1860 The Association met with Friendship church, Pike county, October 13th. Ham McKnight was the first preacher, whose text was I Cor. 15:58. M. S. Shirk and L. A. Duncan were the reading clerks, and the body was organized by retaining the same officers. Visiting ministers were Elders Hugh Quin and Samuel Thigpen. Corresponding messengers were W. H. Bailey, from the Pearl River; S. Buffkin and O. L. Johnston, from the Union, and L. A. Duncan, from the Mississippi River Associations. M. S. Shirk and W. M. Stambaugh were selected for the Sabbath services.
Mars Hill church sent the following query: "Is it according to apostolic practice to read sermons instead of preaching them?" Which was referred to a committee consisting of S. M. Brian, W. F. Cain and W. Green. In their report they recommended the Association to answer the query in the negative, and accompanied their report with a resolution. The report was amended by striking out the resolution, and was then unanimously adopted.
Elder A. Jones, Jr., editor of the "Mississippi Baptist," was present, and was given an opportunity to address the body in behalf of his paper.
The following resolution was passed relative to titles:
"Resolved, That we deem it more evangelical to use the title 'elder,' in addressing ministers of the gospel, than that of 'reverend,' as the latter in applied in the Bible to God only."
The report on State of Religion showed the churches generally to be in a prosperous condition, 493 baptisms being reported this year. Zion Hill leads with 63, while Fort Adams comes next
with 50, Pierce's Creek with 45; Mount Zion, Franklin county, with 40, Jackson, La., with 31, Liberty with 26, etc. A list of the pastors is given, and the report says that Elder Zachariah Reeves had served Bogue Chitto church, Pike county, for twenty-eight years.
A good report on Sabbath schools was adopted, and the churches were recommended to establish schools and to use Baptist literature.
The work of the Mississippi Baptist Education Society was cordially commended, and a subscription of $150 was made. This society was engaged in the work of ministerial education, as this quotation from the committee's report will show: "Aid this society with your means, that it may be able to assist all those who call upon it, properly recommended and indorsed by the churches, in procuring an education."
The annual report of the Board of Visitors to the Amite Female Seminary again showed the institution to be in good condition.
The Mission Committee reported that they had employed Elder W. H. F. Edwards for three-fourths of his time, who gave the following summary of work for six months: Miles traveled, over 2,000; sermons preached, 100; exhortations delivered, 15; prayer-meetings held, 12; persons baptized, 20. He also assisted in a number of other meetings, in which 130 persons had been received. The report says:
"Never, perhaps, in the history of our Association has there been a time more favorable for the spread of the truth as it is in Jesus among the people than at present. They have been fed on the husks of error so long, and finding it so unsatisfying to their immortal natures, that they are inquiring after the truth, desiring the sincere milk of the Word. The field is white, ready to the harvest."
The report on obituaries mentions the departure of two more prominent workers -- viz., Elder Frederick Clark and Deacon John Everett. "Elder Clark departed this life on the 13th day of July, 1860, at the residence of Bro. G. F. Webb, near the town of Liberty in Amite county. Bro. Clark, at the time of his decease, was in the sixty-third year of his age. He had been a preacher of the gospel for about forty years. For the last eight years he labored within the bounds of this Association. * * * He labored with zeal and fervency in the Master's vineyard. His heart was in every good work. He was instrumental
in the conversion of many souls to God, and has gone to share the reward of those who 'turn many to righteousness.'"
John Everett was born in Richland District, South Carolina, July 31, 1793. He came to Amite county, Mississippi, in 1809. In the year 1823 he married Elizabeth Felder, a daughter of Elder Chas. Felder. She died in 1832, and in 1835 he married Mrs. Elizabeth Frith, a daughter or Zachariah Lea. Eight children were born to him, five by his first marriage and three by the second. Mr. Everett professed religion in 1827, uniting with East Fork church, where he remained a member until death. He served in the capacity of church clerk for many years, and in 1838 was ordained to the office of deacon. He was also secretary of the Amite Bible Society. He was an upright citizen, a devout Christian, and was highly esteemed by all who knew him. An obituary notice says: "The church at East Fork has lost
one of its best members, his family its affectionate head, and the county one of its most useful and upright citizens. Faithful in all the relations of life, he died in the triumphs of faith on August 5, 1860, aged sixty-seven years."
IVY F. THOMPSON.
Elder Ivy F. Thompson was born in Amite county, Mississippi, January 20, 1820. In 1841 he graduated at Oakland College, in Mississippi, and later at Judge Shattuck's Law School at Brandon, Miss. In 1844 he was married to Miss Lucinda L. Frith, of Amite county, and during this year was, admitted to the bar at Liberty. Mr. Thompson united with Liberty Baptist church in 1848, being baptized by Elder Ham McKnight. The following year he was licensed to preach. His ordination occurred at Greensburg, La., December 21, 1851, Elders Ham McKnight and Calvin Magee composing the council. He was an earnest and effectual preacher, and was moderator of the Mississippi River
Association for four years. His brethren said: "A good man has fallen in Israel. * * * No more will be stand upon the walls of Zion to proclaim the riches of redeeming love to a lost and ruined world." He died at the home of a friend, O. E. Strickland, St. Helena parish, Louisiana, July 28, 1860, in the prime of life, being little more than forty years of age.
