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.
Hon. Caleb B. Crumb
Rev. Samson Marion David
Rev. Abner Holton Deane
Rev. Xerxes Xavier Buckner
Daniel Louis Shouse, Esq
Rev. John Hill Luther
Rev. Sylvester Witt Marston
Rev. Thomas Rambaut
The Period Of Achievement 1884-1906 Introduction.
Rev. Bartlett T. Anderson
Rev. Samuel Howard Ford
Lewis Bell Ely
Hon. John Bristow Wornall
Rev. Elijah Shelton Dulin
Hon. Nathan Cole
Rev. William Renfrom Rothwell
Thomas M James, Esq.
Rev. Benjamin George Tutt
Prof. James Rodolphus Eaton
Hon. James Leacham Stephens
Rev. William Pope Yeaman
Hon. Charles Henry Hardin
Rev. James Lewis Tichenor
HON. CALEB B. CRUMB
Religious Activity in Missouri 1859-1886
J. C. M.
In Judge Crumb we have another illustration of the valuable service that pious laymen may render to the Churches of Christ. He was a full graduate of Union College of Schenectady, New York, and after a full course of preparation practiced law both at Syracuse and Rochester in his native state. He was born in Otsego County, New York, September 30, 1814.
In 1836, desiring adventure, and wishing to see more of our country he made a trip as raftsman down the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi rivers. While on this adventurous and exploring trip he met a man from Jackson, Missouri, and was induced to visit southeast Missouri. He was pleased with the country but had then no inclination, that prompted him, at once, to seek a home in this state. Mr. Crumb returned to New York and resumed his studies and completed the course of study in Union College, graduating with the class of 1840.
He was a practicing lawyer in both Syracuse and Rochester. In the latter city he was intimately associated with the faculties of the Rochester University and the Theological Seminary.
He was converted at the age of seventeen years, and having been reared in a Baptist family, united with the church of which his parents were members. This important event in his life occurred in Plainfield, in the county of his nativity.
In 1857 he moved to Morrisville, Illinois, and became a banker, but the financial panic of 1857 and 1858 caused such reverses that this enterprise was surrendered and in 1859, his thoughts turned again to southeast Missouri and he located in Jackson. For one year he became the head of the Jackson Academy. He was both by natural ability and mental training well qualified to lead in educational affairs.
At the end of one year at Jackson he moved to Bloomfield, where he established a seminary, which he conducted successfully for several years.
In this all too brief and inadequate sketch of this Christian gentleman and classical scholar, little has been said of his Christian life. He was a Baptist and few men were better informed as to the principle for which Baptists stand. It was my privilege once to sit in a class he was teaching in the Sunday-school at Jackson. He had occasion to refer to the translation in the common English version, and quoting the original, he, without display, showed that a mere literal translation was much more easily understood and made the teaching far plainer to the common mind. He did not preach from the pulpit but I often thought some crude interpretations that he had to hear, from some pulpits in the interior portions of our state at that early date must have been a great trial to his patience and forbearance, but his piety was too sincere to permit him to become a cynic. He was a Sunday-school and a prayer meeting church member. There was no work in his home church, nor in his district association that he shunned. For twenty-five consecutive years he was clerk of the Black River Association. This body then included the churches in several counties in southeast Missouri. It now has been divided into a number of county associations.
Soon after locating in Bloomfield he was elected to the office of deacon and on to the end of his life served faithfully in this responsible position. He served for a term, or more, as Probate Judge of Stoddard County. His undivided time, after the Civil war, was given either to the practice of law or to the duties of the official positions that he held.
Judge Crumb died in Bloomfield, Missouri, March 21, 1886, and was buried in the Bloomfield Cemetery. He was a good man and his life was that of a devoted Christian. He never forgot his obligation to Christ in any position he held or under any of the circumstances that he encountered. As a Christian layman, a church member and official among his brethren, or as a civil officer, he is worthy of mention, and of imitation by men who would serve their generation better by taking Judge Crumb as their model.
Samson Marion David was born March 27, 1845, in what was then Osage County, but now Cole County, Missouri. His father, Thomas David, came from Greenbrier County, Kentucky, in 1817, and settled on the Osage River. When Samson was but two years of age his father again decided to go to the "Land of the West" and moved his family in an ox wagon to Gentry County, Missouri, and settled on Grand River.
Other settlers came to Grand River and soon there was a demand for a church and school. Accordingly in due time the David Church and the David School were established; these still mark the place where Samson learned his "three Rs" and ciphered and spelled as well as where he heard the first sermons.
Suffice it to say he grew up to be a young man as many others in the early days on Grand River, but scarcely had he passed his seventeenth birthday when President Lincoln called for volunteers to save the Union. He answered that call and for over three years served in Company C, Thirty-first Missouri Infantry. Finally the fate of battle turned against his company, and at the conclusion of a bloody encounter he was severely wounded which resulted in his total blindness.
Peace soon came and found him not only without his sight but without property. However, he was rich in courage and in the sight of his Lord and Master he at once began a systematic study of the Scriptures and was instructed by Rev. Walter Dunnegan, a pioneer Baptist preacher. After his ordination as preacher in the Baptist Church he became an active evangelist and materially aided in establishing churches in northwest Missouri.
When he began his religious activities there were no song books available. He accordingly wrote and published a song book entitled, "Revival Hymns," the first to be used in the churches in Gentry County.
Rev. S. M. David was married on September 18, 1863, to Sarah Ellen DePriest, who had recently come to Gentry County from Indiana. They reared six sons: Charles, John, Walter, Ray, Frank and Roy. At this time, Ray, Frank and Roy are with the Stars and Stripes fighting in the trenches in France; Walter is an attorney in Kansas City, Missouri, and John is a rancher in Montana. They also reared four daughters: Mrs. Anna F. Gile of Maryville, Mo.; Mrs. Minerva Rodgers, deceased; Mrs. John Anderson of Chugwater, Wyoming, and Mrs. Jesse Miller of Stanberry, Missouri.
Rev. Mr. David spent his entire life in Gentry and Nodaway Counties, Missouri, serving the rural churches and holding meetings to organize new churches, with the exception of the last two years which were spent in Barton County, where he resided on a farm after the death of his beloved wife.
Although deprived of an education he was an orator of high rank and a keen business man. In an address to the students of William Jewell College, shortly before his death, he declared that his greatest pride had been in rearing sons and daughters who had become "educated Christians." This sentiment pervaded his whole life. He made every effort to encourage his family to secure an education and to sue their knowledge for the good of Christianity.
In January, 1907, while on a trip to his farm in Barton County, he contracted a severe cold. He returned to Liberty, Missouri, to be with his three sons, Walter, Roy and Frank, who were attending William Jewell College. He departed this life at Liberty on the 27th day of January, 1907.
His life was rich in courage. He met his problems and solved them. He never grieved over being blind, but rejoiced that some day he would see his Saviour. He filled others with inspiration and rejoiced in their successes. He was a pioneer preacher who did his work and never asked for pay, but humbly reared his large family by work and toil.
Some of our greatest men pass through the world doing good at all times, exercising their beneficence with so unobstrusive a hand that while their usefulness may be recognized by those that are either the recipients thereof, or possibly, are merely observers of their almost wanton generosity, to the world at large, the real kingliness of their character remains unknown; they live holily, they labor unselfishly, they spend themselves unsparingly for the public zeal. They apparently give no thought to the subsidiary fact that with all this altruistic activity there is a concomitant benefit, reflex in influence, accruing to themselves, if not in this life, then in the blessed existence beyond. It is always grateful pleasure to the biographer to herald the virtues of these self-effacing heroes, whether they be heroes of the Cross, or manifest their noble heroism in the humbler vocations of life – heroes still, worthy of renown.
Such is the welcome task of the present writer, the recalling to the minds of those who have known him, the leading events of the beneficent life of Rev. A. H. Deane; or in making it known to those that knew him not, that he lived the life of a holy prince among men, and that at this death the query uttered of a former Abner, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" is quite as appropriate today and of this servant of the Lord, as it was in the time of Samuel the Prophet.
Elder Deane was a man of God of such outstanding general merit that a local paper in the town where he had made home for more than a half century could heartily say in recording the fact of his death, "Harrisonville loses its most esteemed citizen."
His life began when the Nineteenth Century was in its early summer, and closed in the genial spring time of the twentieth, rounding out eight decades of varied and heroic experience. He was born in Bracken County, Kentucky, January 27, 1828, into the family of a preacher-physician, both parents Baptists. The conditions of his birth make it safely presumable that in early life both his spiritual and his physical health were well cared for. The old-time conceits that physicians' children were almost always feeble, and that ministers' sons were generally wicked, under the logic of fact have long passed into the limbo of the visionary along with other traditional epigrams presenting falsities in the garb of truth. In his youth his parents moved to Breckenridge County and there the greater part of his young manhood was spent.
To one who, though he may not have a grain of the mystic in his mental composition, but still has enough faith in the honesty of those mystics that profess to have dreamed dreams, seen visions, and heard voices, to give charitable credence to their professions, the dramatic feature of many conversions has an alluring interest. It is a profitable study in spiritual metaphysics. Some of these interesting and mysterious experiences are found in the religious experience of the subject of this sketch.
In 1845 he joined the Lost Run Baptist Church in Breckenridge County, having been previously baptized by Elder David Burns, a traveling preacher, without the knowledge of his family, though with no intention of doing so clandestinely. This act of joing the church came as the culmination of a series of troublous experiences extending back several years into his youth. Like many other of emotional nature he had some rather dramatic experiences before he finally yielded to the spiritual call. In some notes taken from his word of mouth, by a personal friend on his eighty-fourth birthday, we find the following reminiscenses recorded: When quite a lad, he and a brother were at work in the field, when a threatening storm approached. They ran for shelter to a large spreading tree that stood midway between the field and the house. As they drew near the tree they heard the voice of their father as he was praying for the conversion of his boys. Abner hearing his father pray for him by name felt the arrow of conviction penetrate his soul, and said, "It is about time that I was praying for myself," and began from that hour to seek the Lord. But though feeling at times that the vital change had taken place in his heart frequent doubts assailed him and he made no confession to others of what anxieties were oppressing him or of what hopes he at times entertained, and the consequence was that for years alternating periods of joy and despondency kept him in a perpetual state of spiritual unrest. One day when returning from a meeting in Lost Run Church, he was so dejected in spirit that he felt that he must settle the matter at once for all time, and stopped within the forest through which he had to pass on his homeward way to pray for light and guidance. While he was praying he distinctly heard a voice saying, "Return, O backslider." He relates that at the sound of that voice all doubt was dispelled and he left the forest, a happy being. He went at once to a godly neighbor for advice, and was told to unite with the church at once and begin to take upon himself the performance of his duty in the name and strength of the Lord. It was just after this that his baptism, mentioned above, and his subsequent joining Lost Run Church took place. During the years of his unacknowledged sonship he had felt that when the question of his conversion was settled it would become his duty to preach the Gospel, but had struggled against this feeling. But when his doubts has vanished and he had become established in is faith, this feeling of opposition disappeared and he became not only willing, but eager to do his duty in this respect as in others. His brethren soon discovered that he had unusual gifts and encouraged him to exercise them. They further manifested their confidence in his ability in pledging themselves for the payment of his expenses for four years in Georgetown College. Fearing that he might be mistaken, he declined this offer, and when they continued to press it upon him, to escape their importunities, he "ran away" as he said, i. e., he went to Woodford County, Kentucky, and engaged in farming. Here he united with the Clover Bottom Church, and, very remarkably, met with like experiences. His new brethren having recognized in him a prospective worker of ability in the Gospel ministry, encouraged him, offered him a course in Georgetown College, if he would consent to preach, and without his knowledge or consent gave him a license to preach. Again he declined the liberal offer, much to his regret in later years. The first offer he had declined for want of his own fitness; the second, for the additional reason that he had in the meantime married the woman of his choice, Miss Sarah A. Manning, and thought that he could not both take care of a wife and growing family, and perform the exacting duties incident to the acquisition of a liberal education. Again, to avoid the importunities of his brethren he decided to change his residence and came with his family to Missouri. He first halted in Independence, Missouri, but in a few months purchased a home in Austin, Cass County, and settled there. This change of residence was effected in 1856. Here he and his wife united with the Baptist Church. Soon after his having removed to Austin a son was born, two children, twins, having previously died, one in Independence, the other in Austin. When this son was nine months old he was taken dangerously ill and the physician entertained no hope of his recovery. Mr. Deane, overwhelmed with grief, retired to the woods nearby and spent an hour in an agony of prayer, in which he promised the Lord that if He would spare the boy, he, the father, would preach for the rest of his life. Upon returning to the house he was informed by the hopeful mother that the boy was improving, and he then and there made a vow to keep his promise with the Lord who had heard his prayer.
Having in a period of doubt destroyed the license given him by Clover Bottom Church in Kentucky, he applied to the church in Austin for a new license, which was cordially given him in 1958. He preached his first sermon in McCrow school house, Crescent Hill, Bates County. In the same year he went with some other brethren to organize a church in Paola, Kansas. During this visit he preached with such acceptance that the new church called him to the pastorate. When told that he was only a licentiate, the Church agreed to request the church in Austin to ordain him. This they did, and the Austin Church responded by calling a presbytery, consisting of Elder Jeremiah Farmer, chairman; Elder Barzilla Adams, clerk, and one lay brother.
He entered upon the pastorate in Paola in 1860, and in the fall of that year held a revival meeting that resulted in the addition of 51 members to the little church, all of whom he baptized. He was pastor of this church for about two years, and in another meeting held while in Kansas increased the number of those that he baptized into the church to 100. Here he began to show what afterward was known to be a prominent feature in his gospel work, a strongly evangelistic character, so that the number of those converted under his direct influence amounted in time to 3,282 that he baptized himself; how many more that were converted through his instrumentality and were baptized by others, will never be known till the roll is called up yonder.
His pastorates at different periods embraced Lancaster, Indian Mission, Miami, Louisburg, Rock Creek, Mound City and Wellsville, in Kansas, churches of once a month preaching generally. In Missouri, Pleasant Ridge to which he preached for twenty years; Peculiar and Harrisonville in Cass County; Warrensburg in Johnson County, and Butler in Bates County.
Feeling that his commission to preach the Gospel came, not from the state but from God, he continued to preach without having taken the test oath demanded by the Drake Constitution of Missouri, and was arrested and imprisoned in the county jail in Independence, Missouri, but was released after a while, as the authorities did not think it expedient to keep one in prison who had faithfully served the Federal cause.
His first wife having died early in the war period, he married for the second time in June, 1863. His bride was Miss Mary McCowan of Paola, Kansas. She stood faithfully by his side, ministering to him in love during the rest of his days, and survived him for a year or two, but has since joined him in the land beyond. Those that knew her say that this noble woman was not simply a helpmate to her husband in the arduous duties of his life, but that she was in every way a helpmeet, and met all the trying vicissitudes of a minister's wife with loving faithfulness and zealous efficiency.
A resume of his life, closing with the war period, taken from a current number of The Western Recorder, in 1866, will not only not be out of place here, but will serve to emphasize the record of the legal qualities of his character:
From The Western Recorder: "His ministerial record is an ornament to the history of the Baptist Church in the West. At Paola, Kansas, where he labored two years, one hundred members were added to the church. He built a house of worship, and paid $1,800 towards it himself. He constituted a Freedman's Church and day school there, which have since increased in prosperity. At Lancaster, where he preached two years, 60 members were added to the church. Of the Roman Catholic Church there, but three members remain that have not united with the Baptist Church. The Miami tribe of Indians, in the same state, were blessed by his preaching two years. Many sons of the forest were converted, through his instrumentality. He has had the pastoral care of the Churches of Austin, Crescent Hill, Dayton and Knob Creek, Missouri, which have all flourished more or less under his pastorate. Verily he has been faithful and successful in his ministerial work.
"At the outbreak of the war, Brother Deane was engaged in his profession, but his country's flag was in danger, he left the pulpit for the field. The four churches of which he was their pastor, viz: Austin, Crescent Hill, Dayton and Knob Creek, raised him a hundred men each for the war. They were called the First Battalion of Cass County Volunteers. Brother Deane was unanimously elected major of this battalion, and commissioned by General Lyon. They were ordered into service by General Lyon, in the absence of a loyal governor, and mustered in, June, 1861, by Captain Granger, U. S. mustering officer. This history of this regiment is well known, and it is unnecessary to enter into details. It rendered efficient services for the Union in Missouri, and its deeds are treasured up in the history of the State and Nation. Brother Deane's influence with his men was unbounded, always restraining their excesses, and inciting them to deeds of daring for their country. No officer in the regiment was so respected and loved by his men. The affection of his soldiers for him has survived the way, and alleviates now the political persecution he endures.
