Saturday, November 30, 2019

The praying church, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

"The praying church is a church who admits her dependence on God." -- Megan Hill

"A good pastor isn’t in it for the income. He is in it for the outcome." -- Read

"Contentment erects a powerful shield of protection for your integrity. Lack of contentment renders us vulnerable to temptation to cut corners and be dishonest." -- Paul Chappell

"Wealth may seek us, but Wisdom must be sought." -- from a School Souvenir booklet

"Believers and unbelievers cry in graveyards." -- Steve Brown

"If you can’t see the shiny side of life, try polishing your side." -- Read

"Prayer is the innate language of those who are caused to cry ‘ABBA FATHER’." Mike McInnis

"What often passes for serving and worshipping God is merely the flesh on parade." -- Heard

"What our fathers with so much difficulty obtained, let us not basely relinquish." -- A translation of "Qua patres difficillime adepti sunt nolite turpiter relinquere" on the tombstone of William Bradford

"There is no medium between absolute predestination and absolute atheism. God either governs it all, or he governs nothing. If sin is in this world, contrary to the purpose of God, then God does not rule that and is not God in that realm. He is a lesser God than the God you and I are under the assumption he is." -- Augustus Toplady

Friday, November 29, 2019

In “other” words, catawampus to zigzag

  • catawampus, adjective. Askew; awry; positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.
  • catty-corner, adjective, diagonal (catawampus) and adverb, diagonally.
  • discombobulate, verb. To confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate.
  • fluky, adjective. Obtained by chance rather than skill; uncertain, as a wind.
  • flummoxed, adjective. Perplexed or bewildered.
  • hackneyed, adjective. Made commonplace or trite; stale; banal.
  • gobbledygook, noun. Language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of technical terms.
  • helter-skelter, adverb. In disorderly haste or confusion.
  • higgledy-piggledy, adjective. Confused; jumbled.
  • higgledy-piggledy, adverb. In a jumbled, confused, or disorderly manner; helter-skelter.
  • malarkey, noun. Speech or writing designed to obscure, mislead, or impress; bunkum.
  • offbeat, adjective. Differing from the usual or expected; unconventional; unusual.
  • poppycock, noun. Nonsense; bosh.
  • rigmarole, noun. An elaborate or complicated procedure.
  • throughother, adverb and adjective. So as to be mingled or mixed together; esp. in a disorderly or confused way, higgledy-piggledy.
  • topsy-turvy, adverb. With the top where the bottom should be; upside down.
  • zigzag, noun. A line, course, or progression characterized by sharp turns first to one side and then to the other.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Be careful for nothing

“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
What a word this is! “Everything!” You are privileged, saint of God, to go to the throne of God with everything. What, with every little occurrence? Yes. What, with things that people call trifles? Yes. With your daily concerns? Yes. If you feel that there is a God who can hear you, it is your privilege to go to him in everything. All things are comprehended; nothing is excluded. In everything, and that by prayer and supplication.
Sometimes we pray, sometimes we supplicate. Prayer is something more gentle than supplication, less earnest, less fervent, less powerful; yet not less effectual. I have sometimes compared prayer and supplication to two things in nature. The one to a river—a stream, such as we see in our low country that flows with gentle course to the sea; the other to the torrents found in mountainous countries, that leap from precipice to precipice. The one is the calm prayer of the soul, the other the fervent cry, the earnest supplication, the breathed agony of the spirit rushing along into the bosom of God with many a broken sigh and many an earnest groan.
Here the two seem contrasted. There is prayer, calm and gentle, the simple pouring out of the soul into the bosom of God; and then there is supplication, which is earnest, and calls upon the Lord as though the soul must be heard. We see it in the blessed Jesus himself. We read on one occasion that he went into a mountain the whole night to pray. Now we have no reason to believe he prayed on that occasion in the same way that he prayed in the garden and upon the cross. In the one case he had sweet union and communion with his Father; in the other he cried with groans and tears and was heard. The one was prayer; the other supplication.
When your soul is calmed by the presence of God, and you feel the breath of prayer to enter your bosom, then you can pray to the Lord with sweetness and with spirit. But there are times and seasons when the soul, under the attacks of Satan and a terrible sense of guilt and shame, is obliged to cry as one that must be heard, and that is supplication. But there is another thing which is to be mingled with it, and a thing much omitted, and that is thanksgiving. These are the three constituents of a spiritual service, prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving.
J. C. Philpot (1802-1869)

