Friday, January 01, 2021

A. J. Kirkland

From a brief biography of Allen John Kirkland. A. J. Kirkland may not a household name, but 50 years ago he was extremely well-known in this area, and quite well-known across Texas. I happened across this online biography. Though born in Angelina County, he spent much of his life and ministry as a preacher and educator in Rusk County. 
Dr. Kirkland’s earliest ambition was to be a lawyer. Center was the county seat of Shelby County, and when the family made their weekly trips to town, Dr. Kirkland went first to the courthouse to hear the trials, sometimes spending the whole day there. The family always knew to look for him there first when time came to go home. He nourished this ambition to be a lawyer until about 19 years old when he became convinced God had called him to preach. Those in later years who saw his keen logical mind and rapier wit at work on the debate platform can well imagine how formidable he would have been in the courtroom arguing a case.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Obadiah Dodson: Buried in Rusk County

...but ministered much elsewhere. Below are bits and pieces about Dodson that I have gleaned from books and the world wide web. In connection with Rusk County, Dodson wrote that when he came to Rusk County there was only one Missionary Baptist Church.
“...I found but one Baptist church in Rusk county, known as missionary, instead of Eastern Texas.”
See HERE and HERE.
“One of the early influences of the Baptist faith in this area of West Tennessee was a preacher named Obadiah Dodson. He preached throughout West Tennessee and helped to establish the Big Hatchie Association, and was instrumental in establishing churches at Middleburg and Clover Creek.”
Hardeman County, by Lisa C. Coleman, p. 37
“Clover Creek Church, United Baptist, situated in Hardeman County, Tennessee, was constituted Saturday preceeding the third Lord’s Day in March and the year of our Lord 1826 by Elders Obadiah Dodson and Cornelius McClolisc.”
“The Baptist Church at Middleburg was organized on June 17, 1836, when 11 men and women formed the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church. Obadiah Dodson was the first pastor.”
“In 1850, the name of Elder Obadiah Dodson appears among the list of ministers in this association. The first work performed by him, that I have any information of, was the organization of Harmony church, Rusk County, assisted by Elder Ray, in 1850, with fifteen members.
“With this brother I had an intimate acquaintance in Tennessee, in 1826, and labored much with him there up to 1835. He was always an active worker, and in charge of from two to four churches during all the time. When I first knew him he was much opposed to mission combinations, but in a few years became an active, thorough-going missionary, in theory and practice.
“He was a man of some ability and great zeal, mixed with many eccentricities. He appears, in 1851, among the active workers in the Soda Lake Association, as the pastor of five churches.”
“Elder Obadiah Dodson.—Was born in North Carolina, or Tennessee, where his labors as a minister began. He was an active missionary, and seeking a new field about 1847, removed to Arkansas and thence to Louisiana, and became a missionary in the employ of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He was the author of an excellent work called “Fifteen Reasons for the Proper Training of Children.” He died in DeSoto Parish in 1854.”

Obadiah Dodson wrote Moral Instructor and Guide to Youth, a Book containing Answers to Eleven Biblical Questions; also, Seventeen Propositions upon the Training of Children (Jackson, TN: Gates & Parker, printers, 1844), and Twelve Sermons presented for the Benefit of Saint and Sinner (Jackson, TN: Gates & Parker, printers, 1845).

With “Choctaw Bill” Robinson, organized the Holly Springs Church in Rusk County in 1851.

The Woodland Baptist Church (this name from 1870) was established by Obadiah Dodson in 1835, due to a split in the Brown’s Creek Baptist Church over the subject of missions. (Woodland Baptist Church historical marker)
T. P. Crawford...was ordained and sent out by the Big Black Creek Baptist Church and the Big Hatchie Baptist Association, which was formed at the Big Black Creek Baptist Church by our friend Obadiah Dodson, who helped form the Louisiana Baptist Convention and a pastor of The Big Black Creek Baptist Church.”

In 1849 Dodson a charter member and first pastor of the Maple Springs Baptist Church. See HERE.

