Sketches of holston preachers

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The records of the lives of the preachers of Holston Conference constitute an important part of the history of Holston Methodism. Those who read Methodist history, dwell lovingly upon the stories of the preachers who have consecrated their lives to seeking and shepherding the Church of God.

In preparing these short sketches, the effort has been made to perpetuate the memory of all of the men who have given their lives to the itinerant work in Holston Conference. In one hundred and sixty years they have multiplied to nearly seven hundred.

The Minutes of the Conference have preserved the memoirs of the preachers from the beginning until the present time. From these memoirs and from such other sources as have been available, these sketches have been prepared. It is deeply regretted that it has been necessary to omit mention of the charges served by each one of the preachers; and of the names of other members of the family beside the wife. Wherever possible to secure information the wife of each married preacher has been included in the sketch of her husband.

Memoirs of the wives of preachers began to be published in the Southern Conference in 1892. A memoir of Mrs. R. G. Waterhouse was read in the memorial service in 1891, but was not published in the Annual. The first of such memoirs was that of Mrs. Timothy Sullins, who before her marriage was Miss Mary W. Rogers of Knoxville.

Many of these sketches are very brief owing to lack of information concerning details. These are the men who shall forever live in the memories of the Methodists of Holston Conference.


1783 - 1943


Abel, Jeremiah: In Holston one year, 1789-90.


Acuff, Francis: Born 1770, Culpeper County, Virginia. Son of Timothy Acuff and Anna Leigh Acuff. Admitted in 1793. In Holston one year. Died in 1795. Greatly beloved by Bishop Asbury.


Adams, David: Born July 12, 1798, in Sullivan county, Tenn. Son of Micajah Adams. Common school education. Admitted 1818, ordained elder in first session of Holston, at Knoxville, 1824. All appointments in Holston. Located 1827, readmitted 1832. Located 1835, readmitted 1844. Supernumerary 1825 to 1827. Superannuated 1848. Died, April 15, 1853, Strawberry Plains, Tenn. Married Miss Lucretia Calfee June 4, 1822. Married second time Miss Susan Craft. Eight children.


Adams, J. M.: Born 1840. Admitted 1866. Died 1878 and was buried at Pattonsville, Va. No memoir was furnished.


Addington, Elbert Lafayette: Born Feb. 3, 1861, near Dungannon, Va. He was the twelfth of fourteen children of Andrew Jackson and Sallie Hutchinson Addington. His father was a local preacher of the Methodist Protestant Church and his home was one of true piety and devotion. Had public school education. Licensed to preach in the M. P. Church at 16. Admitted to Virginia Conference of Methodist Protestant Church in 1882 and served in that Conference for nine years. Received into Holston Conference, M. E. Church, South, 1891. Served fourteen circuits and was eleven years district evangelist. His entire ministry was fervently evangelistic. He built ten churches and three parsonages. He was a traveling preacher for thirty-nine years. He was twice married: (1) Mrs. Elizabeth Fugate, Nov. 9, 1882. They had three children; (2) Miss Pearl Mitchell, daughter of Rev. W. D. Mitchell. He was a very large and strong man, but as he approached threescore and ten his strength became uncertain; nevertheless he continued to preach and do revival work to the end. He died June 16, 1931, in the parsonage at Cripple Creek, Va. Buried at Rural Retreat, Va.


Akers, Jefferson D.: Born Aug. 30, 1868, in Montgomery County, Va. Educated at Emory and Henry. Admitted in 1891. A modest, frail man, he won esteem and affection wherever he ministered. Health failing, at Castlewood, Va., in 1897, he gave up his work and returned to the home of his boyhood. Died at his father's home April 20, 1897. Buried in Montgomery County, Va.


Akers, William David: Born July 31, 1855, in Wythe County, Va. Son of Amos Akers. He was converted at Wabash Camp Ground and was called to preach when nineteen. Admitted to Holston Conference, South, 1875. He served thirteen circuits and one station in Holston. While serving Tate Spring, in 1901, he was called to be Professor of Hebrew in Asbury College, but failing health forced him to give up this work in 1905. In 1907 he took supply work in the North Ohio Conference (M.E.), and in 1911 transferred to that Conference and continued in the pastorate until 1925. He returned to Asbury College as Professor of Greek and Hebrew, under the Presidency of his son, Rev. Lewis Robeson Akers, D.D., who was for ten years President of Asbury College. He remained as Asbury until 1933, when he retired because of ill health. He married Oct. 17, 1878, Miss Mary Istalena Robeson, born June 20, 1856, daughter of Rev. and Mrs. John H. Robeson. Mrs. Robeson was the daughter of Rev. David B. and Mrs. Harriet Matilda Cumming. Mrs. D. B. Cumming was Caroline Lowry, a daughter of Col. and Mrs. Esther Siler Lowry, Buncombe County, N.C. James Lowry is mentioned by Bishop Asbury (in 1801), as a traveling companion. Mary Istalena Robeson lived almost as a foster-child in the home of Rev. L. M. Pease, Asheville, N.C. He educated her in New York State Normal College and in other institutions. There were four children. Mrs. Akers died in 1924. He died Aug. 9, 1940, at Nicholasville, Ky., and was buried by the side of his wife at Wilmore, Ky.