"In the service of the Union, he sustained the loss of property and friends. His domestic affliction has been great. While in command of the post at Kansas City, his wife, in making her way to him, was overtaken by the enemy, stripped of every thing she had, and left alone on the prairie. She reached her destination only to die of the injuries she received. This is one instance of his domestic sorrow resulting from his patriotism."
And this great and good man died as he had lived. He had become triumphant over the difficulties of spiritual achievement, and he now has triumphed through faith over the terrors of death, and reigns with his Master in His eternal abode. He died at his home in Harrisonville where he had lived a life of genial, Christian helpfulness for over a half century, November 18, 1912. His remains rest in Oakwood Cemetery, Harrisonville, Missouri.
X. Buckner was born in Spencer County, Kentucky, February 20, 1828. He obtained his education at Mount Washington Academy and Georgetown College in his native State. It was always a cause of regret to him that he was not able to complete the full course of study at Georgetown. In 1855 Mr. Buckner came to Missouri and began work as a pastor of the Baptist church in Columbia. Here he originated the idea of a select school for young women and planted the tree that has grown into Stephens College. He was also the founder and proprietor of an excellent school for girls at Boonville, Missouri. Here again he attempted the double duties of pastor and teacher, and in a few years suffered so from failing health that he moved to Kansas City.
In this city he made investments in real estate that proved so profitable that in a few years he was regarded as a man of wealth. But for some years he continued regular work in the ministry. He was pastor at Westport, and for a time lived in Liberty, and was pastor of that college and city church, and also at the head of a school for girls. And even when he was again forced to go back to his home in the city of many hills, he was for quite a time identified with the College in its financial affairs. He was to the young men who were striving for an education to enable them to be useful in the ministry, a true friend to the very day of his death.
Some months before his fatal illness he came to me and said he began to feel as if he now had strength enough to do some preaching at least, and suggested that we make a canvass of Wyandotte just across the Kaw River in the State of Kansas and see if we could find Baptists enough to form the nucleus of a church. We went there and made a most diligent search. We found one man who was willing to be called a Baptists. He was employed by the railroad as greaser. It was his duty to see that the axles of all freight cars going out were properly oiled.
Mr. Buckner obtained permission to preach on a Sunday afternoon in a small house of worship owned by the Congregationalists. But when, after his sermon, he inquired about the number of people who held the principles of the Baptists in the congregation and in the city, he was notified by the pastor that he wanted no Baptist church in Wyandotte. He said he had some who were in sentiment Baptists that were members in his church, and he could not consent to any move that would take these people from his congregation. This objection would not have discouraged Mr. Buckner, but very soon afterward he had a severe attack of bronchitis that kept him at home for a long time, and then all unexpected to his family and his physician, came his sudden death from heart trouble.
It is necessary to mention this his last effort to get again fully into the work of the ministry, that all may know that, notwithstanding the cares of business and his successful management of monetary affairs, his heart was in the work of the ministry.
During the winter of 1871 and 1872, we had frequent conferences upon the question of securing a better location for our house of worship. An effort was made to consolidate the two churches then existing and build a good house upon the corner of Eleventh Street and Grand Avenue, the lot upon which the Calvary Church afterward built their first house of worship. If it had been possible to accomplish this desire at that time, Mr. Buckner agreed to start the subscription for the new house by a pledge of five thousand dollars. He believed that two others would have pledged like amounts. I mention this to show how fully he recognized that he was in the management of business acting as a steward of Him who is the sole owner of the world and all that is therein. Possibly the plan would not have failed could he have lived to carry forward in his gentle way the negotiations.
Mr. Buckner was about the only man I ever knew who was constantly saying witty things and never said them at the wrong time or place. He could be, when occasion demanded, as serious as one who was signing the death warrant of a friend but when the surroundings made pleasantry justifiable, or when there was occasion for a display of wit or humor, he was one of the most delightful companions.
In the pulpit he had a large measure of genuine power. He was a good thinker and had attained a sufficient vocabulary to express any truth. He did not seek the use of many words. It was never necessary for him to put the same idea in many forms of wording in order to fill out the allotted time for a discourse. He found it necessary to economize in words in order that he might convey the thoughts that were seeking expression.
He gave much time to self-examination, and sought to have himself obedient to the demands of the Christian life. He was not merely a Christian outwardly, but sought far more diligently to be Christ-like in the movements of his inmost soul. To his friends he was true and honorable. If there were enemies he gave no time to abuse, but sought rather to so live that all might see that he sought only goo of those with whom he came in contact. As long as he was able to preach, he was ready to aid any pastor or any weak church in any way that he could.
When he was elected Moderator of the General Association he presided with the same genial dignity that was the characteristic of his daily life. He lived less than a year after he was elected to this office, and when that body met at Glasgow in October, 1872, and the brethren realized that his chair was vacant, there were many expressions of real sorrow at our loss, but all felt that the great triumph had been attained by him.
Funeral services were held in the First Baptist Church of Kansas City. His body was then taken to Columbia where an address was delivered by Rev. Dr. E. S. Dulin, and then the interment was made in the beautiful cemetery in that city.
Among the many noble dead whose remains there rest, no one was more loved or more sincerely mourned than Rev. X. X. Buckner. The Trustees, the president, all the faculty and students of Stephens College, honored him as the man with whom the idea of establishing such an institution in that locality originated. The older members of the church, who remembered him as once their faithful pastor and teacher, felt that a true friend and an honored servant of the Lord Jesus had ended a life well filled with faithful services.
Daniel Louis Shouse was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, April 5, 1827. His father was a farmer, and the hard labor and regular habits of farm life gave to his physical frame a fine development. At the age of nineteen he left home and going north into Henry County took charge of a school.
After remaining there a couple of years he returned to Shelby County, where he continued teaching for several years. It was during this time that he met Miss Martha R. Mahon, whom he afterwards married. Soon after his marriage he removed to Fisherville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, where he engaged in mercantile business. He untied with the Baptist church at this place-- having made a profession of Christianity at the age of fourteen years-- and while he remained there was one of its most active and enterprising members, taking also a great interest in the work of the Sunday School.
In 1855 the great West, with all its inducements for energy and youth, attracted his attention; and, taking his little family with him, he cut loose from home and friends, to solve the problem of his life in a new field of labor. In October, 1855, he reached Westport Landing, now Kansas City, coming by boat from St. Louis, and decided to make it his home. For the first few years he engaged in mercantile business, after which he became cashier of the Merchanics' Bank. Here he remained until 1871, when he organized the National Bank of Kansas City, of which he was cashier until his death.
He united with the First Baptist Church, by letter, in May 1856. His church was dear to him, he loved its services, and he was ever at his post, year after year, encouraging the weak, cheering the fainthearted, and setting for all an example by his exemplary life and Christian virtues.
But few, comparatively, have ever attained so high a standard of personal piety amidst engrossing business cares; and fewer still have possessed individual characteristics combing so much of practical wisdom and humility. His liberality, which long did so much to aid Christian enterprises, is well known.
He was elected deacon by the First Baptist Church, December 21, 1864. I could say that he was the model Sunday School superintendent, the model deacon, the model banker, and the model Christian citizen, all of which characteristics go to the making up of the general character that I have given him in the title of this sketch, "the model church member."
In over fifty-one years in the ministry-- forty-six years of this time in the pastorate-- I regard D. L. Shouse as coming nearer to the true ideal of an everyday Christian worker along all lines than any one man I have ever known.
He was among the early settlers in Kansas City, and made not only a home and a considerable fortune, but built there a character that was a great power for good.
When I was his pastor we held, in warm weather, out-door services on Sunday afternoons on the old public square, which was down on the lower Main Street. Here there were crowds of people who carried on various forms of business. Wood wagons, hay wagons and wagons loaded with all kinds of country produce, were there with their wares for sale. Horse trading was carried on with all the verbiage of the earlier pioneer days. But these people, or many of them, would listen to a sermon if it was not too long or not too dry. One day in passing down Main Street we saw a fruit stand open, and an elderly Frenchman waiting upon customers.
Mr. Shouse stopped and, cordially shaking the hand of the vender whom he had known for years, held quite a conversation with the man. When he joined me he said, "Well, that man earnestly thanked me for trying to persuade him not to sell goods on the Lord's day."
I doubt very much whether there was another man in Kansas City at that day could have remonstrated with such a man ass that vender was and not be ordered to attend to his own business. But everybody who knew D. L. Shouse had for him such a profound respect that a word was received kindly even if it seemed a word of reproof.
At another time some stranger was inquiring where he would find the pastor of the Baptist church. Being in the vicinity of my residence, he inquired of a German if he could tell him where the pastor of the Baptist church lived. The answer was that he did not know where the pastor lived, but the president of the Baptist church was Mr. Shouse, and there was his house, pointing to the home where he lived.
At the time I was his pastor, there was a great inflow of strangers into Kansas City. As cashier of a leading bank, he met many of these people. He knew the older people so well that it was easy for him to mark new comers.
There was only an alley between his barn and mine. He would often call by as he was going down to the bank and say, "I heard of some new Baptist families who have just moved to the city. Bring my horse with you at 4 o'clock and I will go with you and see them." I would saddle his horse and mine, and as soon as the bank closed we would go out to call upon these strange families. And with such a pleasant man to visit with me, we seldom failed to see these people at church the next Sabbath morning. He was the best helper I have ever had in any church of which I have been pastor.
During the four years of the Civil War, with all the turmoil of that period and the excitement among the people in that border city, the Baptist Sunday School never failed to meet. Pastors of other churches often said to me,"Mr. Shouse has every qualification for a perfect Sunday School superintendent, except one, that is, he don't sing." But they would add, "He don't need to sing for he always has Prof. Furgason by his side, and the two work together so like one man that he seems all the stronger because he cannot sing." And this estimate of these two men was not overdrawn.
Mr. Shouse was known to be a liberal man. He helped the Y.M.C.A.; he helped the poor; he helped all the Missions, Home and Foreign; he helped Ministerial Education. Often was he imposed upon by unworthy applicants, but I never heard him even threaten to refuse to aid the needy because some scheming rascal had abused his beneficence
He was Corresponding Secretary of the Missouri Baptist Sunday School Convention, and by persevering effort, extensive correspondence and considerable outlay of means, he succeeded in gathering, on year, the minutes of all the Baptist Associations of Missouri. I think this was the first time in the history of our denomination in this State that all the associational minutes were collected and a full statement of our statistics tabulated.
Missouri Baptists have been and still are blessed with many large-hearted, liberal-handed and intelligent laymen; but among them all we have had no greater nor better man than D. L. Shouse. With unwavering devotion to the Lord Jesus, he held his time, his talents and his means as part of that which had been entrusted to him for the Master's use. He was ever gentle and affable but never wavered from integrity to principle in word or deed.
As a traveling companion when on a camping tour in the Rocky Mountains, he maintained the same serene and happy mood that he ever manifested in his own home and among most intimate friends.
He and the excellent wife whom he had married nearly a score of years before, in their native State of Kentucky, maintained a home in which the graces of a sanctified, Christian hospitality were freely and lovingly practiced.
Always foremost in every good work-- their friend of the widow and the fatherless, the companion of the children of the city-- he was a man without guile and almost without fault.
He was taken to his great reward while yet in the very prime of life, April 1, 1878, aged 46 years.
On June 21, 1824, a baby boy came to gladden the home of Joseph Hill Luther, in the town of Warren, Rhode Island. This historic town is located on the site of the home of Massasoit, the Indian Chief who was the friend of Roger Williams. There was no one present in the home of that infant to foretell that he would become the editor of a leading Baptist journal west of the great river.
Being Baptists, the ancestors of Joseph Hill Luther fled from Germany to Wales. One of these Luthers became the second pastor of the Baptist church in Swansea, one of the prominent Baptist churches of Wales.
The immediate ancestors of John Hill Luther came to America at an early date and, being Baptists, sought a home where there was liberty to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. Thus they became residents of Rhode Island. Here in the colony founded by Roger Williams was, according to Bancroft the historian, "the first government on earth where full religious liberty was given to all the people."
The mother of John Hill Luther, Nancy Marvell, was justly proud of her Huguenot family. And well might these French refugees be proud of that devotion to principle which led so many to die rather than be false to their convictions; while multitudes fled to America where they became the wisest and best of citizens. When but 11 years of age the boy John Hill became a Christian, and was baptized in the stream that had been his delight, summer and winter, from his babyhood.
The daughter of Dr. Luther, Mrs. Anne Luther Bagbym of San Paulo, Brazil, who furnished the writer the material for this sketch of her father's life, mentions that one man of 70 years was baptized on the same day, and always claimed that he and the boy were the same age, because they began the new life on the same day.
From the very dawn of the Christian life there was in the mind and heart of the boy a conviction that he must some day preach the gospel. He believed that this was the call of God, and, whether preaching in the pulpit, or with his pen through the religious journal, he felt well assured he was doing the will of the Lord.
He attended the schools, both private and public, in his native town. He then apprenticed himself to learn the trade of a printer in Providence. He entered Brown University and completed the full literary course there in 1847. Then he entered Newton Theological Seminary, where he graduated in 1850. At Brown he was under the instruction of Dr. Francis Wayland, and in Newton he enjoyed the teaching of Doctors Sears and Hackett. To those familiar with the high standing of these teachers, it is no wonder that all through life the pupil gave proof of high scholarship and moral integrity. While pursuing his studies in theology at Newton, he spent his last vacation at Amherst in Massachusetts. Here he had the joy of leading souls to trust in the Lord Jesus, and a church that had been paralyzed by internal strife became united and aggressive.
Mr. Luther was offered several pastorates in New England, after the completion of his studies at Newton, but an offer to teach the classics in Savannah, Georgia, proved more attractive at the time. This was not because he had ceased to regard himself called to preach the gospel, but that he believed the climate would benefit his health, and because he had in his heart much love for the people he would meet.
While a Savannah he met Rev. Mr. Bowen, a returned missionary from Africa, and the desire for Foreign Mission work, which he had felt earlier in life, was revived. He went so far as to make application for an appointment to a foreign field; but when he learned the grief that this would be to his father, he withdrew the application. He also had an aunt who had given to him all the love of her mother heart, and who felt that it would be certain death for him to go to any tropical country; he therefore yielded to their wishes and decided to give his life to the home-land.
After a residence of three years in Georgia, he visited his father at the old home in Rhode Island.
Then upon receiving a call to the pastorate of the Robertville Baptist Church in South Carolina, he became a resident of that State. Here he was received into the delightful and hospitable home of Benjamin Jaudon. It was not long after this that he married the daughter of his host, Miss Anne Jaudon. She had been one of his class of young lady pupils. She was a young woman of rare beauty and blessed with many personal charms. Bright in mind, accomplished in manner and personally attractive, she made him a perfect life-companion. Though he was thirteen years her senior, he continued the ardent lover through the forty years of their married life. She was always the greatest treasure of his heart, and, whether as pastor, teacher or editor, the real helper and true inspiration in all his varied career. Many very beautiful poems were written as tributes to his Annie.
After closing his work as pastor at Robertville he had the rare experience of being pastor of the church in Pendleton, in the same State, which was composed entirely of women. Here the pastor and wife gave their one-year-old daughter into the care of the risen Lord. Perhaps no minister and wife ever received more try sympathy and loving solicitude, in a time of great sorrow, than did they in their sad bereavement. The grave of the little child was most lovingly cared for by those who loved the parents.
Like all true ministers of the gospel,k in that day and in the Southland, he found great joy in preaching to the negroes. Many of them became Christians under his ministry.
And here let me say that those ministers who have never had the privilege of preaching to congregations composed of negroes, have missed one of the most delightful experiences of a preacher's life. These children of nature who are demonstrative in all their characteristics, are so responsive that they do not hesitate to manifest their delight in the gospel message. They are not afraid of spoiling the preacher by letting him know they enjoy the sermon. He was a wise teacher of young preachers who said, "If you would learn how to preach, study your Bibles and preach to the negroes."
