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.
Benjamin Franklin Edwards was born in Bardstown, Maryland, on the second day of July, 1797. His father, Benjamin Edwards, was at one time a member of Congress from Maryland, and was, also a member of the convention that ratified the Federal Constitution—a lawyer, and a man of unusual eloquence. From the meager data at hand this is all that can be learned of his antecedents. But the sons, as known in the early history of Illinois, needed not the prestige of distinguished ancestry to pronounce them men of distinction. His Excellency, Ninian Edwards, governor of Illinois; Hon. Cyrus, representative of his part of the state in its Legislature, and Dr. B. F. Edwards, the subject of this sketch, were sufficiently distinguished to reflect honor upon their ancestry if it were needed. In 1800 his parents removed to Bardstown, Kentucky. He dwelt with his father and family till 1820. After having completed his education, which involved, beside a thorough literary course, a thorough preparation for the practice of medicine, in the duties of which he subsequently became noted.
In 1819, he married Miss Eliza Green, of Danville, Kentucky, and in the following year moved to Illinois, but at the expiration of one year returned to Kentucky and made his home at Russellville, and here established himself in the practice of medicine. In 1827 he again moved to Illinois and settled in Edwardsville, a town deriving its name from his distinguished brother, His Excellency, the governor. His skill as a physician soon became known and the region of his practice became so wide-spread that to respond to the remotest calls for his services, he was obliged to employ relays of horses. In a few years, wishing to concentrate his work as he could not do in a village, he removed to Alton, the metropolis of the county. Here he dwelt and labored, adding success to success till 1845, when the alluring prospects of a city practice led him to St. Louis, Missouri. His reputation as a physician followed him and he immediately entered upon a large practice. In 1849 he left his lucrative practice and spent two years in the state of California, lured thither by the golden prospects that the state held forth to adventurers of that period, but soon returned to the practice of his profession in St. Louis. In 1865 he purchased a beautiful home in the suburban town of Kirkwood, St. Louis County, and there established his growing family where they could enjoy the peace and comfort of a semi-rural life. Here he dwelt to the end of his lie. His wife, the loving mother of his ten children, preceded him by six months to the heavenly home. Here his wanderings cease, and after the name, Kirkwood, he could with poetic propriety have written—"Alabama, here we rest." Let us now turn to the more interesting and instructive record of his life as a Christian. When twenty years of age he was converted and united with the Baptist Church at Bardstown, Kentucky. His conversion was one that we old-fashioned people love to speak of reminiscently as an old-fashioned conversion, the definitive meaning of which is, a thorough turning around. He welcomed the change in his life as one involving a new and sacred allegiance, new and sacred duties, and he entered at once upon that Christian activity that was a marked characteristic of his entire subsequent life. The knowledge of his earlier life in Illinois comes to me from family traditions. From 1839, while he was still a resident in Edwardsville, to 1845, when he left the state to take up his residence in St. Louis, Missouri, his name was almost a household word in my father’s family. My eldest brother and sister when they first left home, the one to take his initial steps in the life of a young business man, the other to attend school, fell under his influence, and were treated with almost parental care. This kindness was reciprocated later, when Dr. Edwards’s youngest son of about fourteen years of age was taken into our family to be inducted into the wholesome life of the farm. Dr. Edwards was associated with Elder J. M. Peck in organizing the first Association of Baptist Churches in Illinois. There is a tradition, thought by many to be founded upon fact, that he was instrumental in organizing the first Baptist Church in the state that was pledged to the support of missions and Sunday-schools. The facts are as follows: When Dr. Edwards brought his family from Kentucky for the second time, he settled in Edwardsville in March, 1827. On the 18th day of April, 1828, the Baptist Church of Edwardsville was organized in his parlor. If there be any lapse from the principles of good taste in the following personal item, I hope it will be excused as it involves the source of a little family pride, but an item of denominational history, as well. In 1827, nearly one year previous to the organization of the Edwardsville Church, my mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Harris Rider, and her maiden sister, Miss Phoebe Harris, with the heads of two other families, six persons, united in organizing the first missionary church of Carrollton, Greene County, Illinois. In the movement, my mother was the leading spirit, and the circumstances were as follows: My mother and aunt were Welsh Baptists, the daughters of a Welsh Baptist Minister; my father was not yet a professing Christian. When the family settled in Carrollton, it was found that there was no Missionary Baptist Church in the village, and rather than remain on the outside my mother and aunt joined the anti-mission church. They soon found that they could not hold their missionary principles in peace, and as they were not willing to renounce them, they were disfellowshipped, and as soon as they found a sufficient number in harmony with them they decided to organize a church of their own faith and order, and the First Baptist Church of Carrollton was the result. So if to either of these two churches belongs the honor of being the first in the state, the Carrollton church has it in fee simple. My knowledge of the early history of the Baptist denomination in Illinois is not reliable enough to enable me to remove the "if." Dr. Edwards was one of the trustees of Rock Spring Seminary, organized by Elder J. M. Peck at Rock Spring, Illinois. In a few years it became evident that the seminary could not sustain itself in its present locality and Dr. Edwards strongly favored moving to it Upper Alton. This Mr. Peck at first opposed, but finally yielded to the doctor’s arguments and the seminary was moved and eventually was saved from extinction by being merged into the noble institution now known as Shurtleff College. Wherever Dr. Edwards dwelt, his influence was at once felt in the increased activity in religious matters. So when he moved to Kirkwood, in a short time, he, finding a few Baptists there and no church organization, called these few Baptists together, and they, having prayerfully considered the matter, took immediate steps toward organizing the First Baptist Church of Kirkwood, Missouri, now (1917) known as Wetzel Memorial Baptist Church. Here his name is held in reverential esteem. He was of the faithful type of Christians upon whom the pastor could always rely. He was never absent from his place in the Sabbath services or the mid-week prayer meeting when the duties of his profession or his usually good health would allow him to be present. What he possessed of time, talent, personal influence and financial ability, all was held as in stewardship for the Lord. He died in Kirkwood, April 27, 1977, as falleth a sheaf of corn, fully ripe. No broken shaft indicative of a curtailed life should mark his final resting place, but a shaft beautifully shaped and polished to its apex, the symbol of a well-spent life of four-score years.
WILLIAM FIELDING ELLIOTT, ESQ.
Religious Activity in Missouri 1876-1901
His Wife, Mrs. Harriet Smith Elliott
William Fielding Elliott was born on his father’s farm in Boone County, Missouri, on the 4th day of May, 1837. His father was Reuben Elliott and his mother Elizabeth (Wilhite) Elliott, a sister of the pioneer preacher, Fielding Wilhite. They were both born in Kentucky and lived there until shortly after their marriage, when they came to Missouri and settled on a farm a few miles east of Rocheport in 1818, where they continued to reside during their lives. The property is now owned and occupied by their grandson, W. Fielding Angell. W. F. Elliott was the seventh of the eight children who were all born and reared on this farm, unless the first child was born before the parents settled there. He received his education in the schools near his home, the last few years of his school life (two years) being spent at Lathrop Academy and (two or three years) under the teaching of Mr. Newton Searcy Paine and two other gentlemen named Paine, all from Virginia, at Walnut Grove. At just what age he was converted or who baptized him the writer cannot state positively, but he often spoke of a great revival at Walnut Grove Church under the preaching of the distinguished and eloquent William Thompson when there was a great ingathering of young men and women. His first choice of a vocation in life was that of a physician, and, with that in view he became associated with his brother, Dr. George W. Elliott, in the drug business at Renick, Missouri, then a town of considerable importance, being the principal shipping point for a large section of the country before Moberly became a town. On the breaking out of the Civil War he threw aside his books and enlisted in the Confederate Army. Before he had seen much service, in an engagement in Southwest Missouri, his right leg was broken in two places below the knee by a spent cannon ball. It was a long time before the surgeon could give the wound any attention, and when he did examine it, said that the limb would have to be amputated. The patient refused to let this be done, although he was warned that death would be the result, and with his own hands he helped to set the bones, although the limb was by that time so swollen as to make it impossible to tell when it was properly adjusted. When he was able to be moved he was kindly nursed and cared for by a lady who refused to receive any remuneration for her services. Afterward, Mr. Elliott paid her a visit, leaving her with a memento of his appreciation and gratitude. Not long after his recovery he was married to Miss Mary McQuitty, a daughter of Mr. Daniel McQuitty, of Boone County, and a sister of Dr. Elliott’s wife. She lived only some two years. About this period of his life, Mr. Elliott was engaged in buying and shipping stock. It was while loading hogs on a car one day at Renick that he was dangerously hurt. The last hog in the lot refused to be driven into the car and persisted in running around the pen. Mr. Elliott, thinking he could succeed better on foot sprang off the gentle family horse on which he was mounted and undertook to head the hog the way he wanted it to go, but it darted under the horse, frightening it so that it kicked, striking Mr. Elliott just in front of the right ear. He was taken up for dead. His brother, Dr. Elliott, then residing at Rocheport, was sent for in haste. Coming with all possible speed he arrived in time to send a message to Dr. Gregory, a distinguished surgeon of St. Louis, so that he could come on train soon to start west. Dr. Gregory said that the only possible chance to save the life of the patient was by the operation of trepanning and that there was not more than one chance in a hundred for that to be successful. The operation was performed and the patient recovered, but the hearing of his right ear was gone forever. Mr. Elliott served four years as sheriff and collector of Randolph County, during which time he was located in Huntsville, the county seat. He was a member of the board of trustees of Mt. Pleasant College. In connection with his duties in this capacity he became acquainted with Miss Harriet Smith of Fulton, Missouri, a member of the faculty. This acquaintance resulted in their marriage on October 17, 1876. A few months before his marriage he took up his residence in Moberly and became the cashier of the Mechanics Savings Bank. Later he became the president, which position he occupied until 1894 when because of failing health he resigned and retired from business. Very soon after locating in Moberly Mr. Elliott and his wife connected themselves with the First Baptist Church of that place. As a member of this church of which he was for many years a deacon, he was ever active and interested in the work, liberal in supporting it and constant in his attendance upon all its services. Mr. Elliott was from this time on connected with the Baptist work in the state, being a member of the State Mission Board, a member of the Financial Board of William Jewell College and of the Board of the Missouri Baptist Sanitarium, after that institution was created. One of Mr. Elliott’s prominent characteristics was alertness. He was quick to take in a situation and quick to decide what ought to be done or not be done and equally quick to act. This trait sometimes led to his being misunderstood by persons whose mental processes were slower. It was this expressed in his face that never was shown in any picture of him, so that his pictures were never quite satisfying to intimate friends. A strong point in Mr. Elliott’s character was his courage in facing and undertaking an unpleasant duty. To illustrate: Once when he was a member of the local school board it was mainly because of his recommendation that a certain teacher was employed. It developed later that while she was capable and efficient in many ways there were things connected with her management that the board felt they could not tolerate and they were in great trouble as to how to meet the difficulty. But not so Mr. Elliott. He sought a private interview with the lady and plainly but kindly laid the matter before her and asked her to resign. She knew it had been because of his recommendation that she was employed. She appreciated his candor and his kindness and resigned the place without making any trouble. When an unpleasant duty confronted him he never delayed or shirked. But he was exceedingly kind. He was quick to notice anyone in need of help and to give the needed assistance in a tactful way. In traveling, if he noticed a person who was evidently unused to travel or confused or in need of help, he could and did always give aid in such a way as to give no offense. Nothing aroused his indignation more than to see a poorly dressed or ignorant person treated with disdain or humiliated in any way. His family life was most beautiful. His aged mother-in-law, who made her home in his house for many years, loved him as if he had been her own son, as well she might, for not many sons are so thoughtful and considerate as he was. It was a habit with him to go to her room after returning from church on Sunday to tell her about the sermon and anything else of interest. His love and reverence for his own mother was deep and abiding. One who has read the sketch of his parents, prepared by him and published in Brother Ely’s "Sacred Memorials" (p. 136) would not fail to notice this. He was greatly beloved by his relations, to whom he was generous and kind. Indeed, he was beloved by all who knew him well. His home was the stopping place for all Baptist wayfarers in their journeys to and from appointments and of the agents of the various departments of denominational work or of those temporarily stopping in the place. W. F. Elliott departed this life May 18, 1901, after a lingering illness and his body rests in Oakland Cemetery, Moberly, Missouri.
When W. F. Elliott came to Randolph County, he at once allied himself with the Baptist workers of Mt. Pleasant Association, and from that time till his death his influence was felt in the deliberations of the Association. He was a man who believed that when there was anything to be done, it ought to be done promptly, even if it was the Lord’s business. He was soon given place on the most important Committees of the associational work, financial, educational, missionary, and that pertaining to Sunday Schools. We copy from one of his reports as Chairman of the Committee on Education, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Mt. Pleasant College: "In reference to the debt on the College, the association has been very negligent. This debt might have been paid years ago. It was contracted on the motion of the association, and the body has repeatedly acknowledged its obligation for it. The time for talking has past. We must act now or never. The brethren of Huntsville have done nobly, but they cannot do all. There yet remains the sum of $3,000 to be raised outside of Huntsville, and his can be raised in three months with the aid of the association." The debt was paid before the next meeting of the Association, and the College was saved from the stigma of a foreclosure of mortgage. The scope of his interest in the associational work will be recognized when it is shown that for the twenty-five years or more that he labored with the Association he was prominent in his efforts to advance the cause of Missions, Foreign, Home, State and District. All missionary work was missionary to him. Sunday Schools, Women’s Work, and the St. Louis Baptist Sanitarium, all demanded the interest that his ability would allow. For several years he was Clerk of the Association and from the years 1897 to his death in 1901, he was Moderator. For many years he was a member of the Executive Board of the General Association. In 1892 he was elected President of the Board to succeed Governor C. H. Hardin, lately deceased. This office he held until 1896, when, on account of ill health, he declined to be again elected. Dr. W. Pope Yeaman in his History of the Missouri Baptist General Association gives an eloquent record of Bro. Elliott’s usefulness in the various public interests of the Denomination in Missouri. He says: "He filled the office with great fidelity and efficiency. He brought to bear in his discharge of his duties to the board and the General Association his long and intelligent experience as a civil officer and banker, and, now, though retired from active business, he devoted much attention to church interests, and as a member of the board and chief committees of William Jewell College and President of the Ministers’ Air Society, he is devoted to the duties of his office. In all the general councils of the denomination in the state, he is an earnest and intelligent worker, and is deservedly honored with the esteem of his brethren." He is spoken of as Brother Elliott of blessed memory.
