Pioneering in the southwest

Material Information

Pioneering in the southwest
Holt, Adoniram Judson, 1847-1933
Place of Publication:
Nashville Tenn
Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
304p. : front. ;


Subjects / Keywords:
Baptists -- Missions ( lcsh )

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
020607862 ( ALEPH )
00178679 ( OCLC )
AAC9736 ( NOTIS )

Full Text






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3ua&y odkool ROMM
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Nulshlilo. Temsou

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An autobiographical sketch entitled "Forty-eight Years in
the Ministry," appeared in the issues of "The Baptist World"
during the years of 1915-16. It was pleasing to quite a number
of personal friends to express the hope that these sketches
might find a more permanent form of publication than the
files of a denominational paper. So insistent and frequent
have been these requests that the author has concluded to heed
them, and the following pages are, for the most part, but a
reprint of these autobiographical sketches.
Seven years have now passed since the sketches appeared,
and through the mercy of God, the writer is yet spared to
engage in the activities of life, and the great work of the
ministry, as pastor of a loving church. I am full of life and
of a desire to live on. Life is sweet to me. I am by no means
tired of it Certainly I am anxious to behold the face of my
Lord in the life beyond; but while I am spared here, I desire
to serve him and my brethren, knowing that when I pass hence
my term of earthly service, at least, will have closed.
I am not conceited enough to imagine that a record of my
life is demanded by the reading public generally. Yet I know
some things about myself that no one else knows, and I have
had some experiences that no one else has had, and I am per-
suaded that this record of them may prove of real benefit to
some who may yet pass this way.
So, trusting that I may be spared to complete and publish
this autobiography, I subscribe myself a servant of the Lord
Jesus Christ, and a lover of my brethren.

Arcadia, Florida.


Chapter Pae
My Symphony ......................................... 6
L Early Childhood ............................... ...... 7
II. Childhood and Youth ................................... 16
IIL Youth ............................................... 23
IV. The Trials of War ..................................... 32
V. Struggle for an Edcation ............................ 38
VI. Early Religious Experiences ........................... 44
VII Beginning to be a Preacher ............................ 50
VIII. A Country Pastor .................. ................ 56
IX. Remarkable Instances in Revival Meetings ............... 70
X. My First Sight of a Great Coventio ................... 82
XI. Greenville Seminary Days ............................ 86
XIL Marital Matters ........................... ........... 95
XIII. Agent for the S. B. T. S. ............................... 102
XIV. A Missionary to the Seminole Indians .................... 105
XV. Missionary to the Seminoles (Concluded)................ 115
XVL To the Wild Indians .................................... 124
XVIL A Missionary to the Wild Indins........................ 133
XVIII. A Missionary to the Wild Indians-Banished ............ 144
XIX. Attempted Assassination ................................ 160
XX. Life Among the Wild Indians (Concludd) ............... 175
XXI. A Second Term at the Southern Baptist Theological Semi-
nary ................................... .. 189
XXIL A Secretary of Missions in Texas ........................ 196
XXIII. A Secretary of Missions in Texas (Concluded)........... 202
XXIV. Abroad ................................................ 207
XXV. Abroad (Concluded) ................................... 220
XXVI. At Sea ............................................... 231
XXVII. Secretary of Missions in Tennessee ................ 239
XXVIII. Mission Work in Tennessee (Concluded)................. 253
XXIX. Badc to Texas ........................................ 260
XXX. Pastor in Knoxville .................................. 273
XXXI. Florida Again ........................................ 286
XXXII. Progress of the Southern Baptist Convention ............ 290
XXXIII. Under a Westering Sky ......... .......................... 297
Addenda .............................................. 300


My pathway through life hath been checkered
By the lights ad the shadows that fell,
For ometme I've been on the mountains,
And smetims deep down in the dell;
My path hath been laid in sunshine and shade,
In either, or neither, 'twas well.

The friends of my life have been many,
Of foes, only one in a while;
But friends have been true and foes have been few,
And friends always grew, and foes always flew,
For I went with them that other mile.

The mistakes of my life have been many,
Repentance has covered them under,
Friends may have been blind but no one unkind;
I everywhere find that men are inclined
To forgive and forget e'en a blunder.

I'm not now aweary of living
Nor complain of the woes of to-day;
For Jesus hath talked with me as I walked;
His comforting grace never failed in the race,
For he said: "I am with thee always "

So I waft to thee, then, gentle reader,
A message of tenderest love;
For love is the power that shines every hour,
And loses its light in the nevermore night
Of the gladness and glory above.
-A. I. H.



Those who have read that most interesting work of Charles
Dickens, "David Copperfield," have found themselves charmed
by the recital of the experiences of a boy. It is difficult for
us to imagine that it was not the story of a real life. If such
widespread interest can attach to an imaginary life, why may
not the story of a real life be of interest and importance to the
reader? Certainly this record is sadly lacking in the matchless
style which the distinguished author of "David Copperfield"
exhibited, but so far as the actual facts are concerned it is
hoped this record will be of interest
My maternal grandmother, Mrs. Polly Hampton Buckner,
who had most to do with my early childhood, took great delight
in telling me of many incidents of my babyhood. So vivid do
these now appear to me that I find difficulty in distinguishing
what I heard of myself and what I remember to have occurred.
They tell me that I was born in the "Red House," the old
home of my distinguished uncle, Dr. H. F. Buckner, on Decem-
ber I, I847. My father, Aaron Holt, was a Yankee school-
teacher, and my mother, Miriam Buckner Holt, was the eldest
daughter of Elder Daniel Buckner, at that time pastor of the
Baptist Church of Somerset, Kentucky. My second uncle,
Bennett B. Buckner, went to the Mexican War, died, and was
buried in Mexico. My youngest uncle, Robert Cook Buckner,
who was fourteen years my senior, the founder and manager
of the great Buckner Orphans' Home, Dallas, Texas, has only
recently entered the glorious beyond.
As both of my uncles and my grandfather were Baptist
preachers, I was at an early age impressed with the thought
that some day I also should be a Baptist preacher. It was at


the suggestion of my Grandfather Buckner that I received the
name of that distinguished missionary to Burmah, Adoniram
Judson. This great man was then living and in the meridian
of his fame and usefulness. I recall how difficult it was for me
to learn to pronounce my own name, and that of the county
and town of my nativity. "Adoniram Judson Holt, born in
Somerset, Pulaski County, Kentucky, December I, 1847."
That was a tremendous mouthful for a "kid in kilts" to pro-
.They tell me that I had a roving, restless disposition from
the start; that before I could walk or crawl, I would roll, and
at one time I actually rolled out of the door and down the
great steps and landed "right side up, with care" out in the
yard, to the great consternation of grandmother, who hastened
to my rescue, only to find me uninjured.
When I began to crawl, I made another excursion, and
during the brief absence of my grandmother, I crawled over
the obstructions placed to restrain me, out of the door and
by some unknown means scrambled down those steps, and
away I went accompanied by "Doty," my small dog. I
crawled out of the yard, to the back of the garden, and tried
to crawl through a crack in the fence. I turned my head and
squeezed it through, but failed to get my body through the
crack, and not having sense enough to turn my head sideways
again to get back, there I stuck. The dog seeing my predica-
ment scurried away to the house and began a furious barking
which attracted the attention of grandmother. She at once
missed me and was led by her apron held in the mouth of
"Doty," that faithful animal, to where I was caught in the
crack of the fence fast asleep, but uninjured.
During my early childhood, my grandfather built another
residence, called "The White House," only a short distance
from the "Red House." There I spent about four delightful
years of my life. My mother and father had separated because
of the prevailing political excitement of that time, my father
being an Abolitionist and my mother's people "rabid South-
erners." I can not remember when they separated. My
mother was sent away to school, to prepare to be a teacher


and my grandmother had entire charge of her restless grand-
son. Grandfather preached at Somerset only once a month,
and the rest of his time was spent as a mountain missionary.
A younger daughter, Annie, was also sent away to school;
my youngest uncle, Robert Buckner, went to Georgetown Col-
lege, so I was left for the most part entirely alone with my
grandmother. My memories of this great woman are most
delightful. I never heard her use a cross word. A smile was
always on her face. She carded and spun wool and wove
cloth for her family. She also raised flax and hackled that
and spun and wove it into sheets, towels and linen garments
worn by my grandfather. She had a small spinning wheel
which worked with a treadle, on which she spun flax In the
winter time I kept a fire of coals in an oven under her feet
as she would sit at the loom and weave.
At night I slept with grandmother and I was happy all the
day long. When grandfather camehome, he would sit at night
by the fire and read by the light of a tallow dip placed on a
candle stand. Grandmother would be spinning on one side
of the fire-place, and grandfather would be reading on the
other, while the grandson would sit on the floor playing with
new corn cobs. That was great, to have clean corn cobs to
play with.
From my earliest recollection grandfather held family
prayers. He would read from the Bible, and after reading
sometimes sing a song. I recall that he used to sing this

"Thus far the Lord has led me on,
Thus far His power prolongs my days,
And every evening shall make known
Some fresh memorial of His grace."

Then they would kneel in prayer. The little boy on the
floor would try to kneel, too. Grandfather had a stentorian
voice, and prayed loud enough to be heard by the neighbors.
But I grew accustomed to this, and generally went to sleep
while he was praying. Usually when we arose, grandmother
would be gently weeping, and while she dried her tears with her


apron, I wondered why she wept; always I crept in sympathy
to her side, then she would place her loving arms around me.
How I loved her
An incident about this time deeply impressed my young
mind. There dwelt in Somerset, Judge Porter, the venerable
grandfather of three lads who became Baptist ministers, J. J.
Porter, J. C. Porter (founder of Florida Baptist Witness),
and J. A. Porter. Judge Porter at this time was in the habit
of imbibing freely when he had discharged the duties of his
judgeship. He was circuit judge then. Once he returned
from holding court in a distant town and was in a state of
mild intoxication. He rode up to my grandfather's gate and
called out:
"Parson Buckner! Parson Buckner!" My grandfather went
out and the judge said, "Parson Buckner, I want to sleep in
your barn." Grandfather insisted on his getting down and
coming into the house. "No, your wife's a lady, and so is my
wife a lady. I am a hog. I want to sleep in your barn among
the stock."
"Come right around," said grandfather. He took him to
the barn, got him off the horse which he put up and fed, and
then said to the judge: "Come into that little room, Judge,
my wife need not know you are there, and I will get you a cup
of coffee." So he was smuggled into that back room and coffee
was taken to him by my grandfather. I saw it all and was
mortally afraid of him as I had been taught that a drunken
man was dangerous and irresponsible.
Grandfather held family prayers as usual, and after reading
and singing, prayed loud enough to wake the "seven sleepers."
I slept in a trundle bed, and knowing that that drunken man
was in the little room, I was afraid to go to sleep. By and by
I heard him reading a hymn (there wias a hymn book on the
candle-stand in his room). I heard him read distinctly:

"As on the cross the Saviour hung,
And wept and bled and died,
He poured salvation on a wretch
That languished at His side."


Judge Porter read that verse, and then soliloquized: "Yes,
I am meaner than that wretch." Then he began praying. My
fears subsided when he began to pray, and I fell asleep. The
next morning he had departed.
The following Sunday was grandfather's day at Somerset
and Judge Porter was at church. When opportunity was of-
fered he came forward to unite with the church and gave his
experience, as was then the custom. It developed that during
that night at my grandfather's home, he had found the Lord.
He confessed his sins before the church most humbly, and told
how the prayer of my grandfather had sent conviction to his
soul, and sent him to his knees, and how the Lord had most
graciously heard and answered him. He promised that if the
brethren would receive him he would never again be guilty of
drinking. They received him joyfully, and he became a most
exemplary member.
About 1853 my grandfather moved to Perryville, Ken-
tucky, and my own father enticed me to live with him in Cin-
cinnati. There I became dissatisfied and ran away from him
and by some means found my way back to my grandfather's
home in Perryville. Here for about five years I went to school
and lived with my grandfather.
As a child I was not studious. I thought life was made
for play. When I started to school I began to be a bad boy.
My associations were bad, and I was influenced by my associa-
tions. I do not recall that I was mean. I was restless and
mischievous and imitated larger boys. I was not at all enam-
ored of my books, though my grandparents were ambitious
that I should learn. When my teacher or my grandparents
would take time to instruct me I would learn rapidly. My
memory was marvelous, they told me. My mother, coming
home during a vacation from her school work, ascertained
concerning my memory and set me to work memorizing the
Scriptures. My first effort was to memorize the sixteenth
chapter of the Acts, which I did with all ease. Then followed
the third of Matthew, and by and by almost if not quite all
the New Testament. I could read over a chapter twice and
repeat it from memory. My teacher was W. B. Godby, who


afterwards became a great Methodist preacher. He was then
unmarried and beardless. He took pains to teach me Latin,
which it was no trouble for me to learn, if I could only be
induced to try. He drilled me in Bullion's Latin Grammar
until I knew the declensions perfectly, then followed the
Reader. He taught me to read "_Esop's Fables" and I had
not the least trouble in learning them, when I applied myself.
But I would not learn unless I was forced.
I regret to have to record that I acquired the reputation
of a bad boy. I am by no means sure I-deserved the appella-
tion. As there was only one church in town, the Presbyterian,
I attended the Sunday school of that church where "Uncle Joe
Hopper" was my teacher. I overheard Uncle Joe tell some
one "That boy will be hung before he is twenty-one years old."
I do not now recall the particular act of dereliction of which
I must have been guilty to call forth such an ominous prophecy.
Perhaps I "tagged" him, that is, I may have crooked a pin
and attached it to a piece of paper and stuck it on his coat.
That was great fun to me and all the school as well, and I was
about the only boy who would dare to do such a thing, which
I actually thought was smart. I was a live boy, and was well
up in all sorts of mischief. I do not recall that anyone ever
took the pains lovingly to show me the evil of such a course.
My grandmother was my stout defender whenever I was guilty
of any escapade. One time grandfather seized a great switch
(it was certainly immense!) and I verily thought the time of
reckoning had come. I ran to my grandmother and hid behind
her apron. She quietly faced my grandfather and said never a
word. The old gentleman looked at her a moment and then
went out and threw away that switch. That made me love her
more and fear him. It may not have been the wisest thing,
but I was eternally grateful to my angel grandmother for her
That I was always in a fight I deeply regret to record. The
larger boys were responsible for this as they would set the
smaller boys to fighting. I did not need persuasion; I was
ready at the drop of a hat, if I had to drop it myself! I would
not allow anyone to call me a "coward." I resented it in-


stantly. If a boy called me a "liar," I struck him then and
there. During these perilous times, I received a whipping
from my teacher on an average of about once a day. Some-
times I needed it and sometimes I did not. As I see it now,
I was sadly in need of training, both at school and at home.
My teacher thrashed me so severely one time that I resolved to
rnm away and go to my father in Cincinnati. I got as far as
Danville, ten miles away, and was persuaded by my Aunt
Annie, who was going to school there, to return. My father
came to see me surreptitiously and persuaded me to go back
with him. I did so, then after some months ran away from
him again and made my way back to Perryville, to the great
relief of my darling grandmother. When she saw me she said,
"Thank God, your conscience drove you back."
While I was living at Perryville, there occurred a mighty
religious awakening. The great Alexander Campbell came to
Perryville, created a profound impression and started a new
church, calling it the church of the "Reformers." I recall his
stately appearance quite distinctly. He was tall and dignified,
and was an impressive speaker. I did not understand his
preaching, but he had quite a following. After his departure,
the Methodists started a revival. That was the first great ex-
citing revival I had ever seen. People had the "jerks" and
jumped wildly about, over the benches and sideways. There
was mtich shouting and grand confusion. Hundreds, it seemed
to me, flocked to The "mourner's bench." I was among them.
There was absolutely no instruction given. The excitement
was intense. People would swoon away and be in a state of
coma for quite a time, and after awhile "come through" with a
shout and a bound, and jerk themselves into contortions. I
thought it took all that to "get religion." I wanted religion, but
I was mortally afraid of the "jerks." I did not'know at what
moment it might seize me, and then there was no telling just
what might happen. That great excitement all passed and I
failed to take any "jerks," so did not "get religion." From
that time forward, all through my life, I was subject to strong
religious impressions. If I did wrong after that, the wrong.
doing was invariably followed by a season of deep repentance.


It was while we lived at Perryville that I had the following
experience: A young preacher named Lorimer came to see
grandfather. He had been an actor in a theater and was the
most polite and cultured gentleman I had ever seen. As he
sat in the parlor with my grandfather, I was sent by grand-
mother for something and had to pass through the room where
they were sitting. At once that young preacher observed me
and called me to his side.
"Is this your son, Brother Buckner?"
"No, it is my grandson," replied grandfather.
"What is your name?"
"Adoniram Judson Holt," I replied.
"Well, that is a great name. How old are you?"
"Six years old," said L
"Well, you are a fine boy," said he, placing his hand lov-
ingly on my shock of unkempt hair. That captured me out-
right. I had never been called a "fine boy" before. I had
been called a bad boy until I thought I was one. I had been
ridiculed and abused often, but my better nature (if I had
any) had never been appealed to. I was at that moment dirty,
unkempt, freckled-faced and wholly unattractive, yet this won-
derful man had called me a "fine boy." It so surprised me
that I actually shed tears of gratitude. The young preacher
seemed to understand me and gently drew me to his 1tp and
actually hugged me, a thing I had never known to happen
to me before. I seemed to awaken to a new life in the arms
of that marvelous man. While holding me in his arms he told
my grandfather his remarkable experience, every word of
which is graven on my memory after the lapse of sixty-nine
years. I was wholly unconscious of the flight of time until
my grandmother called me from the kitchen and I hastened
to her. I at once began:
"Grandmother, is that man going to preach at our church
"Yes, why?"
"Because I want to go."
"Why, Juddie, you have no hat, the calf ate up your hat
you left out in the yard."


"Yes, but grandma, I want to go and I don't mind going
"You have no jacket, you lost that."
"I don't care, I'll go in my shirt sleeves." I was noted for
getting my own way and this time was no exception. The next
day I marched into that church barefoot, in my shirt-sleeves,
bareheaded, but with my face scrubbed, for a wonder. It
almost killed me, but I stood it just to get to go. I went right
up to the front seat and sat there the whole sermon through,
with my bare feet dangling a foot from the floor. I can see
that preacher now, how gracefully he stood behind that pulpit
and how reverently he turned the leaves of that old, time-worn
Bible. I recall vividly the very text he took and just how he
pronounced every word. His text was "Almost thou per-
suadest me to become a Christian." I recall how he rolled
the "r" in Christian. That was my preacher. The very first
preacher I had ever loved and the very first man or woman
who ever said I was a fine boy. Right there and then I hoisted
that man up as my model, and I wanted to be just like him.
The following fall he preached at our association, the first
association I had ever visited. I collected my crowd of boys
to hear my preacher. We all sat down on the ground in front
of the stand under that brush arbor to hear him. The reader
has probably decided that this man was none other than the
famous Dr. GeoC. Lorimer, who for forty years was a com-
manding figure in the Christian ministry, and was for over a
quarter of a century the popular pastor of the great Tremont
Temple Baptist Church at Boston, Mass.



