the manuscript of Mr. Fristoe, because to him, as it ought to have been, this was the great event in his life. In this experience the whole purpose of his existence was turned into a new channel. He became a new man. Henceforth the one aim of his life was to honor the name of the Divine Redeemer. He had been a condemned sinner, and the Christ had redeemed him.
In this Twentieth Century of the Christian era there are those who say those old pioneers made too much of their personal experiences. This writer does not agree in this criticism. They had the example of the Apostle Paul, who repeated the story of his conversion upon more than one separate occasion, and this was regarded by the Holy Spirit as worthy of record in the New Testament. That there is no good reason why any one should suffer for months, as did Mr. Fristoe, the agonies of conviction, is agreed on all hands. We know that in his own work as a missionary, many were convicted of sin, found peace, were received into fellowship and baptized, in meetings that continued for but a few days. If there had been with him in that lonely walk of which he speaks some one who loved the Lord Jesus, and who could have given the instruction that in after years he gave to thousands, he might then and there have obtained the peace he found after the eight months of sorrowful seeking.
After a careful study of the Bible that he might know his duty, he was baptized by Rev. Jesse Brooks, into the fellowship of a Baptist church on the west fork of Red River in Kentucky. This church is located in that portion of the State now known as Todd County.
In the fall of 1817 he came to Missouri and lived in the town of Chariton, near to the present site of Glasgow in Howard County. Here he formed the acquaintance of Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers. Mr. Fristoe says of Elder Rodgers: "So far as the ministry is concerned, he is my father, and a beloved father he was to me. His tender regard, his counsel and advice, will never be forgotten by me. He was evidently a man of God. I commenced exhorting under his ministry, and when the church granted me a license to preach, he wrote that document."
I suppose every man who has entered the gospel ministry can fully sympathize with Mr. Fristoe, when he wrote of this period in his life: "I had great struggling in mind with regard to duty in this matter. There was an inward moving forward to the work in view of the lost and perishing condition of sinners, and a drawing back on my part in consequence of unworthiness and the want of qualifications. But there was one thing that gave me encouragement. I did believe that I had the prayers of the brethren and sisters of the church and sister churches."
Soon after the church at Chariton gave Mr. Fristoe license to preach he went to Lafayette County, Missouri, and gave himself wholly to the work of preaching. His field now included Lafayette, Clay and Ray Counties. He was the only Baptist preacher, at that time, in Lafayette County. He had been as we have seen, very timid about entering the ministry, but now that he had begun this work , he was not discouraged because his field was so large. There was too much to do, and the calls were too urgent on the part of those who wanted to hear the word of life, for him to think of anything but to exert himself to the utmost to meet the demands. These counties were rapidly filling with families who came here for permanent homes.
In speaking of his labors at this time, he says: "God was pleased to revive the few scattered brethren in these counties and richly displayed His power and grace in the awakening and salvation of sinners."
As he had not been then ordained he sought the aid of Elder Luke Williams of Cooper County, who went to Lafayette County and baptized the converts. The church organized at that time was called Little Sniabar. Two other churches were organized about this time in Lafayette County, but for a long time Rev. Luke Williams went every two months to baptize the candidates. Mr. Fristoe mentions the fact that one young lady was converted at a Cumberland Presbyterian camp meeting, and as the preacher announced that he would administer baptism by pouring, or by sprinkling, or by immersion, just as each one desired, she united with them and was immersed. Not long afterwards the same minister preached on baptism and declared that he did not consider immersion a scriptural ordinance. Hearing this statement she went before one of these Baptist churches and, after relating her experience, asked to be received and baptized, as she felt the ordinance administered by one who could himself denounce the act was to her "no more than if she had accidentally fallen into a creek."
In November, 1823, the Fishing River Association was organized at the Fishing River Church in Clay County. The Sniabar Church, of which he was a member, called for his ordination. He mentions the names of J. B. Longan and Scott (I suppose Kemp Scott) as comprising the Council that ordained him, but adds, "and others." The church, first named Little Sniabar, changed its location and name and became the First Baptist Church of Lexington, Missouri, and is to this day one of the strong and efficient churches of the State. Not long after his ordination Mr. Fristoe returned to his former home in Howard County. Here, in 1824, he was married to Nancy Jackson. This was in every way a fortunate union, for she was to him a constant helper, and made his home a haven of rest. Mr. Rodgers having married and moved to the vicinity of Fayette, Mr. Fristoe was called to the pastorate of the Chariton Church, and filled that office for thirty years. His work upon the home field was for only one Saturday and Sunday in each month. He served Zoar, Fish Creek, Rehoboth (now Slater), and perhaps other churches in Saline County. In his home county he was pastor, at various times, of a number of other churches also.
But his great work was in the broad fields of the rapidly developing parts of Missouri north of the river. Here again it becomes necessary to mention the name of Fielding Wilhite. These two men went forth into the scattered neighborhoods, from the Chariton River to the west line of the State, and from the Missouri River to the borders of the State of Iowa. And they preached the gospel as they went. Churches were planted by them in Ketesville, Carrolton, and Lineus, besides several organizations effected in the rural districts. The churches gathered by these two zealous missionaries, who went forth with no Board to guarantee any support, were, after a few years, organized into the North Grand River Baptist Association. This association was organized at a private house in Livingston County in February, 1841, and was composed of three churches, viz., Carrollton, Locust Creek (now Linneus), and Salt Creek. If the last named church was constituted by the two brethren mentioned above, the fact is not stated by Mr. Fristoe. But he does state that A. F. Martin was one of the trio who canvassed this new country, and that he moved into the neighborhood of Locust Creek Church and became a very efficient worker in all that portion of the State. Mr. Fristoe says that "A. F. Martin was a valuable young brother, and that he preached the word with great acceptance, and has continued to do so until this day" (1856).
It is my desire that the reader should have the story of these missionary journeys from the pen of Fristoe himself: "The Grand River country began to settle up rapidly. We (Wilhite and he) consulted and arranged our plans for missionary tours, for the purpose, under God, of preaching the gospel, organizing churches, and forming them into an association, thereby occupying the entire field. This, under the blessing of God, we accomplished. I will now give a brief account of some of our labors. But first we were true yoke-fellows. We always agreed in our plans; we never had a short word or a hard thought in our lives, but were affectionately united, and knew that our sufficiency was of God. Therefore, we devoted much time to prayer. Locust Creek Church was the first one organized * * * A great portion of the membership of that church were converts of the first meeting that was held there. Next we went to Keytesville and labored a while, and, either then or afterwards, organized a church at that place. Then we went on about twelve miles and labored several days and made arrangements for the organization of a church, which we accomplished shortly after. We then went on to Carrollton, county seat of Carroll County. We rode up to the tavern and called for the landlord. We had understood that he had been a Baptist in Virginia. We told him who we were and what was our business. He told us we could accomplish nothing here. He further told us that the Methodists and Cumberland Presbyterians had tried again and again, and had given up the place in despair, and that there had been no preaching there for a long time. 'In fact,' said he, 'this is the devil's headquarters.' He told us how many groceries – by groceries he meant saloons – there were in the place, and that much drinking and gambling were carried on in these places. But he said that some four miles out of town at a camp ground we might do good.
"The old man went by the name of Greeman, and seemed to be in earnest, though he said that, if we were disposed to try, he would do the best he could for us. We stepped aside and consulted. We soon concluded as that was the 'devil's headquarters,' we would stick down our stakes there and see, under the blessing of God, what could be done for the place and people.
"We soon had the people notified that, at a certain hour, there would be preaching at a certain house. We drew our coats and , with the assistance of the old man, swept out the old dirty log cabin, about eighteen feet square, and regulated the seats. At the hour for preaching we had a fair congregation, under the circumstances. And it was evident the Spirit of God was there, and that the weapons of our warfare were not carnal but mighty, through God, to the pulling down of strongholds. The news spread like fire through stubble, so that we had to prepare and hold our meetings in the edge of town, under some shady trees. Some of the grocery (saloon) keepers were deeply concerned about their souls. We organized a church and called it after the name of the place, Carrollton. * * *
"From there we went north into the forks of Grand River, late in the evening came to a village called Knavetown. We made known our business and were directed to a school house about a half a mile distant. We reached there as the scholars were coming out. The teacher granted our request, and made known through out the scholars that there would be preaching there that night. Up stepped a youth of twelve or fourteen years and said, "Gentlemen, you are tired ; go home with me – my parents are Baptists and would be glad to see you – and get something to eat and your horses fed.' We gladly accepted the offer and were kindly received and well treated. This seemed to us providential, for we were entire strangers in that part of the country. When we returned to the school house we found it full and more than could get in. The word preached was blessed of God, and several anxious persons came forward for prayer. By the consent of the teacher we continued the meeting two days and nights. We then sent for a preacher named Merrill, who lived about fifteen miles above, who came, and at the close we received a good many candidates for baptism. The became a branch of the church Brother Merrill had the care of, and were to be organized afterwards." He mentions that they afterwards organized a church on Yellow Creek in Linn County. This implies that these two yoke-fellows, Fristoe and Wilhite, made many such towns as he has described.
As Rev. W. R. Painter was the pastor of this good man, in the last days of his pilgrimage on earth, and was with him in his last illness and conducted the funeral services, I will, after stating a few additional facts, close this narrative by quoting some of his words.
The fact is mentioned by Mr. Painter, as by others who have written of the origin of our General Association, that Thomas Fristoe, Ebenezer Rodgers, and Fielding Wilhite prayed this organization into existence at the home of John Jackson in Howard County, Missouri.
Dr. Yeaman, in his history of the General Association (pages 31, 32), says: " In 1838 Thomas Fristoe, Fielding Wilhite, and Ebenezer Rodgers met at the house of John Jackson in Howard County, to confer together as to some plan for supplying the spiritual wants of the people ready to hear the message of love, redemption, and salvation. The hears of these men of God were burdened. 'What can be done? We are insufficient for these things.' Together they bowed in fervent prayer, seeking in tears wisdom and guidance from the Great Head of the church." From this meeting these three men went to every part of the new State they could, and, by a vigorous correspondence with those they were not able to visit, brought on the meeting in August, 1834, when the Central Society was organized. This society, as is well known, grew into the Missouri Baptist General Association, which is at this time (1911) one of the most efficient State Conventions in North America. Mr. Fristoe was wise enough to secure for his family, while lands were cheap, a valuable tract of land near the location of the Chrariton Church, where he resided until the day of his death, in March, 1872.
I now quote from the obituary of Rev. W. R. Painter: "Of Elder Fristoe it may be truly said, 'He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost.' For fifty-two years he lived in the community in which he died, freely mingling with the people at the fireside, in the congregation and in the business circles. Yet here he was without reproach and above suspicion. The old men and women, who had associated with him through all these years, were his best friends and warmest admirers. By the young he was universally venerated and beloved. * * * In all the relations of life, as husband, father, neighbor, citizen, he was faithful and true. * * * He familiarized himself with God's Word, obtained clear views of its saving doctrines, imbibed its principles, drank deeply of its spirit and bowed his head in humble submission to its authority. He was rich in experience and was deeply impressed with the vast importance of his work. Conscious of his weakness he habitually implored divine assistance. He once said to me, 'Often when lining out the hymn I would all the while he praying, "Oh, Lord, do not let me disgrace thy glorious cause today."' He lived in an age of opportunities, and he embraced them. Society was forming, communities from distant quarters were taking root in new localities, and the future was to receive its impressions from what was then said and done. Elder Fristoe readily perceived the advantages of his position, and so he gave himself to the work. From house to house, from one community to another, he bore the message of love and called the people to repentance. Plain in manners and appearance, earnest in spirit, dwelling chiefly on the great doctrines of the Bible, clear and concise in statement, and pointed in appeal, he was adapted to the great work of evangelizing the frontier people. Elder Fristoe leaves two sons and one daughter who are disciples of our Lord and honored members of society. They mourn not as those without hope. They know that their honored father is in the home for which he was so well prepared and to which he earnestly longed to go."
