Thursday, June 25, 2009

A minister who started in Rusk County

Written by Elder R. A. Biggs, before his death in 1915: "I was born in Rusk County, Texas, June 2, 1849. My father, B. F. Biggs, was a native of Tennessee. My mother's maiden name was Alsa Jane Starr. She was a native of Illinois. My father was a farmer. I grew up during the War Between the States, and consequently had no opportunity to receive an education. Never attended school but very little, only enough to learn to read and spell imperfectly. I worked on the farm and took care of the family during the War.

"In my nineteenth year, I was married to Miss Kisiah Crauley, a native of Alabama. In the winter of 1867, we moved to Collin County, Texas, where we lived for eight years. Here I first saw myself a sinner in the sight of God. For two years I labored under a great burden of sin and guilt, trying every effort I could for relief; but like the woman we read of in the Bible who spent all she had with physicians, got no relief until she came in touch with the Savior. So I seemed to grow worse and nothing I did brought me any relief until one day in the month of March 1870, as I plowed along in the field in dark despair and under a heavy burden of sin and guilt praying to God to be merciful to me, a sinner.

"This was my condition as near as I can describe it. I did not see how God could remain just and save such a sinner as I was. The next thing I realized I was singing the song, 'Jesus Thou art the Sinner's Friend'. My burden of guilt that had rested so heavily upon me for the past two years was gone. I was happy and rejoiced in the hope of the glory of God, and for the first time was enabled by an eye of faith to see, as I humbly trust, how God could be just and save a poor sinner like me. My sins had been transferred to Jesus and he had borne them in his own body on the cross for me. And now righteousness was made over to me, and God, for His sake, had forgiven me my sins. So I realized that I had peace with God through Jesus, who loved me and gave himself for me. So I could sing with the poet 'E'er since by faith I saw the stream thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been and shall be till I die'.

"In May following (1870) I presented myself to Orchard Gap Church in Collin County, and after relating my little hope to them, was received and baptized by Elder J. E. Dethrage. For awhile I felt easy and greatly enjoyed our meetings, but ere long that burning desire of my heart to tell others what a precious Savior I had found became a burden to me that I could not throw off. I was poor, imperfect and so unfit for such a high and holy calling that I could not be reconciled to it; so I thought I would move to other parts and perhaps get rid of this burden.

"In 1876, we moved to Erath County, Texas, but that burning desire and burden to speak in His great name followed me here. In July 1877, I took my first text and tried for about an hour to tell the people some of the wonderful works of God in the salvation of sinners, From this time on I had regular appointments, and the brethren and sisters gave me great encouragement, so I pressed on as best I could.

"About this time Damascus Church was organized in Erath County and wife and I became members of it, and in the winter of 1879, this church called for my ordination. It was with great reluctance that I submitted. In January 1880, I was ordained by this church by a presbytery composed of Elders W. S. Harris and F. London. Was soon called to the care of this church and other churches, and up to 1896 I served four churches most of the time.

"In the spring of 1881, I lost my wife by death, leaving me with five little children, the oldest a boy about ten years old, and the youngest an infant girl. A neighbor lady took my youngest children and took care of them for me while the three little boys stayed at home and finished our little crop. The following winter, 1881, I was married to a Mrs. Sarah E. Hackler, whose maiden name was McGee. She was a native of Texas.

"Up to 1900, I kept a record of all my ministerial work, but after my health gave way, I paid no further attention to that. Up to 1900, I had tried to preach 1,623 times since being ordained, assisted in the organization of 10 churches, assisted in the ordination of 8 ministers and 15 deacons, baptized 170 persons, and married 55 couples. Since the above date, I have assisted in the ordination of several, baptized some 25 or 30, and married several couples, but have no record of the number.

"In all my serving of churches none of them have had any serious trouble, most of them have prospered and built up in number, and I have enjoyed their services, The brethren, sisters and friends have been good to me, and have borne with my many short comings, imperfections and weaknesses, and have manifested that they have enjoyed my feeble efforts in trying to preach to them. I have tried as best I could to read and search the Scriptures for the truth contained in them, and not for the purpose of trying to bolster up some pet hobby, or vain speculations or theory of some man. I have tried to avoid hobbies and vain speculations, and have tried the best I could to present the truth of the Bible on doctrine, experience, and practical godliness. To what extent I have succeeded, those I have tried to serve are the judges."

On his web site, Brother David Montgomery writes, "Elder Biggs was a man of deep humility and wisdom. His labor for the peace of the Baptists in Texas in the early 1900’s was significant and far-reaching. He was held in great respect by all that knew him. He has many descendants in the Primitive Baptist Church, including my dear wife who is his great great granddaughter. Elder Biggs died at Santa Anna, Coleman County, Texas on June 1, 1915."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Born in Rusk County, TX

TENNESSEE BAPTIST, June 15, 1861, p. 4, c. 3

Wyly Hollingsworth.

Son of G. P. [sic?] and M. A. Hollingsworth, aged 10 years, 1 month and 9 days, departed this life at this place at 20 minutes past six o'clock, P.M. on the 21st last. He was born in Rusk county, Texas, and a more dutiful, kind, loving child never lived. His disease was in his head, and seemed to baffle the skill of all medical aid. He was sick about six weeks, and for the last ten days his suffering was intense, yet he bore it without a murmur. His death has created a vacuum that never can be filled in the hearts of his parents, and the sweet notes of his voice are never again to be heard around the fireside. But we have the consolation to believe that that melody which was peculiarly his, is resounding amidst the angels who surround the throne of our blessed Jesus. S. P. H.

We sincerely tender our kindest regards to those citizens of Winchester, and particularly the ladies, for their kind services and attention during the sickness and death of our dear child.

S. P. Hollingsworth,
M. A. Hollingsworth.
Winchester, Tenn., May 24, 1861.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A History of Smyrna Baptist Church

A recent addition to the history of Rusk County Baptists is A History of Smyrna Baptist Church, 1873-2008: 135 years in three southern Rusk County communities. This is a republishing and updating of J. W. Griffith's Centennial + 5 published in 1978. The book contains 116 pages, with history of the church, people and some additional pictures not in the 1978 work. The link above will allow a viewing of the first 20 pages of the book.

Smyrna Church and Holleman Cemetery annual homecoming will be held at Smyrna church building on Sunday June 14 (d.v.). Starts at 10 a.m.