I was only about six years old when my father took me
to a Fourth of July celebration at Covington, Kentucky, across
the river from Cincinnati. He had bought me a new chip
hat with an American flag in the band. While waiting
for the one who was to read the Declaration of Independence,
I was asked to make a speech. I stood unabashed before that
immense crowd and made my first public speech. It was a
recital of that famous old poem:
"You'd scarce expect one of my age
To speak in public on the stage," etc.
I was so very small and my piping voice so baby-like, that
the crowd went almost wild about me. I was quite the hero of
the occasion.
While in Cincinnati I had another vivid experience. One
morning I was started to school, but instead, ran away to see
the soldiers drilling. A drum and fife always captured me. I
was all eyes, for there was a big crowd. The big boy who
had suggested to me to go see them "muster," told me to take
hold of his coat tail so I would not get lost. By some means
I let go-for one moment and when I grasped a coat tail again,
I took hold of the wrong coat tail, without knowing it. I can
not say how long I had been following this strange man when
I discovered my mistake. I was clearly lost. I did not mind
that until I began to be hungry. I had five cents. With that
I bought a few lead pencils and proceeded to sell them at five
cents each. By that means, I made a quarter of a dollar and
bought my dinner. I slept that night on the door step of a


store. My failure to return after school had alarmed my
father, who hastened to make inquiry of the teachers. They
told him I had not been to school at all that day. The next
morning he hired a "bell ringer," who rang a large dinner bell
and marched up and down the street crying, "Lost boyl Lost
boy At the corners he would yell to the crowds: "Lost, a
six-year old boy, Judson Holt, freckled-faced, light hair, bare-
footed and bareheaded; give information No. So Milton street."
The next morning I bought more pencils and was selling
them when a gentleman asked me my name and where I lived.
He told me where my home was. I went home to get a
scolding. About that time Aunt Annie came with my grand-
father to see me and it awakened such a desire to see my grand-
mother that I ran away and went back to Perryville.
There I was at once entered into school again. They were
preparing for a "School Exhibition." My mother being at
home on a visit, put me to memorizing a speech. It was that
well-known sketch of Napoleon Bonaparte beginning: "Heras
fallen; we may now pause before that splendid prodigy that
towered amongst us like some ancient ruin." With infinite
pains mother taught me that speech and taught me all the
gestures which should be made. I was carefully trained to
deliver that speech. When I took it to Mr. Godby and told him
I knew it, he looked at me incredulously, discrediting my state-
ment. To make sure, he had me to recite it to him. I did so
without making'a break and he was so delighted that he put me
on the program at once.
"When the time for the "Exhibition" came, I marched out
on the platform and delivered that speech perfectly. It took
the audience by storm. They cheered again and again, until
I was told to repeat it, which I did even better than I spoke at
first. My reputation as a speaker was made from that moment.
After that, I figured prominently at all "exhibitions." If only
some one would drill me, I learned readily and spoke without
hesitation what I had learned. I learned, in turn, all the poems
in Goodrich's Third Reader: "We Are Seven," "Lord Ullin's
Daughter," "The Old Oaken Bucket," "The Last Rose of
Summer," "The Psalm of Life" and many other poems of


note. The memory of these has never departed from me and
I recall them yet quite distinctly.
Despite my fame as a speaker, I still had the misfortune to
be known as a bad boy. Mothers did not want their boys to
associate with me. Among my aptitudes I was a famous snake
hunter. I developed quite a talent for killing snakes. I would
frequently come home on Saturdays trailing my trophies
along, some half-a-dozen snakes which I had killed. My dear
grandmother was horrified at my bringing them into the yard
and would have me go bury them at once. I am wholly unable
to account for the charm that "going snaking" had for me. I
was not naturally cruel, but I suppose that I had inherited an
antipathy for snakes.
In the fall of 1857 or i858 I was sent for by my mother
to go to Salvisa to be at her school "exhibition." I walked all
the way from Perryville to Salvisa. My uncle, R. C. Buckner,
was pastor of the Baptist Church there. I did not know that
I was bidding a final farewell to my old home-the home of
my Grandmother Buckner. But such was the case, and I
never had another home until I became a man and bought one
for myself. My mother had me speak that "Character of
Napoleon Bonaparte" for her school, much to the delight of
the crowd in attendance. Shortly after this mother took me
and started for Texas. We traveled by stage until we reached
the only railroad in Kentucky, and then by train we went to
Louisville. There we took a steamboat and went down the
Ohio and up the Mississippi to St. Louis, from there up to
Cambridge on the Missouri. The last steamboat on which we
traveled was the "Minnehaha," and it had on it about forty
covered wagons which had on their covers "To Pike's Peak
or Bust." Perhaps two hundred people were on that boat on
their way to Pike's Peak to dig for gold. At Cambridge we
met my great-uncle, William Huff, and he took us to his home
in the country, where we spent that fall. Then we went on to
another uncle of my mother, Tom Fisher. From there we went
down to Springfield and visited a brother of my grandfather,
Elder Burrow Buckner. He was very much like grandfather,
and his wife, Aunt Tildy, was much like my grandmother.


There we spent the winter of 1858. In the spring we started
again for Texas. We went on the "Overland Stage." That
was a rough experience, for that stage was on a race with a
sailing vessel from New York to San Francisco to see which
could make the trip more quickly. They changed horses every
ten miles and ran the horses all the way. Over the Ozark
Mountains we went at a perilous speed. Day and night,
without rest or pause, we rushed on. When we arrived at Ft.
Smith, Arkansas, my mother's money gave out and she had to
write to Grandfather Buckner for more. We spent a month in
Ft. Smith, where I hired out to the ferryman him run
his ferry boat. I received the sum of five cents a day for my la-
bor. Then I sold bottles from the back yards of hotels to drug
stores, and made another five cents a day. The money from
grandfather having failed to arrive, and as mother was on ex-
pense, she appealed to the Masons to lend her money, which
they did at once, and were repaid later by my uncle, H. F.
Buckner, who was missionary to the Indians, not so far away.
Then we sought for private conveyance to Paris, Texas, and
found a man going through who generously took us along. We
crossed Red River at Colbert's Ferry in February, 1858.
There I beheld my first view of a field of cotton, which looked
like a field of snow to me. My mother's trunk had been lost by
the Overland Stage and it was never recovered. A year later,
while at Paris, Texas, I undertook to go back and hunt for it.
I was then but twelve or thirteen years of age and I walked all
the way from Paris, Texas, to Boggy Depot, Indian Terri-
tory, where the trunk had last been heard from, but my search
was in vain. On that trip I walked barefoot about two hun-
dred miles and was absent about three weeks. I waded Red
River both going and coming, as it was quite low then.
While at the home of my great-uncle, Burrow Buckner, in
Missouri, I had an experience worth relating. It was a very
cold winter and I had no shoes. My mother had knitted me
a pair of socks which I wore out of doors. One day my uncle
asked me if I wanted to go to the store with him. I replied
at once that I would be glad to go. His horse could not
"carry double" so I had to walk. The snow was six inches


deep and my feet became very cold. I would run before the
horse and jump on a log and kick off the snow and dance up
and down until my feet would become warm, and then run on
and repeat the performance. When we arrived at the store
my uncle bought me a pair of shoes. That was the first pair
of shoes I remember to have had that were not someone's
old cast-off shoes. But these were actually mine. I was as
proud as if I had suddenly become the owner of a gold-mine!
I strung those shoes over my shoulder and started home to
tell mother.
"What are you going to do?" asked my uncle.
"I'm going to show my shoes to mother."
"Why do you not put them on?"
"I was going to put them up for Sunday."
"Why, you scamp, I bought them for you to wear; sit right
down and put them on." Which I did with alacrity.
That winter I caught rabbits by running them into their
burrows and catching them in my hands. My mother made
of their fur a lining for her cloak and a pair of overshoes. On
our way through the Indian Territory we spent one night at
the home of an Indian Missionary who had just come on the
field. His name was Willis Burns and he lived at Skullyville,
I. T. Many years afterward when I had become an Indian
Missionary, I had pleasing experience with this very man.
When we arrived at Paris, Texas, we found my uncle,
R. C. Buckner, who had left Salvisa, Ky., and become pastor
of the Baptist Church in Paris. He took me to a farmer in the
county, named Armstrong, and I was hired to help him about
the farm. There I lived for that spring. After his crop was
laid by, I returned to my uncle and he hired me again to
another farmer, named Perkins, to work in the cotton field.
I wias never paid one cent for my labor at either place, although
I made a full hand in the field. That fall I was taken to La-
donia and hired to another farmer to pick cotton, which I soon
learned to do with great rapidity. After cotton picking was
over I hired myself to a Mr. Cobb and attended to his sheep
and hauled water. It was while at Ladonia that I recall the
presidential election. They voted for Bell and Breckinridge


there but Abraham incoln was elected. I recall a former
presidential election which I attended with my father in Ken-
tucky. Then James Buchanan was elected president. My
father was quite enthusiastic for Fremont and Lincoln. My
father was greatly disquieted at the result of the election in
i856. He foretold that there 'was to be a mighty struggle in
this country. He told me that our kinsman, Daniel Webster,
was the mightiest man in America at that time and he had pre-
dicted that if Buchanan were elected the struggle would be sure
to come. But at that election in Texas, when Abraham Lincoln
was elected, the struggle was brought to hand. Immediately I
heard exciting talk of war. But more of this later.
It was while I was living at the home of Mr. Cobb that an
impression was made on my mind that has never been erased.
There had been a terrific drought and the ground had become
so cracked as to become a menace to my sheep. Great crevices
large enough to swallow up a sheep were formed in the ground.
Most of the stock had to be driven to Red River, seventy-five
miles away, for water. Sulphur River was perfectly dry, and
wells were dug in its bed. All crops had been burned Up by
the drought. There was a small Baptist church in town-
Ladonia-and they appointed a day of fasting and prayer for
rain. Mr. Cobb and his family all went early to church. They
had no dinner, which was discomforting to me. They sang
and prayed all/the morning. About two in the afternoon,
Brother Cobb gave an impassioned talk and said the country
was ruined unless rain could be had. So they all knelt and
again prayed, Brother Cobb leading in a roaring voice. I was
seated halfway back towards the door, by a window. While
he was praying, I heard it thunder. I had not heard it thunder
for several months before. I raised my head and looking out
the window, saw a black cloud arising. I coupled that with
he prayer of Brother Cobb. Meanwhile, he was making so
much noise with his prayer that he had not heard it thunder.
He just prayed on. By and by a keen clap of thunder shook
the building and Brother Cobb said, "Amen! Brethren, God is
going to give us rain; let us hurry home before getting wte."
They all rushed out and I had already hitched up the horses.



The family piled into the wagon and we put the horses to their
speed towards home. The rain began falling in torrents before
we got there and we rushed into the barn for shelter. Brother
Cobb walked about shouting praise to God for sending rain.
It was convincingly clear to me then, and is now, that the rain
came as an answer to prayer.



A hired boy has not always easy sailing. Before the war
between the states, such a boy was usually made to work
among the negroes. I did not seriously object to that, as the
negroes were almost uniformly kind to me, but I did not relish
the reproach that sometimes befell me among other boys be-
cause of that fact. I found among negroes some very fine
specimens of pure and undefiled religion. I now recall a
negro whom we all called "Uncle Sam." He was the property
of a deacon of the Baptist Church at Ladonia. I worked in
the cotton fields where Uncle Sam worked and I noticed that
he always preferred to work alone. He was old and lived in
a cabin to himself. If he was hoeing cotton, he took a row off
to himself. He did his work better than the others, although
he did not work so fast. I noticed that he was fond of talking
to himself. His fellow-servants allowed him to have his own
way. One time I was passing by his cabin and I heard Uncle
Sam talking to himself, so I crept up to listen to what he
was saying. He was seated at his table, a rough affair, without
cloth or cup or plate. He had on it an "ash cake" and a tin
can of buttermilk. He was "asking a blessing." He was
devoutly thanking the Lord for his great mercies to him, a
"pore old bigger." I looked around for "the blessings" and
failed to see them. There was his cabin with a dirt floor, a
"set fast" near the wall that was only a scaffold with a tick
of straw and a blanket on it He had only a stool on which
to sit. That was all-yet there was no mistaking the fact that
he had blessings that the boy could not see. That boy crept
silently away from the cabin, deeply impressed with Uncle
Sam's religion.


Later I worked with another negro man named Uncle For-
rest. He was anxious to learn to read. He had procured an
old blue-backed spelling-book and he asked me to teach him
his letters. I did so and he learned to read out of that book.
Twelve years later he organized the first colored Baptist asso-
ciation in Texas, and was the only man in it who could read.
He asked me to come and keep their minutes for them, as he
was the only one who could write. I did so and thus became
the clerk of the first colored Baptist association organized in
Texas. The name of that negro preacher (for such he be-
came) was Forrest Hooks.
It was at Ladonia that I bought my first pair of socks. I
had shoes, but no socks. I bought them on credit, promising
to pay for them in a short while. I climbed a pecan tree one
Sunday and gathered pecans to pay for those socks. There was
no church nor Sunday school then in the place and that was
the only day I had for myself. Later I bought a pocket knife
on credit I did not pay for that with pecans gathered on
Sunday, but I paid for it in due time.
It was part of my duty to haul water, during that summer
of drought. Every well, cistern, spring, river and creek in
that country was dry. A lake about ten miles down Sulphur
River had water in it and was fenced up to keep the stock out
of it Everybody for ten miles around went to that lake for
drinking water. I had a wagon with the bed made water-
tight in which to haul water. I drove oxen to the wagon.
When I arrived about fifty wagons were ahead of me, and I had
to wait my turn, as every wagon took its turn at the trough,
which was kept running day and night. All who came for
water took turns at the windlass drawing water. I worked
about six hours at that windlass. I was allowed to water my
team, as were all others who came for water. It took me three
days to haul a wagon-load of water, which was emptied into
the cistern and jealously guarded.
I had quite an exciting time with that ox team going to
mill. The mill was at Bonham, Texas, about twenty miles
away. In going I had to cross Bois D'arc River. The oxen
smelled the water of that river while I was half a mile away


from it and struck a trot for the water. It was not so bad
so long as they remained in the road which ran along beside
the river awhile before crossing it. Those oxen did not wait
to get to the ford but rushed headlong don the steep em-
bankment into the water. Fortunately ey went down
straight, not sideways, else the wagon w ld have overturned.
I "stayed by the stuff" and clung to the ;a of wheat and so
suffered no serious mishap, but I could not do a thing with
those oxen. They rushed into the water up to their sides and
drank enormously before pausing, and then drank again.
After they were fully satisfied, I cried to them: "Get up there!
Back, Buck! Git upl" They turned down the river, which
was very low, and wle went down its bed, pulling through the
mud over the logs until we came to the crossing and went out,
then on to the mill. I thought a great deal of my splendid
oxen, for they were true and tried. They never balked and
could pull anything on wheels. I used to plow up prairie land
with them, and while they were stow, they were constant and
About this time, my mother, who had gone to Red River
County, sent me word to come and go to school to her. It was
About sixty miles away and I at once started out. I walked
the distance to seven miles below Clarksville easily.
I had the great pleasure of again attending school, the first
I had attended since leaving the home of my grandfather in
Kentucky. The first session of three months was in the
neighborhood of Mr. J. C. Carroll, with whom I boarded. I
walked, with his boys, five miles to school to my mother, who
was an excellent teacher. The next session of three months
was at the home of Judge English, seven miles east of Clarks-
ville. I boarded at the home of Rev. R. D. Potts, the father
of Dr. T. S. Potts. At the time I first went to this delightful
home, Thomas was not born. That important event took place
shortly after I became an inmate of that home. That was my
adopted home for many years, not that I lived there constantly,
but I felt free to come and go at pleasure.
It was while living at this home that I first came face to
face with death. My grandfather and grandmother Buckner


longed for their children in Texas, and as the great war be-
tween the states came on, they packed their belongings in a
two-horse wagon and migrated to Texas. Mother had gone
on a visit to Dalby Springs with the Potts family, and on our
return, I walked far ahead of the returning wagon and arrived
at the Potts home first. Mr. Potts was sitting on the porch
when I arrived and after greeting him, I turned to speak to
another gentleman sitting there and lol it was Grandfather
Buckner, into whose arms I threw myself instantly. I learned
that grandmother was in the wagon at Mr. Swan's, about
two miles up the road, and I at once started out running to
get there. Doug Potts, a boy of my size, ran with me out
of pure friendship. Panting at every step, I turned into the
road a hundred yards from the house, and my grandmother
and Aunt Annie saw me and ran out to meet me. I was
supremely happy then. We hitched up the horses and drove
to the home of Mr. Potts. There after two days grandmother
fell ill, and I was sent to Paris, Texas, to summon my uncle.
R. C. Buckner. I arrived at Paris at nightfall, and Uncle
Bob delayed starting until the next morning. We drove
through the thirty miles by three o'clock. On passing through
Clarksville we were met by Mr. Stephens, a neighbor, who
asked my uncle if he had heard the news. He then informed
us that grandmother had died the day before.
I had never in my life had such a shock. I at once burst
out in uncontrollable grief. My uncle vainly endeavored to
assuage my grief. I felt that I had lost my all. I had built
up such strong hopes of again having a home and a friend,
that to have everything dashed to the ground was more
than I could endure. No member of that family was so
deeply wounded as myself. When we arrived at the Potts
home my grandfather, mother, aunt and Uncle Bob were all
submerged in grief. No one noticed me. I sought the silent
form of my angel grandmother. I thought I would never
leave that beloved body. I wanted no bed, no supper, nothing
in this wide world but my grandmother. I had to be taken
from her bier by force.