J. J. Felts was the son of Rev. J. Henry and Patsy Simmons Felts. Rev. James Henry Felts, the father, was for many years a consecrated pastor of Baptist churches in Logan and adjoining counties in Kentucky. Rev. Dr. J. H. Spencer, in "The History of Kentucky Baptists," writes of Rev. J. H. Felts: "He was not what is denominated a brilliant preacher, but he possessed a clear knowledge of Bible doctrine and was steadfast in the faith and was a good practical religious teacher. In addition to these qualities, and more able than they all, he lived a godly life and bequeathed to his survivors a spotless Christian character." The churches to which the elder Felts ministered, frequently without a salary, grew steadily in numbers and in the elements of Christian living. The church named Center, near Russellville, Kentucky, close to which the family resided, and which was the Christian home of the family, was served for many years by the father, and here the son was converted, baptized and in due time ordained to the work of the ministry. J. J. Felts was born in Logan County, Kentucky, December 25, 1832. He was educated in the common schools of Kentucky and at Bethel College, at Russellville, Kentucky. At Bethel College he was under the teaching of men of culture and piety. Rev. W. W. Gardner, of blessed memory among Kentucky Baptists, was his teacher in Bible doctrine. And those who knew the teacher are not surprised that all his pupils left college well grounded in the essential principles of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus. Another instructor of Brother Felts at Bethel College was Prof. James H. Fuqua, who in 1916 wrote of J. J. Felts, "he impressed me very favorably by his earnest and efficient work as student and his remarkable zeal and piety as a Christian." That both the faculty and trustees of this institution had great respect for the subject of this sketch was shown in that while he was yet a student he was sent to visit associations and churches in all the Green River County" of the State as representative of his alma mater. He secured for the school students and gathered money to assist those preparing for the ministry to complete their preparation for their life work. It was while he was engaged in this work that the writer of this sketch first met him and heard him present the work of the college. He also preached to my people and gave them in good plain sensible English a very pleasing message taken directly from the Bible. After the completion of his studies in Bethel College Mr. Felts served as pastor of several churches in Kentucky at Ray, Union Church in Logan County, and at Danville. He came to Missouri just after the Civil War, making this his adopted state, although he never lost his devotion for his native commonwealth. He held several pastorates in Missouri, preaching at Pleasant Ridge and at Platte City, both in Platte County. He also held the pastorate of Kearney, in Clay County. He moved to Atlanta, Georgia, in the eighties and was pastor of the Indian Creek Church near Atlanta. In 1887 he moved to the state of Arkansas and became the pastor of the Nashville and Center Point churches, the latter being the county seat of Howard County. He returned to Missouri in 1889, locating in the northwest section of the state. The chief work of his long and useful life was given to Missouri. The words of the Lord to the messengers sent to him by John the Baptist, "The poor have the Gospel preached to them," held their full force in his heart. He therefore did not confine his ministry to the churches that gave some financial support. Though his salary was never large he found time and made opportunities to go to destitute localities and preach the "glorious Gospel of the blessed God." His labors were chiefly in the northwest part of the state. His home, for years was in Liberty, the college town of Missouri Baptists. And here he was loved and revered by the citizens generally as well as by the faculty and students of William Jewell College. On all fields where he preached he was the instrument of leading many souls to the Christ. This was the joy of his heart and gave him in the last year or more of his life, while too feeble to preach, the consolation that he had not lived in vain. While Brother J. J. Felts had sufficient education, refinement and culture to give him access to the best homes on fields where he labored, yet he quite frequently led forlorn hopes. He did not "consult with flesh and blood" when the call of duty sounded in his ear, but his heart responded, "here am I, send me." And he went and God blessed his labors. He was able to resuscitate churches that were almost ready to disband and to re-establish the cause where to human strength it seemed hopeless. He was a man of faith and proved his faith by his works. Mr. Felts was twice married. April 4, 1871, he married Miss Hope Slaughter, of Platte County, Missouri. To this union four daughters were born: Lena, Patsy, Nannie and Jane. The wife and mother died on March 9, 1881. Seven years later he married Miss Anna Reddick, September 18, 1888. And on through the following years their lives went happily together, she being his devoted and helpful companion and a loving and helpful mother to his children. He moved to Liberty to educate his daughters. During his years in Liberty he was a friend and helper and inspiration to many William Jewell men, some of whom resided in his home and considered him as a father. Since his death his widow has continued the habit of assisting worthy young men through college. Brother Felts was a good man. He lived up to the full measure of his responsibility and served the Lord Jesus with all his strength. He was a prohibitionist all his life. He was never in a saloon but on one occasion, and that was to preach a funeral sermon. In conversation, in manner of living, whether in the home or among the people, he was the same sincere, upright and manly Christian. The influence of such a life will continue to do good long after the tired body rests in the grave. On the 26th day of November, 1913, he heard the call to leave the cross, to lay down the armor of his Christian warfare and to receive the crown, with his many stars, and to enter upon the glory life. That he was ready for the change and that he entered the "joy of the Lord" admits of no doubt to any who knew how closely he lived to the Lord and how lovingly he served the Master who redeemed his soul by the price of His own blood. The funeral services were conducted by his pastor, Rev. Harry A. Bagby of Liberty, assisted by Rev. Ferd L. Alexander, now pastor of Holden Baptist Church. Brother Alexander pays this tribute: "As a preacher Brother Felts was eminently scriptural. He believed the Bible, all of it, to be the inspired word of God, and he believed it with all his soul, and he loved to preach it. He was evangelistic in his temperament and many souls were led to Jesus through his ministry. Many churches of Northwest Missouri were greatly strengthened through his warm hearted, faithful preaching and many in these churches are now the strong men and women who were led to Jesus through his preaching and ministry." Dr. W. A. Crouch writes: "As a preacher Brother Felts had one predominating passion, and that passion was to present to his hearers the glorious gospel of the grace of God. As he meditated upon that wondrous theme his whole personality was to the highest degree of physical, mental, moral and spiritual tension, and every word and every action glowed with the intense heat of the molten metal as he sought to give it proper form and measure to those who had come to hear his message. He was no trimmer. He diluted nothing, extracted nothing, added nothing of bitter or sweet to suit either cultivated or perverted taste of his hearers. He had no human dynamic to add to the gospel to give it potency, for, to him, it was ‘the power of God unto salvation.’ Brother Felts was destitute of sensationalism. He was no gospel angler fishing with a painted fly, but offered eternal verities. His preaching was foundational and constructive." With the tribute of his widow I close: "He was a grand, good man. I cannot express his worth to me and to the world. Many rise up and call him blessed, for he led many to the Savior." Of his daughters, Miss Jennie alone remains to love and cherish his memory.
In every part of the state Missouri Baptists have been blessed in the services given by pious laymen. In this respect that part of the state including Daviess and adjoining counties, was not behind other sections. There are many men whose lives have been given to the churches as well as to successful handling of secular and financial affairs. In the various professions and in every line of honorable business these men may be found. And with no thought of invidious comparison, it must be said that many of them were farmers. There are farmers who do not permit themselves to cultivate their minds by contact with the best literature of their times, but there are others who are no less assiduous in business who keep abreast with the best thoughts of the age. Among those who, with purposes to attain to the best that life offers and who at the same time communed with the Great Author of all good, and who kept in active exercise the higher endowments of the brain and heart, mention should be made of Gabriel Fuert. This name, of French or German origin, is pronounced Fort, and the judge once said to me that he regretted that before he secured any land titles he had not changed the spelling to Fort. Gabriel Fuert was born in Scioto County, Ohio, July 3, 1827. When he was 18 years of age, that is, in 1845, he came to Missouri. From that time forward to the end of his long life, his home was in Daviess County. In a few years he became owner of 800 aces of good tillable and pasture lands and by crop raising and attention to high grade horses, cattle and other valuable animals he gained wide reputation as a successful farmer. He was converted in early life and united with the Grand River Baptist Church. Afterward he was one of four constituent members who organized the Hickory Creek Baptist Church, of which he remained a member until the end of his life. His sincere piety and active participation in all the duties of church membership caused him to be chosen as a deacon and he "Used the office well and so purchased to himself a good degree and great boldness in the faith." In 1848 he was joined in marriage to Miss Sarah Glaze, who became the mother of his ten children, seven of whom survive the father. The clear, vigorous mind of Mr. Fuert was recognized, not only in his religious life, but also by the public at large. He was elected justice of the peace, and then became presiding judge of the county. He was able in the latter office so to control the revenues of the county as to put all its affairs upon sound and safe business principles. Every one knew there would be no "graft" while Judge Fuert was at the helm. He was not only presiding justice of the county for eight years, but also served one term as county treasurer. No official position, no matter how arduous the duties, caused him to forget his obligation to the church of the Lord Jesus. He served for years as trustee of Grand River College. When the General Association of Missouri Baptists appointed a Board of Education to take the general oversight of all the Baptist schools, both male and female, and bring about harmony and co-operation in the denominational school work, Judge Fuert was chosen a member of this board. Here, as everywhere, he was true to the trust reposed in him. The following quotation is taken from the Gallatin North Missourian of February 22, 1912:
"Judge Gabriel Fuert departed this life at his home in Gallatin early on Monday morning (2:30 o’clock), February 19, 1912; aged 84 years, 8 months and 3 days.
"Last July Judge Fuert suffered a paralytic stroke, from which he partially recovered, and until recently, whenever the weather was at all favorable, his familiar figure could be seen each day on our streets, riding in a buggy, or stopping here and there chatting with his friends whose name is legion. Several times he had sinking spells, but each time rallying until last Monday morning. For three days past his heart, which had become very weak, was kept beating by administering stimulants.
"We have never met a more genial man than Judge Fuert. He was ever courteous and cordial. A man of strong intellect, a man of strictest integrity, a Christian man, a man so considerate and companionable, we always felt in his presence an uplift that meant much.
"He ever looked on the bright side of life, and was proverbial for his sunshiny disposition. Truly his life was a benediction to his fellow men. All of us will miss Judge Fuert very much indeed. He was one of the few men who knew how to grow old gracefully, in fact, he was all the while young in spirit. The loss of him is well nigh irreparable. His life ws an example that all may well strive to emulate. He possessed all the admirable qualities of the sturdy peioneer, plus the polish which comes from the culture of the right type—that which made Judge Fuert the great commoner that he was. The body was taken Monday evening to Jameson, and on the following day was conveyed to Hickory Creek Church, Judge Fuert’s old home church, which was always so close to his heart.
"The funeral services were conducted by Rev. D. C. Campbell of King City, who had married the Judge to his second wife."
His first wife having passed away, he was married to Mrs. S. J. Brown, Dec. 1st, 1905, who survives him.
The youngest daughter is the wife of Rev. F. Y. Campbell, one of the leading Baptist pastors of the State, now located (1912) at Cape Girardeau.
In the History of Daviess County it is said: "Judge Fuert is one of the most valuable and prominent citizens in Daviess County. The well known qualities of truth, justice and probity which have characterized his course through life have endeared him to the people of the whole county and place his name high upon the scroll of those whom they have honored with their suffrage."
The subject of this sketch was born on a farm April 1, 1833, six miles east of the city of Indianapolis, in the state of Indiana. His parents, James L. and Nancy Furgason, were stanch Baptists and proved patriots as shown by naming their son for one of the bravest of the defenders of the independence of the American Colonies.
Having received all the educational advantages of the local schools, he was sent when 18 years of age to Franklin College in his native state.
This was then as now the Baptist College of Indiana. The school was, we might say, in its infancy, but was furnishing to its pupils a full collegiate course of training. The faculty was composed of a few men, who were capable teachers. Each student had all the advantages of close contact with his teachers, and every student in the smaller college learns in the years following his college days that this immediate association with his instructors has many advantages that are not found in the larger schools.
Having graduated from Franklin College in 1856, Mr. Furgason was at once employed as a teacher in his alma mater. This is proof enough that he had made good use of his time and stood high in the estimation of all his teachers. After three years he was chosen president of this college, "which place he filled, it is said, with credit to himself and to the institution, until 1867, when he gave up his college work and came to Kansas City."
At the time the Baptists of Indiana located their college at Franklin there were but few of them that were wealthy in the goods of this world. They were rich in faith and were preparing for the day when they must have an educated ministry and when there would be a demand for a well trained laity.
This college like all other denominational schools in the central portion of our great country had to pass through many struggles before it was placed upon a solid financial basis.
The time when Mr. Furgason was placed at its head was a really crisis in its history. Had it not then continued its work its life might there have ended. But he was able to tide it over that period of danger. The result is that the "Baptist Year Book" for 1911 gives the assets of the college at two hundred and fifty-two thousand dollars.
In 1856 he was married to Miss Dessie Wilson of Indianapolis. His first wife died in 1866, leaving two children, both of whom preceded their father to the home of the redeemed.
Having moved to Kansas City, Missouri, he was chosen principal of the Franklin School. He continued his connection with this school for eight years and ranked among the best teachers of the public schools of Kansas City, which have always been regarded among the best in our great country.
Immediately upon his arrival in Kansas City Mr. Furgason united with the First Baptist Church, which was then the only organization of this denomination of any strength in the city.
In 1871 the Y. M. C. A. was in great straits. The membership had been scattered and were now trying to get together and reorganize for greater usefulness. At this critical period Mr. Furgason was elected president. And now D. L. Shouse, another leading member of the First Baptist Church, offered these young men a hall rent free until they could get their organization in good working shape. And having here mentioned the name of D. L. Shouse, in connection with that of F. M. Furgason, something ore should be written of these two model church members. When the writer was pastor of this church, at a ministers’ meeting some pastor of another denomination said, "D. L. Shouse is certainly the best Sunday School Superintendent in the city. He lacks but one gift of making him absolutely perfect in his work and that is he does not sing." But then he does not need to sing for he has always at his right hand Prof. Furgason, who is one of the best leaders of church singing. And so these two make a perfect team in all work connected with our Sunday Schools.
And it is but just to add that the consistent godly lives of both these men was one of the most potent moral and religious forces of the entire city in that day.
On the 5th day of Oct, 1868, Mr. Furgason was married to Mrs. Laura Walker. This was in every way a most fortunate union. She was in all things that make human life happy and useful, a helper and an inspiration to her Christian husband. He was for many years both a Deacon and Clerk of this church.
The Blue River Baptist Association of which the churches in Kansas City are members is numerically the largest association in Missouri. And for 30 consecutive years F. M. Furgason was its Clerk and every copy of the proceeds shows care, industry and a full knowledge of the value of these historical records. When it was decided that there was need for another church in that growing city, he with a number of other strong men asked for letters of dismission from the First Church and organized the Calvary Baptist Church, which has become one of the leading churches of the city.
AN INCIDENT IN THE LIFE OF F. M. FURGASON
More than forty years ago the First Baptist Church, then owning property on the corner of May and Eighth streets, desired to sell that property and invest in another locality. It was ascertained that in order to make a clear title, they needed the signature of a man and his wife who had gone to the western border of the State of Kansas.
At the request of the Church, Mr. Furgason went to the home of these people in order to obtain the needed signature. It was not an easy journey at that early day. Going as far as he could by railroad he had to travel some distance on horseback and complete the journey in a spring wagon drawn by a team of horses. He found this man to be highly educated, but a boasting infidel. He did not believe the Bible to be an inspired book and loved to have an opportunity to proclaim his views. Mr. Furgason engaged in no argument with him, but seeing a violin in the home he inquired of the man if he played the violin and said if you do I would love to hear some music. The man was seemingly glad to display his musical ability. When the hose had shown his skill Mr. Furgason said, let me take the violin, and the result was that the man confessed to a friend afterward that he was ashamed that he had attempted to play before such a skillful musician. When the hour came for retirement Mr. Furgason asked the man and his wife if they "liked singing." He told them a new song was just being sung and if they would like to hear it he would sign it for them. They assured him they would be delighted to have him sign it for them.
