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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter VIII. - Hanover Presbytery from 1770 to Formation of Virginia


Mr. James Campbell was presented to Presbytery, April 26th, 1770, by Mr. Thomas Jackson, as an—“ acquaintance of all the members and of worthy character; and was licensed at the D. S. Oct. 10th, 1771, and sent to visit the vacancies, particularly the pastures, Timber Ridge, Forks of James, Sinking Spring, Hat Creek, and Cub Creek. Oct. 15th, 1772, at the same place, the Presbytery was informed of his death; and recommended that any dues for his services as a minister be sent to his parents.

Mr. Samuel Edmundson was received on trials for licensure Oct. 15th, 1772; and was licensed Oct. 14th, 1773, at Rockfish meeting-house; and sent to supply Cook’s Creek, Linvel’s Creek, Peeked Mountain, and Mossy Creek, made vacant by the death of Mr. Jackson. He soon removed to South Carolina, where he spent a useful life.

25th. Caleb Wallace, the twenty-fifth member, born in Charlotte County, and graduated at Princeton, 1770, was received at Tinkling Spring, April 13th, 1774, as licentiate of New Castle Presbytery. On the 3d of October ensuing, he was ordained at Cub Creek, pastor of Cub Creek and Little Falling river, Mr. David Rice presiding, and Mr. Leake giving the charge. In 7779, he removed to Botetourt; and in 1783 emigrated to Kentucky. Abandoning the ministry, he entered upon the profession of Law, was successful, and became Judge of the Supreme Court.

26th. William Graham, the twenty-sixth member, has a place m the first series of Sketches of Virginia. His name is inseparable from Washington College, Lexington, Virginia.

James Templeton was received as candidate at Timber Ridge, April 13th, 1775, a graduate of Nassau Hall—“ bringing recommendation from Dr. Witherspoon.” He was licensed at the house of John Morrison, on Rockfish, Oct. 26th, 1775; and soon removed to South Carolina.

Samuel M’Corkle was, Oct. 26th, 1775, received as probationer from the Presbytery of New York. He was very acceptable to the churches, and received calls from Oxford, High Bridge, and Falling Spring, but declined settling in Virginia. A sketch of his life may be found in “Sketches of North Carolina".

27'th. Samuel Stanhope Smith, the twenty-seventh member of Presbytery, was received as probationer from New Castle Presbytery, Oct. 27th, 1775, at Rockfish, without the usual testimonials. The Presbytery recommended him—“to procure a dismission, and produce it to Presbytery as soon as he conveniently can.” The Presbytery proceeded to ordain him—“and Mr. Smith now takes his seat as a member of Presbytery together with his elder, Mr. James Venable.” The reasons given for this unusual course is— “ seeing a call from the united congregations of Cumberland and Prince Edward has been presented to him, and he being encouraged to receive it by said Presbytery,” (New Castle)—“which amounts to a dismission and recommendation, we judge it safe to receive him.” He was installed Nov. 9th, 1775; and in May, 1776, he tells Presbytery he has his dismission, and will produce it at next meeting. Oct. 28th, 1779, he was released from his pastoral charge, and his duties as President of Hampden Sidney College, and immediately removed to Princeton to take the chair of Professor of Moral Philosophy, at Nassau Hall. He was the father of Hampden Sidney, in Virginia; and in his old age referred to it with deep emotion. He was the means of introducing his brother John Blair Smith, and also William Graham to the Presbytery and the institutions in Prince Edward and Rockbridge. He was President of Nassau Hall for many years. A sketch of his life belongs to the history of that College.

28th. John B. Smith, the twenty-eighth member, was received a candidate June 18th, 1777, and was licensed at the house of Dr. Waddell in Tinkling Spring Congregation, June 9th, 1778. An extended account of his services is given in the first series of these Sketches.

29th. Edward Crawford a graduate of Princeton, 1775, was received a candidate in the fall of 1776. On the 31st of October, 1777, at Buffalo it was ordered — "that Messrs. Crawford, Scott and Doak be introduced to complete their literary trials, and after long and particular examination of each of them, in Science, Moral Philosophy, and Theology, and Mr. Crawford in the languages, — Resolved, that they (the examinations) be accepted as the conclusion of their trials previous to their being licensed. And the license of the Presbytery to them to preach the gospel in the churches was intimated to them accordingly, accompanied with a solemn charge from the Moderator.” A call from Sinking Spring, and Spreading Spring was presented Mr. Crawford at Mountain Plains, October 27th, 1778, and by him accepted. At the division of the Presbytery 1786, he was one of the constituents of Lexington Presbytery.