1861 Mars Hill was the place of meeting on the 12th of October. Elder S. W. Bullock, the appointee, had died during the year, and the alternate, Wm. Green, preached the sermon from Job, 7:16. Zachariah Reeves was re-elected moderator, with Ham McKnight clerk. Elders Calvin Magee and B. A. Crawford came from the Pearl River Association; E. R. Freeman, D. J. Brown and S. G. Mullins from the Union, and S. S. Ralyea from the Mississippi River.
It was this year (1861) that the Southern skies were dark with the clouds of war, find the Association seemed to feel the gravity of the coming conflict. A meeting for special prayer was appointed for Sunday morning at nine o'clock, when "many fervent prayers were offered to God on behalf of our beloved country." And this resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That Saturday before the first Lord's day in November be recommended to the churches composing this Association as a day to be devoted to fasting and prayer in view of the state of our Confederacy and the war that is being waged against us."
A committee was also appointed for the purpose of receiving donations to procure Testaments for those who were volunteering in the service of the country. The committee was composed of Ham McKnight, D. H. Quin and M. S. Shirk.
The Board of Visitors to the Amite Female Seminary made their annual report, which, as usual, was complimentary to the school. Among other things they said: "there has been but a small decreased in the number of pupils of withdrawals, notwithstanding the condition of the country."
Elder W. H. F. Edwards was still the Associational missionary, who reported for the year as follows: "Traveled over 3,000 miles, visited 150 families, preached 136 sermons, and baptized 19 persons." He had also received eighteen others for baptism. The report of the Mission Committee closes thus: "While we know that Bro. Edwards has been faithful in his labors, and a
successful missionary, we feel that it will be impossible for your committee, under existing circumstances, to continue a missionary in the field during the ensuing year."
The report on obituaries, written by M. S. Shirk, says:
"Since we last met in an Associational capacity our Heavenly Father has seen good to remove by death several valuable brethren and sisters, prominent among whom is our beloved brother, Elder S. W. Bullock. His loss is deeply felt, as it leaves a void in society, in his bereaved family, and in the pastorate. He was taken away in the prime of manhood and in the midst of his usefulness. As a man in all the varied relations of life, none was more highly esteemed. As a husband and father, he was tender and affectionate. As a Christian, he was most exemplary. As a minister of Jesus, he was sound in doctrine and felicitous in the presentation of the truth."
Stephen Jackson was born near Clinton, La., July 28, 1817, and lived there until grown, uniting with Hepzibah church in 1836. In 1842 he was married to Miss Amanda Jenkins. To them twelve children were born., eight of whom are still, living. He moved to Amite county, Mississippi, in 1846, carrying his
membership to Galilee church, where he was ordained to the deaconship in 1850. He was a farmer by occupation, and was a faithful and exemplary Christian. One who knew him well pays this tribute to his memory: "He fought the good fight; he finished his course; and, when the summons came, he was ready to be offered up and receive the crown of glory as his reward for faithful work in the Master's Kingdom. His was a life of service and sacrifice for his Master." Mr. Jackson died March 23, 1881, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
ROBERT T. RICE.
Robert T. Rice was born six miles south of Liberty, Miss., March 1, 1817, and died within a few hundred yards of this place on the 20th of May, 1891, having reached more than three-score and ten years. On December 11, 1838, he was married to Miss Louisa Roundtree, and in 1850 he and his wife united with Mount Vernon Baptist church, being baptized by Elder Ham McKnight. Shortly afterwards he moved his membership to the Liberty church, where he remained until death, being a deacon for more than thirty years. During the forty years he was a
Christian he seldom missed his church meetings on Saturday, and it was his custom to pay his pastor in advance. He was a co-worker with such men as Geo. F. Webb, W. Z. Lea and Ransom J. Causey. Mr. Rice was a well-to-do farmer, and was faithful in his day and generation.
1862 The Civil War was now on, and only a "handful" of brethren met at Pierce's Creek church on the 11th of October. Less than half the churches sent messengers. The following is a list of those in attendance, as shown by the statistical table:EBENEZER -- W. L. Johns and Lewis Perkins. ZION HILL -- Samuel Oneal and R. P. Butler. GALILEE -- W. H. F. Edwards and Stephen Jackson. MARS HILL -- J. J. Smart. FRIENDSHIP -- W. A. Young. JACKSON, LA. -- S. M. Brian. LIBERTY -- Ham McKnight. MOUNT ZION, Franklin County -- R. E. Bates. MOUNT ZION, Copiah County -- J. W. Pearce. MOUNT MORIAR -- James Hall. PIERCE'S CREEK -- S. E. McDonald. FORT ADAMS -- D. Eby and J. C. Glass. UNION -- W. Seal. SUMMIT -- W. F. Cain.
The Association at this time had thirty-three churches, and only fourteen were represented.
Elder Zachariah Reeves, who had not missed a meeting of the body since 1837, and who had been the moderator continuously since 1845, was absent this year, as were also both the treasurers.
Elder Ham McKnight was elected moderator and W. H. F. Edwards clerk. Correspondence was received from only one Association, the Strong River, Elders James Newman and William Toler being the messengers. This is our first meeting with James Newman, who was to be prominently connected with the old "Mississippi" in the coming years. And the Summit church was received at this meeting, W. F. Cain being the messenger.
This account is given of the Sabbath services: "The prayer-meeting at ten o'clock was conducted by Elder William Toler, after which Elder James Newman preached an able discourse from
Luke 7:50, 'And he said unto the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.' After an intermission of an hour, Elder W. H. F. Edwards discoursed from II Cor. 5:10, 'We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.'"
