The second Church of which I was a member was Lunies Creek, in Hampshire county, Virginia, this Lunies Creek is a branch of the main south branch of Potomac River; the Church was constituted near the River called the South Branch. On this River Lord Fairfax in early times, had laid off a large boundary of land called Fairfax's Manor, this Church was on or near this great manor, which nothing on our earth ever exceeded in point of soil. The bottoms were often a mile wide, and continued so for many miles together, and the black soil generally as deep as the banks of the River was high, but as yet they were barely free from Indian range. This was not long before the beginning of the old revolutionary war - to this place Reading and myself paid a visit, from eighty to an hundred miles from where we lived, soon after the contest between Marshall and Reading. Through the country we found a few scattering Baptists, but in manners they differed but very little from other people - by encouragement Reading soon moved to the place; my great attachment to him, led me to be much with him, for he was my secondary father in the Gospel, so that Readings company at that time was more to me than all other men in the world. It was not long before the people became much affected, and some apparent conversions, but none to Baptize them, for neither Reding or myself were ordained. I prevailed on Mr. Marshall, the now ordained minister of South River, to take a travel with me to see Reading and make some examination of the work we had been about; him and Reading soon made up their difficulties, there were two men Baptized, a David Badgley, who some time after began to preach, and is now, though old, a living preacher, in Illinois near Saint Louis. The other man was Abram Clark, a warm Presbyterian, who when we first got acquainted with him,
became much affected, and at times would say to us, I love your preaching, but you shall never dip me - but when he obtained hope in Christ, he innocently broke that rash promise. Perhaps John Cunes [Koontz] a Dutchman attended there and Baptized a number. At Marshall's second visit a Church was constituted, and Reading ordained to the pastoral care of the Church. I believe the Church at Lunies Creek never amounted to quite a hundred members - we ranged through almost every corner of the large county of Hampshire, on Patison's Creek, a branch of the North Branch of Potomac River, we found a few Baptists, where a Church after a while was constituted, Lewis Castleman now of Woodford county, and his wife were Baptized there. The Lost River, the head branch of Capeapin River, where preaching had a great effect, and a number were Baptized, a Church since erected there that continues to this day; There one Josiah Osbourn was Baptized, and a respectable preacher now in Greenbrier, who some years past published a large pamphlet on Baptism, and much to the purpose, under the style of the Giant of Gath and David. The North River and other parts of Capeapin River, a number were Baptized, one Levi Ashbrook, a magistrate in the county, a man of great zeal in religion, and afterwards became a respectable preacher, but is now gone to his long home. A fine looking, young man, the name of Smith, of good family, was Baptized by myself here. It was thought when Baptized, that he would soon make a preacher, but, by getting into bad company, and following on, was since hanged at Richmond in Virginia, for the sin of horse stealing, though gave strong evidence, while in prison and at the place of execution, that he was a man of grace. Poor man what is he! Even good Hezekiah when left to himself. A place called George's Hills, on the Maryland side; there we often went; something uncommon generally attended the people here, which lay in profuse weeping, male and female; their cries at
times would overwhelm our preaching, however loud, we did hope that a number of them found mercy of the Lord, and followed him in a watery grave. If I mistake not there is a Church there to this day. After ranging through the large county of Hampshire a year or two, we contemplated passing the Allegheny mountain[s], to the back settlements, on Monongahaly River; the settlers there were much exposed to savage fury, for the English war had now gotten into full blast. The first tour I went without Reading, but a respectable brother the name of Whitman, who had acquaintance over the Mountain, went with me - the place of our destination was Tigers Valley on the main branch of Monongahaly, and near its source, this valley was estimated at fifty miles long, and newly settled by about one hundred families, I found only one Baptist there, and that one a woman, but I thought her a precious christian. This tour was in the middle of winter, and in the mountain the snow about knee deep. The distance from one settlement to the other was estimated at near fifty miles, the trace was so bad (perhaps a carriage has never past [passed] there yet) that we were too [two] days getting there, of course we camped out one night in the deep snow. When we got to this valley I became much discouraged; for the first time I now saw people living in a fort; I had but very few meetings in the place, and those with a confused appearance. We set out for Greenbrier, from the upper end of the yalley [valley] settlement to the nearest part of the Greenbrier settlement, we travelled in one day. Every thing looked equally gloomy there; a few meetings pacifyed me there, and we returned back on a different rout[e] - the whole of this tour, disagreeable as it was, I considered an entire water hall [haul]. All that I could say, was, that I had seen Tigers Valley and had seen Greenbrier, with but little desire ever to see them again - but it was not long before I felt deeply concerned about those poor destitute people. The next June I concluded to take a more extensive tour, and