In the year 1857 Mr. Luther heeded the "call of the West" and accepted a commission to do mission work in the new Territory of Kansas, which was then being rapidly filled with an intelligent and vigorous population. Upon arriving at Kansas City, then a new and growing town upon the border, he learned that such was the bitter conflict then raging between the anti-slavery and the pro-slavery advocates that it would be a vain endeavor to attempt to establish churches in Kansas at that time.
He opened a school for young ladies in Kansas City, and in a few years enrolled over a hundred pupils. But then came the Civil War, and he knew that parents could not trust their daughters in a school right on the border line of two conflicting States. He therefore sought the quiet of the small town of Miami in Saline County and became pastor of the Baptist church there. Just how long he lived in Miami, the writer does not know. But after a short residence here he joined his father-in-law at Quincy, Illinois.
Here another great sorrow fell upon him. His son, the joy of his heart and the hope of future years in this world, idolized by all the relatives, bearing the sweet pet name of Charley, "winged his way to Heaven with his loved grandmother and little cousin." the father, too, had a long and serious attack of illness. When he had recovered from this illness he accepted a call to the pastorate at Palmyra, Missouri, and began his work there in1864.
As soon as the war closed the Baptists of Missouri felt the need of a denominational newspaper. It was necessary that there should be some medium of communication among the churches. The most prominent and influential men in the State, A. P. Williams, X. X. Buckner, Hollis, Hickman, Pitts, Dulin, Rothwell and Beauchamp, with many others who knew Mr. Luther's ability as a writer, urged him to begin the publication of such a journal.
At that time the "Test Oath" of the "Drake Constitution" had not been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Luther had preached without subscribing to this oath and was under indictment for this "crime." He was too brave to cease work for fear of fines or imprisonment; therefore he decided to go on preaching and heed the call of the brotherhood, and as soon as arrangements could be completed, began the publication of the desired journal.
Rev. W. R. Painter, who had served in the Confederate army through the war, was now at home, and, taking the field, canvassed many of the counties in the northeastern part of the State and some of the counties south of the Missouri River, until he had secured one thousand subscribers to the new enterprise. An thus, in January, 1866, the first number of the "Missouri Baptist Journal." was published at Palmyra, with J. H. Luther and R. M. Rhoades as editors. Taking with him the first copy of the Journal printed, Dr. Luther climbed into his hay loft and there, alone with the Lord, whom he loved and served, consecrated it to the cause of the Divine Master.
In his History of the General Association Dr. Yeaman says, "On the 8th day of January, 1866, there came forth from the press at Palmyra in Marion County, the first number of the 'Missouri Baptist Journal' – a fitting celebration of the anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans, where Andrew Jackson and his army of patriots illustrated the valor and heroism of Americans. *** Dr. Luther is in every sense an editor of rare ability. He is not only a scholar, but has a mind well stored with comprehensive knowledge and a quick perception of the significance of the incidents and events of life in their bearing upon social and religious conditions. His writings are masterpieces of English. His style is chaste, smooth and direct. His editorials give him high rank in the journalistic world. This scholar and educator and poet and preacher now (1898) resides in Texas, has passed the three score and ten line of life, with mental vigor and lively interest in all things pertaining to the Kingdom of Christ."
Near the same time another Baptist paper was started in St. Louis, called "The Record," and in 1868 the two papers were consolidated, and the united journal was named "Central Baptist," with John Hill Luther, D. D., as editor-in-chief.
He was a most careful and industrious editor. Dr. W. Pope Yeaman, who was for a time co-editor with Dr. Luther, once told me that he wrote all of his most important editorials twice. He would make a rough draft of all he intended to write in the office during his busy days there, and then, going to his home, he would re-write every word. And herein we find the reason for the perfection of both the rhetoric and the logic of his work. He had no thought of sparing himself, but only sought to do his best for the Kingdom of Heaven.
After ten years of incessant toil, when the paper had gained a wide circulation and an honored name, he was forced by financial embarrassment to dispose of his interests.
It was when he was so ably editing this journal and earnestly advocating the enlargement of all the missionary and educational enterprises of the Baptists in Missouri, that William Jewell College conferred upon him the merited degree of Doctor of Divinity. He had continued to preach as pastor for a time at Carondelet, while still editor, and then at Fee Fee, and to this, the oldest Baptist church west of the Mississippi River that has maintained its existence, he gave the same gospel that has kept alive the Christian name from the beginning.
He now became pastor of the Second Baptist Church in Galveston, Texas. After a short pastorate here he accepted the presidency of Baylor Female College, then located at Independence, Texas. As the school was then located fourteen miles from any railroad, it was thought by many that it was almost a miracle that Dr. and Mrs. Luther were able to make the school at that place a success, but they did more that this, Baylor College became notedly pro-prosperous. The Baptists of Texas now realized that a location more accessible must be chosen for their Ladies' Colled. Belton was chose, and greatly enlarged facilities were provided. And for five years more than two hundred girls each year enjoyed the instruction and the true Christian example of both Dr. and Mrs. Luther. Hoping to benefit the health of his wife and son, he resigned the presidency of the college at Belton and "devoted himself to the building of the Memorial Chapel at Temple Texas."
Here his only son, the hope of his old age, died, and soon after this affliction, his beloved wife went to join their two sons and two daughters who had entered into the bright home above. One daughter, Mrs. W. G. Jones, lives in Temple, Texas; the other is the wife of our missionary, W. B. Bagby at San Paulo, Brazil.
His presence at the home of either daughter was regarded as a benediction. He went to visit Mrs. Bagby, and became, as she wrote, "a missionary to missionaries." His strong faith, purified and strengthened by his many sorrows and the sufficiency of the Divine favor in every trial, was a source of inspiration to these laborers in that land in such great need of a full and pure gospel. It was here in this foreign land, but in the home of those who loved him, that the final summons came to go into the light and hear the words, "enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
He had reached the age of 79. His life had been long, but it was filled with labors, and many were the tokens of God's favor that had been given him.
The body rested for five years in South America, and was then brought home and placed beside that of his beloved Anne and his son in the beautiful cemetery at Temple, Texas. He had himself engraved upon the shaft that marked the tomb of his wife and son, the words, " A servant of the Lord Jesus Christ."
As he became a Christian when only 11 years of age, he had served the Lord Jesus for full sixty-eight years when he was called to the great reward.
The Central Baptist, and the college at Belton, still (1912) proclaim his wisdom and the solid nature of his life work.
The Baptists of both Missouri and Texas owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. John Hill Luther; and to their credit it may be written they cherish his memory with an earnest desire to honor his name. He was faithful to every trust, and honored every position given to him by the Lord's people.
The men whom the world calls great are they who, each in his own sphere of action, have made things come to pass. The statesman has molded or modified the policy of his nation; the editor has created public opinion; the philosopher has opened new veins of thought; the orator has stirred his hearers into unusual activity; the preacher of the gospel has given the people new zeal, new faith, new life.
The godly man, the sketch of whose life we are writing, as his record will show, was a man of varied greatness. He was great as a preacher, great as a teacher, great as an active agent in public affairs of both his Nation and his church.
He was of English parentage, having descended from a family resident on Marston Moor, and prominent in support of the parliamentary party under Oliver Cromwell in 1664.
He was born in Bedford, York County, Maine, U. S. A., July 23, 1826. His boyhood life was spent in gaining the rudimentary education usually acquired by the sons of thrifty New England parents, in the first half of the Nineteenth Century, and in helping his father in his occupation as tanner.
When he was 16 years of age, a zeal for more advanced scholarship took possession of him, but his father, a man who believed in industrial rather than scholastic efficiency, did not sympathize with the young man in his aspirations, but, wisely, instead of endeavoring to coerce his son, earnestly and clearly placed this alternative before him. We quote his words: "Stay at home and work at my trade, or, take your time, be lazy, go to school; but in the latter event, you must not expect any help from me." Young Marston realized that he had come to a turning point in his life; and, filled with many purpose to do the best for himself that lay within his power, he did not hesitate, but cheerfully started on the long and tedious but honorable way that one must traverse when he attempts, by his own unaided efforts, to gain a liberal education. He immediately left home, possessing nothing but an earnest vigorous will and the free right to his time that his father had given him.
Thus equipped, by dint of untiring effort he worked his way through a five years' course, first at Parsonsfield Academy, Maine, completing the course at Effingham Academy, New Hampshire. He supplemented this period of careful preparation by a four years' course at the Collegiate and Theological Seminary at New Hampton, New Hampshire. From this latter institution he was graduated with honor, in June, 1852, being then 26 years of age.
In placing the account of his scholastic efforts in one paragraph for the sake of unity, we have passed over some of the richest experiences of his young life.
He supplemented his work as a student by the work of teaching during vacations, and occasionally for longer periods. By this means he also gained the means necessary for the further prosecution of his studies. His excursions, during these periods, into the fruitful field of nature-study, and their favorable results, show that if his guiding star had led him into this province to find his vocation, he would have taken first rank therein, and with his facile pen and prolific imagination, buttressed by a thorough acquaintance with Nature in her many moods, he could have claimed a place3 among American authors somewhat ante-dating and quite the equal of that now held by our beloved John Burroughs.
One of his pupils, writing in reminiscence dating back into the 50's, after having enumerated several fundamental subjects in which he was well schooled to show the wide scope of Dr. Marson's scholastic acquirements, says: "And botany and zoology for Dr. Marston's specialty, if he had one, was natural history. He loved to take his boys to the woods and fields to study plant and animal life, and many of his scholars caught his enthusiasm."
But now, to revert to the experiences of earlier days: During his periods of alternating study and teaching, his mind and heart came under the sway of the Master whom he so faithfully served throughout the remainder of his life. He was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist church, Medway, Massachusetts, during his 22nd year, November 7, 1847. At this time his heart was turned toward the work of the gospel ministry. This selection of a vocation resulted in his entering the Collegiate and Theological Seminary at New Hampton, New Hampshire, as mentioned above.
Immediately after his graduation in 1852, he was called to the pastorate of the Baptist church at Brookfield, Massachusetts. He entered upon his labor with this church in August and ministered to them, faith fully and successfully, for two years. At this time his health began to fall him and he was advised by his physician to seek established health in a milder climate. He left New England with the purpose of going to Cuba, but was providentially detained in the southern part of his own country, where he spent the winter of 1854. In the springtime, realizing a marked improvement in his health, he returned to Massachusetts. He taught for two years in Middleboro, and, at the same time, preached in the neighboring town Bedford, and casually in other places. His spiritual activity was intense, and he always found himself driven by his zeal to reach the limit of his physical endurance, in his efforts to accomplish the good that his heart purposed to do.
After two years of strenuous work in Middleboro and vicinity, he deemed it wise to come West, and from 1856 to 1860 he taught, first in the Institute, Greenville, Illinois, later in Burlington University, Iowa. A relic from that period is now before us in the shape of a card upon which is printed this legend: "Prof. S. W. Marston, Practical Naturalist and Taxidermist, No. 10, Burlington University, Burlington, Iowa," etc., emphasizing what was said above with regard to his bent for natural history.
For the ensuing five years he devoted himself entirely to the ministry as pastor of the Baptist church at Plainfield, Illinois. In 1865 he moved to Boonville, Missouri, and there took charge of the Boonville Institute, a prosperous local Seminary offering advantages superior to those that could be had at the primary school.
In those days before the public school had come into popular favor in the States that had been designated as slave-holding States, the academies and seminaries of the West and South were potent factors in the educational life and growth of these States. The wise management of institutions of that kind generally spelled both fame and fortune for the successful teacher; and to devote one's life to this work was considered occupation worthy the brightest intellect and the ripest scholarship, and, in a religious sense, a field for the exercise of spiritual influence, second only to the domain of the gospel minister.
In 1868, after the churches of the State had begun to recover from the serious disorganization of the Civil War period, a field of wider influence opened before him. The Sunday School cause in Missouri was in a languishing condition, and, at the call of the General Association, he left the school room to inaugurate a plan for the development of the Sunday School work of the State. The efficient zeal with which he worked in this great field is manifest in the splendid results.
With in the period of five years he had been instrumental in increasing the number of Baptist Sunday Schools in Missouri from seventy-four to six hundred and three, and had organized an efficient Sunday School Convention in each of the fifty-nine District Associations of the State then existent—auxiliary to the Baptist State Sunday School Convention of which he, under appointment of the General Association, was the Missionary Secretary. In the archives of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society, are ample records of the meetings and activities of these conventions, and other data, throwing a flood of light upon the God-blessed activity of this great and good man.
The expressive motto of the Missouri Baptist Sunday School Convention was "The Children of the Missouri for the Church." Their aims were seven, as put forth in Dr. Marston's first report.
To organize a Sunday School Convention in each Association in the State.
To secure, as far as possible, the organization of a Baptist Sunday School in every church and destitute neighborhood of the State.
To secure the attendance of all the members of the churches in their respective Sunday Schools, that they may grow in knowledge as well as in grace.
To increase the spirituality and usefulness of the members in the churches by giving them work to do for the Lord Jesus in the Sunday School.
To provide the means of religious instruction for the millions of unregenerate men, women and children of the State, who are perishing for the want of a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To furnish the necessary means with which to supply the needy and destitute with Bibles, Testaments and a purely religious Sunday School literature.
To Secure, as far as human instrumentality accompanied by the grace of God can be effectual, "the children of Missouri of Christ."
The "aims" will serve to show the breadth of Dr. Marston's view and comprehensive scope of his plans. He came to the office of Missionary Secretary to find "on record no satisfactory plan of work by which to be governed." He found it necessary to plunge "in medias res," and work out a plan as he went. In doing so he had to meet with in differences to the Sunday School cause in some places, and in others some openly avowed opposition. Notwithstanding these untoward influences he closed the first year of his Secretaryship having organized twenty-eight auxiliary Sunday School Conventions in as many different associations, each bearing the name of the association where organized.
It would enrich the pages of this meager biographical sketch if we had the space in which to make quotations from his luminous reports. His words come as from one who, whatever obstacles he may be called upon to meet, still hopefully moves forward with the blessed assurance that success is near. The vividness with which his faith glows in them all seems an earnest of the overcoming faith that inspires the great religious movements of the Twentieth Century. Note the great results as recorded above. Five years' work, the number of Sunday Schools in the State increased from seventy-four to six hundred and three! We shall then be prepared for this extract from the report of the Committee on Resolutions for the fifth annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Sunday School Convention, 1873:
"Resolved, That the remarkable success attending the labors of the Missionary Secretary of the Missouri Baptist Sabbath School Convention calls forth the devout gratitude of our hearts to Almighty God, and his peculiar adaption to the work calls for extraordinary efforts on our part to continue him in this field."
This year marked the close of his special Sunday School work. In October, 1873, he was appointed by the General Association to what was considered a larger sphere of Christian usefulness, the Superintendency of Baptist State Missions of Missouri. This position, like others that he had occupied, he filled with success, and his peculiar ability was not unmarked by those outside the Baptist ranks.
In 1876 the United States Government, U. S. Grant, President, laid compelling hands upon him, and to the regret of all Baptists he resigned the Superintendency to accept appointment as United States Agent for the 57,000 civilized Indians in the Indian Territory.
The manner in which he administered the affairs of this responsible office served greatly to emphasize the reputation for marked wisdom and ability that he gained in less conspicuous positions, when the eyes of only a part of our great Commonwealth were directed toward him. Standing in the lime light cast upon all governmental employees, his labors revealed nothing but the faithful, efficient performance of duty that brought entire satisfaction to the Government.
In January, 1879, he was summoned by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to occupy a still wider field than that which he then held for the Government, as Superintendent of Freedmen's Missions in the South. He entered upon this labor in the following month, an, through the wisely employed means of Ministers' and Deacons' Institutes held among the colored Baptists of the South, he was able to focus the minds of these dusky brethren upon the necessity of their adoption improved methods for the social, intellectual and religious betterment of their race. Hundreds, almost amounting to thousands, of ministers and deacons were in attendance at these institutes, with a benefit that can be told only as the years progress.
During his incumbency in this office he visited Texas for the purpose of establishing a school for the colored people of that great State. A site was purchased at Marshall, Texas, and a large building, now known as Marston Hall, was erected, chiefly by money contributed by the colored citizens of the State. On account of the interest felt in the Institution by Mrs. C. C. Bishop, of New York City, this interest having been liberally attested by the generous gifts of money, it was named Bishop College.
