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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter XVII. - Rev. Messrs. Cary Allen and William Calhoon


In the congregation of Rev. Samuel Davies, in Hanover County, were five brothers of the name of Allen. Soon after Mr. Davies left Virginia, these brothers, with others of the congregation, sought locations in the more fertile lands along the frontiers, and made their home on Great Guinea, in Cumberland. Four of these brothers successively became elders in the church in Cumberland County, of which they were, in part, the founders. Daniel Allen, by his first wife, a Miss Harrison, had ten children; of which Cary was the eighth, born April, 1767. For his second wife, he married the widow of Joseph Hill, with five children, Mrs. Joanna Hill. Her fourth child was William, from whom, through Dr. Hill, of Winchester, very many of the circumstances concerning the life of Cary Allen have been preserved for the public. When these two families were united, Allen was in his ninth and Hill in his seventh year.

Cary was remarkable, from his early childhood, for his. good temper and amiable deportment among his associates. Mr. Allen reared his numerous family on religious principles. His children, in their retired situations, grew up strangers to vice and immorality. The cheerfulness of Cary often approached levity. He Was very agreeable, as his eccentric thoughts and speeches had a peculiar drollery of an amusing nature. He could make others laugh to excess, without laughing himself, or appearing to know that he had said anything to cause a laugh. This power appeared to be exercised without premeditation, and the habit was fixed from very early years, and continued through his whole life. His talent for the acquisition of knowledge was moderate: for investigation and close reasoning, still more circumscribed. His voice was clear, his utterance easy, his frame tall, and built for strength. His whole appearance was that of a pleasant, eccentric man, from whom drollery might be expected, whose oddities were no disparagement to his usefulness in common life. Gravity sat fully upon him, even when he was oppressed with serious reflections. There was often something of the ludicrous mixed up with his mental distress. One afternoon, reclining upon the hill-side with young Hill, and looking at the fatted hogs in a pen, and at the preparations made for their slaughter the next morning, after contemplating the entire unconsciousness and ease of the hogs, and the certainty of their approaching destruction, he exclaimed, “Oh! that I could exchange lots with one of those hogs!” “What upon earth do you mean?” said young Hill; “I always thought you much better than myself, and I would not exchange lots with one of those hogs, with a knife so near my throat, for the world.” “But,” says Allen, “you forget that those hogs have no souls; and when they are killed, there is the end of them, but I have a never-dying soul, which is unprepared to meet God, my judge; and, whether I shall ever be prepared, God only knows.”

When about seventeen years of age he was visited with a typhus fever. For weeks he was either raging with a fever, or overcome with torpor. His recovery was unexpected and gradual. His emaciated limbs required the use of crutches. His friends, believing that his bodily vigor would never be sufficient for active employment, turned his attention to the preparation for some profession suited to his condition. He commenced a course of study at Hampden Sidney. His health and strength slowly returned. His sickness had not led him to godly living; he was more droll and volatile than ever. Though his progress in literature and science was laborious and slow, he was desirous of completing the course he had begun. His moral conduct was correct. He was very studious. His eccentric mirth was an unfailing source of amusement to the students and the young people of the neighborhood. In the exhibitions given, spring and fall, by the students, for improvement in public speaking, Allen became a favorite. Choosing subjects congenial with his mirth-inspiring spirit, he deluged the audience with his fun. His appearance was the signal for uproarious laughter. He was commonly put last on the list, because, after his address, the audience were not prepared for serious discussion. He got possession of the first copy of Cowper’s John Gilpin that came to the neighborhood, and kept it carefully for his appearance at the exhibition. A large audience was assembled. Allen’s appearance on the stage was the signal that the exercises were coming to a close, and the fountain of mirth to be opened. Rehearsing the stanzas, with proper tone and gesture, he speedily broke up the gravity of the most sedate, and for a time was the personification of fun and drollery. His complete success was injurious. His eccentric ways became fastened upon him beyond his power of escape. He was evidently a man for comedy. He was comedy itself; outwardly all fun and merriment, and inwardly pained at heart, and envying the swine.

With light and joyous mind he went to spend his vacation in the fall of 1787, with his father and friends in Cumberland. The Rev. Hope Hull, a popular and impressive preacher, well skilled in setting forth the claims of God’s violated law, preached in the neighborhood. He was a follower of Wesley, and had not yet separated from the Episcopal Church. The Methodists were then considered revived Episcopalians, and found ready access to Episcopal neighborhoods, desirous of hearing on the subject of spiritual religion. Young Allen went one night to hear Mr. Hull. The house being crowded, he stood in front of the preacher, and very near him. Before the exercises closed, he trembled, shook, and fell prostrate upon the floor. After the congregation was dismissed, he was in great agony, crying for mercy. He afterwards declared that he then put up his first earnest prayer to his justly offended God. When asked why he had never prayed before, having been religiously educated, and taught to repeat forms of prayer from his childhood, he replied, that in his view the character of God was so great, glorious and exalted, in his holiness, justice, omnipotence and omnipresence, that it appeared to him irreverence and mockery for him to speak to the Majesty of heaven, who well knew what a sinful wretch he was. Before he rose from the floor, he professed to surrender his rebellious heart to God, and to find peace in believing on the Lord Jesus. In a few days he returned to college, and renewed his studies. President Smith examined him closely on his experience and his views of religious truth, instructed him in the life of godliness, and gave him books to read; among others, Edwards on the Affections. Allen professed to have been long in trouble about his soul, had felt the wickedness of his heart, and his unfitness even for prayer; and that on the night he heard Mr. Hull, he had cast himself on the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. In every thing hut his eccentricity and aptness for drollery, Allen was a changed man; and these his foibles were henceforth under a restraining influence.