Alexander, Frank: Born 1838, near Elizabethton, Tenn. After being licensed to preach on the Elizabethton circuit, he and his brother, Samuel Alexander, went together to Fayette, Mo. His brother joined the Missouri Conference and afterwards transferred to Holston Confrence, but died shortly afterwards on Marion circuit. Frank remained in Missouri only a short while. Admitted in 1884 at 46 years of age. He served ten charges in fourteen years. Married Dec. 24, 1861, Miss Mary Katherine Keebler, Elizabethton, Tenn. They had several children. Superannuated 1908 and spent most of his time in the home of his daughter, Mrs. Fugate, at Bristol, Tenn. Died Nov. 13, 1925, at the age of 87. Buried at Marion, Va.


Alexander, Samuel: Born Feb. 16, 1836. Admitted into Missouri Conference in 1860. Transferred to Holston 1873, but was unable to do any work. His work had been done in Missouri, between 1860 and 1870, during which time he received 800 people into the church. Died Feb. 15, 1874. Buried at Marion, Va.


Allen, Thomas: In Holston 1789-90.


Alley, John: Born Aug. 11, 1825. Admitted 1845. Spent most of the years of his ministry in Sequatchie Valley. He married more people and preached more funeral sermons than any other Methodist preacher who ever lived in that Valley. Above the average in ability and in piety. Married Sept. 27, 1848, Miss Elizabeth Kirklin. She died in 1899. Died April 10, 1900. Buried at Dunlap, Tenn.


Amis, James H.: Born Jan. 8, 1853, in Rogersville, Tenn. He was a student at East Tennessee Wesleyan University. Admitted into Holston Conference in 1875. Spent thirty years in Holston serving fourteen charges, mostly circuits. Transferred to California Conference in 1906. For nearly thirty years he was a resident of Monterey Park, Calif., and was founder of the Community Church in that place. He was married to Miss Olive Florida Petree. They had four children. He superannuated in 1915. He died Nov. 16, 1937, at the home of his daughter, Miss Ethel, in Monterey Park. He was buried at Glendale, Calf.


Anderson, Lewis: In Holston one year, 1808.


Asbury, Daniel: Born Fairfax County, Va., Feb. 18, 1762. Admitted 1786. In Holston 1788-89. Married Miss Nancy L. Morris, Lincoln Ct., N. C., 1790. Spent most of life in Carolinas. Died 1825.


Ashley, William: In Holston one year, 1816.


Ashworth, Moses: Admitted 1805. In Holston one year, 1808.


Atkin, George: Admitted to Ohio Conference, 1817. In 1818 transferred to Tennessee Conference and appointed to Knoxville. Located in 1819. Appeared on Conference Roll in 1825, but was left without appointment. Appointed "Abingdon Town" in 1826, where he died in 1827. Associated with Thomas Stringfield in publication of religious paper at Knoxville. Had two sons: Samuel Atkin of Knoxville and Rev. Thomas Atkin of Asheville, N. C. George Atkin's death was the first to occur in Holston Conference.


Atkins, Alwyn James: Born Aug. 5, 1890, in Heflin, Ala. Graduated at University of Chattanooga in 1910, from Boston University in 1914. While at Boston University he served as student pastor at Fall River, Mass. He took a graduate course at Harvard and a regular pastorate at Chartley, Mass. He transferred to Holston Conference in 1917 from New England Southern Conference. He served two charges in Holston. He married June 30, 1915, Miss Julia E. Shaw, Fall River, Mass. They had two children. He died March 22, 1921, at St. Joseph's Infirmary, Atlanta, Ga., after an illness of several months. He was buried at Fall River, Mass.