lower down than before. Monongahaly River has five large branches, the first is Yohogamy [Youghiogheny] commonly called Yoh; the second is Cheat River; the third and main one is the Valley Fork; the fourth is a River called Buckhannon; the fifth is the West Fork; these were all peopled. I set out with a young brother, who had been lately Baptized, by the name of Wood. Our first settlement was Cheat River, where a little settlement of Baptists, who had moved from Shenandoah, were now living, on a large bottom on the River, called Tunchards [Dunkard] bottom. All the settlement in the great glades on Yohogany River, between the south branch and Cheat River, a space of sixty miles, had been broken up by the Indians. At Cheat River we stopt and worshipped awhile. Our next stop was about thirty miles, bearing down towards Redstone, to the forks of Cheat, and Monongahaly Rivers, where was a considerable settlement of people, and a small Baptist Church, which had been constituted by Mr. John Corbly; here the people seemed to be in safety from the Indians, though after this Mr. Corbly's family was killed by the Indians not far from this place - we got to a Baptist house on Saturday evening, and on the next day his house was filled with people, to hear preaching. While the people were gathering, I found they generally took brother Wood that was with me to be the preacher: he was well dressed, had been lately Baptized, and looked very serious - at length a respectable looking man, came to me, casting a respectful eye towards Wood, asked me where the preacher lived, what was his name, and the like; I replied, his name was Taylor, where he lived, &c. Though I found he was deceived, I suffered the innocent deception to go on; he asked me to walk with him to the spring, where farther enquiries were made about the preacher. I found he was no Baptist, but showed respect for me, because I was travelling with a respectable looking preacher. This was not all the times
by many, in which the people were deceived, where I was a stranger.
Travelling once in Virginia, with my brother Joseph Taylor, and having a meeting appointed at Beson Town, near Redstone, a large assembly had gathered and a man preaching when we got there, when we got into the crowded house, a seat was soon made for his reception, I worked off to some back seat. By the wishful look of the people on him, with his fine black cloth, and clean neck band, he soon discovered their mistake, and though a wild ratling man, he perhaps put on more solemn looks than he would have done - and when the preacher was done, an opening was immediately made between him and the pulpit, which I had to scramble as I could through and over the people, to get to the place. However, with the man at the spring, he asked me if it was not time for the preacher to begin - we walked to the house, and I immediately went to the table and opened meeting, the people seemed to look on with wonder, and especially the inquisitive man; but they were all excusable, for though I was now twenty two or three years old, I looked to be at least four years younger than I was. I was about twenty years old when I began to speak, but by those who did not know me, I was taken to be sixteen, at twenty five I was barely grown to my common stature. When I opened meeting, I addressed the people as follows: "I am now nearly two hundred miles from home, and an entire stranger to you all. It is probable you wish to know from whence I came and who and what I am." I then informed them where my home was when at it - I then told them my name, and as to profession I was a Baptist, and of the separate order. When I named separate Baptists, it produced some oblique looks, for the Baptists there were regulars, and they considered the separates a kind of heterodox people - I took this for a text: "a man that hath friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother - pro[verbs] 18 chap. 24th verse.
I ventured to transpose the words a little and read them, "a man that would have friends must show himself friendly." I then spoke of Jesus Christ the eternal son of God, whose kind thoughts were turned to our race, before the world began, as expressed in the eighth chapter of Proverbs and that our native enmity, which 1 dwelt on at large, did not prevent those early kind designs, from being put into practice; by his kind visit to our world, in his incarnation, his active obedience to the law, his passive obedience in death, in which by help from Heaven, I was so expressive that there was a great gush of tears among the people, then added how the mighty enmity of our hearts were slain, by a supernatural power from Heaven, with the cordial submission of the soul to Jesus Christ in friendship; the certainty of the salvation of that soul, because the friendship of the Saviour was more to be depended upon than any brother whatever, for that he was God and changed not - my regular [Baptist] brethren perhaps forgot that I was a separate for we parted that afternoon, with tears of cordial friendship - and as an evidence on their side, they made up among themselves, and gave me three or four dollars, which I received as a token of their friendship.