After much enquiry and reading and self-examination, he came to the conclusion that he loved the Lord Christ and ought to spend his life in preaching the gospel. Having finished his college course with honor, his morals untarnished and his profession of religion unspotted, he commenced the study of Theology in preparation for the gospel ministry. His friends were in great doubt about the propriety of his choice of profession. His way of thinking and speaking would provoke a smile when there was no cause for ridicule or sneering because there was nothing mean, or vulgar, or vile in the subjects under consideration. Carrying the impress of honesty and frankness, he had no natural or acquired gravity. But while smiling at the oddity of the speaker in his exhortations at prayer-meetings, the hearer would be arrested by his intense earnestness. He, that began to listen with a smile, would in the end be bathed in tears. Allen seemed to those, who knew him best, to live only for religion ; his heart was filled with desires to do good. His acquaintances loved him for his devotion to God, while they feared he would mar his usefulness as a minister, by his strange fun-producing ways; and threw many obstacles in the way of his entering the ministry, to divert his attention and lead him to some other pursuit in life. But all these efforts were in vain.

In January 1789, he was received by the Hanover Presbytery, met at Buffalo, as candidate for the gospel ministry, after an enquiry at some length— “into his experimental knowledge of religion, and a work of grace in his soul, and after some time spent in hearing from him a detail of God’s dealings with him, and examining into his motives for desiring to preach the gospel.” At the next meeting held April 26th, in the same year, at Buffalo, Mr. Legrand delivered his popular sermon and read his lecture, and on the next day Mr. Allen read an essay on the Extent of Christ’s Redemption, and a Presbyterial exercise upon John 3d. 8th,—The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the spirit. Mr. Legrand was licensed to preach, and Mr. Allen had other parts of trial assigned him. At Pisgah, in Bedford, Oct.

1789, Mr. Allen was called on to open Presbytery with his popular discourse on Rom. 7th. 13, 14; he read his lecture upon Luke 15th, from the 12th to the 32d verse, inclusive. Wm. Hill and Daniel Wiley were received candidates. Mr. Allen’s pieces of trial were sustained. At Mr. Mitchel’s house on the 19th, “The Presbytery then entered upon the examination of Mr. Allen on Divinity, and after spending a considerable time thereon, were of opinion that he is not so well acquainted with that necessary science as to be sufficiently qualified to teach others, at present. They therefore recommend to him a diligent attention to the study of Divinity till the next session of Presbytery.” At this decision Allen was surprised and mortified. Legrand was licensed after about a year’s study ; a Methodist minister was at this meeting received and ordained; the revival was progressing, and calls for preaching came from every direction; and his trial pieces had been sustained. The Church has long since decided that two years in study are not improperly spent in preparation for the ministry; and Allen had passed but one, but had studied as long as was usual in his day. The want of ministerial gravity impressed the Presbytery with the fear that the spirit of Theology had not sufficiently imbued his soul. Allen bowed meekly to the decision and without a word of complaint pursued his studies. On the 8th of May, 1790, at Briery, after examination at length in Divinity, Mr. Allen was licensed to preach the gospel. The Presbytery took him by the hand as a token of fellowship. This ceremony became a standing rule from that time. Mr. Pattillo preached on the occasion from the words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.”

Mr. Hill was licensed in the following July. He and Mr. Allen passed the summer as missionaries in the counties along the Carolina line. In October the Presbytery, “ recommended Mr. Hill and Mr. Allen to the care and direction” of the commission of Synod on a request from that body. Allen had during the summer surpassed the expectations of his warmest friends. His whole soul was in his work. The careless and profane would listen to his talk; and whoever listened for any time must hear some great truths of religion. His frank open countenance, his polite demeanor, and his cheerfulness tinged with his indescribable drollery, attracted attention, and that once arrested Allen was sure of a hearing, be the auditor who he might, young or old, learned or unlearned, infidel or Christian. A sentence that provoked a smile would be followed by sentiment that shot like a barbed arrow to the heart. ,Often the very sentence that provoked the smile would make the heart ache. No one talked with him or heard him preach without feeling that he was a devotedly pious man. Multitudes under his ministry were turned to God. He continued in the employ of the commission of Synod about three years. In this time he made two trips across the Alleghenies.