The committee appointed last year, known as the "Testament Distributing Committee," reported $77 received. They had ordered from Graves, Marks & Company, Nashville, Tenn., four hundred copies of the New Testament, which had been distributed to Captains Hurst's and Morgan's companies in Amite county; Captain Lamkin's company in Pike county, and Captain Webb's company in Franklin county. Later the committee forwarded the sum of twenty dollars for more Testaments, but had not received the books. The report says: "Whether they were forwarded by Graves, Marks & Company, and lost in, transportation, or whether they were prevented from forwarding them by the capture of Nashville by the Federal forces, your committee has not been able to ascertain." Again: "In conclusion, your committee can but hope and pray that the Testaments distributed under the sanction of this body among the brave volunteers of our country may lead some to become the soldiers of Christ, the Captain of Salvation." The report was written by Elder Ham McKnight.
The Board of Visitors to the Amite Female Seminary made a brief report, showing the school to be still in operation and doing fairly well. They say: "During the year the number of pupils has been unexpectedly large, taking into view the pecuniary and political condition of the country." This is the last we hear of the Amite Female Seminary. Grim war lays its ruthless hand on the young institution, and it is numbered with things of the past.
This query was received from Fort Adams: "What is the difference between original sin and natural depravity?" The answer given was that "natural depravity is the effect of original sin."
The amount raised for missions was $124, but no mission work had been done. The minutes close with these words: "The business of the Association was conducted in peace and brotherly love, at the close of which, after singing an appropriate hymn and taking the parting hand (to many of us, perhaps, for the last time), Elder James Newman, of the Strong River Association, led in prayer, and thus closed the fifty-sixth anniversary of the Mississippi Baptist Association."
1863 The Association held this session with the Mount Zion church, Copiah county, beginning October 10th. J. F. Cook preached the opening sermon from Matt. 28:18-20. The delegation was larger than last year, though not full. Elder Ham McKnight was absent, and the old moderator, Zachariah Reeves, was called on to preside, while Mr. Edwards was retained as secretary. The visiting ministers were Elders J. B. Hamberlin, of the Army Mission, and E. L. Compere, of the Indian Mission. One new church, New Hope, Franklin county, was received, B. F. Zumbro being the messenger.
Elders Zachariah Reeves, J. B. Hamberlin and M. T. Conn did the preaching on the Lord's day, and a collection for army missions was taken, amounting to $216.50.
A committee of three was appointed to collect a file of the Associational minutes from 1847, with a view to having the same published in book form.
The following resolution was adopted:
"Resolved, That this Association do most earnestly recommend the churches to meet on the first Lord's day in every month at ten o'clock to offer up special prayer for the success of our cause and the spiritual welfare of our armies."
The subject of army missions was receiving considerable attention at this time, as shown by the fact that a general meeting of the Baptists of the State was called to convene at Hillsboro, Scott county, to consider the best methods of doing mission work in the Southern army. And the sum of $290 for army missions was turned over to Elder J. B. Hamberlin. Treasurer Jas. A. Jenkins reported $380 sent up by the churches. Of course, these funds were in Confederate money.
The report on obituaries notes the death of three ministers — viz., H. H. Thompson, C. L. Oliver and Elihu McKay. Mr. Thompson died March 25, 1863, near Richmond, Va. He united with Macedonia church, Copiah county, at the age of seventeen, and was ordained to the ministry in his twentieth year. He volunteered at his country's call, and fell a sacrifice to her cause. He left a wife and a large circle of friends.
C. L. Oliver died October 13, 1862. He was a member of Damascus church, Franklin county, and was ordained to the work of the ministry in 1857. He adorned the doctrine of God his Savior in his deportment before the world, and was beloved by all that knew him.
Elihu McKay departed this life June 8, 1862. He was a consistent Christian for twenty years, fifteen of which he was a preacher. He was a member, and also pastor, of New Hope church, received during this session. He died in the triumphs of faith in about the fiftieth year of his age.
1864 The opening paragraph of this year's minutes is as follows: "Summit church, Pike county, Mississippi, October 8; 1864. The Association assembled this day with the Summit Baptist church, the place of meeting having been changed by mutual consent from Union church, Franklin county, the former being too near the enemy's lines." The writer evidently intended to say "the latter being too near the enemy's lines," or it may have been an error of the printer.
The next paragraph says: "In consequence of raids of the enemy, said to be approaching this place, and expected here in a few hours, the annual sermon was dispensed with." This was a time of fear and trembling, but these faithful Baptists remained, holding a session of one day. Zachariah Reeves was absent again this year, and the body was organized by choosing Elder J. R. Graves to preside, while W. H. F. Edwards was re-elected clerk. Twelve churches out of thirty-four were represented by delegates, as follows, others sending letters:EAST FORK -- Henry G. Quin. GALILEE -- W. H. F. Edwards and T. M. Mercer. HOPEWELL -- K. R. Webb and W. P. Dodds. FRIENDSHIP -- M. Cole. MOUNT PLEASANT -- James Price and Thomas Reeves. MOUNT ZION, Franklin -- R. E. Bates, D. B. Cain and C. Young. MOUNT ZION, Copiah -- H. A. Davis. BOGUE CRITTO -- Jeremiah Waller. MOUNT MORIAH -- W. S. Horr and Benjamin Delanther. SHADY GROVE -- Henry Moak. HOLMESVILLE -- D. C. Walker. SUMMIT -- J. R. Graves and T. F. Cook.
