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Early Baptist Historian
By Thomas Wilson Haynes, 1848
      JOHN ASPLUND, the earliest statistical writer of the Baptist denomination in America, except Morgan Edwards, was born in Sweden, and drowned in Fishing Creek, Virginia, being precipitated from a canoe in attempting to cross it, 1807. He was bred a merchant, emigrated from his native country to England in 1775, where he was employed as a clerk, joined the British navy either voluntarily or by impressment, probably the latter, and deserted and settled in North Carolina. In 1782, he united with the Baptist Church at Ballard's Bridge, in Chowan county, and was baptized by the Rev. David Walsh, and removing to Southampton, Virginia, entered the ministry, and in 1785 revisited Europe, making the tour of England, Denmark, Finland, Lapland, and Germany. In 1791-1794, he published his first and second Baptist Register, and afterwards settled on the eastern shore of Maryland, and engaging in land speculations became embarassed. If his ministerial gifts did not entitle him to great distinction, yet his labors and zeal in the collection of the materials for his work, deserve the highest commendation, and have rescued from oblivion the most valuable facts, especially in reference to the early history of the Baptists in America. The following extract from the introduction to his Register for 1791, is copied from Mr. Taylor:
"I have long been desirous, and have waited several years to see a publication like the following. And though I was sensible I could publish nothing of the kind without the fatigue and expense of travelling over the greatest part of the continent; yet at the request of many, I have been prevailed upon to make the tour of the Baptist Churches, to obtain the necessary information. With a view to this, I have travelled about seven thousand miles, in about eighteen months, chiefly on foot, and have visited about two hundred and fifteen churches, and fifteen associations. I am personally acquainted with two hundred and fifty ministers of our society, so that the Register may safely be depended on in general, though after all, perhaps, a few churches and ministers may be omitted. It is probable also, that the number of members in some churches may not be exact, as some do not associate - others who do, neglect to send forward their number - and some make conscience of numbering

[p. 43]
the people. Having been brought up with a view to the business of merchandize, I have been accustomed to keeping accounts; and I keep now accounts of souls with their faces set Zionward, in preference to those which only respect money or trade. I have a natural turn for travelling, and I am convinced I could not better spend my time, than in itinerating to preach the gospel, and to collect materials which may assist the future historians; and though I have met with many discouragements from narrow-minded persons, whose illiberal souls are not concerned for the public welfare; I appeal to the searcher of hearts, that my principal design is to make the Baptists better acquainted with each other, that union may more generally obtain among them.
Southampton, Va., July 4, 1791."
      He became personally acquainted with 700 Baptist ministers in the United States. See Baptist Library, Vol. 1, p. 38, and Taylor's Virginia Baptist Ministers, p. 242.

[Thomas Wilson Haynes, editor, Haynes' Baptist Cyclopaedia: Or, Dictionary of Baptist Biography, 1848, pp. 42-43. Document from Google Books on-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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