From thence we crossed over the main River [Monongahela] and ranged up its west fork, where we had some happy meetings, some of the people here were at home, others in forts. I fell in at a meeting of Mr. Corbly's, where we enjoyed a happy meeting together, it being the first time we ever saw each other. From this settlement, it was about one days ride to Buckbannon River, where was about thirty families, where I think preaching had never been - the people here were generally either forted or a number of families huddled together in kind of blockhouses, for their own safety - these poor things would risk all they had and their own lives to get together to hear preaching - to them it was a strong evidence of good will for a man to risk his
life to come and preach to them. There we had several meetings, and the people much affected. From Buckhannon, one days ride more through a poor gloomy forest, brought us to Tigers Valley, which the winter before, looked so dreadfully gloomy to me. But dangerous as the times were, the summer season put a more pleasant aspect on the face of things. I had several meetings there, beginning with Sunday in the thickest part of the Valley settlement, the preaching was in the woods near the fort, where a great number of people gathered, and seemed as perfectly composed as if they had no enemy in the world, for the first time, I preached twice in the day before the people broke; the first text was: "the axe is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that bringeth not good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire." The second text I think was this: "Come, for all things are now ready." The people seemed to listen with interested attention, and some much affected, there are some alive now in Kentucky, who professes hope in Christ from that days preaching. On this visit I became acquainted in the Valley, with some warm hearted Presbyterians, who had embraced religion in the time of [George] Whitefield's preaching, who seemed as kind to me as to a near relation. This with other things made an opening for another visit to Tigers Valley. I returned to Luney's Creek where Reading was now the Pastor - and from thence to Shenandoah, where Marshall was now the pastor - my designs were to spend the next winter in these back settlements, which I accordingly fulfilled. This I think was in the winter of 75 and '76. The war was now increasing with mighty rapidity, and a number of regular troops were stationed in Tiger's Valley to guard the frontiers. - Some of the poor soldiers became much affected under preaching, and were despised by their officers, declaring that my preaching disqualified them for fighting, their fellow-soldiers also derided their tears and sorrows. But I hope the Lord blessed some of them.
The troops being stationed at Tiger's Valley, made travelling less dangerous, through that winter, and the people more at their homes. The great readiness in many of the people, to hear the word, was an ample reward for all my troubles. Through this dreary winter, I visited all the settlements where I had been before, but Tiger's Valley was my temporary home. I here made up an acquaintance with a number of tender hearted friends, some of whom were young converts. I took two tours from Tigers Valley to Greenbrier, one of which I will relate.
It was called thirty-miles from the upper house in the Valley to the first house in the Greenbrier Settlement, and over a tremendous mountain, that divided the Monongahela waters from Greenbrier River; the trace was very dull, and a stranger to the way, and without company. I was on a borrowed horse, and unshod; but the owner thought that would be no impediment, as a snow had lately fallen about ancle [sic] deep. I went to the last house in the Valley, that by an early start, I might prevent camping in the woods at night. The River was from twenty to thirty yards wide when I sat out, to the source of which I had to travel before I took the mountain. The freeze had been, and was then so severe, that scarce a ripple of the River but was so blocked up with ice, that it appeared impossible for my barefooted horse to cross it. I once thought of going back, but, after reflecting, the obstructions seemed too trivial, to make a good excuse from, and not knowing what was ahead, I concluded to push on. I took my wrappers from my legs, and placed my horses fore feet in the middle of the wrappers and then with my garters, tied them round his legs, by which he might walk on the smooth ice, but after I could not get him a step forward; my only remedy was to lead him onto some little steep bank on the River, two or three feet high, and by a sudden push, sprall [sprawl] him on the ice, and then lead him on across the River, this was often repeated, and the cold so sensible that I was
doubtful my ears would freeze, and my hands so numbed that I could scarcely tie my wrappers, either on my horses legs or my own, and so much time was spent in those several operations, though I had set out about sun rise, I was pretty sure I should not arrive at any house that night; but my horse learned that it was better to take the ice at once after my wrappers were tied on his legs than to be dashed on it, for I suppose we crossed the River from ten to twenty times. The after part of the day became warmer, and I got to a house about sun down. I had a number of meetings in what was called the little levels of Greenbrier, but the distracted state of the people, by the war, or the barrenness of my preaching, or both, I became fully convinced that if the Lord ever intended to bless that people, the time was not come, or myself was not to be the instrument.
I returned to Tigers Valley and from thence paid another visit to the several different settlements, where was very hopeful appearances, and returned home in the spring.