Obituary of Elder Obadiah Dodson:
Whereas, The afflicting hand of Providence has visited us during the past associational year, bereaving us of our well beloved and highly esteemed Brother, Elder Obadiah Dodson, therefore
Be it Resolved, That this Association deeply sympathize with the bereaved family of our dear, departed Brother, and feel that the whole Association suffers in common with the family of the deceased an irreparable loss.
Bro: Dodson was a faithful soldier of Jesus; and although his last illness was short, and he was not sensible of the approach of death, yet we feel confident that he has fallen asleep in Christ.
He lived the life of the righteous and his last days were like His.
Minutes of the Grand Cane (La.) Baptist Association, 1854, page 6

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Another Lemuel Herrin obituary

Lemuel Herrin came to Texas from Tennessee in 1841, and quickly entered into ministerial labours here (He was ordained by Rushing Creek Baptist Church near Camden, Tennessee in 1826).  He formed at church at Henderson in 1845.

The following obituary has at least two errors, that he was 98 years old when he died and that he was originally from Henry County, Tennessee. Herrin was born in Georgia, and the writer of the obituary may have only intended to convey that he came to Texas from Henry County. At the least it serves to indicate that the Lemuel Herrin in the 1840 Henry County census is the same Lemuel Herrin who died in Texas in 1852.



The Tennessee Baptist, Saturday, October 16, 1852, p. 4


1840 U. S. Census, Henry County, Tennessee

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Tribute of Respect

A “Tribute of Respect” upon the death of Lemuel Herrin, printed in The Tennessee Baptist (Nashville, Tennessee), Saturday, February 26, 1853, page 4


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mary E. Pruitt

I have searched for the death and burial location of Elder William Moses Pruitt, an old Baptist preacher connected to our community. I have not found anything, but about four years ago I succeeded in finding an obituary of his wife, Mary Etta Sasnett Pruitt. Mary E. Pruitt is buried in the Old City Cemetery in Henderson. 

Obituary.
  Died, at the home in Smith county, Texas, on Jan. 26, 1899, Sister Mary E. Pruitt, wife of Elder Wm. M. Pruit. Sister Pruitt was born in Talbot county, Ga. Professed faith in Christ and united with the church in early life; was married to W. M. Pruitt July 31, 1850. Eleven children were born unto them, nine of whom are living, M. B. Pruitt being clerk of Rusk county, which office he has filled with satisfaction to the people for nine years. She came to Rusk county, Texas, in 1871 and moved to Smith county in 1896; she leaves a husband, five sons and four daughters. Sister Pruitt was a noble woman, of strong christian character; devoted to the church, zealous in good works and beloved by all who knew her; a devoted wife and loving mother. She died as she had lived, strong in the faith, and fell asleep in Jesus, and was enabled to mark the wonderful change with her last words, “What a change.” We would say to the sorrowing ones, weep not; thy wife, thy mother, is not dead but sleepeth. For beyond the misty river of death, in the sweet paradise of God, “where the wicked cease troubling and the weary are at rest,” she awaits thy coming and the glorious resurrection of the body. Yes the evening shadows gathered and the long days work was done; and she has reached the sweet rest beyond the setting sun. Let us look by faith and press on to that sweet rest where there is no anguish or parting.                              W. H. H. H.
Minden, Texas

This obituary was found in The Henderson Times (Henderson, Tex.), Vol. 40, No. 10, Ed. 1 Thursday, March 9, 1899, page 2. The author, W.H.H.H., is William Henry Harrison Hays, a Baptist preacher in Rusk County.

If anyone knows where W. M. Pruitt is buried, I would like to know. The obituary indicates he was still living at the time of the death of his wife. I have found that he was living in Rockwall County when he applied for Confederate pension in 1907, but I have not found him in the 1910 census. This suggests he may have died between 1907-1910. Perhaps he was living with some of his children who had moved to the Dallas area.

