Elder John Tanner Was Shot for Baptizing
on the North Carolina Frontier, 1776
A certain woman by the name of Dawson, in the town of Windsor, N.C., had reason to hope her soul was converted, saw baptism to be a duty for a believer to comply with, and expressed a great desire to join the church at Cashie, under the care of Elder Dargan. Her husband, who was violently opposed to it, and a great persecutor, had threatened that, if any man baptized his wife, he would shoot him; accordingly, baptism was deferred for some considerable time. At length, Elder Tanner was present at Elder Dargan's meeting, and Mrs. Dawson applied to the church for baptism, expressing her desire to comply with her duty. She related her experience, and was received; and, as Elder Dargan was an infirm man, he generally, when other ministers were present, would apply to them to administer the ordinance in his stead. He therefore requested Elder Tanner to perform the duty of baptism at this time. Whether Elder Tanner was apprised of Dawson's threatening or not; or whether he thought it was his duty to obey God rather than man, we are not able to say; but so it was, he baptized sister Dawson. And, in June following, which was in the year 1777, Elder Tanner was expected to preach at Sandy Run meeting house, and Dawson, hearing of the appointment, came up from Windsor to Norfleet's Ferry, on Roanoke, and lay in wait near the banks of the river, and when Elder Tanner (who was in company with Elder Dargan) ascended the bank from the ferry landing, Dawson, being a few yards from him, shot him with a large horsemanís pistol, and seventeen shot went into his thigh, one of which was a large buckshot, that went through his thigh, and lodged between his breeches and thigh on the other side. Elder Burkitt was present when the doctor (who was immediately sent for) took part of the shot out of his thigh. In this wounded condition Elder Tanner was carried to the house of Mr. Elisha Williams, in Scotland Neck, where he lay some weeks, and his life was despaired of; but, through the goodness of God, he recovered again. Dawson seemed somewhat frightened, fearing he would die, and sent a doctor up to attend him. And, after Elder Tanner recovered, he never attempted to seek for any recompense, but submitted to it patiently as persecution for Christ's sake.
[From Lemuel Burkitt & Jesse Read, A Concise History of the Kehukee Baptist Association - From Its Original Rise Down to 1808; Henry L. Burkitt, Lawrence, TN, editor, 1850. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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