The hopeful prospects in the back woods, induced me to take a letter of dismission from Shenandoah, and join the church on Luney's creek - after which Reading and myself took several tours; a part of one of them I think proper to state. Our fIrst meeting was at Cheat river, Tunkard's bottom, sixty miles from Reading's; for this was the first settlement we came to. To this meeting there came a number about fifteen miles, from a place called Monongahela Glades, where was a settlement of about twenty families - they importuned us to stop at their settlement, and preach to them - Our other arrangements did not admit, except they could be together the next day about ten o'clock, on which we would spend about two hours with them. They set off on Sunday evening from meeting, to give notice to their neighbors; one James Brane, a Baptist, conducted us to the place next day. We met about thirty or forty people, and
began about the time designed. I went forward - there was nothing very visible while I was speaking - Reding dwelt on the awful subject, of a Judgment to come - the first appearance, was a young lady who began to weep and tremble, sitting by her grand-mother; - the old lady for some time strove to stop her - at length she began to tremble herself, as if the Judge was at the door - From thence the effect spread through the whole house, with solemn groans and lementations [sic]; till at length a woman, the name of Clark dropt on her knees, in the middle of the house, with the greatest appearance of agonising guilt, and perhaps she did not leave that position for the space of three hours - when Reding stopt speaking, the only remedy I had to prevent hallowing with all my might, was to vent the tender feelings of my heart, by exhortations and feeling invitations to those apparently broken-hearted creatures - whether Mrs. Clark had ever been concerned about her soul before, I disremember, but she obtained deliverance from her guilt before she left her knees - we had quite forgotten all the meetings that were ahead of us, and our worship continued perhaps six hours, in prayers, praise, and exhortations among the people - I do not recollect that we took any sustenance before we left the place, for the family where the meeting was, seemed two [too] much affected, to think of any thing but the salvation of their souls - I solemnly surveyed the house a little before we started, and it is a fact, that the floor of it was as wet with the tears of the people, as if water had been sprinkled all over it, or with a shower of rain. Mr. Brain, our guide, the only Baptist that I know of at the place, besides ourselves, went on to put us in the way, while we made the lonesom[e] forest ring with the praises of God, as if there was not an Indian in the world. our guide parted with us late in the evening, and not long after was killed by the Indians. This wonderful meeting at this little glade settlement, the first that was ever
there - if I judge from my own feelings and the effect afterwards, according to the number of people, exceeded any I was ever at in my life - I suppose one third at least, of the people present, obtained hope in Christ afterwards and resorted to some Churches thirty or forty miles off for Baptism - The husband of Mrs. Clark, at the time of her conversion, at this meeting, was on a visit to the Jersies, where he had moved from; while there, as he told me afterwards, he had a dream of a meeting in his neighborhood, and about such an one as realy was there, and at said meeting, he dreamed his wife was converted - He was struck with a sense of his own guilt, from his dream, and when he found the reality of all his dream when he returned, had no rest till he found it in the Saviour, and in a few months was Baptized with his wife. At this place, I frequently called to worship with the people afterwards, and usually while there, felt as I think Jacob did when at Bethel, where he had his dream of the ladder. Reding and myself went on our way after leaving Mr. Brain, to visit chief of the settlements where I had been before, where we found the people more affected than I had ever before seen them, and we soon became as much united to many of those poor back-woods strangers as if they had been near relations. In those back settlements, we constituted no Church, for that to us appeared needless, except there was some person statedly to preach to them, neither did we Baptize any, except where we found Baptists enough to make out at least a semblance of a Church, for we had not yet grown up to apostolic style. By this time Reding, with the Church at Lunies Creek counceled [sic] about my ordination, to which they agreed, and hearing of a council of ministers to meet at old Shenandoah Church on some business, Reding took the certificate of Lunies Creek Church, and we attended this meeting of ministers at Shenandoah. This step to Reding appeared the more seasonable because, in this old
Church, where both him and myself had been Baptized, my ordination could undergo another scrutiny. If I mistake not, the Baptists are much less careful now, in ordaining ministers, than they were in those past days - This was about four years after I had been a licensed Preacher, and had travelled for that purpose, about twice as many thousand miles as I had been preaching years, with tolerable approbation among the Baptists. The design of my ordination, was in the Itinerant way, and to administer ordinances where the Churches were destitute of a Pastor, and called for my service. The Church at Shenandoah, with the Ministers present agreed to my ordination, in this way, which was not uncommon for unmarried men in those days.
The presbytery who officiated in the ordination, was Lewis Craig, John Picket, John Cunes [Koontz], Joseph Reding, and Theodoric Noel, then a young man; being well acquainted with me, made examination in their esteem less needful. They proceeded in the common form, all of us kneeling down, with their right hand laid on my head, two or three of them prayed, Lewis Craig, I think, gave me a pertinent charge, while holding me by the right hand, with the right hand of fellowship, from them and all the brethren that were present; with me it was an awfully solemn time. I remember young Mr. Noel though an older man than myself, wrote the credentials they were pleased to give me.