The hymn which he sang (then new) was the "Ninety and Nine." They were so pleased with this song that they asked him to repeat it, which, of course, he was glad to do. This song was blessed of the Lord to the awakening of an interest in the whole family that deepened and widened until they all became earnest Christians. Some years after their conversion the family visited Kansas City. They inquired of Mrs. George Wheeler (to whom we are indebted for the record of this event in the life of Mr. Furgason) where they could find Mr. Furgason. She told them that any time Calvary Church doors were open they would find him inside somewhere. And accordingly on Sunday morning they were introduced to the man they were anxious to meet again—the man they regarded as their spiritual father. The event, so important in the lives of this family, was recalled and that night when they first heard the "Ninety and Nine," in their home upon the western frontier, came back to them as the beginning of their new life. The hymns for that day’s service had been selected, but a change was made so that these people might again hear that song that the Lord had used to bring them into the Kingdom of Heaven.
In 1873 Mr. Furgason gave up teaching and engaged in the business of insurance. He and Jonathan Ford formed a partnership, and became the agents of a large number of the most substantial companies of the United States. This partnership was dissolved by the death of Mr. Ford after a number of years. After this sad event Willis C. Tabb became Furgason’s partner, and the business was continued under the firm name of Furgason and Tabb.
While there was always a great rush of business in Kansas City, there was also much needed of help to be given to many unfortunates, who from various causes were unable to secure for their families the necessaries of life.
All the churches of the Protestant faith united in forming the Provident Association, thus to a large degree federating their charitable work.
There was no man in Kansas City in whom everybody had such implicit confidence as they had in F. M. Furgason, and no other man could be found who had sufficient love for all humanity to try to look after all parts of this general work for the poor, in addition to his own business affairs, which were not small. And thus he became the superintendent of the charities of the generous public.
In all these varied ways he was the embodiment of manly Christian activity. When he had arrived at the age of threescore and sixteen years he was stricken with paralysis. As many earnest prayers were offered by Christians of every name that if it should be the will of the Lord, he might be spared yet many years, were offered for his recovery as were ever offered for any one person in that great city. But his work was done. He had nobly filled his life and good deeds. The Father of all, said by His acts, the time has come for this good man to come home and rest. And he entered the mansion prepared for him in heaven.
His death was a triumph. All the newspapers of Kansas City vied with each other to say the best and most complimentary things about one whom all who knew him loved to honor. And the best of all this is that these glowing eulogies were well deserved.
Ernest Early Gard was born near Barry, Ill., on April 20, 1858, and died of cerebral apoplexy at his late home 1729 South Twentieth Street, St. Joseph, Mo., on January 9, 1912. His parents died in his sixth year and he grew to manhood in the home of an uncle. In his eighteenth year he gave his heart to Christ upon hearing a sermon from the words, "Mary hath chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her." He was baptized into the fellowship of the Baptist Church at Kinderhook, Ill. In his youth he led his uncle and his uncle’s family to the Savior.
Mr. Gard was educated in Illinois schools and colleges. He graduated from Jacksonville Business College in 1881. In 1882 he and Miss Stella Yancey of Barry, Ill., were united in marriage. In Barry they resided six years, and were faithful members of the First Baptist Church there. In 1888 they moved to Carthage, Missouri, where for five years he was engaged in business. He and Mrs. Gard were practically identified with every interest of the Baptist Church there, and were active in other good work.
After leaving Carthage he was a teacher in Lawrence Business College and Atchison Business College in Kansas. In 1893 he was placed at the head of the St. Joseph Business University of St. Joseph, Mo., and held the position until he died.
Professor Gard an his wife united with Patee Park Baptist Church within the first month of their residence in St. Joseph, and within a year he was made a deacon in the Church, and for more than eighteen years he was an active member, serving his Lord and his brethren as deacon, trustee, clerk, choir director and choir leader, superintendent of the Sunday School and teacher in the Sunday School. At the time of his death he was a trustee and the chairman of the Board of Deacons and teacher of the Agoga class of young men.
Rev. C. M. Truex conducted the funeral service in the edifice of the Patee Park Church on Saturday evening, January 13, 1912. The large auditorium was filled with a bereaved congregation. In the assembly were many young people whose lives he had helped educationally and religiously. The text used by Pastor Truex was: "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
Deacon E. E. Gard was deeply and abundantly interested in everlasting life. He had keen and far vision of the spiritual and eternal. He often exhibited beautiful fellowship with the Lord. Many Baptists do gratefully remember how he labored to accommodate those who attended the Missouri Baptist General Association when it met with Patee Park Church in 1895.
He was modest in manner, faithful and affectionate toward his friends and co-workers, and true to meet his obligations. He had high appreciation of the beautiful. His soul delighted itself in music, in the harmonies of fellowship with the people of God, in sermons that bore messages of grace and love, and in the sweet hope that the bright day is coming when all the earth will be filled with a knowledge of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. Surely he received an abundant entrance into the heavenly home. His absence from us is largely felt. In his home with his wife and two sons who survive him, he was the head and center, and there his absence is most deeply felt.
Profusion of floral offerings in his home and in the church auditorium at the time of his funeral sweetly expressed the affection of the people for him.
Among the pastors who richly enjoyed him were H. C. First, T. F. McLean, L. E. Martin, G. W. Rogers, N. R. Pittman, J. L. Lawless, W. M. Anderson, J. E. Hampton, C. M. Truex. While I was his pastor he was dear and true to me and helpful in many ways to Patee Park Church. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bless his memory.
The father of Judge N. M. Givan was a native of the eastern shore of Maryland, but when a lad of ten years of age his parents moved to Indiana.
The home of the family was established in Dearborn County. Here they continued to reside throughout the life of the father, though the son, who is the subject of this sketch, became, in 1866, a resident of Harrisonville, in Cass County, Missouri.
Mr. Givan passed through the varied experiences of school teaching and student life as a youth and a young man until 1862, when he was graduated from the University of Indiana with the degree A. B. He was then for a time principal of the graded schools at Lawrenceburg. He also served as public school commissioner of Dearborn County. While filling this office and serving the public with great fidelity, his alma mater conferred upon him the degree of A. M.
He also served his native county as deputy county treasurer. Having diligently pursued the study of law for several years, by a careful economy of his time while discharging the duties of these public offices, he was, in 1864, admitted by the proper authority to the bar and given a license to practice law in the courts of his native state.
He became editor of the Lawrenceburg Register, and conducted this paper as the organ of the Democratic party during the campaign of General McClellan when he was a candidate for the presidency.
Having decided to devote his life to the legal profession, he moved to Missouri in 1866, and settled in Harrisonville. In 1867 he became editor of the Cass County Herald, which was the first Democratic paper issued in Cass County after the Civil War. It required no small amount of courage to print a Democratic paper so near the border of Kansas at that time.
Where prejudice held such sway as it did upon the border, during the war, and even for the years preceding the conflict between the states, there were many who believed that the advocacy of any governmental views that were not in harmony with the most radical opinions of the Republican party, was an attempt to renew that bloody conflict.
In 1868 Mr. Givan was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention which nominated Horatio Seymour and Frank P. Blair as candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States.
The people in this section had learned by this time that Mr. Givan was a man that could be depended upon to contend for and faithfully represent the principles for which the Democratic party then stood. And, therefore, when, in 1877, the new judicial circuit, known as the seventh, was established, he was elected to that office. While his political preferences were well known, yet irrespective of party affiliations, he was chosen to fill this responsible office.
Again, in 1880, he was re-elected to the judgeship for six years. At the end of this full term, he refused to be a candidate again, and thenceforth gave his time to his profession and to the other affairs that now demanded his attention.
He now spent two years in the practice of law in St. Louis, but preferred his old home, and therefore returned to Harrisonville.
Judge Givan was an enthusiastic Mason.
He served in all the positions, not only within the gift of the local lodge, but also filled all the official positions in the Grand Lodge of the State. He received all the degrees conferred by the various Masonic bodies, and was Grant Master, Grand High Priest and Grand Commander, on through the various orders of Knighthood. He also held all the important and responsible positions in the fraternal orders of the United Workmen and the Knights of Honor.
Thus it will be seen that wherever he went he was soon acknowledged as a leader. In fact he was of that mental and moral mold that "his light could not be hid."
His associates soon learned that his large common sense and high attainments were such that his services were needed, and he was urgently pressed forward to fill the places of responsibility.
But it was in his religious life that the character of Judge Givan shone most brightly. As it is mentioned that Mr. Givan was for a time a student in the Baptist College of Indiana, it is presumed that he was a Baptist before leaving his native State.
In Harrisonville he was for many years Superintendent of the Baptist Sunday School. The church and pastor there always found him a ready helper. He was a Christian in his home town. His influence, whether presiding at the court of justice, or tending the children and grown people in Bible study, was ever on the side of Christian living.
The Blue River Baptist Association includes the churches of Kansas City and has the largest membership of any similar body in the State, though there are 82 Associations of while Baptists in Missouri.
Of this body, Judge Noah M. Givan was the presiding officer for many years. He was also, for years, a member, and for a time, president, of the Board of State Missions and Sunday Schools. He was for years a member of the Board of Curators of the State University, and chairman of the Executive Board of that great institution.
He was married in 1862, August 7, to Miss Lizzie Chloe Jackson. Of their four children but one, Mrs. Charles E. Allen, survives her father.
For the sixteenth time, consecutively, Judge Givan presided over the session of the Blue River Baptist Association, which was held September 17-19, 1907. There were no indications that he was not in the full possession of his physical and mental powers. Yet, on the 4th day of the following month, he was called to the rest of heaven.
The Board of Missions of this Association gave expression of their sense of loss in his sudden death in the following words, which were printed in the minutes for that year:
"The Board of Missions of the Blue River Association have heard with great surprise and profound regret of the sudden death of Judge Noah M. Givan, Moderator of the Association, and Chairman of this Board.
"For more than forty years the work of Missions and Sunday Schools in Blue River Association has had the benefit of Brother Givan’s wise counsels, deep, earnest interest, and liberal gifts.
"As individual members of the Board we desire to express our sense of personal loss, grief and sorrow at his sudden going away from us; each one feels that he has lost a friend and brother, on whom he could depend for sympathy and help in every time of need.
"In Judge Givan’s death the State has lost a noble citizen one whose public life was devoted to the promotion of justice and equity among men, and the greatest public welfare as he understood it. Not only Harrisonville, his home city, but also Kansas City, St. Louis, and, indeed, every city and town in the State suffers loss.
"Brother Givan was a Christian philanthropist; he believed in the ‘Brotherhood of Men’ because he believed I the ‘Fatherhood of God.’ Every institution seeking to make the world better had his sympathy and help.
"The fraternal orders, the charitable and philanthropic institutions of the country will suffer loss in his departure.
"He was the friend of all institutions of learning. Our schools and colleges will suffer loss in his death.
"Whilst thus expressing our appreciation of our dear brother’s character and worth, and our grief and loss as a Board, we also desire to express our profound sympathy with his bereaved family—his wife and daughter, his son-in-law and grandson, praying that Heaven’s richest benediction may rest upon them in their sorrow."
The subject of this sketch was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, January 22, 1828. His father was an "Old School Baptist" preacher, and a farmer. Like most preachers of that class, he devoted his time chiefly to his farm, but preached when there was imperative demand for his services. The farm was near a creek that bore the unclassic name of "Bull Skin" Creek.
For three months, during the winter, the youth attended a subscription school. In these schools the parents agreed to pay the teacher the amount subscribed for each month the child attended. The teacher was expected to write the conditions upon which he would conduct the schools, and the subscribers would decide by the chirography whether he was capable of teaching the children the mysteries of penmanship.
If he failed to show skill in penmanship in writing the article of agreement, the patrons would refuse to employ him. Another qualification required was that he should be able to take a goose quill and make a good pen, one that the pupil could use to write the "copy" which he must prefix to each page of the "copy book." At the age of 20 years, having saved from his earnings on the farm, the sum of $180 he entered Shelbyville College, in the town of Shelbyville, and for one year studied in that institution. This, of course, gave him mental training above the average of the sons of farmers in that day. In 1849 Mr. Guthrie visited Missouri. He saw the advantages offered in this great commonwealth. But he was drawn back to Kentucky, and on September 3, 1850, was married to Miss Martha Davis Moxley. And herein will be found the reason for his return to his native State. Mr. Guthrie was converted at the age of 14, but did not unite with any church until June, 1856, when he became a member of Fox River Baptist Church, and was baptized by Rev. Edwin Gardner Berry, who was for many years a prominent and efficient preacher in Central Kentucky. In October, 1858, he moved with his family to Audrain County, Missouri. At this time the family consisted of husband and wife, three children and seven negro servants. As every one knows, the war resulted in the emancipation of the negroes.
In February, 185, Mr. Guthrie sold his farm in Missouri and moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana. Here in partnership with his father and his brother, Caleb Guthrie, Jr., he engaged in business as merchant. But his heart was still in Missouri, and, therefore, he remained in Indiana less than two years. He now engaged in the grocery business in Mexico, Missouri. After about three years, he sold his stock of goods and began dealing in cattle and hogs, having now as his partner, James Bridgeford. Because of the fluctuation in prices of stock, this venture was not a financial success. He, therefore, returned to the grocery business, but again met with serious losses. He now moved to Monroe County, where he again became a farmer. But here again, he encountered insurmountable difficulties, and after about three years, returned to Mexico, and, to use his own words, in describing his financial condition, "came back bankrupted." Mrs. Guthrie, having inherited a considerable sum from her own family in Kentucky, a good home was built on South Jefferson street in Mexico, where the family still (1912) reside.
In 1862 Joel Guthrie was ordained a Deacon in the Long Branch Baptist Church in Monroe County, Missouri. Rev. S. A. Beauchamp was then pastor of that church. Having settled in Mexico, the few Baptists residing there proceeded to organize a church.
Mr. Guthrie was the first deacon and Rev. S. A. Beauchamp was the first pastor. But Mr. Guthrie was not only deacon, but was also clerk and was ever faithful in both. The Apostle Paul tells us, "They that has used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree and great boldness in the faith which is in Jesus." I. Tim. 3:13. And Joel Guthrie remained faithful in service to his church unto the end of his life. He found an opening in Mexico for a dealer in fuel, and at once opened a coal yard. This business he made a success, and his son and daughter, Mrs. Sappington, continued the business after his death. He always dealt fairly, both with the railroads and his patrons. He was blessed with a good voice, and in all the churches where he held his membership, lead the service of song. This continued until the church in Mexico organized a full choir and added elaborate instrumental accompaniments. And then for several years one of his daughters became the organist.
In 1870 the Baptists of Mexico built a good house of worship. The building committee was composed of John G. Coil, Wm. Harper, Joel Guthrie and Charles H. Hardin. Mr. Hardin, who served with such distinguished ability as Governor of the State, was not then a member of the Church, but afterwards became such, and was in every way a faithful member until the day of his death. Seeing that the town and church were growing, Mr. Hardin left in his will, two thousand dollars for a larger house of worship, which has been built since his death. Not long before his death, Mr. Guthrie wrote some facts of his life for his children, that they might know something as to the way the Lord had led him along his life journey. He was a firm believer in the truth that the Lord leads His people. The hymn, "He Leadeth Me," was to him, as it was to Prof. Gilmore, its author, a reaffirmation of the Psalmist’s words, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness." In the statements referred to, he says: "My domestic life has been blessed with the affections of a good, Christian wife, and obedient children, who have given their hearts to God as they have grown to womanhood and manhood. For all these blessings, I thank God.