She was buried in the old-fashioned graveyard at the Bap-
tist Church at Clarksville. I knelt on the edge of the grave
and wished that I might be buried along with my only friend.
Rev. R. D. Potts delivered the funeral discourse and the prayer
on that occasion. I vividly recall how he prayed for Uncle
Bob, mother, Aunt Annie and grandfather, but that heart-
broken boy was never mentioned in the prayer at all. I had
to be taken from the grave by force. I distinctly recall that
every night after that for a month, I dreamed of my grand-
mother as living. I have never survived the poignant grief
of that bereavement. Time has certainly softened my sorrow,
but my heart was broken by the death of my grandmother. No
one sought to comfort me. No one explained to me the
meaning of death. No one pointed out the prospective meeting
in heaven. To-day, when I think of heaven, I think of meeting
my grandmother there. I think this death has qualified me as
no other death has ever done to sympathize with those who lose
a mother.
After two sessions of school taught by my mother, her
healt' gve down and she returned to the home of Uncle Bob
at Paris. He lived with his father-in-law, Sam Long. I went
to mother and worked on Mr. Long's farm. I gathered corn
in the field with the negroes. As I had the inside row where
the corn was piled, I was frequently struck with the ears of
corn that the others threw into the piles in my row; I thought
nothing of it until I detected that Dick, a negro boy of my
size, was laughing. I watched, and presently, under my arm,
I saw him throw an ear directly at me, but I dodged it. I
then slip-shucked a big ear and threw at him my best and
knocked him down. He arose to fight and we had it round and
round. We were about equally matched in strength but by and
by I got him down and gave him a good beating until his
nose began to bleed and then they took me off. When we ar-
rived at the house, Mr. Long saw that Dick was bloody and
asked me the cause. Dick told him, "Juddie has been fighting
me." Without waiting for any explanation Mr. Long flung
at me the insulting word: "The boy that fights a negro is no
better than a negro." Unless the reader had been living in


the South before the war, he has no idea of the burning insult
which these words conveyed. I burned like fire, and would
have sprung at the old gentleman viciously, had it not been for
the thought that mother would not be pleased. I did resolve
then and there never again to eat of his bread or sleep under
his roof. Although he and I lived for many years afterwards,
and I grew to be loved and honored as a minister, I never
again slept under his roof nor partook of his bread.
I went to the house, evaded my mother, wrote a note ex-
plaining to her that I was going to leave Sam Long's house
forever, not knowing where I would go, but promising to send
money back to her. I put on my only good shirt. Then bare-
foot and coatless with only "Lupus," the family dog, following
me, I struck out for myself. I then was thirteen years of
age and from that day forward I was my own master, and
made my own way through the wide, wide world. That
night I slept on a pile of leaves by the side of the road to
Clarksville. I went to bed supperless. I shall never forget
the utter desolation I felt at that time. I felt that I had not a
friend in the world. Of course, mother and Uncle Bob would
justify Mr. Long and decide against me, so I was friendless.
Though only a dog, "Lupus" seemed to understand me and
crouching close to me, licked my face. We slept together. I
cried myself to sleep. I shall never forget the feeling of
homelessness that came upon my heart that night.
The next morning I caught up with a wagoner driving a
wagon loaded with nails on his way to Washington, Ark. I
asked him if he had any cold victuals, and he gave me some
meat and bread and a seat with him in the wagon. I religiously
divided my breakfast with Lupus. That night Lupus treed
a 'possum and we had a fine supper and breakfast. I was
fearful that I would be recognized passing through Clarksville,
so crept under the wagon cover, and so was not seen. It took
us about two weeks to make the trip to Washington.
At Washington I joined myself to an army camp of the
Confederacy. It was the fall of 1862. I served faithfully
as a wagoner that fall and the winter following and was then
promoted to driving a government ambulance. It was while


driving this ambulance, carrying some officers to Shreveport,
that the following circumstance occurred: While going through
the county we came to a house where a man and his wife
(apparently) were fighting in the yard. That is, the woman
was doing the fighting, while the man was busily engaged in
dodging her vicious blows. The officer commanded me to
stop the ambulance and, jumping out, he went to the fighting
couple and seizing the man said: "You are no man at all,
fighting a woman." The woman turned on the officer fiercely
with, "He's beter'n you any day." The interfering officer,
who was a general, retreated in good order and was roundly
jeered by his fellow officers. He replied to their raillery by
saying, "That is the last time I will interfere between a man
and his wife."
While at Washington I was placed in charge of a wagon
load of powder to haul to the arsenal at Arkadelphia. I made
the trip all right I had to take off my shoes and unload that
powder barefoot When I went to draw my rations for the
return trip the commissary officer asked me what I wanted.
I told him to issue to me all that was coming to me of every-
thing for it was winter and I was subject to delays. It was
well I did, for when I arrived at the Little Missouri River it
was bank full and the snow was falling fiercely. I found the
home of a war-widow and asked if I could stay with her until
the river was fordable. I told her I had plenty of provisions.
She gladly took me in and I turned over my provisions to her.
It was a blessing to her that I came for she was out of every-
thing except corn meal. I slept in her cotton house and it
was warm. My mules had plenty. I remained there two
weeks before the river was low enough to ford.
I neglected to say that shortly after I joined the wagon
department, Lupps, my faithful dog, got into trouble. He
stole pieces of meat from the cook, who forthwith ran him
off with a stick, so my best friend left me. When he arrived
at Mr. Long's he had a piece of my suspender still on his
neck. This was the first intimation my mother had received
of me and that was very unsatisfactory. She had not found
the note I left her.


While at Shreveport, I arranged to work as "cabin boy"
on a steamboat. I received the sum of twenty dollars a month,
Confederate money, as wages. I washed dishes, helped the
cook, scrubbed paint and waited on the steward. I was cabin
boy two months. While on that boat, "Pauline," I fell in
with a company of Confederate soldiers at Alexandria,. La.,
and was solicited by a Mr. James Slocumb to become his sub-
stitute in the army. I was then fourteen years old. He said
his wife was at home sick and he wanted to see her. He was
to give me all his wages and fifty dollars besides, and let me
have his horse until he called for it. We went to the captain
(Captain Faulkner) and he asked me if I thought I could do
a man's work in the army. I told him that I thought I could,
that I was as hardy as a pine knot. He laughed, took me at
my word and admitted me to be the substitute of James Slo-
cumb. I was nick-named "Buck." My own name was not
entered on the company roll. When James Slocumb's name
was called at dress parade, I answered "Here." Slocumb went
home and I learned that his wife died and, a little later, he
died also. So I was in for it.
My army experiences would fill a book. It is not my pur-
pose to record them here; however, some pronounced expe-
riences should be mentioned. We camped at Pineville that
winter of 1862 and did police duty for Alexandria, just across
Red River from Pineville. When spring opened, then began
the invasion of Gen. Banks from New Orleans. He made his
way up the river, accompanied by armored gunboats. Our
company was then ordered into action. We first met the
enemy's cavalry near Cheneyville. From that day forward it
was a daily skirmish, the Confederates always retreating,
though at Alexandria we held them at bay for quite awhile. It
was summer before the Yankees finally captured Alexandria.
I was on guard with Jim Small, guarding the Adjutant's office
when the city surrendered. We had been told to guard that
headquarters until relieved. The army left and we were not
relieved. When we were left alone, we concluded to ride down
to the wharf and see the approaching gunboat. We sat on our
horses and witnessed the landing of the gunboat. When the


cavalry was landing we thought it was time to be going, so
we rode down from the levee and struck out for the retreating
Confederate army which we overtook above Cotile Bayou. Our
company formed the rear guard, and we reported for duty at
once. Every day there was skirmishing and retreating. On
one occasion, a squad of us received permission to do a little
foraging on our own hook. We made a detour in the country
and coming to a country home, we asked the women if they
could give us some dinner, as we were famished. They were
glad to feed us and began preparations for an elaborate dinner.
The table was set out in the yard and just as we were about to
sit down, we saw a file of blue-coated soldiers coming up the
hill from the south. We rushed for our horses. We had taken
off our saddles to let our horses' backs cool, and hastily throw-
ing on our saddles, we began a precipitous retreat I had
seized a whole custard pie and had crowded it pell-mell into
my mouth as I ran.
We were discovered just as we were leaving, and then
began a most exciting race for life or death. They commanded
us to halt, but we were in too great a hurry to pay any atten-
tion to them. Then they began peppering us with buck and
ball. The minnie balls sang uncomfortably near my ears, but
I lay down flat on my horse and was so small they could not
hit me. On they came and on we went. We rushed down hill
and they overshot us. Arriving at the Bayou, over which there
was a bridge, we thundered like a cannonading over it. Our
retreating army was on the other side completely hidden by
clouds of dust. On came the pursuing Federals and we rushed
right into our regiment before they saw they were among
the Confederate forces. Then came their turn to retreat, which
they did instantly. We turned from being pursued to pur-
suing. Right merrily we turned the tables on them, peppering
them as we went, and doing them about as much damage as
they had done us. It was exciting and dangerous, but resulted
in no casualties. Many a time since, I have begrudged that pie
that I was famishing to enjoy. But the Yankees seemed not to
have taken time to partake of the repast which had been pre-
pared for us.



I did not go to war because I had any enmities to satisfy.
I just drifted into it But once in it, I was absolutely true to
my country as I saw it.
Without intending to reflect on the general character of the
Confederate soldier, I may be allowed to say that the army
was no training school for virtue. My comrades drank, swore
and committed all the sins of the catalogue. If I failed to do
so, it was because I was too young to engage in them. My
mother had carefully instilled in my heart a strong aversion to
intoxicating drinks and I was absolutely true to her teaching.
On one occasion when we were drawn up in battle array, our
captain, who thought with many people of that day that whis-
key was necessary to courage, managed to procure a supply for
his men. A large water bucket full of whiskey was passed
down the line and each man was given a full cup. Until the
bucket came to me, every man had taken his dram. When it
came my turn, I took the cup, dipped it full, and was about
to pass it to my lips when a thought of my mother's advice
came to me and I put it back without touching it to my lips. I
speak of this, not in my own praise, but in praise of my sainted
That retreat before Gen. Banks in Louisiana was a severe
test to man's endurance. For three days and nights I rode in
the ranks, never dismounting save for some necessity of life,
while the company moved forward. My horse ate his food
as we rode. I ate my meals from my haversack and slept rid-
ing. One night our company was placed on picket duty.
Twenty thousand soldiers were sleeping and only the picket
guards remained awake. I had to walk my beat of fifty yards


one way and fifty yards the other. At each turn I met another
picket guard and exchanged with him the countersign. I met
one at a road-crossing where there was a bridge over a small
stream. A great tree was on the bank and there I met Jim
Jackson. About two o'clock in the morning, Jim Jackson
gave down and said, "Buck, I just cannot go my beat another
single time" With that he fell at the foot of that tree and was
sound asleep in a minute. I went on, quickening my pace, so
as to walk his beat and mine as well I was inexpressibly weary
and ready to faint, but I managed to walk his beat in addition
to my own several times. At length, I paused under that tree
and watched the easy breathing of my comrade and wished
I could sleep just five minutes. I was leaning on my gun, and
I think I must have fallen asleep one moment standing there.
But I heard the footfall of a horse's hoof on that bridge and
was instantly awake. I kicked the sleeper at my feet and for-
tunately, he awakened at once. I cried to the approaching
horsemen, "Halt At the same time I cocked my old musket
and it made noise enough for half a dozen muskets. Likewise
did Jim Jackson. "Halt and surrender t" I challenged. "Throw
down your arms and surrender or we fire!" There were seven
of them. "Don't shoot," they called, "we'll surrender." "Cor-
poral of guard, Post Number i," I yelled, and instantly a
file of men rushed up and we just bagged that lot of Feds.
They said that they had no idea that our lines were so near
and were just out foraging. But we took them in. I am not
sure but that they were spying out our position. I was relieved
after that experience that night, and was warmly praised for
We turned the enemy back at Grand Ecore. The fight was
in the pine woods. We were dismounted and fought at short
range and drove them back to their gun-boats. One incident
in that fight is pleasant to my memory. We were in line of
battle and were firing as rapidly as we could load. We shot
with old army muskets, muzzle-loaders. Our cartridges were
home-made and we bit off the end and rammed the charge
home with a ramrod. We had hat caps and my tube was too
small for my hat cap. When the command to "fire" came, my


cap had fallen off, and while the line fired, I stooped down and
picked up my cap and placed it on the tube, then took deliberate
aim and fired. The captain was standing just behind me, and
I did not know it. He patted me on the back and said, "You
are a brave boy." I always did love praise and I most sincerely
appreciated the commendation of my captain.
We drove the enemy back more rapidly than they had
driven us and we again took Alexandria. Then our company
was transferred to the command of Gen. Hebar at Monroe
and we were to attempt to break the siege of Vicksburg. Our
campaign through Tensas Swamp was unusually severe. It
came near costing me my life. I contracted typhoid fever and
was taken to a hospital, where I remained until I had sufficient.
ly recovered to allow my departure. Most of the time I was
unconscious. When I left the hospital, I was so weak that I
could walk only a few steps at a time. The surgeon said to
me: "Go home, boy, you have no business in the army. You
will die if you stay here." He had told Lieut. Fluitt the same
thing, so Lieut. Fluitt (who was our first lieutenant), had dis-
charged me honorably and sent me home. I had no home,
but I was honorably discharged from the army so I struggled
to get back to Texas. At Trenton, I crossed the Ouachita
River and managed to walk about one mile and then gave up
and sank down on the ground, where I remained for an hour.
A man came along in a buggy and I hailed him. "Say, mister,
please give a fellow a lift." He halted and I struggled to my
feet and went up to him.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"To Texas."
"Where have you been?"
"I've been in the army about a year," said I.
"Are you running away?" he inquired.
"No," said I, "I am honorably discharged." Thereupon, I
produced my discharge, which he read carefully. Thirty years
later he testified to having read it.
"What are you carrying that knapsack for?" he asked.
"There is not much in it," said I, spreading it out for his in-


"What book is that?" he asked, taking up a small book.
"That is my Bible," said I; "my mother gave me that
Bible, and I have carried it ever since." That saved the day
for me.
"The boy who will carry his mother's Bible into war and
bring it back, can always ride with me." That man proved
to be a Baptist preacher, Dr. J. E. V. Covey, the president of a
college in South Texas.
I rode with him about a hundred and fifty miles, to where
he turned south in Texas and I wanted to go to Paris. He left
me at a farmer's house, and giving me five dollars in Confed-
erate money, told me to come to him after the war and he
would educate me.
For two weeks I remained at that farmer's house, sick and
unable to go on. Then a man came along with a wagon-load
of salt, on! his way to Paris, and I rode with him. I grew
better and stronger then and in a week we arrived at Paris.
I went walking back to that same house just about one year
from the tine I had left. My mother was overjoyed to see me.
not having heard from me a single time. I brought out that
Bible, and untying the string from around it, I poured into
her lap three hundred and fifty dollars, every cent of my
earnings while I had been gone. She wept at seeing it, and
asked if I hadreally earned it I assured her that I had and
she was grateful. It was then worth about two dollars in
Confederate to one in gold.
I did not remain for supper. Mother insisted that I take
ten dollars and buy some things I needed. I stayed with the
neighbors a few days, then started to Bonham to go to school.
That was the fall of 1863.
I shall tell but a few more of my war experiences. They
were not pleasant to endure, nor are they pleasant to relate. I
preserved the keen edge of my honor throughout.
Just after the fall of Vicksburg, July 4, 1863, the Con-
federate army west of the Mississippi River was very greatly
discouraged. I recall how the men talked. They concluded
that it was a hopeless struggle, since the South had been bi-
sected and the West entirely cut off from the East They


clearly saw defeat. At length the men in our company began
to talk of just quitting. I was approached by one of them, who
offered me a mule if I would go with them the following night
By some means Lieut. Fluitt got wind of their intentions and
had a few words with me.
"Buck, you are only a boy and do not know the significance
of this step," he said. "You are just now forming your char-
acter. You do not want to be known, after this is over, as a
'deserter.' That would blacken your record for all time."
That fixed my wavering determination.
I knew when forty of them left. The next morning the
bugle failed to sound the reveille. Lieut. Fluitt called, "Jim
Dunn! Jim Dunn!" Jim was our bugler. Jim did not reply
and I knew why. After waiting a bit, Lieut. Fluitt went to
Jim Dunn's tent and it was empty. Soon it became apparent
that there had been a wholesale desertion. It was a sad time
at dress parade that morning. The lieutenant spoke feelingly
of those who had gone thus and disgraced themselves. He
praised those who remained.
After my discharge in September, 1863, from Company A,
Third Louisiana Cavalry, I went back to Texas, as I have
related. I was then only fifteen and a half years old. During
the last part of the war, four months before the final sur-
render, as I was seventeen years of age, I re-enlisted under
Gen. Sam Bell Maxey. I was not in the ranks again but served
as "Courier" to Gen. Maxey, in Indian Territory, until the
final surrender. My entire experience in the ranks was with
Company A, Third Louisiana Cavalry, Harrison's regiment,
Faulkner's company. When I was finally discharged, I was
still only seventeen-not old enough to have been drafted.
In the wreck I received an old army horse, an old broken-
down army wagon and a set of harness, which the commanding
officer issued to me as he did to all the others who were finally
This is ah I shall have to say concerning my army expe-
riences. I may add that I am glad that the country was pre-
served intact and that the institution of slavery was abolished.
I am an American and enthusiastically love my country. I


gave one boy who went to Cuba in the Spanish-American
War. One son served in the Philippines in the period of con-
struction after that war. I gave one son to the Great War that
has just closed. Captain J. B. Holt served his country
well and was honorably discharged in due time and returned to
civil life. I was a member of the Four-Minute Men and de-
livered a large number of patriotic addresses, and was an ofier
helping to mIake successful the Liberty Loans.



On an old broken-down horse, I was riding along with
Lieut. Joe Hampton, my cousin, who was also returning from
the war after the surrender, when this conversation took place:
"Cousin Juddie, what are you going to do now?"
"I am going to school," I replied.
"I am going to college to make a preacher," he vowed. He
did that very thing. He graduated at William Jewell College
with honor and made a fine preacher. Unfortunately, he
passed away in the flower of his manhood.
In the fall of 1863 I went to Bonham to enter the school of
Mr. Sias. I found a war widow who needed a boy to do chores
about the place and she was glad to take the ex-Confederate
soldier boy to board him while he went to school, just for what
he could do about the house. I went that term of school, just
four months, and learned rapidly. Hearing that a country
school on Sanders' Creek, Lamar County, was doing well, I
made my way down there. I found an excellent teacher in
Wesley Baird, and a farmer, Mr. Miller, who gladly agreed to
give me board if I would work about the place nights, mornings
and Saturdays during "laying by time."
I had but one pair of pants then, and that was my old Con-
federate uniform pants. While laying by corn, as the blades
of corn were hard on my pants when I plowed, and as there was
no one about the field, I took off my pants and hung them on
the fence while I plowed. I learned rapidly in this school.
Mr. Baird was a fine mathematician and I delighted in the
High School Arithmetic which I studied. I went to this coun-
try school two sessions of three months each and paid Mr.
Baird for my schooling by clearing a piece of land, splitting
rails and fencing it for him.