A Little Prayer Before the Meal

1. Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

2. O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

3. All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven,
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

Martin Rinckart (1586-1649) is the author of this hymn. He served as the Bishop of Eilenberg, Germany. The city experienced severe distress in 1637, with 8,000 people dying of disease and famine. It is said during this year Rinckart performed 40 or 50 burial services daily. During his time in Eilenberg, Rinckart wrote 66 hymns. The hymn “Nun danket alle Gott” (based on the first line) was originally titled “Tisch-Gebetlein,” which means “a little table prayer (before the meal).” This hymn was published in Jesu Hertz-Büchlein in geistlichen Oden in 1636. In 1647 it was set with a tune by Johann CrügerNun Danket in Praxis Pietatis Melica.

The Rinckart hymn was written in German, and translated into English by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878). A recent non-metrical translation by Francis Browne can be found HERE.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Heedless Happy History

When researching and then relating Baptist history, one division often ignores the other as non-existent. For example, the Old North Church in Nacogdoches is often called the oldest Baptist Church or oldest existing Baptist church Texas.[i] I love the history of the Old North Church, its founder, and its families. Nevertheless, the above claim simply is not true. The Pilgrim Church at Elkhart is older, both when it was organized, when it arrived in Texas – and it still exists too.[ii] Missionary Baptists make such claims with blinders, and Primitive Baptists are more than happy to return the favor (of dismissing the historical claims of “the other side”). Even if one claims non-relation in the present, it is nevertheless not accurate regarding history. In early Texas history, it can be demonstrated from church and associational records that quite a few preachers, members, and churches moved back and forth between various factions.

In some cases, Daniel Parker would be a case in point, the move had to be sanctioned by a “restoration of order” and maybe sometimes even baptism, but in other cases where the shibboleth was not quite as strict, people moved more freely between. The old Sabine Association demonstrates this. When organized, it originally was an association made up of churches that held both “missionary” and “anti-missionary” viewpoints. Daniel Parker organized Bethel Church, one of the churches in the constitution of the Sabine Association in 1843. Thomas Hanks, who followed Daniel Parker as pastor at Pilgrim, was once a member of the Union (Old North) Church in Nacogdoches. William Sparks, before the Union Church was formed in 1838, was a deacon in the Hopewell Church in Nacogdoches County, one of the original churches in Parker’s Union Association. If I remember correctly, Bowley C. Walters (later a preacher) served as a delegate at the formation of both the Union (Parker) and Sabine Associations.  Asa Wright worked with Daniel Parker in the Union “Anti-Missionary” Baptist Association, with Isaac Reed in the Sabine “O-Missionary” Baptist Association, and with Z. N. Morrell in the Union “Missionary” Baptist Association![iii]

This may be history that both sides would prefer to forget. It is documented history, nevertheless.

[i] For the most part historians make allowances for and differences in “continuously existed” versus “continuously met” – as in some churches may have missed regular meetings for a time, meetings were sometimes disrupted and flocks scattered in early years; but the books were kept and the church did not dissolve – so usually would still be considered a “continuous” church from its time of organization.
[ii] Pilgrim Church was organized in Illinois. In 1834 the state of Coahuila y Tejas relaxed state regulations in order to not molest a religious gathering of those who were not otherwise causing any harm. Afterwards – also in 1834 – Abner Smith and Isaac Crouch organized a Baptist Church called Providence, near Bastrop. It is often forgotten because it does not still exist today. It was the first Baptist Church organized on Texas soil.
[iii] Using terms I do not like, for effect. J. M. Carroll uses “Omissionary” (ill-advisedly, in my opinion) to refer to Isaac Reed in A History of Texas Baptists (p. 115).