Atkins, Daniel H.: Born Aug. 28, 1846, in Grayson County, Va. Son of Daniel and Elizabeth Moore Atkins and brother of Rev. Kennerly C. Atkins. He was educated in the public school and Emory and Henry College. He served for a little more than a year in the reserves of the Confederate Army, and was broken in health at the end of the war. He was licensed to preach and admitted to Holston Conference in 1868. Located 1871 to go to college. Readmitted 1873. After serving eight charges and one district, he was President of Weaverville College for three years. He was transferred to Columbia Conference, Oregon, in 1887, where he served as pastor and also as President of Corvallis College until 1891, when he transferred to Western North Carolina Conference. Here he continued as pastor, presiding elder and editor until 1928, when he superannuated. He served faithfully and well in every post to which he was assigned. He married Dec. 25, 1875, Miss Anna Chapman, Asheville, N. C. They had four children. He died June 4, 1928, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. E. Gash, Weaverville, N. C.


Atkins, Kennerly C.: Born Nov. 16, 1843, near Providence Camp Ground, Grayson County, Va. Son of Daniel and Elizabeth Moore Atkins. Licensed to preach 1867. Admitted 1867. He was three years at Emory and Henry College. "Of fifty-two years in the ministry, twelve were spent in Virginia, four in North Carolina and thirty-six in Tennessee." He served three districts as presiding elder. "He was for more than a half century one of the finest examples of the best traditions of the Methodist itinerancy." "His last years were like unto the end of a perfect day, calm, peaceful, unperturbed." He married Dec. 20, 1875, Miss Aurice A. Brazelton, Charleston, Tenn. They had five children. He was a brother of Rev. Daniel H. Atkins, who died in Western North Carolina Conference. Superannuate 1919 to 1929. He was an itinerant for 62 years. "With no illness other than the feebleness of age, and without pain, he peacefully passed out of the tired and worn house of the flesh," in his 86th year. He died May 24, 1929, at Fountain City, Tenn., and was buried there in Lynnhurst Cemetery.


Austin, Sumpter Hughes: Born March 2, 1890, at Oakvale, W. Va. Son of Andrew Jackson and Athalinda Austin. He studied for three years at Emory and Henry College. He was licensed to preach about 1910. Admitted 1913, and was in active work for twenty-six years, and served ten appointments. He was a man of great energy and was able to enlist his people in the enterprises of the church. His charges grew in membership and in their support of the work of the church, both local and general. He married Jan. 1, 1912, Miss Grace Eleanor Albert of Summers County, W. Va. They had eight children. He died Feb. 2, 1939, at Gary, W. Va. He was buried at Bluefield, W. Va.


Avery, Henry B.: Born June 24, 1839, in Crockett County, Tenn. Admitted into Memphis Conference 1860. Transferred about 1875 to Pacific Conference; to Florida Conference 1881; to Holston 1882. He was appointed to Morristown Station, but died before reaching there.


Axley, James: Son of James and Lemuanna Axley, who lived in Cumberland County, Va. Admitted in 1804 and located in 1822. His charges were: 1804, Red River, Tenn.; 1805, Hocking, Ohio; 1806, French Broad, Tenn.; 1807, Opelousas, La.; 1808 Powell's Valley, Va.; 1809, Holston, Va.; 1810, Elk, Tenn.; 1811, Presiding Elder, Wabash District; 1812-13-14-15, Presiding Elder, French Broad District; 1816-17, Green River District; 1818-19-20-21, French Broad District. Delegate General Conference 1812, 1816 and 1820. Although lacking in learning he was a man of striking ability and great forcefulness. A great foe of tobacco, strong drink and slavery. He married Cynthia Earnest, daughter of Lawrence Earnest. Died Feb. 23, 1838, at Sweetwater, Tenn.


Ayers, Robert Earnest: Born May 23, 1874. Admitted in 1901. He served for twenty years, in nine charges, the last of which was Morristown circuit. He died, suddenly, on Nov. 7, 1921. He was buried at Cedar Spring, McMinn County, Tenn.


Ayers, Robert Owen: Born Sept. 13, 1831, in Rockbridge County, Va. Admitted into Cincinnati Conference in 1864. Transferred to Holston Conference in 1865. He served ten circuits in seventeen years. At his own request he was made supernumerary in 1882 and continued that relation until 1885, and again in 1889 and 1890. Married in 1868, Miss Eliza Smith of Ohio. There were three sons. She died in 1904. He was superannuated in 1891. He died Oct. 7, 1907. He was buried in McMinn County, Tenn.


