Tag Archives: baptist preachers


The Word of God prevailed
1771 – The Potomack Baptist Church was founded on this date having been planted by the Chappwamsic Baptist Church and their pastor David Thomas.  Thomas was a Regular Baptist from Pennsylvania and was probably the most learned of the early Baptist preachers of Virginia.  He settled in the Northern part of the colony and was continually threatened by ruffians with clubs and guns as were many of our early preachers.  The Chappwamsic church produced some of the greatest of our early church planters like Jeremiah Moore, Daniel Fristoe, and his brother William.  William wrote an early history of the Ketocton Baptist Association and planted the Potomack Baptist Church.  William Fristoe experienced the same treatment, and became the object of those same despisers of the gospel.  The planting of these churches was resisted by large gangs of men with clubs and rocks as they attempted to break up the meetings and beat the preacher.  One example involved a gang of around forty men led by Robert Ashby, who entered the meetinghouse with the purpose of disrupting the meeting.  Some stout fellows at the door threw Ashby out.  This involved the whole multitude in a huge fight.  Soon after, Ashby cut his knee, and it became infected and literally hung by the hamstrings.  On his sickbed he desired preaching, but when the preacher would begin preaching he would stop his ears.  He died a horrible death of great suffering.  So strongly did it impress the people that God had intervened that it put a damper on those that were trying to hamper the meetings.  We can say with certainty what they said of the early church in the book of Acts,  So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.
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Seven preachers in jail


1771 – William Webber and Joseph Anthony of Virginia as Paul the Apostle were familiar with the inside of crude prisons. Few men in Virginia suffered more persecution than Webber. He was seized in Chesterfield County, Dec. 7, 1770, and imprisoned in the county jail until March 7, 1771. When the two men crossed the James River into Chesterfield County, there was not a Baptist in the entire county. The magistrates, finding that many were turning to righteousness (to madness, as they would state it)…issued warrants and had them apprehended and cast into prison. The order book of Chesterfield County, No. 4, page 489, Jan. 4, 1771, records that they were brought into court on a warrant for misbehavior for itinerant preaching…being of the sect commonly called Anabaptists. They were fined 150 pounds each and told not to return to the county for the space of one year. At one time there were seven Baptist preachers confined in the Chesterfield County jail. Webber and Anthony preached twice per week. Large congregations gathered to hear them as they preached through the grates of the prison. There were times of great revival and scores of conversions of souls turning to Christ under those windows. Baptist principles were largely advertised in Chesterfield County at the expense of the state.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 05-06.


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237 – Aug. 25 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Salvation Free to All


1843 – Ephraim Moore, who was born on July 1, 1793, saw his efforts against the hyper-Calvinist’s who taught that, “salvation is for the elect only”, and those Baptists who believed that, “the gospel should be preached to every creature” come to fruition. On this day and the next, the joint convention of representatives of the Holston, Tenn., Nolachucky and East Tenn. Associations, gathered to meet with the Pleasant Grove Church, in Cocke County. In the revision of their Articles of Faith, ‘Article 7’ a change was made as follows: ‘That the blessings of salvation are made free to all by the gospel, and that nothing prevents the salvation of the greatest sinner on earth but his own voluntary refusal to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, which refusal will subject him to an aggravated punishment.’ This was a large and widely representative body of East Tenn. Baptists, and its adoption was unanimous. Moore, a veteran of the War of 1812 was raised in reformed Presbyterianism. He came to believe that he could repent and believe the gospel having read John 6:28-29. He was baptized and became a member of the South Baptist Church in Morristown, Tenn. Later he was called for a heresy trial on the issue mentioned above and excluded from the church, along with his followers, and became Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church of Warrensburg, Tenn. for twenty-five years. Because of the faithfulness of Moore and others, the great missionary movement was launched among Baptists in the 19th Century. [J.J. Skethches of Tennessee’s Pioneer Baptist Preachers (Nashville: Press of Marshall and Bruce Company, 1919) pp. 382-83. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 464-466.] Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon



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235 – Aug. 23 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Scourged – Not Ordained by State Church