In 1881 the American Board decided to modify and enlarge the plans of work in the South, and in August of that year appointed Dr. Marston District Secretary for the Southwest, including Southern Illinois, Missouri, Indian Territory and Texas, with headquarters at St. Louis, Missouri. This was the last office held by this faithful servant of his Master, and of his church. He Labored untiringly with pen and tongue to arouse a deeper interest in spiritual matters in the churches, and, though successful in a measure that would have been gratifying to a less ardent soul, his excessive labor and his unmeasured anxiety began to tell disastrously upon his strength. In November, 1886, he was compelled to cease active duty in the field, but continued to do what he could with his pen. Shortly after this semi-retirement from official duty, he, accompanied by his wife, went to Southern California and remained through our trying winter months. Somewhat improved in strength by his sojourn in Southern California, he returned to St. Louis, but soon learned that his improvement was but temporary and began again to lose the small amount of strength he had gained. And so, hovering between apparent convalescence and real retrogression, he spent a few weeks at Eureka Springs, Arkansas. This sojourn did not avail to bring him the relief desired, and, on the morning of September 30, 1887, the fruitful life was transferred to its holy and eternal home. Sixty-one years of faithful labor here, and eternity of blissful reward there!
His remains were brought to St. Louis for interment in Bellefontaine Cemetery. Very impressive funeral services were held at the Second Baptist Church of which he was a member, and he was laid to rest from the care and fatigue of a busy life spent in the interest of the cause he loved.
As has been seen in the preceding sketch Dr. Marston was a man of native ability, unusual versatility, deep spirituality and consecrated culture. As a writer he wielded a facile pen, was classic in style and logical in thought. He was a very agreeable and forceful speaker; he had a degree of magnetism that drew men to him and that abiding quality of stability that held them. He lived an unselfish and consecrated life. His nearness to Christ gave him power with men. Had he not been elected by the Holy Spirit to be a preacher, he might have been elected by the Holy Spirit to be a preacher, he might have been one of the great teachers of the land; he might have been an accomplished naturalist, or instructive lecturer; a wise Christian Socialist, or a beneficent statesman. His abiding influence with those who knew him will ever show that, in all these possible spheres of consecrated activity, he wisely chose the best.
The writer heard Dr. Rambaut once say that he was a Frenchman, but, as an Irishman once said, he "was not born in his native land." Of pure French blood, he was born in Dublin. His ancestors were Huguenots. They were of those who would not submit to the mandates of the Roman Pontiff. Dr. Norman Fox, in his life of Dr. Rambaut-- and here this writer must inject that this small book is most admirably written- mentions interesting facts concerning the ancestry of the subject of this sketch.
The Rambauts were related by blood to Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, and also to Cromwell, the Protector in England. And without taking the space here to explain just how, yet it is a fact that our Dr. Thomas Rambaut was not very distantly relate to Napoleon III, one time Emperor of France. His grandfather was sent from France to Ireland when only about 16 years of age, that he might not fall a victim of the horrid Romish persecutions. He had relatives in Dublin among the Huguenot refugees, and here, when grown to manhood, "became a man of extensive business."
Before young Rambaut was 9 years of age he was thoroughly trained in Latin, French and mathematics by the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, but his parents died and other arrangements had to be made. His guardians now decided that instead of being educated for the army, he should be trained for the ministry in the Episcopal Church, which was then the established Church in Ireland. But, as we shall soon learn, this was not be his life-work.
After thorough preparation he entered Dublin University in 1837. "Here he remained for three and a half years, when it was demanded by his friends that he should enroll himself for the divinity course." This he refused to do, and as this refusal alienated his relatives and supporters, he resolved to trust to his own resources and to make his own way in the world."
At this period in his life he married in his native city. His wife was the daughter of a prominent solicitor in Dublin. "For thirty-seven years of married life she shared his fortunes, and in the memories of her children, as well as all who knew her, the name of Elizabeth Wright Rambaut is blessed."
Dr. Rambaut's first home in America was at Savannah, Georgia. He at once began the study of law, but the "necessities of the case, as well as his own scholarly tastes, led him also to engage in teaching, and he fitted several young men for college." He was soon chosen "Principle of Beach Island Academy in South Carolina, near Augusta, Georgia." Not long after this he listened to the preaching of Rev. Dr. Richard Fuller, then pastor at Beaufort, South Carolina, which resulted in his conversion. He had been all the while a man of most exemplary conduct, but now he gained a spiritual insight of the teachings of the Christ that permeated his being with new impulses. He was now a child of God by the New Birth. He united with the Baptist church at Augusta, Georgia, and was baptized by Rev. W. F. Brantly, Jr.
Dr. Norman Fox records that "Thirty-six years afterward, on the death of Dr. Fuller, Dr. Rambaut was one of the speakers at a memorial service held in the Calvary Baptist Church in New York, and his words glowed with deepest earnestness and tenderest love as he spoke of the great preacher by whom he himself had been led to a living faith in Christ."
On the Wednesday night following his baptism on Sunday, Mr. Rambaut preached his first sermon. "He was licensed to preach by the church at Augusta on the 15th day of June, 1842, and at Barnwell Court House on the 9th day of June, 1843, he was formally ordained a minister of the gospel."
HIS FIRST PASTORATE
As many may read this brief sketch of Dr. Rambaut's life who have not access to the volume written by Dr. Norman Fox, I will copy a page or two from that work. It furnishes a picture of the religious life of the South in the olden times:
"In the autumn of 1844 the young preacher became pastor of the Baptist church at Roberbille, South Carolina, a community composed mainly of old families of Huguenot descent. The church, which was organized in 1775, was one of wealth and intelligence, which had always sought out men of highest attainments to be its pastors. It had also between two and three hundred negro members, for there the old relations between whites and blacks existed in their very best form, and the preacher found some of his most appreciative hearers in the sable ranks that crowded the wide galleries which extended around three sides of the house. The white frame edifice, with its columns in front and surmounted by a tall spire, stood in a grove of stately live oak trees, and near it, over-arched by magnolias, flowed a stream in which baptism was administered. 'I often think,' writes a former member, 'of that scene when the procession, composed of princely planters with their families and servants, led by the pastor and deacons, marched from the church to the waterside, where happy converts were to make "the good profession." As they marched white and black all joined in the Hymn:
"In all my Lord's appointed ways My journey I'll pursue."
" 'A group of several persons at a time would go into the stream led by grand old Uncle Jack, a negro of the olden time. The administrator, who would be awaiting them, would bury them in the likeness of Christ's death, and then, after a brief interval, all would repair to the church once more to sit down at the table of the Lord.' In the wild confusion of the war the edifice was destroyed, the silver communion service carried away, and the grand old oaks were cut down, but the church at the time of which we write furnished one of the best pictures of the South of the earlier day."
Seeing now that he is fully engaged in the ministry, it becomes necessary to pass rapidly over some years of his very useful life. After five years at Robertville he became pastor at Savannah, Georgia. After a number of years of pastoral work at Savannah, he became president of Cherokee Baptist College at Cassville, Georgia. In recognition of his scholarly attainments, he received the degree of A. M. from Mercer University of Georgia, L.L. D. from Madison, now Colgate, University of Hamilton, New York. After this the degree of D..D. Was also conferred upon him.
About the close of the Civil War he became the general agent of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and did heroic service in this field at a critical period in the history of Home Missions in the Southern States.
He always felt that his greatest loss was the burning of his library by the Federal Army. He once told the writer that his library had cost him $9,000 and that its destruction was in no way a military necessity, but a mere wanton destruction of that which was of great value.
DR. RAMBOUT IN MISSOURI.
This is the part of his life of the greatest interest to Missourians; yet it must be told in the fewest words possible. The buildings of William Jewell College at Liberty, Missouri, were almost wrecked during the Civil War. Much of the endowment was lost. The school had been suspended. But the Baptists of the State were determined it should not perish. They began at once to look for a man who could re-establish the school and put it upon a firm basis.
After most thorough inquiry their choice fell upon Dr. Thomas Rambout. In 1867 he was elected President of the College, and began the necessary preparations to re-open the school. There remained much of the bitterness generated by four years of bloody conflict. The soldiers who had fought upon opposite sides were friends. They had done all they could for principles they held most dear, but now they were to take each other by the hand and say, Let the past be buried.
But for those who had lost the dearest and bravest of all those they loved, it was not so easy to forget. The discordant elements must be harmonized if any great forward movement should be made a success.
Into this work, fully aware of all its hindrances, yet with faith in God who rules over all, the new President put all hist strength. It was not easy to raise money for educational purposes. Missouri had been the field of many conflicts. Both armies had marched and counter-marched over the State. Many bands, sometimes made up of deserters from both armies, had traversed many counties for the purpose of robbery and to take vengeance upon those for whom they had deadly hatred. The farms were in a state of desolation. Homes, barns, fences and all kinds of domestic animals had disappeared. The man who had a blind horse with which to plow his corn, was fortunate. If he had a good team he was sure to have his work animals taken from him, and any effort to recover them might cost him his life.
And yet, in spite of all these hindrances, the work of rehabilitation was undertaken. Some help was received form outside the State, and the Baptist of Missouri gave as they never had given before, and, all things considered, as they have not contributed since.
Dr. Rambaut gathered about him a strong faculty of young men who were in every way thoroughly equipped for the work assigned to them. He also so arranged and enlarged the curriculum that the institution should be truly a college and rank as such among the leading schools of the United States.
After five years of incessant toil in Missouri, his health became so impaired that he was forced to take two years of rest, which were spent mostly in Europe. He had awakened the Baptists of Missouri to some appreciation of what was needed to make a college. And the ideals thus formed have taken root in the State and are now nearer a full realization that they were at the end of the life of him who so earnestly sought to impress these ideals upon the brain and heart of the people.
In its present greatness William Jewell College owes much to the efforts of Dr. Thomas Rambaut. The present greatness of the school is established upon foundations that he built so well. It is true the College has always had good and great men in all the departments of its faculty, and never greater or better than now, but these know that the man who took the little remnant of the plant left at the close of the Civil War and started it upon the high way to grandeur, is worthy of much honor. And the praise due to him is not stinted or reluctantly given.
WORK IN THE EAST.
After spending some two years abroad, Dr. Rambaut returned to America and became pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. He continued in this pastorate some six years and then took the oversight of the First Baptist Church of Newark, New Jersey. As in all his former pastorates, his work here was characterized by intellectual greatness and much spiritual force.
Dr. Rambaut was an educator of most marked ability. He was too conscientious to consent to anything less than thoroughness in all his instructions. His scholarship was of a high order, and he sought by all possible means to bring his pupils to the same standard.
But he was greater as a gospel preacher. So deep was his own experience of God's grace, so abundant the sustaining powers of the ever-present Christ, that his soul was aflame when he stood pleading with men to come to the full assurance of the faith.
He spent his last days at Hamilton, New York, where he had the society of the faculty of Colgate University and the loving, tender care of his last wife. Almost his last cry was for "Work," that he might honor the Lord to whom he had given his heart, and for whom he toiled for so many years.
He left upon those who knew him best the impress of a noble life; and his influence for good will linger upon the lives of the thousands who heard from him the gospel message, as long as memory holds her seat. He wears a crown rich in the trophies he won for the Master.
He died in 1890.
NOTE -- The plan of the Editors of this series of Biographies involved the active history of the Baptists of Missouri during the FIRST CENTURY of the life of the Denomination in this State; but so numerous are the names of the noble men and women that took active part in the developing of the interests of their beloved cause during this period of special Divine influence, that many have necessarily been left to take honored place in subsequent volumes.
The Period upon which we have embarked, that of Baptist Achievement, is but well begun, and it is hoped that, in future volumes, the lives and labors of those who have wrought faithfully and unselfishly for the Master, may be memorialized in such manner as that the records will become an inspiration to those who follow to go and do likewise. THE EDITORS.
In attempting to write of the life of this man of superior scholarship, regret is felt that so few facts have been available.
He was a son of Benjamin and Mary Anderson. There were eight children born to this worthy couple, four sons and four daughters. Of the family, there has come to the writer no knowledge except the few facts gathered from many sources of the eldest son, Barlett. He was born in Orange County, Virginia, November 6, 1812. He was a full graduate of Richmond College, though he did not take any college degree. The family came to Missouri in 1840 and settled, presumably, in Randolph County. The date or place of his conversion is not given in any of the statements that have been received. He was licensed to preach by the Mount Olivet Church, which, because of the change of location, is now the Roanoke Baptist Church of Howard County, Missouri. That church on the same day gave to Joshua W. Terril, Robert J. Mansfield, and Barlett T. Anderson, licenses to preach the gospel. In 1841, at the invitation of this same church, he was ordained by Wm. H. Mansfield, Thomas Fristoe and William Damon. The three men composing the presbytery were the strong men in Baptist pulpits in that day, for all that portion of the State. Ministers were not provided with a living salary at that time in Missouri, by the churches to which they preached. It was not a rare event to hear men say that it took just as much time to hear a sermon, as it did to preach one; and, therefore, the preacher owed them as much for listening to him as they owed him for preaching.
Mr. Anderson, therefore, like most preachers who had sufficient education, engaged in school teaching. He taught Latin and Greek in a number of the schools of his day. His scholarship so far surpassed most of the teachers of his day that his services were sought by those who desired the best. It is the universal testimony of those who had the privilege of being taught by him that he was the best of all their teachers.
Rev. John P. Greene, president of William Jewell College, who had his preparation for college under Mr. Anderson, says he was one of the ripest scholars he ever knew. He was not only a superior scholar in the Greek and Latin languages, but was also a mathematician of the first rank.
He also preached the gospel with marked ability. As an expositor of the sacred Scriptures, he had few, if any, equals in his day. He studied the New Testament in the original language in which it was written, and brought out the meaning to his auditors in such clearness that all could know the mind of the Spirit.
It is worthwhile, at this day, to mention that one of the trophies of his ministry is seen in the fact that he baptized Dr. J. P. Greene, now the distinguished president of William Jewell college.
In 1844 he married Miss Betsy Oliver, a daughter of Dr. Presley Oliver. The home of Dr. Oliver was then near where the city of Moberly now stands. He then settled on a farm near Darksville, Randolph County, and continued teaching and preaching. He was blessed with a family of one son and three daughters.
He was pastor of Shiloh Church for nine years and missionary of Mount Pleasant Association for a time, the exact length of which is not now known.
Rev. S. Y. Pitts, who knew him well for many years says: "His high intellectual, social and moral character made him a marked man. He was a born quiz, and an adept at repartee. He had clear and settled convictions. He was outspoken, and loved keen controversy."
Such a man was a target during the Civil War. He was a reactionary and refused to take the "test oath," as a condition of preaching the gospel. He was taken to prison and incarcerated in St. Louis. Here he preached, as did his Virginia ancestors, through prison bars. He seemed to enjoy this distinction, and so badgered the officials that they became tired of him and released him for being a "fool." They were never more mistaken in their lives. He was too much for them. He came back to the home church and was received with open arms by all the people.
For a respite he took his church letter and went to Illinois. Here he united with a Baptist church and did some preaching, but was soon excluded for his disloyalty to the general government. He returned to his old home and was gladly restored to membership in the Shiloh Church.
Not a great while after this a man who had been a captain in the Missouri Militia, and had gained an unsavory reputation, professed religion and applied for membership in the church. Anderson was a member of that church and wanted to ask the Captain in the Missouri Militia, and had gained an unsavory reputation, professed religion and applied for membership in the church. Anderson was a member of that church and wanted to ask the Captain a question. Permission having been given, he said: "Mr. S., since your conversion, have you seen Rev. W. H. Mansfield, made your apology and restitution for the way you foraged on him during the war?" He answered, "No, I did not think it necessary." Anderson then said, "Well, sir, until you do, you need never expect to come into this church while I am a member of it." Mr. Anderson's standard by which he measured men, was that of Psalm 15:4: "In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he honoreth them that fear the Lord."
It was the impression of some of B. T. Anderson's friends that he was a graduate of the University of Virginia, but Dr. J. P. Greene, who was one of his pupils and who greatly reverenced him for his goodness of heart, consistent Christian life and thorough scholarship, says he was a full graduate of Richmond College, but not of the University. Dr. Greene bears loving testimony to the aid Mr. Anderson gave him when he first began preaching. He would, in private, point any mistakes he saw, and urge the young only such language as the common people could readily understand.
For years he resided in the northesast part of the State; was pastor of many churches in Scotland and adjoining Counties. His last earthly home was at Kirksville, Missouri, where he died May 25, 1903, in the ninety-first year of his age.
It is said of him that by his bluntness of speech he sometimes fave offense, but he preferred to be truthful rather than to be friendly. He never learned the art of being both honest in speech and amiable at the same time. But his manifest sincerity gained him the highest of esteem from those who knew his heart.