Then I heard there was a young ladies' school at Boston,
Texas, which needed a boy to do work around the premises. I
rode my army horse there and proposed to the lady principal
to chop wood, make fires, take out ashes and do all the work
around the place, if she would board me and allow me to at-
tend school She was a discriminating woman and scrutinized
me closely before allowing me to come in contact with her nice
young ladies. I can not now account for the trust she put in
me. I was certainly a poor-looking specimen of manhood or
boyhood, rather. I still had my gray Confederate pants. I
also had the white wool hat which had been issued to me. That
was a wonderful hat I washed, ironed and pressed it a half
dozen times. Each time, I put on a new band, so that it really
looked respectable, to me. My shoes were rough and had also
seen service in the Confederate army. I had no undergarments,
no socks. Still, strange to say, that nice lady took me in and
gave me a cot on which to sleep in the dining room. I chopped.
all the wood and carried it up stairs and deposited it in the
boxes beside the doors of the young ladies. I also carried down
the ashes when they had taken them up and placed the ash can
beside the wood boxes. I cut and split all the stove wood and
made fires in the cook stove each morning. I was eternally
When I entered this school I was tall, awkward and greatly
embarrassed at being in company with so many nice girls. I
was just afraid of girls. They were all so nice and clean and
I was so unkempt that I was ill at ease. The first morning as
I took my place in the grammar class, the lady principal said:
"Girls, this boy is going to be the best scholar in the class, see
if he does not." She seemed to know just how to manage me.
I resolved then and there to be absolutely perfect in my lessons.
I studied hard. Every night I studied my lessons to be recited
the following day. My grandfather had given me thirteen one-
dollar Confederate bills, worth about one to four then, and all
this I spent for candles to study by. Kerosene oil had not then
been discovered. Having no candle stand, I stuck the candle
in a bottle. Having no table, I sawed a plank and fitted it in
the corner of the room to keep my books on. The good lady


principal furnished me my books. I never in my life learned
so rapidly. Before three months I was in the most advanced
classes in school I needed clothes. My ever dear grandfather
had procured some home-made jeans and had given me enough
to make me a pair of pants and a coat. But how to get them
made was the question. The lady principal told me of a widow
who needed wood chopped and said if I would chop wood
enough and get ahead with my work at school, that I might
work for the widow one Saturday if she would cut and make
my pants and coat. I went to see this woman and she was glad
enough to make the trade. I was to fell a tree in her back yard
and chop it up into stove wood and pile it up nicely. She was
to cut and make my clothes. She had no pattern for the coat
so she took an old linen duster of her husband's and cut my
coat by that. The week following, I went for my new suit.
The pants seemed to fit all right, though I did not know what a
fit was. But that coat --I had to stoop away down to find the
pockets. It fit, so the lady school-teacher said, "like a bag on
a bean pole." She laughed until her sides ached at my new
suit. There was another lady living near by who had a son in
the war. She took pity on me and cut down my fine suit until
it was a more respectable fit, so my lady school-teacher said.
I went the entire term of eight months to that schooL Then
I aspired to go to college. There was but one college that I
had heard of in all Texas, then. That was McKenzie College.
I wrote to Rev. J. W. P. McKenzie, Clarksville, Texas, and
told him of my ambition to get an education. I offered him
my army horse to board and school me one session. That horse
was all I had. To my surprise and gratification, my offer was
accepted and I entered McKenzie College the following session.
Upon standing the examination, I was admitted to the senior
class. I had made excellent progress at the last three schools
I had attended. I did no less at this college. The grand old
president endeared himself to me by numberless favors. He
seemed to take an especial pride in me. He was an ardent
Southerner and took pride in pointing me out as a Confederate
soldier boy. He provided my books and by some means fed
me and had me properly taught. He was a Methodist, and he


made me love the whole Methodist fraternity by his unfailing
kindness to me. I went through the entire session and, I sup-
pose, graduated. I was offered a school at Paris and left be-
fore commencement to take charge of that school This was
the last literary school I ever attended. It was called a "col-
lege" but was about on a par with the present high school cur-
riculum. It was the best, however, to be had in the country
at that time.
I recall that when my same old army shoes had managed to
get a hole in them, I just blacked my great toe over the hole!
My room mate, a young man named Featherstone, was younger
than I and had a mother to knit him socks. My own mother
was yet a bedridden invalid and could do nothing for me. This
boy gave me a pair of socks. Thirty years later he pleasantly
reminded me of his investment in me. He became, like my-
self, a Baptist preacher.
When I went to Paris to teach that school my uncle, R. C
Buckner, offered me a position in his store which would pay
me much better than my small school, so I dismissed my school
to enter his store. I remained with him until I was offered a
position by a Rev. A. L Hay in Shreveport, La., as a clerk in
a bookstore at better wages than I was receiving. I made my
way to Shreveport I fell in with a drover taking sheep to
market and he employed me to help him drive them. This I
did and received for my services on my arrival at Shreveport,
five dollars. This was in the early spring of x867. I had left
all my money with my mother on leaving Paris. When I ar-
rived at Shreveport, Mr. Hay had gone to New Orleans to buy
stock. His partner, Mr. Markham, was not instructed con-
cerning me, so I had no employment until Mr. Hay should
return. Not desiring to enter any permanent employment else-
where, I just waited for Mr. Hay's return. My little five dol-
lars soon melted away so I began to seek temporary employ-
ment, but found it quite difficult to secure. I was offered
eighteen dollars a month and board to run a milk wagon, but
I did not want to tie myself up for a month. I found a tem-
porary job in running a Washington press in a printing office,
but that was only run once a week. I reduced my living to


one loaf of bread and a glass of milk at each meaL Even then
my small store of money was quickly exhausted. I slept in
an old buggy in a blacksmith shop for two nights.
At length my store was reduced to just five cents. With this
I bought a loaf of bread and ate it and drank water for my meal
one day. That night I went out in the suburbs and slept on
the ground in an old abandoned fort. As I looked up into
. the starry heavens that night, I registered a vow to be honest
if I starved. I slept the sleep of the just, that night, and the
next morning went to a pond and washed my face, and combed
my hair with my pocket comb. Then I went to the bookstore
to see if Mr. Hay had returned. Mr. Markham said he had
not returned, but I was welcome to sit in the back room and
read, if I wanted to do so. I selected an interesting book and
went back there. By and by a customer came ir seeking a
third reader. Mr. Markham was not to be seen anywhere.
The man said the book was on the counter and he was in a
hurry and as the price, fifty cents, was plainly marked on it,
he would take the book and leave me the money to hand to Mr.
Markham when he returned. I took the fifty cents and gave the
man the book. Satan immediately tempted me to borrow that
fifty cents as I was hungry and had had no breakfast. I could
return it when I became regularly employed. I mentally
agreed with Satan to appropriate that fifty cents. I had no
sooner done so than I was furiously attacked by my conscience
which reproved me for yielding to the suggestion of Satan, re-
minding me of my vow the night before. I hastened to reverse
my decision and that fifty cent shinplaster burned my hands.
Mr. Markham, coming in about that time, I gave him the fifty
cents, explaining how the man would not wait until he returned
and I had sold him the third reader.
To my astonishment Mr. Markham replied: "I did this to
try you. I sent the man in to buy the book after I had placed
it on the counter. If you had kept the fifty cents, I would have
known you to be dishonest and I would not have agreed to have
you employed. I knew you were out of money for I knew that
you had worked that press for a pittance. I now employ you
myself from this day. You will board at my house and I will


give you fifty dollars a month and your board." I was com-
pletely humiliated in my mind and devoutly thankful to God
that I had not yielded to that temptation.
I never had any more trouble in Shreveport. In three
months I married Mr. Markham's daughter and had rights in
that store of my own.
That fall, 1867, the Yellow Fever visited Shreveport and
our book business had to be closed down. I thought I would
go to the country and seek a position to teach school. I went
to Hughes' Springs, Davis County, Texas, and secured a
school. My very first venture in school teaching was success-
ful. I taught one session there. My father-in-law had given my
wife a three-hundred-acre tract of land in Jackson Parish, La.
I decided that I had as well look after that and I thought I could
find a school to teach there. I then had it in my mind to study
medicine and make a doctor of myself. I had already read
quite a lot on the subject while in the book business at Shreve-
port I procured all the medical books possible and studied
every available moment We went to Jackson Parish to look
after that land. I found it was covered with mammoth pine
trees which now would be very valuable. I went to church
at old Ebenezer the first Sunday after my arrival. My father-
in-law had been pastor of the church and my wife was no
stranger there. Finding there was a vacancy in the school
across Caney Creek, I secured the contract and taught one ses-
sion there. By this time I had acquired quite a reputation as
a good school teacher and I secured a better school right at
Ebenezer Church. I traded the tract of land for land near
Ebenezer and we lived in a log house on the place. My school
was crowded from the first day. There I taught three sessions.
It was while teaching this school that I made a profession of
faith in Christ and joined the church.
My religious experiences shall be set forth in another chap-



I do not clearly recall my earliest religious impressions.
From my early childhood, I desired to be religious. My im-
pressions as to what religion really was were vague and un-
satisfactory. I have already made mention of my going fre-
quently to the "Mourner's Bench." I never recall to have
been present at a meeting when an invitation was made to
sinners that I failed to respond. Several times I went to
preachers privately and asked them to pray for me. I was by
no means a good boy and had a tough time with my many es-
capades. I recall once, when I was a hired boy out in a cotton
field picking cotton alone, that I became penitent for some mis-
doing I had committed and knelt at my cotton basket and
poured out my soul in prayer. I was interrupted in this by
my employer coming upon me and asking me to go hunt the
oxen. He was a church member, but he said never a word to
me about my soul. Another time, while carrying a dispatch
as courier in the Indian Territory, I was riding through a
lonely wood and I prayed most earnestly for forgiveness for
my sins. An Indian preacher caught up with me and told me
God heard me pray. At McKenzie College "Old Master," as
the president was lovingly called, told me I was a Christian.
But I was not satisfied.
My religious experiences came to a blessed culmination
while I was a school teacher at Ebenezer Church in the summer
or fall of x868. I attended an old-fashioned country Baptist
church meeting there. About a dozen brethren and one sister
were present. The pastor, Elder William McBride, preached
from the text, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of
God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom. 6: 23.


From the first quotation of this text, an arrow of poignant
conviction went straight to my heart. I can not explain how or
why. I do not recall the sermon. The text was my undoing.
I was on the very back seat, not a soul within forty feet of me.
Desiring to conceal my emotion, I quietly leaned on the back
of the bench in front of me and wept. At the close of the ser-
mon, that preacher "invited mourners." Every person in the
house was a church member except myself, so of course that
invitation meant me. According to my invariable custom, I
went forward, but as I was the school teacher of the commun-
ity, I was ashamed to manifest emotion. I was a moral young
man, not guilty of any dereliction that I was aware of. I
neither swore, drank nor danced; I was as virtuous as a virgin.
Yet I felt at that moment that I was the vilest sinner on earth.
I had arrived at the crisis of my whole life. I would be surely
and eternally lost unless I was relieved that very day. I re-
membered that I must not exhibit emotion, so I held my breath
while walking down the aisle and it seemed to me a long, long
way. So soon as I arrived at the front and Brother McBride
took my hand, I just collapsed and fell right down on that
floor in a heap and broke out in uncontrollable weeping. I did
not wait for the preacher to pray for me-I prayed for myself
with all possible agony. The brethren all gathered around me
and wept and prayed with me most sympathetically. After
the violence of my grief had subsided, I remembered that I
might be disturbing their business meeting, so I apologized.
I said I would retire to the graveyard and allow them to
transact their business, so I arose and passed out. That blessed
preacher followed me and let that conference take care of it-
self. I had no sudden feeling of forgiveness. The storm
of penitence gradually swept by and I felt at peace But I
was looking for a light from heaven like Paul saw. I was
expecting to feel something like an electric shock which marked
my entrance into life. I went home to mourn because I could
not mourn.
That afternoon a band of brethren called on me. I walked
out with them and Brother Noah Willis was the spokesman.
He asked me how I was. I said I was all right, meaning my


general health. I thought that was what he was asking about.
He said aside to the brethren, "I thought so." They began
asking about my religious convictions. Finally Brother Willis
said to me: "Brother Holt, did you ever have a conviction that
you ought to preach the gospel?" Before I measured my
reply, I said "Yes." Turning to the brethren he said, "About
as I expected"
I regretted that I had spoken so hastily and proceeded to
explain but no explanation was necessary. I spent the balance
of that Saturday in prayer. Sunday morning, I arose, did
my morning's work, had breakfast, then went to the woods
for prayer. After perhaps two hours of prayer, the thought
came to me that the Lord was going to do no more for me until
I did some things for him. Then the conviction took form
in my mind that I ought to unite with the church and obey the
Lord in baptism.
They were meeting at the church then, so I went to the
church house and found a dozen brethren standing outside
joking. That made me feel badly, so I returned to the woods
for prayer again and did not return until I heard them singing.
At the close of the sermon that day an invitation was extended
for persons to unite with the church and I went forward.
About ten others went up to join at the same time. There were
two benches full of us. I was at one end and the preacher
began to hear experiences at the other end. I listened closely
to the experiences of the other nine. Not one of them told my
The man next to me related a marvelous story. He claimed
to have seen the Lord and had been told by the Lord that he
must preach his gospel. I had seen no vision and had heard
no voice. I distrusted my experience and was fearful that I
had made a mistake. When Brother McBride came to me
and said, "Brother Holt, tell us of your feelings," I felt that I
had just nothing to say. I was going to be honest at any cost.
I began by saying that it had always been my most ardent
desire, from a child, to be a Christian. I had been a seeker
of religion for at least twelve years. I had gone up to be
prayed for hundreds of times. But I was not yet satisfied.


I had perfect confidence in the Lord's ability to save me, bat
if I was yet a Christian I did not absolutely know it. Brother
Noah Willis interrupted me with, "It is not a matter of knowl-
edge, Brother Holt, it is a matter of faith. Do you believe in
and love the Lord?" "Yes, I do," I said, with more of joy
than I had realized before. They unanimously voted to re-
ceive me. That was the second Sunday in September, 1868.
I was twenty years of age and did not reach my twenty-first
birthday until the following December.
The next Sunday the brethren held another conference.
They had protracted the meeting and a great many had united
with the church. That Saturday Brother Willisarose and said
these words: "Brother Moderator, I move that Brother Holt
be liberated to exercise his gifts." I arose in a mild protest
but Brother Willis said: "Sit down, Brother Holt, we know
what we are doing." I had been baptized the Sunday before,
in the afternoon, in Caney Creek. When Brother McBride
brought me up out of the water, he shouted in a stentorian
voice, "Thank God! I have baptized a preacher to-day." I
was humiliated at the announcement, but that having taken
p I was not wholly prepared for the motion of Brother
N Willis. The motion was carried, so I was started out
by Ebenezer Baptist Church to "exercise my gifts" on Septem-
ber x4, 1868.
I went to the mill that afternoon and Brother McBride was
the miller. He followed me to my horse after getting my meal
and said to me: "Brother Holt, you must preach, tomorrow."
I was amazed at this demand. I strongly protested that I could
not possibly preach; that I had never preached in my life; that
I was wholly unworthy even to try; that I just could not do it.
But he insisted that I had to do it. I left the mill trembling
and frightened. I prayed all the way home. My wife was
not a professor of religion and was not in sympathy with my
becoming a preacher. I secretly took the Bible out to the
woods to try to find something to preach about. I searched
the book through and not a text could I find. I was feverishly
anxious about it. I felt like just running off. I slept but little
that night I arose early and did my work, fed the stock, and


after breakfast took the Bile again to try to find a text Fin-
ally, I hit on this text: "He that converteth a sinner from the
error of his way has saved a soul from death and hid a multi-
tude of sins." I tried to fix up something to say. I had been
a public speaker for several years. I could memorize and de-
liver a speech; but to preach-that was different
When at last I went to church, I found the house packed.
That frightened me all the more. It seemed that everybody
in that whole country was at church that day. I was quite
popular as a school teacher and everyone had heard that I was
to deliver my first sermon that day, and they wanted to hear
what I had to say. I was cold and my hands and face were
I read my chapter. That was not so hard to do. I then
announced my hymn which was,

"Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow thee-"

I asked Brother Culpepper to "raise the tune." That being
Peculiar Metre, Brother Culpepper could not raise the tune.
So I raised it myself and sang it alone. That only increased
my embarrassment. I then led the congregation in prayer. I
had never before led in public prayer, but I made out to say
some things to the Lord. I was somewhat relieved to have
Brother Culpepper start a song:

"Did Christ o'er sinners weep,
And shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of penitential grief
Burst forth from every eye."

Then I arose and read my text. The congregation seemed
to swim before me. I was rarely, if ever, abashed before an
audience. When I knew my piece, I could say it But I did
not know my piece. I do not now recall what I did say; I
think it was but little and poorly spoken. I do recall that a
sense of my unworthiness to preach the gospel overcame me


and I broke down weeping and took my seat The pastor fol-
lowed with a feeling exhortation and the service dosed. I
wanted to get away without speaking to anyone. But the
brethren gathered around me with reassurance and one had the
boldness to say, "Brother Holt, you will never preach a better
sermon." I was both amazed and humiliated at his remark.
This was the beginningof a ministry which has lasted with-
out a break for over fifty years. Not for one moment since
have I doubted my call to the ministry. Not for one moment
have I grown tired of the work. While I often become dis-
couraged because of a paucity of results, I have not dreamed
of quitting.



For one year after my entrance into the ministry, I re-
mained in Louisiana. About one month after delivering my
first sermon, I was sent as a messenger, with other members,
to Red River Baptist Association. It was held at Mt. Carmel
Church, near Minden, La. The introductory sermon was de-
livered by my pastor, Elder William McBride, from the text:
"We are laborers together with God." The matter of deepest
concern to me at that association was that I was appointed to
preach. Of course it was a mistake; but the members of our
church were responsible for it. They were proud of their
young preacher and I wondered why. It was noised abroad
that old Ebenezer had been sitting a long while and she was
hatching now. I saw no way to avoid that appointment and
just had to fill it. One thing was in my favor. I was to
preach under the brush arbor while the business of the associa-
tion was being conducted in the house, so there were just some
old ladies out to hear me. I was not so much afraid of them.
Old ladies have always been my greatest friends. While I
was forging along with my little sermon, all at once, Dr. F.
Courtney, the "biggest" preacher in the association, came out
to hear me. That frightened me so much that I just sat down.
Twenty-five years later I told Dr. Courtney of it and he was
pleased to say that now he would be ashamed to preach in my
My first protracted meeting was held the following Octo-
ber or November at "Coontown." Two years ago I visited
the dear old Ebenezer Church and held a protracted meeting
and ascertained that Coontown was now the present County
Seat-Jonesboro. It was only a rural settlement then. I was


to assist Elder A. Bradley. He was a rough and ready speaker
-a fine exhorter. I tried to preach every day and he would
follow with an exhortation. The main thing was that exhor-
tation. My sermons did not amount to anything. I am
amazed that the brethren ever had me to preach at all. What I
did not know about preaching would fill a library, while what
I did know would not fill this page. That was the way they
did in those days. They taught a young preacher to preach by
making him preach. It was like breaking a colt; they just put
the harness on and made me pull.
Just here I would say a few words about my call to the
ministry. As I have related, my call to preach was synchron-
ous with my conversion. I do not recall when I did not feel
that I should be a preacher. I was born into a family of
preachers. I think there were fifteen preachers related to
my mother. My grandfather, his only brother, each of his
sons and two sons of my grandfather's brother were preachers.
Also in my grandmother's family were several preachers. I
was given a preacher's name. My earliest impression as to
what I should do in life was that I should be a preacher. My
grandmother constantly held before me the lives of my two
uncles, Drs. H. F. and R. C. Buckner. When I first remember
anything at all, my uncle, Dr. H. F. Buckner, was an Indian
missionary, having gone out to Indian Territory before I was
born. When my younger uncle went to Georgetown College,
as a young preacher, I looked upon him as perfection. I was
taught that to be a preacher I must be good. That was my
greatest difficulty; I was not good. I found it to be the most
gigantic attempt of my life, just to be good. Had my grand-
mother lived and had I been under her hallowed influence all
along my perilous childhood, it might have been different. My
good mother was in no way to blame. Her health was
wretched all through my childhood. She was heroically pre-
paring herself to be a teacher, just to be able to educate and
train me, but her health was never equal to the task. She was
much more strict with me than grandmother was. That might
have been best, I dare not judge. But my idea of an angel was
my grandmother. For her I would have died at any time.


I played preaching when I was a very small boy. In such
playing I had no idea of making a mock of sacred things. I
preached many a childish sermon in play. I imitated the
grown-up preachers. After I had memorized much Scrip-
ture, I had no trouble in having texts until I went up against
the "real thing," then there was not a text in the whole Bible.
My army experience switched me far from my life work.
I met only one preacher in the army. He was the chaplain
of our command. I was in a battle with him and he "showed
the white feather," so I lost confidence in him. I was not in
a church house the whole time I was a soldier. My associa-
tions were anything but religious.
I here record my belief in a divine "call to the ministry."
I believe such call is developed, made real, made manifest, made
practical through human agencies.
Hannah resolved that her son should be a preacher (a
prophet). She made this vow before he was born. That was
a part of God's call. She took him to Eli, the priest, while
he was a small boy; that was in line with God's call. He lived
in the atmosphere of religion; that was another department of
God's call At last while Samuel was yet a small boy, the call
came and hadto be interpreted before he recognized it. If
mothers and fathers would earnestly desire their sons to be
preachers; would dedicate their lives to that sacred calling
while they were very young; would throw around them every
possible influence for good, looking to the call to the ministry
as the ultimate object of life, there would be very many more
audible calls. By audible I do not intend to say that it is
necessary to really hear an audible voice caning, as Samuel
seemed to hear, but an impression just as real as was the case
with Samuel would in many cases be felt. The mistake in
my raising was that I was taken from my earlier associations
and placed under conditions at variance with my earlier asso-
ciations and impressions. The case of Timothy bears out my
position, for the faith that was in him was also in his mother
and grandmother before himn
If it appears to the reader that in thinking that I might
make a physician of myself I deviated from my aim, it must


be borne in mind that my life had become marred, was ab-
normal by reason of my early loss of home and home in-
fluences. That kept me not only out of the ministry for a
period, but also out of the Kingdom for a time. But so soon
as I finally yielded to the Holy Spirit, the overwhelming con-
viction returned that I should preach. My hesitancy to at-
tempt to preach when my church and my pastor placed on me
the duty, was only because I had an exalted idea of what a
preacher should be, and felt myself immeasurably short of
that ideal. I yet doubt that it was the wisest way to push
me out when I was so absolutely unfitted for my great calling
but I would be far from casting any reproach on the noble,
God-fearing men who urged me into this attempt That was
the only way they knew and it seems to have worked well.
I think the times of my ignorance God winked at. He over-
ruled my manifold blunders so that no harm came from them,
I trust
I had never heard of a theological seminary until I had
been preaching several years. If I did hear of it, I was not
impressed that it was for me. The very first time that I had
advice as to greater scholastic preparation was from a word
spoken to me by Dr. J. R. Graves at Minden, Louisiana, at the
Louisiana BaptistConvention in I869. I had ridden horseback
over sixty miles just to hear that great man preach. He was
the first great preacher I ever heard since I was old enough
to understand preaching. I had subscribed for The Louisiana
Baptist at the Red River Association. During the year it had
suspended publication and its subscription list had been trans-
ferred to The Baptist, edited by J. R. Graves. I may add
that from that time to the present I have taken The Baptist
and its successor, The Baptist and Refector. That makes
fifty-four years. Perhaps I am the oldest living subscriber to
this paper.
I devoured every word of that paper and was already in
love with J. R. Graves, not having seen him. When it was
published that he would be at the Louisiana Baptist Conven-
tion, I resolved to be present. I employed Jimmie Davis to
be my substitute in my school while I went to this convention.