He afterwards removed to Tennessee and became a member of Abingdon Presbytery.

30th. Mr. Archibald Scott, the thirtieth member, was licensed with Messrs. Crawford and Doak. A notice of him appears with the history of Bethel, in this volume.

81st. Samuel Doak was licensed with Messrs. Scott and Crawford. His history belongs to Tennessee, the scene of his labor, and object of his love. Some notices of him may be found in the Sketches of North Carolina, under the head of Emigrations to Tennessee.'

32d. John Montgomery, the thirty-second minister, was received as candidate October 31st, 1777, Mr. Graham representing him — “a young gentleman of the County of Augusta, who had finished his education in the College of New Jersey, 1775.” He was licensed at Mountain Plains, with Mr Erwin, October 28th, 1778; and on April 26th, 1780, at Tinkling Spring — u Presbytery agree to ordain Mr. John Montgomery to the sacred work of the gospel ministry, that he may be more extensively useful.” Next day he was ordained. Three calls were put in for him, October 23d, 1781, at Concord ; — one from Bethel, Washington County, —one from Concord and Providence, and one from Winchester, Cedar Creek and Opecquon. He accepted the last. After spending a few years with these congregations, he, to their great regret, removed in 1789, and made his residence in the Pastures, Augusta, where he inherited property. Here he passed the remainder of his life. Previous to his ordination he was associated with Mr. Graham in the instruction of Liberty Hall. He was a very popular preacher, a good scholar, an esteemed relative, and an amiable man. In the division of the Presbytery he was assigned to Lexington. In the latter part of his life, his ministry was interrupted by bodily infirmities.

33d. James M’Connel, a graduate of Princeton, 1773, was received at Tinkling Spring April 29th, 1778, as probationer from Donegal. Having accepted a call from Oxford, High Bridge and Falling Spring, he was ordained at High Bridge June 18th, 1778. By indiscretion and want of family economy, he became involved in difficulties and ceased to serve the congregation. In the year 1787 he removed beyond the Alleghenies.

34th. Ben/amin Erwin, the thirty-fourth member, was a graduate at Princeton 1776, was received as candidate April 30th, 1778, and exhibited pieces of trial given him by Mr. Graham on account of his inability, by sickness, to attend a previous meeting of Presbytery; was ordained at Mossy Creek June 20th, 1780, pastor of Mossy Creek and Cook’s Creek. On the formation of the Virginia Synod, he became a member of Lexington Presbytery. He died pastor of his first charge. George A. Baxter, D. D. grew up under his ministry'.