The history of the race is the history of individuals. And if "history is philosophy teaching by example," then biography must be the philosophy of life set forth in concrete form.
In every character, as in every face, there is that which distinguishes it from all others. And yet the elements of which true manhood is made, and the principles underlying all real success, though not so clearly seen, perhaps, in every case, are nevertheless essentially the same in all.
"For we are the same our fathers have been; We see the same sights our fathers have seen; We drink the same streams, and feel the same sun, And run the same course our fathers have run."
As saith the Preacher: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and there is no new thing under the sun."
One has suggested that the lives of Christian men make up a sort of appendix to the Acts of the Apostles. Certainly they are a sort of new but yet well authenticated gospel in which are clearly reveals the Lord's saving and sustaining presence and power and grace. In poetic fancy it may be true that "From yon blue heavens above us bent, The gardener Adam and his wife Smile at the claims of long descent;"
but in actual fact it is certainly true that, in the making of men, ancestry matters much. "Blood will tell"-- and training also. This is seen in that, along the course of the centuries, it has come to pass that preacher's sons have attained to pre-eminence as statesmen, and jurists, and journalists, and financiers, and philosopher, and teachers, and orators, and poets; and yet, have they not forgotten the God of their fathers, but have kept the faith even down to old age, and have gone out of life softly singing:
"I hope to see my Pilot face to face, When I have crossed the bar."
O, to be sure, occasionally a wayward son of a preacher undertakes to convince the world that he has not the religion and piety of his father, and he gives indisputable proof that he has neither his father's sense nor strength. But Samuel Howard Ford was not one of these exceptions to what is so evidently the rule.
Dr. Ford was the son of a Baptist preacher; and he was "the worthy son of this noble sire." His ancestors were members of the famous Broadmead Baptist Church in Bristol, England; and in this city his father, Rev. Thomas Howard Ford, was born about 1790. Thomas Howard Ford was a man of no mean scholastic attainments. He studied the ancient languages under Dr. Burnett, and he was well trained in the theology of the Puritans.
In what year he came to the United States seems not to be known; but his name appears in associational minutes in both Illinois and Missouri in the early years of these States. He preached in St. Louis for a short time; and, then, in 1844, he was called to what was, at that period, if not now, the more important pulpit of the Baptist Church in Columbia, Missouri.
In this center of intelligence and culture his learning, character and eloquence attracted large congregations of the most influential people. Among those who sat under his ministry at that time were to be found such men as Dr. William Jewell, the founder of the great college which now bears his name at Liberty, Missouri; and Rev. Robert S. Thomas, D.D., professor of Languages and Moral Science in the Missouri State University, and later president of William Jewell College; and also the Basses, and the Harrises, and the Hardisn, men whose names are prominently and inseparably associated, not only with the religious, but also with the educational, political, and industrial history of Missouri.
And that he was a minister acceptable, honored and beloved by these mighty men of high intelligence and broad culture and sterling integrity, is sufficient evidence of Thomas Howard Ford's personal piety and pulpit power. Called, when he was only about sixty years old, to cross over the River and appear in the presence of the King, his last words heard on earth were, "Happy! Happy! Bless the Lord." His body rests in "God's Acre" at the old Richland Church in Callaway County, Missouri.
Samuel Howard Ford was born in England, February 19, 1819, and probably in London. At an early age, however, he was brought by his parents to this country and to Missouri. The family home was near Columbia, the father being pastor in Columbia and also at Little Bonne Femme Church in Boone County, Missouri. Here both his father mother died.
He was educated at the Bonne Femme Academy, near the church of that name, in Boone County, Missouri, and at the Missouri State University in Columbia.
Baptized by his father he united with the Little Bonne Femme Church; and in 1840, when he was twenty-one years old, he was licensed by his church to preach. In 1843 he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry. For sixty-five years he was an able minister of the New Testament.
Not without criticism, however, was the work of the educated and brilliant young man. As he tells it himself: "A man came to me by special arrangement, and with solemn countenance told me the brethren were feeling somewhat doubtful about my preaching. 'What is it?' said I. 'Well,' said he, 'you must not think hard, but the brethren suspect you of studying your sermons!'
"I said nothing. 'Would you be willing,' said he, 'to preach from a text selected for you?' 'Well,' said I, 'perhaps so.' So he gave me the prodigal son's, 'I will arise and go to my Father,' and the rest of it. This was just before the hour I was to preach. As it happened I had preached on that subject only a short while before. So I took the text selected for me, and that settled it. Never after that did the brethren suspect me of studying my sermons."
The young preacher's first regular pastorate was in Jefferson City, Missouri. Here he labored for two years. Then for two years he was at the old North Church in St. Louis. From St. Louis he went to Cape Girardeau, where, in connection with his work as pastor, he established the Washington Seminary. This institution, under the management of various teachers, was successfully conducted up to the opening of the Civil War.
In Cape Girardeau Dr. Ford suffered the loss of his first wife by death. He then removed to Paducah, Kentucky. Here again he combined the work of pastor and teacher, becoming the principal of one of those seminaries, or academies, which were so necessary to, and which did so much for, the mental development and training of the youth of the Southland before the day of the public school.
And here once more he suffered; the second great sorrow of his life falling upon him in the loss of his second wife, who, dying, left and infant son. This son, Howard Ford, is at this writing, April, 1912, a beloved and honored practicing physician at Gilliam in Saline County, Missouri.
He once told an intimate friend, Dr. J. C. Maple, that it was this affliction, the death of his second wife, that drove him into the work of an editor. He said, as reported by Dr. Maple, that he found that he must have work which would absorb his thoughts all the time, to save him from the effects of the constant grief which seemed to be eating away his heart and consuming his brain.
In 1853, and it appears in connection with his duties as pastor of the East Church in Louisville, Kentucky, Dr. Ford became associated with the late distinguished John L. Waller in the editorship of The Western Recorder; and also of a monthly magazine, published in Louisville, called The Western Baptist Review. The name of this latter publication was later changed to The Christian Repository.
In 1859 the Southern element among the Baptists of Missouri, becoming greatly dissatisfied with Dr. William Crowell's editorial management of the Western Watchman, the only Baptist periodical in the State at the time, made an attempt to establish a new paper. And in 1860 Dr. Ford was employed to write the editorials for this new publication. The arrangement was that while remaining in Louisville and continuing his editorial work there, he was to furnish a specified amount of "copy" for the new paper, "The Missouri Baptist," as it was called.
In the fall of 1860 he came to Missouri, and attended the meeting of the "Baptist Convention of Southern Missouri." This was the last meeting of that body.
"At the close of this meeting, which was held that year at the Goshen Church near Oak Ridge in Cape Girardeau County," says Dr. Maple, "I went with Dr. Ford to Louisville, Kentucky; and we held a protracted meeting of fifteen days at Fisherville, some eighteen miles from the city. We preached alternately in the meetings; and here I heard Dr. Ford preach to his own people, as he was the pastor here, preaching one Saturday and Sunday in each month."
"The sole purpose of every sermon," continued Dr. Maple, "was to impress on the minds and hearts of the people the truths of the New Testament. Those who heard Dr. Ford only on special occasions could hardly appreciate his profound knowledge of the plan of salvation and the deep longings of his great heart that men and women might believe and obtain that endless life promised to all who receive the Christ."
At the beginning of the war between the States Dr. Ford promptly cast his lot with the South. In Spencer's History of Kentucky Baptists, vol. II, page 191, it is recorded of him that, "He left Kentucky privately, and hastened to share his fortune with the Southern Confederacy. He was a member form Kentucky of the first Confederate Congress."
What constituency he represented in this Congress, and how long he served, are matters concerning which information is very meager. But certain it is that in the dark days of that fratricidal war he preached for a time in Memphis, Tennessee; and, the, for two years, he was pastor of the St. Francis Street Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama.
Soon after the war he returned to Memphis and became the pastor of the Central Baptist Church in that city. Here he was pastor seven years; and here, perhaps, his most successful work as pastor was being accomplished, when ill health forced him to resign. Under his leadership the membership of the church increased from seventy-five to four hundred and fifty; and an elegant and commodious meeting-house, costing $75,000, was built. Here, indeed, in many ways, God set His seal to his ministry.
Here in Memphis also in 1868 he was called to face the horrors of yellow fever. His family was spending the summer in Kentucky, and he was just on the eve of leaving to join them there for a short vacation, when the fever was declared epidemic. And then it was that his unfearing courage and unselfish devotion to his high calling flamed forth. Instead of seeking personal safety and selfish pleasure by joining his loved ones in Louisville, as he had planned to do, he at once changed his purpose, and stayed with and ministered as he was able to the sorely afflicted people of the stricken city.
One familiar with the facts has testified concerning that trying time: "Day after day, from early morning until late at night, and often-times to far into the night, he went from house to house, making no distinction as to the position or race or color, cheering the faint, consoling the bereaved, nursing the sick, and speaking words of faith and hope to the dying; and in several instances, remaining with the sufferer even after physician and nurse had fled, until death had claimed his victim, and then seeing that the most decent burial was given the body which circumstances would permit."
As her friend and pastor, as well as the friend and pastor of her distinguished husband of blessed memory, he was at the bed-side of the late Mrs. J. R. Graves, when she passed away; and received from the dying mother her little babe, only a few months old, and carried it in his own arms to the home of Mrs. Judge Turlye, a member of his church. Brave he was; and "the bravest are the tenderest."
In 1869 or '70 Dr. Ford returned to Missouri to make his home in St. Louis; and for more than thirty years he was a potent factor in all denominational work in the State and beyond the State. He knew personally, and numbered among his personal friends, most of the leaders of the Baptist hosts in America, during the last half of the Nineteenth Century and in the opening years of the Twentieth.
He was a constant attendant at the meetings of the General Association of the Kentucky Baptists, and also of the Southern Baptist Convention. Of this latter body he was for years one of the vice-presidents. He was at the last meeting of the old Triennial Convention; and he was also in the earliest meetings, and of the most loyal supporters, of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Through all the years of his residence in St. Louis, he rarely, or never, failed to meet with the Missouri Baptist General Association, and on the floor of this body there was no man who was heard with a more deferential interest. Ever conservative and conciliatory, where principle was not involved, his eloquent voice was always heard pleading for harmony, for peace, and for progress.
Soon after his return to Missouri some good brethren conceived the idea of moving William Jewell College, then struggling for existence, to Kansas City, changing its name, and making of it a sort of University. But when he was approached on this subject, though feeling that he would have to stand almost alone in his opposition, Dr. Ford, with his characteristic courage and readiness to contend for what he conceived to be right and to oppose what he thought to be wrong, entered a most emphatic and forceful protest.
Ah, in his younger days, he had been the friend and associate of Dr. William Jewell; and he had been made by that far-seeing and public-spirited Baptist his messenger to make known to the General Association, and through the Association to all the brotherhood, his purpose and plan to establish a Baptist College for Missouri. And so, moved by his innate loyalty and his clear insight into denominational affairs and his unselfish devotion to their best interests, his final answer to the influential brother, who persistently sough to gain the support of his influence in favor of the proposed removal, was: "Doctor, I can never consent. I cannot forget when and how the college was founded by Dr. Jewell, my friend; and I shall ever oppose a change of location and of name."
And standing thus immovable, with his distinguishing unfaltering firmness for what he felt was right, to Dr. Ford perhaps more than to any other one man, is due the credit that there is today that magnificent institution, "William Jewell College, Liberty, Missouri."
As editor and author Dr. Ford attained to no mean rank. The Christian Repository, for fifty-five years owned and published by himself and wife, Mrs. Sallie Rochester Ford, recently deceased, his third wife, was the medium through which Dr. Ford gave to the world the best products of his brain. He was a vigorous thinker, and wielded a facile pen.
His major works were, "A Brief Baptist History," "The Great Pyramids of Egypt," "Historic Mile Stones," "Complete Ecclesiastical History," and "What Baptists Baptize For." These books have had a wide circulation. His last literary work was preparing for the press the second edition of his "Brief Baptist History," published only a short time before his death.
/ He wrote instructively and entertainingly on a wide range of subjects, touching the religious issues of the times in which he lived. He delved understandingly into the history of the past; and he was especially familiar with the Baptismal and Romish controversies.
He was well prepared and ever ready to "earnestly contend for the faith once for all delivered to the Saints." And the cause of truth did not suffer in his hands even when he crossed swords in polemic warfare with such redoubtable champions of error as Alexander Campbell, Nathan L. Rice, and Bishop Spalding of the Roman Hierarchy.
He knew no fear nor hesitancy when "the truth as it is in Jesus" was under fire. His constant declaration was, "I believe, therefore I speak. And I know whom I have believed." And his love for the truth, and his ability and readiness to defend the truth, did not wane, but the rather waxed, as the physical feebleness of multiplied years came down upon him.
Of this he gave a never-to-be-forgotten illustration in the great National Baptist Convention in St. Louis in May, 1905. Rising before that mighty assemblage of representative men, he courteously but most adroitly, with a few well0directed and masterful and ringing strokes of "the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God," utterly demolished the position taken by a dear brother, who wears a beloved and honored name, but who, violating all the proprieties of the occasion, and taking advantage of his opportunity as an appointed speaker, went out of his was to utter sentiments which Dr. Ford felt, and many others felt, were out of harmony with the teaching of the New Testament, and ought not to be allowed to pass unchallenged. Hundreds of Baptists thanked God that afternoon for the "old man eloquent" who had convictions, clear cut and well defined, and who had the courage of his convictions!
Speaking of his last days the Central Baptist of the date, July 13, 1905, said: "He attended the meeting of the Kentucky Baptist General Association held last month at Russellville, where marked attention was shown him, and where he spoke by invitation a number of times. Though feeble in body, his old-time mental vigor returned to him, and he spoke with all force of his earlier years.
"His loved ones were with him as the end approached, but no one dreamed that the death angel was so near. His son noticing a little unrest asked him if there was anything he desired. His reply was, 'No, I have all that I can wish for, except that I want to cross over the River.' And thus ended his eventful and useful life in his 87th year.
"His funeral was conducted from the family residence at Jennings, Missouri, near St. Louis, on Saturday, July 8th, at 12 o'clock, noon, by Rev. Sam Frank Taylor, and his body was laid to rest in Bellefonatine Cemetery."
In an address before the Missouri Baptist General Association, Warrensburg, Missouri, October 27, 1903, Sam Frank Taylor said:
"I have been asked to speak in memory of our dear Dr. Samuel Howard Ford. How I wish I were able to speak gracefully and graphically of him, even as he has so often spoken generously and with such intelligent appreciation of others on so many occasions similar to this. Possessed of a warm heart, and a glowing imagination, and a splendid diction, and a marvelous faculty for remembering and relating incidents, and a voice which responded to every emotion of his soul, Dr. Ford was, indeed, the very Prince of Memorial Speakers. No one who heard it will ever forget his sparkling, flashing, glowing, magnificent tribute to the 'Williamses in Missouri Baptist History' in his address before the Missouri Baptist Historical Society at Louisiana, Missouri, during the General association in that town in 1894.
"How grand he was! How true! How brave! How strong! How genial! How lovable! His the peculiar poetic temperament! His the poser to see visions and dream dreams, and to put them into pictures that others might see and dream!
"His soul was full of faith, and hope, and fire. He remembered the past, but lived in the present, with his face to the future. And though to be sure, he walked the earth, his brow was fanned by the breezes of heaven. No cause for wonderment, then, that he grew old gracefully, and ever drew the younger to him.
"He attended a service at my church, the Lafayette Park Baptist Church, and slept in my house the night before he started to the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Kansas City, last May. And as he was weak in body, I went with him to the station next morning and put him aboard the train; and in my heart I was glad that I could thus be of some little service to him.
"We were alone in my house that night, as my wife and children were away. He was feeble in body, but his spirit was strong. His interesting, and genial, and loving talk was of his brethren, and his Master, and the glories of the coming Kingdom. His mind was luminous with the light of the dawning day. He was breathing the air of the Beulah Land. As I think of him now it seems to me he was listening to the nearing music of the angel band, coming to attend him home; and to my dying day I shall cherish, as a white spot in my experience, the memory of that last evening's communion with the gifted and gracious old man!
"I count it, indeed, as one of the high privileges of my life that I knew him, was admitted certainly in some little measure into the sanctuary of his heart; and was permitted to have him in my home sometimes to minister at least to his physical comfort and pleasure in the radiant evening of his distinguished and helpful life.