Reding and myself continued travelling in the back parts, and became acquainted with a number of Ministers in the Redstone country, to wit: Isaac Sutton and James his brother, at that time they had two more brothers that were preachers, John and David; for family preaching they were pretty much like the Craigs in those days, we also became acquainted with John Corbly and William Wood, very active servants of the Lord, in building up Churches in these back woods, and from which Redstone association
was created; all these were regular Baptists, but after becoming acquainted, though we were separates, we found no difference as to doctrinal opinions. I remember we went to one new place called Sandy Creek Glades, where we found some of these regular Baptists; they looked a little shy at us, because of the name. For a new place there was a great gathering of people, while I was speaking, I took notice of a small, pert looking, old man, who shed tears profusely, while I was dwelling on the feelings of the heart, under the influence of the grace of God. When preaching ended, he called me apart from the people to converse, his eyes being yet moist, I think he informed me he had not heard preaching for several years - He had been Baptized long ago by Benjamin Miller in the Jersies, he thought proper to tell me his hope in Christ; he stated his long agony of guilt under which he laboured, with the sensibility of his helpless case before he obtained relief, and while stating the glorious plan of salvation being opened to him, by the Lord Jesus, he burst forth in a fresh flood of joyful tears, with perhaps smiting his hands together, in heavenly agitation cried out; "O brother Taylor, it was forty years ago, and it is now as plain to me as if it had taken place yesterday." My own sensibility could no longer be suppressed: while I partook of the same joyful torrent, could not forbear reaching out the hand of christian fellowship, (which he was as ready to do) to a man I never saw before, and old enough to be my grand-father; This man's name was Frasy, he had a numerous offspring, of children and grand-children, and many of them living near him. I one day after I became more acquainted with him, asked him how many children he had, he replied, nineteen, and after my remarking it was a goodly number, but he considered it only moderate, for that his father had raised twenty nine children, nineteen by his first wife and ten by a second wife; but what gave him
most pleasure of all was the prospect of our preaching becoming useful among his children and neighbors, for some of them I hope found the Lord. To this place I often went afterwards, and was respected by the people, as much as my character could possibly deserve. The place I have been just speaking of was called Sandy Creek Glades, where a considerable settlement was now living on the waters of Yoh River, higher up the same River was called the Great Glades, where, for many miles together, no timber grew, the whole extent of the Allegheny mountains about this place was esteemed sixty miles across it. Those glades were a part of the distance and of course in the Aleghaney mountain[s]; in the Great Glades there had been settlements but is now forsaken; from Indian danger, through these glades by different pass ways I had to go to pass from the eastern waters to the [W]est, and the distance from one settlement to another that a hard days travel would not accomplish it, so that camping out often attended the traveller; if these were inconveniences I often met with them; I will name a few of them; travelling once with a companion, our lot was to take up quarters in a deserted Cabin that had two apartments, in one of them we put our horses for safe keeping, in the other we built a fire and slept; in the morning we found our horses had broken out, and in the dry glade grass it was impracticable to track them, however we searched the chief of next day, but found them not, in which time we ate up our provisions; it was about thirty miles to the first inhabitants ahead, and nearly the same behind, we left our Cabin in the evening to go on ahead, with our Saddles and all we had on our backs; after a few miles dark compelled us to take up camp in the great open glade, he having a gun we obtained fire, but little or no fuel to supply it; but, though in the middle of winter, the weather was not very cold, so that we suffered as much from hunger as cold, for we had
walked very hard to find our horses. The next morning, without a mouthful to eat, we set out with all the cheerfulness we were master of, to make this near thirty miles, with all our luggage before we got breakfast - the trace was very slashy in these great lonesome glades, besides Yoh River and many of its branches to wade through - after we left the glades the way was monstrous mountainous, before we got to Cheat River or Tunkard's [B]ottom those mountains appeared pretty hard on our hunger bitten knees. We passed along by a hunters camp late in the day but they were gone, we rumaged about after bones they had cast away, and perhaps been pillaged by their dogs, but could not get one mouthful; however, we got breakfast and supper together at night. My partner who travelled with me in this little rugged tour, was a pleasant little man the name of Powel. It was at his house our great meeting had been, with but few people where Clark's wife obtained conversion while on her knees. At the time of our travel Powell was a Baptist and now lives in Woodford county, Kentucky. It is said he now loves Whiskey a little too much. Powel's horse went home, mine I never got which was a considerable loss to me. Another similar tour I had about two winters after and partly on the same road. In the first instance I had no horse, in the last I had one too maney [sic], for 1 had one to lead; there had been snow on the ground, but a great rain had taken it chiefly off. I started from a place called the Crab Orchard, not far from Tunkard's Bottom, it was upwards of forty miles to the first house, I set out early to gain that object before night; I soon took a tremendous mountain called Laurel Hill, but in that place called Cheat [M]ountain; my road was so small for eight miles, that it could scarcely be followed by day light, when I came to the great glades where the settlement had been, the road was plainer, I soon after came to a creek, over which a bridge