Those men beloved of the Lord, who did such heroic service for the Master, deserve and have the love of those who, in the present period, build upon the foundation they so securely laid. We do earnestly thank Him who is the head of His own churches, that He gave in them gifts just suited to the age. May the same divine power enable the present-day workers to be as wise and faithful as were our fathers.
Mr. Wilhite was born in Kentucky, April 14, 1799. Before Missouri was admitted as a State in our Union, his father, Sampson Wilhite, became a resident of the Territory. This was in 1818.
In 1882 he became a Christian and was baptized by Rev. Peter Woods. The church of which he became a member was then called Bethel. It is easily understood why so many of the early churches chose this name. The place where they met, and where the Lord manifested His presence, was indeed to them the House of God. They knew it was God's loving presence that made it the birthplace of souls, and they therefore desired to associate His name with the location where they assembled. Afterwards, for the sake of distinguishing this church from others, it was called the Walnut Grove, and has always been an aggressive and active working body of men and women. Near this church Mr. Wilhite made his home, and continued to reside there until the day of his death. Four years after his union with the church he was voted a license to preach the gospel. Five years after his conversion and baptism, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry, at the call of the same body of Christians. Elders Robert Dale and Elijah Tobey composed the presbytery that ordained him.
In writing of Thomas Fristoe, Ebenezer Rodgers, and A. F. Martin, his name is always mentioned as one of their associates. He was so intimately connected with these men that the labors of the quartette were as if performed by one man. United in purpose, with one heart and one mind, they went to every place they could possibly reach, and by twos or sometimes by threes, their united labors bore much fruit.
Dr. W. Pope Yeaman, in his history of the General Association (page 199, 200), quotes from the minutes of the General Association: "Mention has already been made of Fielding Wilhite, of venerated memory, who was, at an early day, one of the missionaries of the Association. No better description of his missionary labors can be given than a quotation from one of his reports affords. In 1844 he reports to the board, and speaking of a missionary tour into Saline, Lafayette, Ray, Clay and Platte Counties, he says: 'In all these counties I found fields to cultivate, but few efficient men to cultivate them. * * * I trust the attention of the Association will be turned to Platte County; indeed, to the whole of Upper Missouri. In all I have labored about sixty days, traveled about 1,100 miles, have preached about forty sermons, delivered many exhortations, baptized thirty-seven willing converts, constituted one church, ordained two ministers and four deacons, and visited several Sunday Schools. I desire to mention particularly what the Lord has done for us at a camp meeting with the Bethlehem Church in Boone County, continuing eleven days, and resulting in the hopeful conversion of about eighty souls-- sixty were received for baptism, fifty-five of whom were baptized by myself and Brother Carey. The Association can allow me what it pleases for my services and receive it as a donation. The brethren amongst whom I labored were hot indifferent to my temporal interests and ministered to my necessities.'"
In 1843 the name of A. P. Williams appears on the roll of messengers from the church at Lexington to the General Association, holding its session at Jefferson City. About this time Williams and Wilhite began to work together in protracted meetings. These two men were, by their native endowments, just suited to become co-laborers. Williams was a profound thinker and an able expositor of the Word. Wilhite, blessed with a tender and sympathetic heart, and a sweet, pathetic voice, was gifted in a degree almost unequaled in his day, as an exhorter. Like Paul and Apollos, these two men were adapted by nature and grace to labor together. Williams could and did plant the seed of divine truth, and Wilhite could and did water the soil of human hearts with his own tears and his plaintive pleadings of a heart overflowing with love. I was told, a few years ago, that several brethren were preaching daily at his home church, Walnut Grove, after he had been for a time confined to his home by feeble health, when one day he was able to attend the meetings. The old fire began to burn in his heart and brain and he arose to speak to his neighbors and relatives, when soon he became his former self again. The weight of years and the feebleness of disease were forgotten, and there came such sweet and tender pleadings as soon to move his hearers to tears, and many to take the first steps toward the life of Christ in their own lives.
When only about 20 years of age he was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth McQuitty. This union was blessed with several children. The writer has no information worthy of record of his descendants.
For some years prior to his death he was so afflicted with diseased nerves as to render continued labor in the ministry impossible. He died at his home near Walneut Grove Church, Boone County, March, 1872. His body rests in the beautiful and well cared for cemetery, hard by the house of worship, of the church he so long served as pastor and the only one to which he ever belonged. A neat stone marks his resting place. He was a true Christian, a faithful minister, and one of Missouri's highly honored pioneers.
The name of Fielding Wilhite appears among those who met at Providence Church, Callaway County, and began the organized work of Baptist churches in Missouri. He was one of the trio – Wilhite, Rodgers, and Fristoe – who began this great work in prayer at the home of John Jackson, of Howard County. It seems to the writer, sometimes, that we of the present day would be right if we were to call that meeting for prayer and consultation the beginning of our General Association. And no doubt that today more earnest work, would greatly help the purposes of our assemblies forward with enlarged results.
THE WILHITES AND THOMAS FRISTOE REMINISCENCES, BY REV. G. W. HYDE
I knew the three Wilhite brothers, Fielding, the preacher, and Stephen and William, laymen, who lived about the middle of the Nineteenth Century and earlier, on farms in Boone County, Missouri, not very far from Rocheport.
Fielding Wilhite was one of the most godly men I ever knew. The very atmosphere in which he lived seemed to be surcharged with the Spirit of God.
Stephen was a farmer and blacksmith and was also noted for his consecration to God.
William Wilhite also was a very godly man, and noted for his great frankness of speech. After taking dinner with him about October, 1866, he walked with me several hundred yards out to his big, or outer gate. Before opening the gate, he said, " Brother Hyde, the Wilhites and their kinsfolk and friends own almost all this country around here. If, in passing through here, you want to stay all night, or want a meal, or want your horse fed, why, sir, just ride up to almost any house and tell who you are and what you want and you can always get it gladly. Sir, this country is called 'Blackfoot,' and is Baptist territory up to the hub."
Thomas Fristoe lived not very far from Glasgow in Howard County, and was a devout man of God. In my early days I often heard him preach at Keytesville in Chariton County, near where I was reared.
It was the custom of Fielding Wilhite and Thomas Fristoe, about 1830 – 1845 (I am guessing somewhat at the exact time), to go on missionary tours as self-appointed missionaries, and at their own expense, from their homes in Boone and Howard Counties, westward through Chariton, Carroll, Ray, Clay, Platte, and Buchanan Counties as far as St. Joseph, Missouri. They would then cross the Missouri River and return through a part of Kansas and then through Jackson, Lafayette, Saline, and Cooper, and recross the river either at Boonville or Rocheport. These tours were begun every fall, "after the crop was laid by," and lasted from six weeks to two months. The country at that time was sparsely settled, and they would go from "settlement to settlement," preaching as they went, occasionally organizing a Baptist church. Stephen Wilhite told me that one fall, just before the time to start, Thomas Fristoe sent word to his brother, Fielding, that he was sick, and that it would be impossible for him to accompany him. Fielding Wilhite felt that the trip could not be abandoned, so he sent word to his brother Stephen that he must go with him, that he could sing and exhort, if not preach. Stephen Wilhite told me that when he got the message from his brother Fielding, he was in his blacksmith shop, beating on a piece of iron. He said he immediately made up his mind to go; he threw down his leather apron, and within an hour he had bathed himself and put a "biled shirt," among other things, into his saddle bags, and started with the messenger on the way to Brother Fristoe's home.
I don't recollect anything about his carrying his rifle with him, which was quite customary in those days; but he did carry a well sharpened axe. This was indispensable; for Brother Stephen Wilhite told me that bridges and ferry boats were very scarce at that time, and that it was often necessary for them to construct rafts for crossing rivers. They had trained their horses to swim beside the rafts as they rowed over the streams.
Thus the gospel was preached, many souls were saved, and the foundation laid for the coming of the Kingdom.
J. C. M.
Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers was born in Monmouthshire, British Islands, March 16, 1788. His ancestors were Baptists and his father and one brother were Baptist preachers. He also had on brother-in-law, named Jenkins, who was a minister of the same faith.
He was educated at Bristol College and is spoken of by his early associates as a "graduate." He came to America in 1818, and landed at New Orleans. He immediately made his way to Kentucky, where he formed the acquaintance of Rev. J. E. Welch. The latter writes that at a meeting of the Elkhorn Association, in August, 1818, he met Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers, who had "landed upon our shores but a few weeks before, direct from Wales, his native country." Mr. Welch made mention of his new-formed friend, as follows:
"I was delighted with the man at my first interview. His open frankness, simplicity, and softness of manners interested all who formed his acquaintance. He told me that the first time he ever saw Indian corn in the ear was in the shape of boiled corn upon the dinner table of some brother in Cincinnati. At first view he could not imagine what it could be, but at length concluded that it must be an artificial dish provided merely as an ornament to the table, such as is often seen at the palaces of the rich and great in the old world. Presently, however, he saw the lady stick her fork into one of them, and taking hold of it at each end, she began to eat. 'Ha," said he, 'it is something to eat,' and following the example of the lady found himself engaged in eating what he had never tasted before."
As a rule, it is no easty matter for one going from one country to another to adapt himself at once to his new surroundings. Yet we find Mr. Rodgers at home among the pioneers on the borders of civilization without any apparent effort. True it is that many of these families were people of education and refinement, who knew how to make their guests realize the genuineness of their welcome; but it does show much common sense and good breeding on the part of the new comer that he so quickly made friends of those with whom he came in contact.
We find in none of the records accessible any statement concerning the conversion and baptism of Mr. Rodgers. But that he was a Baptist and a licensed minister before he came to America is evident from what Mr. Welch writes.
He did not tarry long in Kentucky, for we find him preaching in Missouri as early as 1819. His first home in Missouri was in the town of Chariton, where he was ordained in 1820. Here he became the friend, advisor and instructor of Thomas Fristoe. The latter bore willing and cheerful testimony in later years to the good influence his friend exercised over him in the first years of his ministry. After his ordination this man from Wales became pastor of the Chariton Church, but like the other pastors of that day made many tours throughout the western borders of the new country. He preached statedly at Chariton, but went everywhere preaching the Word.
His early mental training had been superior to most of his co-laborers, and when the views of baptism were assailed he was called forward to use his pen in their defense. Some of the circular letters written by him, and printed in the minutes of the Mount Pleasant Association, show much learning and profound research. In one of these letters he shows that many of the errors in the teachings of Alexander Campbell originated with Mr. Glass of Scotland, and Mr. Sandeman of England. Those who are familiar with the writings Andrew Fuller, the great Baptist theologian of England, will recall how he refuted the teachings of this man Sandeman. Ebenezer Rodgers was evidently a disciple of Andrew Fuller rather than of Ryland, though the latter had been his teacher in Bristol, England. He proved his love for Fuller and his writings, not only by his advocacy of the same principles, but by naming one of his sons Andrew Fuller. This son, it may be remarked in passing, became a prominent and useful citizen in Illinois in after years.