1771 – James Greenwood preached the gospel in the Middlesex County Jail to a number of friends who had come to encourage the prisoners. In a letter, written by John Waller from the jail he said, “Bro. Thomas Wafford was severely scourged, however because he was not ordained, he was released and did not have to serve time in prison. The early Baptist preachers in the Common Wealth of Virginia were despised by the political and religious leaders that were under the control of the Anglican Church/State system of government. These men, as the early Apostles as recorded in Acts Chapter four and five, had not been trained in the recognized seminaries of the day, and also refused to take a license to preach the gospel, but rather preached under the authority of Christ alone. This principle is made clear at Act 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. Because of this, until American Independence was won, they were fined, whipped, and jailed but they would not bend, bow or burn. [Robert C. Newman, Baptists and the American Tradition (Des Plaines, Ill.: Regular Baptist Press, 1976), p. 32. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp. 460-462.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon


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231 – Aug. 19 – This Day in Baptist History Past


We Ought to Obey God Rather than Men


1950 – Three special law enforcement officers were sworn in by the La Sarre Police Department, in the Province of Quebec, Canada for the express purpose of corralling the activities of the street preachers in Montreal.  A sixteen-year-old Catholic youth heard the police give specific orders not to hit the pastor on the street but to take him to a private lot and beat him there.  At 8 pm that night the street preachers began their service, the police came and in defiance of the Canadian Constitution ended up beating the pastor four times, then  arrested him along with others, as he continued to preach the gospel of Christ.  During those years quite a few Baptist preachers were imprisoned in Quebec.  Among the better known men were, Wilson Ewin, Lorne Heron, Murray Heron, and Dr. William L. Phillips.  All together, these men and others served a total of forty-five sentences.  Quebec actually passed laws making the preaching against other religious beliefs in public and on Radio or TV a crime.  (This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. pp.  455 – 56) Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon


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219 – Aug. 07 – This Day in Baptist History


Saw the first baptism in Knoxville


1814 – Matthew Hillsman was born.  He would have been one of the three thousand present when his father John was baptized by John Rogers, a pioneer Baptist preacher, in August of 1825 when the first such event ever occurred in Knoxville, Tenn.  John Hillsman, a native of Virginia, had also fought in the Revolutionary War, saw the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, and heard Washington’s farewell address.  Matthew was saved and baptized at nineteen and later ordained to preach.  He helped plant the seeds which grew into the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn. He pastored churches in Middle Tenn.  His church in Murfeesboro sent out three missionaries to the foreign field.  He died Oct. 2, 1892.  [J.J. Burnett, Sketches of Tennessee’s Pioneer Baptist Preachers (Nashville: Marshall and Bruce Co., 1919), pp. 231, 32. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg Dixon



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178 — June 26 – This Day in Baptist History Past


A Fearless Ambassador of Christ


I. B. Kimbrough was born in Tennessee in 1826.  While ministering in Tennessee, Kimbrough at one time served as the financial agent of Carson and Newman College and traveled extensively in his state attempting to raise money with which to train young Baptist preachers.


On June 26, 1886, at Waco, Texas.  Dr. Kimbrough recalled an incident from his days in Tennessee and his work with Carson and Newman College. As he was traveling from one appointment to another through a secluded forest, he was confronted by two highwaymen. Holding their guns on the man of God, they insisted that he dismount from his horse and hand over all his money.


Very well, gentlemen, please give me a little time, and I will obey your orders.” Kimbrough responded. After dismounting, he laid his money in two piles, then turning to the highwaymen he said: “Gentlemen, this small pile of money is mine: you are at liberty to rob me of that; the larger pile is God’s money, and I dare you to touch it. I collected it for the young preachers of the state who are struggling for an education at Carson and Newman College.”


The earnestness and courage of the man attracted the attention of the robbers, and they began to inquire into the work in which he was engaged. He told them he was a Baptist preacher and explained to them his mission. After hearing what he had to say, the elder of the two men said:


“We will not take either your money or the money of the young preachers.”
Turning to the young men, and looking them full in the face, Dr. Kimbrough added: “Young men, you are in a mighty bad business. I believe you ought to give it up. In the meantime, I will be grateful if you will help me in the work in which I am engaged.”


Following this appeal, the robbers gave him $5 each for the young preachers, whereupon the faithful minister mounted his horse, and all rode away, going in different directions.


I. B. Kimbrough was a fearless ambassador of Jesus Christ!


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 261 – 262.



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162 — June 11 – This Day in Baptist History Past


 Prayer  for Persecutors and Freedom


The Separate Baptists in Virginia had divided into two associations for the convenience of the messengers, and on May 14, 1774, the Southern District met in the Banister Baptist Church of Halifax County. There they transacted one of the most important aspects of an associational ministry, a phase that is all but dead among us in these days. For three or four years there had been severe persecutions against the Baptists in many parts of Virginia. Letters were received at their association from preachers confined in prison, particularly from David Tinsley, then in the Chesterfield jail.  The hearts of their brethren were affected at their sufferings, in consequence of which they: “Agreed to set apart the second and third Saturdays in June as public fast days, in behalf of our poor blind persecutors, and for the releasement of our brethren.”