His son and five daughters, who survive their parents, are all members of Baptist churches, and are an honor to their Christian mother and father.
Deacon Joel Guthrie’s ability as a willing worker in his home church was recognized by the Baptists of the whole state. For a time he was Recording Secretary of the State Mission Board, and his hospitable home was ever open for the entertainment of the members at the quarterly meetings as long as the Board was located at Mexico. He was also, for just now long the writer does not now remember, one of the Curators of Stephens College. The writer well remembers his presence at the Jubilee in Marshall, and had the pleasure of entertaining both him and his accomplished Christian wife, at his own home. He was deeply and intelligently interested in all the proceedings of the greatest assembly of Missouri Baptists ever held in the State. After a painful illness of several weeks’ duration, he feel "asleep in Jesus," November 10, 1891. During all his suffering his prayer was that "God would give him peace and rest according to His will." And the peace was made endless and the rest that provided for the children of the "Most High God." His wife remained to comfort and direct her children for a little over fifteen years after his departure. And then, on the 20th day of December, 1906, she, too, heard the glad summons to enter into that rest that is endless. The blessedness of the dead, who die in the Lord, has been fully realized by this man and woman, who were so faithful during their lives on the earth.
The life work of a man is important and vitally interesting just in proportion to the degree in which that life work has come into contact with and influenced the people of his day and the life of his age.
The deep abiding influence of a good man’s life is something that can be felt rather than described; for only in a limited way can the history of the life of a man be told in a published record. Better is the story that is written in the hearts of men and women by the man himself than by any biography that a friend can pen after his departure. The best biography that a friend can produce is a record of his treasured life-endeavors.
In this light it is no easy task to transfer to the printed page the many-sided endowments of Brother Lee Harrel, or to give an adequate view of his busy and useful life.
He was born in Todd County, Kentucky, on the 13th day of April, 1860, and had the good fortune to have farmer parents, Chester G. and Caroline C. Harrel. These plain farmer parents were fine, staunch Presbyterians, and no doubt to their godly life and influence he owed much of his earnest piety and victorious faith. His mother died when he was about five years old, so that his recollections of her formed only a dim memory in his mind; but the writer knows that that dim memory in his mind; but the writer knows that that dim faraway memory was one of the most potent influences in his subsequent life.
An interesting fact in his career is that he had the great joy of baptizing his own father into the fellowship of a Baptist Church, after that father had accepted the Baptist faith.
He came with his father’s family to Missouri when he was about thirteen years of age and spent the years of his young manhood on his father’s farm, six miles north of Liberty, county seat of Clay County. He was converted in a meeting held with the Providence Baptist Church near his home in the fall of 1878, in his nineteenth year, and was baptized by the pastor, Rev. W. A. Crouch, into the fellowship of that Church. Eight years later, in 1886, he felt the call to preach the Gospel and was licensed by his Mother Church to exercise his talents in this service. He at once entered William Jewell College and diligently pursued his studies until he obtained his A. B. degree in 1892.
While pursuing his studies he was ordained to the full work of the Gospel ministry in 1888 at the Providence Church by Drs. G. L. Black and W. R. Rothwell, and during the latter part of his college course was active in preaching, doing good work both as Pastor and as Evangelist. The William Jewell Church in Kansas City, Missouri is in part the result of missionary efforts put forth by him in the early nineties. His first pastorates while he was yet a student were the ones at Agency Ford; Buchanan County; Rothville, Chariton County; and Marceline, Linn County, and the work he did under God yet abides and is fragrant to his memory in the minds and hearts of the people. After his graduation he entered heartily into the full work of the ministry, having Plattsburg and Platte City as his field in North Liberty Association. During the labors of these fruitful years the writer was intimately acquainted with his work, and formed strong ties of sympathy and co-operation with him.
On the first day of March, 1893, he was united in marriage to Miss Mildred Miller at Platte City, in Platte County, the ceremony being performed by Rev. R. H. Jones. His married life was happy and helpful. His home ever held the chief place in his earthly affections and his wife and two sons, Chastain and Norton, were his constant care and inspiration.
Several years of his married life were spent in Platte County, where, in connection with his ministerial labors, he occupied and operated an eighty acre lease, on which he made a temporary but notable success handling pure bred swine and high grade poultry. Specimens from his flocks and herds took many leading diplomas and awards at the fine Stock Expositions, and he soon gained his financial reward, but when the swine-plague visited his locality his fine herds were destroyed and he was left financially prostrate.
Shortly after this he was called to the pastorate of the Baptist Church, Neosho, Newton County, accepted this call and worked there for a few years and then accepted a call to the care of one of the Baptist churches of Higginsville, Lafayette County. Here a troublesome church debt was wisely handled and paid, and substantial additions were made to the membership of the Church. Later he was called to the care of the Church in Maryville, Nodaway County, where he did some of the best work of his life. A great revival which resulted in the baptism of more than two hundred converts into the fellowship of the Church took place in the pastorate immediately following his, and as "one soweth and another reapeth," there is no doubt that this bountiful harvest came in a measure from the seed sown by Brother Harrel. After the close of this pastorate he returned to North Liberty Association where he had labored so long and so successfully in the earlier years of his ministry. Here he came once more to his native heath, where he was greatly beloved and wrought with increasing fervor and zeal in the cause of the Master. He labored here as visiting Pastor with the Pleasant Grove Church, Platte County, and Nashua Church, Clay County, making his home in Liberty.
These pastorates were closed by the death of this noble worker. To the sorrow of his brethren and friends he "fell on sleep" on the 19th day of May, 1915, in the 56th year of his life, and all of our dear Brother that can die is peacefully resting in the old cemetery on College Hill only a few hundred feet from William Jewell College, which he loved so well.
A true estimate of his character is difficult to make. He was many-sided in his nature yet was not complex because his life was as an open book and his heart was as readable and truthful as the heart of a child. His vision was clear and wide, yet he had a wonderful appreciation of the nearby, everyday affairs of his time. He was guileless as a June bride, yet so wise that no trickster was crafty enough to deceive him. He was a gentle, as tender, as sympathetic as a woman, but as brave as a lion in the maintenance of his well-developed ideals. He was an intense man, in his feelings, in his opinions, in his convictions—and in his life activities, yet he was wonderfully tractable under the wise advice of true friends. He was extreme, almost to rashness in some of his views, yet held himself in such excellent poise that he seldom committed in rash deed.
His work was done with conscientious earnestness, as if he had an abiding sense of his Master’s presence and watchfulness. He was strong in his likes and dislikes, yet gripped the love and confidence of his wide circle of friends with loving tenacity. He was knightly and courteous in his relations with his fellows, yet he was a splendid hater of hypocrisy and sham. He was one of the strongest advocates of the cause of temperance the writer ever knew. Year in and year out, along with the theme of redemption, side by side with missionary enterprises of the Church, he advocated sobriety and the prohibition of the drink evil. Some of the strongest temperance resolutions ever printed in the minutes of North Liberty Association, were the product of his brain. His spirit glowed with holy zeal in the great temperance conflict.
Brother Harrel was a soul winner. His broad sympathy for the lost, his deep experimental knowledge of the plan of salvation, and his eager, almost overwhelming presentation of the theme of redemption, won men and women by hundreds in revival efforts. And, again, with gentle, affectionate and sympathetic appeals at funeral services which he was often called upon to conduct, souls were frequently led to Jesus.
A throng that filled the house and the spacious lawn of the home in which he fell asleep attested the love and esteem of his friends. Prayers of deep gratitude have gone up from the hearts of those who knew him to the God whom he so faithfully served, because of his life and personal influence. In him, verily, is exemplified the poetic truth of the lines:
"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."
Patient continuance in well-doing, was the chief characteristic in the life and labor of Joel M. Hensley. Brother Hensley was born in St. Louis County, near where Clayton now stands, in 1832, the son of Fleming and Jane Milton Hensley, natives of Virginia. Fleming Hensley’s father, Benjamin, was a soldier of the Revolution, and served under General Washington for three years. He had three sons in a rifle company in the War of 1812. He died in St. Louis County. Joel was brought with the family in 1837 to Sandy Creek, in Jefferson County, and he resided in that neighborhood until his death, August 17, 1909.
He began work for the Master early in life, and in 1853, at the age of 21, he was elected the first clerk of the newly-formed Jefferson County Baptist Association. His life was for many years that of a pioneer farmer-preacher, and his ministry was marked by permanence of the pastoral relation. He served one church, Lebanon, in Ste. Genevieve County, as pastor for eleven years. Deep piety and earnestness were seen and felt in all his contact with his fellow men. Living for more than seventy years in one neighborhood, and wearing the "white flower of a blameless life," his influence for good was unbounded.
Humble and devout in his daily life, he was a living exemplar of the kind and gentle graces which mark the true follower of the meek and lowly Nazarene. His name appears on the earliest records of Sandy Baptist Church, and for more than three score years he was a loyal influential member of that church. He was licensed to preach in 1867, and ordained in 1869, and as a standard bearer of the Gospel of grace he faithfully carried its banner into every part of Jefferson County Association.
His pulpit ministrations were marked by the reverence and solemnity befitting the theme and occasion. You were conscious in his presence that here was a man of God, whose profession and practice were in harmony, and who lived the Gospel of salvation and service which he preached.
During the years of his active ministry he served as pastor with self-sacrificing fidelity the following churches (with occasional labors on other fields): Lebanon, Glade Chapel, Houses Springs, Bethlehem, Swashin, Hillsboro, Sulphur Springs and Sandy. It can be truly said of Joel M. Hensley that in the churches and communities where he lived and labored, his memory will linger as a benediction.
September 24, 1856, he was united in marriage to Miss Alice M. Williams. They lived to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, and received at that celebration many tributes and tokens of honor and affection. Three years longer they were permitted to walk together, until on August 17, 1909, the tie was broken by death.
He left his bereaved companion, his sons, Felix A., Alfred and Oliver, his daughters, Mrs. Jas. H. Brown, and Mrs. F. J. Adams, his children’s children, and all who knew and loved him, a legacy in memory and example far richer than gold and lands.
Astronomers tell us that the fixed stars are at such enormous distances from our earth that if one of them were blotted out, its rays of light would continue to reach us for centuries.
"So when a good man dies, For years beyond our ken The light he leaves behind him lies Upon the paths of men."
"The memory of the just is blessed."
Here we find a man who was both a preacher of the Gospel and a man who identified himself with the secular and political life of his immediate neighborhood. He was born in Williamson County, Tennessee, in 1803. His father was Zachary Taylor Jackson and his mother was a Slocum. This is all the writer has been able to learn of his parentage.
In 1819 the family moved to Missouri and settled first in Howard County, whence at the end of one year they changed this residence to Boone County.
It is clearly evident that one who in after years was so conversant with the status of governmental affairs in the State of Missouri, felt a deep interest in the conflict that arose over the admission of the Territory of Missouri into the great American Union of States.
In 1834 James Jackson was married to Miss Asenath Turner, and near three months afterward they went to Audrain County, before the county was organized, and purchased a half section of land on Davis Fork of Salt River. The records of Baptist Churches are often kept in such a careless manner that when in after years one looks for facts pertaining to the lives of even the pastors he only finds a blank. But from one of Mr. Jackson’s sons, A. D. Jackson of Mexico, we learn that he made a public profession of faith in the Christ and was baptized into the fellowship of the Pleasant Grove Church of Boone County. This event occurred in 1855 and he was the same year licensed and ordained as a minister of the Gospel.
In 1875 his wife died and the year following, with his family he moved to Texas, where he resided until 1882, when he returned to Missouri and made his home with his daughter, Mrs. Charles A. Wright, until his death in January, 1883. We have no record of his work during his six years’ residence in Texas.
Hon. John E. Hutton, for years editor of the Mexico Intelligencer and afterwards a member of the United States Congress, published in 1875 a biographical sketch of Mr. Jackson. From this printed statement copious extracts will now be made.
"In 1835, he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, which office he held continuously for twelve years. It is a remarkable fact, going to show the soundness of his judgment, his intelligence, and the confidence in which he was held by the people, that during the entire time which he held the office, but a single appeal was taken from his decisions to the higher courts. In this case, his judgment was sustained by the Circuit Court, but was finally reversed by the Supreme Court.
"In 1837 Audrain County was organized, and James Jackson was appointed by the governor, sheriff of the county, but declined to accept the office. In the latter part of the same year, he was elected by the Democracy as the first representative to the state legislature over Judge James Harrison by a small majority. He held the office two years, but served but one session; as adjourned or extra sessions were not then known. The vote of the county at that time was about 300. Having served his constituents faithfully and acceptable, he received and accepted the nomination for re-election. Judge James Harrison being nominated by the opposite party, again became his competitor. The contest between them was a most exciting and interesting one, which resulted in Judge Harrison receiving a majority of four votes and the certificate of election, and took his seat as a member of the Ninth General Assembly—Judge Jackson contesting.
""Much time was spent in the preparation of evidence bearing upon the contest. Personal feeling between the respective friends of the parties had arisen to fever heat, and partisan spirit gave to it an importance with the people of the state, that excited a high degree of interest in the body by which the question was to be decided. After a long and exciting trial, the seat was awarded to Hon. James Jackson, upon a majority of one vote.
"At the next regular election the same gentlemen were again nominated by their respective parties for the same position, which resulted, after a very heated canvass, in the defeat of Judge Jackson by a majority of five or six.
"In 1846 he was elected to the position of judgeship upon the county bench, which office he held for eight years. Quite a number of changes took place in the bench during his term of service; but two, however, of his associates are still living - Judge John A. Pearson and Dr. W. H. Lee, both of whom now reside in Mexico.
"In 1840 he was appointed United States Deputy Marshal, and took the census of the county; the population of which was not quite two thousand. In 1860 he was again appointed to the same position and performed the same service.
James Jackson as a man is universally respected, as a citizen, he is enterprising and honest, as a servant of the people has always proven to be competent, conscientious and faithful, and as a Christian, devoted and exemplary. But few men nearing the close of life, can perhaps look back upon their past life with less of regret than he."
Judge Jackson and his good wife raised to maturity a family of six children. Of these, Thomas Riley and Rufus died as prisoners of war during the Civil War. James Buchanan died in 1891, leaving a family of one son and five daughters—all of whom, with his widow, are yet living. The son, Rufus Jackson, is at present postmaster at Mexico. Abram Davenport, the youngest of Judge Jackson’s children, is at present cashier of the Southern Bank of Mexico, a position that he has held with credit and honor for over ten years. Armilda, the eldest daughter, became the wife of Charles A. Wright. She died in 1901, leaving her husband, two daughters and two sons. The father and eldest daughter make their home with the youngest daughter, Eunice who holds a responsible position with the St. Louis Board of Education. Mary Hunter, the youngest daughter, married Thomas Norman, of Texas, and with two children, Leora and Oscar, survive him. They have lived since the husband and father’s death at Montgomery, Alabama.
Judge Jackson was not wholly inactive in preaching the Gospel while serving the public in these various official positions. At one time he was called to the pastoral care of Hopewell Church. He also assisted in the ordination of Isham Thomas Jesse at the call of the same Church.