Mr. Rodgers was very prominent in originating and organizing the General Association of Missouri Baptists. He was chairman of the committee to arrange and prepare the business for the preliminary meeting in Callaway County that resulted in the organization of our present great State Convention. The same year, 1834, he moved to Upper Alton, Illinois, continuing the same activity in the ministry that had been his custom before. He was pastor of the churches in the city of Alton and Upper Alton. He also, for quite a time, made regular trips to Fee Fee Church in St. Louis County, Missouri, and preached there. He was intimately associated with Rev. J. M. Peck, both in preaching and in the establishment of Rock Spring Seminary and Shurtleff College. He was a trustee of this college from its beginning until his death. He was instrumental in the organization of about fifty churches in Missouri, though he labored in the State only sixteen years. He also led in gathering many of these churches into associations. It is claimed by one of his sons that his home was the first brick house erected in either of the Altons.
The he was a man of foresight is seen in the earnest efforts he made in connection with Thomas Fristoe and Fielding Wilhite to plane the organized effort that resulted in the Central Society, the forerunner of our General Association. When Shurtleff College had been established he became the personal friend of all the students, but especially of those who were preparing for the ministry. When J. M. Frost, Sr., Noah Flood, and Samuel Baker were students at Shurtleff, all of whom became eminent Baptist preachers, he often made arrangements for them to preach in country or village churches. It might be said of him that he was among the first in the Middle West to appreciate the value of student preaching.
Ebenezer Rodgers was a man of varied resources. He had at his command all the knowledge he had gathered by study, travel and association with people in all walks of life. If the printed page was needed to warn the Lord's children of dangerous errors, his pen supplied the demand; if there were destitute localities, or weak churches without leaders, he heeded such calls and cheerfully went and nobly filled the chasm.
He died at his home in Upper Alton, Illinois, April 25, 1854. He had provided a stone to mark the resting place of his body, giving as his reason for so doing that he wanted to familiarize his mind with the fact of mortality as well as to keep alive the assurance of his immortality.
The world owes a great debt of gratitude to such unselfish toilers as Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers. He was a good man, an able minister of the gospel, and, by his preaching, his writings, and his blamelss life, he honored the Great Master.
J. C. M.
It has fallen to the lot of few men to hold so many positions of prominence, both in religious and in civic affairs, as did Hon. William Carson. He was born near Winchester, Virginia, May 14, 1798. At the age of 21 he became a Christian and united with a Baptist church in his native State, and was baptized by Rev. George C. Sedwich.
In 1820, a few months after his conversion, he came to Missouri. His first home was at New London, then Pick County, but afterwards the county seat of Ralls County. For three years he engaged in teaching the schools near to his new home. The nearest Baptist church then was called Peno, and, though fifteen miles distant, he united with that church. On October 2, 1823, he was married to Alethia Seely of St. Louis County, and settled on a farm six miles south of New London.
I can only mention the offices he filled in serving his country. He was a justice of the peace; captain of a troop of cavalry, enlisted for the "Black Hawk War," but was not called into active service; register of the United States land office; United States mail agent for Illinois and Missouri; for ten years a member of the Missouri Legislature, and then four years in the State Senate; was secretary of the Land Department of Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad, and quartermaster in the Commissary Department of the United States Army. In all these positions his work was characterized by an honest intensity that reflected honor upon himself and gave satisfaction to all concerned.
Captain Carson furnishes an illustration of the fact that it is never necessary for any man to deny his principles, if he is a Christian, in order to please his constituents when he holds either an appointive office or a place to which he is elected by the votes of the people.
We turn, therefore, with pleasure to mention some of the positions he held among the Baptists of Missouri. And let it be remembered that he was most honored by those who were nearest to him and knew well his daily life. He was evidently a constituent member of the church organized at an early date in New London. In the organization of the Salt River Association, August 23, 1823, he represented the New London Church. William Carson was chosen clerk in the temporary organization. He also was one of the committee appointed to prepare a constitution and rules of order for the new fraternity.
In 1825 he moved to Palmyra and soon organized a Sunday School, which was the first one formed north of Salt River in the State.
In 1834 fourteen churches were dismissed from Salt River Association to organize the Bethel (Northeast) Association. Here again we find the ready pen of Mr. Carson in demand. He was made clerk at the preliminary meeting, and continued to serve this body as clerk or moderator for twenty or more years.
It is usually stated that Mr. Carson was present and assisted in the organization of the Central Society, which grew into our General Association. The writer so stated in the "Semi-centennial Volume," but his name does not appear in the printed copies of that first meeting. But we do see that he was an active participant in many of the beginnings of Christian work in all the northeastern part of Missouri.
He was a man who had the courage of his convictions. Though so much of his life holding office by the suffrage of the people, he did not hesitate to defend his principles when they were attacked. When even so formidable an antagonist as Rev. Dr. D. Nelson wrote against the views held by Baptists, in the local press of the day, Mr. Carson was ready and responded with such learning and logic as to show that he has reasons abundant for the positions he held.
When the Baptists of Missouri were looking for men of wisdom to decide the location for William Jewell College, then about to be established, one of the men chosen for this purpose was William Carson. When the College was organized in 1849, he became one of the charter members of the Board of Trustees. Later, in 1858, upon the creation of the Board of Ministerial Education, he was one of the ten laymen associated with eight ministers in constituting that Board. He served both as Moderator and Clerk of the General Association , at different session of that State organization. He was, in every position and upon all occasions, one of the men who was ready for any sacrifice and for any service.
Missouri Baptists have been blessed in many laymen who were both intelligent and aggressive in labors for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. And among that number of the heroes of the faith, William Carson deserves an honored place.
He died at his home in Palmyra, Missouri, November 3, 1873.
J. C. M.
Many Baptists in Missouri will remember that J. B. Longan was the second moderator of our General Association. He succeeded Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman. He was a native of Virginia. The exact date of his birth, or the locality, has not been preserved, or if they have, the writer, after diligent search, has not learned the facts. (The date of his birth given above is most probably the correct one.) In his boyhood he came with his parents to Kentucky and settled in Bourbon County. Here he received a common school education.
In early life he united with a Baptist church. It is not known now with what local church he united, nor by whom he was baptized.
He learned the trade of brick laying and pursued this calling for a time. Very soon after his conversion, he began to exhort the impenitent to seek an interest in the one and only Savior of the lost. His zeal was such that he was soon regularly ordained to the ministry. After his marriage in Bourbon County, Kentucky, and his full entrance into the ministry, he moved to Barren County in the same State, and made his home near Glasow. He remained there only a short time and then located near the Cumberland River, in what is now Monroe County, Kentucky. He was now in the territory of the Stockton's Valley Association. To many churches, and "to the people in a large area of country, he preached with acceptance and success, about ten years." "Up to this time," writes Dr. J. H. Spencer, in his History of Kentucky Baptists, "no such a preacher had labored in that region of the country."
In 1812 Mr. Logan was chosen moderator of the Stockton's Valley Association and presided over that body for six years. "At least three times," says Dr. Spencer, "he was called upon to preach the introductory sermon before that body."
In 1821 he moved to Missouri and settled in that portion of the State now known as Moniteau County. "In his early ministry, Mr. Logan was a hyper-Calvanist in doctrine, but he soon so modified his views as to call upon all men to repent. He had a strong, melodious voice, which he used with great fluency. He often wept freely while he plead with men to turn to the Lord Jesus and be saved, and his preaching went to the hearts of sinners with mighty power." (Spencer's History of Kentucky Baptists)
I also find a quotation in Spencer's History from J. M. Peck, who heard J. B. Longan preach at a meeting of the Fishing River Association in Missouri, who says of the sermon, "For effective preaching, on such occasions, his equal had not then appeared in Missouri." Mr. Longan was of Irish descent, and had much of the ready wit and eloquence of that race. He had only a common school education in his youth, but his great mental power was manifested in that he became a profound thinker and was a very able expositor of the Bible. He also knew well how to preside over deliberative bodies, and was frequently called to the Moderator's chair in his home Association, and for four consecutive years presided over the Missouri Baptist General Association.
He is said to have been a large man physically as well as mentally. He was one of those who thoroughly comprehended the difference between the teachings of Alexander Campbell and the views held by the Baptists. The necessity was therefore laid upon him to defend the truth as he understood it, and expose the errors of those who agreed with that so-called reformer. It is known that the organization of the "Central Society," now the General Association, greatly alarmed – perhaps we might justly say enraged – the anti Missionary Baptists of Missouri. They saw, in this movement, that the spirit of missions was taking deep root in the hearts of the membership of Baptist churches. That these opponents of world wide missions did not fully comprehend their own purposes, nor wholly analyze their state of mind, is quite evident. They dreaded the results of enlarged mental training for the ministry, lest this should set them aside and they would lose their influence with the masses of the people. They knew not what manner of spirit controlled them. Their dislike of the advocates of missions amounted almost to positive hatred. To illustrate the above statements, I take the following facts from Duncan's History of Missouri Baptists: "In 1827 a 'circular letter' was read before the
Concord Association, prepared by Rev. Kemp Scott, in defense and explanation of the missionary enterprise. The association declined to publish the circular letter, but as a 'peace measure,' gave the following advice instead: 'We recommend that the cause of missions be not made a bar to fellowship, and that the subject be not stirred in any church any more, nor be brought into the association hereafter, more, nor be brought into the association hereafter, and that each individual be left to think they have an undoubted right.' This advice enraged the opposition, and they determined that the advocates of missions should have no place among them. Their declaration at the meeting of the Concord Association in 1828 was 'that there is no toleration given for any of the hired, money-begging missionaries to come in among us, nor hired priests, nor any of the societies that stand in connection with them.' It was necessary to make these quotations that the present generation may know what kind of opposition the early advocates of missions in Missouri had to overcome."
In all this conflict Rev. John B. Longan stood as a rock of defense. He knew that the Lord had commanded the gospel to be preached to all nations; and he was ready to encounter any hindrances that stood in the way of obedience to the orders of his glorified Master.
No one need infer that throughout this controversy Mr. Longan was silent. That he, with great ability, and on all occasions, preached the gospel to "saint and sinner," and urged upon the saved to send the gospel to the whole world, was only being true to the gospel he loved preach.
When two or three of the strongest of the anti-mission opponents to the organization of the Central Society, were known to have come to the Convention called for that purpose, and to be on the ground prepared to prevent the organization if possible, the brethren, recognizing the strength of the influence of these opponents with their adherents, feared that unless some one were appointed to controvert them, whose influence would in all respects furnish an adequate offset to their specious arguments, unanimously selected Elder Longan, with the result that the opponents were routed, and withdrew from the Convention, leaving the progressive Baptists to proceed in peace.
The writer made diligent search for additional facts concerning the life work of this good man, but has been able to gather but little. He was one of the ablest of our early preachers in Missouri. His life harmonized with the message he bore to the people. It may be justly said of him, "He was a good man and filled with the Holy Spirit."
J. C. M.
Like many of the earliest permanent settlers in Missouri, this very useful servant of the Lord Jesus was born in Virginia. He came into this world in Washington County, Virginia, on June 20, 1790.
When a babe of one year and a half his father died. The mother, Mrs. Dorcas Scott, with great courage, Christian fortitude and small means, began heroically to train her eight children for the service of her Lord and Savior. But the mother's life was soon ended by death and so the future preacher in the great region west of the Mississippi River, became an orphan. Kemp was now taken care of by a brother-in-law, with whom he lived until he was approaching the twentieth year of his age, when he followed the great host of Virginians to the new State of Kentucky. He found a home in Barren County, and there met his future wife. She was a daughter of Rev. David Allee, a Baptist minister. In after years both he and the son-in-law, who had become the husband of his daughter, Anna, made their home in Missouri.