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Benton County, Tennessee Baptists

The following excerpts come from Tennessee County History Series: Benton County by Jonathan Kennon T. Smith (Memphis, TN: Memphis State University Press, 1979). These are items I found while searching online for information on Isaac Reed, and thought them interesting enough to save and post.

From pages 23-24
Josiah Turner Florence (1809-1881) and his wife, Avis, moved to the Rushing settlement in Pleasant Valley in 1836. A native of Caswell County, North Carolina, Florence had a better-than-average formal education that enabled him to teach for more than 30 years at a school near his residence. Elisha Herrin from Franklin County, Tennessee, settled in the Rushing’s Creek area about 1823; his brother, Elder Lemuel Herrin, accompanied him. Elder Herrin was pastor of Rushing’s Creek Baptist Church for several years; later he moved to eastern Texas, where he helped establish several churches. Abimeleck and Beverly Herrin settled near these Herrins.
Their neighbor was one of the county’s outstanding citizens, Jacob Browning, D. D. (1779-1841). A native of North Carolina, Elder Browning emigrated to Middle Tennessee as a young man and lived for many years in Rutherford County. He was reared a Presbyterian, but later became a Baptist...Elder Browning was instrumental in organizing the first association of his denomination, the Western District Baptist Association, in July of 1823, at Spring Creek in Henry County. From the mid-1830s, he became a leading advocate of the pro-missionary faction of the Baptist Church. He was responsible for founding several of the area’s earliest Baptist congregations, among them the historic Hollow Rock Primitive Baptist Church in July of 1823. After 1824 he and his family lived on a small farm off Ebenezer Branch of Rushing’s Creek. There he built a comfortable log house where Pleasant Valley lay in a soft roll. His remains and those of some of his family lie buried in a nearby family graveyard.
From page 75:
On May 7, 1825, under the guidance of Elders Jacob Browning and John Horn, the people of the Rushing’s Creek area organized a congregation. They built a log meeting house on Abel Rushing’s farm. Its present brick house was erected in 1952-1953 on the site of its predecessors. The county’s first settlement centennial celebration, scheduled for 1918, was postponed due to the war then raging. The Benton County Homecoming was held on May 7, 1925, at Rushing’s Creek Baptist Church in conjunction with this congregation’s centenary. It was a grand success; a day remembered in local history.
In the summer of 1823, several of the Baptist leaders in the Western District met together to organize an association for their congregations. In September of 1823, the first West Tennessee Baptist association was organized as the Western District Association at Bird’s Creek Meetinghouse in Henry County. They held to the strict Calvinism of the Regular Baptists, as they were called.
In September of 1828, the Western District Association met in the Clark’s River meeting house with delegates from 30 congregations present. On September 15th, these delegates divided amicably over the issue of “atonement.” The more Calvinistic congregations organized the Obion Association, while the Western District Association “went missionary,” according to its early historian Lewis Edgar.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Congregations, John Owen