Bailey, William Edward: Born Aug. 26, 1863, near Bailey's Switch, Tazewell County, Va. Son of Jessee Lee and Mary Shannon Bailey. Admitted in 1890. He served eighteen charges in forty-four years of active service. He was two years (1909-11) supernumerary. He was a revivalist and a builder of churches; "a good man and a faithful minister of the word." He married Sept. 20, 1888, Miss Clemmie Mahood. They had five children. She preceded him in death. He died Dec. 28, 1938, in Bluefield, W. Va. He was buried at Bluefield.


Baker, James A.: Born Dec. 25, 1853, in Sevier County, Tenn. He engaged in mercantile business for some time; but feeling the call to preach, he sold his business so that he might answer the call. Admitted in 1879. He was effective twenty-one years, supernumerary four years. He married Nov. 8, 1887, Miss Mattie E. Trotter. They had nine children. He superannuated in 1906 and lived at Lonsdale, where he had held his last pastorate. He was active in church work. He died Sept. 6, 1917, in his home at Knoxville and was buried there.


Baker, Jonathan N.: Born Jan. 10, 1839, near Harper's Ferry, Va. His parents moved to Ohio. He joined the federal Army and served for three years. At the close of the war he moved to Fall Branch, Tenn. He was admitted to Holston Conference in 1867. He suffered with serious throat trouble for some years and was unable to do regular work, but was faithful in church attendance and duties. He married twice: (1) Oct. 6, 1868, Miss Ann Eliza Hunt. They had five children. (2) Miss Fannie Piper, June 6, 1906. He superannuated in 1898. He died Oct. 9, 1914, at his home in Greeneville, Tenn. He was buried at Fall Branch, Tenn.


Baker, Thomas R.: Born July 30, 1866, in Carroll County, Ga. His educational opportunities were limited. He was admitted to the Georgia Conference in 1902 and served there for eight years. He transferred to Holston Conference in 1910 and served until 1918. He was twice married: (1) Mattie Johnson. They had one child. (2) Miss Bertha Cash, Oct. 25, 1903. They had six children. He superannuated in 1918. He died March, 1926, at his home in College Park, Ga. He was buried at Ben Hill, Ga.


Baldwin, John: In Holston one year, 1789-90.


Baldwin, John D.: Born March 28, 1818, in Hancock County, Tenn. Admitted 1850. Married. Thirty-four years an itinerant preacher. Died in Hancock County in his sixty-eighth year in 1885. Buried at Sneedville, Tenn.


Ball, James K. P.: Born May 21, 1844, McMinn County, Tenn. At seventeen volunteered in Confederate Army and served as a private to the end of the war. Attended school at Athens, Tenn., after the war closed. Admitted 1870. While serving Chattanooga Station, 1873-4, he married the eldest daughter of Rev. John Boring. Died in 1885. Buried at Spring Creek, Tenn.


Ball, John: In Holston one year, 1791-92.


Ballenger, W. B.: Born June 25, 1825, in Blount County, Tenn. After reaching manhood the call to preach came and he spent some time in school preparing himself for the ministry. He was admitted in 1852. In 1865 he united with the M. E. Church and labored faithfully for nineteen years. He was married and was survived by his widow and an only son. He died Oct. 15, 1884. He was buried in Bradley County, Tenn.


Ballew, J. R.: Born Nov. 29, 1836, in Buncombe County, N. C. Admitted 1860. Died Nov. 28, 1864. Buried in North Carolina.


Bandy, William S.: Born April 26, 1857, in North Carolina. He was admitted into Holston Conference in 1894. He served eleven charges in twenty-three years. He married Miss Mary Hamblen in Oct., 1880. They had six children. He superannuated in 1919. He died Nov. 8, 1938, in Greene County, Tenn. He was buried at Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.


Barker, William: In Holston one year, 1792-93.


Barnes, Horatio: In Holston one year, 1808.


Barnes, Nathan: In Holston one year, 1807.


Barnes, William H.: Born near Richmond, Va., June 23, 1812. Admitted into North Carolina Conference 1838. Transferred to Virginia Conference, then back to North Carolina and then to Holston. Married twice. Died May 1, 1882, at Princeton, W. Va., where he was buried.


Barnett, William Reagan: Born March 17, 1849, in Monroe County, Tenn. Son of Michael and Melissa McNutt Craton Barnett. He had little formal education. He entered the Confederate Army when he was 15. He taught school for several years. He tried to study medicine, but the call to preach had obsessed his soul. Admitted in 1871. He served circuits, stations and districts in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina for twenty-eight years when, in 1899, ill health required supernumerary relation. The next year, 1900, it became necessary to superannuate. Thirty years was the term of his superannuate life. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred upon him by Weaverville College. Endowed with a strong mind, he not only acquired a rich store of information, but also achieved ripe wisdom as the result of deep study. He married Nov. 11, 1872, Miss Florie Marcella Howard. There were five children. His son, Rev. J. F. Barnett, is a member of Holston Conference. After fifty-six years of devotion and fidelity the wife finished her course only eight months before her husband. After she went he declined rapidly. Death took place Aug. 15, 1929, in his home at Knoxville; and he was buried in Greenwood Cemetery.