Friday, October 05, 2018

John Sparkman

The following “short notice” of John Calloway Sparkman was written by William Henry Harrison Hays, and was published in Texas Historical and Biographical Magazine, by J. B. Link, (Volume 1, 1891, as found in The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc. Version 1.0, 2005).

REV. JOHN SPARKMAN
— The subject of this short notice was born in Jasper county, Ga., in the year A.D. 1831; professed faith in Christ in his 18th year, and was baptized into the fellowship of the Bethesda[i] Baptist church by Eld. John Dodd.[ii] He afterwards united by letter with the Flint River Baptist church, in Henry county;[iii] was united in marriage with Martha Jarrell in 1853,[iv] who at the time had three children, all of which were boys, who are now useful men with families, two of them being physicians, the other one a successful farmer in Rusk county, Texas,—all of them being prominent members of the Baptist church.

He moved with his family to Texas the same year in which he was married, and settled in Rusk county, where he and his wife united with the Holly Springs church.[v]

He was licensed to preach by this church in 1860, — was ordained to the full work of the ministry in 1861 — Elders William Gwin, G. W. Rogers and M. Melton acting as presbytery.

He had born to him seven children, four boys and three girls, five of whom are still living: Addie, the wife of James Wallace, in Austin county, Texas; Thomas, who is a successful physician, now at Alvord; Virgil, who is with his brother in the drug business in the above mentioned town; A. D. Sparkman, a promising young lawyer, who is the present county attorney of Rusk county; Mattie, the youngest daughter, who now has charge as teacher, of the music school at Clayton, Panola county, Texas. His wife still survives him, and is living at Minden, Rusk county, Texas, where she is spending a happy old age.

Eld. John Sparkman was a self-made man; but his great familiarity with the Bible made him successful, and a power whereever he went. He started in this life poor; not having the advantages of early training in school, he dug his theology from the Bible by a pine knot light at night. It is said of him, that while following his plow, he had a board arranged upon the beam, where he would lay his open Bible, and read and study as he plowed. The Bible was his dictionary, geography, grammar, rhetoric and logic. He was a man of strong convictions, devotedly pious, and earnest and forcible as a speaker, carrying the masses with him in his plain, scriptural arguments, drawing his illustrations principally from the common field of nature, his leading theme being the doctrines of grace, while he was well posted in the distinctive principles of the denomination, and ably defended them when it became necessary.

While he was a great preacher, he was at the same time a successful farmer,—an avocation in which he delighted when not actively engaged in the ministry; hence, by this means, he left his family in good circumstances.

His entire ministerial life was spent in Eastern Texas; being pastor, at different times, of the most prominent churches in Rusk, Panola and Nacogdoches counties. He served with honor to himself, and satisfaction to the brethren, the Mt. Zion Association, as Moderator, for ten years. While he kept no record of the number of conversions and baptisms in connection with his labors, yet there are numbers in the eastern and far western portions of Texas, that were brought to a knowledge of the truth through his preaching, and were by his hands buried in baptism.

He was afflicted with cancer of the face, about one year before his death. Amidst his great affliction, which confined him to his room almost continually, his faith was unshaken, and his principal conversation was upon the love of Christ and the fulness of His great atoning sacrifice.

On the 23rd day of Oct., A.D. 1882, peacefully and quietly, like the beautiful setting sun, he fell asleep in Jesus. His remains were laid away at Zion Hill church,[vi] of which he had been a member, and the beloved pastor since its constitution, in the midst of a great throng of the brethren and sisters of Zion Hill and neighboring churches, as well as friends from all over the country, who had loved and honored him in this life. As we walk through the church yard at Zion Hill, our eyes are attracted by a simple marble slab, that tells us of the last resting place on earth of Eld. John Sparkman.

“Servant of God, well done;
Rest from thy loved employ,
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master’s joy.”—W.H.H.H.


