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Early Virginia Baptist Preacher
p. 428

      Smith's Creek church in Shenandoah County was highly favored by the divine mercy in having two stalwart preachers - James Ireland and Anderson Moffett - among their members. Elder Moffett took care of the church two years after its constitution and retained that position for full fifty years. “Mr. Moffett from the time of his first entry upon the ministry, until this time,” says Dr. Semple's History (1810), page 100, “has been a steady, pious and useful minister of the gospel."

      The following tribute to him appeared in the Religious Herald, under the heading:

p. 429
Imprisoned in Culpeper County Jail; Duration
of Imprisonment Unknown


      “Elder Anderson Moffett, died at his residence in Rockingham county, Va., May 14, 1835, aged eighty-eight years eight months and sixteen days. He was born in Fauquier county, made a profession of religion and joined the Baptist church when but a youth. He preached the gospel more than seventy years. And at the time when that denomination was violently opposed and persecuted, he was, with other ministers, imprisoned in Culpeper county, for the word of God and testimony of Jesus. Both before and a long time after his confinement in jail he travelled and preached extensively; and the Lord giving testimony to the word of his grace, made him instrumental in turning many from darkness to light. He finally settled in the vicinity of New Market, Shenandoah county, Va., and became the settled pastor of the Smith's Creek Baptist Church, which he served with credit to himself and the satisfaction of the church for more than fifty years. He was greatly afflicted during many of the last years of his life with a sore foot and leg, which pre- vented his usefulness in a considerable degree. He stuck a thorn in his foot when a mere boy, which was not extracted until a short time before his death. He had an ordinary English education, though greatly improved by extensive reading, deep and profound reflection. He manifested a warm and zealous interest in the cause of the Colonies in their struggle with their mother country, which finally even- tuated in establishing their political and religious liberty, and enabled them to take a high and respectable standing among the nations of the earth.

      "Elder A. C. Booten preached an eloquent and appropriate sermon from 2 Timothy IV. 7, 8.

      "Elder Anderson Moffett and Barbara, daughter of Elder Casper Hupp, were married about the year 1780. Both her husband and father were Baptist preachers of the old school. He was a half brother of Daniel Moffett."

      In Rev. S. H. Thompson's life story of Rev. John R. Moffett, who was a martyr-hero of the Temperance and Prohibition cause
p. 430
in Virginia, having been assassinated on the Main Street of Danville, Virginia, November 11, 1892, there is this statement about Elder Anderson Moffett, on pages 2 and 3:
      "When the Established Church in the Virginia colony, following the example of the mother country, determined to stamp out, what it pleased to call the heresy of the dissenters, prominent among those, whom neither the whipping in public pillory, the fines of the courts, the imprisonments in the common jails nor the howlings of the maddened mob could intimidate was a representative of the Moffett family.

      "Of this member of the family it is recorded that while in jail at Culpeper for preaching the word of God as the Baptist believe it, he was almost suffocated by the fumes of burning pepper and sulphur.

      "This imprisonment refers to the time when Moffett with several other Baptist ministers was thrown into jail because they would not cease preaching the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people. Elder Anderson Moffett was a true patriot, a faithful preacher and an earnest and consecrated christian gentleman. For more than fifty years he was pastor of Smith's Creek Baptist Church, near New Market, Shenandoah county, Virginia. He died May 14th, 1835, in his 89th year. He was a half brother of Daniel Moffett, the grandfather of John R. Moffett.

      "In those days that tried men's souls the old hero preferred the bread and water diet and the foul air of Culpeper jail, to the abandonment of his faith in Christ and loyalty to him as King."

      Elder Anderson Moffett's nephew, John Moffett, was the father of Judge W. W. Moffett, of Roanoke. The author wrote Judge Moffett for any information that he might have relative to the imprisonment of Anderson, and under date of December 21, 1923, Judge Moffett replied as follows:
      “In early manhood my father taught school on the line of Rockingham and Shenandoah counties, several miles west of the residence of his uncle, Rev. Anderson Moffett. In this neighborhood my father found his first wife, who was Elizabeth Newman, a daughter of Samuel Newman. My father was well educated, a man of fine judgment and most ex- emplary character. Two sketches I have of him, the one by

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the late General James G. Field, and the other by Ex-Senator F. P. Carter, both of whom knew him well, so say of my father.

      “I have thus gone into detail to show that my father was reliable and had the opportunity of knowing what he said to me as set forth hereafter.