"He is gone. But, verily, there is nothing to regret in his going, only that we shall see his face and hear his voice of matchless eloquence on earth no more. In faith he passed away in good old age. His last expressed wish granted, he has 'crossed over the River.' His path, that of the just, hath shone 'unto the perfect day.' His reputation all unsullied, and character of manly strength, have left behind a mellowed afterglow!
'Dead, did some one say? Nay: Samuel Howard Ford is not dead! Men of his pure and loving spirit never die. They only cease to be on earth any more. They only leave this room of the Father's house to go and stand in the presence of the King. And so I feel that I can close this poor but loving tribute to his memory in no more fitting words than his own, written as he was entering his eighty-sixth year, and voicing forth for us his own victorious faith and conquering hope:
"The weight of years is pressing On this feebly beating heart, And the voiceless accent tells me I must soon from earth depart. But that change will be my freedom From all sorrow, sin, and pain, For now, "for me to live is Christ," and then "to die is gain." "My sun is slowly setting In the purple-curtained west, And my many old co-laborers Long since entered into rest; And the evening star appearing Shows me night is very near But I view the deepening shadows With faith that knows no fear. "They are waiting, blood washed spirits Of the loved ones gone before; They are waiting, they are watching Now at heaven's open door: And they'll meet me, and they'll greet me, In that many-mansioned home, Where I'll see my Savior face to face, And know as I am known. 'O ye scenes of bliss and beauty, Break not yet upon my sight! Only wait until my vision Can endure heaven's living light; And ye ocean-peals of praises Burst not yet upon the air! Let me wait till in your sights and sounds My sinless soul can share! 'Now new radiant stars are rising, Making night as bright as day; And the best celestial City Is not very far away! For I seem to see the angels, As they wait with folded wing-- Wait to bear my ransomed spirit To the palace of the King.'"
This brother, a universal favorite among the Baptists of Missouri, was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, May 18, 1825. His father, Benjamin Ely, brought his family to Missouri in the spring of 1838. When the church in Carrollton was organized, the father of Lewis Ely was one of the constituent members. And before the son, whose life is merely sketched in this paper, had reached his sixteenth year he was converted to Christ and baptized into the fellowship of the same church. Rev. W. C. Ligon, whose name is associated with many of the first things in Missouri Baptist history, was then pastor.
In 1840 young Ely became a "store boy" in the house of Capt. William Hill, at Hill's Landing on the Missouri River. Four years afterwards the establishment was moved to Carrollton, and two years later Mr. Ely became a partner with his former employer. He continued in business with Captain Hill until his death in 1862, when the full control of the business fell upon Mr. Ely. He purchased the interest of the deceased partner and continued the mercantile business until 1875, when he retired form active connection with any business. He still has means employed in business, but does not himself assume the active management of the house.
In 1844 there was but one Sunday School in Carroll County. This was held in the court house in Carrollton, there being no house worship in the place. It was a union school, but Mr. Ely became a member and remained connected with it until it grew into the Baptist Bible School, still holding on its way of usefulness in that city.
For more than twenty years Mr. Ely was the superintendent of this school. And when his active denominational work made it necessary for him to surrender the leadership, there were others prepared to conduct it in a successful way. Till his death he was a member of the school-taught a class when at home, and, after fifty years' faithful service in that one place, had the same zeal, only enlarged and quickened, that he had in his first love of the work. He once said in a note to me: "If I have had any growth in grace, or usefulness in the Master’s vineyard, it has been chiefly in connection with this school or has grown out of it." (Adapted from sketch in Dr. Clark's History of William Jewell College.)
In 1868 or 1869 he was placed upon the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College. That the wisdom that led to the appointment of L. B. Ely as a member of this Board must have come from God, results will show. In 1875 he retired from active business pursuits in order that he might give himself solely to the work of the Lord. Being thus free, he was enabled to study more closely the affairs of the College. Curing this period of six or seven years, he gained an insight into the condition of the institution that enabled him, when opportunity should arise, to do effective work in its interest; and the opportunity came when, by action of the Board of Trustees in 1887, he was placed in the responsible position of Financial Agent.
Owing to various causes, the financial affairs of the College had reached a condition that, unless relieved, made its existence uncertain. In entering upon the duties of this office he devoted himself, body, mind, and spirit, to the task before him. The characteristics that had made him a successful business man, served to make him the ideal Financial Agent.
Having freed the College from all encumbrances, so that whatever he did might rest upon a firm foundation, he started forth to raise a contingent fund of $20,000 from the Baptists of the State, to tide the institution over for a few years. By subsequent labors that were almost superhuman, he succeeded in adding largely to the endowment, and, at the same time, secured money for a dormitory, so that in 1883, the Finance Committee was able to report the erection of the building, named Ely Hall in his honor, at a cost of $10,000 without one dollar of debt; and $75,000 increase in the endowment.
This was a long and laborious task, and came near costing him his life. He was compelled to take a period of rest, but soon returned to the work he had upon his heart. From this time to the close of his life, there was struggle between his devotion to the cause of College and his health. His labor was incessant and the results fruitful. In 1889 the Financial Committee reported another increase of $50,000, and in 1892, still another increase of $40,000. this was the beginning of the end of his great activity, for his physical condition frequently gave warning that limits were set, beyond which he could not go.
"Perhaps this is the only case on record of a man of large means, when at an age that most successful financiers seek rest and the quiet enjoyment of their earnings, surrendering all active connection with business matters and undertaking the arduous labor of raising an endowment for a college." (Dr. J. C. Maple.)
His interest in the College was not limited to his financial desires for it. These were simply a means to an end- that end the putting upon a firm basis an institution that should forever, in all her teachings, stand as an exponent of the truth as it is found Jesus Christ.
In the young men of the College, his interest was truly parental, and he was honored by them with true filial affection; his visits to the Colege Chapel were each the scene of an ovation, and, when there he never failed to speak words of consolation, cheer and comfort, mingled with words of wisdom—always that which would serve to establish them in the royal road of right living He was "Brother beloved" of all.
As has been indicated above, he was a many-sided man: a thorough-going business man; firm as a rock, in the equitable administration of a trust, so that it is said that he never lost a dollar of the interest accruing from college funds invested by him; an earnest Christian worker in many fields. In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, he was an earnest and acceptable talker from the pulpit platform, and, often, as a consecrated layman, assisted some pastor in evangelistic work. Many who were won to accept the terms of the gospel in faith, through his tender guidance, now live to call his name blessed.
While his most precious monument is in the tender remembrance in which he is held by all who were so happy as to know him, other monuments than the eloquent granite that stands above his grave stands nobly to attest the honor, reverence, and love felt for him by his colleagues in the management of college affairs. As stated above, in the early '80's, a Dormitory building, capacious for that time, was erected on the College Hill; and, as the first fruits of the spirit of improvement that he had been so largely influential in arousing in the Board of Trustees, it received the name, Ely Hall' and many students throughout the world look back with pleasure and pride to the years spent beneath its beneficent roof. And now that its day of usefulness is passing, and the funds of the College with which to erect buildings has increased, the Old Ely Hall is soon to pass away and carry into oblivion many tender associations; but to the New Ely Hall, in the grandeur of its architecture, and the superlative convenience of its appointments, has been transferred the honored mission of keeping "Brother Ely's" memory fresh in the minds of old friends, and of making him known to those who knew him not, as one whose memory the College will ever hold sacred. In addition to this, the College, itself, is a monument to his surpassing executive ability and devotion.
"For a number of years he was president of the Missouri Baptist Sunday School Convention; for fourteen years Moderator of the Missouri Valley Baptist Association; for fifteen years the Corresponding Secretary of the last named body, and for three years the Presiding Officer of the Missouri Baptist General Association.
"On the 30th day of September, 1849, Mr. Ely was married to Miss Martha Herndon. She was a devoted Christian, a true helpmeet, and a faithful companion. She died September 7, 1862. Since the death of his wife Mr. Ely has given his whole life to the work of the good and great Master.
"The services of this active and prudent brother have been of inestimable value to the Baptists of Missouri." (From sketch in the History of the College.)
Himself a liberal giver to all religious and benevolent enterprises he could earnestly and effectively urge others to enlarged liberality, and thus he made success possible in money and enterprise, that but for his timely words and generous aid would have languished and died.
Through his well-recognized financial ability; his lively interest in educational matters, and his devotion to religious and benevolent enterprises, he won the honorable title, "The Great Missourian," which he carried with humility, and thus passed from his earthly career, the most widely known and honored man in Missouri.
He died at the home of his daughters in St. Joseph, Missouri, at the close of the day, June 18, 1897. The intensity of the heat of that day had so weakened his already waning strength, that, without pain or any premonitory symptoms whatever, while pleasantly talking with his friends, his head dropped forward, and his spirit departed to its eternal home. "He had walked with God, and was not; for God took him."
The funeral exercises were held in the Baptist Church, Carrollton, Missouri, the church of which he had, for nearly three score years, been an active, faithful, leading member. The sermon of the occasion was preached by Dr. J. P. Greene, president of William Jewell College: a sanely wise and appreciative address, transfused with the tenderness of the love that had existed between the living preacher and departed layman. The text from which the sermon was preached was Acts, XI: 24: "For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith."
And the great concourse of people, that had come together with the common desire to do honor to the memory of this good man, knew that a prince and a great man had fallen in Israel that day.
The best legacy that a young man can receive is not ancestral gold, but the priceless inheritance of an ancestral good name. This the parents of John B. Wornall bequeathed him and the noble mother, knowing what was to be the lordly heritage of her son, sedulously trained him in the art of keeping the paternal estate intact, and, if it might be, of enriching it. It what manner the son employed the rich bequest, his subsequent life will show.
John Bristow Wornall was born in Clay County, Kentucky, October 12, 1822, the son of Richard Wornall and Judith Ann Glover Wornall. In his infancy his parents moved into Shelby County of the same State, and here his youth and early manhood were spent. Little is known in detail of his life as a youth, but much may be known of the general trend of events by what that life was in its later development.
Possessed of a good fundamental education we know that he took advantage of the local opportunities offered the youth of that day, and these were generally very excellent in the older Western States like Kentucky. In early manhood he was converted and at once became a member of Burk's Branch Baptist Church, near Shelbyville. In 1844 he came to Missouri, an earnest God-fearing young man, and settled near what was then known as Westport.
One of his first acts, after establishing himself as a settler, was to unite with the Big Blue Baptist Church, known from 1850 till the recent extension of the city limits, as the First Baptist Church of Westport, now, simply Westport Baptist Church of Kansas City. He was soon elected clerk of this church, and held this office for a few years, when the greater responsibility of the deaconship was placed upon him. The responsibility of this office increased with the growth of the town into a city, and the widening influence of the growing church, until all earthly responsibility was removed from his shoulders by his call to his eternal home, a period of over thirty-five years. During the greater part of this time he was the treasurer of his church. Upon his death his mantle fell upon some member of his family, so that for thirty-five years these duties have been performed by him and his successor.
His religious usefulness was not confined to the local church and community. For twelve years he was the efficient Moderator of the Blue River Association, and for two terms served the Baptist State interests in a like capacity as Moderator of the General Association. For twenty-five years he was president of the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College, and for five years a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He served the people of the State for four years as State Senator from his district. In business relations besides those growing out of his larger interests as a landed proprietor, he was for several years president of the Kansas City National Bank.
In all his relations, political, business, religious, and social, he wisely employed the wealth of the moral inheritance bequeathed him by his parents for the general good, and by the employment of his unusual common sense rendered practicable many beneficent schemes that to others would have seemed impossible of accomplishment.
A man of liberal dimensions of mind, heart, and body, all his activities were broad in scope and intense in execution. He was not satisfied that the church, the school, the bank or the farm in which he was interested should be content with mere success. By his nature he demanded signal results. Hence, under his sane direction, enterprises prospered, schools increased in strength and efficiency, churches grew in numbers and in spirituality. He freely gave time, energy and money to aid the interests whose cause he espoused. He was one of those happily organized men who could be at once both vigorously progressive and wisely conservative-- a rare combination – a good and safe leader and an efficient propelling power in one.
The writer has noted that men of the greatest executive ability and the keenest appreciation in initiative have often manifested the most child-like dependence upon the wisdom and guidance of the Heavenly Father, in matters in which they are the most deeply concerned.
Two or three incidents in the life of our subject will be interesting in themselves, and doubly interesting in that they give forcible illustration to a prominent feature of his character.
During the terrible period of the war between the States, the western section of Missouri, on account of its location on the border-line, was specially subject to the diabolical conditions of internecine struggle.
Mr. Wornall was a Southern man, but a non-belligerent, a man of large possessions for that time and dwelling in the quiet of a consciously upright life on his plantation in Jackson County.
On day one of the few men whose violent and oppressive character served to bring the Federal cause into disrepute in neutral sections, came with a squad of like-minded men to Mr. Wornall's residence, entered unannounced, and, with a volley of oaths, made known his mission: "John Wornall, mark what I say! I am a man who never backs down after deciding to do anything. I have come to your house, ------, to stay as long as I please, to worry you as a cat worries a ---- mouse; and the, -----, to kill you." Mr. Wornall, in his quiet but intense manner, replied: "Very well, sir, I am powerless to resist you."
After several days had passed during which Mr. Wornall and family had greatly suffered from the violent profanity, destructive propensities and intolerable indignities of all kinds that these men heaped upon them, he said to his wife: "My dear, I have but one weapon that I can use against these brutes—this knife with which I carve our daily meat. I think I must see what I can do with this to defend ourselves. We can endure this no longer." "No, Mr. Wornall," replied his wife, "let us resort to more earnest prayer." And there in the anguish of their souls they prayed long and earnestly, and God, though He did not remove their trouble at once, graciously gave them strength to bear it a little longer.
As the days passed and the indignities seemed to grow in intensity, Mr. Wornall again found his strength to endure failing him,. And again he said to his wife: "I must put a stop to this. I'll go in, confront this man, and tell him to do his worst." Again her reply was: "No, my dear; let us pray." And so they knelt in such prayer as only persons so burdened can offer, like Jacob, refusing to let God go until conscious strength should come to them.
While they were still on their knew a summons came for Mr. Wornall to appear in the parlor. He entered the room expecting the worst-- if worse could be-- but was surprised and perplexed to see the changed attitude of the man. In a not ungentlemanly manner, as compared with his former conduct, he told his prisoner to take a chair and then addressed him in this astonishing manner: "Mr. Wornall, I came here, as I told you, to devil you as long as I chose, and then to kill you. The first part of my plan I have carried out, how well, you can testify, but though I am a man who never allows anything to interfere with what he has determined to do, I cannot for my life get my own consent to go any further. Time and again I have tried to bring my mind to a point where I could kill you, but something has always held me back. There is a mystery about it that I cannot understand, and I have decided to stop right here. Now make out your bill for damages I have done you." Mr. Wornall: " I have no bill against you, sir!" He: "What? No bill? I have driven off your stock, damaged your crops as much as I could, set fire to your fences and burned your hay! And no charges?" Mr. Wornall: "No sir; as I said, none at all." He: "Well, I'll see to that myself."
He called his adjutant and they together made as close an estimate of the damage done as they could, paid Mr. Wornall the amount in gold and withdrew from the plantation.
Mr. Wornall would sometimes recount this experience of the grace of God, as he fully believed it to be, to his doubting brethren, and ask: "Do you wonder that I believe in the efficacy of prayer?"
On a later occasion, after he had yielded to the earnest solicitations of his friends, and had permitted his name to go before the primary convention for nomination as Democratic Senator from his county, while the convention was in session, instead of entering the room of possible conflict, he withdrew with a few chosen friends to a private room for prayer, placing himself and his cause in God's hands with the plea that, if his nomination would not be for the glory of His kingdom, the vote might go against him. The conditions were so favorable to his candidacy that he was nominated by acclamation. The sequel was his election by a large majority, and the performance of the duties of this honorable position in so faithful and God-fearing a manner, that the best interests of the State were strengthened and the glory of the cause of Christ did not suffer. He was not a political Christian, as that term is used, but a Christian politician.
He was a man, who, in Scripture phrases, was "given to hospitality," and no social condition could give him greater pleasure than to have a company of kindred spirits – brethren in the Lord – under his roof. Then, interspersed with the discussion of weightier matters of business, politics, or religion, would often come peals of hilarious laughter, for our host was a gifted reconteur, and loved a lively joke.