had been made by the settlers, when there, I saw that the water was up to the planks of the bridge; I pushed on but soon found the planks were affloat, but hurrying forward, the le[a]d horse first fell through and as the one I rode was going down, I sprang from him on the floating planks, with my saddlebags in my hand, and escaped clear to the oposite shore; when I turned round, here were both my horses between the cills [sic] of the bridge, and barracaded with floating planks on each side, and the water about as deep as they were high. The next thing was to counsel how to get them out, and none to counsel but myself, for the poor horses could say nothing on that head, while they stood trembling in the cold water. Those glade creeks are generally deep, with steep banks, lined with small willows on each margin, and the water running very dead. This stream was about eight steps across it, and timber laid on those planks and locked in the willows at each end had prevented their floating off - my plan was to stand on the cill of the bridge, up to my knees in water, and float the planks off till I got to my horses, and with mighty struggling with the poor animals, get them up the bank. My saddle was wet, the bridle caked with ice and my hands so benumbed, that I could not draw on my gloves. I suppose I lost a full hour of the day, at this place, with my feet wet to my knees, my bare hands to hold the frozen bridles, one to ride with, the other to lead, my saddle-bags being dry kept me a little from the wet saddle. I hurried on lest Yoh River should rise beyond fording; I soon met with another creek, which ran over my horses, where I got a fresh ducking, when I came to the River, I found it was impossible to cross it except by swimming, which I had often done in similar cases; I paused awhile, but when I found that I must go up the current to get to the opposite shore, and just below was an ivy bluff for a long distance, that was impassible but that I must inevitably be dashed
against it; viewing the muddy waves foaming over the great Rocks which lay in the River, and dashing against the icy rock on the other shore, I concluded that it was not proper to tempt the Lord my God to work a miracle in my preservation. What food I had for myself and horses we consumed, and about one o'clock, turned tail to get, if possible, to where I came from in the morning; riding on, I became so very cold in my wet freezing clothes, I concluded a little walking would comfort me. It was usual to drive my horse before me in such cases, but the beast I led, being untutored that way, broke ground to run back, and both together ran off in full speed, I ran with all my might to keep in sight of them, in these great glades; I thus ran a mile or two in hopes the water ahead where they had so hard a struggle would stop them, which it did, there I caught them, I was now very wet with heat and sweat, what shall I do was the next question, swim the creek immediately which had risen higher or wait and cool first; I had ten miles to go, the sun about two hours high, the road amasing [sic] bad when I got to Cheat mountain, and so dim that I could scarce follow it by day light, the moon also dark, that there was no alternative but to dash on, or camp in the woods without fire; I mounted my horse and swam the creek with all my sweat, the water ran up round my middle, and soon after my clothes froze except what lay next to my skin. - About dark I got to where I started from at morning light, getting from my horse I could scarce keep my feet; I staggered on to the house, and soon went to bed, my hands were so swolen with cold that I could scarce use them, after some warm supper I slept sound; for several days I felt in a kind of listless stuper [sic]; about one month after this I was stricken with a prodigious surfeif, a breaking out, from head to foot, in likeness of ringworm covered with white scales, so that scarce a part under my clothes was free from it, and continues more or less to this
day, which has been a good deal upwards of forty years. I had many tours similar but none quite equal to the two last named, in point of difficulty. - It never sat well on my feelings to receive pay from the people for preaching, I therefore preferred my own exertions, to supply my own wants - my father had given me a lot of broken land, on which I had cleared a field, and generally raised some corn for my horse to eat when at home, with other little mechanical arts, I nearly made a supply - a few years after I had been called a preacher, and while under great misgiving of heart, on that subject, fearing that I was running and the Lord had not sent me, I had an uncommon dream, though I am not disposed to put confidence in a mere vision of the night. It was in the spring of the year, and when I was very busy in getting my little field in order to plant corn, my mind being a little more on the the world than common.
I dreamed of being at a place of gathering of people, where was a dead man, a blustering man present said he could raise the dead man to life, a dispute arose between him and others, who insisted he could not do it. But at length the dead man did voluntarily rise up, when risen he looked very angry and turned his whole attention to me; with rage in his looks he informed me he was sent from the dead to warn me never to preach any more - all this though a sleep, struck me with dreadful horror of mind, he farther reminded me, that I might treat his warning with neglect, for said he there are some who will not be persuaded though one rose from the dead. All this I realised while asleep, with dreadful anguish of mind - he farther added, I am not only sent from the dead to warn you never to preach any more but when you die you will go to hell - dam[n] you. By this time it seemed as if the pains of hell had got hold on me while a sleep, In this dum[b] agony I lay for some time not able to make any reply, nor dare I do it, for he