85th. William Wilson, the thirty-fifth member of the Presbytery, grew up in New Providence, under the ministry of John Brown; but was born August 1st, 1751, in Pennsylvania. His father, an emigrant from Ireland, in his youth was a hearer of Mr. Whitefield in Philadelphia, and became, in consequence, a hopeful convert to Christ. When about forty years of age he removed to Virginia, and settled about twelve miles east of Lexington, and became a member of New Providence Church. His connexion was continued about fifty years. His devoted piety in his family, and his intercourse with his fellow-men, were remarked by people among whom professors of religion were common. “How I did delight,” said the Rev. Samuel Houston, “when a young man, to hear the old man pray and read Flavel’s Sermons. He numbered ninety-four years ; his wife, religious like himself, survived him two years, and died at the same age. His eldest son William they brought with them from Pennsylvania; and away on these frontiers sought for him a classical education, that he might be, what he became, a minister of the gospel of Christ, and numbered him among the students at Mount Pleasant, that germ of Washington College. At that school he became a proficient in geography, mathematics and the classics. In his advanced years he exhibited a curious phenomenon of mental and physical organization. Under a severe attack of erysipelas he in a great measure, for a time, lost the memory of his mother tongue. He could not give the name of anything he wanted in English; but could readily give it in Greek or Latin. At times, almost unconsciously, he was running over his school exercises in Greek with great fluency and correctness. In his old age he often employed himself in solving algebraic questions to preserve the tone of his mind from the effects of age. An examination by him in Presbytery was considered by candidates an ordeal. For a time after he completed his course at the academy, he taught the Washington Henry Academy in Hanover County with great approbation. But finding the climate not favorable to his health, he returned to his native valley. When ordained to the ministry, he made the thirty-fifth member of Hanover Presbytery. He was received as candidate April, 1779, and in the fall of the same year, October 28th, was licensed in Prince Edward in company with James Campbell. On the last Wednesday of November, 1780, was ordained at the Stone Church, upon the hill, and installed pastor of the flock of Christ worshipping there, succeeding Mr. Craig after a vacancy o£ about six years. He prepared his sermons with care, writing snort notes in his early ministry, not writing out in full any sermon. In later life he trusted his memory entirely. He was orthodox, instructive, interesting and evangelical. And with reluctance the people of Augusta listened to his proposition for a dissolution of the pastoral relation on account of infirmities, principally the effects of erysipelas in the head. While- he lived, and his life was protracted nearly a quarter of a century after he resigned his charge, the congregation listened with pleasure to his preaching. Dr. Speece said the last sermon the venerable man preached a little before his death, “ was not inferior in vigor of thought, methodical arrangement, or animation of manner to any that he had ever heard him deliver.” He believed in revivals 'of religion, and was blessed with them in his charge in common with his brethren in the Valley. In the awakening of 1801 and onwards, he was an actor. He visited the Little Levels where the revival was first felt in Virginia; and some of his young people that accompanied him, became, with himself, not only deeply interested in the religious, mental and heart excitements, but also felt something of the bodily exercise. Not knowing how to account for the exercises, and having felt them in his most devout approaches to God in worship, he was inclined to defend them as innocent, and for some unexplained reason a necessary appendage of the work of grace; after a time he joined with his brethren in discouraging their appearance, not by direct opposition, but by refusing to encourage them, while he cherished carefully every appearance of a gracious work. On principle he was an attendant upon the judicatories of the church, and a promoter of education. He encouraged and assisted two* of his brothers in obtaining a liberal education ; and in his old age adverted to this fact with great satisfaction. Thomas became a lawyer, and served in the Legislature and in Congress; Robert became a minister of the gospel, and removed to Kentucky; his piety was above the usual order—“he was great in the sight of the Lord.” Each of these brothers gave a daughter to the cause of foreign missions. Mrs. Louisa Lowrie, daughter of Thomas, went to India ; and Mrs. Andrews, daughter of Robert, to the Sandwich Islands. He excelled in pastoral visitations, having a great facility in accommodating himself to the mind and condition of people. “I have had a dream,” said one of his flock—"an old man appeared to me, and gave me a rusty guinea, and told me to sprinkle water on it. I did so, and it remained rusty. He told me to pour water on it. I did so, and it remained rusty. Drop it in the stream, said he; I did so, and immediately it became bright. Now, what do you think of it?” “Why,” said he very gravely, “if it had been a young man that appeared it might have been something—but it was an old man—and the Scriptures says 4 put off the old man and his deeds.’” The perplexity of the poor man was gone in a moment: a causeless anxiety was removed by a play upon words. His successor, Dr. Speece, found him a warm and steady friend, and cherished for him the kindest feeling and most respectful regard.

Mr. James Crawford was received candidate at the same time with William Wilson, April, 1779, and licensed with him Oct. 28th, 1779. Mr. Davidson, in his History of Kentucky, pp. 79 and 80, gives all the memoranda concerning him that have been preserved.

Mr. Terah Templin was licensed by Hanover Presbytery, at Tinkling Spring, April 28th, 1780. He grew up near the Peaks of Otter, and received his preparatory education under his pastor, David Rice. He was ordained in Kentucky, in 1785, and died Oct. 6th, 1818. Davidson’s Kentucky gives a short sketch of him.

36th. Samuel Shannon was received as candidate, Oct. 26th, 1779, from Donegal Presbytery, a graduate of Princeton 1776, introduced to Presbytery by Mr. Waddell. After passing examinations in Greek and Latin, reading a Homily, and preaching a sermon, he was advised by Presbytery, at Falling Spring, Oct. 24th, 1780, to abandon preparation for the ministry, on account of the time he had been in study, and the manner he had acquitted himself in divinity and moral philosophy. The next year he appeared before Presbytery, Oct. 25th, 1781,- passed his examinations with James Mitchel, and was licensed with him. Receiving a call from Windy Cove and Blue Spring, he was ordained on Cowpasture, Nov. 24th, 1784, at the house of Mrs. Lewis. In April, 1787, he was relieved from his charge, and removed to Kentucky. He died in Indiana, in 1822. For further notices of him, see Davidson’s History, p. 83, et alibi.