Correspondence from other associations was as follows: S. G. Mullins, from the Union; Wilson Clark, from the Pearl River, and Peter Turner, from the Mississippi River. And the appointments
for preaching on the Sabbath were S. G. Mullins, Peter Turner, J. G. Lathrop and J. R. Graves.
The treasurer was instructed that, in case the funds on hand should be unexpended by January 1, 1865, to place the same in the nearest depository for redemption in new issue. More than $2,000 was on hand, but it was, of course, greatly depreciated in value.
One remarkable thing this year is the large number of baptisms, a total of 483 being reported. The Summit church led with 78; Zion Hill followed with 73; Mount Zion, Franklin, came next with 63; Liberty reported 50; Mars Hill, 44; East Fork, 43; Jackson, La., 31; Galilee, 26; Mount Moriah, 25; New Providence and Hopewell, each 19, and Bogue Chitto, 7.
1865 The Association meets, according to appointment, in the historic village of Holmesvllle, the courthouse town of Pike county, situated in a lovely valley alongside the beautiful Bogue Chitto, whose waters have leaped and sung for ages. Great events have transpired since the last meeting of the old "Mississippi" -- events that will make history for all time to come. The four weary years of war have now ended. Gen. Lee has surrendered at Appomattox, and the remaining soldiers have returned to their desolated homes and suffering families, while thousands of their comrades sleep in unmarked graves on distant battlefields. Abraham Lincoln has died at the hand of an assassin, and the sectional feeling between the North and South is still at fever heat. Sweet peace, however, has spread her wings over the dark scene, and the saints may assemble at the quiet country village for worship and business.
Zachariah Reeves and W. H. F. Edwards, the appointee and alternate, both being absent, J. R. Graves preaches the introductory sermon from I Timothy, 3:15. Twenty-four churches send messengers, and the body is organized by the re-election of J. R. Graves as moderator, while A. J. Everett, of East Fork, is selected to do the writing.
The corresponding messengers were B. A. Crawford and F. M. Quin from the Pearl River Association, and Peter Turner from the Mississippi River. Appointments for preaching at the Baptist and Methodist churches during the session were made as follows: M. S. Shirk, J. R. Graves, C. H. Otken, Peter Turner and B. A. Crawford.
Mount Zion, Copiah county; Mount Moriah and Jackson, La., churches asked for letters of dismission.
This query was submitted for consideration: "Are infants born into the world with sinful natures?" The same was referred to a committee composed of M. S. Shirk, C. H. Otken, B. A. Crawford and Peter Turner.
The following resolution on popular amusements was passed by the body, and still needs to be emphasized:
"Resolved, That it is, and ever has been, the sense of this Association that all participation in, or voluntary attendance on, balls or parties for dancing or card-playing for amusement, or any other game of hazard or chance, is entirely incompatible with the Christian character and profession; that they are sins against God, and a reproach to the Christian name, and as such merit the strictest discipline of the churches."
The Association also adopted this resolution relative to Dr. J. R. Graves and his paper:
"Resolved, That the interests of our denomination at large demand that our brother, Elder J. R. Graves, be placed in a position to exert the most extended influence in the promotion of the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom. We, therefore, urge the importance and necessity of his resuming the publication of his paper, 'The Tennessee Baptist,' at the earliest practicable date, and we pledge to him our most hearty support."
The Association advised the churches to organize their colored members into separate bodies at as early a day as might be practicable. They were now no longer slaves.
James A. Jenkins, treasurer, reported contributions in 1863 at $350; in 1864, between $300 and $500, all of which was in Confederate money, and, hence, worthless. And the minutes for 1863, 1864 and 1865 are printed under one cover.
G. P. CLAUGHTON. G. P. Claughton, who served the Association in the capacity of clerk for nine years, from 1844 to 1852, inclusive, died on the 13th of January, 1863. The report on obituaries says:
"For more than thirty years he represented Galilee church, Amite county, and subsequently, for three or four years, Union church, Franklin county, in this body. A man of strict integrity, and upright in all his business transactions, he was highly esteemed in every relation of life. As a neighbor, he was
kind; as, a friend, sincere; as a parent, affectionate; as a husband, devoted; as a disciple of Jesus, without reproach; as a deacon of the church, he used his office well. His heart was in every good work. In him his pastor had a friend; the younger members, a guide; the older, a counsellor; and all, an example of wisdom and practical religion."
J. R. GRAVES, LL. D.
The following biographical sketch is taken from the "Baptist Encyclopedia":
"J. R. Graves, LL. D., was born in Chester, Vt., April 10, 1820. His mother was the granddaughter of a distinguished German physician and scholar named Schnell. He was the youngest of three children. At the age of fifteen he was converted, and when nineteen he was elected principal of the Kingsville Academy, Ohio, where he remained two years, when, with impaired health, he went for the winter to Kentucky. There he took chare of the Clear Creek Academy, near Nicholasville, Jessamine county. About that time he united with Mount Freedom church, and was soon licensed to preach without his knowledge; but he would not enter the ministry, feeling himself wholly disqualified for such great work. In July, 1845, he came
to Nashville, Tenn. In a few days he rented a building and opened the Vine Street Classical and Mathematical Academy, and shortly after united with the First Baptist Church. In the fall of 1845 he took charge of the Second Church, on Cherry Street, now the Central Baptist Church, and the following year he was elected editor of the 'Tennessee Baptist,' when his public religious career, with which all are more or less familiar, commenced.
