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The Early Mississippi Baptists
By A. H. Newman, 1894
     The territory now comprised in Mississippi received its first Baptist settlers from South Carolina and Georgia in 1780. In the same year the Salem church on Cole's Creek, southeast of Natchez, was constituted. Among these early settlers were the large Curtis family and their connections. They had been driven from their homes by the British and their loyalist neighbors, and their journey had been most difficult and perilous. Richard Curtis, Jr., was a licensed preacher, and with considerable misgiving administered the ordinances. John and Jacob Stampley both became ministers.

     Among the early converts was a Spanish Catholic, Stephen D'Alvoy. The Spanish authorities made no seri­ous efforts to interfere with the Baptists until 1793-94, when, owing to somewhat imprudent denunciations of Roman Catholicism on the part of some of their leaders, Curtis was arrested and brought before the Spanish com­mandant. He was dismissed with the threat of deporta­tion of himself and other leaders to the mines of Mexico in case they should persist in violating the law. In 1795 it was ordered that "if nine persons were found worshiping

[p. 345]
together, except according to the forms of the Catholic Church, they should suffer imprisonment." An effort was made in 1795 to arrest Curtis and D'Alvoy, but they es­caped to South Carolina, where they remained about two and a half years, and where Curtis was ordained. Other Baptists were imprisoned and otherwise maltreated. After Curtis's departure the field was visited by Elder Mulkey (probably the noted Philip Mulkey, of North Carolina). An effort of the authorities to arrest him led to resistance on the part of the congregation, who armed themselves and proceeded to the fort to demand immunity from persecution.

     The territory was ceded to the United States in 1797. Curtis returned to his church, and thenceforward the work advanced without civil interference. In 1798 a second church was formed on the Buffalo. By 1806 four more churches had been constituted, and the six united in form­ing the Mississippi Baptist Association. Population flowed in rapidly from this time onward, and the Baptist cause was greatly strengthened. Among the Baptist immigrants of the early years of the present century were Thomas Mercer and David Cooper.

     By 1812 the number of churches had increased to 17 and the number of members to 764.


[From A. H. Newman, A History of the Baptist Churches in the United States, 1894, pp. 344-45. - Scanned by Jim Duvall]

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