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Distinguished Men Among Early Delaware Baptists
By Richard B. Cook, 1880
      There were many ministers of note belonging to this period, who labored in the State or went thence to other fields of usefulness. The Thomases, Joneses, Griffiths, Davises, Suttons, Morgans, and Gibbinses were all known leaders
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in the Baptist denomination of their day. Some few of these princes in Israel, besides those already mentioned in these pages, are worthy of special consideration.

Rev. Jenkin Jones

      Rev. Jenkin Jones, though born in Wales in 1690, was called to the ministry in 1724 at Welsh Tract. He arrived in this country about 1710, and went to Philadelphia in 1725. He first had pastoral care of Lower Dublin and First Philadelphia churches jointly; but May 15, 1746, upon the reconstruction of the church in Philadelphia, he became Pastor of the latter only. He was the first Pastor that the First Church had wholly to itself, without dividing his time with others. He did real service to this church and to the interests of the Baptist denomination. He secured to the church their valuable lot and house, and was the moving cause of altering the direction of licenses, so as to enable dissenting ministers to perform marriage by them. "He built a parsonage-house, partly at his own charge. He gave a handsome legacy toward purchasing a silver cup for the Lord's Table which is worth upward of thirty pounds. His name is engraved upon it." He was Moderator of the Philadelphia

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Association in 1756, and died in Philadelphia, July 16, 1760.

Abel Morgan, Jr.

      Abel Morgan, Jr., A. M., was born at Welsh Tract, April 18, 1713, and educated near by, at Pencader Academy, kept by Rev. Thomas Evans. He was ordained at Welsh Tract in 1734, and was called to the Middletown Church, New Jersey, which he served as Pastor till his death in the seventy-third year of his age. In 1772 he was Moderator of the Philadelphia Association, the celebrated Dr. James Manning being Clerk at the same time. Previously, Mr. Morgan served as Clerk. It was in 1774, upon his suggestion, that the Circular Letter was adopted by the Philadelphia Association for the first time. He was among the most noted Baptist ministers of his day. Dr. Samuel Jones calls him "the great, the incomparable Abel Morgan" (Benedict, p. 582). The same writer (p. 209) says: He "is the oldest writer I can find among the American Baptists in defence of their sentiments. Between this learned writer and Rev. Samuel Finley, a Presbyterian minister, then of Nottingham, Pennsylvania, a dispute appears to have arisen, which was carried on with much spirit on both sides for a number

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of years." "Mr. Finley was afterward President of Princeton College, New Jersey." "Mr. Morgan had the advantage," says Benedict in a note, "as a learned and logical debater." One of his works produced on this occasion - comprising one hundred and seventy-four pages - was printed in Philadelphia by the famous Benjamin Franklin in 1747, and though a small volume is valued now at fifteen dollars per copy. Previous to this Mr. Morgan had another controversy at Kingswood with Rev. Samuel Harker, also a Presbyterian minister.

Rev. John Davis

      Rev. John Davis, son of David Davis, Pastor of Welsh Tract, became Pastor of the Second Church, Boston, Massachusetts. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and "a man of fine talents and of a finished education;" also "a truly pious man." He went to the church at Boston on trial in the spring of 1770, and in September following was ordained to the pastoral office. In less than two years he was compelled to resign on account of declining health, and shortly after died. The Jones family have been distinguished in the annals of the Delaware Baptists. The most

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and some in the State, to enter the chaplaincy of the country. One of these men certainly merits reference here - not that he was a Philadelphia Baptist, but as the ancestor of an honored family of our denomination in this city. Rev. David Jones is the gentleman spoken of. . . . Previous to the issuing of the Declaration of Independence he took high ground in favor of cutting loose from Great Britain. In 1776, he became a chaplain in the army, and remained through all the war, up to the surrender at Yorktown, performing very important service for his country. He was a man of warm friendship, ardent patriotism, and sincere piety, and after much faithful work for his Lord and Master he died February 5, 1824, in the eighty-fourth year of his age. He was buried in the graveyard of the Great Valley Baptist Church, near the very spot where, for many years as a Pastor, he preached the gospel of the blessed God" (pp. 128, 129).