"When, in the autumn of 1846, he took charge of the 'Tennessee Baptist,' it had a circulation of only one thousand, and before the breaking out of the war it had attained the largest circulation of any Baptist paper in the world. At the same time he edited a monthly, a quarterly and an annual, besides editing all the books that were issued from the presses of the Southwestern Publishing House. In addition he wrote and published the following works: 'The Desire of All Nations,' 'The Watch- man's Reply,' 'The Trilemma,' 'The First Baptist Church in America,' 'The Little Iron Wheel,' 'The Great Iron Wheel,' 'The Bible Doctrine of the Middle Life,' 'Exposition of Modern Spiritism,' 'The New Hymn and Tune Book,' 'The Little Seraph,' and, last, 'Old Landmarkism: What It Is.'
"He originated the first Ministers' Institute. He raised without compensation the endowment of the theological chair in Union University, and without charge he established the Mary Sharpe College, Winchester, Tenn., securing the necessary funds, and he drafted its admirable curriculum.
"In 1848 he originated the Southwestern Publishing House, Nashville, Tenn., for the dissemination of sound Baptist literature, and subsequently the Southern Baptist Sunday School Union, both of which achieved great success, but were destroyed by the war.
"He was a great preacher, following unusual lines of thought. He was pre-eminently doctrinal, yet Christ crucified was the soul of every sermon. He was lengthy, yet he held the attention of his audience to the last. He insisted strongly upon the forms, rites and duties of the true church, and upon water baptism, and baptism properly administered, yet be placed the blood of Christ before water. His eloquence was sometimes over-whelming. He was the acknowledged head of the great movement among Baptists known as 'Old Landmarkism.'
"In his early ministry, Dr. Graves had many converts under his preaching. The writer was with him on one occasion in
Brownsville, Tenn., in 1849, where more than seventy persons, including the best men and women of the place, found the Savior. His arguments, illustrations and appeals were the most powerful I ever heard. Before he was thirty years of age over thirteen hundred persons had professed religion in special meetings which he held.
"In 1853 the Domestic Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention were exceedingly anxious to establish a strong Baptist church in New Orleans. To secure this object they invited Dr. Fuller, of Baltimore, to go to that city as a missionary. Then they formally appointed Dr. Graves to the position, with a salary of $3,000 per annum. Dr. Graves had a wonderful command over his audience, holding them spellbound for hours at a time. He was deeply in earnest, uttered the strong convictions of his own mind, and carried his hearers with him as by the force of a tornado. As a presiding officer over the deliberative bodies, Dr. Graves was often honored, and no man more richly deserved it. Dr. Graves had some eight or ten public discussions, to each of which he was challenged, and in every one of which his opponent felt sorry for inviting the conflict.
"Dr. Graves in his peculiarities represented a section of the Baptist denomination, a conscientious and devoted portion of our great apostolic community; but in his earnest and generous zeal for our heaven-inspired principles he represented all thorough Baptists throughout the ages and the nations. In his literary efforts he was of immense service to the Baptist churches in America. The fearless boldness of Dr. Graves in advocating the practices of Christ and His Apostles, his manly denunciation of that ungodly character that would tread underfoot a divine ordinance to please untaught professing Christians of Pedobaptist denominations, have aided mightily in suppressing lukewarmness and in fostering zeal for the truth among us."
Chas. H. Otken is a native of Louisiana. His mother died when he was about six years old, and he lived with his uncle, attending two public and one private schools. He then served six years consecutively as clerk in a store. In 1854 he was received on a profession of faith into the Coliseum Place Baptist Church, New Orleans. In 1856 he entered Mississippi College as a licentiate preacher, and there continued his studies until instruction
in the college was discontinued on account of the war between the States. He taught school, during two vacations, at Bolton and Edwards, in Hinds county. He joined the Charlton Rifles, from Raymond, Hinds county, at Tupelo, Miss., and served as a private. Later in the service he was appointed chaplain of his regiment.
Chas. H. Otken, LL.D
His ordination to the ministry occurred in the St. Frances Street Baptist Church; Mobile, Ala., in 1864, Dr. S. H. Ford
being chairman of the ordaining council. After the close of the war he went to Amite county, and became pastor of the Liberty and Mount Vernon churches, and taught school. He was married in 1866 to Miss Emily J. Lea, of Amite county.
Dr. Otken was elected principal of the Peabody Public School at Summit, Miss., in 1867, beginning with twenty-seven pupils and closing with three hundred and forty-seven. He occupied this position nine consecutive years, and during this time was pastor of the Summit Baptist church seven years.
He next organized the Lea Female College at Summit, which had a prosperous career for eighteen years, and in which many young ladies from the surrounding country were educated. He also served five years as principal of the McComb City Female Institute, directing its affairs and teaching seven hours a day. He was at one time a trustee of the University of Mississippi for four years, and of Mississippi College ten years. The latter institution, without his knowledge or solicitation, conferred on him the honorary degrees of A. M. and LL. D.
Mr. Otken has written much for the press. In 1904 he published "The Ills of the South," and in 1905 was awarded the second prize by the "Times-Democrat," of New Orleans, for the best paper on the "Southern Agricultural Crisis," there being ninety-three competitors from ten Southern States.
In 1903 he was elected to the office of County Superintendent of Public Education, Pike county, Mississippi, which position he holds at this time (1908), having been re-elected in 1907. He performs his work with care and accuracy, and takes great interest in the cause of general education. His life service has been devoted to the good of humanity.
Acknowledgment is hereby made to Elder C. H. Otken, who wrote an account of the life and death of this aged preacher of the gospel.