It is worth while to pause here in this narrative of the life of Rev. Kemp Scott and write a few sentences concerning the work of his father-in-law, Rev. David Allee. He, too, was a native of the Old Dominion, a soldier for the independence of the original thirteen Colonies, and for some years a faithful minister of the gospel in Kentucky. He came to Missouri in 1820, and settled in the southeast part of Cooper County. He aided in the organization of churches and in the formation of the Concord Association. He was in favor of the organization of the Central Society (now General Association), and in every way sought the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ among men. A short time after young Kemp Scott became a resident of Barren County, Kentucky, he was deeply convicted of sin, under the preaching of Elder Ralph Petty. For a long time he was in great distress of mind. But slowly and surely the light came into his heart, and he gave his whole being to the Redeemer of lost men. When he had experienced the grace of God in his own inner consciousness, his joy was so great that he began to
"Tell to sinners round What a dear Savior he had found."
He had changed his residence from Barren to Monroe County, and here, at the call of the Cumberland River Church, was ordained to the ministry, in 1815. He remained in this State for five years and preached constantly to various churches, besides spending much time in holding meetings in many destitute localities.
In October, 1824, he moved to Missouri and became a resident of Cooper County. He became pastor of Mount Pleasant Church and continued as such for nineteen years. "In July, 1836, the church hearing that he was receiving a salary of $150 from the American Baptist Home Mission Society, voted him out by a majority of two; but, in December, following, voted him back unanimously." Mr. Scott continued his labors from his home in Cooper County until 1846. He had, during this period, served for longer or shorter periods of time twelve churches. Also for five years he served as missionary of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, which required that he explore new territory and preach in the widely scattered settlements. After a residence of twenty-two years in Cooper County, he moved to Carroll County, in 1846, and labored as missionary of the North Grand River Association for a number of years.
Here it becomes necessary to blend the names of Kemp Scott and A. F. Martin, in this narrative. The North Grand River Association included within its bounds all that central part of the State between the Missouri River and the Iowa line. The constituent members of the Association were Carrollton, Locust Creek (now Linneus) and Salt Creek, with a total membership of about 100. The constitution declared; "We will not be known as a Missionary or an anti-Missionary Association." This Association was formed in the year 1841, and in 1845 the church in Trenton sent up the inquiry: "What can be done to supply the destitute portions of the Association with the preached gospel?" As the constitution forbade any formal action favorable to missions, it was after careful consideration, decided to request A. F. Martin to travel and preach and to recommend that the churches support him. The query arises in the mind of the writer, How many preachers have me in this Twentieth Century who would engage in a gospel campaign over some six or eight counties on such a promise of support? And this, too, when we know that the liberality of church members is much more fully developed now than it was in that day. The next year, 1846, "such had been the development of the missionary spirit under the labors of A. F. Martin and others, that it was resolved to employ Elder Kemp Scott to ride as an itinerant at a salary of $18 per month." With much earnestness Elder Scott traveled and preached over this wide region. And in 1847 he was given permission to read his report to the Association. This meeting was held at Zoar Church in Harrison County. He reported that ninety-seven persons had been baptized into the fellowship of the churches during the year. This report decided the question of missions in the North Grand River Association, and by an overwhelming majority that "omission" clause was expunged from the constitution.
The labors of Elder Scott in the North Grand River Association, do not mark the beginning of his zeal in the cause of missions. In 1837 he was appointed agent of the General Association for the collection of funds, and otherwise to labor as its missionary. He reported at the meeting in 1838 that he had secured $75 in cash and obtained $11.75 in pledges. "His work was by no means a failure, for he reported the baptism of 126 converts."
Rev. Kemp Scott and his wife were blessed with twelve children. All these were led into the like precious faith with their parents before the sainted father was given his great release. At least one son became a gospel minister; this was Rev. R. P. Scott, who greatly assisted in preserving the memory of his father's useful life. Such was the zeal of this man of God, that, when too feeble to leave his home, he arranged to hold a protracted meeting beneath his own roof, and, for four days, preached twice a day until help came. Of the seven persons who professed conversion in these meetings one was his grandchild. He had arranged with his son, Elder R. P. Scott, to baptize these persons; but when the day came he said, "It is the last opportunity I shall have of administering the ordinance of my blessed Master, and I am determined to do my whole duty." He entered the stream and, supported by a deacon, "with the light of other days still beaming in his eye, his voice, trembling with emotion, he baptized, with others, his youthful grandchild in the name of the Holy Trinity." "And that," says Dr. S. H. Ford in the Christian Repository, "was the closing of his life's labors."
It was not long after this that he heard the call to leave the old frail tenement and go to the rest that remaineth to the children of our Heavenly Father. He died April 12, 1864, at his home near Carrollton, Missouri, and was buried in the cemetery of the Bethlehem Church, located six miles in a northeasterly direction from Carrollton.
He is described as a man full six feet in height, with a strong, bony frame and boldly marked features.
He was thoroughly familiar with the Bible, and he fearlessly preached what he believed the one Book taught. This narrative, all too brief to do justice to his memory, shows how full of the labors of His love his life was. He spared not himself nor consulted his own comfort. No distance was too great for him to travel, and no peril held him, when he heard the call to "go and preach." How sweet indeed is the rest of such an honored and faithful servant of the Great Master.
THE PERIOD OF DEVELOPMENT
1834 – 1884
During the first years of the Period of Development, the Baptist forces suffered from a spirit of dissension in their own ranks that came as a legacy from the later years of the Pioneer Period. This was the result of a schismatic spirit manifested by those that opposed Missions, Sunday Schools and all "money-getting schemes," as they were called with opprobrious intent. The bitter and acrimonious spirit manifested by the anti-mission schism, became so virulent that a division in the Baptist forces became, not only desirable, but necessary. This condition of affairs brought unrest into the ranks of the missionary hosts that no outside opposition had been able to create.
This, however, did not scotch the wheels of denominational enterprises, but did somewhat retard their onward movement. Notwithstanding these deterring conditions, which soon became greatly modified by the waning of the influence of the dissident party, from the organization of the General Association, a spirit of intenser activity to get possession of the consecrated laborers, and a period of genuine development was successfully launched.
During the half-century following nearly one hundred district associations were organized, of which number sixty associations still exist, the others having either lapsed or become merged into associations formed later. From a few scattered cummunities the number of Baptists grew to the mighty host of nearly 87,000, and occupied all sections of our great State.
Schools, offering advantages of advanced education to the young of both sexes, were established in all available parts of the State, eight of which have manifested their right to live by living.
The old-time prejudice against "this sect that is everywhere spoken against" had vanished, so that the Apostles of the Truth as maintained by the Baptist churches, did not find their mission in disseminating the Word accompanied by the danger and discomfort of the early years, and every outlook seemed propitious for the Period of Achievement that follows this section, and continues these biographical studies to the close of the first century of the History of Baptist Effort in Missouri.
Anderson Woods was born in Albermarle County, Virginia, January 18, 1778. He was the fifth child of his parents. His father was of Irish descent, and took an active part in our Revolutionary struggle for freedom, serving as a captain in a Virginia regiment under Washington. He was a rigid Presbyterian, and brought up all of his children in that faith. Under this tuition Anderson grew up a moral you man. He was of good stature, weighing about one hundred sevety pounds; he had light hair, fair complexion and blue eyes.
At the age of eighteen his father placed him under the tuition of a man by the name of Carr, to learn the trade of a blacksmith. He stayed with him until he learned the trade, and then set up a shop for himself in Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky. Here he soon established a reputation as a skillful workman, and consequently a very fair business. About one year after he began business for himself, May 4, 1808, he was married to Miss Elizabeth Harris, by Elder Peter Woods. After his marriage he remained at Richmond following his trade for nearly two years, when he moved on a farm about four miles from his former residence. In the following spring he was, through grace, enabled to embrace the Savior by a cordial, obedient faith.
As before stated, he was raised a strict Presbyterian. Some time before he made a public profession of his faith in Christ he was very seriously impressed with the subject, especially about the time of the great revival of 1801. But he lived struggling with his convictions until the spring of 1811, when he became unusually serious. One evening, having attended a wedding, as he was leaving the place, he made it convienient to ride with the minister, made known to him his state of mind, and requested him to pray for him. Where upon they alighted from their horses and the man of God offered up a prayer for him. A short time afterwards he was enabled to rejoice in hope.
He now devoted all of his spare moments to reading the Holy Scriptures. Up to this time he had not thought of ever being anything but a Presbyterian. And not until he had read the New Testament through the third time, was his mind unsettled. He had taken it for granted that the doctrine of infant baptism was taught therein. And though he had read it through for the third time, he thought that perhaps he had overlooked the passage where the doctrine might be found. He therefore read again with special refernece to this doctrine, but found it not. After thus carefully reading the word of God he was convinced that he had never been baptized as Jesus had commanded. But what was he to do? He had ever looked upon the Baptists as a very ignorant and bigoted set of people; but the plain teaching of God's word convinced him that they were right. The Bible not only taught him that he had never been baptized, but also that there was only one baptism, and that the people whom he had been taught to look upon with contempt were the people who held the truth as it was in Jesus. He said nothing to any one about what he intended to do, until the evening before he joined the church. His wife had never joined any church up to this time, but sometime before had obtained a hope in Christ. He on this evening said to her that he intended to unite with the church. The next day he and his beloved wife did give themselves to the people of God, and were together buried with Christ in baptism by Elder Christopher Harris. They became members of the Viney Fork Church, Madison County, Kentucky.
A few months after his baptism Mr. Woods was chosen deacon of the church and served his brethren as such until October, 1816, when he moved from Kentucky to Missouri and settled in what is now Boone County (then Howard). He soon found a few scattered Baptists in his new home, and, with three besides himself and wife, went into the constitution of a church which was then called Bethel, now Walnut Grove. Here he commenced holding prayer-meetings with the church, as they could have preaching only occasionally during the firest year. And its number increased during this time to about one hundred.
Elder Woods remained here about two years, when he mobed about twenty miles east and went into the organization of a church called Little Bonne Femme. Here he took a very active part in prayer-meetings and occasionally would exercise some in the way of public speaking, exhortation, etc. And on the third day of August, 1823, he was ordained to the ministry of the Word by Elder Peter Woods, David Doyle and others.
Henceforth he devoted his whole time to the work of the ministry. The cause prospered here; and from this church soon after there went out two colonies, namely, Salem and Columbia Churches. The last named church called him to labor for them as pastor. He labored for them in this capacity for several years, and at the same time he spent all the time he could spare from his immediate charge in laboring in destitute parts of the country, thus aiding in constituting and building up many of our churches which still flourish and prosper.
While laboring for the Columbia Church, Elder Woods traveled from one end of the State to the other – from Arkansas to his home, from New Madrid to Kansas-- bearing onward the standard of Jesus, feeding the flock of Christ and proclaiming to sinners the cheering news of salvation, spending his time, the strength of his manhood and his means in the service of his Master.
Elder Woods was one of the fathers of our General Association. He assisted in tits organization, and was the first missionary appointed by its board. But owning to his time being wholly monopolized by the churc hes he did not accept it.
In October, 1835, he moved near to Paris, Monroe County, Missouri, and took charge of the Otter Creek, Mount Prairie and Paris Churches. Soon after, he also preached for the church at Newark. With these churches he labored until his death, which occurred on the 22nd day of October, 1841, in the 54th year of his age. He had been gone from home six weeks. He returned on Wednesday. On Friday he talked a great deal about death and appeared to be already enjoyning the very beatitudes of heaven. On Monday night he breathed his last and fell asleep in Jesus.
It is enough to add, what every one who knew Elder Woods will testify, that he was "a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and faith," and by his ministry "much people were added to the Lord."