      “My father's plantation was in Culpeper, from ten to twelve miles north of the courthouse. It must have been in the latter half of 1885, or the first part of 1886, that my father took me to Culpeper Court House. We were standing on the south side of the street looking at the Baptist Church on the north side of the same street. My father said to me, pointing to the church, ‘There once stood the jail, and in that jail my uncle, Anderson Moffett, was imprisoned for preaching the Gospel.' Then turning to his right and designating the house on the corner diagonal from the Baptist Church, he said there was the home of two old people, Mr. and Mrs. Asher, who were ardent Baptists, and when that Baptist church was being built they sat under that tree (in the corner of their yard), watched its construction, rejoiced and thanked God for what He had done for the Baptists. "Some years after this, the Baptist Church to which my father pointed, and in which I have often been, was destroyed by fire, and the present church, December 21, 1923, was erected on the same spot where the first church stood and where, theretofore was the old jail."

      In addition to this bit of personal testimony on the part of Judge Moffett, he was kind enough to make a loan of several letters that were written to him forty-four years ago, by Miss Ann B. Newman. From these old missives have been selected these excerpts which bear directly upon Rev. Anderson Moffett, and his imprisonment in Culpeper jail.

      In a letter dated March 23, 1894, and addressed to Judge W. W. Moffett, of Roanoke, Miss Ann B. Newman, who was a granddaughter of Rev. Anderson Moffett, gives this interesting information:

“Grand father Moffett commenced preaching when 17 years old, traveled and preached before his imprisonment in Culpeper, and after his imprisonment traveled and preached extensively, finally settled in the vicinity of New Market,

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and Shenandoah Co., Va., and became the pastor of Smith Creek Baptist Church which he served for more than fifty years, his health then failed which prevented his usefulness in a considerable degree, he died aged 88 years, 8 months and 16 days."
      Evidently Judge Moffett replied to this letter making further inquiries about his forbears, for Miss Newman wrote to him again from Harrisonburg, Virginia, on April 11, 1894, as follows:
“Your letter was received a few days since, I will give such information as I trust will be of service to you.
* * * * *

      “There were no papers left in the family to show Grand fathers confinement in Culpeper jail, all his notes and sketches of his life wer burnt when his house was burnt the flames wer[e] so rapid could save but little of the contents, and Grand father was to feeble to rewrite them, quite a loss to his family. Aunt Nancy Newman had a little book with the names of Baptist ministers who wer imprisoned in Culpeper jail, dont know what became of it, I reread the life of Rev. James Ireland yesterday who was imprisoned in Culpeper jail, I think same time Grand father was; he does not mention his name, I recently read the life of John Leland, he does not speak of my Grand father, he was a younger man. We are all confident he was a prisoner but have nothing in writing to show."
      Rev. Anderson Moffett was perhaps the last of the old preachers, who had been imprisoned in the old Colonial gaols of Virginia, to pass away. He died in 1835 and is buried in the cemetery of his homestead on the south bank of Shenandoah River, a few miles west of New Market.

      In the Religious Herald, of December 15, 1927, there is an address on “Four Early Baptist Ministers of Northern Virginia," by the eminent historian John W. Wayland, Ph. D., of Harrisonburg, Virginia, which was delivered before the General Association of Virginia, on November 17, 1927. In this address Dr. Wayland refers to Anderson Moffett and states that at one time "he lived about two miles west of New Market, beside the north branch of the Shenandoah River, in Rockingham county, where

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he is buried, and where the inscription on his tombstone may still be read. The records of Shenandoah county, at Woodstock, and of Rockingham county, at Harrisonburg, contain hundreds of entries of marriages that he performed over a long period of years.”

      Then Dr. Wayland gives this interesting account of a visit he paid to the grave of Anderson Moffett:

      “Five days ago I drove to New Market, turned westward on the Timberville road, and after two miles stopped at the substantial brick house by the riverside, which, from its general appearance, probably was built during Anderson Moffett's lifetime. Then I went out into the field, in the fertile river plain, to the little graveyard enclosed by a strong iron fence, and worked my way tediously through the tall briers and weeds to Moffett's grave. He, his wife, and two other members of the family have broad, flat slabs, lying horizontally on brick walls. Following is a literal and linear' copy of the inscription:
Memory of the many virtues of
Anderson Moffett
Who was for upwards of 70 years
A pious Minister of
the regular Baptist Denomination,
And for more than 50 years
Pastor of
Smiths Creek Church.
Born in Fauquier
Aug’t 28th, 1746
And died in Rockingham County, Va.
May 14th, 1835'.”

p. 434
      The slab over Anderson Moffett's wife's grave bears the following inscription:

"Sacred To The Memory
Relict of Elder Anderson Moffett
Who Died Nov. 9, 1848:
Aged 90 Years, & 9 Days.
This world is all a fleeting show
For man's illusion given:
The smiles of joy, the tears of woe,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow,
There's nothing true but Heaven."


[From Lewis Peyton Little, Imprisoned Preachers and Religious Liberty in Virginia, 1938, pp. 428-434. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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