Peter Turner was born at Manchester, England, June 19, 1812; and died at Rancho, Texas, February 6, 1892, having reached the great age of 79 years, 7 months and 17 days. Early in life he served an apprenticeship as a brick mason and was skilled
in the business. This occupation served him well in after life, for, like Paul, he was not ashamed to work with his own hands when necessity demanded it. He was three times married, twice in England and once in America, his last wife being a Miss Causey of Amite county, to whom he was married March 5, 1884. He was first a Methodist, being a preacher of that denomination for twelve years. In his early ministry he served as a street missionary in his native town, preaching on the docks, in the markets and from doorsteps. It was a hard service, but it was performed
with conscientious fidelity and with singleness of aim. During this period he visited London, and shortly afterward came to New York. Arrangements having been made for preaching at Five Points, he was chosen to fill the second appointment. This place, fifty years ago, was regarded as the roughest and most depraved portion of New York City. Here sailors and desperate characters congregated. To reach these hardened men who held life cheap demanded no ordinary gifts of character, and of grace, on the part of the preacher. Self-possession, judgment, discrimination, quick perception and fearlessness were called into requisition. On one occasion a rough, boisterous sailor made so much noise that Mr. Turner could not make himself heard. "Jack," said the preacher, "you had a mother once." "Aye, aye," said Jack, "and the man hereaways that says me mother wasn't a good woman, I'll put this bunch of five between his two blinkers." "Then, Jack," said the preacher, "by your mother's God, stop the noise in the house." Jack answered: "I'll clear the deck of any man hereaways that says another word ontil the preacher has spun his gospel yarn." Mr. Turner labored some ten months at Five Points. His wife's anxiety on account of this hard work and constant exposure to rough treatment, induced him to seek work in the State of Missouri. Here his doctrinal views having become known to Bishop Marvin, the latter suggested that he ought not to remain in the Methodist Church. Accordingly, after careful investigation and earnest prayer, he united with one of the Baptist churches in Missouri and was ordained a Baptist preacher. The following incident, related by .Mr. Turner, gave rise to his investigations on matters of doctrine, and which finally led him from the Methodist to the Baptist position: While a Methodist preacher he was sent for in a hurry to christen a very sick child, to which he responded. As he was entering the gate to the premises, and just as he was lifting the latch, something seemed to say to him, "What good can this act do the child?" He went in, however, and performed the rite over the sick child; but the: same voice followed him, "What good can this act do the child?" The next Sabbath, when he attempted to preach, he was still confused over the matter, so much so that he lost his text and made a failure. He at once set about a careful investigation of baptism and other subjects, with the result of a complete change of views. When he mentioned the matter to his wife, he found to
his surprise and gratification that she had been contemplating the same thing.
Mr. Turner labored with much acceptance in Missouri until the commencement of the civil war, his sympathies being with the South. By industry and economy he had accumulated considerable property, and had erected at his own cost and on his own land a first class building for an academy. After he left the State this building was destroyed by the Federal army. During the lifetime of Mr. Turner's second wife, with whom he lived for forty-four years, they raised and educated four orphan children. He came to Mississippi and served a number of churches in the southern portion of the State and in Louisiana. After the war he went to Texas and preached to the churches at Leesville, Rancho, Big Springs and Sweet Home. After the death of his second wife he returned to Mississippi and was pastor at Summit, Gloster and Centerville. He was now growing old and feeble, and, going again to Texas, he died there February 6, 1892.
Mr. Turner was a jolly companion, having a large stock of original wit, which, together with his peculiar brogue, made him exceedingly entertaining. He was also a man of deep consecration and good preaching ability. His extensive travel, numerous experiences and close observation of men and things gave his conversations and sermons a peculiar interest. He was, withal, unpretentious and humble. On one occasion toward the end of his earthly pilgrimage he said to the compiler of this book: "If you are near when I die, I want you to preach my funeral; and I do not want you to say much about me in the way of praise, for I am only a poor sinner saved bv grace."
1866 The meeting this year was held with Union church, Franklin county, fourteen miles west of Meadville. Elder Zachariah Reeves delivered the Associational sermon from John, 3:30, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Twenty-four churches were represented, while eight failed to report. Mount Zion church, Copiah county, returned to the Association. The organization was completed by the return of Zachariah Reeves to the moderator's chair, while A. J. Everett was retained as secretary. The ministers appointed to preach on the Lord's day were Elders Reeves, Shirk and Otken.
The "Christian Watchman," published at Jackson, Miss., and edited by J. B. Hamberlin, was commended as being worthy of patronage and support.
Some brother had taken up the notion that it was sinful to be a Mason, while someone else wanted to preach without license, hence these two queries: "What course should a church take with a member who declares non-fellowship with those members who belong to the Masonic fraternity, and after being labored with refuses to be reconciled?" "Have members of this organization a right to preach without license?" These queries were referred to M. S. Shirk, C. H. Otken, James A. Jenkins, Stephen Jackson and Solomon Buffkin, who reported that being a Mason affords no ground for church censure, and that a brother refusing fellowship on such grounds should come under the discipline of the church. In regard to preaching without license, they reported in the negative.
It was recommended to the churches to observe Saturday before the fifth Sunday in the following December as a day of humiliation and prayer, in view of the low state of religion.