There I heard a great sermon from a great man. For three
hours he held that vast congregation in the grasp of his match-
less eloquence. I had never heard a really great sermon before.
Its impression on me has never departed. At its close I, with
hundreds of others, pressed forward to grasp his hand. On
taking my hand in his ihe said, "Young brother, go to school;
if you have but five yfars to preach, spend half of that time
in preparation." Yet my mind was so obtuse that the signifi-
cance of that advice was not clear to me. Later and during
that same convention that great preachers' friend, James Nel-
son, sought me out and said to me that I should go to school.
I thought he meant college, as he was the agent of Mississippi
College, but I had been to college. The people with whom I
lived were ready to persuade me that I did not need to go to
school anywhere. I was the best educated man in our parish.
Five years later, in Texas, when I had advanced so far as to
know that I really needed a theological education, my deacons
and members tried to persuade me that I did not need any
theological education at all.
After preaching three prosperous sessions of school at
Ebenezer, Louisiana, I was elected to teach a school at Forks-
ville, Louisiana, and the Baptist Church at that place called me
to preach to them. I heeded the call and removed to Forksville
in the spring or summer of 1869. I taught just one session
there when I resolved to return to Texas. I made the trip from
Forksville, Louisiana, to Webberville, Texas, during the winter
of 1869, traveling in an ox wagon. I had two yoke of oxen
and a good wagon. It took me about two months to make the
trip. I passed through Shreveport and Nacogdoches. That
was my first sight of the old town of Nacogdoches, where so
much of my ministry was afterwards spent. It was then, in
the early winter of 1870, a small town of possibly 8o0 people.
It had only one church and that was Catholic, as I now re-
call. I went on and crossed the Angelina River near Alto.
I stopped over Sunday at old Palestine Church, the oldest
Baptist Church in East Texas save only old North Church
near Nacogdoches. The brethren there asked me to preach
for them and I did so, and at their request, baptized a candidate


into that church. That was my first sermon in Texas. I left
my family in Harris County, where my wife had a sister, and
went west to Webberville. I went out on the Austin branch
of the Houston and Texas Central Railroad as far as it was
built, to Giddins. There I took stage and went to the neigh-
lorhood of where Elgin is now located. There I found a
Baptist Church called Perryville. I preached for them and
they called be their pastor, to preach for them one Sun-
day a month. However, I had started to Webberville. I rode
there on horseback with a friend I had found, Dr. C. G. Brin-
son, whom I shall never forget. I found a good Baptist
Church at Webberville, and what I was especially interested in,
a good opening for a school. I met the trustees and made ar-
rangements with them to teach their school. I taught that
school for four years and did the best teaching of my life there.
The Baptist Church called me as pastor for one Sunday in the
month, so I had two Sundays filled. A short time afterwards
I was called to Bethlehem Church, near Parson's Seminary,
where Manor was later made a town on the line of the rail-
road. Some of the best work of my life was done on this field.



A country pastor on the frontier of Texas over fifty years
ago had some experiences which at this time would seem
strange. I taught school every week-day and preached every
Sunday. It was not customary to pay a preacher then, so I
taught school for a living. I made a good living, too, receiv-
ing about one hundred dollars a month for my services, which
was good wages, then. It was ten years after that before I
ever received nearly so much as a preacher. I rode horseback
to my appointments every Saturday, carrying my Bible and
my hymn book in my saddlebags. Only one hymn book was
used in the congregation and from it the preacher would an-
nounce and line out his hymn and its metre. Then he raised
the tune and led the singing. Everybody sang. It is a ques-
tion with me whether we now have so much congregational
singing as we had then. We had no choir and no instrumental
The sermons were usually from one hour to two hours in
length. Saturday meeting once a month was much in vogue.
The members generally laid aside everything and went to
church on Saturday. It was invariably a good, spiritual time.
As only the members attended, they were in a spiritual frame
of mind and had come to have a good time, and they had it.
Not infrequently there was shouting at the Saturday meeting.
When the sermon and the shouting was over, we held church
conference. The pastor was the moderator. The clerk came
forward and read the minutes of the last meeting. Business
was called for and transacted in a business-like way. Some-
times the fellowship of the church was called for. If there
had been any trouble or un-Christian conduct among the mem-


bears, then was the time to call it up. I remember most vividly
an instance.
Among the members of the Webberville Church was Aaron
Burleson, a sturdy deacqp of a famous family. He was a
brother, if I mistake not, of the famous Ed Burleson, of Mexi-
can War fame. He was also, I think, grandfather of the
former Postmaster General Brother Burleson was one of the
sternest and most rigidly correct men in the ordering of his
life I have ever known. At a regular business meeting of that
church in 1871, after the sermon by the pastor and after the
minutes had been read and adopted, the fellowship of the
church was called for. Deacon Burieson arose with all possi
ble solemnity and said, "Brother Moderator, I move you, sir,
that Ed Burleson" (that was his own son), "that Ed Burleson
be excluded from this church. He drank some of Brother
Harris' whiskey and went out on the street and had a fight
and disgraced himself." That motion was duly seconded, was
put and carried. That was the whole of it.
As another example of the austerity of Deacon Aaron Bur-
leson, this thing happened:
In 1874 the Southern Baptist Convention met at Jefferson,
Texas. I was yet the pastor of the Webberville Church. At
that time, I had never taken a public collection in the church
for missions. I read that it took $xoo for missions to constitute
one a member of this convention. I resolved to raise that $ioo,
so I asked the Webberville Church to contribute $5o of it. I
made the best plea that I knew how to make. The Italian Mis-
sion had but just then been opened and a Brother W. N. Cote
was the missionary. I asked for the fifty dollars to support
Brother Cote. I told them how hard it was to found a mission
under the shadow of the Vatican; that we must help the Lord
send the gospel to that old city. Brother Burleson arose in all
his dignity and said solemnly: "My God is a great God and
does not need the help of puny man to do his work." Away
went my hope of a collection for that day. But I was the pastor
and felt that I must say something. I replied: "My God is a
greater God than yours, Brother Burleson, for he said, 'Come
up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the


mighty'." I got in my collection and it seemed to me that
every one in the congregation came forward and deposited his
or her offering on that table. After the dismission, I was at
the table counting the money. Brother Burleson was lingering
around; when I completed the count he asked me how much I
had received. I replied that it was about forty dollars. He
gravely laid down a ten dollar gold piece and solemnly took
his departure. I then loved him as much as before I had feared
him. I have never known a truer, better man than Aaron Bur-
In the fall of 1871, I held a great protracted meeting at
Webberville. In some respects, it was the greatest meeting
ever held in that country. Hundreds of people professed con-
version and about one hundred united with our church. The
baptism was most impressive. It took place in the beautiful
Colorado River just above the ford at Webberville. The water
was clear as crystal. The beach was clean and had a gradual
slope to the water's edge and the bottom was uniform and clean.
First, I took in the water five entire households; about twenty
people were in these households. Then occurred the most beau-
tiful sight of all. Thirty young women, all dressed in pure
white, all in a row, went into the water together. I had a dea-
con at each end of this line. I also had several brethren loaded
with cloaks ready to hand to each young lady when she had
been baptized. I began at one end and baptized one after an-
other. When I had brought one up from the watery grave,
I allowed a deacon to steady her, and place around her shoul-
ders her wrap, and then I would take another, and so on until
the thirty were all baptized. When all had been baptized we
started for the bank singing, "Happy day, Happy day, When
Jesus washed my sins away." I think 86 were baptized that
day. Thirty were baptized later. The Methodists received
about thirty members out of that meeting.
That fall I held meetings at both Bethlehem and Perryville
Churches. At each of these churches we had many additions.
*I think 18 were baptized at Bethlehem and 25 at Perryville.
At the next meeting of the association I was made much of
because I had baptized more people than all other preachers


in the association put together. The First Church of Austin
had received not a dozen for baptism all the year through. I
was soon called to other churches, but I could not leave my
school and had just enough churches to take up all my preach-
ing time. I was desirious of accepting the care of the church
at Round Rock, but could not get away from Webberville.
One circumstance which happened at Perryville will
show the rough, unsettled condition of things in the country
at that time. The neighborhood was called "Hog Eye." While
I was conducting the meeting one night, I had finished my ser-
mon and had called up "mourners" and about twenty had pre-
sented themselves at the front seat. I felt called on to urge
the invitation and asked any who might not feel like coming
forward, but really wanted to be saved, to raise the hand.
Many did so and one man in particular I noticed, standing near
the door. He was in his shirt sleeves. After prayer, we had
arisen and I had started the camp meeting song, "0, Eden is
a land of rest, O, Eden is my home," when there began a
shooting affray right in front of the door. The house was
packed full of people and when I saw there was likely to be a
panic, I asked a doctor standing near the door to go to the
yard, see what was the trouble and report. He returned im-
mediately and safd: "Mr. has been shot and killed and
Mr. has been shot and wants you to come and pray
for him." I dismissed the congregation and repaired to the
scene of battle, and there lay the man cold in death who had
five minutes before asked for prayers, and there lay the man
who had slain him, with a bullet hole in his head, struggling
for life. Lanterns were throwing a weird light on these two
ghastly men and a crowd stood helplessly around. I called
them to prayer and all devoutly bowed or knelt. I prayed for
the living and left the dead in the hands of the Lord. The
dying man died even while I was praying. One might think
that this would have broken up the meeting, but not so. It
only increased the attendance and attention. It seems that
these men had that day engaged in a horse race and had fallen
out over a two-dollar bet, with this fatal consequence. Human
life at that day was held in light esteem.


Having noted the great meeting at Webberville, I am
moved to relate some other great meetings I held in my earlier
The meeting at Rehoboth Church, Fannin County, was in
some respects the greatest meeting I ever held. It took place
some years after the one at Webberville, but it will fit in here.
I was at the time the missionary of the General Association. I
was on my way from Denison, where I lived, to the meeting
of the General Association held at Pittsburg. I had an ap-
pointment at Rehoboth Church, some fifty miles from Denison
near the present site of Wolf City. In driving through, I had
overheated the horse and she had broken down while I was
yet ten miles or more from the church. I saw a man digging
a well near the road and I noticed his horse standing near. I
went up to him and asked to borrow his horse to get to that
appointment, saying I would leave my horse until the next day.
The man happened to know me and readily loaned me his
horse. I arrived in good time and preached for them that
night. They at once beset me to hold a meeting for them. I
replied that I was under promise to preach at Sulphur Bluff
on my return from the General Association. They would not
be satisfied but urged me to return and hold them a meeting.
I went home with Deacon Whatley that night IHe told me to
go on to bed and that he would get up in the morning and
carry the horse I had borrowed back and bring my horse in.
It was ten o'clock the next morning before he came and then
he was driving his horse to my buggy. I asked him where
my horse was and he said, "Your horse is dead." I was dis-
tressed at this, for that horse was my sole dependence with
which to do my missionary work. I remarked, "I do not see
what I have done that the Lord has taken away my horse."
"The Lord had nothing to do with it. You simply over-
heated your horse and drove it to death." "The Lord has
something to do with everything," I replied. "Well," said he,
"get your things and get in the buggy and go on to the Gen-
eral Association and come back and bring my horse and hold
that meeting." I saw at once that this was my only way and
I agreed to do it. I returned and began that meeting on the


following Wednesday night and continued it three weeks. We
baptized, as a result of that meeting, over one hundred persons.
Many of the most remarkable conversions I have ever wit-
nessed took place at that meeting. I will mention some of
A family of Kellys lived near the church. It consisted of
two brothers and two sisters, all grown. The parents had died
and the brothers and sisters lived at the old home. They were
nice people, but ungodly. All the dances of the community
were held at this large home. When the meeting had been
going on over a week and about forty people had been con-
verted, the suggestion was made that we undertake the Kellys
I had been invited bt Mr. Ed, a very nice man who was kind-
ness itself, to visit them. So we made an agreement to meet
at the Kelly house at 3 P.M. that day. I rode up to the gate
about half past two. Mr. Ed Kelly saw me and came out
to the gate and invited me in. Shortly after we were seated
several others rode up and Mr. Ed was the smiling host.
About twenty had gathered and I asked Mr. Ed Kelly if we
could hold a brief season of prayer. "Certainly," he re-
plied. The other members of the family had come in and
we began singing one of our revival hymns. Then I read a
few passages of scripture and we knelt in prayer. I prayed
especially for the members of that family. While I was pray-
ing, I heard some one weeping. So soon as we arose, I noticed
Miss Ellen, the youngest sister, leave the room visibly affected.
I motioned one of our young converts to follow her, which she
did. Soon I heard them praying in another room. While the
others were singing I went to that room and found those young
women on. their kaees praying, but Miss Ellen did not stop
but prayed much more. In a short While her prayers changed
to praises and she began praising the Lord. That brought the
crowd to that room and when Ellen saw her brother John
among them she started for him crying: "0, Brother John, I
have found the Lord John started to escape and had gone
but a few steps when he fell prone to the floor of the dining
room, and Ellen fell beside him praying for him. I knelt beside
them and began praying with them. Soon John arose rejoicing,


and Lla fell and began crying for mercy. Soon she was also
converted. Then the young converts seemed possessed of the
Holy Spirit A half dozen yotmg women would clasp hands
and surround a sinner, man or woman, and bring that one to
prayer and begin praying for that one, and in every such in-
stance the one thus prayed for was converted.
Fully twenty people were converted at that prayer meeting
that afternoon. The only perfectly sane, self-possessed person
on the premises was Mr. Ed Kelly. He was interested and
sincere but he did not become excited. There was shouting
out in the yard and in every room of the house. The neighbors
came running over to see what was the matter. Several of
them found the Lord out in the yard. The young converts
were the embodiment of radiant, religious enthusiasm. Their
countenances shined with light from the excellent glory.
Every unconverted one at that meeting found the Lord except
Mr. Ed. He was the storm center of activity. His sisters be-
sought him. His neighbors begged him. He replied to each
one, "I believe in it al, but I cannot feel as you do and it would
be hypocrisy to manifest a feeling I do not possess. I want
you to pray for me and I will pray for myself." After per-
haps two hours and a half of intense religious activity and ex-
citement, we prepared to go to the church. Mr. Ed came to
me and said, "I regret, Parson, that we cannot serve you sup-
per, but the girlsseem to be in no condition to think about
supper." "We have something to eat that you know not of,
Mr. Kelly," I replied. "We do not want supper, we only want
you to be as we are to-day." "I wish I could," said he. "I will
go to church and try my best to get all right tonight."
It was not a mile to the church. When we arrived at the
church yard there were hundreds of wagons and horses and
buggies there. A crowd met us and there was much shouting
when mothers would find that their children had been con-
verted at that Kelly meeting. We could scarcely get into the
house, which was packed to the door. The aisles were com-
pletely filled with chairs brought in from the wagons. I asked
the members so far as they could to give place to the un-
converted that night and they did so. I preached almost as


if I were inspired. When I called for those who wanted to
seek the Lord, we had no empty benches for them to cometo.
Fully five hundred, it seemed to me, manifested a deep desire
to be saved that night. Mr. Ed Kelly was seated on a wagon
seat right in front of me and gave the closest attention to every
word I said.
There was just no counting the number of conversions that
night. The services were so long extended that I announced
that I would extend the privileges of the church the day fol-
lowing. On calling for those who had found the Lord that
day and night to stand, hundreds arose. We were too much
crowded to give them the hand of welcome. We broke up the
meeting about midnight. It was a never-to-be-forgotten day
in the history of that church. I think 150 joined the church
.at that meeting. Many were present from churches in the
country surrounding and went to their own neighborhoods to
unite with the church. We had two different times to bap-
tize. At one, I baptized about 8o. The other time, I recall,
I baptized 52. Many had deferred baptism until certain others
could be present Perhaps fifty were just "renewed." Every
dead letter in the community was brought out.
When the time came for my departure they made up money
and bought me a far better horse than I had lost, and made
me a present of over fifty dollars besides. When Brother
Whatley harnessed up my new horse, which I had named Re-
hoboth, he said to me, "Now, I am on your side. The Lord
did have something to do with the death of that horse of
yours. If that horse had not died you would not have held
this meeting, and what would have become of these hundreds
of converts?"
We counted up seven Baptist preachers who were converted
at this meeting. The influence of this gracious outpouring
of the Holy Spirit has never departed from my own heart and
the effects of it have never been forgotten in that community.
They called on, me to come to Ladonia, theold town where I
had spent many days of my boyhood, and I went to that church
to hold a meeting.


