PIONEER BAPTIST PREACHERS
By Dallas Bogan
Reprinted with Permission from Dallas Bogan.
This article was published in the LaFollette Press.
following accounts are taken from J.J. Burnett's, "Sketches of
Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers" by J.J. Burnett, dated 1919.
Lindsay Cooper was
born in Campbell County, Tenn., November 1, 1833. He was a son of John
Cooper, who was born, at Ellicott's Mills, in the state of Maryland,
and served in the War of 1812. In May, 1850, young Cooper professed
faith in Christ and was baptized into the fellowship of Indian Creek
Church, in his native county. December 21, 1856, he was married to Miss
Mary Gaylor. To this union were born nine children, seven sons and two
daughters. In December of 1860 he moved to Morgan County. At the outbreak
of the Civil War he "refugeed" for a time in Kentucky. August
8, 1861, with Capt. Joseph A. Cooper, who afterwards became General
Cooper, and three other brothers, he was mustered into the service of
the Union army, as a member of "Company A, First Tennessee Infantry,"
He served in the war three years and seven months. Returning from the
war he changed his church membership from Longfield Church, near Coal
Creek, to Liberty Church, in Morgan County. By this church he was "licensed
to exercise a public gift," and in 1866 Pleasant Grove Church "ordained"
him to the full work of the ministry. He was pastor of Union, Liberty,
Pleasant Grove, Indian Creek, Coal Hill, Pine Orchard, Crab Orchard,
Emory, Black Creek, New River, Cooper's View, Pisgah, Glen Mary, and
other churches. He was chiefly instrumental in the constitution of five
new churches and in the erection of two new meeting houses. He did a
great deal of missionary and evangelistic work, and baptized hundreds
of people. His ministry was mostly in Campbell, Scott, Morgan and Roane
counties, extending over a period of forty-nine years, and, for the
most part, was pioneer work, laying Baptist foundations and fostering
weak Baptist interests in a comparatively new and undeveloped country.
His mission was to preach the gospel to the poor, to supply "destitute"
places with the Word of God. He had good evangelistic gifts and was
an uncompromising Baptist ', contending always and under all circumstances,
conscientiously and earnestly, for the "faith delivered once for
all to the saints," never shunning to "'declare all the counsel
From the home of one of his daughters,
near Wartburg, Morgan County, February 171, 1916, Elder Cooper departed
this life, being in his 83rd year. At the time of his death he was a
member of Cooper's View Church. Funeral services were conducted by Elder
John Wilson, who drew lessons for the living from the respective and
divinely contrasted character and destiny of the rich man and Lazarus
(Luke 16:19-31). The remains of the deceased were the first to be deposited
in the new church yard of Coopers Chapel, a meeting house just built
and named in honor of the chief builder, Brother Cooper.
Elder Cooper is survived by his widow
and six children, twenty-eight grandchildren, two great-grandchildren,
an only brother, Sylvester Cooper, who is upwards of 90, and two nephews,
deserving of special mention on account of their marked service to the
denomination: Dr. D. H. Cooper, formerly of the East, at one time a
schoolmate of the writer, now of Oklahoma, and W. R. Cooper, since 1874
a deacon of the Broadway (or McGee Street) Church, Knoxville, for nineteen
years clerk of the Tennessee Association, and for other "nineteen
years" the efficient and stalwart moderator of that body.
Alvis, son of Jacob
and Huldah Stooksbury, was born April 20, 1845, near Loy's Crossroads
(now Loyston), Union County, Tennessee, Robin Stooksbury, came from
Virginia to Tennessee, with his family, early in the last century. His
great-grandfather, Jacob, was the son of Wm. Stooksbury, who was the
only son of Lord Stooksbury, of England, and came across the waters
to seek a home in the new world before the War of the Revolution.
The subject of our sketch was brought
up on a farm, and in early life had few educational advantages. In fact,
the only school education he ever received was obtained at two or three
short sessions of the public schools of his native county; the rest
of his equipment he got from the school of life and experience. In this
school he acquired the virtue of self-reliance and self-help.
In August of 1862, in a meeting held by Elder Reuben Green, he professed
faith in Christ, and was baptized, uniting with Big Springs Church,
In July, 1871, his church licensed him
to preach, and December 20, 1873, ordained him. He was pastor of this,
his home church, twelve years. He was also pastor of Alder Springs.