It is well to remember, at that day, country churches did not provide a living for their pastors. By farming or some other means of supporting their families these men who preached without being "chargeable" to their congregations, supported themselves.
And this good man was held in high esteem and his piety was undoubted by the people who knew his home life and his public services.
William Morgan Jesse was a son of John Jesse, and was born in Virginia, September 2, 1798. When a child, so young that he had no recollection of his parents, they both died. In his boyhood he was apprenticed to a wheelwright to learn that trade. The youth was to attend school and to be taught how to read, write and in arithmetic, he was to be taught as far as the "Double Rule of Three." At the end of his apprenticeship he was to be furnished a good horse with a new bridle and saddle. The contract was violated by the man to whom he was bound. All the schooling he received was 13 days in a common school. The youth finding that his "boss" was violating all the agreements left his employer and began to shift for himself.
When William Morgan Jesse married he did not know even the alphabet, yet he had gained a knowledge of the use of tools and knew how to work in both wood and iron. His grandson says he made the "plow-stocks, harrow frames, wheat fans, chairs, window sash, doors, bedsteads, barrels and other necessary articles needful in the home and on the farm."
On the 6th day of January, 1820, he was married to Mary Ann Parker in Cumberland County, Virginia. His wife taught him to read and write sufficiently to sign his own name. To this couple were born sixteen children; eleven of whom were living at one time and had families of their own. In the summer of 1831, both husband and wife were converted and united with the Bookers Creek Baptist Church in Cumberland County, Virginia. They were baptized by Elder Joseph Jenkins. In a short time the church voted him "Liberty to exercise his gifts by speaking in public as opportunity might afford."
He and a neighbor, Francis Armistead, decided in 1833 to move to Missouri. They made this long journey in wagons during the months of November and December. They settled for a year in Callaway County near Stephens store; they rented land and lived here one year, during which time they purchased, from the United States, lands three miles west of where now stands the city of Mexico, Audrain County. This was then a part of Callaway County. Two years after these families had erected their log cabins and moved into them, Audrain County was established and the county seat laid off and Mexico became a village. Before this Fulton and Columbia were the nearest towns of any importance.
William M. Jesse was a Missionary Baptist when he came to Missouri. His neighbor while living near Stephens’ store was a leader among the anti-missionaries, but Peyton Stephens, whose grandson, bearing the same name, is now a missionary in China, was unable to move William M. Jesse from his belief that the Gospel should be preached to all nations. The records as to the ordination of S. M. Jesse are so confused that it is not possible to state the exact date, but it was during the summer of 1842. He was pastor at Hopewell Church, now located at Thompson, Audrain County, at Unity in Callaway County, Long Branch of Monroe County and West Cuiver in Audrain County.
It is on record that William Hurley once made sport of Jesse because he mispronounced a word in reading a Bible lesson from the pulpit. Of this set of discourtesy, Hurley had ore reason to be ashamed than the faithful man of God, who was doing all that he knew how to do, to persuade men to be reconciled to God.
William was a descendant, or relative of a Baptist minister who labored in London, England, about the year 1640. He was doubtless the author of the "Jesse records" so frequently mentioned in the history of Baptists of that state. His language was that of the pioneer, he often violated the simplest rules of English grammar.
Noah Flood once said of him: "I can preach better than Brother Jesse, but when I am done he will get up with his scatter-gun and sinners will come down on the right and the left."
He did much evangelistic work among the scattered settlers of his day. All these years he supported his family by farming. In the minutes of the Bonne Femme Association for 1857 his death was mentioned and it was said of him:
"He enjoyed the respect and confidence of all who knew him, and doubtless his consistent walk and pious example will long exert an influence in favor of the religion which he so zealously advocated."
He died August 13, 1857. The members of the Hopewell Church and his friends and relatives erected a neat monument to mark the place of his sepulcher.
JOHN PARKER JESSE
Having erected upon his farm, log houses for his home, W. M. Jesse began to plan to give his children some education. The best that could then be provided was a rail pen covered with corn stalks. His oldest son, John Parker Jesse (1820-1876), became the teacher. The weather was warm and when rains came the school had to go to the residence for shelter. This oldest son of W. M. Jesse was for eight years and six months, though not consecutively, clerk of the Hopewell Church. He was afterwards licensed and ordained as a Gosper preacher. He labored faithfully up to the full measure of his strength, but early in life was broken down by an attack of nervous prostration. After the failure of his health, he could do but little preaching but was always heard with delight when he was able to appear in the pulpit.
ISHAM THOMAS JESSE
Another son of W. M. Jesse, named Isham Thomas Jesse (1822-1875) became a preacher of the Gospel. He was the second son of this father of preachers; was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, June 23, 1822. He joined the Hopewell Church in 1842 or 1843. In May, 1868, the church voted him license to preach. In September, 1870, he was ordained by a presbytery composed of S. A. Beauchamp, W. R. Wigginton, J. P. Jesse and James Jackson.
He was not at any time pastor of any church, but preached in school houses. He had regular appointments at Union School house and preached there one Sunday in every month for several years. His knowledge of the Bible is said to have surpassed that of any of his brothers. He died at his home, four miles southwest of Mexico, December 21, 1878. He had lived to the age of 56 years, 5 months and 28 days. He used his abilities well and was a consistent Christian.
ROYAL ANDERSON JESSE
Royal Anderson Jesse (1931-1913), was the fifth son and eighth child of W. M. Jesse; was born in Cumberland County, Virginia, April 6, 1831; was two and one-half years of age when the family moved to Missouri. He united with the church when but a youth, but afterwards, knew that at that time he was not truly converted. It was not until in March, 1868, that as he said, "God gave me a peace the world cannot take away." He then related his experience of God’s grace to the Hopewell Church and was baptized by Elder W. R. Wigginton. At once he became an efficient and earnest personal worker. In October, 1870, he was licensed to preach the Gospel "when and where opportunity should offer." For several years he refused to submit to ordination, but in 1879 a committee was appointed by the church to consult with him about his ordination when he gave his consent. By invitation of the church, a presbytery consisting of W. R. Wigginton, J. C. Maple and W. J. Jesse, met at Hopewell Church and after careful examination, he was "set apart" to the full work of the ministry of the Gospel. He accepted no regular pastoral work, but preached at several places with more or less regularity. His humble, Godly life was his most powerful sermon. He died at his home in Mexico, Missouri, in the spring time of 1913, having devoted forty-three years to the humble and faithful service of his Master.
The opportunities of William Jeremiah Jesse in early life for an education were very meager. When about 21 years of age he attended school in Mexico, Missouri, for a few months. In after years he said, "This was the only school that did me any good."
In 1854, when 26 years of age, he was converted in a series of meetings, held at Hopewell Church, by Elders J. M. Robinson and his father W. M. Jesse. He united with that church and was baptized by his father. In 1851, four years before his conversion, he was married to Miss Minerva Black. He at once made a home for himself and family, upon his farm, near the Hopewell Church and lived there to the end of his days. He was so truly converted that he at once began to lead devotional meetings to pray in public and even exhort others to seek that salvation that had become the controlling influence of all his thoughts and purposes. His brethren recognized his call to the ministry before he would consent to yield to his convictions of duty to become a preacher. When spoken to about preaching he refused, at first, to consider his duty in that line, he pleaded the lack of qualification, because of his limited education.
Those ministers who have had opportunities for college training do not always appreciate the timidity of those who have been deprived of these advantages. Many of our colleges owe their existence to the pleadings of these men that the younger preachers may have that mental training, the lack of which, has so continuously embarrassed them all their lives.
After a long struggle William J. Jesse yielded and was licensed and afterwards ordained to the full work of a Baptist preacher. By the action of the church called Hopewell, he was authorized to "exercise his gifts in the bounds of Little Bonne Femme Association." In September, 1879, at the call of his home church he was ordained. Elders S. A. Beauchamp, W. R. Wigginton and his older brother, John P. Jesse, and James Jackson composed the presbytery. At the same time I. T. Jesse, a brother of W. J., was ordained a minister, and another one of his brothers, J. M. Jesse, was ordained a deacon.
William J. Jesse always underestimated his own abilities. He was a better preacher than he ever thought he was. He memorized the Scriptures he intended to use in each sermon, not only the text upon which he proposed to build his discourse, but other Scriptures, which would support his teaching and elucidate the thoughts presented. He never used any notes, probably never made any written preparation, but had the outline of his sermon fixed in his mind.
"He not only preached from the pulpit but by the wayside; in the home circle he loved to talk religion. He never would state any amount as a salary. He cheerfully took what they volunteered to give him, and when a church volunteered to promise a definite amount, he thought they ought to do so, not because he demanded it, but that churches should be exceedingly honorable in all they agree to do."
His pastoral labors were wholly given to churches that had preaching one Saturday and Sunday in each month. In this way it was easy for him to serve four churches at the same time. At Union Church, southeast of Mexico, he thus preached for 20 years. He was stated preacher at New Hope; at Hopewell near his home and where he held his membership until his death; at New Providence in Boone County and at Corinth Church in Ralls County, for 12 years at Bethlehem Church, Audrain County, also one at Beaver Dam in Audrain County. On all these fields his consistent Christian life added force to the messages he gave from the pulpit. He was fearless in asserting his faith in the Divine Redeemer, and his unfaltering belief in inspiration of the Bible. As to his own abilities as a preacher it seemed natural to him to "esteem others better than himself."
As an illustration of this fact, I will mention the following incident. While pastor at Mexico I decided I would drive out to Hopewell Church one Saturday and hear Brother Jesse preach. When I arrived near the house of worship the people were singing and were all in the house. I drove around and hitched my horse, and then remained outside until he had announced his text and begun his sermon. Then entering the house, as quietly as possible, took a seat half way back from the pulpit. In about five minutes he saw me. Immediately he said, "I didn’t know I was preaching to a preacher. Brother Maple come up here, take his text and finish this sermon." With this he sat down and there was no other way to do than to go forward to the pulpit and talk for a time upon the text he had announced.
All the life of William J. Jesse was spent upon his farm. "He never quit farm work," he lived over fifty years in the same house where he and his wife began housekeeping when they were married. Here his nine children, six sons and three daughters were born. Of these children all but one daughter survived their parents. His wife went to Heaven four years before he was called to lay by the cross and receive the crown. After but a few day’s illness, he entered Heaven, January 25, 1905. He was 76 years 8 months and 24 days of age at the time of his departure. His life had been good and true.
He had borne well his part in the development of the new country in its moral well-being and in all its progress. He never sought preferment, but only asked to do his part, to live quietly; and certainly did show that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus elevates both men and women, and builds characters that bless humanity. Many men, like William J. Jesse, have done heroic service in an unostentatious way and left no record of their work. The result has been they pass on to a glorious reward in Heaven and are forgotten by those who enter into and enjoy the fruits of their labors.
The foregoing sketches, embrace the records of Elder William M. Jesse and four sons who followed their consecrated father as ministers of the Gospel. Other sons and descendants, some passed on, others still doing valiant work for the kingdom of Christ, bringing accumulating honors to the name of their noted ancestor. This is a remarkable record, and in future days when the records of the Jesse family as they stand in the second decade of the Twentieth Century will present a remarkable example of the influence of character in the parent upon the child.
Montgomery City, Mo.
ORIGIN OF THE JOHNSONS
The following, in substance, is taken from a Sketch of the Johnson Family, that appeared in the Little Rock Gazette about one year ago (1916). The article was published under the title:
"The Johnson Family has Royal Blood. Goes back to Fitz-John of Normandy and Tagallus, King of Ireland."
Many noted men of the past have borne this honored name.
IN GREAT BRITTAIN
Sir Henry Johnson - Distinguished officer in the army.
Arthur Johnson - A poet of note.
Charles Johnson - A dramatist of distinction.
Dean – Johnson - Chaplain to Queen Anne Boleyn.
George Johnston - Physician to Charles I.
Esther Johnson - Dean Swift’s "Stella," etc.
Sir Wiliam Johnson - Friend of the Indians, Johnson Hall, New York.
Hon. Thomas Johnson - Governor of Maryland, leader in the Revolution.
Gabriel Jonston - Colonial governor of North Carolina.
Richard M. Johnson - U. S. senator, and, in 1836, vice president.
Many families bearing this name, spelled with or without the "t," settled in New England, New York, Maryland and Virginia. In Virginia they are found principally in Albemarle, Henrico and Fauquier Counties. These are the families that sent forth pioneers to build towns and cities in Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri. From the branch in Fauquier County, Virginia, the subject of the sketch, Rev. T. T. Johnston came.
Thomas Thornton Johnston, the object of this sketch was born in Fauquier County, Virginia, July 20, 1803. He was the second son of Enoch Johnston, a Baptist minister, and his wife, Elizabeth Johnston. The mother died while Thomas was an infant. Though deprived of the loving care that would have been given him by his own mother, he was so fortunate as to fall into the tender care of one of the precious "Black Mammies" of the South, who, in her loving way, guided the lad into a noble young manhood. His father came with his family, consisting of his two sons, George Sumner and Thomas Thornton, that negro mammy, and two other servants, to Scott County, Kentucky, while Thomas was still an infant, and located near Georgetown. Here Thomas grew to manhood and received his education in the schools of the locality, which were of such character and efficiency as to be competent to equip and earnest, capable young man for the strenuous duties of life. Young Johnston was much above the average of his day in scholastic attainments, and before he was out of his "teens," he was chosen as assistant to Rev. Thomas Henderson, principal of Indian Academy, Crab Orchard, near Georgetown. This Academy was established under the auspices of a near relative, Hon. Richard M. Johnson—"Col. Dick"—as he was familiarly known, at one time member from Kentucky of the United States Senate, and afterward elected Vice President under President Van Buren.
This Academy was one of those high-grade institutions of learning that flourished in the South before the days of the public school, and were instrumental in fitting so many of the promising young men of that time and section to take advanced places in leadership in the intellectual development of the South.
At the age of fifteen he was converted under the preaching of Elder James Suggett, and by him was baptized into the fellowship of the Great Crossings Church.
He was twice married. His first wife was Miss Margaret Henderson, the accomplished and charming daughter of Rev. Thomas Henderson, with whom he was associated in the management of the Indian Academy. This happy event was consummated March 15, 1827. Soon thereafter—in 1828—Mr. Johnston brought his young wife to Missouri and settled on Peno Creek, Pike County, about six miles west of Louisiana. Four children were born of this marriage, two sons and two daughters. The sons died early in life. The two daughters lived to realize the loss of the devoted mother, who was called to her heavenly home March 30, 1834, and the affectionate husband was left to mourn the loss and miss the loving ministry of the noble and faithful wife.
Immediately after their arrival in Missouri he and his wife united with Peno Creek Baptist Church, and continued their membership in that Church until the Church divided in February, 1833, and was organized into two churches. One branch formed Mt. Pleasant Church, organized February 26, 1833, with about thirty-five members. The other branch organized Mt. Pisgah Church, December 5, 1833, with about nineteen members. Mr. Johnston was one of these constituent members of Mt. Pisgah. This church was the second church organized in Cuivre Township, Pike County. The church house was located about five miles northwest of Bowling Green. Mr. Johnston was elected one of the deacons of the new organization, and served in this capacity until he was called as pastor and ordained to the ministry.