I began this meeting one Sunday. I had a great congre-
gation the first day. Some of the Rehoboth converts were
there. The house was packed the first night. The next day,
Monday, we had only a small congregation, but it was a gra-
cious meeting. I recall this instance: At the close of the
service I asked anyone in the house who had an especial object
of prayer to tell us about it. A middle-aged woman arose and
said: "I want you to pray for my husband. I have been pray-
ing for him for twenty-five years and it seems that my heart
will break if he is not converted now." We were just about
to be dismissed, but I called the congregation to prayer for that
one man. I led the prayer and poured out my heart to God
in his behalf. After the dismission, I made my way to that
sister and found her name to be Mrs. Wills. Her husband was
a practicing physician. He had been to church the day before
and had become greatly offended at what I had said and de-
dared that he would never hear me preach again. He charged
that his wife had told me about his case and that I had preached
my whole sermon right at him, and he was not going to be
personally singled out in that style. I had never spoken to
his wife and did not know there was such a man as Dr. Wills
living on the earth. I tried to comfort her heart and promised
that I would continue to pray for him until he was converted.
That afternoon I was sent for to go to Dr. Wills' residence.
The messenger took me to the place which I had not seen be-
fore. When we came in sight I saw there was a crowd on
the porch and a tall man with a long beard was talking ex-
citedly. When I came in at the gate, he saw me and came to
me with outstretched hands, saying: "God bless you, Brother
Holt, I have found the Lord I" It was Dr. Wills. His ex-
perience was striking. He stated before the crowd that he
had left the house that morning with a lie on his lips. That
he pretended to his wife that he had a patient across Sulphur
that he had to visit when he had no such patient. He was at
that very moment struggling under conviction of sin. The
further he rode, the worse he felt. At last, away across Sul-
phur, he felt that he would die and be damned if he did not
get relief. He stopped his horse and alighted and falling on


his knees, began to pray. He had been professing infidelity.
He had lied a thousand times about believing in God. He felt
justly condemned and worthy of everlasting hell, but he cried
for mercy. He was lying flat on the ground crying for pardon,
when the reli came. He sprang to his feet The sun was
shining sweetly and God was everywhere. The very tres
clapped their hands and he shouted for joy. When he came
to himself, he found that his horse had not been hitched and
had left him, but he did not care. He had walked home, re-
joicing at every step. His horse had arrived home first and
his wife was alarmed for his safety until he put in his appear-
ance, happy as an angel of heaven. Now, he just knew that
he had never before known what life was. He was supremely
happy and his angel wife was radiant. She could scarcely
contain herself. The revival "broke oat" from that day and
the meeting swept the old town. I do not now recall the
number of converts nor of additions, but the church took on
new life. I became their pastor and I never enjoyed a more
pleasant relation than existed between myself and the Ladonia
Church for the two years I remained their pastor.
Every revival meeting in which I took part can not be re-
lated, but I will mention the on at Burton Springs. This was
in the western part of Jack Coaty, Texas. Several neighbor-
hoods had come together for a camp meeting at Burton Springs.
They had built a large brush arbor and the people came and
camped until the meeting came to a close. There was deep
interest from the opening service. Many people had been con-
verted and before a week had passed, the people from twenty
miles around had come to that meeting. No town was west
of this place It was the very frontier then. Two especial
conversions deserve mention.
One night about forty people were at the front seat on their
knees. I passed from one to another, saying a brief word to
each one. I arrived beside one man, who so soon as I began
speaking to him said: "Get right down on your knees and
pray for me for I am lost and undone forever. I left my reaper
standing in the field to come to this meeting. I feel that I shall
be lost this very night, without forgiveness." I knelt beside


that man and began praying for him. His arms were cling-
ing around my neck and he was continually saying, "Pray,
pray, I am a hard, hard case." I can see now that he was just
trusting in me, instead of the Lord. I grew agonizingly in
earnest and then I did a daring thing-I asked the Lord to
rol that man's burden on me. The Lord did it I was never
in my life so burdened as I was then. My own sins were not
so vile and heavy on my heart as were the sins of this man.
I actually resolved never to arise until that man was saved.
I prayed all night. Brethren came about me and said it was
time to close the meeting. I told them to close it if they wished,
but I was going to remain in prayer for that man. Some one
said: "Brother Holt, are you not willing for the Lord to do as
he pleases with this man?" "Yes, if the Lord pleases to save
him," I replied. All this may seem daring and even impious,
but I am relating facts and the reader may draw conclusions.
It was just as the sun was rising that that man said, "I see it
now, I see it now!" We arose and rejoiced together.
The other remarkable case at this meeting was that of
Captain Vines, a wealthy cattle owner. His wife was one of
the campers. He had sent her to the meeting with the wagon
and tent. He said he did not believe in all that bosh himself,
but was willing for his wife to go. After several days, so
he stated, he began to fed that he should go to the meeting
himself. So he came. It was twenty miles from his ranch.
He came in at night while I was preaching. He was deeply
moved, but did not go forward. That night, as he was lying
in his tent, he said that he seemed to feel that the Lord was
in the tent. He sat up, and he stated that he saw as plainly
as he ever saw the sun, a blue streak, a gash, right across
his pathway, deep as hell, so he stated. It was a blazing line
and he seemed to hear or feel that the Lord said to him,
"Once across that line and you are forever lost." He awakened
his wife and asked her to send for me to come and pray for
him. She did so, and I came and prayed for this agonizing lost
sinner until the Lord saved him.
The next day he came before the congregation and related
his marvelous experience. He contended that he saw that


gash in the earth as plainly as he ever saw the face of his
wife; that the Lord had without doubt given him warning.
He was extremely happy, but he said, "I have been a daring
infidel. I have poisoned the minds of hundreds of cowboys.
I now want to undo as far as possible what I have done."
He gave a burning exhortation to men to repent He persuaded
me to come to his ranch and said he would get every cow-
boy in his employment to hear me. I agreed and spent the
night at his ranch when the meeting had closed. He had sent
out word to all his boys and they were crowded into his
house that night. He then related again his experience to
his boys and told them that he wanted them to forgive him
for having taught them so much error. He told them to listen
to me, that he had been joyfully converted, and now he wanted
them to be as he then was and not as he once was. Several
of them professed faith. Another appointment compelled
me to go on and I never saw Mr. Vines again, nor have I
heard the results of that meeting.
Jacksboro was a frontier town when I held a meeting there.
There was not a church house of any denomination in town.
I preached in a school house that had a Masonic Lodge over-
head. The first day of the meeting, a singular conversion took
place. A man had been stricken under conviction and as I
passed out he was standing beside a stone wall weeping. I
paused by him and said, "What is it, Brother?" "0, I am
such a sinner!" said he "Let us pray about it." said I. And
right there on the side-walk we knelt and that man was saved.
The meeting grew in power until we had to go to the court
house. That was soon filled. I had been holding so many
meetings then that my voice was giving down. A large
number had professed and I had constituted a church and
baptized many. My voice failed and I brought the meeting
to a close. I was stopping at the home of Dr. Gresham and
after retiring that night, someone knocked at the door and a
note was brought for me. I arose and lighted a lamp and
read a note which was, I think, in the following words: "We
the undersigned sinners of Jacksboro, earnestly desiring the
salvation of our souls, respectfully request Rev. A. J. Holt to


preach for us at least one more sermon. We will circulate his
acceptance." Then followed what appeared to be a list of every
sinner in town. There was the county Judge, the sheriff,
the postmaster, the saloon keepers-two of them. Of course,
I accepted. I was broken down, but I trusted the Lord to
help me out. The next morning, after breakfast, a large
circular, the largest that could be printed on the one press
of that frontier town, was out announcing that I would preach
one time more in the court house. The sinners had that
meeting in charge. They got out every buggy and carriage
in town; an old stage coach was there and they rigged that up.
They scoured the country for miles around and packed that
court house to the utmost capacity. I do not recall what sort
of a sermon I delivered. I am under impression it was a poor
one, I was so utterly broken down. When I closed they came
around me asking that I should never forget to pray for them.
They handed me an envelope when I went to leave, containing
more money than the church members had given me. This
same thing occurred one other time when the men of a town
took charge of me and gave me more than the church had given
me. The memory of these things fills me now with gratitude
that the Lord had given me favor with unconverted men who
have treated me with marked respect. Many a time on the
frontier cowboys almost carried me about and would not allow
me to saddle my horse.
One instance more concerning that meeting at Jacksboro.
While I was a guest at the home of Dr. Gresham, the doctor
was called to the bedside of General Gaines, a Mexican War
veteran who lived all alone. The doctor found the general
in ahnost a dying condition and said to him: "General, you
are a very sick man. I find an abscess has formed within you
and it cannot be reached from without. It is liable at any
time to break and when it does you will die. If there is
anything you wish attended to, do it at once. I will call
another physician if you wish and we can consult, but it is
as I have stated." General Gaines accepted the verdict of the
doctor and had him to make out his will. He provided for the
maintenance of his riding horse and his dogs and made mention


of where he should be buried, which was out at the back of his
pasture in a spot he had already selected. When his horse
died it was to be buried by his side when his dogs died they
were to be buried at his feet. Dr. Gresham told him I was
holding a meeting in town and he knew I would be glad to coe
out to see him, that he himself would bring me if he desired.
General Gaines said, "No, I am going straight to hell, I know.
I have lived like a dog. I will not inslt od now that I m
dying. I am not fit to be buried among Christian people so
bury me beside my horse and dogs/m In two ho ur he was
dead and his wishes were carried out. That death with the
statements of General Gaines made a deep impression on that



This volume would be extended far beyond admissible size
if all the meetings which I have held were mentioned in their
details. So I shall now record only such instructive and
peculiar instances and incidents as may be of interest and im-
portance. Before the period of evangelists, I was making
a specialty of holding revival meetings. I am not sure that
I had any particular talent in this department of the service,
but I really enjoyed it. The financial feature did not one time
enter into consideration with me.
During the summer of 1872, I was engaged by Rev. Martin
V. Smith, the Corresponding Secretary of Union Association,
to hold meetings in destitute places within that association.
The most destitute region that I could hear of was Humble's
Ferry on the San Jacinto River. There was no church in
that section of the country; the nearest was Pleasant Grove,
about ten miles away. Parker's Mill was near and numbers
of shingle-makers were working on the river getting out
cypress shingles to ship down the river to Galveston. As I
was going into the swamp, I met a roughly dressed woman
walking the road, chewing tobacco. It seems she "spotted"
me as a preacher. She met another man soon and asked him
if the man she had met was not a preacher. He said I was,
and she responded: "Well, he has come to a God-forgotten
country now." He told me this afterwards.
Pleas Humble, after whom the town of Humble was named
many years later, lived on the bank of the river and kept
ferry and a grocery store and sold whiskey to the cypress
workers. Saturday was a great day and Saturday night was


a great night with these people. They were usually paid off
Saturday and they drank, gambled and danced all Saturday
night. I put up at Humble's. I cleared a place under a huge
magnolia tree, brought in logs for seats, erected scaffolds for
pine knots to make a light, put up a board for a book-rest
and started my meeting. The people came. Never before
had there been such a thing there and they wanted to see
what it was like. I did my own preaching, praying and sing-
ing. I did get some men to sit near the two scaffolds and feed
my pine torches. From the start there was interest. Poor
people are always easier to reach with the gospel than the
rich, and really bad people are frequently easier to reach than
the far more respectable. About the third night of the meet-
ing, while giving an invitation to penitents, I was surprised
to have Pleas Humble himself come rushing out of the brush
and grasp my hand and wring it and rush back. He had
been, and yet was, a bold, bad man. It was said that he had
killed his man-that he was a renegade from Louisiana on that
account. But the gospel is the power of God unto salvation,
to everyone that believeth, so Pleas Humble was hopefully
converted. Of this he gave the most convincing proof. He
rolled out the whiskey barrels from his grocery and poured
out the vile stuff. He then scoured and scrubbed out his
grocery store, turned a whiskey barrel upside down for a book-
rest, placed seats there and had me hold my meeting in there.
Dr. Parker, an infidel physician who owned a mill three miles
away, came driving up the next day, and as I stood in the
door of my newly improvised church house said: "Well, Par-
son, I hear you are beating the devil here." "Yes, that is what
I am trying to do," I replied. "Well, the man that can convert
Pleas Humble and make him pour out his liquor, he beats the
devil sure." Dr. Parker gave me the most respectful hearing
and invited me to dine with him, which I did. At his house he
exhibited hundreds of books, most of them infidel books, so
he informed me. Pointing to them he said: "Parson. you
cannot answer a single argument of these great writers."
"Perhaps I cannot I shall not even try. I am too busy
preaching the gospel to these poor, lost sinners to fool away my


time reading the writings of those smart men, and I cannot,
of course, answer an argument I know not of." That was all
he or I had to say about those infidel books. Later in this
chapter I shall tell of the conversion of Dr. Parker.
There was no church near where this meeting was held,
so there were no baptisms, but there were numerous pro-
fessions of faith.
The nearest church to Humble's Ferry was Pleasant Grove.
That was in a saw-mill community. The news of my great
meeting at Humble's Ferry spread, and they wanted me to
hold a meei at this church. I did so. It was midsummer
and I was about worked down when I went. Much interest
developed. The most prominent people in the community
became interested in the meeting, but I found it hard to reach
them. I betook myself much to prayer. I had seven special
objects of prayer, all of them prominent people, whom I was
deeply anxious to see brought into the kingdom. There was
a justice of the peace of the community, then Dr. Parker fol-
lowed me up to Pleasant Grove and manifested abiding interest.
Two prominent saw-mill men of large affairs were deeply
interested. A young woman school teacher was tearfully peni-
tent but still stubborn. There was a young lady, the daughter
of the wealthiest woman in the country, who had been away
to school and who, her mother feared, had been led off into
giddy frivolity. Her mother had anxiously requested prayer
for her. The night before the special event which I am about
to relate, this young woman had come forward for prayers. I
had secured a promise from her that she would pray the
Lord to make her deeply in earnest and I had promised to pray
for her.
The next day I found my voice given out. I was not able
to talk above a whisper. The old pastor, Brother Van Houten,
had to preach. It was a dry, cold sermon. All seven special
objects of my prayers were present, too. I was almost in
despair. I prayed for Brother Van Houten to quit. When
he called us to prayer I prayed earnestly, first for voice, voice
to warn these people. I was in an agony of desire. I again did
a daring thing; I prayed the Lord to kill me if he would, only


save those seven people that day. When we arose from prayer,
I stood up and my voice was as clear as a bel I poured out
an appeal greater than any I had made during all that meet-
While I was thus appealing to the people to flee from the
wrath to come, I began to notice a feeling creeping up my
limbs that I did not understand. My lower limbs were be-
coming benumbed. When this benumbing sensation reached
my body, I suddenly seemed to realize that I was actually
dying. I had only strength sufficient to ask the brethren to
lay me out on a bench, telling them that I was dying. They
hastened to do so and I just passed out of consciousness. I
was absolutely free from pain. I seemed to realize that my
hour had come, and so realizing, I felt to rejoice. I was to
meet my Lord in the midst of a gracious revival nueting. I
just ceased to breathe. When I became unconscious I had
as my last thought that I was going directly into the presence
of my Lord and was rapturously happy at the realization
Dr. Parker, as I was afterwards informed, rushed to my assis-
tance. He was noted far and wide as a skilful physician. He
began to try to resuscitate me. He told the people that he did
not think I was dying, but he was not able to say just what was
the matter. I was not beating. He failed to detect any heart
action. But I was limp and the pupils of my eyes devoted
that life was yet in me. So they rubbed and fanned me and
did all they could to bring me to life. They told me that I
remained entirely lifeless for half an hour. By and by, my
consciousness gradually returned. I was first puzzled to know
where I was; then I wondered why I was not breathing; then
I concluded to attempt to get my breath. When I drew my
first breath I heard people all around me crying out: "He
breathed He breather' That made me want to open my
eyes, but I was too weak to attempt it. Meanwhile, I felt
that I was being briskly rubbed. By and by I took another
breath and gradually opened my eyes.
I saw Dr. Parker bending over and weakly said to him:
There is a glorious reality in the religion of Jesus Christ."
"Bless the Lord I" he cried, "I no longer doubt it. I believe


in it and in him now." That was one of my seven objects of
prayer converted. I looked up, and standing in the pulpit
was the young lady for whom I had prayed. Her face was
radiant and she was weeping tears of joy. I said to her, "I
prayed for you last night as I promised." "Thank the Lord,
your prayers were answered. I am supremely happy right
now." That was another of the seven. Judge Higgins was
standing near me wiping his eyes and I said to him: "Judge, I
wish you were as happy as I am." He replied with joy, "I
am." The young teacher and the two mill men were likewise
converted during that period of coma. So all the seven for
whom I would have died, and for whom I seemingly did die,
were joyously converted.
For a long time I greatly hesitated to tell of this expe-
rience. I have even hesitantly written it for publication. But
it is a blessed truth and I honor the Lord who granted me such
a signal demonstration of his grace, to make mention of it.
I baptized each of these persons at the close of the meeting.
Dr. Parker became a most pronounced and enthusiastic Chris-
tian. It may also be of interest to the reader to know that in
after years that young lady became my wife and abides with
me still, full fifty years since her conversion. Neither of us
has ever doubted her great change on that glorious day. She
has been my wife now for forty-seven years and our children
and grandchildren attest to her genuine worth.
Other meetings of great power have been granted me,
all of which I cannot mention. The meeting at Weatherford,
in which Gen. A. T. Hawthorne was converted and baptized,
was greatly enjoyed by the entire church and community.
A revival meeting with the Baptist Church at Atoka, under
the pastoral care of the venerable Dr. J. S. Murrow, produced
among other conversions that of a Catholic priest called
Father Albert, which was quite remarkable. This priest was
the officiating clergyman of the local Catholic Church at
Atoka. His profession of faith was clear and satisfactory to
all who heard it. He was called to ordination by the church
and the following presbytery assembled: Dr. J. S. Murrow,
Dr. O. C. Pope, Rev. R. J. Hogue (missionary), Rev. Willis


Burns (missionary), Rev. A. J. Holt (missionary). After
a searching examination, he was set apart to the full work of
the gospel ministry. He prepared at once to go out to en-
deavor to enlighten those with whom he had so long been
associated. Suddenly, and without warning, he disappeared
as completely as if the earth had opened and swallowed
him up. It was strongly suspected that the Catholics made
away with him, although it was not proven. Many of his
members at Atoka had also professed conversion and all
services were abandoned, for the time at least, in that Catholic
church. As the lock on the front folding doors was broken,
I helped Father Albert nail up the door. Among the converts
at that meeting was a Brother McBride, who afterwards mar-
ried Miss Cogee Murrow, the only daughter of Dr. Murrow,
who has since made such an excellent worker in the kingdom
of oar Lord.
More than with any other people on earth have I had to
do with the people of the old town of Nacogdoches. I first
passed through this town in 187o. There was then but one
church, the Catholic, and an Episcopal Mission. Each had only
monthly appointments and no resident minister. Some ten
years later, I visited the town as the Secretary of Missions
of the General Association. There was still no church there,
save the two congregations above mentioned. There was not
a house in town I could preach in, except a small school house.
I found a Sister Brown, a Methodist woman, whose husband
was a saloon-keeper. She invited me to stop at her house and
said she would help me all she could in a meeting in that school-
house. During that meeting the first conversion which had
ever taken place in the town occurred. The outcome of that
meeting was the organization of a Baptist church there. Our
board secured a Brother L. R. Scruggs as the missionary
pastor. A year later, he asked me to come and assist in the
dedication of a new church house, a small aftfir located where
the present church stands on North Street. Later I held
for them several other protracted meetings.
The meeting which I will now describe was held in 189o.
The lamented Wm. Gaddy was then the missionary pastor.


There was a membership then of forty people. Infidelity was
strong in the town. A large Liberal League was holding
meetings every Sunday. The brainiest men of the town were
members of this organization. The county judge, the county
clerk, every lawyer and every physician in town were members
of the Liberal League. I foresaw that I would have a siege
to attack this Gibraltar of free thought, so I made careful
and prayerful preparation. A fine young man named June
Harris was one of the foremost members of this league. He
professed openly a disbelief in the immortality of the soul. So
I made careful preparation to deliver a sermon on this im-
portant subject. In making my preparation I found that I
should have to prove the immortality of the soul by the Scrip-
tures. But these people did not believe in the inspiration of
the Scriptures. So I laid aside my sermon on immortality and
proceeded to get up one on the inspiration of the Holy Scrip-
tures. But I had to prove the inspiration of the Scriptures by
Jesus Christ. They did not believe in the divinity of Jesus
Christ, so I laid aside my sermon on inspiration of the Holy
Scriptures and proceeded to get up one on the divinity of
Jesus Christ. I found that each of these three subjects were
so interwoven and inter-related that they stood or fell together.
I was prayerfully, intelligently and studiously intent on making
these three sermons absolutely unanswerable.
The first one I delivered was on the inspiration of the
Scriptures. I laid broad and deep the foundation of my entire
program of that meeting on the fact which I was to prove,
that the Scriptures were divinely inspired. I had gotten out a
circular and had it delivered in every house in town. They all
came. They all gave me most respectful attention. The next
day I delivered a sermon on the divinity of Jesus Christ. It
was just the very best I could arrange or deliver. The interest
increased. Each night I delivered an "evangelical sermon"
appealing to sinners. At length I delivered the discourse
which was the climax of my serial, on the immortality of the
soul. The house was packed. There was no mistaking the
impression made by that discourse.