Liberty, Big Valley, Loy's Crossroads, Powell's River, Fincastle, and
Maynardville churches; for a number of years, serving them faithfully
In addition to his pastoral work, he obeyed
Paul's injunction to his son Timothy, "did the work of an evangelist."
This he did extensively and successfully, not only among his own churches
but on destitute fields and assisting his fellow-pastors. There were
few more successful revivalists than Alvis Stooksbury. He was a tender,
winsome, persuasive preacher; popular with all denominations, popular
at funerals, popular with the young people.
In October, 1865, he was married to Elizabeth
Duke, a daughter of William Duke, of Union County. To this union were
born seven children, five sons and two daughters, all of whom were converted
and became working members of Baptist churches. One of his sons, Prof.
W. L. Stooksbury, at one time professor in the American Temperance University,
at Harriman, later a professor in Carson and Newman College, and now
of Knoxville, is one of our most successful educators; and another of
his sons, Dr. J. M. Stooksbury, is a successful physician.
That Alvis Stooksbury was a trusted citizen
and had the confidence of the people was evidenced by the fact that
he was elected Trustee of his county (Union) and served in that capacity
from 1872 to 1874, with entire satisfaction to the people of the county.
For six years he tried his hand and head at the mercantile business,
along with preaching, but did not succeed, for the reason that his heart
was divided - he was not wholly following the Lord. He gave up the "goods
business" and gave himself wholly to preaching the gospel. This
brought him peace of mind and a good conscience, and the Lord "added
the living," which had been previously withheld.
On September 1, 1892, he was made a "Master
Mason,", and was "chaplain" of his lodge at the time
of his death.
February 15, 1895, he left home for an
evangelistic campaign. He was preaching in a successful revival at Sharon
Church, Knox County; on the second Sunday of the meeting he preached
three times, and at night was stricken with pneumonia, from which he
never recovered. Lingering nine days on the border-land between earth
and heaven, he passed to his reward May 5, 1895. His body was taken
to his home in Campbell County, where "hundreds of friends from
Campbell, Anderson, Knox and Union counties thronged to see the face
of and pay the last tribute of respect to one whom they had loved in
life and now delighted to honor."
The love of Christ constrained him, and
his consecration deepened to the end. His life-motto still speaks from
above his grave: "The longest talks and the longest walks I ever
made were for Jesus."
Joel Bowling, a son
of Larkin H. Bowling, was born in Anderson County, Tenn., May 2, 1817.
His grandfather, Joseph Bowling, was a native of Virginia. Joel was
the son of a farmer, and was brought up to farm life. He was converted
in North Carolina, in this twenty-eighth year, but uniting with Brasstown
Church, Georgia, this church licensed him to preach, soon after his
August 8, 1838, he married to Adaline
M. Carroll, of North Carolina, to which union there were born eight
About the year 1857 he was ordained by
the Longfield Church, Anderson County - Thomas Sieber, Wm. Lindsay,
Paul Harmon, and J. C. Hutson serving as a presbytery. At the close
of the war he "refugeed" some three years in Kentucky, preaching
to Mt. Hebron, Macedonia, and Pleasant Ridge churches. Returning to
his native State, he was active in the organization of the Coal Creek
Church, becoming its pastor and serving as such for about six or seven
years. He was also pastor of Pleasant Hill Church, Anderson County.
He also labored extensively in the destitute sections of Campbell and
Scott counties, and other places.
He was a great admirer of Joshua Frost,
and claimed him as his "spiritual father." His associates
in the ministry were Paul Harmon, the two Sieber brothers, Thomas and
John, Jonathan and William Lindsay, J. C. Hutson, and Joshua Frost.
He was rather fond of preaching from Old
Testament subjects, and was considered by some of his brethren a "law
preacher," and not as strictly evangelical and as fervently spiritual
and evangelistic as they would like.
He considered himself a "landmark
Baptist," and when I last met him he had been a reader of the Tennessee
Baptist for forty years. He was getting up in his "eighties,"
had not been able to preach "much" for a year or so, and was
not quite able to get himself reconciled to some "financial troubles
and reverses" that had befallen him.