stood near me and looked as if he would tear me to pieces. At length I began to reason while asleep - he told me he was sent from the dead, this said I in my sleep does not assure me that he is a messenger of God, I further reasoned, if he was a messenger of God, he would not be in such a rage of anger, I further thought, if he came as his messenger, he would not use the language he did, either to curse or dam me. I then thought he looked more like a messenger from hell than from Heaven, and of course nothing he has said is true, from which I came to the conclusion, that satan saw that my preaching would be against his interest among man, and therefore, strove to frighten me from it. And as to going to hell when I died, this was all from the father of lies too; and while my heart used an effort to go into a vow to God, that I would preach more than I ever had done, the struggle waked me with uncommon agitation, reaching out my hand to lay hold of the man, for I yet conceitedt he stood by me to resist me, but found it was a dream. It is worth while to take notice how full the scriptures are of dreams that are full of meaning - witness Jacob's ladder; Joseph had many dreams. God often spoke to the ancient prophets by dreams, the whole old testament is very full of the doctrine of visions from God this way. Job says God speaks to men this way, by which he opens their ears and seals their instructions. Pilates wife had a striking dream. Peter on the day of pentecost cites up Joel on the subject of dreams, that their young men should see visions, and their old men dream dreams; while on dreaming another occurs, as I am now on dreams I will relate one of a backwoods woman; soon after my first visit to Lunies Creek in Hampshire county, a respectable looking man, asked me to come to his house, that his wife had a particular desire to converse with me, at a convenient time. I visited the family, and tarried all night; among other conversation, the poor distressed woman related
to me a dream, a little before she first saw me, she dreamed that the awful day of judgment was come, that Jesus Christ the great judge was present, preparing to decide the fate of the unnumbered world that was present, to each individual he gave a book to read - with the judge were two men to direct the people how to use the books each person had. When I rode up to the meeting where was a great assembly gathered, she knew at first sight that I was one of the men she had seen with the Saviour in her dream; after alighting from my horse, I had withdrawn a little to contemplate, which gave her the opportunity, with deep concern, to reflect on what she had just seen. There was all the features, complection, age and dress she had seen before in her dream, but one thing was lacking in the dress, the man she had seen in her dream had a pair of striped roppers [wrappers] round his legs, this she had not noticed, when I returned from my contemplations, and she saw also the striped roppers round my legs, she said she was stricken with such a trembling, that she could scarce keep her feet, and when I rose up, with the Bible in my hand to speak to the people, and direct them how to use the book of God, and looking over the great and much affected assembly that was present, it occurred to her that the great day of God was at hand and she unprepared; from this stroke this dear woman never recovered till she obtained peace through a saviour. To be sure, all this statement was as unaccountable to me as it was to this much affected woman, and especially when I recollected that a few days before, I had called at a store and bought a pair of striped ticking wrappers to tie round my legs. Solomon says dreams comes through a multitude of business, but some of them seem evidently to come from God. There being no established priest in Hampshire county, we met with no legal persecution while preaching there; but this did not prevent the rage of mobs, such as open contradiction while preaching,
for Satan is not fond of losing his prey; we were only once driven from a place of preaching, having a meeting appointed, perhaps on Christmas [D]ay, in a rich and wealthy settlement, one of Satan's strongest holds in the county, the invitation for preaching was given by a man, living in a large house, and on his father-in-laws land, a large assembly met, but the old gentleman, the owner of the land, roused perhaps twenty rugged young fellows, a number of whom came armed with instruments of death, to drive all before them; a mighty uproar soon took place in the house, with some blows from the old man on his son-in-law; Reding and myself standing by the side of the house, concluding to retire, for a deep snow had lately fallen that we could not go into the woods and but few of the people present was of a religious cast; after our departure, they turned the meeting into a great Christmas frolic, so that Satan, the strong man kept his palace and goods in peace in this place as yet, but became much frustrated afterwards.
After travelling three or four years, in these back settlements, Mr. Marshall having removed from Shenandoah River, by the importunity of my old brethren, I took a letter from Lunies Creek Church and again joined the old mother Church, where I had been Baptized, and had the pleasure of Baptizing a number of people where myself had partaken of that blessed ordinance. I now became more acquainted with the man who had Baptized me (James Ireland) who now had the care of several neighboring Churches, he was not only a friendly companion but an excellent guide to a young man. After which I turned my attention to the lower parts of Virginia, in the northern neck thereof, and near the Chesapeake bay. I had an uncle, brother to my father, who had been raised and now lived in those low lands. - My object was to pay him a visit, for I had not seen him from the days of my childhood - though kinsmen we met as strangers, neither of us had ever heard
of a truly religious person among all our connections, and each of us had been held in contempt by them all, as men who had gone beside themselves - we each felt heavenly transports. After conversing together and finding that our language was the same, though esteemed that of madmen in that part of the world, had I been of the opinion of some I should soon have put my uncle in the water, for he was now waiting an opportunity, which soon after offered by Lewis Lunceford, and other preachers, travelling and making a stand in that part of the world. I stayed a week or two with my uncle and had several meetings in the place, and made some acquaintance, for I found some, who seemed desirous to seek the way to Heaven, as also a few Baptists, who by travelling up the country, had heard preaching, and after obtaining hope in the Lord, had travelled far to receive Baptism; I have seen people often, who had travelled from one to two hundred miles, to obtain Baptism in those days, and they really seemed to enjoy more satisfaction in Baptism than others. It may be remembered the Saviour travelled on foot from Galilee to Jourdan [sic] to be Baptized, some say it was two days journey.
