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Elder Joseph H. Eaton, LL.D.
By James M. Pendleton, 1859
      The undersigned appointed by the Trustees of Union University to prepare a notice of death of President Eaton, undertake to perform the sad duty. They deem it proper, in the first place, to state some of the most prominent facts of his life.

      He was born in Delaware, Ohio, September 10th, 1812. Of his childhood we know but little, but have learned that his youth was devoted chiefly to agricultural pursuits. In his seventeenth year he was hopefully converted to God. Not conferring with flesh and blood, he made a public profession of his faith in Christ, and was baptized by Elder Drake. In 1831, he entered Georgetown College, Kentucky, and remained in the State three years, teaching a portion of the time. In the fall of 1834, he went to Hamilton, New York, and entered Madison University, then called “The Hamilton Literary and Theological Seminary.” Here he graduated with honor, August 12th, 1837, and soon after came to Tennessee. He spent a few months in Davidson County, and then took charge of the Fayetteville Academy. He was married September 3rd, 1840, to Miss E. M. Treadwell, of New York, and early in the spring of 1841 removed to Murfreesboro to engage in the educational enterprise which resulted in the establishment of Union University. When the time came for the Institution to be officered he was appointed President, which station he filled to the day of his death.

      In February, 1842, he received license to preach from the First Baptist Church, Nashville of which church he was a member. He was ordained September 10th, 1843, at which time the Baptist Church in Murfreesboro was constituted. He was chosen pastor, and accepted the call January following. From that period to the time of his death, thousands know how laborious his life was. Indefatigable as teacher, during the week, he preached extremely and ana____ on the Lord’s day. His sermons, too, were prepared with much more than ordinary care. When he ceased to be pastor to Murfreesboro, he preached at several other places. Shelbyville, Lebanon, Woodbury, Fairfield, Enon, Antioch and other Churches, at times, enjoyed his labors, and it was often remarked, that even whom he preached as far from home on the Lord’s day, as twenty-five miles, he was in the recitation room early Monday morning. That his classes might not be neglected, he frequently traveled by night and before dawn of day in the morning. We refer to this in proof of his persevering industry and indomitable energy, believing, at the same time, that he taxed too heavily his manly physical frame. It is probable that his laborious efforts in teaching and preaching had much to do in planting the seeds of the disease which terminated his life. He was, perhaps, too self-sacrificing in his consecration to the work of doing good. Under the impulses of an unwearied zeal he forgot himself – forgot that the body which contained his mighty soul was made perishable materials. He may have erred in this; if so, we may say, in the language of a great poet:

“And yet the light which had _____,
Was light from heaven.”

      Several months since Bro. Eaton’s health began to fail. It continued to decline until it was painfully evident that he was laboring under a serious affection of the liver. Still he would not confine himself to his room and his bed till he could go to the University no longer. He preached his last sermon the latter part of October, and about the middle of November was compelled to relinquish his presidential duties. Many prayers were offered for him. The Lord, however, was pleased to take him to himself. The sufferings of our departed brother were, at times, excruciating, but we heard no murmuring expression fell from his lips. He seemed to be deeply penetrated with the sentiment, that the Lord does all things well.

      He wished to live for two objectives – to see the University placed on a permanent _____, and to see his children further advanced in life; but he said, with emphasis, “The Lord will do right.” He felt the ____ pro___ _____ of the doctrine he had so often preached, and remarked, “I have tried to live a Christian life, but my trust is in Christ alone.” His friends _____ the breaking of an abscess of the liver in the direction of the lungs would render his death very painful; but he fell asleep, much as an infant in his mother’s arms. It was difficult to tell the moment when his spirit left the pale clay, so gently and quietly did it depart.

      Thus lived Joseph H. Eaton, and thus he died in his own chamber at 2 o’clock, P.M. January 12th, 1859, in the 47th year of his age.

      To his surviving companion, left to feel all the desolation of widowhood, ____________ of Christian sympathy. For the three fatherless children, we offer our fervent prayer, that their father’s God may be their God. And that the Trustees, Faculty, and friends of the University hear the voice of Jehovah in this dispensation[?] of Providence, saying, “BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM God.”

J. F. Fletcher, }
R. W. January, } of the Trustees.

J. R. Graves, }
Geo. W. Jarman, } of the Faculty.
J. M. Pendleton. }
Murfreesboro, Tenn. Jan. 1859.


      There are several sections of the m/f that are blurred, thus the blanks. jd

[The Tennessee Baptist, February 5, 1859. p. 2, microfilm on CD format. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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