The query presented a year ago, "Are infants born into the world with sinful natures?" was answered in a lengthy and well written report by M. S. Shirk, chairman of the committee. The answer was in the affirmative, as a few quotations will show:
"From the plain and simple teaching of the Scriptures, we are compelled to regard Adam as the federative head or representative of his race. While, therefore, he maintained his innocency, his posterity stood in him; and when he fell, they fell in him. His moral character being then changed -- depraved -- it followed as a natural and necessary consequence that his posterity would partake, not of his original, but of his changed and fallen character. * * * In Genesis, 5:3, it is said: 'Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own -- now depraved -- likeness, after his -- vitiated -- image,' etc. Originally he was in God's image and likeness; this he has lost, and he now had a likeness and an image of his own." * * * Finally, the doctrine of original sin in no way excuses actual transgression. It does not compel a man to be dishonest, profane, intemperate or licentious; on the contrary, it only teaches that man is personally incapable of divesting himself of his natural depravity, and that a Savior is, therefore, entirely essential, for infants as well as adults."
This report occupies more than two pages of the minutes, and is a strong Scriptural document. If there were any doubting Thomases on the question of natural depravity, they must have been convinced by the logical and scriptural arguments presented.
It will be recalled that we are now in the beginning of the reconstruction period. Slavery has been abolished and new conditions confront the Southern people. Social and financial distinctions which prevailed before the war are rapidly passing away, and a common level will be reached. With these new conditions will come by and by new ideas of church life and progress. Stipulated salaries for pastors will be advocated and other important changes and improvements will be made. Dr. C. H. Otken gives the following account of religious conditions at this time:
1. In 1860 S. S. Relyea urged a stated salary for pastors. He was informed that if he presented it again the pulpit would be closed to him. This was in the church, whose membership were worth $500,000.
2. In 1866 there was no regular Sunday school organization.
3. In 1866 no stated salary was paid in the Mississippi Association, with possibly one exception.
4. In 1866 there was deep hostility to ministerial education.
5. In 1866, as well as I remember, the membership paid one-quarter of one cent per capita to missions of all kinds.
Bro. Hamilton McKnight, of Liberty, told me in 1866 that just before the war he counted one Sunday _______ at church:
(1) Fifty carriages, costing from $600 to $1000 each, with a span of horses costing from $300 to $500, and a negro driver costing from $1000 to $1500. (2) Two hundred buggies. (3) Many saddle horses. (4) The dress and jewelry of many a lady, married and single, cost from $100 to $,2000. The house in which they worshipped was worth about $1000, an ungainly and uncomfortable structure. That church generally took up a subscription for Bro. ________, pastor, in October, November and December, amounting to $150 for his annual service.
If we compare present conditions (1908) with those of 1866, the marked advancement in religious life is at once apparent. We now have a great Sunday School system, much enthusiasm in missions, with enlarged contributions, well supported orphanages, good church buildings, an able ministry and a steady
increase in membership. Our schools, colleges and religious papers are also second to none in the country, and altogether our people have cause for devout thanksgiving.
1867 The place of meeting was Zion Hill, and the time October 12th. M. S. Shirk preached the introductory sermon from Matthew, 5:16. One new church, Percy's Creek, was received at this meeting. This was a different church, it is presumed, from Pierce's Creek, but the location is not given. The old officers were again re-elected and the usual correspondence was received, Elder C. M. Gordon being from the Union and W. H. Bailey and J. B. Lewis from the Pearl River Associations. Appointments for Sabbath services were Elders C. M. Gordon, Solomon Buffkin and J. B. Lewis, and a collection of $42.61 was taken for the Lauderdale Orphans' Home and School.
It appears that the Associational treasurer, James A. Jenkins, had been censured concerning the management of the funds, whereupon the body passed this resolution:
"Resolved, That we as a body approve of Bro. James A. Jenkins' statement as treasurer, and that we disapprove of all censure alleged against him as a Christian and gentleman."
A committee was also appointed to act with Mr. Jenkins in preparing a statement of the financial condition and proceedings of the Association for the years 1865 and 1866, for publication in the "Tennessee Baptist."
The Association recommended all members of the churches to give at least one dollar each for missionary purposes and to pay same quarterly. And a missionary board of five members was appointed to receive funds and occupy destitute fields. This is the first effort at mission work after the war. A report was made on "destitution," which says: "Several churches are without any preaching, and have no prospect at this time of obtaining ministers to supply their wants in this respect. Some of these are earnestly as1dng for aid to build up again the walls of Zion, which have been thrown down by the effects of the war."
The pastors for this year were as follows: T. J. Hutson, W. R. Bailey, Zachariah Reeves, B. A. Crawford, J. B. Lewis, C. H. Otken, Solomon Buffkin, Joseph Pounds, E. H. Hamlin, Peter
Turner, G. H. Barrett, Charles M. Gordon, Elias George and E. Young.
1868 This session of the Association was held with Mount Pleasant church, Pike county, Elder Reeves preaching the opening sermon from John, 10:16. Twenty churches sent delegates, while eleven had no representation. One new church, Tangipahoa, was received, but names of messengers were not given. In organizing the body the same officers were retained. The committee on religious services reported that Elders Buffkin, Goss and Otken would preach on the Sabbath. While the initials are not given, it is supposed that this was Elder A. Goss.
Zion Hill sent this query: "Is it consistent with Baptist usage for a sister church of the same faith and order to receive and re-baptize an excommunicated person?" It was answered in the negative.
The Executive Board appointed a year ago reported that, owing to the scarcity of money, and the general depression of the country, no missionary had been employed. No receipts were reported, but it was decided to use the amount on hand in mission work, to which the churches were asked to consent.