I could scarce get away from my uncle, he had a wish I should make his house my home - he was never married, but lived on his own farm, with his black people; at parting as a token of his good will, he gave me his watch, which was the first I ever owned. From this place to Fredericksburg was called a hundred miles, I could now and then hear of some place in this long neck of land, where had been Baptist preaching, there I commonly called a halt to worship among the people, and with surprising effect at times; I could give instances which I now think of with pleasure, but I forbear. The apparent call for constant travelling, now bore with great weight on my mind with great misgivings of heart, thinking on my own inadequacy. I not only
kept up my range with Reding in the back woods, but below the Blue Ridge, on each side of the Rapohanoch [Rappahannock] River, where I became acquainted with a great number of the laborious servants of the Lord, chiefly all now gone home, as Theodoric Noel, Lewis Lunceford [Lunsford], Nathaniel Sanders, all the Craigs, Geo Eve, Thomas Ammons, John Leland, John Shackleford, John Cunes, Anderson Moffett, John Picket, and many others, all of whom, from my soul I preferred much higher than myself. It was more than a year before I paid my uncle, in the northern neck, another visit, at which time I found a great revival of religion through the country, where he lived; himself with many others had been Baptized, and Lewis Lunceford, now living in that part of the world. In every direction there was now such a call for preaching, day and night that it required the best of lungs in the preacher, to bear the service; though the nights were short, the houses would often not hold the people, when I have known the preacher stand in the yard, by bright moon light, and the sand on which he stood in a manner, white as snow, and the light such without a candle, that the preacher was capable to read, and hundreds, perhaps half a thousand, attentive to the sweet voice of the gospel, while their sighs, groans and cries for mercy would oblige every spectator to say that God is here of a truth. I have known respectable young ladies walk ten miles on those pleasant sandy roads, rather than miss being at one of those happy night meetings. Perhaps our modern young ladies, who love carnal parties, novels and theatres, more than they love the worship of God, may blame them, as imprudent, but God Himself has decided already in their favor, and against those daughters of Diana and Venus. This revival spread over a great part of the [N]orthern [N]eck, and many hundreds were Baptized. The next visit I paid to this part of the earth, I found Lunceford a married man, to a relation of mine, his circumstance
with others, brought about a great intimacy, between this useful servant of Christ and myself, which was interesting on my side at least. Old Councellor Carter, had now become a Baptist; he having a great family of children, had employed my uncle as a family teacher, my uncle being a very good English teacher, continued in Carters family several years, and there he died. My visits to see my uncle while at Carters brought about a great intimacy between the old councellor and myself, for this great mans religion seemed to make him meek and lowly, Carter was fond of me because I could tell him a great deal about new countries, and the various effects I had seen among the people in the back-woods under preaching, and he was the more entertained after I had been to Kentucky; he also being very zealous in religion, my preaching passed better with him than might be expected, for if nothing else attended it, there was plenty of noise; hence after preaching one night in his hall, his old lady remarked that before I came again she must remove her great candle glass lest the sound should break it to shivers.
Reding started with his family to Kentucky, by water, in the fall of 1779 but did not arrive there till the next spring, the same fall I went through by land expecting to meet Reding in Kentucky, and there to live if we were pleased, but all things bore such a gloomy appearance, as to preaching, that we returned again to Virginia and resumed our former travels for about two years. Concluding that I should be more happy in this wilderness of sorrow by changing my station to a married life, I began the new business to me, of wife-geting. I do not ascribe it to my own prudence that I became so well suited, in a bosom consort. I am willing to say, that providence directed this thing; I married a girl of good family and a Baptist of Mr. John Leland's congregation. Before I married her, the acquaintance she had in Mr. Leland's family, gave her full warning of the
difficulties of a travelling preacher's wife; for near forty years, patience and industry in her solitude has marked her way. In this conjugal contract I do not hesitate to think, as others will say, I had the best of the bargain. This took place about one month before I was thirty years old, and about ten years after I had been a traveling preacher. Having a little leisure, after I was married, and before I went to house keeping, I took a tour of preaching and to visit my uncle, then about sixty years old. When I got into the neighborhood I heard of his death, I also heard of a will he had left in the hands of an executor and that myself was another; when the will was opened we found he had made me his heir; his estate was then worth about three thousand dollars, consisting of land, negroes, stock of various kinds, household furniture, and several hundred dollars in money, this was about ten times as much as I had ever owned before. I reasoned with myself, why is this kind favor? [T]he secondary cause was my uncle's good will towards me, but why not divided among his relations equally near to him, my reply then was, God would have it so, who has the hearts of all men in His own hands. When I came to exarnine I found my uncle died about the time I was married, perhaps there was not a days difference; here was more than compensation for my poor ten years service, and at once repaid me by the Lord, and precisely at the time I needed it; I felt my heart bound with gratitude to the Lord, with this kind of mental vow, O Lord, I will be for thee forever, in whatever service thou may'st demand. For one year I continued at my usual travels, with not quite as long tours as formerly. I have before stated, the kindness of my friends to me, for the space of this year, with the temptation I had not to move to Kentucky, at which place I found myself at the close of the year 1783.
[John Taylor, A History of Ten Baptist Churches, 1823; reprint, 1968, pp. 16-40. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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