When he joined this church he was nourishing the belief that he was called to the Gospel ministry, and the church, viewing the matter in the same light, on the first Saturday in February, 1834, called him to the pastorate. He accepted the call, and in June of the same year the church called a presbytery, consisting of Elders Davis Biggs and Walter McQuie, and ordained him. He conducted a successful pastorate and continued to serve the church in its once-a-month meetings and other activities till 1844, when he declined to be again elected to this office. During this time he made his influence felt in his own locality and throughout the limits of Salt River Association in favor of Missions, Sunday Schools, and Temperance, and with other sharing the same sentiments, organized a Missionary Society within the bounds of the Association. He was elected President of this Society, and was also appointed active Missionary for the Association. He entered with his usual zeal upon the duties of this office, which he undertook to perform for the meager sum of sixty cents per day. His efficiency in this work was so manifest that Salt River Association was encouraged to raise funds for the extension and intensifying of the work, and he was appointed permanent Missionary for the Association. All this work was done in addition to the work of pastor for his home church. In his work as an itinerant, he was instrumental in organizing, or assisted in their organization, of the following churches in Salt River Association: Providence, Mill Creek, Buffalo Knob, Salt River, Sugar Creek in Pike County.
June 15, 1836, Rev. Johnston was married for the second time, taking to wife Miss Margaret Ann Watson, second daughter of James Houston and Elizabeth Carr Watson. The marriage took place at the home of David Garnsey, three miles southwest of Louisiana, near the old Watson-Igo place. A short sketch of the life of this excellent woman will be found on a later page.
At the time of this marriage he changed his residence from Peno Creek, six miles west of Louisiana, to an ideal locality two or three miles southwest of the town. Here he built a commodious house of hewn logs, a cosy and comfortable place of abode, well suited in all its appointments to the picturesqueness of the surrounding landscape. This was the home of his family until they moved to Montgomery County in 1856. Here his children were born, to which their hearts turn in loving memory of it as a hallowed spot, filled with parental and filial love, truly a home, the nearest approach to Heaven that can be found on this early.
From the time, referred to above, when he declined to be a candidate for re-election to the pastorate of Mt. Pisgah Church, for several years he devoted himself more fully to his work as Missionary, and as he had more than usual adaptability to the work of evangelism, he conducted and assisted in several revival meetings that were remarkable for the character of the work done, and for their far-reaching and durable results. During this time until he was called to the pastorate of Mt. Pleasant Church, Montgomery County (see below), we have record of but two short pastorates, Mt. Pleasant Church, Salt River Association, and Noix Creek as regular minister, and various seasons of supply work in other churches that were for a time without a pastor. The Noix Creek Church building was located on a portion of the land that he acquired at the time of his second marriage (see above), and it was here that he organized and conduced the wonderfully successful Sunday School that is eloquently and appreciatively spoken of valued in testimonials in our hands in connection with other manifestations of his superb executive ability in various departments of church labor. The testimonials written by John S. Martin, Esq., and his brother, Reuben T. Martin, formerly members of Noix Creek Church, are of such character that we would, did space permit, produce entire, as they serve to show that in 1845 Rev. Johnston employed many of the advanced methods of the twentieth century in his spiritual labors.
The following selections from a testimonial given by Rev. R. E. McQuie of Montgomery City will supply an excellent resume of the happenings for a few years:
"Elder T. T. Johnston was called from the busy scenes of Salt River Association, where for more than a quarter of a century he had been one of the most successful pastors, as well as Missionary, organizer of Sunday Schools, and builder of churches within the bounds of the Association. He was called to the pastorate of Mt. Pleasant Church, Montgomery County, Missouri, within the bounds of Bear Creek Association in the year 1855. Accepting the call in October, 1856. He moved his family from Pike County and settled near Mt. Pleasant Church, and thus became identified with the Bear Creek Association in its infancy.
"He very soon became the leading spirit in the Missionary work and in organizing and building churches and church houses. He led in the building of a large commodious church house for the Mt. Pleasant people. He was in the council and led in the organization of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery City, then called Elkhorn Church. He was pastor of the following churches: Zion, Loutre, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Zion, Bethlehem, Liberty, Indian Creek, Nineveh (now Olney), Walnut Grove, Massey’s Creek and Union. With these churches he did great and efficient work, and in each built up a large, strong membership.
"During his pastorate at Liberty (familiarly known as Frog Pond), on South Bear Creek, Montgomery County, he held a wonderful revival meeting. People came from far and near; many were so deeply interested that they would bring their dinner and supper and remain all day and also attend the night service. Old Sister Cole, mother of a large family, became so enthused that she moved her bed and cooking utensils to the church and for weeks lived there. A number of good sisters stayed with her. There were over fifty conversions. It was a wonderfully great meeting in its day; it would be a great meeting even in this day (1917). This is only one instance of many revivals held by him within the limits of Bear Creek Association."
When Elder Johnston decided at the earnest solicitation of the brethren of Mt. Pleasant Church to bring his family to dwell in his new field of labor, the church generously sent members with their teams to move his family and their household belongings without expense to the pastor. At first he settled on a farm two miles northeast of the church. In March, 1858, he bought a farm about one and a half miles south of the meeting house.
In 1857, the congregation concluded to erect a larger house, as the old one had become totally inadequate to accommodate the increasing membership and attendance. The plans were made for a very large and commodious building; the finances were arranged, and the work began with Rev. Johnston in full charge. He was wise in the selection of his building committees, as he did not confine his appointments to members of the church, but included many influential business men outside the membership. Many, both members of the church and others, thought that he home was too large, much beyond the actual necessities of the church, but after it was completed and regular services were held therein, at the regularly monthly meetings it was generally filled to overflowing.
The excitement incident to the Civil War, the division of sentiment, and the growing intensity of feeling affected the churches as much or more, perhaps, than any other community organizations. Rev. Johnston continued his pastorate of Mt. Pleasant Church throughout the war, but under many trying scenes and difficulties. His meetings were never specially disturbed, nor his person endangered, but the effect of the war as it progressed was noticeable in the membership and the attendance. The church house, a part of the time, was occupied by the State Militia, and, of course, this suspended services during such occupancy. Many of the soldiers stationed at High Hill and elsewhere in the county for a considerable time, frequently attended his meetings, but were always well-behaved, orderly and respectful.
Rev. Johnston was not seriously molested, either in person or property during the war. He was once "requested" to bring a load of corn to Danville, about ten or twelve miles from the farm. My younger brother, George, and I gathered the corn and George took it to Danville with a yoke of oxen. I vividly remember that there was about as much, or more, stalks and shucks in the load as corn. However, nobody complained, and we did not go around bragging about the "job" we put over on the soldiers. The country suffered but little from the regular soldiers, but the militia were a holy terror. Their warfare was mostly, if not entirely, waged against the hen houses and pig styes, and corn pens of the Southern element of the community. Hence the load of corn taken to Danville. It was not long until a very friendly feeling sprang up between the people of High Hill and the surrounding country, and the regulars stationed there. They bought and paid for all supplies they got, and never foraged on the community. They were finally removed to Warrenton, and established their headquarters in that place. The commanding officer sent word to Rev. Johnston to report at headquarters there. What took place there is well explained in the subjoined letter. His son, Thomas T., Jr., had started in the previous December to join the Confederate army. At Mt. Zion Church, Boone County, Missouri, his company met a squad of Federal soldiers, and, after a sharp skirmish and a brave stand against overwhelming odds, was defeated and scattered. Most of them started to return home, but were picked up by the Federals and taken to Warrenton. This is the explanation of the reference in Rev. Johnston’s letter to his son, Thomas.
"Montgomery County, February 12, 1862.
"Dear Brother and Sister:
"I was a prisoner ten days, and was treated very kindly. I boarded at the hotel, no guards to pester me, and I reported at headquarters when I pleased. I preached twice by request of the Chaplain, to the prisoners, while a prisoner. I was released on a $5,000 bond for my good behavior. My son, Thomas, was released a few days after I was, giving a $1,000 bond and taking the oath. All of your acquaintances were released on the same conditions.
"We had no meeting at our last monthly time - I and several of the members were prisoners at that time. If nothing happens, I want to go down Friday, so as to be there on Saturday and Sabbath. Our meetings are well attended, as well as could be expected under the circumstances. The church seems to be progressing pretty well, and I think is in a very healthy condition (Frog Pond Church).
"I shall ever believe that you did wrong in leaving us, but I hope it will not be long before we have the joy of giving you the returning hand, and bidding you welcome back to your church and our affections. My counsel to you would be, as you have gotten your visit out, to return by all means in the spring, in time to raise a crop here. If you would come back and raise a crop of tobacco, it would straighten up things mightily. . . . I want you back, and that badly. I have no help at all in meeting. There is not one of all the brethren and friends that promised you so faithfully, that has given one cent since you left. Unless they will do something, I do not think I can serve them. Brethren Ellis and Level, and your mother are all that do anything.
"Times here have become much more peaceable. There are soldiers at Danville, High Hill, Warrenton, and all up the road above here. The soldiers are entirely peaceable. They sometimes visit me, chat with, and eat with me and go to all my meetings, sing and behave themselves first rate. I do hope that we can get on more harmoniously. They are talking strongly of taking General Price. I can’t tell, tho’, how they will come out about it. There are some still coming home from Price. They say the old man is tolerably strong, but I can’t tell whether it is so or not. I can’t tell about anything I hear, for there are so many false rumors, that it is hard to tell what to believe.
"Give our best love to Alice and family, all the children, and receive a large share for yourself. We remain yours most affectionately until death.
"T. T., M. A., and M. S. Johnston."
"To Deacon J. W. Freeland and Wife."
Rev. Johnston was not a politician; but he was a man having an exalted appreciation of the duties that he owed, not only to his God, but also to his country; and of such faithfulness to his convictions, religious and political, that people always know where to find him. Though associated at times with anti-mission Baptists, he was always out-spoken in his advocacy of Missions; and, had circumstances thrown him among those who differed with him in his political convictions, he would have still been true to the traditions of his early life. Born in Virginia, of old Southern stock; reared in Kentucky where his southern blood had not been allowed to cool; and surrounded in Missouri by the same class of people, it is not surprising that his sympathies went out to the South in the Great Conflict of 1861-1865. It would have been surprising had it been otherwise. While, like many other Southerners, he did not approve of the secession of the States, when the step was irrevocably taken, he, a loyal Southerner, accepted the condition.
In the first year of the War the affairs of the churches under the influence of the physical commotion surrounding them seemed to lose their interest in things spiritual. Money, always sensitive to external disturbance began to hide itself and was no longer available for religions purposes specially, the churches found that their ordinary efforts were greatly crippled. For the associational missionary work, particularly, funds were lacking. In view of this condition Elder Johnston, who was Chairman of the Missionary Committee of his Association, offered this resolution as his report:
"Resolved - That in view of the commotion and strife by which we are surrounded, and the great scarcity of money prevailing, we recommend the ministers of this Association, ordained and licenses, to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, as the providence of God may enable them, visiting the churches and destitute places, and looking for support to Him alone who fed the young raven and sustained Elijah in his destitution."
As this resolution called as loudly upon him for sacrificing labor as it did upon any one it serves to show how zealous he was in this cause. During the stormy times of these years, 1861-1865, he maintained, as far as conditions would suffer, the earnest, faithful and even tenor of his way. Only when prevented from doing so by the military occupancy of his houses of worship did he remit the calling of his people together for the regular Saturday and Sunday services. He was present at all the meetings of the Association to which his churches belongs; was either Moderator, Clerk, Preacher of the Introductory Sermon or Chairman of some prominent Committee. On the field he continued with unabated zeal his labor as Missionary of the Association and organizer of Sunday Schools, and thus as far as possible spiritual matters here kept alive and active when sublunary affairs seemed to be going all awry.
In 1865, still remaining Pastor of Mt. Pleasant Church, Montgomery County, he removed with his family to Truxton, Lincoln County, Missouri, distant from the Church about fifteen miles. In June, 1865, the Drake Constitution of Missouri with its infamous Test Oath was adopted. The conditions of this Test Oath were not only infamous, but they were very sweeping. (The unjust conditions of this Oath are so well known to the readers of the Volumes of Missouri Baptist Biography that they need no recounting here.) Rev. Johnston by the wise conservatism of his course under these trying conditions, was enabled to conduct services, somewhat modified, with his congregation, without either taking the oath or infringing the law. After the restrictions of the oath were removed in 1867, he became again the active Pastor of Mt. Pleasant Church and served the Church in this capacity to the time of his death—a period of several years of blessed experience.
In the year 1876, Bear Creek Association met with Fairview Church, Lincoln County. Elder Johnston having been appointed Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Missions, presented the following report:
"Being actuated by a desire to advance the cause and promote the interests of the Redeemer’s Kingdom, and believing an efficient system of missionary operations to be the most successful method of accomplishing such a great and glorious work, and as so many plans have been tried and have failed, and as hundreds of dollars have been thus spent, to seemingly little profit, we recommend:--
"First - That the Association elect two of its warmest hearted and most efficient members, whose labors have been more or less successful in building up the churches, as missionaries, whose duty it shall be to operate with the Pastors of churches, also, to visit weak churches in conjunction with each other; to hold protracted meetings, and to labor in any other way best calculated to build up and strengthen said churches; also to labor in destitute places where there is no pastor preaching
"Second - That said Missionaries shall report their success semi-annually, through The Central Baptist, to the churches, and also to the Association at its next Annual Session.
"Third - That Bear Creek Association repudiate all Boards and Committees intervening between it and its Missionaries; elect and take entire control of said Missionaries itself."
The Resolution was adopted and thus a radical change was made in the missionary work of the Association. Elder Johnston was unanimously elected and prevailed upon to serve the Association in this capacity, and Elder M. T. Bibb was elected as his associate.
As the sequel will show, this was destined to be the closing work of his long and efficient service of the Master to which he had surrendered himself in this earlier manhood.
At the meeting of Bear Creek Association with Zion Church, Montgomery County, August 16, 1877, the death of Elder Johnston was announced and a Committee on Obituaries made the following report:
"Your Committee have to report the death of Eld. T. T. Johnston, who departed this life February 25, 1877, and in whose death the Association has lost a most valued member and minister of the Gospel; one whose labors have been greatly blest in the churches of the Association, from its origin till the day of his death.
"Indeed, the doubtless fell a martyr to the cause in our midst, as his sickness was induced by overlabor and exposure as Missionary of this Association.
"Thus another ‘Veteran of the Cross and Servant of God,’ after a long career of hard toil and useful labor as a minister of Jesus Christ falls, and we who survive our brother, are admonished to ‘work while it is called today’ with renewed and unremitting zeal, as the night of death makes haste to overtake us, when no man can work."
The following synopsis of the work performed by Elder Johnston as Missionary of the Association, in the few weeks that intervened between the session of 1876 and his final illness, was submitted to the Association and approved, viz.:
"Places visited - Copher’s school house, Cottonwood Church, Loutre Church, and Mount Pleasant Church.
"Days of labor, 16; public prayers, 11; sermons, 9; exhortations, 9; prayed in families, 9 times; miles traveled, 90."