There are, Christian reader, certain principles in church affairs generally consented unto by all men aiming at reformation and the furtherance of the power of godliness therein, however diversified among themselves by singular persuasions, or distinguished by imposed and assumed names and titles. Some of these, though not here mentioned, are the bottom and foundation of this following collection of rules for our walking in the fellowship of the gospel; amongst which these four are the principal:—
First, That particular congregations, or assemblies of believers, gathered into one body for a participation of the ordinances of Jesus Christ, under officers of their own, are of divine institution.
Secondly, That every faithful believer is bound, by virtue of positive precepts, to join himself to some such single congregation, having the notes and marks whereby a true church may be known and discerned.
Thirdly, That every man’s own voluntary consent and submission to the ordinances of Christ, in that church whereunto he is joined, is required for his union therewith and fellowship therein.
Fourthly, That it is convenient that all believers of one place should join themselves in one congregation, unless, through their being too numerous, they are by common consent distinguished into more; which order cannot be disturbed without danger, strife, emulation, and breach of love.
These principles, evident in the word, clear in themselves, and owned in the main by all pretending to regular church reformation, not liable to any colourable exception from the Scripture or pure antiquity, were supposed and taken for granted at the collection of these ensuing rules.
The apostolical direction and precept in such cases is, that “whereunto we have attained, we should walk according to the same rule;” unto whose performance the promise annexed is, that “if any one be otherwise minded, God will also reveal that unto him.”
John Owen, on congregations and congregationalism, Eshcol; A Cluster of the Fruit of Canaan

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

[William Keele] continued to preach even to a very advanced age; but at length his strength gave way from the effects of a chronic kidney affection to which he had long been subject. When he felt that he was nearing the end of life, he requested his brethren and friends to hold religious service at his house. Accordingly, at night, many of his neighbors gathered at his house, and endeavored to console him in his severe affliction, as he desired. It was on this memorable night that he sung his last song.
During the religious services he requested some of those present to start a song; but, owing to grief, they were not prompt in doing so; he then started the song himself, which is known by the first line “Am I a soldier of the cross?” and sung it through with a clear and melodious voice. When the religious services were over, and the congregation was about to disperse, it was noticed that he manifested symptoms of death. Thereupon his neighbors gathered around his bedside and, with great grief, watched his mortality sink under the hand of death, when his soul made its lofty flight into the realms of eternity.
The Rev. William Keele was born on the 17th of January, 1781, and died on the 17th of February, 1861. He was a little more than eighty years old when he died…
Life of Rev. William Keele, John D. Ewell, pp. 75-76

With the above story in mind, I wrote the following tune and named it Keele.

Keele, a tune by R. L. Vaughn.

Isaac Watts originally included this hymn text (called “Holy Fortitude”) with a sermon on 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” The hymn is often paired with the tune Arlington, and perhaps that is the tune with which William Keele sang it in his dying hours. Ortonville by Thomas Hastings is another tune that readily accompanies this hymn by Watts.

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?

Must I be carried to the skies
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas?

Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?

Sure, I must fight, if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord!
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.

Thy saints, in all this glorious war,
Shall conquer, though they die;
They see the triumph from afar
And seize it with their eye.

6. When that illustrious day shall rise,
And all thine armies shine,
In robes of vict’ry through the skies,
The glory shall be thine.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

In other words, from anga to whang

  • anga, noun. Any of the eight practices of Yoga, including the abstentions, mandatory actions, posture, breath control, control of the senses, concentration, meditation, and contemplation.
  • anthropogony, noun. An account or theory of the origin of humanity.
  • apocalyptician, noun. A person who believes in, promulgates, or interprets the prophecies of the Apocalypse. Also: a person who foresees imminent disaster, esp. on a global scale. Cf. apocalypticist.
  • apocalypticist, noun. A person who holds or expresses an apocalyptic view.  Cf. apocalyptician.
  • calliblephary, noun. A cosmetic for enhancing the appearance of the eyes; eyeshadow.
  • connectome, noun. The network of nerve cells and their connections found in the brain or other part of the nervous system; a description or map of such a network.
  • contemnible, adjective. Deserving of contempt; contemptible; despicable.
  • Daddy Warbucks, noun. A person likened to the character Daddy Warbucks [in the comic strip Little Orphan Annie], esp. in being a rich and philanthropic benefactor.
  • fatherkin, noun. Relatives on the father's side; paternal ancestors.
  • hop tu naa, noun. The night of 31 October as celebrated on the Isle of Man, often marked by children singing songs door-to-door and the display of lanterns carved out of turnips. Also more fully hop tu naa night.
  • impermutable, adjective. Not liable to change; incapable of being changed; constant.
  • lectio continua, noun. (Latin for continuous reading) The practice of reading Scripture in sequence over a period of time.
  • motherkins, noun. Mother. Frequently as an affectionate form of address; also, used as a form of address to a woman who acts as a maternal figure to another.
  • pique, noun. A quarrel or feeling of enmity between two or more people, countries, etc.; ill feeling, animosity.
  • prodnose, verb, intransitive. To pry; to be inquisitive.
  • rodded, adjective. Made of or fitted with rods.
  • whang, noun. A sharp, pungent, or unpleasant flavor or aftertaste. Also: an odor of this kind.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Cherokee County, Hattie Roach