Like most of the men that rank as pioneers in the civilization of the Middle West, south of forty degrees, north latitude, Dr. Jewell was born in Virginia, bred in Kentucky and came West, in keeping with the tendency of the time, to gain such maturity as could be acquired only when the habits of life were of a sterner, more heroic character.
He was born in Loudoun County, Vriginia, January 1, 1789, and came with his father's family to Gallatin County, when a young lad. He there completed his academic education in the schools of that State. Even at that early date, the first years of the Nineteenth Century, the private schools of that Mother of States were excellent in quality. Public schools for the gentry were then unknown in the slaveholding sections of the Union.
Little is known of his younger manhood, but it is on record that he studied medicine in Transylvania University, and was gradcuated from that instituion with the degree of Doctor of Medicine. The diploma attesting this graduation is framed and hangs upon the wall of the Archives of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society, in the Library Building, William Jewell College.
Soon after his graduation he came to Missouri 1820, being then a mature young man, 31 years of age, and settled soon afterwards at Columbia, Boone County. From that time onward he exerted a controlling influence in the development of that beautiful little city, and the citizens to this day are proud to point to one acknowledged excellence after another in arrangement of streets and stability of old buildings or some other admirable feature, and attribute this excellence to Dr. Jewell's active painstaking in the early day, when the small town was just beginning to realize itself.
He had the sturdy instincts of a pioneer, united with the methodical exactness pertaining to the practical life of the older civilization. This happy combination it was,l supported by unusual determination, that made him at once a leader among men in his newly adopted home.
By nature a broad-minded man, he could at the same time with one hand assist the State of his adoption in establishing an institution that in economic and scholastic interests was destined to dominate the policies of that State, and, with other hand, assist the religious denomination that possessed his fealty, by means of monetary gift of unusual magnitude in those early days, to establish an institution that should conserve the time-honored doctrines of this denomination, permeate the learning of the schools with the sweetening and purifying influences of the principles of the religion of Christ, and at the same time fall below none in giving thorough scholastic training to the young men of the State. His gifts to his State were liberal; to his church, munificent.
In his character of village doctor one is strongly reminded of Balzac's immortal portraiture Monsieur Bonnassis, the practical, tender-hearted country doctor and of the much-loved, tenderly-revered Doctor MacLure of Bonnie-Briar-Bush fame-- strong, practical, sympathetic, self-forgetting and, at the same time, rigidly adherent to his conception of the right controlling his community of patients by the subtle supremacy of a firm grasp but masterful dominance. The almost sacred intimacy that existed between the physician and his patients in the early days before the war of modern improvement made it possible for the patient to report his symptoms by means of the telephone, and the doctor to make his flying visits in an automobile and his prescrptions throught the medium of the drug store, seems to be a condition wholly of the past. Then the "Family Doctor" - close and sacred compact entered into by physician and family for an undisturbed and indefinite period-- healing the physical ills by lotion or powder concocted from the contents of his own saddle bags, or alleviating the pangs of suffering by close sympathetic personal tenderness, shared the loving confidence of the family with the other old-time friend and advisor who in the divine relationship of "Family Pastor" applied the elements of spirtiual healing to the diseases of the soul. Are they both holy ministers of the past only? Not so. When we consider the beneficent spirit that confronts the physician of the present day in his mission of useful visitation, and the holy sympathy of the present -day pastor we say there is a change in method, buy no loss in genuine helpfulness.
Dr. Jewell, through his consecrated character and devoted life, in a large measure filled both offices. It is said of him by one biographer: "He took a deep interest in his patients, and when his medical skill failed, he pointed them to the Heavenly Physician."
In 1843 when he offered $10,000 to the Baptist General Association to aid in establishing a college in Missouri to be used as an agency for the gighter education of young men, and the partial preparation of those who were called to the ministry for the exalted duties of their profession, knowing that his offer, though munificent for that time, would, by no means, adequately equip an institution of that kind, much less endow it, he stipulated that the Baptists of Missouri give a liberal amount additional. His offer was declined at the time on the ground that it would be impracticable then to try to raise the required amount of money, but having faith in the future liberality of his brethren, he left the offer open. Within a few years action was again taken, accepting the offer, and a committee consisting of five prominent business and professional men was appointed to consider the feasibility of now establishing such a school. This activity resulted favorably, and the College was organized in 1849 with a building and endowment fund of $59,432, the first denominational college established west of the Mississippi River. Thus as the Baptists had preceded all Protestant organizations, in organizing Old Bethel Church in Louisiana Territory 1806, as now forty-three years later they in like manner were first in making provision for the liberal education of their sons.
Dr. Jewell immediately came to Liberty, the place selected for the location of the College, to superintend the erection of the building, now known as Jewell Hall. His thorough business-like disposition manifested itself in the solidity and external finish of the masonry of the building. An architect who was inspecting it a few years ago, said in our presence: "It is doubtful if another so substantially constructed building can ve found in Missouri. Whatever changes are wrought upon this hill in the future, this building should be left standing just as it is."
While superintending this work he contracted a severe cold which soon developed into acute pneumonia, and he died August 7, 1852, the victim of his scrupulous faithfulness. He now sleeps in the beautiful but modest cemetery two miles south of Columbia, founded by and named for him, "William Jewell Cemetery."
We quote from "The Average Man," an admirable address delivered before the Literary Societies of William Jewell College, June 5, 1911, by Hon. E. W. Stephens:
"It is difficult now in this day of education, of endowed colleges, denominational and State, to realize the sagacity, the foresight, the originality, the statesmanship of this initial step for denominational education. At that time there was not a school in Missouri fostered by any religious denomination. No one individual had contributed any amount to compare with this gift to education. But henceforth the fires of Christian education were lighted all over the State, and colleges for both young men and young women sprang up in all sections and received prompt and liberal patronage. The tide has rolled on with increasing momentum unto the present hour, and it is but just to say that William Jewell was the pioneer who gave the original impulse and suggestions to it all."
J. C. M.
The very brief and inadequate sketch of this highly honored and worthy layman, printed in the semi-centennial all the facts that could be learned at that time. Since that period of time only a few more facts have been gathered.
He was one of those quaint but sincere men that made little noise in the world. He lived so close to the Christ, and was so absorbed with the support of the church with which he maintained a godly fellowship, that there was little to record, and no one treasured up those incidents that illustrated his true character. He was not only deeply in earnest in the support an denlargement of his own home church, but he had the gospel vision of a world-wide service for the Lord Jesus. And thus he became one of the strong friends of the General Association and presided as Moderator, altogether, for seven years.
Roland Hughes was born in Kentucky in 1790. He removed from Washington County, presumably his native county, and became a citizen of Howard County, Missouri, before Missouri was admitted as a State. He died in 1855.
In 1824 he served as one of the commissioners to lay off the city of Fayette, which had been chosen as the county seat. So far as known this was the only official work he performmed for his county or the State.
He was a member of Mount Moriah Church, not many miles from the county seat, but aided in forming the Baptist church in Fayette, and continued his faithful services there all his life.
He was a farmer and for many years cultivated a farm two and one-half miles west of the county seat. In later life he moved to another farm, and at the time of his death was residing near where the town of Estill is now.
In early life he owned and operated a distillery, and some people said he continued this business after he became a member of the Baptist church. This rumor Dr. W. Pope Yeaman investigated and in his History of the General Association gives proof that Mr. Hughes gave up this business before he became a church member.
He was a successful farmer and was regarded as a wealthy man.
In the conflict between the Missionary Baptists and the anti-Missionaries he stood firm with those who sought to have the gospel preached to the whole world.
He believed in the best possible preparation for the ministry, and when he learned that Tyree C. Harris, a young man of fine mind, felt that he must preach the gospel, Mr. Hughes came forward and promised the means necessary for him to obtain the best available education the State of Missouri then provided. And all who are familiar with the history of Missouri Baptists know that the means were well invested. T. C. Harris was a very useful and able minister of the New Testament. He and his venefactor died the same associational year, and suitable mention of the fact was made at the meeting of the General Association following. The Executive Board, at the session of the General Association at Palmyra in 1855, in the annualreport, said: "Brother Hughes, by diligence in business, had acquired a more-than-ordinary share of this world's goods, and, qualified by that practical good sense which so eminently distinguished him, he appropriated a portion of it to the education of Brother Harris, whose piety and aptness to teach gave early promise of being called to the gospel ministry, and whose success in that department is so wellknown throughout the State. Though dead they yet speak."
It would be an inexcusable omission if more complete records were not made of his connection with the establishment of William Jewell College. He not only believed that the College was a necessary means of growth to the Baptists of Missouri, but he put into the establishment of the school his best endeavors. "He was one ofr the first men in Missouri to advocate the erection of a Baptist college in the State. When the contemplated institution was finally located in Liberty, after a heated contest, Roland Hughes, Wade M. Jackson, Dr. Jewell and others wrote to J.E. Hughes, who was then a student in Georgetown College, Kentucky, for a transcript of the charter of that institution. William Carson, of Palmyra, who was at that time a State Senator and also a member of the Boonville Convention, presented to the Legislature a petition for an act of incorporation. This was the beginning of William Jewell College, and the men just mentioned, perhaps more than any others, gave birth to the first impulses which ultimated in the erection and endowment of our beloved institution." (History of William Jewell College by Prof. J. G. Clark, LLD.) A meeting of the contributors to the college funds was held in Boonville, August, 1849, for the purpose of locating the College and giving it a name. The name agreed upon was, as everybody now knows, William Jewell College. There was an animated discussion as to the location. A number of counties sought its location in their own territory. "Finally the location in Liberty, Clay County, was made by the votes of Howard County being cast solidly for it."
And since Roland Hughes was the most influential man from Howard County,k and a large contributor, it is but just to attribute the location to his wisdom and unselfishness. He had given liberally to its establishment, and "one of the last acts of his life was to make a liberal contribution to its endowment." He was the first president of the Board of Trustees, and his services in the organization at its beinning were of great value.
Roland Hughes' life illustrates the fact that there is ever open in this great country of ours, to any intelligent farmer, the opportunity to become eminently useful, not only in the civil affairs of the State and Nation, but especially so in the Kingdom of Heaven. He was always ready with means and his presence to encourage every forward movement of the churches of Christ.
His willingness to serve led his brethren to thrust official honors upon him, and so his name is perpetuated among the honored members of our Baptist State organization for advancing the interests of preaching the gospel, not only over our own Commonwealth, but also to carry forward the world-wide mission of the churches of the Lord Jesus.
In seeking at Fayette for facts of his life, I conversed with a number of the older citizens. One man who knew him well, said, "He was a Christian and a gentleman." No higher encomium could be passed upon any name.
The third name upon the list of meoderators of our General Association is Rev. James Suggett. He was born in Orange County, Virginia, May, 1775.
When he was six years of age his parents moved to Kentucky. For some time their home was in Floyd's Fort, where the whites were compelled to collect and hold at bay with their rifles the murderous saveages. Afterward they went to Bryans's Station, where again the women and children were defended by the unerring rifles of the brave men.
James Suggett was married at the age of 19 years. We would not commend this act as the best example for the young men of our day, especially young men preparing for the ministry.
In the same month, when he was twenty-five years old, he was baptized by his father-in-law, Rev. Joseph Redding. This was in May, 1800. He began immediately preaching, and in a few years Elder Redding, having changed his place of residence, Suggett was chosen as pastor of Great Crossings Church, which position he held until his removal to Missouri in 1825. We see the Baptists, at that period, did not change pastors except for reasons that made a dissolution a necessity. For a quarter of a century he was among the most prominent in the Elkhorn Association of Kentucky. Many gracious revivals were enjoyed by the churches to which he ministered.