Some resolutions were adopted relative to the alarming destitution in the number of ministers in the Association, and the insufficient support preachers were receiving. The churches were earnestly counseled to encourage any young man who might have talents and who felt himself called to preach. They also said: "It is the sense of this Association that every member of the church is under obligations by the gospel to support the ministry as God has blessed him."
The report on "state or religion" showed that many of the churches were in a very cold condition. It appears clear that the civil war, followed by reconstruction times, was still having a depressing and demoralizing effect on the country.
The pastoral relations this year were as follows: S. S. Relyea served New Providence, Ebenezer and Liberty; Zachariah Reeves preached for East Fork, Mount Zion, Franklin, Zion Hill and Mars Hill; J. B. Lewis was pastor at Mount Pleasant; T. J. Hutson was bishop of Friendship, Franklin and Mount Zion, Copiah; Solomon Buffkin ministered to Union, Spring Hill and Hopewell; B. A. Crawford served Bogue Ohitto and Tangipahoa;
E. Young preached for Damascus; C. M. Gordon was bishop of Sarepta, and W. H. Bailey of Mount Vernon. Several other churches made no report as to their spiritual condition.
WILSON CLARK. The following brief mention of this pioneer preacher appears in the minutes of the State Convention for 1877: "Rev. Wilson Clark, of Mississippi Association, and one of the pioneer preachers of this part of the State, has been called, as we believe, to that rest which remains for the people of God. Bro. Clark was full of years, having passed three score and ten. He was modest and retiring, but earnest and faithful; and was blessed in his labors as the work prospered in his hands. Brethren, God is calling home his ambassadors. Let us, therefore, work while it is day, that we may be ready when the night of death shall come, in which no man can work. Mr. Clark was born in North Carolina, November, 2, 1794, and came to Mississippi about the year 1808. He removed to Louisiana in 1833, but returned to Mississippi four years later. His ministry covered a period of forty-seven years. He died June, 1877, full of days and abundant in labors."
The Convention committee writing the above, except the last part, was composed of D. I. Purser, B. A. Crawford, James Newman and W. W. Bolls. These ambassadors, like the one of whom they wrote, have been called home.
1869 This session was held with Ebenezer church, beginning October 9th. Solomon Buffkin preached the opening sermon from Luke, 7:23. Zachariah Reeves was continued as moderator, while Elder Buffkin was selected for the clerkship. James A. Jenkins and James B. Quin were continued as treasurers -- the former of the Associational fund and the latter of the Missionary and Benevolent fund. Elders W. W. Bolls and James Newman came as corresponding messengers from the Union Association.
The services on Sunday were held in the grove, James Newman and Zachariah Reeves doing the preaching.
On Monday the Association adjourned to hear a sermon by W. W. Bolls on "The Origin and Perpetuity of the Church." His text was John, 17:15.
The Missionary Committee reported failure again this year, owing to lack of funds. The churches were urged to have sermons preached on missions, and to take collections for the same.
A well written report was presented by C. H. Otken on "Ministerial Support," from which this quotation is taken: "It is useless to disguise the fact that our ministers are not receiving that adequate support which enables them to lay aside their secular pursuits, to which they now devote six-sevenths of their time, in order to support their families. We believe that this sad state of things is not owing so much to a disposition not to aid in bearing the expenses of the church as to a reckless want of system upon this subject in our churches." And it was recommended that the churches adopt the plan of paying fixed salaries to their pastors.
AARON BUTLER. This distinguished layman was born in Virginia, November 3, 1778, and died October 3, 1868, lacking only one month of being ninety years old. He came to Mississippi in 1809. He professed religion in early life and was in the constitution of Zion Hill church. July 4, 1813, he volunteered his services in defense of his country, joining Colonel Hinds' regiment. He distinguished himself at the battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. He was a good man, faithful in the discharge of his duties, and pious in his everyday walk. It is said that probably seventy-five years of his life were spent in the Lord's service.
Hamilton McKnight was born November 19, 1819, and died at his residence, in Liberty, Miss., April 13, 1869, being in his fiftieth year. He was afflicted twelve years. He was married to Miss Nancy B. Hardwick at Liberty, Miss., May 7, 1840, and in the following year united with the Liberty Baptist church, under the preaching of Elder S. J. Fisher. He was soon after licensed to preach and in a few months was ordained to the
full work of the ministry, the ordaining council being composed of Elders H. D. F. Roberts and Charles Felder. Mr. Mcknight combined the profession of law with the work of the ministry, practicing many years at Liberty. He was also a Mason of high standing. He assisted in constituting Mount Vernon, St. Helena and Summit churches. He served the Liberty church fourteen years, his relationship being continuous, except when broken by illness. Here he experienced a change of heart, and here he
closed his earthly career. He was orthodox on the great fundamental doctrines of the New Testament. Upon all questions of church or state he acted in accordance with his conceptions of duty and convictions of right. He was, therefore, regarded by all who knew him as a man of undoubted integrity. He died as he had lived, a Christian. His last words to one of his deacons were: "'I am not afraid to die. I am a sinner, but a sinner saved by grace." Elder Zachariah Reeves visited him during his last hours and asked him this question: " You are nearly gone, Bro. Ham. Are you leaving the world with the faith you have preached?" He nodded an unwavering assent; his lips refused to perform their office. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them."
[Taken from T. C. Schilling, Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association, From Its Preliminary Organization in 1806 To The Centennial Session in 1906, 1907, pp. 99-127. — jrd]
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