Some excerpts from A History of Cherokee County (Texas) by Hattie Joplin Roach (Dallas, TX: Southwest Press, 1934), related to the Isaac Reed family.

From pages 26-27:
Another prominent colonist of this early period was William Roark. Armed with two letters of recommendation, one from the Tennessee surveyor under whom he had served for seven years, the other signed by his home county sheriff and twenty-eight fellow-citizens, and their church letter, the Roarks started for the province of Texas in the fall of 1834. Settling on the John Durst grant, Roark was soon appointed surveyor for the colonies of David G. Burnet, Lorenzo de Zavala and Joseph Vehlein. After the organization of Nacogdoches County, which first included Cherokee County, he served in various official capacities. For some years he was a partner in the Mt. Sterling firm of Durst, Mitchell & Company. As a member of the commission to locate the county seat, as one of the first county commissioners and as a surveyor he continued to play an important role in Cherokee County affairs until his death in 1862. Margaret Roark, his wife, was the daughter of the famous pioneer Baptist minister, Isaac Reed. Their descendants include the Selmans, Boones, McCuistions and Crosbys.
From pages 45-46:
Churches also antedate the county organization. In 1844 the Mt. Olive Baptist Church was organized.[2] Although its exact location is not known, it was apparently near the old San Antonio road, west of the Angelina River. Probably as early as 1845 and certainly not later than 1847 a group of settlers met at the home of B. F. Selman and organized another church, called Palestine for a Mississippi church to which some of the members had belonged. Disguised by a weatherboard covering, the house still stands almost in front of the Linwood stores on the King’s Highway. The last of its charter members, Mrs. B. F. Selman (nee Elizabeth Roark) died in 1910. Four years after its organization the Palestine church, then having only sixteen members, dissolved and united with the Mt. Olive church. Just when and why the name Palestine was again assumed has not been ascertained. The church still exists, the present building being located on the King’s Highway, four miles east of Alto, but is called Old Palestine to distinguish it from the Anderson county seat.
[2] Minutes Sabine County (sic) Baptist Association, 1846 and 1849. [Note: this footnote indicates that in 1936 Hattie Roach had access to the 1846 minutes of the Sabine Baptist Association. This is interesting because the only repository that has the Sabine Association minutes does not have 1846.]
From pages 59-50:
Concerning the Texas Revolution, a sister of William Roark, a Tennessee emigrant of 1834, wrote as follows:
“I congratulate you and other friends of civil liberty on the result of the late struggle, a result that clearly proves that the transplanting of the descendants of the heroes of ’76 but gives a new spur to their patriotism and when their rights are invaded they can yet do deeds of noble daring unparalleled in the annals of heroism. May the administration of your government be as wise as its establishment has been glorious.”