That night June Harris went to his home and sat a long
while in silence, thinking. His wife tried to persuade him to
go to bed, but he kindly refused. At last he said to her, "Mag-
gie, our baby is not dead, but sleepeth. I am bound to believe
in the immortality of the soul Get up andlet us go to the
cemetery." Their babe, but a few months dead, was buried
there. It was then past midnight and misting rain. But that
good wife got up, dressed and put on her raincoat and together
they went to the cemetery where, kneeling beside their baby's
grave, June Harris gave his heart to God. He was transported
with joy and told his wife he was going to wake me up and
tell me, but she persuaded him to wait until morning. Early
the next morning, while I was at breakfast, Brother Jesse
Summers came rushing in, saying, "June Harris is converted."
Almost immediately June himself rushed in with beaming coun-
tenance and announced his surrender to the Lord. The news
flew over town rapidly. In fact, June Harris took the streets
and told it himself to everyone. That was the breaking oat
of the greatest meeting ever held in that old town, before or
since. Every barrier was swept away and strong men fell be-
fore the power of God. I recall vividly how June Harris told
his experience. He arose and faced the congregation and
said: "I know you are all surprised to see me here, but I am
as much surprised as any of you." He then proceeded to re-
late the dealings of the Lord with him that resulted in his sur-
render to Jesus Christ. Many of the most prominent men
of the town came in at this meeting. The influence of this
meeting was not confined to those of the Baptist faith. It
permeated the entire citizenship of the town. As a result a
strong Methodist church was formed and a good Presbyterian
church was organized. The meeting continued to be con-
ducted by others after I had departed and for six months
there was almost one continual revival there.
I must not bring this record of revival meetings to a close
without mentioning a meeting I held at Bonham. It seems
that there had been a Baptist church at Bonham before the
Civil War, but it had gone down and had ceased to meet or
exist I was at this time serving the General Association as


general missionary. The board sent me to Bonham with the
instruction to hold a meeting at that place and not to close
the meeting until the cause at Bonham had been established
beyond a peradventure. I did not know a soul at Bonham.
I had gone to school there during the war, but had not kept
an acquaintance with the place. So I drove up to the court-
house yard fence, hitched my horse and proceeded to try to
find out the situation. I asked the first man I saw if he knew
of any Baptists in town. He eyed me rather suspiciously and
said there were no Baptists there. I went to another man
who appeared to be an old citizen and asked if he knew of any
Baptists in town. He reflected a moment and then said to me:
"Do you see that drug store over there on the corner? Well,
go up that stairway beside that drug store and you will see
a sign on a door. That is the office of Dr. Kelly. He is a
Baptist, I think, and so far as I know, the only one in town."
I went as directed and knocked on the door. On being asked
to come in, I saw an elderly gentleman and said: "Is this Dr.
Kelly?" He replied that he was the man. I then introduced
myself. "I am A. J. Holt," I said. "I am glad to see you,
Brother Holt; I have heard of you and I am glad you called
to see me." "The Board of the General Association has sent
me to hold a meeting in Bonham," said I. "There is no place
to hold it," said Dr. Kelly. "Have you not an old church
house here?" I asked. "Yes, there is a chicken coop here,
but it has long been given over to owls and bats." "Show it to
me," said I. We went to see the old church house which had
not been used in a long time and hogs and cattle were bedding
in it. Twenty-seven window lights were broken out, the old
stoves had been dismantled and were piled up, pipeless, in a
corner. The old chandeliers without lamps were swinging
aloft. The floor was covered with filth and mud. It was a
forlorn looking prospect. I drew a bow at a venture: "Brother
Kelly, I have a proposition to make you. Go out this morning
and get a glazier to put in these twenty-seven lights; get a
hardware man to bring in stove pipes and set up these stoves;
hire half a dozen men to dame with hoes and scrub brushes and
clean out and scrub this floor; have two loads of wood hauled


and chopped; hire a sexton for a month to ring the bell and
light up every night and keep fires going through the meeting
-and the Lord and I will do the rest. I will hold a month's
meeting here and things will come to life." "Why, Brother
Holt, that would cost me $250." "Certainly. I did not expect
it to cost less. But is not the cause of Christ in Bonham worth
$25o?" His face lighted up and at once he said, "I'll do it.
I'll do more. I'll take you to my house and keep you during
the meeting." We both went to work. Before two hours had
passed a force of men was busily engaged with hoes and bar-
rels of water cleaning out the house; carpenters were repairing
the old seats; glaziers were putting in lights; everything was
going on merrily. I did not stay to see things done; I left that
with Dr. Kelly. I went out and wrote a circular announcing
that a protracted meeting would begin in the old Baptist
Church that night, to continue a month; that the old church
had been renovated thoroughly, made perfectly comfortable,
and would be well heated and lighted, and everybody was in-
vited to come. I hired two boys to go all over the residential
part of town with these circulars after I had them printed. I
had a time getting them printed at once. Other jobs were
ahead of me, they said, but I offered double price and got it
done instantly. I went all over the business part of town with
the circulars, myself. I introduced myself to every merchant
and gave each a personal invitation to attend. I found there
was one other Baptist in town, a Brother Jack Russell, who
was a merchant But Brother Jack would not listen to me
at all That night we had just six people at church, but I
began anyhow. I almost swore in those six. I made them
boosters of that meeting. The next morning at service we
had nine persons present. That was fifty per cent gain and
I resolved to keep it up. That night we had about twenty; the
next day about thirty, still gaining. That night we had some-
thing over fifty and after that I ceased to count. The congre-
gations grew from that day forward and by Sunday (the
meeting started on Monday) we had a house full of people.
We then had to go out and hire a hundred chairs from a furni-
ture mn. We filled them the first night. I had the crowds


and no mistake. The Disciples had that town, as their college
was there and their state paper was published there. The
editor was a well-known debater. When we had gotten the
crowds, this editor, a Mr. Burnett, came out to hear me.
He was slightly deaf and used a dentophone. He would sit on
the front seat and turn that fan-like dentophone at me. When
he heard something he wanted to answer, he would with evi-
dent satisfaction, hurry to record it and again turn on me
that dentophone.
Well, he wrote up that meeting in the next issue of his
paper. He garbled what I had said and offered me space for
reply. Dr. Kelly was greatly excited and wanted me to reply.
Had I done so my meeting would have degenerated into a
religio--or irreligious-squabble, so I refused to reply.
But the people thought I would reply in my sermons, so they
came out and packed the house in anticipation. I wholly
ignored the man and his paper and preached the gospel of
Christ right on. He then sent me a challenge to debate some
points that I had stated in my sermons. I put his note in the
stove and made no reply. His messenger asked me what word
I had to send him. I said I had no reply at all, that I was
doing a great work and could not come down. The next thing
he did was to seek an introduction to me. He approached
Dr. Kelly and asked him to introduce us. Dr. Kelly came to
me and asked permission to introduce Brother Burnett. I de-
clined to be introduced. That may appear boorish and dis-
courteous; but that man had misrepresented me, had published
things I had never said and had sought by every means he
knew to block my meeting, so I resolved to have absolutely
nothing to do with him. This got rid of him at last. His
people had made it seem ridiculous for anyone to ask for the
prayers of God's people and it was hard to induce sinners
to take a step in that direction. I had been preaching for three
weeks and not a move had been made. Our house was crowded
at every service, but no proposition had been heeded.
It was the night of the first day of January that things
broke loose. There had been Christmas entertainments, dances,
parties and a big snow covered the whole earth, but our meet-


ing moved right along, the crowds never diminishing. That
New Year's night I preached on "Repentance." I was agoniz-
ingly in earnest. Something moved me to stop right in the
middle of my sermon and to point my finger in a big man's
face and cry with passion: "Repent, Repentl Repent!" He
sprang to his feet and cried, "For God's sake, pray for me."
I cried out to the congregation, "Thank God, one sinner has
called for prayers. Let us pray."
I prayed as not many times in life I had prayed. That man
arose and walking over the benches cried, "Thank God, I have
found him He was most joyously converted. That "broke
the ice." The next night twenty were forward for prayer
and the meeting from that hour was a glorious success. The
following Saturday morning we reorganized the church and
had many additions. I continued the meeting another week
and circulated a subscription list for a new church house. Jack
Russel had gotten awake and he and his brother, Bill Russell,
subscribed $I,ooo. Dr. Kelly subscribed $5oo. Before the
meeting was over we had a new church house in sight I
recommended them to call Brother T. S. Potts, and they did so.
He built the new church and was their loving and beloved
pastor for many years. From that day to this, the First
Baptist Church of Bonham has been one of the foremost
churches of Texas.
This chapter must come to a close and this subject give
place to other important matters. I have failed to keep a record
of the number of persons converted at my meetings. They run
far into the thousands.



The Southern Baptist Convention which met in Jefferson,
Texas, in May, 1874, was to me a great meeting. I have
already related how I raised the $ioo to carry to that con-
vention. It was a long, long trip in those days. Webberville
is in Southwest Texas; Jefferson is in extreme Northeast
Texas. They were about 50o miles apart. The trains made
poor time and no dependable connections. A trip now from
Florida to New York would not be so serious.
Once there, I was all eyes. Every minute I saw men
whom I had been hearing about all my life. I scarcely dared
to press my way into the crowds that flocked around the sec-
retary's table in the basement of the church, to be assigned
to a home. There was free entertainment in those days. It
seemed to me that 5oo people were crowding about one man.
That man was J. T. S. Park, whom I afterwards learned
to love devotedly. He was writing out cards of entertainment.
One man edged his way to the table and modestly pronounced
his name, "Sylvanus Landrum"; he was handed a card directly
and he passed out. Another immediately said, "J. H. De
Votie," and was handed his card. "S. H. Ford," said a small
man of whom I had heard from my infancy. I had expected
to see a tall, dignified man. Dr. Ford was given his card and
he quietly gave place to another. "D. B. Ray." I had to look
again to see the man who was creating such a stir on "Baptist
Succession." "D. B. Ray is all right," said Brother Park,
and gave him his card. Then a pompous man crowded for-
ward. "John Smith and Lady." I have called his name
John Smith because that was not his name. I hesitate to
call the name of a Baptist preacher who behaved so selfishly


and seemed to consider himself the biggest man at the con.
vention. So John Smith and lady were provided for, but at
different houses. At that John Smith raised a protest. He
was told quietly that they were so crowded that the sisters
had to be entertained together, and no man and his wife could
be accommodated together. That was particularly hard on
Brother John Smith, inasmuch as he had just taken unto him-
self a new wife. She was about the third one, I afterwards
learned. I waited until all had been provided for before
asking to be assigned a home. I pronounced my name, "A. J.
Holt." I had sent in my name according to requirements. "We
have assigned you for entertainment with your uncle, H. F.
Buckner," said Brother Park. I was greatly pleased to have
it so. I found that at the same house was to be entertained
the band of Indians which Dr. Buckner had brought with him.
After greeting him and really hugging him, he was pleased
to say, "Juddie, you great ox! who would have thought that
you would make such a large man ?" He was slender. I had
not seen him since the war.
Dr. Buckner introduced me at once to John Jumper. I
was astonished to see him there in civilized garb. He was
dressed in a faultless suit of broadcloth. I had known him as
CoL John Jumper, the commander of the Seminole regiment
during the war. He could not speak English. I told my
uncle that I had known him during the war. That was in-
terpreted to him and explanations followed. I had delivered
to him a dispatch from Gen. Sam Bell Maxey and had been his
guide to the general's headquarters. This was also interpreted
to him and at once his face brightened up with instant recogni-
tion. Neither of us was a preacher then; now both were
This band of about six Indians was frequently referred
to at the Convention as the trophy of the work of the Domestic
and Indian Mission Board, as the "Home Board was then
called. When Dr. Buckner was asked to speak in the Conven-
tion he introduced Colonel Jumper. That old chieftain stood
forward and Dr. Buckner, pointing to him, cried with passion
and with pride, "God never gave to Daniel Webster a greater


brain than he gave John Jumper I" Jumper was then the chief
of the Seminoles and had been ever since they had been re-
moved from Florida, and for years before their removal. He
was born in the Florida Everglades and was captured, together
with Osceola and other chiefs who had been induced to come
-in for a parley under a flag of truce. This flag was ruthlessly
and shamefully disregarded and the chiefs were seized arid
imprisoned, as the pages of history disclose. I will reserve
other details of this truly great man for my chapter on mis-
sionary work among the Seminoles.
The corresponding secretary of the Domestic and Indian
Mission Board was at that time Dr. M. T. Sumner. The board
was located at Marion, Alabama, and had about eight mis-
sionaries under appointment, sustaining them with great dif-
ficulty. Some dissatisfaction was made manifest at the small
number of missionaries. Dr. Sumner responded that it was
a mark of good housekeeping to provide a fairly good meal
when there was nothing in the larder or in the smoke-house.
The receipts were in the neighborhood of $12,ooo that year.
The Foreign Board was represented by Dr. Tupper, the cor-
responding secretary. I think they had gathered the enormous
sum of $37,000 for foreign missions that year. The foreign
mission fields were then China and Africa. Brazil, Mexico,
Japan and other foreign fields had not been opened. Italy had
been opened and one missionary had been appointed that year.
The Home Mission Society had sent one missionary to Mexico.
But this Convention had no missionary in any other foreign
field. Behold what the Lord has wrought, for now almost
every foreign nation has been supplied, in a measure, and our
contributions are over two million and a half dollars annually
Dr. James P. Boyce was the Convention president that year.
He was the picture of healthy and vigorous manhood. That
was forty-eight years ago, and I have been present at every
convention since, save four, when I was a missionary among
the Indians.
The most interesting event of this Convention, to me, was
the Theological Seminary collection. Dr. John A. Broadus
was announced to take that collection and to speak at a speci-


fied hour. The fame of this already great man had preceded
him. He was then not yet at the meridian of his usefulness,
but was known as a great scholar, teacher and orator. When
the time came for him to speak the house was packed to its
utmost capacity. I had gone early to secure a seat, but no
seat could be had, so I sat on the pulpit steps. After some pre-
liminaries, and while the congregation was awaiting the ap-
pearance of Dr. Broadus, a small, insignificant looking man
managed to secure the floor much to the evident disappoint-
ment of everyone. I wondered why Dr. Boyce did not call
him down. He looked frightened and abashed, and I did not
blame him, for he had pushed himself forward when the crowd
had come to hear Dr. Broadus. This fellow was dressed in a
common suit of what appeared to be jeans clothes. He did not
speak loud and I fail to recall just what he said in the begin-
ning. I was so disappointed, and heartily wished him to take
his seat. Presently my attention was called to the surprisingly
good English he was using. I was a school teacher and knw
good language when I heard it. I was the more surprised
because from the appearance of this man, he was an ignorant
boob. But he did use good language, and no mistake. After
awhile I began to grow interested in what he was saying. His
inflection was faultless, his rhetoric admirable. Then he just
caught me and flew off with me. He soared and took me with
him. I forgot where I was; forgot that I had come to hear
Dr. Broadus. How long he kept on this flight I can not say.
When we lighted, I mopped my face with my handkerchief
and said to a man sitting on the steps with me, "Who was
that man?" The man looked on me with surprise and, I
thought, contempt, and remarked, "Why, Dr. Broadus, of
course." I was surprised and yet satisfied. No man could
have surpassed what I had heard. The collection that day was
all Dr. Broadus asked for. I gave my note for $ioo. I had
scarcely enough money to carry me home, but I could not
refrain from giving after that speech.
That trip to the Southern Baptist Convention got me into
trouble. I resolved to try to go to that Seminary. The next
session, opening the following October, I matriculated at
Greenville, S. C., the first student, but one, from Texas.



When I returned home and announced my intention of at-
tending the Seminary, the announcement was received with
surprise, and, on the part of some, with indignation. I had
a deacon in the Bethlehem Church at Manor named David
Eppright. He had installed himself as my especial guardian.
I needed one, no doubt He had a way of coming to my house
and nosing around the kitchen to see what we needed, then
he would quietly supply the need. When he heard of my
seminary ambitions he rebuked me sharply. He said, "You
ain't no business going to any seminary. You've got the best
education now of any man in the country. You go off and
get better educated and it will give you the big head. I ain't
going to help you one bit" I had not intimated that I wanted
any one to help me. But I patiently told Brother Eppright
that I was a young man and that I did not know how to
preach as I ought He replied with warmth, "You preach jest
to suit us now. If you go and git better educated, you will
leave us; I don't want you to go." "It is very kind of you,
Brother Eppright, to say nice things of my preaching, but I
can not preach up to what I heard at the Convention." "Yes,
that Convention has spiled you," he replied, with disappoint-
I shall not tell of my trials to get off. I will say something
of this later. I will say, however, that my young wife had died,
and that my mother had consented to take care of the two
children. I left the money in the bank to support them while
I was gone and took along enough to carry me through the