Throughout life he was a generous giver. He gave in an almost princely manner toward the building and subsequent enlargement of his own house of worship, and to the maintenance of its services; to the college that he loved and served so faithful; to the general church work of the State; to mission, and to every good cause.
He died full of honor, and, though not full of years, of good age – seventy years – March 24, 1892, and his body lies at rest in the beautiful Forest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri.
He was thrice married. In his young manhood he took to wife Miss Amanda Polk of Indiana. She died leaving no children.
In 1854 he was married to Miss Eliza S. Johnson, of Jackson County, Missouri, the daughter of Thomas Johnson, a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the organizer of the Shawnee Mission, Kansas. Johnson County that State was named for him.
She died leaving two sons, Frank Wornall, Esq., of Kansas City, and Hon. Thomas J. Wornall, of Liberty, Missouri. After a few years he again married, this time selecting as his wife the noble woman who survives him, Miss Roma Johnson, daughter of Reuben Johnson, Esq., of Fayette, Missouri. This wife became the mother of John and Charles Wornall, both prosperous and honored business men of Kansas City, Missouri.
Upon the shoulders of these four sons fell the ample folds of their honored father's mantle, and their sacred mission now is to maintain the honor of his name, and to perpetuate the influence of his beneficent life.
It was the voice of Dr. Dulin, which, on Tuesday, January 1, 1850, in the small brick edifice, situated in the western portion of the limits of Liberty, Missouri, known as "The Seminary, " called to order the assemblage of eager youths and expectant friends, and, with solemn prayer, began the work of William Jewell College. In November, 1849, the Trustees of the College had elected him to the position of Professor of Greek and Latin Languages. Either because they failed fully to comprehend the mighty future of the College, or, from the modesty of the times, they gave to this greater scholar the title simply of Principal.
He was born in Fairfax County, Virginia, January 18, 1821. On the father's side he was descended from the Huguenot family of Dulon, which fled from France in the latter portion of the Seventeenth Century, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, and, coming to America, settled in Maryland. Hence he was of the blood of one of those stocks of people who built America, which most sacrificed and suffered for conscience's sake, and which, in nobility of spirit, chivalric feeling and intellectual culture, was not inferior to any. On the mother's side he was of an English Quaker family named Shelton, which settled in Loudoun County, Virginia.
From his youth Dr. Dulin's life was one of labor, struggle and study. At the age of nine years he lost his father, who died in straitened circumstances, leaving the nurture of the son to his Christian mother. Aided by the energy and affection of the boy, she performed her office nobly, and through her example and urgency, in large part, in 1839 he professed religion and was baptized into the fellowship of the Calvert Street Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. In the spring of 1841 he entered Richmond College, Virginia, and graduated threat four years subsequently with high honors. Thereupon, being thereto recommended by the Rev. Dr. Ryland, of Richmond, Virginia, he was elected principal of St. Bride's Academy, Virginia. Subsequently he was elected Professor of Ancient Languages in Hollins Institute, a celebrated female school in Botetourt County, Virginia. He remained there a year and recovered his health, which had become somewhat shattered by years of intense application to study. His first purpose, after union with the church, was to go as a missionary to Burma, being strongly induced thereto by the saintly example of Dr. Adoniram Judson. Compelled to abandon this purpose, he decided on teaching as a profession, and accordingly took a special course at the University of Virginia. He was ordained a minister of the gospel at Baltimore in August, 1848.
Immigrating to Missouri in the fall of 1848, he was chosen pastor of the Baptist Church in Lexington, Missouri, in March 1849. In August, 1849, he was a member of the convention of the Baptists of Missouri and their friends which assembled at Boonville and fixed the location of William Jewell College at Liberty.
On August 28, 1849, he was married to Miss Sarah R. Glkey, who survives him. Venerable and delicately respected, no lady is closer to the affections of the Baptists in Missouri than she. Of this marriage there were born – and – these children, viz.: Mrs. Fannie D. Studebaker, St. Louis, Missouri; Charles L. Dulin, St. Louis, Missouri, and Edgar G. Dulin, San Diego, California.
From his arrival in Missouri until some four or five years prior to his death, Dr. Dulin's life was one of incessant intellectual activity. He was a champion of religion and education, and throughout that long period he was president or pastor, and often both at the same time. His connection with William Jewell College extended from November, 1849, to the conclusion of the collegiate year 1851-2, in June, 1852. He was president of female institutes of the first order in Liberty, Lexington, Columbia and St. Joseph, Missouri, and pastor of Baptist churches in those places, as, also, in Kansas City, Missouri, and, perhaps, elsewhere.
When he became a citizen of Missouri, it is doubtful if there was a classical scholar in the Union, of his age, who was his superior – certainly there was not in the West. The fact was at once recognized by his co-religonists in Missouri and acted on by the Trustees of the College. He was not only scholar and a man of vast and varied erudition, but a teacher of the first order, both in theory and application. Though forty years intervene since he taught young men, and the silver of time is upon their heads, yet his enthusiasm in the class-room and his quick insight into classic texts and brilliant t comment thereon, are as fresh to them as yesterday. Thousands of ladies in the West, especially in Missouri, among whom are many of distinguished culture, look to his class-rooms as the beginning of their mental quickenings, and constantly express their gratitude for his faithful work as their teacher.
And he was equally valuable in the pulpit. Not doubting that Jesus Christ died to save sinners; rich in experience of the world, trained to exactness and brevity in speech; possessed of sonorous voice and manly presence; having a mind stored with the learning of the ages, and soul aflame with the cause of his Master, there were in his preaching an energy, power, tenderness, breadth and insight, instinct with a glowing rhetoric, which enchain the attention of his audiences and gave him a commanding influence among the Baptists.
And he was at all times a faithful friend of the College. It was the favorite of his age, and in his feeling it was the child of his youth. He aided in planting the tender bud, saw its slow and painful growth, and, out of grace, it was granted him to see, before his departure, the roots deeply struck in the earth and its branches wide-spreading.
Full of honors and ripe in years, he quietly passed away in the home of his friend, Dr. Garnett, at Westport, Missouri, January 9, 1891, and was buried in Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri.
"Nathan Cole, born July 26, 1825; died March 4, 1904."
This is the simple inscription on the grave stone in beautiful Bellefonatine Cemetery in St. Louis, which marks the final resting place of a beloved native of the city of St. Louis and of the State of Missouri. Nathan Cole more than lived out the allotted three score and ten years, and all these useful, busy years were spent in the city of his birth-happy, wholesome, helpful years which saw a great city grow from a village; a populous State unfold from its swaddling clothes; a great nation develop from a sparsely settled country.
When Nathan Cole was born, in 1825, the territory west of the Mississippi River was largely a trackless and unexplored region. From Louisiana, following the western boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, westward to the Pacific Ocean, the dominion of Spain was absolute. Railroads were unknown; the keel-boat was more in evidence on the great rivers of the West than the steamboat; the inhabitants of the Mississippi than the steamboat; the inhabitants of the Mississippi Valley were mostly French or their descendants, hardy, sturdy, fur-trading people, for St. Louis was at that time a fur-trading center.
Napoleon had only recently died on the Island of Saint Helena; Florida had just been ceded by Spain to the United States; James Monroe, the last of the Revolutionary heroes to hold important office, had just finished his second term as President and had enunciated the now famous Monroe Doctrine. Missouri had recently been admitted as a State, and the Missouri Compromise had been agreed to by Congress.
When Nathan Cole was born Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were living, and such men as Clay, Calhoun, Pickney, De Witt Clinton, John Randolph, Rufus King, Andrew Jackson, Hayne, Van Buren and Webster were familiar figures in the political annals of the time. John Quincy Adams was President of the United States. Lafayette had only recently visited America. The Erie Canal was being built, the cotton gin was coming into general use, the first steamboat plowed the Mississippi River in 1823, and the first steamship crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1825. In the years of Nathan Cole's birth, Bunker Hill Monument was completed.
Nathan Cole, as a boy, heard his father tell the story of the War of 1812, himself a soldier of the war of that year; as a young man he mingled with the soldiers of the Mexican War; later he witnessed the civil strife between the North and South; then, in his declining years, he saw the struggle between his country and Spain end in the freedom of Cuba and the acquisition by Amerca of the Philippines.
Nathan Cole saw the West subdued and populated; saw the steamboat and the railroad and the telegraph and the telephone successively conquer and reconquer the land. He saw the omnibus and the horse car in turn give way to the electric car, and he lived to see the automobile gain its conquest over the horse and carriage. He witnessed the development of photography, lithography and photo-engraving; saw the evolution of the printing press from the old Washington hand press printing a few sheets each hour, to the marvelous rotary perfecting press printing thousands of sheets, even in colors, within the same limit of time; he saw the linotype machine revolutionize type setting; he lived to marvel at the mystery of wireless telegraphy, and the flying machine was in process of development before he died.
During Nathan Cole's eventful life the tallow candle was succeeded by the oil lamp, the oil lamp gave way to the gas jet, and in turn the gas jet was superseded by the electric light. The steel buildings, the ocean liner, the modern war vessel, with heavy armour plate and guns throwing projectiles many miles, the sewing machine, the mower, the combined harvester, and plowing by steam were all developed during the seventy-eight years of Nathan Cole's life.
Nathan Cole lived to see France become a Republic, Germany a great empire, Japan emerge from barbarism, Spain to disappear from the face of the earth. Truly an eventful period, also a life full of stirring events.
Nathan Cole was educated in the common schools of St. Louis, and later, in his twelfth year, was sent to Shurtleff College in Upper Alton, Illinois, where he spent two years in the academic department of that famous old Baptist institution. While there he was baptized in Wood River, by Father Rodgers, and united with the Upper Alton Baptist Church. After leaving Shurtleff College he lived for several years with his father, also Nathan Cole, at Chester, Illinois, where the elder Cole had a flour and grist mill.
In 1834 he returned to St. Louis and entered mercantile pursuits. In 1849 he united with the old Second Baptist Church, in whose membership he remained until his death. He passed through all the vicissitudes of this famous church and saw it grow from a struggling church to one of great power, wealth and influence. He was trustee and deacon, serving in these capacities for nearly half a century. The following letter written by Mr. Babington, deacon and clerk of the Second Baptist Church, is not only a correct record of the life of Nathan Cole in the Second Baptist Church for more than fifty years, but is a beautiful tribute to the Christian character, Christian fortitude and Christian generosity of the man. It reflects the sentiment that pervades the membership of this wonderful old church to the present day, where the name of Nathan Cole stands for all the attributes that go to make up a real Christian gentleman-- faith, love, charity, earnestness, truth and benevolence:
St. Louis, Mo., December 16th, 1912.
Mr. Nathan Cole, Jr.,
San Francisco, California.
Dear Mr. Cole:
In response to yours of December 2, after an examination of our church records, I find that your father joined the Second Baptist Church on July 8, 1849, on a letter from Alton, Illinois (name of church not state).
On September 19, 1861, he and some other members were granted letters to form the Zion Baptist Church in North St. Louis. On May 28, 1855, he was received back, on letter from the Zion Church, and continued with us until his death, March 4, 1904. During his membership he filled many offices; was Deacon from 1858 until his death, in 1904; Trustee from 1873 until he resigned in 1903 – for many years Chairman of the Board; Chairman of Finance Committee in 1868; and a glance through the records show that in all important church activities he had a leading part. He was active in Sunday School work, but specific data cannot be given, as the old Sunday School records are not available.
Personally, I remember him well, and esteemed him highly. He was always cordial in his greeting, both in church and on the street; his pleasant smile and "How are you Charlie?" are still vivid in m memory. I recall, too, his reverent manner during the Scripture reading, how he would use a small pocket Testament, and, I think, dispense with glasses, which was remarkable during his later years. Then, too, it was good to see and hear him join in the hymn worship, especially when such hymns as "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," "Nearer, My God, to Thee," "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow," etc., were sung, when rising on tiptoe, his whole body seemed to be engaged in the worship.
I will always treasure his memory, and only regret that I was not more intimately acquainted with him, and that there are not a greater number of such men in our churches.
I might also mention that I had the privilege of voting for him for Mayor of our city, and believe our cities would be better governed if more such men were called to public office.
A devoted Baptist himself, Nathan Cole came from a distinguished family of Baptists, his grandfather, Nathan Cole, of Carmel, Dutchess County, New York, was a life-long Baptist preacher. This devoted man was born in Plymouth Colony, in 1745, and removed to Dutchess County with his father, Elisha Cole, also a Baptist preacher, in 1747.
In 1770 Elisha Cole established the Mount Carmel Baptist Church at Carmel, Dutchess County, New York. From 1770 until 1805, this Baptist church had as its pastor, first Elisha Cole, then, in succession, Elisha's three sons, Nathan, Ebenezer and Daniel Cole. Nathan Cole died in 1805 and his tombstone may still be seen in the Carmel Baptist burying ground, upon which is written the following quaint inscription:
In memory of Elder Nathan Cole, who departed this life February 6, 1805, in the 59th year of his age.
A dying preacher I have been – Christ and His cross has been my theme; Laboring for souls for thirty years, Often warning them with tears. Today ye come my grave to view, In silence now I speak to you: Your fleeting time rolls fast away, Prepare to meet thy God today.
This Baptist preacher, Nathan Cole, served as a private soldier throughout the Revolutionary War and was with Washington at the battle of White Plains, New York. At the end of the war he returned to his church and ministry. Elder Nathan Cole was one of the charter members of the Millerton (Dutchess County, New York) Baptist Church, which was the second Baptist church established in the State of New York.
The following excerpts from a letter written by the venerable Clerk of that church, O. Wakema, referring to Elder Nathan Cole, will be of interest here:
Millerton, New York, March 28, 1892.
To Miss Clem Cole,
Dear Miss Cole:
Yours of the 24th inst. Has been handed to me this day. I cheerfully and gladly comply with your request. I have sent to Nathan Cole of St. Louis a long letter in answer to his request for a copy of my "Historical Paper" that I prepared and read the 2nd inst. It had not gone to print, hence I could only copy parts as might possibly interest him, a grandson of our Nathan Cole. In a summary way, I will state to you such facts as I have in my possession, thinking it probable you can supply the rest.
About 1745 thirty-five families, to free themselves from the "Established Church" and other sectarian persecutions and ostracisms, moved from Massachusetts to be "free to worship according to the dictates of their own consciences," without the forms of ritualism or law, and there settled, and, in 1751, November 6th, nine men organized a church, drew their articles of faith, etc., signed them with their own hand, and, in 1753, built a house of worship, ordained Rev. Simon Dakin to the ministry, who remained their minister and pastor until 1803, when he "fell asleep" with armour on.
In 1772 the church licensed Nathan Cole, who was a very eminent and zealous Christian gentleman and a man of marked ability.
In 1773, by reason of the same annoyances, ostracisms, etc., the church, or many of them, moved to "Spencers' Clearing" in this town, called "North East," by reason of its location; bought a large tract of land, built a church, and have remained here since. Nathan Cole was the thirteenth member recorded on the church book which I now have in my possession. Soon after, or about the time of removal here, Nathan Cole, with a number of other members, was dismissed to form another church, and he, having been ordained, became the pastor of this new church, consequently did not move to this place. This act, you can see, separated him from the church of his love and left him in Winchester County. Afterwards he came here to assist in the ordination of some deacons. From that time this church would have no record of him,. As he and his church joined the Philadelphia Association. About the same time he joined, there also joined a man by the name of Elijah Cole, but I do not know whether they were in any way related. There have been many of the Cole name living in the town since his day, but in no way related to him. I do not know of any of his descendants being in this town. I love to write or speak the name of Nathan Cole, as his connection with, and relation to, the church of my ancestry, carries with it pleasing recollections. His was a noble character and he was a true Christian gentleman. I often think that history may repeat itself, but biography ne3ver.
This church has a wonderful history, being now 138 years old. Great have been its changes and still greater the "transfers" to a Home across the Stream, and you and I can truthfully say that we have more friends on the other side than on this side of the Stream.
When this church was organized there was but one Baptist church in this State, and that at Oyster Bay, and less than fifty in the United States. Several of our members lost their lives by the Indians near where I now reside. The church was built here in 1775 and dedicated in 1776. They were true patriots, and Freedom was their watchword, and they drew their lessons from that Book, which, if believed and accepted, made them "free indeed." They feared not to array themselves in battle against the friends of the king, and, having the Bible in one hand and the musket in the other, they trusted to the "God of Justice" for success. Noble and true men were the founders of this church, and among them we proudly remember your loved ancestor, Nathan Cole. I would delight to show you our records, kept complete from 1751, but I cannot. If the paper I prepared is ever published I will remember you.