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and other reviews

The posting of book or film reviews does not constitute endorsement of the books reviewed or the book reviews that are linked.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Bethany Baptist, 125 years

On Sunday November 17, 2019, I attended the 125th anniversary of Bethany Baptist Church, Oak Flat, Nacogdoches County, Texas. Bethany was organized in 1894 by Elder S. F. Baucom, with 10 charter members.[i] In 1895, E. D. Blankinship was pastor.[ii] The current pastor is Dale Weir.[iii]

It was the first time in their 125 years and my 60-something years that I have ever been there, though it is about 15 miles drive through the country from my home. The folks were nice and welcoming, and I enjoyed the visit. Songs were sung and prayers were made, but the focus of the afternoon was the history of the church. Jack Whitaker directed the service. Representatives of the Shelby-Doches Baptist Association and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention made brief talks. Ed Williamson, a former pastor and local resident, presented the history of the church.

Though I have never been to Bethany Church, our family has some intriguing connections to this community, church, and school. Coincidental in terms of topography and titles, we live in Oak Flat also, though in Rusk County.[iv] In 1896, our church, Smyrna Baptist Church in Rusk County, called J. R. Carmichael, “a young, unordained preacher from Bethany Church, Nacogdoches County...Bethany Church was requested to ordain Bro. Carmichael. Meantime, following the scruples of the time, the minutes explicitly stated that Bro. Carmichael was called ‘as supply until he has been ordained and then as our pastor for the next year.’”[v] Brother Carmichael’s wife was Ida Whitaker, who I believe is a relative of Jack Whitaker of Bethany Church, the person in charge of the anniversary program. After Brother Carmichael moved to the Smyrna area, his wife joined Smyrna Church upon an experience of grace for baptism. J. R. Carmichael was a distant relative of the Vaughns and Parkers of Smyrna Church, all being descendants of the large Parker family of Greene and Taliaferro counties in Georgia, who came to East Texas in the 1850s.[vi]

During the pastorate of young J. R. Carmichael (b. 1871), an older cousin, Marshall Lewis Vaughn (my great-grandfather, b. 1858), surrendered to the gospel ministry. He was licensed to preach during this time. When the Sulphur Springs Church called for his ordination, Smyrna ordained him October 17, 1897.[vii] Elders J. R. Carmichael and M. F. Spivey formed the presbytery, perhaps assisted by others whose names are no longer known.[viii]

According to Nacogdoches Baptist Association minutes, in 1906 Vincent Thornton Vaughn, Marshall’s older brother, pastored Bethany Church. In 1910, Marshall Vaughn pastored Bethany Church. When Marshall pastored the church, Robert P. Goldsberry was Bethany’s church clerk. R. P. Goldsberry in 1873 was a charter member of the Smyrna Church in Rusk County, and was a member of the earlier Mt. Carmel Church.[ix]

In the 1911-12 school year, Benjamin Lewis Vaughn, Marshall’s son, taught at the Oak Flat School in Nacogdoches County, which, according to the history presented by Ed Williamson, met in the same building as Bethany Church. As far as I know, this is the only place Uncle Ben taught school. After that school year, he died of typhoid fever on August 21, 1912. Two of his pupils, siblings Ruth and Glen Pearce, wrote a memorial for their teacher – which was published in a newspaper.[x] Sadly, 16-year old Glen died only a month after his teacher. Ruth (Mary Ruth Pearce Davis) died in 1977.

My regular readers may not find much of interest in this personal rambling. Nevertheless, I was impressed with the connections we have with a church to which I have never been before. What is it they say about six degrees of separation?

There is something fascinating about peering into the history of people, places, and institutions.