Dr. William Cathcart

      Dr. William Cathcart, in his Centennial Offering, says: "The Rev. David Jones was an original thinker, and was fearless in expressing his sentiments. He was an educated man, but he possessed what schools never gave - a

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powerful intellect. As a preacher he always secured the undivided attention of his hearers, and never failed to instruct and cheer them. When the Revolutionary war began Mr. Jones lived in a section of New Jersey where Tories made it neither agreeable nor safe for a patriot to reside, especially if, like Mr. Jones, he was an orator capable of moving men by his eloquence, and a brave man to whom fear was an unexplored mystery. So Mr. Jones, believing that he could serve his country better than by martyrdom from such hands, removed to Pennsylvania. In 1775, on a public fast, he preached to the regiment of Col. Dewees a sermon overflowing with patriotism and with unshaken confidence in God. The discourse was given to the printer and widely circulated over the colonies, and it exerted an extensive influence in favor of the good cause. In 1776, Mr. Jones became chaplain of a Pennsylvania regiment, and entered upon duties for which he was better qualified than almost any other man among the patriotic ministers of America. He was never away from scenes of danger, nor from the rude couch of the sick or the wounded soldier when words of comfort were needed. He
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followed Gates through his campaigns, and served as a brigade chaplain under Wayne. He was in the battle of Brandywine, the slaughter of Paoli - where he escaped only by the special care of Providence - and in all the deadly conflicts in which his brigade was engaged until the surrender at Yorktown. Gen. Howe, learning that he was a pillar to the Revolution in and out of the army, offered a reward for his capture, and a plot was unsuccessfully laid to secure his person. Full of wit, eloquence, patriotism, and fearless courage, he was a model chaplain and a tower of strength to the cause of freedom. He was the grandfather of our esteemed brother, the Hon. Horatio Gates Jones of Pennsylvania" (pp. 38-40).

Rev. Morgan Edwards, A. M.

      Conspicuous among the Baptist ministers who have made Delaware their home is Rev. Morgan Edwards, A. M., the well-known Baptist historian. Says Benedict: "He was emphatically a pioneer in the history of the Baptists." "For talents, industry, and usefulness," says the same writer, "he was pre-eminent in his day." He was a vigorous supporter of every Baptist enterprise of his day, and is

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justly regarded as the founder of Rhode Island College, now known as Brown University. He was born in Wales, May 9, 1722, and educated at the grammar-school at home and at Bristol Seminary. He entered the ministry at the age of sixteen. He was recommended to the First Church, Philadelphia, as Pastor, by the famous Dr. Gill of London and others, and became Pastor of that church in 1761. He resigned and moved to Newark, Delaware, in 1772, where he had purchased a farm. He continued to reside in the State until his death, at Pencader, New Castle County, on the 28th of January, 1795, in the seventy-third year of his age. He was buried, according to his request, in the aisle of the meeting-house in Philadelphia. During his twenty-three years' residence in Delaware he labored in the interests of Christ and of the denomination within and without the State. Up to the Revolution he continued preaching the word of life and salvation in a number of vacant churches. After the war he occasionally read lectures in divinity in Philadelphia and other parts of Pennsylvania, also in New Jersey, Delaware, and New England. His Materials towards a History of the
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Baptists of Pennsylvania were published in 1792, while he was in Delaware, and most of his materials toward the history of Baptists in other States were collected and written about the same time. For years he printed at his own expense annual tables showing the condition of the churches of the Philadelphia Association, and finally induced the Association to print its Minutes. He was at different times both Clerk and Moderator of that body. In 1762, Morgan Edwards was Moderator, and Abel Morgan Clerk. "They met at the Lutheran Church, in Fifth Street between Arch Street and Race Street, where the sound of the organ was heard in the Baptist worship." (See Minutes, 1762.) He was a man of extended travel and of pleasing manners. His Greek Testament, of which he was complete master, was his constant companion, while he loved his Hebrew Bible next. He called them the minister's two eyes. He was brought up an Episcopalian, and became a Baptist upon conviction. The large print-hand in which his Manuscript Materials towards a Baptist History is written can never be forgotten by those who have seen it. *
* Mr. Edwards was the only Baptist minister of that day, so far as I can learn, who sympathized with the Loyalists.

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Rev. Thomas J. Kitts

      Rev. Thomas J. Kitts was ordained at the Wilmington Church in 1818, during the pastorate of Rev. Daniel Dodge. He was born in Pennsylvania, September 13, 1789. In 1818, he was Clerk of the Delaware Association. He was Pastor at the Great Valley in 1822, and became Pastor in 1823 of the Second Church, Philadelphia, which church he served until his death, January, 1838. He preached the sermon before the Philadelphia Association in 1826, and was Clerk in 1827, and Moderator in 1828. In character and preaching ability he was second to none.