Barrett, Elbert L.: Born in Hawkins County, Tenn. Admitted 1873. Married in 1876 Miss Corinna Mynatt, Knox County, Tenn. Died June 13, 1881. Buried at Shiloh, Tenn.


Barringer, John: Admitted 1827. Located 1835; readmitted 1838. Superannuated 1840. Owned a home in Knoxville in what is now called McAnnally Flats. Died July 17, 1851, at Knoxville and was buried there at cemetery on East Hill Avenue.


Bates, William H.: Born April 16, 1821, at Franklin Ala. Son of Ezekiel Bates. Educated in local school. Admitted in 1846. He served charges in every part of Conference for thirty-three years. Superannuated in 1879, he was on that list except for three years, until 1905. Married in 1885 Miss Josephine Burts, Jonesboro, Tenn. He was a very active and industrious man. Died Oct. 6, 1905. Buried at Knoxville.


Bays, John C.: Born July 23, 1852, in Russell County, Va. Son of James J. and Mary Webb Bays. He was the youngest of three brothers who became itinerant Methodist preachers: Rev. William Bays, D. D., Rev. Hezekiah W. Bays, D. D., and Rev. John C. Bays. Educated at Castlewood District High School, Castlewood, Va. Converted in early life and felt that he was called to preach. Admitted 1876. He was an effective preacher for thirty-six years. He believed the doctrines of the Methodist Church and lived them. He preached in nearly every part of East Tennessee. It has been said that he could travel from Lookout Mountain to Bristol in the territory of charges which he had served and could spend each night, as he traveled by horse and buggy, in the home of some former parishioner. He married Oct. 26, 1886, Miss Sarah Gage Findlay, daughter of Thomas Findlay, Washington County, Va. They had three children. The eldest son, Rev. James A. Bays, D. D., is a member of Holston Conference. Mrs. Bays died May 31, 1908. Superannuated in 1912 and lived with his preacher son. He died there Jan. 26, 1923, and was buried by the side of his wife at Abingdon, Va.


Beard, Caughey A.: Born March 10, 1870, at Columbia, Ala. Educated at Birmingham Southern College and Southern University. Admitted 1898. He served two charges and became supernumerary in 1905 and kept that relation thirty-one years. He was married twice: (1) Mrs. Wood Rose, Athens, Tenn.; (2) Mrs. Margaret Lee, Knoxville, Tenn. As a supernumerary he was active in the church and Sunday school at Athens and was loved and respected in the community. He was a successful business man. He died at his home in Athens, Aug. 7, 1936, and was buried there.


Belchee, William Beverly: Born in Tazewell County, Va., March 25, 1878. He was the son of Winfield and Mattie Belchee. He was admitted in 1903. He served nine charges and was district evangelist for fourteen years. He was a very effective evangelist preacher. He married on Aug. 30, 1899, Miss Anna Lane Neel. They had five children. He died Feb. 24, 1941, in Chattanooga and was buried there.


Bellamy, John R.: Born July 12, 1866, in Scott County, Va. Graduated from Hiwassee College 1891. Admitted 1891. Married 1892, Miss Nannie Wilcox. Died Sept. 25, 1894, Coal Creek. Buried at Elizabethton, Tenn.


Bellamy, William M.: Born Aug. 8, 1847, Scott County, Va. Educated at Hiwassee College. Admitted in 1878. Married. In 1886 his family was afflicted with fever. His wife was ill for weeks. Enfeebled by nursing, he fell a victim to disease and died Sept. 12, 1886, in Lee County, Va. Buried in Scott County, Va.


Belt, James W.: Born in 1824 at Charleston, S. C. Admitted to Holston Conference in 1852. Dr. Price says: "He divided his life between business and preaching." There were a number of breaks in his relation to the Conference. He was superannuate in 1856, located in 1862, readmitted in 1884. Superannuated in 1891, continuing so to the end. But there was no break in his work as a preacher. He was a popular preacher and held the confidence of the people of the region where he lived. Married Miss Sallie Richmond of Lee County, Va. They had seven children. He spent his declining years with a daughter, Mrs. J. W. Erwin of Bristol, where the end came. Died Oct. 12, 1912. Buried in Scott County, Va.


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