He commanded a company in the regiment of Col. R. M. Johnson in the War of 1812, was promoted to the rank of major and was chaplain. He led his company at the memorable battle of the Thames. This was the battle where the great warrior Tecumseh was slain by Col. Johnson. In fact, the mounted regiment of Col. Johnson did most of the fighting and really won the field.
We learn, therefore, that Capt. Suggett did his full duty as a soldier in defense of his country, as well as a soldier of the Cross. It has been siad of him: "On the tented field, as in the quiet church, his appeal to sinners was fervent and successful."
He had been in Missouri eight years when, after prayer and consultation, the brethren decided to organize for more effective work in carrying the gospel to the destitute.
He lived first in Boone and then in Callaway County. In both places he was constant in labor, and God gave him much fruit. The first meeting of the Central Society (now General Association) was held with his "home church," and many of the pioneers found a hospitable welcome to his own habitation. He was noted for his cordial hospitality. November 1, 1851, he passed from the labors of earth to the refreshment of the better land.
His life was his best preaching. He exhibited in his own godliness the principles of the gospel he so earnestly commended to others.
He died November 1, 1851.
This distinguished divine was born in what is now Wythe County, Virginia, July 8, 1775. His ancestors were natives of Sweden. His grandfather left that land of ice and snow when the father of the great preacher was seven years old.
Jeremiah Vardeman was the youngest of a family of twelve children. When he was four years old his parents moved to Kentucky and there made for themselves and their children a home in the wild wilderness.
It required a high degree of courage in any man to take his large family into this new country in that day. He knew of the perils from ferocious wild bests fo the dense forests, and the far greater perils from the lurking bands of savage men who, with all the instruments of destruction that they could obtain, sought the annihilation of the white settlers in their hunting grounds.
He knew, too, that there was wealth and comfort in the productions of the rich soil when once the home was made and the land brought under cultivation. It was in this land of perils and strenuous toils that the future Moderator of Missouri Baptists grew to manhood.
Before he was mature enough to become a soldier, his four brothers were frequently called out to defend the whites against the murderous sttacks of the red men, and in his early manhood he, too, had a portion of the bloody conflict to endure.
He was blessed with an unusually bright mind and endless resources in all manner of wood-craft. The savages did not excel him in ability to follow trails and discover hiding places of wild animals or wilder men.
His services as "boy scout" were often in demand, and he did not disappoint those whose safety depended upon his skill.
When about 17 years of age he made a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus and became a member of a Baptist church in the neighborhood of his father's home. After a few years of inactive connection with the church, he was ensnared by the vaities of the world, and gave himself up to a life of thoughtless frivolity. In this state of carelessness and indifference, he heard a sermon by Rev. Thomas Hansford. This preacher is said to have been without education, but was consistent in his life and very zealous in his efforts for the salvation of his hearers. When we think of the thousands who were led to Christ by Vardeman's preaching,. In years after this sermon, we are assured that the Lord does use the "weak things of the world to confound the wise."
In conversation with J. M. Peck, many years after this occurrence, Mr. Vardeman said: "If Brother Hansford had poured coals of fire over my naked body it would not have burned me worse than that sermon did." And now began in the mind of this reclaimed backslider a severe struggle.
There were mingled with convictions of guilt, a sense of obligation to enter upon a life of preaching that gospel that he felt he had hindered by his waywardness in abandoning the church for the pleasures of this world. He wanted release from a sense of guilt, but he did not want to devote his whole life to proclaiming the "unsearchable riches of Christ."
He wandered about in the dense forests, wept and prayed,. But still the weight of sin pressed heavily upon his soul. After many days of agony of soul, he resolved to give himself unreservedly to the Lord and to do anything the Great Master might require of him. Then came that joy and peace that filled his whole mental and spirtual being, as the glory of the Lord filled the temple of old.
Weekly prayer-meetings were held at the homes of the settlers. Soon after the restoration of the conscious salvation of Mr. Vardman, his convictions forced him to speak. He confessed his sins to his old associates and exhorted them to forsake their evil ways and seek the salvation of their souls. Many were in tears and began to come to him asking him to pray for them.
At the next meeting, a week from that time, word had been circulated that Jerry Vardeman would preach. Many more people came than could get into the house. He again delivered an exhortation more elaborate than the former one. Before he had closed his address many began rushing to him and with weeping besought his prayers. Some said, "Oh, Jerry, pray for me; I'm a bigger sinner than you ever were." He had never attempted to pray in public, but now the cry of anzious souls overcame his fears, and he earnestly besough God's mercy upon these weeping penitents.
So far as I have been able to ascertain this was the beginning of the custom of inviting penitents to come forward for the prayers of Christians. If this be the fact in the case, then the custom started, not with the ministry, but with the anzious solicitations of the penitents themselves. Mr. Vardeman was now restored to the fellowship of the church from which he had strayed and was licensed to "exercise his gift" wherever "Providence opened a door."
The prophets of evil had been busy all these years of his wandering. They knew he would go from bad to worse. But there was a praying mother who was ever ready to say, "I know Jerry will be reclaimed; God is faithful and I feel assured He is a prayer-hearing God." And that mother had a rich reward in the future successful labors of her son.
He began at once to proclaim the gospel. He was chosen of God as a reaper. Whenever he preached sinners were brought under conviction and multitudes were made to rejoice in the Savior's pardoning love.
The ministry of Jeremiah Vardeman is said, upon what I suppose to be good authority, to have resulted in the conversion of not less than eight thousand souls.
He went to Lexington, Louisville, Bardstown in Kentucky; and to Nashville, Tennessee, when there was no Baptist church, and the outgrowth of his meetings in each place was the planting of a church that is yet bearing fruit to the glory of God.
I knew in Kentucky an aged brother who had often heard him preach. Among many interesting things I have heard him tell of Vardeman, I can mention only two. He stated repeatedly in my hearing that he had seen him upon descending from the pulpit at the close of a sermon appeal to his auditors with such pathetic tenderness that every hear would be touched. He would call upon the godless, asking, "How can ye endure the wrath of God? How can ye dwell in devouring flames?" – and with these startling questions would be such tenderness that, in many cases, multitudes would cry out in agony of sould and rush forward begging the preacher to plead for them at the throne of grace.
I have heard the same brother (Rev. D. S. Colgan) describe the conflict in the Elkhorn Association, when the followers of Alexander Campbell endeavored to carry that body with that so-called reformation. Elder Jacob Creath had forsaken the principles of Baptist churches, and had carried many with him. Some of the churches had chosen messengers that were in sympathy with Creath. The question was brought before the body whether they would embrace Campbellism or stand by the old principles.
The advocate of the then, to them at least, new theology, was an orator and a man of no mean power as a thicker. He had a strong hold upon the affections of many, for he had long lived among them, and his life was almost faultless. All that his logic, his learning, his pathos and the strong ties of affection could do, was brought forth to carry the people with him. When he closed his appeal there was alarm among the more thoughtful Baptists.
After a painful silence, all looking to Vardeman, he arose and began a review of the address just closed. He carefully stated the departures from the truth in the theology of the speaker. Then he burst forth in an appeal that swept the fabric of his opponent's argument like chaff before a cyclone. When he closed, and before the vote could be taken, Creath and his followers fled from the house, and the Association proceeded in peace and the regular transaction of its business.
In 1830 Mr. Vardeman moved from Kentucky and secured for himself and family a home in Ralls County, Missouri. His labors were abundantly blessed in this State, but he had not the strength of his younger days.
In August, 1834, was present at the meeting which organized the Society that has grown into our present Missouri Baptist General Association. At this convocation and at the next, when the organization was perfecdted, he presided as Moderator.
He continued on all occasions to invite inquirers to come forward for prayer at the close of every sermon. And at this first meeting of the Baptists of Missouri to form a State organization, his sermon was followed by such an invitation. More than one came forward and sought an interest in the prayers of the Lord's servants.
A few weeks before his death, in company with Rev. William Hurley, he visited Elk Lick Springs for the benefit of the mineral waters; but even here he could not be idle. During his stay, he preached every evening, though it is said he had to do so sitting, being too feeble to stand. A gracious revival was the result of these meetings.
But the time of his departure was near. "On Saturday morning, the 28th day of May, 1842, he called his family around him, gave them some directions, bade them farewell, and sank into death like a child falling asleep – all within fifteen minutes – in the 67th year of his age."
As an effective gospel preacher Jeremiah Vardeman had no superior, and scarcely an equal, in the country.
John M. Peck, to whose versatile pen we are indebted for most of our knowledge of the life of Vardeman, wrote of him: "There were occasions when, in unpremeditated exhortation, he seemed to touch every chord of the soul, and, by outpourings of gospel admonitions in a simple and affectionate style, would strike the consciences of all around him. There was not the least affectation in the style and manner of his preaching. He had never studied the arts of the rehetorician, and despised all tricks and artifacts in moving the passions. In allusion to the practice among frontier people of innowing grain in a primitive fashion, he spoke of the labored efforts of preachers in getting up excitements 'as making wind with a blanket.' In portraying the last state of man as a sinner, and the way of recovery by Jesus Christ, he was a master workman."
To rescue from oblivion the memories of the wise and good, and give them something of the color and expression of the days when they were in the flesh, is the solemn duty of those whose recollections retain the facts, or, even a meagre portion of them, which would link to the living the stately figures of the honored dead. The shadows gather and the duty rests with peculiar force on an alumnus of William Jewell College to preserve the memorials, even though few, of the first president of his Alma Mater.
The subject of this sketch – who will be mentioned herein as President Thomas – was born in Scott County, Kentucky, on June 25, 1805. He was of "gentle blood." On both paternal and maternal lines he was connected with some of the most distinguished families of Birginia, among whom may be noted those of Madison, Pendleton and Barbour. He was the son of John P. and Lucy Thomas. Some years prior to the birth of President Thomas, perhaps near the year 1800, his father and family emigrated from Virginia and settled in Kentuky. He was chosen Treasurer of Kentucky, and retained that position for a number of years. In the former portion of his life he was a man of wealth, but, through untoward circumstances, it was largely dissipated, so that his son, Robert, was compelled to struggle to secure an education. The father removed to Boone County, Missouri, in 1827, and there died. His son came to Missouri at the same time.
As said, the son was compelled to struggle for an education. While his father was Treasurer of Kentucky, the son wrote in the offices at Frankton during the day and attended school at night. Years after, when residing in Columbia, Missouri, above sixty years ago, through a feeling of humanity and love of teaching, he taught a night school in that city for the benefit of poor children who could not attend school during the day. It was during the period of his residence with his father in Frankfort that he learned stenography and became a thorough expert in that art. It was he who took down the evidence in shorthand at the trial for murder of Isaac Desha, held in Cynthiana, Kentucky. Having secured the necessary academic preparation, he entered Transylvania University, and there graduated at the early age of 18 years. Not yet satisfied with school training, and the instinct of the scholar urging, upon quitting Transylvania he entered Yale College, and, because of his extraordinary proficiency, at the expiration of year's study there, he received the degree of A.M.
It may be here remarked that, though in Baptist literature he was and still is spoken of as Dr. Thomas, yet there is no evidence that he ever received the degree of D.D. As a fact, during his days in Missouri, it would have been very difficult for a Baptist clergyman in this State, no matter how elegant a scholar he may have been, to have obtained the degree of D.D. Besides, in the earlier times in our country that degree was given with very much greater reserve than now.
President Thomas' earliest purpose in life was to become an accomplished teacher, and all of his study and preparation tended to that end.
