I have just had one of the most delightful trips of my life to Virginia and North Carolina, both of which states I claim as the land of my nativity. I was born in Virginia (Pittsylvania county), and born again in North Carolina (Iredell county). I did not go to Pittsylvania county, but I went to Richmond and that is good enough for a Virginian. I had a cold before I left, but lost it in North Carolina. In spite of the nagging cold I had a great time. At the C. & O. station I met Rev. C. S. Blackwell, D.D., who was returning to Virginia from Indiana, where he had held a successful meeting. In Richmond I was taken in charge by Bro. William Ellyson, whose hospitable home has gladdened the heart of many a tired preacher. I may not speak of the quiet grace of the hostess and the charm of the children and the rest. My time was limited in Richmond, but I was only too glad of the privilege of seeing Mrs. Whitsitt again. She is bearing her great sorrow with noble dignity, rich in the love of hosts of friends. On Sunday morning I was amazed to see at the Second Baptist church a Sunday school of 855, with two hundred more men and boys than women and girls. We do not do it that way in Louisville. It was an inspiring sight. There was a great crowd at the morning service when nine persons joined the church. The new pastor Rev. L. B. Warren, D.D., has received nearly a hundred new members into the membership in less than three months. The church was grateful also that the collection for Foreign Missions had reached the sum of $5,000. Dr. Wlllingham belongs to this great church. He wore a calm look of trust as he faces the burden of this month of struggle. I count it a privilege to have worshiped with the Second church. Lieutenant-Governor J. T. Ellyson, Bro. Camp, Bro. Montgomery, and the other leaders were alert and ready as usual.
At Wake Forest College I found (was taken hold of by, in truth) Pres. L. Poteat and Mrs. who gave me the glad hand. New buildings have sprung up on the campus since I was last here, those for biology (Pres. Poteat) and the hospital in charge of Dr. Carstarphen. It has been twenty-six years since I saw Wake Forest in the spring-time. I graduated in June, 1885. Precious memories linger all about these grounds and walls. I found the college men in high glee over the recent great speech of the Hon. Claude Kitchin in Congress. He was in college with me, as was his brother, Gov. W. W. Kitchen. The campus is beautiful now and the mocking-birds revel in the shrubbery and flowers. My heart was greatly interested in meeting again Prof. W. H. Royall, my old teacher of Greek, and Prof. Charles E. Taylor, my old teacher of Latin. The adjective "old" in this connection is one of reverent love, for these two men are very dear to me. Pres. Poteat was my teacher also, but he was younger (still young, so he says). He likewise has left a deep mark on my life, little as I may show it. I missed Prof. Mills (in Littleton) and Prof. William Royall, of sacred memory. Prof. Lamar and Prof. Gorrell came after my day. Prof. Brewer was my fellow-student. I was grieved to hear the sad news of the ill-health of Prof. Carlyle. Prof. Cullom grows in knowledge, grace and avoirdupois. It was a joy to see him again. Rev. W. N. Johnson, the pastor, had preached a sermon on Sunday that was the talk of the town, a way that he has. Time fails me to mention many other old friends whose names and faces come to me now.
In Raleigh President Poteat and I had some good hours in getting lunch and seeing the brethren, those of them not actively enlisted in the municipal election and the athletic "meet". We caught Dr. R. T. Vann on the fly as he led a bevy of girls to the athletic grounds. We saw Editor Hight C. Moore and Secretary Livingston Johnson at the Biblical Recorder office as well as Bro. W. F. Marshall. At Meredith College it was a pleasure to meet again Miss Poteat, one of the able faculty. The time was short in Raleigh and most of the saints there we hardly had time to see. Wake Forest did not carry off the honors at the athletic games, but the college won the cup at Greensboro that night in the debate with Davidson College. Athletics at Wake Forest runs into debate and scholarship, a rather refreshing change these days.
My objective all along was Statesville, where I was to speak at the B. Y. P. U, Convention. I went up a day ahead so as to be able to drive out to Cool Spring to see my father, Dr. John Robertson, now eighty-six years old, my two sisters there and my oldest brother, J. W. Robertson, a farmer and one of the noblest of men, if he is my brother.
Tuesday was a perfect day. I picked up Bro. John C. Turner, father of Rev. J. Clyde Turner, of Greensboro, friend of my early childhood. We had a jolly ride out and back and much talk. We were quite ready for the country dinner of turnip-greens, fresh eggs, jowl, country milk and butter, corn muffins, spring chicken and various other "trimmings". All too soon the time passed by in goodly talk. The same wren seemed to sing with joyous exultation. The wood-robins were glad as of old. Spring had come.
My home in Statesville was with Bro. K. Lazenby. He stated his wife is from Kentucky, daughter of Rev. J. S. Gatton, but she seems now a true Tar-heel. I can hardly trust myself to write about the two brief days in Statesville. Here I was converted and baptized and licensed to preach under the ministry of Rev. J. B. Boone. My playmates are, many of them, the leading people of the city. Some have gone on before. The Baptist church had its days of struggle and they were long and hard, but all is serene now. The time of triumph has come under the ministry of Rev. C. E. Maddrey, the present gifted pastor. I shall not speak of the many names that come before me, some of whom I saw. The Thomases, Browns, Leonards, Swanns, Lazenbys, Reeses, Evans, Amfields, Turners and many others rejoice in the good day now come to the cause. Pres. Poteat made a great speech as usual. Prof. Cullom, Prof. Highsmith, Secretary T. B. Ray, Prof. L. P. Leavell, Dr. W. M. Vines, and others spoke with power. But work at home called me away. I had a couple of hours of stimulating converse with Dr. J. J. Taylor in Knoxville, on my way home. I missed Bro. J. H. Anderson, who is now possibly the leading business man of Knoxville. I shall be in Knoxville during July at the Summer School of the South. So I cast a look about on this beautiful city, which will be my home for a month.
I am back at home on Thursday night. I have been gone six days, rich days of fellowship and joy. But I love the work at my desk and in my class room that awaits me.
[From The Baptist World, May 4, 1911, pp. 6-7, via Baylor U. digital collection. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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