Mr. Johnston’s notable achievements were not confined to those gained as a Soldier of the Cross. He understood the principles, and the use of the implements of spiritual warfare, and was not ignorant of those of the physical conflict in arms. In the good old days when men of military age were required to muster, he was elected Captain of a company organized at Louisiana, Pike County, Missouri, said at the time to be one of the finest in the State. His proficiency as a military tactician was recognized by the Superior Officers of the Regiment. The Colonel frequently called upon him to conduct the regimental drill. His military bearing and personal appearance when in full uniform were said to be superb.
As he was systematic, resourceful, and successful in marshaling his hosts for the spiritual warfare, and in lining up his parishioners to do business for the Lord, so, in his later years he gained a business reputation not to be despised. When he moved to Truxton he purchased from Joseph Holder, then owner, a half interest in the steam saw and grist mill at that place. Soon thereafter they added a wool carding machine and were in a short time doing an immense business in both departments. Rev. Johnston superintended the carding machine and Mr. Holder the mill part. After a few years of successful business, Mr. Johnston sold his interest to Holder, who thereafter conducted the business. About this time the famous Johnston-Faulconer & Co. mercantile firm was organized, with Rev. Johnston the junior member. He was not active in the new business, but established a small adjunct, consisting of saddles, harness, etc., which he conducted to the day of his death and made successful.
In the fall of 1876 he held a protracted meeting at the Church on Elkhorn, Montgomery County, twelve or fourteen miles from Truxton. During this meeting he contracted a cold which resulted in his death. He attempted to "wear this cold out" as he put it, but it grew upon him although he was strong and active. He could easily and readily mount his horse by the stirrups from the ground. He went about and attended to his work till some time in January, when he was confined to his room. A little later the cold developed into a case of acute pneumonia, and death followed February 25, 1877. He maintained his mentality until the very end, and talked about business and matters generally. The letter to Mt. Pleasant brethren which appears in this sketch, was written in the last days of his sickness and was the last thing written by him. It is reproduced here because it was his last letter and written to the old Church and members he loved so and had served so long. It is a last appeal to, and a benediction upon his Church and children in the Lord. He was calm and patient and resigned to the last. Shortly before the end, he repeated the old hymn in clear tones as if lining it for his congregation.
"Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep; A calm and undisturbed repose, Unbroken by the last of foes."
This was the last expression: The spirit passed away with the close of the hymn.
The funeral services were held at the M. E. Church, South, at Truxton. The Church ceremonies were conducted by Rev. J. H. Tuttle of the Baptist Church, and Rev. J. Y. Blakey of the Southern Methodist Church. The ceremonies after the sermon were conducted by the Masonic Lodge of which he was a member, having become so after he had turned into the sixties. It was a very large and impressive funeral. The road from the home to the Church, about one-fourth of a mile distant, was thronged with sympathizing friends and neighbors from the surrounding country and neighboring towns. The body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Truxton, but was afterwards removed to the family lot in the cemetery at Montgomery City. A beautiful monument now marks the resting place of this holy man whose life and death from a precious heritage to his children, and are a benediction to his family, friends and Church.
THE LETTER TO MT. PLEASANT CHURCH
Truxton, Missouri, January 17, 1877.
"I feel it a duty to address a few lines to you and the brethren generally. I was very sorry that I could not be at the December meeting, but my lungs would not permit me to do so. I then sincerely hoped I would be able to be there for the ensuing meeting, but it was entirely out of my power. I can not get a long breath without great pain. If I was to come I could not speak, for it hurts my lungs to attend family worship. I am doctoring myself. I still hope to be better, and will be pleased to visit you.
"I was so in hopes that poor old Mount Pleasant was about to look up again to her primeval strength and beauty, and was, and am thankful to God for the blessing He poured out upon her through the last year; for the addition of nine substantial and good members in the ten months I was there, was, by no means, a small favor. It is one that I shall be thankful for.
"The last time that I saw Brother Shraumm he asked me if I was elected, if I would serve the church. I told him I did not know, but I would if the church was anything like unanimous; and, I believed, could the church work with me for a few years, that she would again become what she was under my pastorate before. Now you can let them know if I can get anything like an harmonious election, I will serve them, if it is the will of the Lord. I think that there ought to be special prayer to God for guidance in the choice of a pastor. I do not think you ought to put off any longer the call of a pastor.
"I do not want to be called into the service of a church where I am cramped. I want you to be watchful and prayerful, and may the God of wisdom guide and direct you in the choice of a pastor. Write to me on Monday, and if I am the choice, tell them I will be there just as soon as the Lord will permit me. Write to me whether I am called or not, and write all the particulars. I would like for you to write.
"Give my love to my children, the members, and all my old friends. Give my respects to Cousin Edmund and Cousin Delia. Farewell my beloved children.
"T. T. Johnston."
Rev. Johnston always had a very tender place in his heart for Mt. Pleasant Church. After the restrictions of the Test Oath were removed by the highest court in the land, he was again called to the pastorate of the Church and served up to the time of his death. His time expired during his last sickness. The meeting to elect a Pastor was to be held the last of January. On account of his sickness he missed the December meeting and the Church sent a message to him to know if he would serve if re-elected. The letter beautifully and pathetically expresses the tender and intense regard—love—he felt for the Church and its members. It shows a beautiful and fraternal spirit on the part of both Pastor and Church. The action of the Church in electing him was undoubtedly a source of much gratification and comfort to him in his last days on earth.
While a man’s salient characteristics are shown in the outstanding events of his life, especially in those event that are the direct product of his will, the readers of a simple biographical statement of these events will frequently fail of gaining an appreciative knowledge of the finer qualities of character as seen by those who know him in his more intimate life relations.
In writing an appreciation of my honored father’s character, I am conscious that my filial regard for him, and the truly fraternal relations that existed between father and son will render it difficult for me to write what I know of his versatile ability, his wisdom, and his efficiency, without laying myself liable to the charge of exercising a son-like predilection in his favor. Therefore, I consider myself fortunate in having the ripe and unbiased estimation of my father’s character as Rev. R. S. Duncan, D. D. (History of Missouri Baptists); Dr. W. J. Patrick, of beloved memory; Rev. R. E. McQuie, of Montgomery City, Missouri; John S. Martin, Esq., of Noix Creek, and R. T. Martin, Esq., formerly of Noix Creek, now of St. Louis, Missouri, from those testimonials I have freely drawn in what follows, and an appreciative note from Ex-Governor R. A. Campbell:
"During the vigor of his life Brother Johnston was active in the ministry, traveling many weary miles to reach congregations gathered together in schoolhouses to hear the Gospel message from his lips. His preaching was generally of the exhortational order, and, while in his prime, his appeals were often overwhelming, melting sometimes the whole congregation to tears. Hundreds of souls within the bounds of Salt River and Bear Creek Associations were brought under conviction and led to Christ by his preaching. (Dr. Duncan.)
"He was spoken of as an upright, manly citizen, who bore himself well in the affairs of man as well as in the pulpit. He was genteel in appearance, neat in dress, and cordial without obsequiousness.
"He was well read in the Bible, and delivered his sermons in an acceptable style, often approaching the eloquent. His voice was pleasant and his address pleasing and attractive. He had gifts for revival services and his appeals were powerful.
"He was ready in emergencies. One cold day during his Mt. Pisgah pastorate he baptized twenty-six candidates in Peno Creek, west of Mt. Pisgah Church. While in the water, noticing that the spectators on the bank were uncomfortably cold, he said: ‘Brethren, let’s sing to warm up.’ This little expedient produced the desired effect. The brethren forgot they were cold." (Dr. Patrick.)
"Rev. Thos. T. Johnston did more perhaps than any other man to build up the Baptist Church in the Salt River Association, or in Northeast Missouri. I think he baptized more people than any other Baptist preacher in this part of the State. I know that he married ore couples than any other minister of that denomination. He was a first-class man in every respect and stood high as a citizen and was universally respected by every one who knew him. He was an active man—full of energy—and very popular, not only with his own members, but with the community.
"The first baptism I ever witnessed was performed by him when he baptized twenty-six people in Peno Creek not far from Mt. Pisgah Church. I was a boy. I rode behind Jesse P. Rodgers, deputy sheriff under Wm. Penix, from the church to the scene of the baptism. It was a very solemn and impressive occasion—never to be forgotten. (Gov. R. A. Campbell.)
"I have never known any person who was so well fitted for the office of Sunday School superintendent as Rev. T. T. Johnston. He not only worked himself, but possessed the faculty of inspiring others to work. Hence his great success as a Sunday-school worker. We did not have the lesson helps as we have today. In place of the printed helps we did our own interpreting, and our superintendent, Rev. Johnston, would lecture and explain the lesson. He would lead out and encourage the young people to participate freely. In this way he stimulated many to active work in the church. In conclusion, I will say that as a Sunday-school superintendent, teacher and leader, and as a friend of the young who needed instruction in the Bible, in prayer, and in consecration. Rev. T. T. Johnston had no equals. He was a thorough, enthusiastic worker and drill-master in church work." (John S. Martin.)
"Brother Johnston was resourceful and methodical, always bringing out something new from his storehouse of methods to interest and inspire the pupils to greater activity in attendance and effort. Even in what some might consider trivial, he showed his resourcefulness, as when he explained to the ladies of the Sunday-school how to make some roses that they wished to use as a distinctive decoration." (Reuben T. Martin.)
The strongest and wisest men are always the most simple. As an illustration of the way that his ministrations were viewed by an intelligent young person, I quote the following from a letter written me by Mrs. Belle N. Jones of Columbia, Missouri:
"My first recollection of Mr. Johnston is when I was about five years of age. He was in our home, talking to my aunt. I was playing around his chair and listening and he turned to me and said, ‘Little girl, you are old enough to begin being a Christian; you must grow up to love and serve God.’ Those words were fixed in my memory.
"When I was but seven years old Mr. Johnston came to Zion Church to assist in father’s ordination to the ministry. I remember that he preached about faith, and discussed it in such a way that I could understand him.
"In the summer of 1869 or 1870, Mr. Johnston preached occasionally at Zion, and it was there that I began to have a great appreciation of his mental acquirements and habits. In those days, I was an enthusiastic student of psychology, reading every author available on that subject. It was with pleasure that I recognized that Mr. Johnston knew the laws of the spiritual world, whether acquired from his own observation and reflection, or gathered from books, I did not know, but I found real pleasure in being present whenever he was to occupy the pulpit." (Mrs. Jones.)
As will have been learned from the preceding record and from the appreciative testimonials of those who knew him, that Rev. T. T. Johnston was a man of more than ordinary versatility of mind. He was a born diplomat and organizer of men; quick of perception; could readily take in a situation and accommodate or adjust himself to circumstances. He could make the other man feel that he—the other man—was the hero.
He possessed a strong vein of humor, as well as pathos, and enthusiasm. With but little effort he could convulse his congregation with laughter; then suddenly turn the other side and make them weep. He had a full stock of anecdotes and few persons could surpass him in telling a story. These characteristics were very valuable in his evangelistic work for which he had both great liking and unusual ability. I am here reminded of one of his anecdotes that is apropos:
"A young negro, ambitious to don the sacerdotal robes, went to an old colored preacher to get him to ‘learn’ him how to preach. Well, said the old brother, ‘In fust place you must splanify, den you must arufy, den put in de rousement.’"
Rev. Johnston was a Past Master along this line. He certainly could "put in de rousement."
Had he possessed or cultivated an ambition for self-promotion, along with his ability to advance himself, he could have reached almost any position in the gift of his fellow men. But he preferred the walks of the meek and lowly. He seemed to think he could best serve the Master whose cause he had espoused, and do the greatest good to the largest number by following the example of his Master. Work in the limelight had no attraction for him at all. He seemed to see in it the same sordid selfish spirit that characterized the Pharisees under the Judaic dispensation. No man looked on the selfish shams, pretenses and glittering display among those higher up, with more contempt than he. His mission was rather to the poor, the afflicted, the needy and helpless. These always enlisted his sympathies and commanded his labor.
H was a most amiable, gentle, and tender hearted man. His military bearing sometimes gave him an air of austerity, but austerity was no part of his nature.
He was very firm and conscientious in his dealings with his fellow men, but was always considerate of the feelings and opinions of others.
In the family he was a model father and husband. His ability to read or tell a story in an attractive way, made him a delightful companion for his children. He was fond of telling them stories from the Bible, and told them in such a way, embellishing, adorning and emphasizing the leading pointes that he never failed to hold their eager attention. Lying on a pallet, with a chair turned down for a pillow, he would spend an hour or two on the story of Joseph, Moses, Sampson, or other Bible characters, and in this way teach the Bible to them. His children thought him a great man, and so he seems to me yet.
Let us close this record of Rev. Thomas Thornton Johnston’s eminently useful life with a further quotation from the Rev. R. E. McQuie’s eloquent tribute to his memory:
"From 1828 to 1877 in Salt River and Bear Creek Associations, a half century of work, bearing the sweet message, ‘Peace on earth and good will to men,’ through trials, tribulations, wars and dangers, to his fellow men, and the Gospel invitation to sinful and fallen humanity.
"He was teacher, preacher and benefactor. What a beautiful culmination of a life’s work in the church he loved so much and served so faithfully.
"Always a busy man; he lost no time; he was heart and soul in the work when not engaged by the Association or the Mission Board. He spent his own time in the field at work, visiting the school houses, the lowly homes, and the pious that were destitute of religious privileges. He surely visited the highways and byways and brought in guests to the Gospel feast. He certainly was entitled to sing himself to sleep, as he did in his last moments with the beautiful Hymn of Rest—
Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep, From which none ever wakes to weep! A calm and undisturbed repose, Unbroken by the last of foes.’"
The subject of this sketch is a native of the "Old Dominion." He was born in Woodville, Rappahannock County, Virginia, May 20, 1846. His father was a well educated physician, and man of large culture and wide influence for good. Both Charles Rodham Kemper, M. D., and the mother, Mary Virginia Kemper (nee Jones), were Baptists. They knew, as Virginia Baptists generally know, why they were Baptists. They had well defined and carefully studied convictions of the teachings of the New Testament.
Their son, J. F. Kemper, was converted, baptized and ordained in Mount Salem Church, Rappahannock County in his native state. The pastor of the church was Rev. Barnett Grimsby. The beginning of his mental training was in private schools. Such was the tender care and loving solicitude of parents at that time and in that part of our country that the young people were kept under the watchful eyes of parents as long as possible. There must be a certainty that a high sense of moral principle and been well established before they went forth to mingle with the world outside the home.
After the training received in the private schools he was sent to the Virginia Military Institute where he continued for a time his studies. The writer has not been informed whether or not he completed the full course of studies there. When a little past 17 years of age, he entered the Confederate army and served under Colonel Mosby until the end of the war. Those who are to any large degree familiar with the history of the war between the States knows that he lived a strenuous life and mingled in the most stirring events for the nearly two years of his military life.