[i] According to the program, Bethany was organized at New Harmony and then later moved to Oak Flat. I do not know this first location, other than assuming it was apparently in the Cushing/Linn Flat vicinity.
[ii]Texas Baptist Statistics - 1895,” East Texas Family Records, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1982, p. 9. E. D. Blankinship pastored Smyrna Baptist Church from 1899 to 1901.
[iii]Bethany Baptist marks 125 years,” The Daily Sentinel, November 14, 2019.
[iv] Apparently, at some time a map-maker or other official dubbed this community “Oak Flats.” Those of us who live here call is Oak Flat, singular. We ought to know. It is our community.
[v] Centennial + 5: History of Smyrna Baptist Church, of Rusk County, Texas, 1873-1978, James Wyatt Griffith, Henderson, TX: Printing, 1978, p. 13.
[vi] J. R. Carmichael was the son of William M. Carmichael and Sarah Ann Brandon, and the grandson of Reuben Carmichael and Sydney Frances Parker.
[vii] Ibid, p. 15. Sulphur Springs is about halfway between Bethany and Smyrna.
[viii] Milton F. Spivey was the son of Harvey Reddick Milton Spivey and Lucinda Catherine Heaslet. The parents are buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetery at Wonders, near Garrison. M. F. Spivey died in 1903, but I do not know where he was buried.
[ix] He was Elder S. F. Baucom’s father-in-law, though by 1910 Goldsberry’s daughter had died and Baucom had remarried. S. F. Baucom was the son of FNU and Francis Baucom. After her husband’s death, Francis Baucom married Edward T. Parker.
[x] Perry Rawlinson of Cushing gave me the clipping that I have. A Cushing or Nacogdoches newspaper probably printed it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Preacher of the Freewill Baptist Persuasion?

Allen Samuel: A Preacher of the Freewill Baptist Persuasion?

The Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, May 13, 1879, p. 3
(“Ultimo” means the previous month)

“…Rev. ______ Samuels, for many years a preacher of the freewill baptist persuasion in this county, died on the 26th ultimo, at his residence on Sandy Creek, aged 93…”[i]

An exquisitely brief death notice in The Galveston Daily News, May 1879, invites the question of early Freewill Baptist witness existing in Walker County, Texas. If the Rev. Samuels had been preaching Free Will Baptist doctrine “for many years” by the time of his death in 1879, it raises the possibility that Free Will Baptists here predated the known Texas Free Will Baptist organization for African-Americans in 1870 and Anglo-Americans in 1876.

Unable to identify any Free Will Baptist churches in this area with that kind of history,[ii] I turned to the identifying the minister, “Rev ? Samuels.” There is only one clear candidate to fill the bill for “Rev. Samuels” – Allen Samuel who, according to his grave marker, was born in 1797 in Maryland and died 1879 in Texas. The age is slightly off, but his approximate birth varies quite a bit based on the Federal Censuses.[iii] The death date is off by one day, comparing the newspaper and tombstone.[iv] It is highly unlikely that there was another “Rev. Samuels” in Walker County, especially two who died on day apart (the population was 12,024 in 1880). The Walker and Montgomery County censuses reveal no other person who would obviously fit the newspaper description.[v]

Assuming “Rev. Samuels” has been correctly identified, we proceed to his biography. Allen Samuel married Nancy S. Wells in Hot Spring County, Arkansas on February 25, 1837. They are found in the Walker County, Texas in 1850. Samuel was a Baptist minister while in Arkansas, having organized at least three Regular (not Free Will) Baptist churches there. He helped organize Spring Creek Church (now First Baptist Benton) in April 1836, and Mt. Bethel Church at Caddo Township in August 1836. He also organized Salem Church Jefferson Township in 1836, and was its first pastor. He was a member of Saline Church in Saline County.[vi]

After coming to Texas, Samuel organized the Mount Pleasant Church in Montgomery County in July 1838.[vii] It was the first Baptist church organized in that county.[viii] The church came into notice of Elder Daniel Parker in August 1840, and joined in fellowship with his Pilgrim Predestinarian Baptist Church and the Union Baptist Association[ix] until the Mount Pleasant church’s dissolution in 1844.[x]

Though Daniel Parker warned churches against Allen Samuel in an 1844 circular letter of the Union Association,[xi] Samuel is apparently reconciled and found as a messenger from the San Jacinto Church of Walker County to the Union Association in October 1855.[xii]

Apparently, a church named Union was organized after Mount Pleasant was dissolved, if we can trust Samuel Bryant’s memory in 1886. In July of that year he wrote a letter to The Gospel Messenger referring to events related to Elder Samuel that occurred before 1860.[xiii] “In about twelve months after I received a hope, there being no Primitive Baptist Church nearer than forty miles, I went and made my home with an Elder Allen Samuel, near a church called Union, of the Predestinarian order, belonging to the Union Association. To this church I related a part of what I have heretofore related, and was received. Soon after joining the Church I began to have many thoughts on preaching, which I decided were false impressions, which made me doubt that I had an experience of grace. In about a year after this I went to Arkansas and was married to Miss Sarah Jane Martin.”