Rev. Joseph H. Kennard, D. D.

      Rev. Joseph H. Kennard, D. D., so well known to this generation, was converted under the ministry of Mr. Dodge, and baptized by him, July 3, 1814. He was also licensed to preach by the Wilmington Church, September, 1818. He was appointed, with others, by the Delaware Association in June, 1819, to represent them in the next Philadelphia Association, which was probably his first appearance as a delegate in the body of which he was so many years a leader. His first labors were as a missionary

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in this peninsula, "everywhere exciting attention by his youthfulness and glowing zeal." Mr. Kennard was born near Haddonfield, New Jersey, April 24, 1798, and his parents were Friends. He came to Wilmington when he was about fifteen years of age. He was called from his work in Delaware to the pastorate of the Baptist Church at Burlington, New Jersey, where he was ordained in July, 1820. He went in 1822 to the Second Church, Hopewell, New Jersey, and in October, 1822, to the Blockley Church, now in Philadelphia. While there he was largely instrumental in the formation of what is now the Pennsylvania General Association, of which he became the Missionary in 1830. In January, 1832, he accepted a call to become the Pastor of the New Market Street Church (now the Fourth), Philadelphia. His labors there were most successful. The house was crowded, souls were converted, and the church grew in numbers. Needing more room, nearly one hundred and seventy members went out and formed the Tenth Church, January 1, 1838, with Mr. Kennard as Pastor, which office he filled for the remainder of his life. This church reached
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a membership of eleven hundred during his pastorate, and was the mother of four or five vigorous churches. For a period of thirty-four years he was a settled Pastor in Philadelphia, and during his long life he baptized over two thousand persons. He was a man of great influence, not only in his own church and denomination, but other denominations, and the world acknowledged the power of his life for Christ. He died in the harness, Lord's Day evening, June 24, 1866, and was succeeded, according to the wish of his heart, by his son, Rev. J. Spencer Kennard, D. D.

Captain Calvin Tubbs

      Our brief mention of men of note in this connection would not be complete if the name of Captain Calvin Tubbs were omitted. It is impossible to find out much about him, but enough is known to make his name conspicuous in Baptist history. He was a native of New England, a sea-captain by occupation, and lived for many years when ashore in Newark, Delaware, or on his farm at Aikenville in the same State. He married Mary, the daughter of Rev. Gideon Farrell, who was Pastor of Welsh Tract Church from 1802 to 1820. Mr. William M. Campbell, Clerk of that church,

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sends me the following, taken from the Minutes: "May 27, 1815, yearly meeting. The Association being held on the first Sabbath in June, which is the day of our monthly meeting, the church was now called together to attend to business. 1st. Captain Calvin Tubbs came forward and offered his experience with a view to be baptized and join the church. He was accordingly received for baptism, to be performed on the morrow morning." "He was present to appointment, and was baptized and received a member at Bethel meeting on the second Sabbath in June at the quarterly meeting." The latter words are probably those of Mr. Campbell, condensed from the record. An old member of the Welsh Tract, now living, informs me that he was present and saw Captain Tubbs baptized. Being "yearly meeting," it was performed in the presence of a large concourse of people. Bethel was a mission of Welsh Tract. Captain Tubbs in 1830 united with the Fifth Baptist Church, as Rev. B. D. Thomas, Pastor, tells me. It was then the Sansom Street Church, Philadelphia. He was a member there for only a short time. He and his wife and children are buried in the graveyard of the Welsh Tract
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Church, in the rear of the house. He was a godly man, and is well remembered by many now living in Philadelphia, as well as in Delaware. Says Captain Turley: "He flew the Bethel flag on Sunday."

Rev. John G. Oncken, D. D.