Please do not feel bashful in asking of me any favor pertaining to our dear old church. My age is such that I cannot long hope to be church clerk, but while I do, I will answer. I am 71 now and have been church clerk 35 years, and well remember this church since 1824. Thanking you for your kindly request and with kind regards, I remain,
Nathan Cole of St. Louis was descended in a direct line from distinguished Colonial ancestry, which ancestry figured prominently in the early occupation and subsequent up building of America.
Such men as Elder William Brewster, Stephen Hopkins, Governor Thomas Prince, Rev. John Mayo, Major John Freeman, Thomas Paine, Nicholas Snow and Daniel Cole, pioneers of the Plymouth Colony, were all direct ancestors of Nathan Cole.
Daniel Cole, the earliest direct ancestor of Nathan Cole of St. Louis, Missouri, to arrive in America, landed at Plymouth in 1633, coming over with William Collier. Daniel Cole was the founder of the family from which, in direct line, Nathan Cole of St. Louis came.
The brief genealogical tree is as follows:
1- Daniel, the immigrant
2- William, born 1663, Eastham, Massachusetts
3- Elisha, born 1689, Eastham, Massachusetts
4- Elisha, born 1717, Eastham, Massachusetts
5- Nathan, born 1744, Plymouth, Colony.
6- Nathan, born 1783, Dutchess County, New York
7- Nathan, born 1825, St. Louis, Missouri
Elisha (four) moved to Dutchess County, New York, in 1747, taking with him his son, Nathan (fifth). Nathan (Sixth), born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1783, removed to Seneca County, New York, 1804. Afterwards this same Nathan Cole removed from New York State to St. Louis, Missouri, in 1821.
Elisha (four) was engaged in what is known as the "Pendergrast Rebellion" in Dutchess County, New York (1766). This Elisha Cole also served in the Revolutionary Army, together with four sons and one grandson, of whom the most conspicuous was Elder Nathan (fifth), the Baptist preacher, grandfather of the subject of this sketch.
In 1843 Nathan Cole of St. Louis entered commercial life as a clerk in Runion's Iron Store. When the great fire of 1847 devastated the business district of St. Louis, Nathan Cole was still in Mr. Runion's employ. About this time, however, he entered the service of W. L. Ewing, then the most prominent wholesale grocer in the Mississippi Valley. Early in the 50's Nathan Cole became a partner in the firm of W. L. Ewing and Company, in which firm he remained as an active partner until shortly after the breaking out of the Civil War, when he established, in connection with his brother, Herman C. Cole of Chester, Illinois, the commercial house form many years known as Cole Bros. Later Herman C. Cole withdrew from the firm, and the business was then incorporated under the name of Cole Commission Company.
In 1895 the business of the Cole Commission Company was discontinued, and shortly thereafter the Nathan Cole Investment Company was organized, whose president, Nathan Cole became, remaining such until his death. This company still continues, being administered by his sons.
Nathan Cole was one of the founders of the Bank of Commerce, now the National Bank of Commerce in St. Louis, and for 45 years was a director of this most of this great financial institution, being its vice-president most of that time. For many years he was president of the Wabash, Chester and Western Railroad Company. He was one of the founders of the Covenant Mutual Life Insurance Company, the American Central Fire Insurance Company, and was a stockholder and director in many commercial, financial and industrial institutions connected with the up building of St. Louis.
In 1869 he was elected Mayor of St. Louis, serving one term; in 1875 he was elected president of the Merchants Exchange of St. Louis. He was elected to Congress, serving one term, from the Second-now the Tenth-- District, of Missouri to the Republican National Convention at Minneapolis, where Benjamin Harrison was re-nominated for the Presidency. As a member of Congress, he was thrown into intimate association with James G. Blaine, James A. Garfield, William McKinley and Thomas B. Reed.
While Nathan Cole was a Southern man by birth and environment, in early manhood he was a Whig in politics, was opposed to secession and did not believe in the Institution of Slavery. Upon the conclusion of the Civil War, he favored the removal of all political disabilities from the Southern soldiers and sympathizers, advocated fair consideration of all Southern claims for the destruction of property during the Civil War, and believed in pensioning Southern soldiers as well as Northern, giving as a reason for such course, that this recognition of the Southern soldier would have a tendency to remove the bitterness of the strife, thus speedily reuniting the North and South in the bonds of amity and friendship.
Nathan Cole was married to Rebecca Lane Fagin, January 30, 1851, at the residence of the bride's father, Aaron W. Fagin, on Olive Street between Tenth and Eleventh Streets in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The ceremony was performed by the Rev. J. B. Jeter, then pastor of the Second Baptist Church of St. Louis. This was a notable wedding in those days, for 62 years ago Olive Street was the fashionable residence street of St. Louis. Miss Rebecca Lane Fagin was a prosperous miller, and Nathan Cole was a rising young merchant, with hosts of friends and, even then, in his 25th year, pointed out by his fellows as a young man of great promise. The bride was only nineteen years old, for in those days they married early, but she knew how to sew, cook and keep the house, besides, she had been educated in the schools of St. Louis and had finished her education at Monticello Seminary, that well known young ladies school at Godfrey, Illinois. The Fagins were of good family and were members of the Second Baptist Church, where Nathan Cole first saw Rebecca Fagin over the back of a high pew, for they had high pews in those days as well as blushing girls and love-sick young men. On her mother's side Rebecca Fagin was a Bradbury and descendant of the Bradburys of Colonial days. Rebecca Lane Fagin was also a direct descendant of Robert Picke of Salem, Massachusetts, celebrated in colonial times for his masterly defense of the Salem witches, of whom Mary Bradbury, a relative, was one.
Nathan Cole and Rebecca Fagin Cole lived happily together for fifty-three years. They lived to celebrate their silver and also their golden wedding. Both occasions were memorable affairs. At the golden wedding more than 5,000 invitations were issued and all St. Louis was interested in the event.
Eleven children were born to Nathan Cole and Rebecca Fagin Cole: Sarah Bradbury, born December 30, 1851, died December 9, 1854; Burtena Scott Cole, born August 13, 1853, died December, 1854; Amedee Berthold cole, born September 21, 1855; Henry Ernest Cole, born December 9, 1857; Nathan Cole, Jr., born March 16, 1860; Rebecca Genevieve Cole, born July 2, 1863, died May 17, 1868; Hallie Rachel Cole, born May 17, 1864; Richard Hood Cole, born November 13, 1866; Reba Lane Cole, born December 1, 1868; Herman Camp Cole, born May 25, 1871; Percival Victor Cole, born May 25, 1874, died June 26 1901.
Of the children of Nathan Cole, these survive: Amedee Berthold Cole, Ernest Henry Cole, Nathan Cole, Jr., Hallie Cole Herbert, Richard Hood Cole, Rebecca Lane Cole Stiles and Herman Camp Cole.
Nathan Cole was a man of keen mentality and great business capacity. His grasp of church, political and business affairs lasted to the end of his life. His penmanship was almost perfect, and his diction remarkable. He was a forceful and able public speaker, and possessed of pleasing and captivating address. All through his life he was recognized as one of the best story tellers in St. Louis and his stories possessed the merit of being clean and wholesome. His smile was contagious, and the warmth of his greeting was genuine and sincere. He lived a simple and temperate life, free from illness or accident, and just before his death, was pronounced by physicians to be physically perfect, without a scratch or blemish or even an unsound tooth to mar or disfigure him.
Nathan Cole's life, his business career and public service, are all part of the history of St. Louis, his native city, and Missouri, his native State. It is difficult to express the full character and meaning of this good man's life in a brief biography. He was beloved by his wife and children, respected by his neighbors, honored by his fellow citizens. He occupied a high position as a merchant and banker and his name was a synonym for all those attributes which go to make up the character of a thoroughly upright man.
His career as a member of the Second Baptist Church of St. Louis and his life as a Christian gentleman and benevolent citizen, are an open page in the religious and charitable annals of the city of St. Louis and the State of Missouri. He lived a long and useful life, and the fruits of his living are preserved in the memories of those who knew him and loved him-- and in their children's memories.
Nature is often called an impartial divinity, and is more often represented as dealing out to her passive subjects the characteristics and conditions which, if properly employed, will lead them on toward their greatest possible success. However this may be, one must know that natal conditions, though beneficent, are often and very early warped from their favorable tendency. But if we be often compelled to note the failure of what were deemed promising omens in youth to produce the legitimate manhood, it is gratifying to note the cases in which the conditions of parentage and training serve rather to strengthen the belief that "blood will tell." The noble man to the outlining of whose life our pen is a willing agent was one of those inspiring examples.
William Renfro Rothwell was born in Garrard County, Kentucky, September 2, 1831. His parents, Dr. John Rothwell and China Renfro Rothwell, though residents in Kentucky, were Virginians by birth, having taken the westward trail in the early days of their married life. They were consistent members of the Old School Baptist Church, and in the unswerving rectitude of their daily lives, manifested much of the rigidity of uprightness that is the natural outgrowth of rigidity of doctrine.
When the boy was but seven weeks old, the family removed to Missouri and settled in Callaway County. Here the parents at once united with the Older Cedar Church at Stephens Store, and remained members thereof until their earthly pilgrimage was over.
The sturdy type of the man- and womanhood that united in giving him his existence, the subsequent conditions of his up-bringing, and his own acceptance of these healthful influences, conspired to make his life a corroborating example of the principle mentioned above.
He grew up in the health- giving atmosphere of a large and well-ordered family in the early half of the Nineteenth Century, before the conventionality of the later period had taken the heart out of the community life. The children of those days had not learned that it was the proper thing to be other than considerate of the admonitions of their elders, and were held strictly amenable to discipline when errant in tendency. His parents were of the noble type, whose rule was kindness, but whose will was law.
When he was a lad the efficient public schools of the present day did not exist, and popular education, such as it then was, had not found its way into the sparsely settled regions of the West. He gained his elementary education in one of the private schools that were then found in prosperous centers, and were often marvels of efficient pedagogical work.
At twenty years of age he entered the Missouri State University and completed the course of study leading to the Bachelor's Degree. His superior scholarship won him the honor of Valedictorian on the day of his graduation. This address, a copy of which is now in the archives of the Missouri Baptist Historical Society, was strongly suggestive in thought and diction of the after-excellence of Dr. Rothwell's literary productions. In 1856 the University gave him the Master’s Degree, in recognition of his excellent promise of superior usefulness. Still later, in 1874, when he had gained prominence in ecclesiastical scholarship, the same institution conferred upon him – pro honore – the Degree of Doctor of Divinity.
During his period at the University, October, 18536, he was converted, joined the Baptist Church in Columbia, Missouri, and was baptized by the Rev. Tyree C. Harris. Thus has the disintegration of the Old School Baptist ranks been going on during a century of church life—children of Old School parents joining the ranks of the Missionary Baptists, until the latter have become a mighty host, and the former a dwindling body of a few thousands.
Immediately after leaving the University, Mr. Rothwell entered the profession that he so signally adorned in later years. His first experience as teacher was had in Elm Ridgte Academy, Howard County, 1854-1856. Here his success was such that the Board of Curators of Baptist College (now Stephens), Columbia, Missouri, elected him president of the institution. At the end of one year he resigned this position to accept what then appeared a position of greater responsibility and honor, the presidency of Mount Pleasant College at Huntsville, Missouri, as successor to the princely orator and teacher, Rev. William Thompson, who had been called to the presidency of William Jewell College.
About this time Prof. Rothwell took to wife, Miss Maria Louisa Hughes, daughter of Allan and Malvina Hughes, Fayette, Missouri. This happy union lasted four years, when the devoted wife died, leaving a young son, now Dr. John Hughes Rothwell, a prominent physician of Liberty, Missouri. In 1863 Prof. Rothwell was married the second time, and Miss Frances A. Pitts, daughter of Rev. Y. R. Pitts, Elmwood, Howard County, Missouri, became his wife. She and one son, Younger Pitts Rothwell, Esq., of California, still live.
Like many earnest hearted Christian young men, he was early inclined toward the holier calling of the gospel ministry. This earnest inclination soon grew into the consciousness that he was the subject of a divine call, and he responded, "Here am I." He was set apart for this sacred mission, October, 1861, in ordination, by a presbytery over which his friend for many years, Rev. Noah Flood, presided.
His first pastorate was at Huntsville, Missouri, where he performed the manifold duties of the double office of teacher and preacher. He was later pastor at Keytesville, Missouri, and other points.
In 1871 and 1872 he filled the responsible office of Corresponding Secretary for the Baptist General Association. In 1872 he was elected Professor of Theology and Moral Philosophy by the Board of Trustees of William Jewell College, which position he held until he was called to his Home on High.
In the years intervening between the resignation of Dr. Thomas Rambaut from the presidency of William Jewell College till the board filled that office again in the election of Dr. John Priest Greene, the duties pertaining to the presidential office were performed, as well as they could be, by persons chosen from the faculty of the College. He was selected to fill this onerous and responsible position, and performed its duties, as he had always done in every place of trust that he had occupied, in such a manner as to leave nothing further to be desired. In 1883, on account of failing health, he was released from the responsibilities of this office, which he had so willingly borne for ten years, and from that time to 1898 he served the College in the single capacity of Professor of Theology and Moral Philosophy, with unabated zeal and efficiency,l though at times his health was in a precarious condition.
In his office as Professor of Theology, the supervision of the work of the Board of Ministerial Education, of which board he was president, was a part of his duty, and he was enabled to witness the result of his wise administration in a Theological Department of the College of greatly increased scope, and an increase in enrollment of over 400 per cent.
In the later years of his life the health and vigor of his earlier years seemed to return, and he was the busy and hopeful author of many articles on the subject of Remaining Young Through Advancing Years. His short illness, followed by sudden and unlooked-for death on December 28,1898, gave striking emphasis to the epigram, "In the midst of life, we are in death."
Dr. Rothwell's character was like a finely cut diamond-- every facet shooting forth rays of light.
In physical form and feature, his upright bearing and agile appearance suggested at once that he must have within him a strong admixture of the best Indian blood. We do not know that the true conditions of his descent justify this thought, but it is not implausible.
His belief in the benefits to be derived from physical training amounted almost to a religion. We have seen him when lecturing to the young men at college on the necessity of their maintaining the suppleness of their muscles and the flexibility of their joints, smite the backs of his hands together straight behind his shoulders. This, at sixty-five years of age, and there was not a man, young or old, in his presence, who could accomplish this feat.
His intellect was alert, keen and sensitive. We have heard that his pulpit ministrations were edifying and inspiring. We know that, in his impromptu prayer-meeting talks, words literally poured from his lips in torrents of inspired eloquence. Some of us who have listened to gifted men in impromptu addresses, feel that we never heard any one who so invincibly spoke as though his lips had just been touched with a live coal from the altar. Such was his discourse in his classroom that, while he always aroused interest by the brightness of his thought, he at the same time commanded admiration for the profundity of his scholarship.
His felicity of expression, the virility of his thought and his power of argument, are best considered in his published works. They are, "Reading the Scriptures," and "Denominational Self-Examination," a treatise on Baptist doctrine and polity.
His charity seemed boundless. In dispensing discipline, as a member of the faculty, he considered, if possible, those upon whom his disapproval must rest, as unfortunate rather than guilty; as thoughtless rather than sinful.
There are certain traits of true gentlemanhood that external polish cannot intensify, nor want of it obscure. Lacking them-- the manifestations of innate lordiness-- the courtier is but a gilded boor; possessing them, the rustic is a prince. These are a spirit of charitableness for the failings of others; slowness to take offense at the inconsiderate acts of the thoughtless; kindly thoughtfulness when the feelings of others may be involved; purity in thought and life; the disposition, out of regard to others, to keep one's own feelings or prejudices in abeyance. In all these, as we have known him, Dr. Rothwell stood pre-eminent.
In his elevation of character he seemed seldom to touch ground. Though disappointment, sorrow and trouble at times bore heavily upon him, to his friends he presented the same joyous buoyancy of spirit, as when not so oppressed. When not debilitated by physical weakness, he always walked the streets with the springing gait of a happy man, radiating sunshine for all. His gentlemanly Christian equipoise seemed always to be unassailable. He died as he had lived, giving his earnest thought for the comfort of those surrounding him.