126712 Elder John Montgomery Carroll Robertson's
I was born February 21st, 1812, in White county, Tennessee. My parents were Charles and Elizabeth Robertson; my mother's maiden name was Thomas. While I was small, my parents moved to Giles county, Tenn., and lived there until I was six years old, and thence, in the fall of the year 1818, to the territory of Alabama, stopping in Russell's Valley, afterward called Franklin county, and remained there until the fall of the year 1827, when they removed to the western district of Tennessee, settling in Hardeman county. Early in life I had serious thoughts about death, but like the most of Adam's fallen race, I thought that the place called heaven was for good people, and was sure that any and every one could be good if they would. With these views I lived a Pharisee, having set times for prayer, thinking the more I prayed the better I was. My mother was an Old Baptist, but
she was no professor. My mother always attended her meeting when she could do so; and on returning from one of her meetings one Saturday evening, she told the family that a beloved uncle, living near the meeting house, was very sick, and not expected to recover; and that he had desired the preacher and the members of the church to pray for him, as be was not prepared to die. On hearing this I thought I would pray for him, and when I commenced, the thought struck me with force that I was a poor, dead sinner myself. This was the first time that I ever. saw the horrors or depths of the pit that I was in, and no way of escape. My pharisaical religion could not stand the light that had opened my blinded eyes; for now I thought I was the worse sinner on earth ; And the whole of my desire and prayer was to God for mercy. But instead of relief I got. worse, and remained in this condition for several months, during which time I went to preaching, and tried in a secret way to read the scriptures, but found no rest, and only felt condemned and that justly, and could not see how God could save such a sinner as I was and be a just God. And although I was but a boy, not quite 14 years of age, I never have been able to describe the anguish of my mind in this awful state of despair, when all of a sudden, and entirely unexpected, the burden was gone, and a sweet calm came oven me, and before I was aware I was singing praises to God. I could say, "a sinner saved by grace." This was in the year 1825, in September; and in October I went to the church and told them that I wanted to follow Jesus, and was received into old Hepsibah Church, in Franklin county, Ala., and was baptized the next day-being the third Sunday in October, 1825 by old Brother Thomas Moss, who was well known in that country at that time. The Baptists at that time were all one people, but what a vast difference 59 years has made! Impressions to preach soon bothered me, and I tried to avoid all such notions, and when my parents moved from Alabama was determined on living as a mute amongst the Baptists, as I did not think. I would find anyone, or. not many, who would know that I
was or ever had been a Baptist. In this I was [word missing] mistaken; but I tried to hide in every way possible, to [word missing] boldly deny that I was a professor of religion. And when I could hide no longer, in the year 1829 I commenced trying to preach, and the church at Enon, where my membership was, gave me a written license in April of that year to exercise my gift wherever God, in his providence, might cast my lot. I went to work in good earnest, and in the year 1831, in November, I was ordained to the full work of the .gospel by D. Sweeton, James Bruton and A. Samans, acting as a. presbytery, and was called to serve Moss Creek Church, in McNary county, and. served a little over one year. In August, 1832, I was married to Mrs. Elizabeth Watson, whose maiden name was Carter, and in that year removed to Tipton county, Tenn., where I took charge of three churches until the split of 1836. After the division I attended four churches till the fall of 1841, when I left Tennessee and came to the State of Arkansas and settled in Union county, but afterward Washata, and there lived till 1864, attending from one to four churches all the time. When I came to Texas, in 1864, I stopped in Titus county, and had the care of no church during that year, but tried to preach from two to five sermons almost every week when I was well. In 1865 and 1866 I lived in Fannin county, where I attended two churches and two congregations the most of the time. In 1867 I came to Hunt county, where I attended two churches and two congregations till 1869, when I took charge of another church, and continued to attend them till 1880, when I stopped attending one of the three churches, my wife's health becoming so feeble that I took a congregation nearer home. In 1882 my wife died, and my health being bad I traveled the most of 1883, preaching whenever I felt able. In September, 1883, I was married the second time to a Mrs. II. E. Tatum, whose maiden name was McCullar, and am still attending two churches and two congregations. I have been a Baptist a little over 58 years, and have been trying to preach 54 years, and have traveled something over one hun-
dred eight thousand miles, and tried to preach five thousand one hundred times; helped to constitute twelve churches; have been at one hundred Associations. The number of preachers and deacons that I have helped to ordain I have no account, and cannot say how many. I have baptized about four hundred; have never called on a church for a dollar; have been poor all the time; have never lacked for food, shelter or raiment; and all my labors have been to discharge my duty and do my Master's commands. My wife had fifteen children; five living, four daughters and one son. I have twenty-nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren living.
Dear brethren, the foregoing sketch is so lengthy that you will have to do with it as suits you best, and all will be well with me.
J. M. C. ROBERTSON.
Source: First printed in The Gospel Messenger (Butler, Georgia), volume 7, number 5 (May 1885). Reprinted in Biographical Sketches of Primitive Baptist Ministers as published in The Gospel Messenger Between 1883 and 1886 (Carthage, Illinois: Primitive Baptist Library, 1999), 89-92. Courtesy of E. L. Crocker.
Last updated: Thursday, October 16, 2003
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