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Ebenezer Lee Compere

      A Southern Baptist pioneer missionary to Cherokees and Creek Indians in Arkansas. He was a pastor, educator, and Superintendent of Missions and Foreign Missions Secretary for the Baptist Association of Western Arkansas and Indian Territory. His Papers include reports from missionaries of the association, miscellaneous financial accounts, notebooks containing personal and mission–related information, publications, clippings, sermons and sermon notes, and correspondence. Letters are personal and mission–related. E. L. Compere was a Southern Baptist pioneer missionary to the Cherokees and Creek Indians in Arkansas. He was a pastor, educator, and Superintendent of Missions and Foreign Missions Secretary for the Baptist Association of Western Arkansas and Indian Territory.

Biographical Sketch

      Ebenezer Lee Compere was born near Montgomery, Alabama, on Feb 6 1833, the youngest of nine children. His father, Lee Compere, and mother, Susannah Voysey Compere, went from England to the island of Jamaica as missionaries in 1814. The climate there was too trying for them, and they went to South Carolina. Afterwards, they went as missionaries of the Triennial Convention to the Creek Indians in Alabama. They followed the Creek Indian migration into Mississippi.

      On July 23 1849, after his conversion, E. L. Compere was baptized into the fellowship of Montaches Creek Church, Itawamba County, Mississippi. At the age 19, he was "liberated” to preach, against his own strong protest.

      In 1851 He preached his first sermon in Mooresville Church, Mississippi. Educated in Mercer University, Penfield, Georgia, and Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi. He graduated in l857 with BA degree from Mississippi College with first honors. On graduation day he was asked to become a professor at Mississippi College, but he declined. He became pastor of three Indian churches in East Mississippi.

      In 1858, March Ordained in old Monte Vallo Church in Columbus, Mississippi. In l858 and 1859 hr visited his brother, Thomas H. Compere, in Arkansas and was deeply impressed with the destitution and wickedness along the border of western Arkansas and the Indian Territory. Upon his return home, he resigned his Mississippi churches to go to the Arkansas border without a dollar in view. He refused a call to a church at $1,200 per year salary to become missionary of the Cherokee Georgia Baptist Convention, to Arkansas and the Cherokee Indians, at $500 per annum.

      In 1860 he received the M.A. degree, Mississippi College, Clinton, Mississippi. Also in 1860, he went to the border of West Arkansas and the Indian Territory to labor. He began work as pastor in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where he built the church edifice during his pastorate. On Dec. 13, 1863, he married Miss Josephine I. Mullins, of Copiah County, Mississippi, while on a trip back to Mississippi. She was an aunt to E. Y. Mullins. The Comperes returned to West Arkansas and the Cherokee Indians. They had four sons and three daughters. Josephine Compere was a fine helpmeet in spite of the many unaccustomed hardships which she bore living on the frontier. Her family background was one of gracious "old south" living. During the Civil War, E. L. Compere and his father were chaplains, serving under the command of Brig. General Stand Waite, the only full-blood Indian serving in the Confederate Army.

      In 1866 Compere was commissioned as a missionary by the Board of Domestic Missions of the SBC to preach the gospel in Ft. Smith and Vicinity at a salary of $500 a year. In 1866 – 1877 they lived in Charleston, Arkansas, carrying on mission work from this center. In 1876 He helped to organize the Baptist General Association of East Arkansas and Indian Territory at Charleston.

      In 1877 – 1885 He carried on his taxing missionary work while living in Witcherville, Arkansas. His health was failing. During this time, he and H. F. Buckner, who was missionary to the Creek Indians, founded Buckner College in Witcherville.

      in 1883 he was commissioned by the Home Mission Board to preach in western Arkansas. For eleven years, he was Foreign Mission Secretary, and Superintendent of Missions for that association for nine years. He also pastored several churches during these years, among them Waldron, Arkansas. He was forced to learn to write with his left hand, as his right hand had become too nervous to use. 1885 Moved to Dallas, Polk County, Arkansas, for his health. Continued his mission work. 1887, Oct. 10 Qualified as county examiner of Polk County teachers.

      In 1894 the missionaries under his superintendence reported 1,000 baptisms during the year. On November 27, 1895, he died in his home in Dallas, Polk County, Arkansas, and was buried there. His body was later moved to Whiteoak Cemetery, Mena, Arkansas. His death was attributed to nervous prostration brought on by overwork and exposure. The Scripture used at his funeral was 2 Samuel 3:38. Remarks were made by Elder J. F. McLeod.


[From Encyclopedia of Arkansas & American Baptist Historical Society. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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