In 1874 the Mt. Salem Church gave him license to preach the Gospel. This meant the approval of his home church of his Christian conduct and their estimate that he had talent to be useful in the ministry. On the second day of July, 1876, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry by a call from the same church. Mr. Kemper went to Greenville, South Carolina, and there completed the English course in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He completed his studies at the Seminary in 1876. He came to Missouri the same year and served as pastor at Glasgow a little less than one year. Then returned to his native state and labored at Lynchburg, as supply man for almost a year, and at Danville for a less period of time. Then became settled pastor at Harrisonburg, where in two and a half years an indebtedness of nearly four thousand dollars was paid upon the church property. Returning to Missouri in 1882, he accepted a call to the pastorate of the Baptist Church at Louisiana, and continued a successful work for almost eight years.
Wherever Mr. Kemper has been pastor he has carried along a steady, every day work. He aims at no sensation and avoids all that would call attention of the world to him as one seeking applause, but he was constantly at his work. He was a careful and prayerful student, and never failed to have spiritual food for his people. From Louisiana, he went to Maryville, Missouri, and for two and a half years continued the same honest and faithful labors as on former fields. He was now called to the pastorate at Marshall, Missouri, where he held the longest pastorate in the history of this church up to the present 1915. The writer of this sketch having once been pastor in Marshall, and having visited there among old friends nearly every year during Mr. Kemper’s pastorate can write knowingly of his work upon that field. It was just the same, all the time, unvarying faithful toil that has characterized his work every where he has gone. The church gradually enlarged its membership and its contributions to all departments of general and world wide missions. Mr. Kemper was led to make a special study of parliamentary law. At the young peoples’ conventions he frequently gave lessons along this line and sought to teach the young men and women to preside at their meetings and to direct the affairs in an orderly manner. He became himself an able presiding officer, and as moderator of the Missouri Baptist General Association, showed both skill and wisdom in this department. He was for several years the president of the State Mission and Sunday-school Board. He was, also, a number of times, chosen as Assistant Moderator of the General Association, and in his capacity often presided at the meetings.
In 1906, William Jewell College in recognition of Mr. Kemper’s attainments in learning in general, and especially his great scholarship as a theologian, conferred upon him the well earned degree of Doctor of Divinity. After giving up the pastorate at Marshall, Dr. Kemper went back to his old home in Virginia and remained for a few years. He then returned to Missouri and became pastor at Carthage. From this place he went to Boonville, where after a few years his health became so broken that he was forced to give up all pastoral work. The best treatment medical skill could afford was given him. Finding no improvement he went back to his native state and at the home of his maiden sister, in Woodville, Va., died April 5, 1913.
After they had learned of his death, his many friends in Marshall held a memorial service in the house where he had for ten years faithfully served the Lord and His people. Many short addresses were made by members of the various churches of that city. Most of these talks were by laymen, who had known and loved him for his sincere piety and unselfish devotion to the best interests of all the people.
Dr. Kemper had a very sad life. In his early manhood he had married a young woman, in every way worthy of his love. He gave to her the genuine love of his heart, and they were both as happy as any young and well cultured young people could be, but within a year or so of their married life she became hopelessly insane. She lingered on for more than thirty years in a hospital for the incurables, but never for a moment regained the proper use of her mental faculties, and so he remained with his heart’s best love buried in a living tomb. His fidelity to her never wavered and in all his lonely life he filled up this aching void with a loving devotion to the work of preaching the Gospel, writing for religious journals, helping those who were in trouble and leading the lost into the way of life eternal.
WILLIAM ANDERSON KINGDON, ESQ.
Religious Activity in Missouri 1856-1907
His Wife, Ms. Ellen R. Kingdon
William Anderson Kingdon was born in Kingston, Jamaica, August 3, 1835. His parents, Rev. John and Mrs. Mar A. Lycett Kingdon, were English missionaries sent out by the Baptist Missionary Society, about the year 1831. When William was ten years of age, the society discontinued the work in Jamaica, his parents removing to Central America and taking up the work among the Yucatan Indians. At this period Mr. Kingdon took William and his younger brother John to England and placed them in the school of Mr. West at Amersham. Six years later Mrs. Kingdon’s health failed and she was ordered away from the tropics. Accordingly they arranged to return to England, but the night before sailing Mrs. Kingdon dreamed that the vessel on which they had taken passage met with shipwreck; and though not all of a superstitious nature, the vividness of the dream so affected her that they changed their plans and determined to come to the United States. A happy resolve, as the vessel was indeed wrecked and many, if not all on board, were lost. Thus does our Heavenly Father sometimes warn His children. As Mrs. Kingdon had a brother, Mr. Edward Lycett, living in Baltimore, Md., they decided to go to that city. Having located there, they identified themselves with the Baptist Church of which Rev. Richard Fuller, D. D., was pastor.
Mr. Kingdon then sailed to England to bring his sons to their new home. In about a year after his arrival William gave his heart to his Savior, and was baptized by Dr. Fuller into the membership of his church. He at once became active in religious work, being associated with Roscoe Graves, who served so faithfully on the mission field in China, and other young men of his type. This continued until he reached the age of twenty-one, when he decided to go West, settling in St. Louis, Missouri. He placed his church letter with the Second Baptist Church, then situated on the corner of Sixth and Locust streets. He again took up Sunday-school work and was a regular attendant at all the church services.
In the year 1862, in the city of St. Louis, Mr. Kingdon was united in marriage with Miss Ellen Ridgely. Of this union eight children were born, of whom one daughter and three sons are living.
The unpleasant experiences of the Civil War were felt in the church of which Mr. Kingdon was a member, causing a number, himself among them, to sever their connection with it, he uniting with the Third Baptist Church. After several years he, with his family, made their home in Kirkwood, St. Louis County, and after the organization of the Baptist Church in that town, Mr. Kingdon and his wife united with it. As he had ever done, he took a deep interest in the welfare of the church; rendering assistance wherever possible. Rarely was he absent from the services of the house of God; the prayer meeting he loved to attend and life his voice in prayer and praise. For years he filled the office of deacon, a position for which he entertained a feeling of reverence and responsibility. For a long term Mr. Kingdon held the office of church clerk; also taught in Sunday-school.
Faithful and affectionate in his family relations, he was beloved by wife and children. A conscientious father, he labored and prayed for the salvation of his children, and had the joy of seeing five of them go down into the waters of baptism, the other three having passed away in infancy.
Being of a genial disposition, he had a large circle of friends. Honorable and upright, he held business positions for long terms, having been connected with the St. Louis Gas Light Co. eighteen years, and the Missouri Pacific Railway Co. twenty-two years, the latter connection being severed by death.
While Mr. Kingdon and his family were spending the winter in St. Louis, he was attacked by his last illness, which lasted eight months and was borne with patience and Christian resignation. On July 9, 1907, he heard the summons "Come up higher," and went to be "forever with the Lord," his departure being lamented by family and friends. The funeral services were conducted by his friend and pastor, Rev. B. N. Timbie, at the Third Baptist Church, and his body was laid to rest in the family lot at Bellefontaine Cemetery.
Evan Lawler was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, in the year 1799. He married Sarah Barker who was born in Roanoke County, North Carolina, in 1798. To them were born ten children, nine of whom lived to be married men and women. Three sons, William Barker, Benjamin Franklin and Robert Daniel, also two grandsons, Zachary Taylor Strickland and William Senter Weir became ministers of the Gospel.
Mr. Lawler with his little family moved from Chatham County, North Carolina, to Henderson County, Tennessee, in 1828 and remained there ten years. In 1838 he came to Missouri and settled in the section then known as Rives County, now St. Clair County. Here he and his wife made an excellent home in which they reared their large family, and in which ministers of the Gospel, neighbors, friends and strangers often found a welcome.
He was a man of books and trained his children into the fixed habit of reading good literature, and was also a man of business, managing well his own affairs, and often attending the courts transacting such public business in his life was to know the will of God and to serve Him in home and public worship.
In about the year 1840, he, his wife, and a few others organized the Coon Creek Church, two miles from his residence. To this church great numbers of converts were added from time to time, and the congregations were always large, many people coming several miles to attend the once-a-month services; on some occasions, even from Osceola, the county seat, ten miles away. The ceremony of baptism was administered in a nearby creek of beautifully clear running water. On one occasion within the memory of the writer, the congregation marched to the water, and sang as they went—
"Am I a soldier of the cross, A follower of the Lamb?"
This was nearly three quarters of a century ago (in 1917).
The ministers in charge of the church in the earlier days were Elders W. B. Senter; L. R. Ashworth, and James T. Wheeler. Elder Wheeler was the pastor when the Civil War began in 1861. During this year the services were discontinued, but were revived when the country had once more become settled. At this writing, 1917, the well-begun work flourishes in the town of Collins, a few miles from the dear spot where the first members labored so successfully.
During the war the home of Deacon and Mrs. Lawler was destroyed, and thenceforth they lived with their children, mainly in Henry County, Missouri.
Deacon Lawler died in 1875, at the age of seventy0six, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Strickland in Dallas County Missouri, his wife having preceded him to the Eternal Home several years before. His sons conveyed his body to Tebo Church in Henry County, where Ref. W. A. Gray, assisted by other ministers, conducted very appropriate memorial services. His body now lies beside the remains of his life companion in the well-kept cemetery of that church, to await the resurrection.
Rev. R. D. Lawler, son of Evan and Sarah Lawler, was born in Tennessee, October 17, 1835, and was three years old when his parents moved to Missouri. His opportunities for education were meager the winter schools being short and not always good. He was married young, to Miss Adaline Delozier, who is living in the excellent home he left her, now in 1907.
He was converted in meetings at Tebo Church in Henry County when he was about thirty-two years of age. As he was later coming into the fold of God than any other of the children there was a great rejoicing, and he was received heartily into the church and by Christians generally. Soon he realized that God had called him into the ministry and began studying with a view to preaching the Gospel. He was ordained at Tebo Church in about the year 1891. His brother, B. F. Lawler, preached the sermon. Test: I. Tim. 4:14-15, and II. Tim. 2:15. A strong council laid hands on him in his ordination and made no mistake in commending him to the churches and the people. Rev. W. A. Gray, Rev. W. B. Lawler, Rev. William Briggs, Rev. Thomas Briggs, besides the preacher of the sermon, joined in the exercises. He studied in the Baptist Male and Female Academy located at Calhoun, in Henry County, and later in Windsor, his brother, B. F. Lawler, being the teacher, though God was the great teacher who had been watching over him all the years. He afterwards studied for a time in William Jewell College, though not in regular course. He was an excellent singer, as well as preacher, and thousands of people have been stimulated and edified from hearing him sing. He visited in Oklahoma Territory, teaching music and preaching; preached for a time in Nebraska, but his main life work was done in Missouri. He was in the ministry about thirty years, being pastor at Spring Grove, Mount Pleasant, Bethel, Warsaw in Benton County, Bethlehem, Montrose, Brownington, Fairview and Peaceful Home in Henry County, Cove Creek in Bates County, also Maysburg, Lowery City, his own home town; Concord, Appleton City, Kiffin, Kings Prairie, Harmony and Osceola, where he was pastor at the time of his death.
Many of the members of his church visited him during his sickness, and all the country was anxious about him, showing what a benefactor he had been among all classes of the people. Although the youngest son, he seemed to take more fatherly oversight of brothers and sisters and their families than anyone else, and he is mourned as if he had been father to many of them. His style of preaching was more textual than expository, and more on the inductive than the deductive in discourse, but his conclusions were forceful and always Scriptural. His singing would stir the hearts of the people and the lessons of song were no small part of the great work he had done. He has an only child, Mrs. Sarah Frances Penn, living close to her mother. A grand-daughter, Mrs. Mabel Griffin and two grandsons, Walter and R. D. Penn. Many of the churches to which he ministered had regular preaching only once in a month, hence the great number of churches mentional as pastorates. Frequently he was pastor of three, maybe four, at one time. He left with his family something in writing which he had preserved—some very striking thoughts, showing remarkable memory as to events when he was a small boy—especially his ideal of his father and mother, might be particularly remarked. He honored the Fifth Commandment by obeying it. Humor played a very subordinate part in his preaching, though it sometimes showed itself. His business was to leave the message to the people that God gave him, and God’s messages are always sermons. In the first stages of his illness, he had a remarkable dream in which he thought he saw Jesus and His Disciples; that John rose and said, "Peace be within these walls, and prosperity within these palaces; and that he, himself, approached Jesus, and said, "I have long desired to see Thee, and now mine eyes behold Thee." When he awoke his face was suffused in tears.
His Illness lasted fourteen weeks, and a few moments before his triumphant death, he said, "St. John is waiting for me," and his spirit went away to be with the Lord. He died October 7, 1900.
William Barker Lawler was born in Chatham County, North Carolina, November 4, 1821, and while he was a small boy his parents, Evan and Sarah Lawler, removed to Henderson County, Tennessee. In 1838 they again removed, to what is now St. Clair County, Missouri.
Being the only efficient help that his father had in opening up the farm and erecting buildings his opportunities for gaining an education were very meager. His father, however, was a man of books as well as of business, and so the boy in schools, though poor, and by necessity irregular attended, with the father’s aid gained a respectable farmer’s education. Labor in life he was elected Justice of the Peace, and obtained from his admiring friends the title, "Squire Lawler," and as it was his nature to administer efficiently the duties of his office, the title was a title to be respected.
In 1843 he was married to Miss Amelia Molder, and they became the parents of seven sons and three daughters.
Mr. Lawler was a business farmer of more than ordinary ability—managing estates in the courts, and handling stock and farm produce. He was prosperous until, through the vicissitudes of the Civil War he met with serious reverses and moved from his farm in St. Clair County to Henry County.
He was converted in 1843, and was at once baptized into the fellowship of Coon Creek Baptist Church by Rev. W. B. Senter. For many years he was both Clerk and Chorister to this church. In 1860 he was given a license to preach as opportunity offered by his mother-church, and in 1862, by the same church was set apart to the full enjoyment of the privileges of the Gospel Ministry by ordination. The Council consisted of Elders W. R. McLain and B. F. Lawler and others.
At the close of the war he began what was to prove a remarkable career as pastor and Missionary in Henry and adjoining counties. Rich and poor, learned and unlearned, were his friends. The few enemies that he had in the war seemed to settle still deeper in the heart of the people, the belief in his deep piety and sincere work for the Lord.
Short-time pastorates were frequent and ofttimes far apart. Good Hope Church was the special object of his love and activity in planting, building and nourishing, and in the Cemetery of that church he now rests beside the loved wife of his youth, who preceded him but a few years to their final abode.
He preached occasionally until he was eighty-four years of age, but in the last years it was with difficulty that he performed any specially active work, as he was handicapped somewhat b a stroke of partial paralysis when he was about seventy-three years old, but his zeal and energy would not suffer him to remain perfectly quiescent, but his physical frame refused longer to do the bidding of his mental powers.
He left no writings of special data, but it is thought that he baptized over one thousand persons, and that many more were converted through his ministry. The Lord only has kept the true record of the beneficent life and labors of this man of God, although thousands find this day their hearts imbued with loving and sacrificial spirit.
He died November 16, 1908, in the house where he had lived for forty years. An immense crowd waiting upon the remains of the one they had known and loved for so many years, to pay the last tribute of their affection to him, and their sympathy for the bereaved ones.
Four years previously he had selected the text for his funeral discourse and requested Elder I. R. Jenkins of Clinton to preach the sermon. The text was Rev. 14:13.
Truly - "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord," and quite as truly - "They rest from their labors and their works do follow them."