      It is, however, chiefly of his connection with the conversion to Baptist views of the great German apostle, Rev. John G. Oncken, D. D., that I wish to speak. This matter was first brought to the attention of the writer by Miss Anne Semple of Wilmington, Delaware, who knew him well and played with his children. Miss Semple says: "Captain Tubbs commanded a vessel sailing between Philadelphia and Hamburg, belonging to the late John Welsh, Esq., of Philadelphia, whose wife was a member of Sansom Street Baptist Church, and who was the father of the ex-Minister to England. One winter his vessel was providentially ice-bound at Hamburg, and he boarded in the city. In the same house was a young man, a colporteur from London, named J. G. Oncken, a Pedobaptist. They became intimate, and among other religious subjects discussed interchanged their views on the ordinance of Baptism. Mr. Oncken, being convinced that

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the captain had the Bible on his side, and consequently that he was not baptized, requested that on his return home he would make his case known to some Baptist minister going to Europe, and ask him to visit Hamburg and baptize him."

      In Lehmann's History of the Baptist Churches in Germany, etc., translated by G. Anderson, D. D. (p. 5), we read: "Finally, after many years, Dr. Barnas Sears of America, who now occupies a high position in the United States, came to Hamburg, entered into intimate relations with Oncken, and was thus prepared to administer baptism to him and to the few believers who found themselves in fellowship with Oncken, and shared his convictions in respect to the ordinances. It was on the 22d of April, 1834, that the above-mentioned solemn baptism was administered to him and to six others, and thus was laid the foundation of the first Baptist Church in Hamburg and in Germany. The event caused a great sensation wherever Oncken's name was known. On account of his meetings and preaching he had already suffered persecution, which now rose to an unusual height."

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The Following letters explain themselves:
From the Hon. John Welsh, ex-Minister of the United States to England.

      I am sorry that I am unable to give you the information you wish to get in regard to the late Captain Tubbs. We have no knowledge of his son Calvin, but my brother says he had a son called after him, Samuel Welsh Tubbs, who some years ago was in New York, but he knows nothing of his present residence, not having heard of him for several years.
     Very respectfully,

PHILADELPHIA, May 10, 1880.
      It was in hopes of finding something of the nativity of Captain Tubbs from the registers of the Welsh firm that the letter to which the above is the reply was written.
     From Rev. P. W. Bickel, D. D.
     HAMBURG, den B April, 1880.

REV. RICH. B. COOK, Wilmington, Del.
      Your favor of the 9th March has just come to hand. I went over to Mr. Oncken, and tried to get the information desired. Mr. Oncken remembered his good Captain Calvin Tubbs very well, and spoke of him with tenderest regard, but as to my question, Whether he was a Baptist when he first met the captain?

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He could give me no definite answer. He only said, "I think I was no Baptist yet, but my memory is so poor that I cannot give you any certainty."

      Am sorry I cannot give you a better report. Mr. Oncken's memory is so weak that no reliance can be put in it now.

      May God bless you in your work and multiply his people in every land and among every tribe! Yours fraternally,

From Rev. Barnas Sears, D. D., LL.D.
STAUNTON, Va., April 29, 1880.

      I often heard Mr. Oncken speak of Captain Tubbs, who was, I think, at different times at Hamburg, and with whom Mr. Oncken corresponded. He always spoke of him with the greatest Christian affection. My impression is that Mr. Oncken got his Baptist views first from him; that is, that he first talked with him on the subject of Baptism. His own doubts may have preceded that time. As Secretary of the Lower Saxony Tract Society he expressed his doubts in a letter to Dr. Maclay, and Dr. Maclay asked me to seek him out in Hamburg, which I did, and I found his views settled on the subject. He wished me to converse with his wife and four or five others, who were then much troubled with doubts; all of whom were baptized afterward. Yours truly,

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From John L. Dagg, D. D.
HAYNESVILLE, Ala., August 28, 1880.
      Your letter of the 17th inst. was received yesterday.... Brother Calvin Tubbs was a highly-esteemed member of the Fifth Baptist in Philadelphia when I was its Pastor. The place of his nativity I cannot tell you. His wife was a daughter of a Baptist minister in the State of Delaware. ... I think it was Gideon Farrell. Brother Tubbs was captain of a trading vessel which used to sail from Philadelphia to Hamburg. At Hamburg he formed acquaintance with the Rev. J. G. Oncken while yet a Pedobaptist, and not only became much interested in him, but interested me also by the account of him which he gave me. At one time he showed me a letter which he had received from him, and which at my request he permitted me to get published. It was published in the Baptist Tract Magazine, the organ of the American Baptist Publication Society, and this published letter, I think, was the first thing that brought Mr. Oncken to the notice of our American people. ... On the question whether Captain Tubbs had any connection with the conversion of Mr. Oncken to Baptist views I can say nothing. . . . Your brother in Christ, J. L. DAGG.
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From Jonah G. Warren, D. D.
NEWTON CENTRE, Mass., August 12, 1880.