37th. James Mitchel, the 37th nfember, has an appropriate sketch in this series.

38th. Of Moses Hoge, the 38th member, there is a short memoir in Sketches of Virginia, and some further particulars in the chapter of this series, containing the history of Hampden Sidney, after the removal of Rev. Archibald Alexander from the Presidency of the College, to Philadelphia.

39th. John McCue was received candidate in the spring of 1781, and was licensed at Timber Ridge, May 23d, 1782. He was ordained the first Wednesday of August, 1783, having accepted a call from Camp Union near Lewisburg, and Good Hope, in Green Brier. In 1791 he was relieved from this charge to take the pastoral care of Tinkling Spring and Staunton. Further notices of him will be found under the Chapter, Tinkling Spring.

40. Adam Rankin, a native of Western Pennsylvania, was received candidate, November, 1781, at the Stone Meeting House, Augusta, and at New Providence was licensed, Oct. 25th, 1782, in company with Samuel Houston, Samuel Carrick, and Andrew McClure. October 29th, 1783, steps were taken preparatory for his ordination, and he was enrolled at Bethel, May 18th, 1784. He emigrated to Kentucky, and is the hero of many pages of Davidson’s History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky. A man of fiery zeal, he believed himself called of God to reform the church, particularly in Psalmody. ,

41st. Samuel Carrick, the forty-first member, native of Adams County, Pennsylvania, was born July 17th, 1760. At an early period of his life he went to the Valley of Virginia; and prepared for the ministry under the instruction of William Graham. He was received as a candidate the last Wednesday of November, 1781, at the Stone meeting-house, Augusta; was licensed at New*Providence, October 25th, 1782, with Rankin, Houston, and McClure; and was ordained and installed pastor of Rocky Spring and Wahab meetinghouse, on the Cowpasture, at the house of Mr. James Hodges, on the fourth Wednesday of November, 1783. He made frequent visits to the south-western frontiers as a missionary; and in the year 1789, removed to Tennessee, and took his abode on the Holston, about four miles from Knoxville, in sight of Boyd’s Ferry. In 1794, at the opening of the Territorial Legislature, in February, he. preached before that body at their invitation, on the second day of their session. He was chosen by the Legislature President of Blount College, named in honor of the Governor, now known as the East Tennessee University. He organized the first regular Presbyterian church in Tennessee, at the junction of the French Broad and the Holston, called Lebanon; and soon after the church in Knoxville. He held the Pastorate of these two churches, and the Presidency of the College, till 1803, when he resigned the charge of Lebanon. The office of President of the College, and pastor of the church in Knoxville, he held till his sudden death. From the historical sermon delivered by the Rev. R. B. McMullen, pastor of the first Presbyterian church in Knoxville, March 25th, 1855, the authority for some of the preceding facts, we also learn that among the elders of those two churches were numbered James White, George McNutt, John Adair, Archibald Rhea, Dr. James Cosby, and Thomas Gillespie. White, McNutt and Adair were members of the Convention for forming the Constitution of the State. McNutt was from Virginia; White and Adair from North Carolina. The death of Mr. Carrick was ordered in very peculiar circumstances, in his 50th year. The usual summer sacramental meeting had come. He spent much of the night of the 5th of August, 1809, in preparatory study for the duties of the occasion. Very early on the morning of the 6th, he was struck with apoplexy, and in a few moments his spirit was with his Redeemer.

42d. Samuel Houston, the forty-second member, has an appropriate sketch in this series.

43. Andrew McClure, born in Augusta County, 1755, was received as candidate, November, 1781, at the Stone meeting-house, Augusta County; licensed, October 25th, 1782, at New Providence, with Messrs. Houston, Rankin, and Carrick. Accepting a call from the North Fork of Roanoke, he was ordained May 9th, 1784. He removed to Kentucky in 1786, and occupies a place in Mr. Davidson’s History. He died in 1793.