He was born in a Presbyterian family – his father was a pious, ardent Presbyterian – but, at the age of 16 years, following his own conviction, on conversion to religion, he was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist church at Paris, Kentucky, by the Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman. He was licensed to preach at the age of 18 years, but was not ordained until in 1830, at Columbia, Missouri. The ordination was by Elders Anderson Woods, John Green halgh and James Suggett.
On July 16, 1824, he was married to Miss Elvira Johnston, of Bourbon County, Kentucky. She survived him, and died April 6, 1871. Of this marriage there were born eleven children, all of whom are dead, except Mrs. Mary B. Piper of Kansas City, Missouri. One of his daughters was married to the distinguished Missourian artist, the late George C. Bingham. His wife's mother was a daughter of William and Rachel Johnston, and, among her brothers, were Robert T. Johnston, William H. Johnston, Jacob S. Johnston and John T. M. Johnston. By the marriages of Mrs. Thomas' sisters, her husband became connected with the great families in Boone County, Missouri, of Bass, Prewitt, Keene, Branham and Hickman.
On the arrival of President Thomas in Missouri, he continued his vocation of teaching.
In 1829 the famous Bonne Femme Academy in Boone County, Missouri, was founded, and as one of the most eminent scholars in the State, President Thomas was elected its principal. On the founding and opening of the University of Missouri, of course, that academy began to decay, but, during the scholarly principalship of President Thomas – a space of ten or more years – no academy in the West was more noted for scholarship, nor graduated, in proprotion to the number of graduates, a larger number of useful and able men. I may be permitted to name a few whom I knew personally: Col. James H. and Capt. Oliver P. Moss, of Liberty, Missouri; Gen. Bela M. Hughes, of Denver, Colorado, and Col. John T. Hughes, of Plattsburg, Missouri, author of "Doniphan's Expedition," and who fell leading his men – as he always did – in the attack on the Federal post at Independence, Missouri, August 11, 1862.
There was a period of time – a couple of years – between the termination of President Thomas' conection with Bonne Femme Academy and his election to a professorship in the University. During this period he was aprofessor in Columbia College, located at Columbia in Boone County, Missouri. This institution, also, decayed, and finally dissolved on the opening of the University. On September
6, he was elected by curators of the University of Missouri to the professorship therein of Metaphysics, Logic, Rhetoric and English Literature. Subsequently, on the increase of the resources of the University, and, consequently, of its corps of teachers, this extensive field of professional duty was lessened or modified, so that it was restricted, in the main, to English Literature, and, in that department, he continued with increase his great fame as a teacher and scholar.
On October 9, 1852, at a session of its Board of Trustees, upon the nomination of one of his old pupils – Capt. Oliver P. Moss – he was unanimously elected president of William Jewell College. The incomplete condition of the college edifice at the time – now known as Jewell Hall – and the condition of the college finances, made it impracticable to begin instruction in the collegiate departments prior to the first Monday in September, 1853. At the March meeting of the trustees in 1853, he accepted his election and accordingly terminated the duties of his chair in the University at the commencement of the latter in the July succeeding.
Prior to the collegiate year, beginning on the first Monday in September, 1853, instruction in William Jewell College had been mainly confined to the academic department, but there had been a few pupils in senior Greek, Latin and mathematics. There had never been above three instructors at a time, and the presiding instructor of these was denominated the Principal. A new era was to begin. The college was to open with a corps of six teachers. One thing, however, remained unchanged – the collegiate year must begin on the first Monday in September and terminate on the last Friday in the June following.
This length of the collegiate year, was, if I am not mistaken, practically universal throughout the Union – at least it was in the West. However, times change and we change with them. It has been many years since the teachers of all classess throughout the country discerned the truth that, in abbreviation of collegiate years and hours of tuition, there was an exact equality of benefit between the comfort and convenience of the teachers, on the one hand, and the physical and mental health and growth of their pupils, on the other.
President Thomas and family arrived in Liberty, Missouri, for the purpose of his entrance upon the duties of the presidencey of William Jewell College, during the last days of August, 1853. A notice had appeared in the local paper – the Liberty Tribune – informing intending students that they must enter college at the beginning of the year, and to call and see the president at his rooms in the hotel for the purpose of examination and classification.
The event of the coming of a college president was interesting to the community, and intensely so to the intending students. There had never been a college president in Liberty before. The boys had heard that in other colleges the president was called the "Prex." – the "Old Prex." We had heard President Thomas spoken of as a great scholar, a splendid logician, a man of wide learning. There was something in our boyish imaginations that was august -awing – in the very idea of a college president. We knew nothing of the kindliness of heart, the real boysihness, of President Thomas.
I shall not forget my first meeting with him, either on the score of the simple facts, or the disabuse of my previous misconceptions. I called to be examined and classified. The evening was soft and beautiful. The sun shone in the western windows. The south breeze stole along the hall of the Thompson House, where he was sitting in a rocking chair, book in hand and spectacles on his nose. Mrs. Thomas sat nearby – a fine, large, portly, pleasant lady - engaged in re-arranging the laundered garments which had just been handed to her.
I was kndly asked to take a seat. I did so, and held myself ready to hear and to obey. He addressed me a series of questions: How old are you? Where were you born? Are you a member of any church? What history have you read? What poetry? What was your last study in mathematics? What have you translated in Greek and Latin? I answered truthfully. I noticed that he was pleased when I said that I had read Thirlwall's History of Greece, and had translated eight books of the Iliad, including the 20th - the Battle of the Gods. At the conclusion of these and some other queries, he quietly said: "Mr. Allen, you will make a very good junior, come up to college next Monday" - and bowed me out.
During the succeeding two years, while the college was in session, I was with President Thomas in the class-room some portion of every day, and was as intimate with him as a youth should be with a man of his age and commanding position. It gave me the opportunity to know the extent and finish of his scholarship. The knowledge then obtained has been confirmed by my whole course of reading, study and observation since.
He was a very ripe scholar. During his time he was the great scholar of the Baptists of Missouri. Though he was an elegant classical scholar, he was more particularly distinguished for scholarship in the English language and literature. I have known no one who had studied and understood Lindley Murray so well as he. He particularly insisted on accuracy in English grammar, and compelled the members of the senior class to read and parse Paradise Lost throughout the final year. I do not believe that in his day he had a superior as an English scholar in America. His manner in and out of the class-room was exceedingly agreeable to his students. All of them here, at Bonne Femme Academy and the University agree as to this. His whole spirit was the essence of kindliness.
It has been a long time since he began in 1829 to teach in Bonne Femme Academy; but a happy accident to the writer of this sketch throws a beautiful light upon the man, his heart, his method of teaching, and his text-books at that time. It came in this way: The venerable Mrs. Emily E. Branham, who died in Kansas City, Missouri, June 3, 1904, was his sister-in-law, and, in 1829, when she was a very little girl, attended Bonne Femme Academy and was instructed by him. Only a little while before her last days, and when reclining on a couch whence she never expected to rise in health, she told me of President Thomas and the days of her early girlhood, and how, during the fearful winter of 1829, he led her and other little girls by the hand through the snow-drifts to the academy. She remembered that he used Greenleaf's Grammar, Olney's Geography, and instructed in drawing and coloring maps. His character and manner had the same beauty and tenderness in 1829 which they had in 1853.
President Thomas' mode of teaching was eminently Socratic – question upon question, analysis upon analysis. And no one could tell the quarter whence he would pounce upon a student. It was a series of surprises. He searched the preparation for recitation of the student to the bottom. He could not be imposed on by a boy. And he followed his thought whenever he met a student. His teaching was not restricted to the class-room. He was ready to correct and explain on hearing any solecism or discerning any hesitation. One day as he and I were walking home to dinner, at the noon recess, he discovered, in the course of our conversation, that I was in doubt as to the use of the words, "to lay and to lie," and he immediately explained to me the meanings of the two words and how to discriminate in their use.
He made it a constant practice to give to his students out of the fullness of his own knowledge and experience. His suggestions were always of practical value. Repeatedly, since I have had occasion to note this fact. I give the following illustration: During my senior year – '54-5-- he gave the members of the senior class a number of lessons in stenography, and strongly urged us to learn and practice it thoroughly, great value to him, and called our attention to the He fave a number of instances in which it had been of rapidity and convenience with which, through the use of shorthand, we would jot down, in a moment, our impressions and ideas – in fact, any important fact, word or phrase. At the time we did not see the value of his advice, but every hour since has proven it to me. My impression is that the stenographic symbols employed by him were those found at the time in the Edinburg Encyclopedia.
President Thomas' connection with William Jewell College terminated with the close of the collegiate year 1854-5. Although the students that year numbered near 150, and, of that number, there were not, perhaps, above a dozen beneficiaries, yet the income from tuition fees and endowment was insufficient to pay the faculty and expenses, and so suspension at the end of that year was determined on by the trustees. The end of the year came to all – scholars, teachers and friends – in gloom. Though tuition was continued for the full time, there were no commencement exercises. Even the Latin orator, chosen by the senior class and approved by the faculty, although ready and willing to air his supposed Ciceronian phrases before an audience, was compelled to file away his manuscript in the darkness and dust whence it has never emerged. Upon the close of the collegiate year President Thomas at once removed from Liberty to Kansas City, Missouri.
To speak of President Thomas from the standpoint of the mere scholar and teacher would be to tell only half of him. He had the clerical faculty in a remarkable degree. Few men could so rapidly and accurately throw together into intelligible form a mass of proceedings, or draw resolutions, or draft reports. In this he was always clear and concise. Because of this fact and his various aquirements in education, theology, biblical history and criticism, and general knowledge of citizenship, the Baptists of Missouri, during the twenty years succeeding his arrival in the State, had no more useful man in their denomination. He was a close in feeling with them as any one, and in their various movements and organizations was a leader. He was a bosom friend of Dr. William Jewell and a charter member of the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College. And perhaps it is true that, considering all of the causes which led to the result, his work was the most potent factor in the founding of that institution. An examination of the Baptist memorials of Missouri from 1827 to 1855 will clearly indicate his value to his co-religionists and the frequency of their use of his abilities. President Thomas was also an able and convincing preacher, and loved to preach. In him the logical gift dominated, but his intimate acquaintance with the beauties of our wonderful literature imparted a delicate fancy to his thought. His case was a convincing proof of the enormous value to a preacher of an exact and general knowledge of the works of great masters in composition. His imagination was not, originally, a powerful one; but, by drawing into the receptacle of his memory vast masses of splendid and exquisite ideas, he imparted to it vigorous action.
He was not declamatory in preaching, but persuasive; and yet, when under the influence of storng emotions – when afire with thought – he became passionate and eloquent.
He was fond of our great classic poets, nor was he one of those who could say without shame, "I never read Byron's Childe Harold." He was extremely fond of that wonderful poem, and I once heard him quote from it with exact emphasis and great effect. The occasion was this: He loved to preach to the "boys". One Sunday morning, in Liberty, he supplied the place of the pastor of the Baptist church. The "boys" were present in force, and it pleased him. In persuading to a holy life and dissuading from the paths of ambition, he quoted, with remarkable energy and feeling, the forty-fifth stanza of the third Canto of Childe Harold:
He who ascends to mountain-tops shall find The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow; He who surpasses or subdues mankind Must look down on the hate of those below. Though high above the sun of glory glow, And far beneath the earth and ocean spread, Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow Contending tempests on his naked head, And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.
He was pastor of a number of churches – of that at Columbia, Missouri, from 1834 to 1843. He loved to mingle with the Baptist people, and when he held an important pastorate, he was fond of going occasionally and preaching to the country churches. He was present at the organization of the First Baptist Church of Kansas City, Missouri, April 21, 1855, and acted as moderator of the meeting. He was elected pastor of that church on June 16, 1855, and continued in that position until his death.