I was assigned a room in the boarding hall and my room-
mate was T. P. Bell. He was a much younger man than myself
and was just from college. He was very bright and had a well-
trained mind. He had every advantage of me in these re-
spects I made the mistake of taking on a larger ticket than
prudence would have dictated. I thought that I could take
as many studies as any one else. When Bell agreed to take
five schools, I made a similar arrangement My mind was not
carefully and systematically trained. I had never known
what systematic, concentrated study meant. I could memo-
rize, but here I had to think. That was hard to do. About
the first thing I learned at the seminary was that I did not
know one single thing about preaching. I had been preaching
for seven years, too, and I had the reputation of being about
the best preacher in my association. My members said I was.
My churches were the most prosperous. I baptized more
people than any other preacher in the association, by far. I
suppose I was somewhat "puffed up." Dr. Broadus had his
homiletics class to write a paper entitled: "How I Spent My
Summer." I thought he just wanted to know. I was willing
and anxious to tell him. I did so with a freedom and an aban-
don that was to him, no doubt, refreshing. I took no pains
with my grammar nor with my chirography, nor yet with my
spelling. I was completely engrossed in relating what took
place. When that paper came back to me it was written in red
ink all over every page. That paper was a sight. I do not
believe that I had written one single sentence that was not
corrected in red ink. That was certainly discouraging. I could
not even write. Bell almost died laughing at my paper. He
would not let me see his. He spread abroad the news to my
fellow students and they guyed me about my "bloody paper."
I was surely greatly humiliated.
I was from the frontier of Texas, with little or no culture,
and was wholly a child of nature. I used such provincialisms
as were in vogue among the people where I lived. I was in-
troduced into another world now. My dress and habits were
different from that of these young college boys from the East.
There was not a day that I was not humiliated. I was over-


sensitive and easily teased. The young men learned this and
took a delight in teasing me.
Dr. Broadus was unnecessarily severe on me, I thought
One time, when in New Testament he was lecturing on the
Star in the East, I became absorbingly interested. I leaned
forward and asked: "Dr. Broadus, did that star really move?"
Dr. Broadus curtly replied: "I do not know. I was not there."
The brethren guyed me about that most unmercifully. "Holt
learned something to-day," declared Bell. "He learned that
Dr. Broadus did not live in the time of Christ. Holt thought
he did." I was so humiliated by this that I became discouraged.
I had thought that young preachers, all looking to the great
gospel ministry as a life work would be kind and thoughtful
and considerate of one another. When I suffered so much
at their hands, I came near being disgusted. I also thought
that a great teacher like Dr. Broadus should have more sympa-
thy with a young, untrained western student than he mani-
fested. I could not even seclude mysef in my room. There
was Bell to tease me. I walked out in the woods and had a
good cry. I had about concluded to pack my trunk and go
back home. I was deeply in earnest in my studies and re-
searches. I was there for no foolishness. If I could not be
respected, what was the use for me to stay? This is the way
I reasoned. Then I prayed and my indignation gradually
passed away. My better self was asserted. I bethought me
that this very thing was a part of my necessary training. That
I must learn to endure hardness as a good soldier. That I
must not allow such frivolous things as these to discourage me.
I resolved to show these boys a thing or two. I resolved also
to show Dr. Broadus that there was something in me worth
while. But I resolved that I would ask him no more questions.
I afterwards learned to almost idolize that very man who had
discouraged me. But I did not ask him another question that
year. I simply studied my lessons, kept my ears open and
If I might now at this distance venture an opinion of this
great, good man, now that he has long since passed from the
walks of men, and has left a reputation and a record not sur-


passed by any man living or dead, I would say that, in my
opinion, he was unnecessarily severe on some of his untrained
students. We were doubtless a trial to him We were silly
and unwise, but we needed what he sometimes failed to extend
-sympathy. Later I learned that his heart was filled with
kindness, but at that time I concluded that he did not have it in
his nature.
As to my fellow students, I learned to appreciate them
more, and they learned to appreciate me also. Not long after
this, some of them tried to tease me and extracted my watch
from its place. A man who afterwards became a great preacher
and a D.D. held up my watch and began selling it at auction.
I retaliated. I seized him by the nape of his neck and the
seat of his pants and holding him aloft cried ."How much
am I offered for a first-class donkey? He is harmless, kicks a
little (he was kicking wildly), he brays some, too (he was cry-
ing to be let down), but I assure you he is harmless How
much am I offered? Well, as no one seems to have any use
for a donkey, I shall have to return him to his stable." I set
him down amid the roars of my fellow-students and to his
humiliation. I had learned something, and so had my fellow-
students. They were no match for me in physical strength
and after that were afraid to carry things too far with me.
The students were simply boys and meant no harm in teasing a
raw recruit from Texas, especially when they found he was
easily teased.
As for Bell, he soon found out he could go just so far
with me, and no farther, for I would throw him down and
spank him. One night, after he had learned his lessons (he
was much quicker to learn than I), he was poking fun at me
while I was trying to study. I said, after awhile, "Bell, if you
don't behave I am going to give you a regular beating up."
At that he snatched my book from me. I sprang at him, and
we raced around the table until at last I caught him and threw
him across the bed and down it came with a crash! Then we
heard someone knocking at the door, and in walked Dr.
Broadus. Bell explained, "Excuse us, doctor, we were just
having some fun after getting our lessons." "I did like that


when I was a student," said Dr. Broadus But we were
abashed to have him catch us in such confusion, with a broken
bed-stead on the floor.
Let no one conclude that Bell was always to blame in these
escapades, or that he was by any means anything but a gentle-
man. I have never in life known a choicer spirit than Theodore
Percy Bell. He was as true as steel and as generous as could
be. He was deeply pious and a loyal friend. I learned to love
him as my own life.
That year I took Old Testament Interpretation under Dr.
Crawford H. Toy. Dr. Toy was a wholly different type of
man from Dr. Broadus. He was the soul of gentleness and
consideration. A most profound scholar, too. His lectures
that session were on "The Development of Messianic
Thought" He clearly expressed what seemed, to my mind,
to be a doubt in the divine authenticity of the Scriptures. I
was alarmed at some of his suggestions. At length I ven-
tured to ask him the pointed question if he did not think
that the Bible was an inspired book. "Yes, it is inspired like
Shakespeare is an inspired book." That further alarmed me.
"But, do you not think that it is God's word, without a mistake
in it?" "Well, there is always a human element in it," he re-
marked. "If it be not absolutely reliable, what have we to
depend on?" said I. I was not satisfied with his answers.
So soon as the class was dismissed the boys gathered around the
door of the lecture room and began teasing me about talking
back to Dr. Toy. I replied with some warmth, "You boys re-
mind me of a nest of blackbirds. When Dr. Toy speaks to
you, open go your mouths and down goes whatever he brings,
whether it be a gravel or a grub worm. I tell you right now,
I did not come here to learn that the Bible was not the word
of God. I believed that it was before I came and if it is not,
I have no business here and I have no business preaching."
We departed, each to his own room.
I would be more disposed to blame myself for this and
similar experiences I had with Dr. Troy, but for the fact that
later he was called before the faculty for teaching what he
appeared to teach then. He was finally allowed to resign


from the faculty because he was out of harmony with the
plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. But let no one ever
imagine that Dr. Toy was anything but a most intelligent and
urbane Christian gentleman. He was the soul of honor and
of gentleness. I learned to love him most devotedly. He was
very far from reproving me for asking him questions or for
dissenting from his views.
It will be recalled that when I entered the seminary I had
already been preaching for several years. That I had been
engaged in holding many successful meetings. That I had
baptized hundreds of people into the churches. So I was not
wholly without experience in the ministry. It was a relief to
me at the beginning of the session to attend the services of the
First Baptist Church and hear the delightful singing and ser-
mons in that church. But I yearned for more activity. For
years I had never failed to preach twice or more every Sunday.
Now I was inactive in the ministry. At length I felt that I
could not endure this enforced idleness as a preacher. So one
Sunday morning I put my Bible under my arm and started
out. "Where are you going today, Holt?" someone asked
"Going to preach somewhere," I replied. The older students
had secured all the preaching places available and the new
students had nothing to do. But I was going to preach some-
where that day. I breathed a prayer for divine direction and
started out, with no defined plan. On crossing Reedy River
I noticed a row of houses down the stream used by factory
people. There, I thought, I could find my opportunity. On
reaching these houses, I accosted the first man I saw and asked
him if they ever had any preaching there. He replied in the
negative. I told him I was a theological student at the semi-
nary and if I could secure a hearing, I would like to preach
for them. "Just stand here on these steps and start up a song,"
he said, "and you will have a congregation." I did so and in
ten minutes I had a fine congregation of people, hastily as-
sembled, bareheaded, barefooted, in unkempt condition, all, but
there they were. I preached. I sang again and then asked
them if they wanted me to preach for them again. They said
"Yes," with a will. I then dismissed them and asked if any


was sick among them. I soon found several who were sick.
These I prayed with and so spent an hour or two before re-
turning to the seminary.
After this, I never lacked for an opportunity to preach. I
soon began to preach, not only on Sundays, but on Wednes-
day nights. By and by we protracted the meeting, preaching
each night, when a genuine revival broke out and many were
converted. These night meetings continued for a month and
many of my fellow students at the seminary attended. The
first sermon T. P. Bell ever delivered was at this factory
There was, at first, a mild protest on the part of some of
my fellow students. One especially nice, cultured brother
came to me and said, "Brother Holt, do you know that factory
is a disreputable place and you are liable to bring reproach
on the seminary by your visits to those people?" "Go to, J.
Ad," I replied. "If those people are not good, so much the
more is the reason I should carry to them the gospel." This
excellent brother was none other than the Rev. J. Adolphus
French, D.D., who afterward became the talented pastor of the
First Baptist Church at Austin, Texas. He did a great work
in the gospel ministry and died some time since, full of honor,
and went home to glory. Be it said to his credit that later,
when the revival at the factory was manifest, he went down
and preached to those people with me. As a result of that
-work I had the pleasure of carrying some twenty people up to
the First Baptist Church to be baptized. The way the splendid
women of that aristocratic church took those factory girls
and dressed them in baptismal robes and cared for them made
my heart warm towards those good women. After that session
closed some good people from the First Church carried on the
work at the factory and finally a chapel was built for those
Before I had a regular appointment at the factory, I had
an opportunity to go and preach for the negroes. They had an
immense congregation and I enjoyed their enthusiasm greatly.
The next day when some washerwomen came to the seminary
to gather up our clothes, one old black mammy on seeing me


said to another, "Dar is dat man whut preached fur us yistedy;
he's a chariot uv fire." The brethren overheard her comment
and began calling me "Chariot of fire." I was sent out occa-
sionally by the professors to fill their appointments. Once I
preached for Dr. Broadus at a country church named "Stand-
ing Springs." Once for Dr. Williams at Welsh Neck and once
for Brother Jackson at Ninety Six.
Altogether, when the session had ended and I began to cal-
culate what I had gained, I could not really make a reasonable
estimate of the benefit I had received. I failed on three ex-
aminations. I record this humiliating fact with regret I had
taken too many schools. I only graduated in three out of the
six. I recall how Dr. Broadus called at my room after the
examination in Homiletics. I felt sure I had passed. I almost
committed to memory our text book, Dr. Broadus' Prepava-
tion and Delivery of Sermons. With a consideration and a
tenderness I shall never forget Dr. Broadus came to my room
and said, "Brother Holt, I had greatly desired to put you
through in Homiletics." I at once took it from this remark
that I had failed. I was so greatly disappointed that I actually
broke down and wept. Dr. Broadus was tenderness itself. He
stated that I had made greater progress than any other mem-
ber of the class, but that I had so much to unlearn that he
had found it impossible to graduate me. My exact marking
was 7& -a--I lacked just I 1-4 marks of graduating. I am
glad, now, I failed, for I afterwards took Homiletics again and
learned more from it than I did the first time. To comfort me
Dr. Broadus said, "I suspect that yZur roommate, Bell, wishes
that he could speak as readily as yourself." "Yes," said Bell,
"I have often envied Holt his readiness of speech." All that
was comforting, but the sting of failure was not extracted.
I also failed in Systematic Theology and New Testament. All
these I took over again, much to my benefit Old Testament,
Biblical Introduction and Pastoral Theology I made success-
I can not begin to estimate the everlasting benefit I derived
from this session at the Seminary. I learned more in those
eight months than I had in the previous eight years of my


ministry. When I returned to Webbenie, that old church
organizer, Elder N. T. Byars, asked me to preach at the organi-
zation of a new church. I did so. Bror Eppright rode
twelve miles to be present. He sat right in front of me when
I was preaching. He was a great hand to thew tobacco. When
he became excited he expectorated with no especial regard to
what direction he was spitting. I hapeed to notice him
while I was preaching; he was greatly excited and was spit-
ting promiscuously. When I had finished he came up to me
and said, "Go home with me." That meant I had to do so.
We rode along in silence for awhile and& he was still spitting
wild. At last he said, "Brother Holt, your eddication hain't
hurt you a bit" He was not yet relieved and by and by added:
"When you get ready to go back I'll send you." Remember,
this was the very man who was so set against my going to the
seminary at all.
That was a splendid lot of students at Greenville that year,
despite my early unpleasant experiences with them. With
scarcely an exception they have made good. Most of them,
alas! have finished their course and have gone to their reward.
Some are yet here. Just last week at thi Florida Convention
I met Dr. Dargan. How splendidly he looked. I had to hug
him. Where in all the land is there a man who has done a
nobler work than Dr. E. C. Dargan? When we stood together
I remarked, "Ed, it has been forty-eight years since we were
together at Greenville." "Yes," said he, reflectively, "but it
does not seem so long." W. R. L Smith, D.D., W. S. Land-
rum, D.D., and just a few others of us are left of that Green-
ville class. Dr. John P. Green has made such a wonderful
career for himself. But Bell and Thames and French and
White and so very many others have passed over. I shall
cherish to my latest hour the precious memories of those
Greenville Seminary days.



A record of my life without taking into account my matri-
monial experiences would be incomplete and wholly nsatis-
factory. I consider also that I am now writing for others.
Possibly these lines will be read by some of my young un-
married brethren in the ministry and these certainly need all
the advice that an older and more experienced person can give
then. Nothing else, save his conversion and call to the minis-
try, can be of such supreme importance to the minister as that
he shall be properly married. In this I am not taking the
position that he may never marry at all and yet be a successful
minister. I do not recall ever to have seen an unmarried minis-
ter of wide usefulness. It may be possible, but certainly not
probable. But to be married to one who is not in warm and
abiding sympathy with his ministerial work, or to one who is
incorrect in life or yet to one who is not congenial is a great
handicap to the minister, and it may be that a life of entire
celibacy were preferable to such a marriage.
I have known quite a number of ill-assorted ministerial
matches. I knew a minister in Texas many years ago whose
wife was a slattern. She was not only wholly untidy herself,
but paid no manner of attention to the clothing of her hus-
band. Her home was always in confusion. I never recall to
have seen their house swept. The window panes were always
smeared; her husband's clothes were always out of repairs.
He was a minister of exceptional power in the pulpit but was
not called to churches because of his wife. Last week I had
a letter from a good preacher who desired me to assist him to
work in Florida. Not knowing him intimately I wrote to a
well-known brother who did know him and asked if I should
t[ I


commend him to church. The brother replied, "Brother
Blank is a good man, a good minister; but his wife will make
him unpopular wherever he goes." I knew a prominent Bap-
tist minister in Kentucky, a man of national reputation, who
was capable of filling any pulpit on earth. He had married
an Episcopalian. His wife cared for nothing but society,
bridge whist, and such like. I have heard that when he was
at family prayers she would deliberately get on his back while
he was kneeling and ridicule his prayers. Whew! How on
earth could an angel from heaven succeed with such compan-
ionship as that ? I knew of another minister who is a splendid
preacher, but his wife is such a constant tale-bearer that she
keeps him and the church in a stew.
On the other hand, I have known many of the very choicest
spirits on this earth as preachers' wives. I have known many
a preacher who was not half so much loved as was his wife.
Many a poor preacher is a great success simply because.his
splendid wife supplements all his defects with her matchless
devotion and wise counsel. So these memoirs were wholly in-
complete without a record of my matrimonial experiences.
I married my first wife in Shreveport, La., June 9, 1867.
She was Miss Alice Markham. Her father was Elder L S.
Markham. She was only sixteen years of age and I was only
nineteen. Too young, say you. Certainly, but it was done.
Neither of us knew a thing about the responsibilities of life.
We were only children and possibly should have been spanked
and sent about better business. But no one told us. My
young wife had a step-mother who made life unpleasant for
her. I was a waif on the sea of life and needed anchorage.
Neither of us was a professor of religion. I entertained an
ambition to become a physician. I had concluded that I could
never be a preacher, because a preacher must have religion,
and there seemed to be no religion for me. I engaged in her
father's business in the bookstore until the yellow fever closed
up the business in September. Then I went to the country to
teach school.
I have already recorded my conversion and call to the
ministry at Ebenezer Church, in Jackson Parish, La. My


wife was averse to my becoming a minister. She opposed it
with all her might That was my earliest tribulation. I never
saw any peace of mind until she was converted. This conver-
sion took place one year after my own. We had a protracted
meeting at Ebenezer Church and from the very start I had en-
gaged all the brethren to pray for the conversion of my wife.
We then lived one mile from the church house. She did not
want to attend at all Brethren would frequently drive by and
give her a seat in a wagon to induce her to go. I invariably
carried our child in my arms to give her no excuse for not
Every time Brother McBride gave an invitation to anxious
ones, I earnestly prayed that she might go forward. But the
entire meeting dosed without a movement on her part. The
last night of the meeting, she set her mind not to go at all. I
begged and pleaded. I offered to carry the child, hold it while
there and bring it back, so as to give her no care at all. She
gave a reluctant consent at last While I knew a dozen brethren
and sisters were praying for her, still the last invitation closed
and she sat unmoved. We walked back home that night and
no word was spoken all the way. I took the baby in, laid it
on the bed and then passed out into the garden to pray. I was
pouring out my woes to the Lord, when I heard a step, and
then my wife fell on her knees beside me and cried out, "I am
the meanest woman in the world" "No, you are not," said
I. We fell to praying then, and she was joyously converted.
The next day at the baptism she was there with her things,
ready to unite with the church. I was supremely happy. From
that moment she co-operated with me in my ministerial work
to the fullest extent.
Her health was never vigorous, so we went to western
Texas and her health seemed for a time to improve. I was
pastor of country churches for several years and she was left
alone with our children while I was away, but she was un-
murmuring all the while.
I had started to Greenville to the Seminary in a wagon,
thinking to make the trip through in that way. When we ar-
rived in Pennington in east Texas, she was not well and I


stopped for rest, while I went out to hold a protracted meeting.
When I returned two weeks later, I found that our baby boy,
J. R. G. Holt, had died. That was the most serious trouble
that I had ever experienced. The physician who had attended
him in my absence told me that my principal concern now
should be my wife, as she had tuberculosis. I was astonished
at this. He told me I must immediately return to west Texas.
She could not stand the trip back in the wagon, so I sold my
horses and wagon for a song and we went back to Webberville.
My wife grew some better but in the early fall took to her bed
from which she never rose. She passed away in September.
I sat by her bedside constantly. She had grown very dear to
me. She was all tenderness and faithfulness. We talked fre-
quently of her approaching end.
I sat up with her all night before she passed away. Some
neighbors had come to help me in my trials. Some good sisters
had prepared some coffee and asked me to come and take a
cup. I left her bedside for that purpose but was immediately
summoned to return. She stretched out her thin arms towards
me and I took her in my arms and there she fell asleep.
It is impossible for me to express my heart-broken condition
at her departure. She left me two small children. I wrote to
my mother to come and live with me and take care of them, and
she came. I taught one more session of school in Webberville.
I had resumed my churches and they were kind to me, but
from the month my wife died, I began to experience what I
had never before known-an embarrassment as a widower
pastor. Despite all I could do, my unmarried young women
looked on me as a marriageable possibility. I could do no
pastoral work but that my visit was construed to mean I had
come courting. I recall one especial case. Judge had
a sick wife and I must, of course, go to see her as her pastor.
But Judge had also a marriageable daughter. She
had gone to school to me for three years. She was a loving
child and always thought much of her teacher. What was
my surprise to see her, on my appearance, dash into another
room. She had been wont to rush out to meet me when I
visited them By and by she appeared diked out "to kill" in


new clothes and smiled up to me. It was as dear as daylight
then-I did not return to that home again.
In school my bearing towards the young ladies I taught
had to be changed. I shall never cease to sympathize with a
widower minister.. In my other churches where I had to be
entertained by the members, I had to change my usual stop-
ping places, if young ladies were there. Even an elderly widow
lady where I was wont to stop looked upon me differently, and
when she asked me to go home with her, as usual, there was
evident embarrassment, and I could not go. I taught through
the spring and summer of 1874 and that fall I had arranged
with my mother to take care of my children and allow me to
attend the seminary. But before leaving for the seminary,
I agreed to hold another meeting at Pleasant Grove, Harris
County. I was to start from there to Greenville. I had then
fully determined in my mind never to marry again. I would
get my mother to raise my children and I would devote my life
to the ministry, probably to the foreign mission work.
At Pleasant Grove the pastor made the arrangement for me
to be entertained at the home of Sister Black, which was the
nearest house to the church, and was also near the railroad
station. So I betook myself to Sister Black's on my arrival
I was met at the gate by Miss Emma, who, it will be recalled,
was converted at my meeting at Pleasant Grove two years
previously. Sister Black had gone to her mill and her daughter
acted as hostess in her absence. Since my last meeting I had
been softened by a great sorrow and was in a good spiritual
frame of mind for a great revival. I had no difficulty in
bringing the meeting to a high plane of interest and many
were converted. I was preaching with all my old-time power.
One day I caught myself looking for Miss Emma, who had not
arrived. I blushed at my anxiety and faced the fact that I was
more anxious to see her than any one else at that meeting.
SThen and there I resolved to crush such a thought. Straight-
way I accepted other invitations for entertainment and did not
go back to Sister Black's during that meeting.
The pastor had arranged to take dinner at Sister Black's
with me on the last day and I was to take the train for Green-