Allen Samuel is still with the Primitive Baptists in 1865, when the Signs of the Times, and Doctrinal Advocate and Monitor, Volume 74, (p. 252) records “J. L. Tracy ordained on Nov. 25th, 1865, by Elders Allen Samuel and Jacob Dishonghn as a presbytery...”

From April 1836 to November 1865, Allen Samuel is identified with the Regular Baptists. Apart from finding evidence of Allen Samuel changing from Regular Baptist to Free Will Baptist after 1865 – or finding another “Rev. Samuels” in Montgomery and Walker counties, this statement in The Galveston Daily News must be dismissed as incorrect. Sometimes Free Will and Primitive Baptists are confused with one another, and sometimes “free grace” of Predestinarian Baptists is misunderstood as a different “free grace” of Free Will Baptists. Most likely, the newspaper correspondent got it wrong. Allen Samuel does not stand as evidence of early Freewill Baptists in Montgomery and Walker counties.

[i] The Galveston Daily News, Vol. 38, No. 43, Ed. 1, Tuesday, May 13, 1879, Page 3; “Ultimo” means the previous month.
[ii] For example, Pine Prairie Free Will Baptist Church at Huntsville was founded by J. L. Bounds in 1912. “Pine Prairie Free Will Baptist Church brings new building to community,” in The Huntsville Item,  June 3, 2007
[iii] Approximate birth year based on census: 1774 (1850), 1801 (1860), and 1791 (1870); birth location is Maryland, though 1870 is hard to read and may have something else.
[iv] The newspaper says he died on the 26th ultimo (last month, i.e. April), though the tombstone (which looks new) has April the 27th.
[v] Walker County was formed in 1846 from Montgomery County.
[vi] See “Saline County,” from Goodspeed’s History ; “Michael Bozeman, Early Civic and Religious Leader of Clark County, AR,”; and “Judge Moses Moore: Building a Case for his Origins, Life, and Progeny,” by David A. Moore,
[vii] “The Mount Pleasant Regular United Baptist Church of Christ was organized in Mount Pleasant, Montgomery County, Texas, on July 25, 1838. Allen Samuel was called as pastor.” From description of the Church Book, Mount Pleasant Regular United Baptist Church of Christ, MC076 at the San Jacinto Museum of History, Houston, Texas.
[viii] A History of Montgomery County, Texas, by William Harley Gandy (Chapter VII, page 178)
[ix] Union Association was organized by messengers from four churches – Pilgrim Church in Houston County (now Anderson County), Hopewell Church in Nacogdoches County, Mount Pleasant in Montgomery County, and Boggy Bayou Church in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
[x] See the “The Records of an Early Texas Baptist Church, 1833-1847“ in The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 11, No. 2, October 1907, pp. 118-119.
[xi] Reprinted in The Baptist, April 12, 1845, p. 4
[xii] Notes on East Texas Associations, by Pauline Shirley Murrie, file at East Texas Research Center, Stephen F. Austin University.
[xiii] “Extracts from Letters,” The Gospel Messenger, April 1887, No. 4, Vol. 9, pp. 196-197. It is hard to date the time frame for Bryant’s contact with Elder Samuel, based on the excerpt from the letter alone. Son John was born in 1860, so his marriage to Sarah Jane Martin probably occurred in 1858 or 59.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Love the Sinner, and other links

The posting of links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the specific posts linked.