President Thomas was a tall man, about six feet in height, but a stoop – the student's stoop – diminished his stature. The stoop, in compelling him to hold his head up, threw it a little forward. His walk was slow, uniform and firm. He moved softly and with glance thrown straight ahead. His limbs were not fleshy – in fact, they were inclined to be lean – and, though he was moderately strong, there was not the appearance of strength. His hair was rather short, without gray, moderately thick, and hung down by the side of his head, lank, black and oily, like an Indian's. His complexion was sallow and had the darkness of time and constant study. He was always smoothly shaven. His features were rather symmetrical and well accentuated. The forehead was high, the face thin, and the nose aquiline without severity. The eye was remarkably fine, very dark, and was often set in a fixed, piercing gaze, without the slightest movement of the lids. This immobility of the eye was more pronounced in him than in any one I ever saw. Excitement or amusement drew the eyeball from behind the lids and the spaces of white were enlarged. Merriment caused the eyes to assume an extremely quizzical expression. His glance searched. Laughter – in him never boisterous – always caused a very slight hacking cough, lasting a moment only; but I do not know that he had any pulmonary affection. His hand was large, his grasp firm, and the palm always warm. He was often quite jocose, and could tell anecdotes well. He frequently told them. Oddities of speech of any kind always amused him. He mixed familiarly with the "boys" played "at marbles," even indulged mildly in athletic sports, but he could always retain his dignity and preserve the perfect respect of the "boys." He was not handsome. He paid little or no attention to the niceties of the toilet. A little dust on his coat or vest or a smutch on his shirt-bosom, he never noticed. And yet he was a man of commanding appearance, balanced and composed, dignified, gentlemanly, and with a most benignant countenance.
He was warmly attached to his family, and he intensely sympathized with his daughter – Mrs. Sallie Moore – in the agony she endured before her death. In the midst of this grief, he died at Fulton, Missouri, June 12, 1859: Reson outsoared itself. His mind consumed By its volcanic fire, and frantic driven, He dreamed himself in hell and worke in Heaven.
Rev. William Hurley was born at Ryton in Warwickshire, England, February 5, 1795. He was the eldest of a family of six children, two sons and four daughters. When about 18 years of age he became a Christian and immediately began to preach. The records of the Baptist Church at Queenshead, near Halifax, Yorkshire, show that Mr. Hurley was invited on the 17th day of August, 1819, to serve the church as its preacher, on probation; that on November 26th of the same year, he was invited to become its minister, and that on the 2d day of July, 1822, he was ordained to the pastoral office in that church.
There is confusion as to the date of his immigration to America. Dr. Fisk, in his memoirs, says he came in 1828, but Rev. Wm. Crowell, D.D., who added some statements to Dr. Fisk's memoirs, and who had copies of records from England, and corresponded with Mr. Hurley's family after his death, says he resigned the pastoral office in England on the 29th of July, 1829. It would not, therefore, have been earlier than 1829 that he left his native land and came to America. He spent about eighteen months in Rhode Island and, according to a statement made by Judge Fagg, which he says he obtained from Mr. Hurley, he preached for a time in New York City.
He then went to New Orleans, but for some reason, perhaps his great desire to explore the country along the Mississippi River, he did not long remain there. He migrated to St. Louis, Missouri, and was pastor of Fee Fee Church for a time. Moving further north, he began preaching in the northeastern part of the State. Here his field included the Counties of Lincoln, Pike, Ralls, Marion, Lewis, Clark and those adjoining these on the west. At one time he went to Kentucky, but after a short stay there, returned to Missouri and spent all the remaining years of his life, preaching, sometimes as pastor for short periods, but usually as an evangelist upon his chosen field.
Mr. Hurley was all his life a student of science and literature. He had gathered upon some field, perhaps in the schools of his native land, much mental training. He ranked far above most of the preachers with whom he was associated, in mental discipline and in general scholarship. He did not on any occasion withhold expressions of his disapproval of blunders in English grammar or the wrong pronunciation or misuse of words. He was evidently sometimes rude in the manner in which he called the attention of both the speaker and his auditors to their blunders. He doubtless felt that this was the most effective way to correct these mistakes and lead to improvement. Many of his eccentricities were such that they simply called attention to his personality and seemed to add to his usefulness. He drew people to the places where he preached and then gave them the great truths of the gospel with the strength of a giant.
Judge T.C. Fagg, a very prominent lawyer of Northeast Missouri, wrote of Rev. William Hurley, "My decided conviction for nearly sevety-five years has been that he was much the greatest man, intellectually, that I have ever seen in a Western pulpit."
In his Memoir of Rev. William Hurley, Dr. Stephen Fisk gives the following as the prominent characteristic of his ministry: "His Christian character was remarkably pure and exemplary; he was sociable and pleasant; he was a lover of science and pure literature, and a friend of every thing calculated to promote the good of man and the glory of God; he was benevolent and a strict observer of the Sabbath; he was also a zealous advocate of Sunday Schools and Temperance; he loved the Bible, and was always a "Bible preacher." Mr. Hurley remained a bachelor through life. He never gave any explanation for his determined celibacy, nor would he ever tell his age. It was only after his death that his friends, through correspondence with his near relatives in England, learned the date of his birth. He had no love for controversy, but did not hesitate to advocate what he believed the Word of God taught.
He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and was frequently called upon to make public addresses to the brotherhood of that ancient and honorable order.
He was pastor for some years at Palmyra, Missouri. His work there left permanent results. To the preset day the Baptist church there is an active and aggressive bodyof Christian men and women, and has always commanded the best talent in tis pulpit. He also had the oversight of the Baptist church at Troy, Missouri, as well as many other churches, both in the rural districts and in the prominent towns. I was told by Rev. James Reid, that on his first visit to Troy, he called upon one of the county officers and told him he was a Baptist preacher and would preach there the next Sabbath, if it could be so announced as to bring the people together. The county official said to him: "My wife is a member of the Baptist church and I am inclined to be cautious as to the person who preaches for her church. Can you preach?" Mr. Hurley looked right into his eyes for a moment, then rose to his feet, and, raising his right hand, said in rather loud tones: "I can preach, sir, equal to any man you ever heard. If you doubt this statement, move your chair out here in the center of this room, and I will prove to you the truth of my words." The man had no wish to be the only auditor to a sermon at that time, and promptly assured him he would make the appointment known and see to it that there would be many present to hear the sermon.
The last public address ever made by Mr. Hurley was in Troy, Missouri. He went there to deliver an address at the placing of the Corner Stone of a building to be erected for educational purposes. He delivered the address on the 30th of July, 1856. He complained after the oration of a slight indisposition. He steadily grew worse, and, in spite of all that medical skill and kind nursing could do, passed away at about 4 o'clock Sunday morning, August 3, 1856. As he was born February, 1795, he was at the time of his death, in the 62nd yer of his earthly life. He was in his prime so far as vcigor of mind was concerned. It seemed to his friends that they had ground to hope for at least ten years more of his able ministry. He was tenderly loved and his great abilities fully appreciated by those who knew him. Though we can place upon our earthly records but little of the good he accomplished, yet his influence abides with us, and the reward has been received from the hand of the Divine Redeemer whom he loved and served.
Had the material been available, an outline, at least of the lives of all those brave men who organized the Central Society in 1834, would have been written. The omission of the names of any of these noble men is not from choice. They all deserve to be remembered, but, after diligent search, so few of the facts connected with their work could be found that the biographies of many of them are not included in the present series.
Through Rev. R.E. McQuie, of Montgomery City, Missouri, the following facts concerning the life of his father have been obtained:
"Walter McQuie was the son of John and Sally Mosley McQuie, and was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, October 17, 1802. In his early life he was for a few years employed as clerk in a mercantile establishment. Then for a few years he engaged in teaching. Having been efficient in both these employments, he was at the age of 24 years, appointed deputy sherriff of his native county. In his 27th year he became a Christian and united with a Baptist church. In 1830 Mr. McQuie came to Missouri and spent about two years in St. Louis, engaged in the mercantile business. He then moved to Pike County and settled near Louisiana. Here he entered the ministry and was ordained at the call of the Noix Creek Church, October 29, 1833. The ordaining presbytery consisted of Rev. William Hurley, Rev. Jeremiah Vardeman and Rev. A.D. Landrum.
Rev. R. S. Duncan says that A. D. Landrum came to Missouri in 1838. But the son of Walter McQuie says that Landrum assisted in his father's ordination. He was probably on a visit to Missouri at the time the ordination took place in October, 1833. Soon after his ordination, Mr. McQuie became pastor of Noix Creek Church and remained in that work for three years. On the 30th day of September, 1835, the young pastor was married ot Mary Jane Baskett, a native of Fluvanna County, Virginia, Elder Robert Lilley officiating. They were blessed with eleven children, eight sons and three daughters. One son, Rev. R. E. McQuie, furnished the facts concerning his father's life, upon which this sketch is built.
In 1833, Mr. McQuie assisted in organizing the Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Pike County, and was several years its pastor. During this pastorate there were some gracious revivals, and many were led to live Christian lives.
He also gave two years of faithful service to the Mount Pleasant Church of Pike County. He led in the formation of the Indian Creek Church of the same county, and was some years in pastor.
At another period of his life, he was Missionary of the Salt River Association. On this field, then embracing a large territory, his labors were abundant and many were brought into the Kingdom of the Christ.
In 1841 he moved to Ralls County and purchased a small farm upon which he resided for eight years. While making his home in Ralls County, he preached for Salem, Adiel and Bethel Churches, and also did much itinerant work in Monroe, Audrain and Callaway Counties. In 1849 he returned to Pike County and resided for six years on a farm near Bowling Green. While here his work was scattered over Pike, Lincoln, Montgomery and Warren Counties.
In 1851 he was instrumental in organizing a Baptist church with fifteen constituent members at Middletown in Montgomery County. In 1855 he moved to Middletown and continued to reside here until the end of his life. He continued to preach to churches in the Counties of Montgomery, Lincoln and Warren. His patorates included the churches of the following names: Middletown, Bethlehem, Sulphur Lick, and he was the controlling spirit in organizing the Elk Horn Church, which afterwards changed its location and became the First Baptist Church in Montgomery City.
As intimated at the beginning of this brief sketch of the life of Walter McQuie, he was present at the meeting in 1834 when the Missouri Baptist General Association was born. Though the opposition to this movement was bitter and out- spoken, yet these brave men went forward, and we now know they were impelled by their love for the Great Master; and the Lord of the Harvest has surely set the seal of His approval upon the work they then began. It is stated that, at one time, Mr. McQuie served as one of the Missionaries of this body, but only the fact is given, with no intimation as to the field of his labors or the results thereof.
His pecuniary compensation for his ministerial labors was always very small. He supported his family in part by teaching school, but chiefly by farming.
In 1858 there fell upon him the saddest of all the afflictions of his life. His wife, the light of his home and the mother of his children, was called to the home above. After a lingering illness of more than three months, she entered the Mansion prepared for her by the Divine Redeemer, February 24, 1858. A year, or about a year, after this sad event Mr. McQuie withdrew from the Baptists. Dr. R.S. Duncan says (History of Baptists in Missouri, page 796), "Some differences in his views of church polity" led to this action. After his formal withdrawal, and because thereof, "he was formally excluded by the Baptist church at Montgomery City." He also says, "Elder McQuie was a man of unquestioned piety. We never knew a man who seemed to be more conscientious in all he did."
After the death of his wife he continued to keep house with his children and exerted himself to the utmost to make a pleasant home for them. He passed over the River that divides time from eternity, April, 1869, in the 67th year of his age.