Those two days of prayer were Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 18, 1774, and the saints prayed for the enlightenment of the spiritually blind persecutors and the freedom of their ministers.  We ought not to be surprised to observe that during that decade, the Separate Baptists “achieved their greatest growth . . . with 221 churches and unconstituted local bodies with 9,842 members.”  Some of the persecutors were converted and became Baptist preachers, and freedom of religion was gained for the whole state of Virginia.


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp. 240 -241.





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155 — June 04 This Day in Baptist History Past


Would the Nightingale care if the toad despised her singing?”


It all began in a meetinghouse yard June 4, 1768, when the sheriff of Spotsylvania County, Virginia seized John Waller, Lewis Craig, James Childs, James Reed and William Mash. Three magistrates were standing in that yard and bound them under penalty of one thousand pounds apiece to appear in court two days later. The prosecutor charged them with being disturbers of the peace, alleging, “They cannot meet a man upon the road, but they must ram a text of Scripture down his throat.”


As they passed through the streets of Fredericksburg toward the old stone gaol, locked arm in arm, they sang the old hymn:


Broad is the road that leads to death,


And thousands walk together there;


But wisdom shows a narrow path,


With here and there a traveler.


Deny thyself and take thy cross,


Is the Redeemer’s great command;


Nature must count her gold but dross


If she would gain this heavenly land.


These men could sing, like the apostles in the jail at Philippi, under the most trying circumstances, because there was joy in their souls. If there were those who ridiculed them as they went through the streets singing that resounding song, what did they care?  What would the nightingale care if the toad despised her singing? She would sing on and leave the cold toad to his grouchy thoughts and shadows. And what cared these preachers for the sneers and scoffs of men who grovel upon the earth? They sang on in the ear and the bosom of God.


They were kept in prison in Fredericksburg forty three days for quoting the Word of God.


Other counties continued for some time imprisoning Baptist preachers, Spotsylvania never dared to repeat the experiment.




Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. ( Thompson/Cummins)pp. 230 -231.



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135 — May 15 This Day in Baptist History


A Prison, a Pistol, and a Preacher


Elder John Tanner carried out an itinerant ministry which took him to Chesterfield County, Virginia, where he ran into conflict with the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. One such was a Colonel Archibald Cary who seemed to take pleasure in apprehending and imprisoning Baptist preachers. John Tanner on May 15, 1773, “did on his examination confess that he has divers times convened numbers of people in the County and more particular on this day did convene numbers and preach to them in this county, not being qualified by law so to do, which is contrary to law and tends to disturb the peace and good government of this colony.”



“A certain woman, by the name of Dawson, in the town of Windsor, N. C., had reason to hope her soul was converted, saw baptism to be a duty for a believer to comply with, and expressed a great desire to join the church at Cashie, under the care of Elder Dargan. Her husband, who was violently opposed to it, and a great persecutor, had threatened that if any man baptized his wife, he would shoot him. Accordingly, baptism was deferred for some time. At length Elder Tanner was present at Elder Dargan’s meeting, and Mrs. Dawson applied to the church for baptism, expressing a desire to comply with her duty. She was received, and Elder Dargan being an infirm man, He therefore requested Elder Tanner to perform the duty of baptism at this time, and he baptized Mrs. Dawson. In the following June, in the year 1777, Elder Tanner was expected to preach at Sandy Run Meeting-house, and Dawson, hearing of the appointment, came up from Windsor to Norfleet’s Ferry on Roanoke, and lay in wait, near the banks of the river, and when Elder Tanner (who was in company with Elder Dargan) ascended the bank from the ferry landing, Dawson being a few yards from him, shot him with a large horseman’s pistol. Seventeen shot went into his thigh, one of which was a large buckshot, that went through the limb and lodged in his clothes on the other side. In his wounded condition, Mr. Tanner was carried to the house of Mr. Elisha Williams, in Scotland Neck, where he lay for some weeks, his life being despaired of; but through the goodness of the Lord he recovered again. Dawson being somewhat frightened lest he should die, sent a doctor up to attend him. After Elder Tanner’s recovery he never attempted to seek any redress, but submitted to it patiently as persecution for Christ’s sake.”


Dr. Dale R. Hart: Adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I. (Thompson/Cummins) pp.198- 199



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