44th. The forty-fourth member, and the last ordained by the Presbytery before the formation of Virginia Synod, was John D. Blair, son of John Blair, Professor of Theology in Princeton College, and nephew of Samuel Blair, the instructor of Davies and Rodgers. He was born 15th of October, 1759, and was graduated when quite young, in the year 1775, at Princeton. He made profession of religion at an early age. Before he left his minority he was elected tutor of his alma mater under Dr. Witherspoon. On the application of Edmund Randolph, Esq., to Dr. Witherspoon for a qualified teacher for Washington Henry Academy, in Hanover, Mr. Blair came to Virginia in the year 1780. He presided over the Academy with much usefulness and credit, for a number of years. Oppressed with the view of the spiritual desolations around him, his mind and heart were drawn to the subject of his early meditations and desires, the ministry of the gospel. He was .received as candidate by the Hanover Presbytery, May 20th, 1784, at Bethel; and was licensed at Timber Ridge, October 28th, of the same year. He became pastor of the church in Hanover County, gathered by Davies on the ground where Morris had his reading-room, and his own father had preached with success. The record of his ordination is lost; but it necessarily took place previously to May, 1786, as he that year was enrolled a member of the Synod. About the year 1792, he was induced to remove to the city of Richmond, and open a classical school, and divide his ministerial services with Pole Green church in Hanover, and the city. Having no church building in the city, he held public worship at the capitol, alternating his Sabbaths with Rev. John Buchanan at the Episcopal church. These two ministers maintained the kindest relations through life. They were both remarkable for amiability of manners and purity of morals. Mr. Buchanan, being a bachelor, took frequent opportunities of manifesting his sympathy and respect for his brother Blair and his family, by kind and complimentary acts, such as sending marriage fees to Mrs. Blair, and encouraging the attentions of others. Mr. Buchanan manifested the same generous spirit to Mr. and Mrs. Rice. When the monumental church was built upon the ruins of the burned theatre, the tradition is—that Messrs. Buchanan and Blair were of the opinion, the building should be occupied as the capitol had been, and be a memorial and a place of worship for the two denominations most interested in the sad event of the night of the 26th of December, 1811, and the subsequent transactions. When by extraneous influence the discussion was going on, whether the church building should have a denominational character, and to which it should be given, Mr. Blair from motives of delicacy kept back from the discussion. It was believed that had he exerted the influence of which he was capable, and entered the arena of debate, his opinion would have prevailed, whether he had advocated the use of the building as open and free as the desolation of the event it commemorated had been wide and general, or whether he had contended that if any denomination should have the preference it should be his own. He chose to keep silence, and after a long discussion, under various influences, on February 7th, 1814, one hesitating vote decided the character of the monumental church. That part of the congregation, worshipping in the capitol, that adhered to Mr. Blair, made preparations for the erection of a house of worship for their own special occupancy; and as church building in those days was a work of slow progress, in the most favorable circumstances, the design was not fully completed till the autumn of 1821. To this new house, called the Presbyterian church on Shockoe Hill, Mr. Blair transferred his services. But in a few months increasing infirmities brought his ministerial labors to a close. He united with the church in obtaining the services of Rev. John B. Hoge, who continued their pastor about four years. Mr. Blair lingered till the 10th of January, 1823, and departed in his 64th year, with these words upon, his lips—“Lord Jesus, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” During his active life, his modesty put a seal upon liis lips in reference to his religious experience. On his dying-bed he felt called upon to speak out his hopes. He declared that Christ was the only rock on which a sinner could build for eternity; and that trust in him was the best evidence of fitness for heaven; that his early convictions and experience retained their hold upon his heart. He was confined to his bed for several months previous to his death, and bore his pains with patience, waiting—“all the days of his appointed time.” According to his request his body was taken to the church before interment, and an address made by his co-pastor, announcing his firm adherence in death to the doctrines he had preached through life, and the comfort these had given him in his near approach to the grave.

The. estimation in which Mr. Blair was held as a teacher, by his brethren, may be known from the fact, that the Board of Trustees of Hampden Sidney College, in the year 1796, invited him to the Presidency. Upon his declining to leave Richmond, Mr. Alexander was prevailed upon to accept the office.

Rev. John Buchanan, the friend and fellow-laborer of Mr. Blair, died on the 19th of December, 1822, about three weeks before his friend. Of these two men Dr. Rice says — “They lived together in Richmond, in habits of closest intimacy, and most devoted friendship, for five and thirty years. No jealousy, no unfriendly collision of sentiment was ever known between them. They lived and loved as brethren; and interchanged in the pulpit and out of it, offices of unstinted, unreserved kindness.” It is also related that when Mr. Buchanan, at the approach of death, requested that the prayers of the church should be offered up in his behalf, his friend was not forgotten; for in the most affecting accents he added — “Pray also for Blair.”


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