      Yours of the 11th is at hand. In looking into my copy-book, containing letters written from Germany in 1867, I find the following reference to Captain Tubbs. It occurs in a description I gave of a certain house in which Oncken at one time lived, and reads thus: "While living in this house, an American seaman, Captain Tubbs, a member of the old Sansom Street Baptist Church, Philadelphia, being ice-bound, was compelled to spend the winter in Hamburg. Oncken took him into his family, and during the long winter evenings they talked over the doctrines and practices of the Baptist churches in the United States, prayed together, and together went to the ' upper room' and worshipped God in company with the band of believers. When he returned home Captain Tubbs told his Pastor, Mr. Dagg, and afterward Dr. Cone, what a treasure he had found in Hamburg, and how his late 'host' was looking for some one to baptize him. God always has some way to bring to pass his grand designs. Soon after correspondence was opened between America and Germany, and results whose fame is in all the churches followed in rapid succession."

I may say, in addition, that my book, now open before me, gives the fullest, most accurate and detailed description I have ever seen of the origin and progress of the Baptist work in Germany as connected with

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Oncken, and I believe the best in existence, as it was taken down on the spot from Dr. Oncken's own lips....
Yours most truly,

      Enough has been said to show that German Baptists, if not Germany, are under obligation to Captain Tubbs, a missionary Baptist of the Welsh Tract Church, and through him to the Baptists of "Little Delaware." The blessing has already returned to us, for Jeremiah Grimmell, the founder of the German Church in Wilmington, was baptized by Dr. Oncken. It gives us a peculiar pleasure to begin the history of the great German Baptist movement, so far-reaching and wonderful, upon Delaware soil. Dr. Oncken acknowledges his indebtedness in the following extract from a letter acknowledging the reception of tracts from the American Baptist Publication Society, contained in the Tract Magazine for 1833: "The publications of your Society on Baptism are admirable. They were quite new to me, and have tended not a little to establish me in my purpose to comply with this part of my Saviour's command as soon as possible." *
* For those who wish to examine the matter further I refer them to The Baptist Missionary Magazine for 1834 (p. 290), 1835 (p. 229), 1836 (p. 223), 1837 (p. 65), 1838 (p. 229). The Rev. Frank S. Dobbins has kindly furnished me with these references.

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      In the days of these men the Baptists of Delaware were a missionary, and consequently a growing, people, and Delaware was a centre of Baptist power and influence. Here is an extract illustrative of the missionary spirit of this period, taken from the Corresponding Letter of the Delaware Association, written by John M. Peck and endorsed by Rev. Jethro Johnson, Moderator, and approved by the Association at the meetings the year following that in which Captain Tubbs was baptized (1816): "If we take a cursory view of what has been effected in the last twenty-five years, who can withhold the exclamation, 'What hath God wrought!' At that period the missionary flame commenced in Europe: it hath kindled across continents and islands, until the same holy fervor, in a good degree, warms the hearts of God's children on every side of the globe. No difficulties are insuperable to the zeal which animates the heralds of salvation: they go forth in every direction, bearing the precious treasure of
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eternal life. Already the streams of salvation are poured upon the burning plains of India! The disciples of Brahma, the votaries of Juggernaut, and the deluded followers of the Arabian impostor catch the song of redeeming love! Ethiopia is beginning to stretch forth her hands to God, and the isles to wait for his law! . . . The real Christian, while viewing, on the one hand, the darkness, misery, and guilt of a large portion of the human family who are famishing for the 'bread of eternal life,' and on the other the ardent zeal discovered to relieve their miserable state, pants for the privilege of entering into the harvest. . . . Had we lived half a century ago, we might have been suffered to sleep securely, insensible to the wants of our perishing fellow-men. . . . Let us cast our eyes on the multitudes around us in this land of gospel light, ... without the means of religious instruction.... Let us feel for the poor Hindoo. . . . Let us be aroused by these considerations to make one united and vigorous effort to spread the gospel of Jesus both at home and abroad."

[From Richard B. Cook, The Early and Later Delaware Baptists, 1880, pp. 51-73. Document from Google Books On-line. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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