[i] Hays gives the name as “Bethesda,” but it probably should be Bethsaida. Robert G. Gardner, Georgia Baptist Historical Society and Senior Researcher in Baptist History, Mercer University, wrote, “The only Bethsaida church was in Fayette County, with J. S. Dodd as pastor in at least 1849-1853. His post office address was Fayetteville (1849-1850) and Fairburn (1852-1853).” Bethsaida Baptist Church, formed in 1829, was led by itinerant preachers traveling in the area. In April, 1843, John S. Dodd, was called to pastor the church on a permanent basis. He faithfully served the church for 50 years, retiring January 25, 1892.” In 1975, Bethsaida merged with Capitol View Baptist Church to form United Baptist Church. Further support of Dodd baptizing Sparkman comes from the fact that the Sparkmans and the Dodds are living in same county – Fayette County, Georgia – when the 1850 census was compiled. 1850 would be roughly the time Sparkman was in his 18th year.
[ii] If the above is correct, the baptizer of John Sparkman was John Sample Dodd (1809-1892). Dodd was a pioneer Baptist preacher in Georgia. He pastored the Bethsaida Church of Campbell County, Georgia for fifty consecutive years.
[iii] “Flint River Baptist Church (predecessor of First Baptist Jonesboro) was organized January 25, 1825, and was located on three acres of land southwest of what is now Spring Street and Highway 19/41. Rev. William Mosely served as the church’s first pastor for three years, during which time membership increased from 14 to 79.”
[iv] Martha M. Buckner married Henry Jarrell in Butts County, Georgia in 1846. After his decease, she married John Sparkman.
[v] It appears that the Sparkman family lived in three different locations  in Rusk County – somewhere near the Holly Springs Church (Pine Hill), somewhere near the Mt. Carmel Church (Glenfawn area), and lastly somewhere near Zion Hill.
[vi] Sparkman led in forming the Zion Hill Church in 1868, and the Smyrna Church in 1873. He was the first pastor of each of these. Sparkman also pastored the Mt. Carmel Church in Rusk County and the Union Church in Nacogdoches County, among others.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

S. M. Carlton, doctor, author, Rusk Countian

A few years ago I heard about a book called Diagram of the Churches by S. M. Carlton, M.D. I was interested because Dr. Carlton was supposed to be a Baptist of the “Two-Seed” variety, and because he lived in my county – Rusk County, Texas. At the time I was unsuccessful garnering further information, but last week I discovered the book had been added to Archive.org: Diagram of the Churches: Illustrated by a Supposed Interview between the Arminian’s All-wise and Omnipotent God of the Universe and his Arminian Ministers (S. M. Carlton, M. D., Middleton, NY: Gilbert Beebe s Sons, 1884).

The book itself is much an unusual dialog with the “Arminian” God and his ministers. Beginning at page 344 Carlton inserts an appendix that includes a “condensed biography” and his religious experience. Dr. S. M. Carlton was Snider Miles Carlton, who was born October 1, 1830, in Thomas County, Georgia, to Shadrack Carlton and Catharine Sloan (p. 346). His parents are buried at the old Randolph Cemetery in Houston County, Texas. The older Carltons had several children, including, Harmon, Margaret, Susan, Elvie, John Sloan, Blake, S.M., and Catharine.

Snider Miles Carlton married Nancy Clark Satterwhite (p. 357). They came to Texas and first located in the Clayton area of Panola Conty in 1872 (p. 369). He also mentions being baptized at “Mt. Carmel Church, twenty miles east of Henderson” where his wife had been a member since that church was constituted (p. 377; Mt. Carmel was probably in Clayton, Panola County). They moved to Henderson in February 1879. Dr. Carlton, his wife and six others constituted a church called Siloam in Henderson, Texas on the 4th day of July 1883 (p. 378). S. M. & Nancy Carlton had six children, Elijah and Catharine R., who died in Alabama while still small; Lobel Alva, Mary Elena, Sallie Ada, and Oswald Snider.

After the death of Nancy, Dr. Carlton married Lucinda (last name unknown) circa 1894. The Carltons lived in Hill County, Texas in 1900, and later moved to Limestone County, Texas, where they are buried in the Thornton Cemetery.