The first tour of missionary service in that part of Virginia now embraced in the State of Kentucky, was performed by Mr. Allen and Robert Marshall, under the direction of the Commission in 1791. The route to Kentucky was dreary and dangerous. A vast wilderness intervened the settlements east of the Alleghenies and the scattered inhabitants on the Western rivers. Indians, hostile to the progress of the white man to their hunting grounds, infested the route by land or water. The emigrants were accustomed to assemble at Fort Redstone, the head of boat navigation on the Monongahela, now called Brownsville. They might descend the Monongahela and Ohio rivers in boats, or cross the mouutains on pack-horses. Emigrants commonly preferred to descend the rivers, as less fatiguing. Those returning^from Kentucky preferred crossing the mountains.

As some time was necessarily consumed in the preparations for embarkation, Messrs. Allen and Marshall had opportunity to make proof of their ministry in Pennsylvania. Their zeal in the cause of the gospel excited great attention; and the use of Watts’s psalms and hymns provoked opposition. Many refused to hear them; but crowds of young people flocked to their appointments in private houses. A large number became deeply interested on the subject of their salvation. When the emigrants embarked there was a company of inquirers left around Redstone, many of whom afterwards became, hopefully, Christians, and were united with the Church of Christ.

After the usual exposures and labors of the passage down the rivers in boats, the missionaries arrived safe in Kentucky, and without delay commenced their labors. Both were popular and useful; and both eventually settled in that State. In habits and manner of preaching they were antipodes. Marshall was grave and reserved; Allen cheerful to excess and social. Marshall declaimed powerfully, and could reason closely and exhibit much research. Allen, by his manner and cheerful speeches, would arrest attention, and fill the mind with pious thoughts without any pretence to argument or research, or splendid declamation. For a time they went along in company. The calls for preaching becoming numerous, and at great distances, they separated to supply the urgent demand for the ministration of the word. In due time Mr. Marshall became pastor of the churches Bethel and Blue Spring. His ashes lie near Bethel church.

On Silver Creek was a settlement from Virginia. With them was living a Baptist minister, who had removed with them. He had grown lax in his sentiments, and preached Universalism. Many admired the new doctrine. Reports respecting Mr. Allen awakened a desire to hear him preach, and an invitation was sent to him to visit Silver Creek. On an appointed day a large crowd was assembled. The log meeting-house being small, a stand was erected in the woods. When Mr. Allen ascended the stand the Universalist took his seat by his side. After a pause, Mr. Allen arose and looking round upon the concourse assembled, seemed lost in thought. At length breaking silence — “I do not know to what to compare the people in Kentucky.” Another long pause. “But I think they remind me of a nest of young robins as much as anything I can think of. Go to their nest and chirp, and every one will hold his mouth wide open, and you may put in what you please, food or poison, and it all goes down alike. Get up here and tell the people you are going to preach to them, and they stare at the preacher with eyes and mouth open, and you may say what you please, truth or error, sense or nonsense, and they are equally pleased, if you call it preaching. A man has been preaching here, who tells you he has found out a little hack door in hell, where you may all step out, and get safely round to heaven at last; and because he called it preaching you gulped it. Poison, rank Poison. If you trust to this unscriptural fancy, you will land in that place of fire and brimstone between which and heaven there rolls the unfathomable gulf you can never pass.” He then gave a plain, pungent sermon, warning his hearers of the doom of all impenitent sinners. The audience were captivated by the honesty of the man, and deeply impressed with the truths he delivered. He preached to the congregation repeatedly. On the 21st of April, 1792, a call was made out for him by desire of the people, and signed by Thomas Maxwell, Samuel Woods, Alexander Mackey, James Henderson, John Cochran, John Young, and Robert Dickey. They pledged for his support <£150 the first year, and afterwards as they might agree.

Mr. Allen returned to Virginia soon after this call was made out. He went with a company on horseback across the mountains, carrying his rifle like the rest, in defence against the patrolling Indians, girded with a wampum shot pouch that had been taken from a hostile Indian, and presented to him, in appearance more like a real backwoodsman than a gospel minister. The party often saw the trail of savages, but met no enemy. After parting with his travelling companions, passing on through Campbell County alone, towards evening, after a long day’s ride, he determined to call for the night upon an old gentleman, an elder in the Church, in easy circumstances, who lived not far from the road. The day had been warm, and he had put on a yellow grounded calico morning gown, with his wampum belt for a girdle. About dusk he approached the house, and asked the lady, who answered his call, for lodging and food. Not liking his appearance in this strange costume, with rifle in hand, she said they were not in the habit of entertaining strangers, and begged him to apply elsewhere. Allen replied — “The day is spent, I and my horse are weary; and I have been taught that it is right for good people to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Moved by the text of scripture, the old lady bid him come in. He entered cheerfully, set his rifle in the corner of the room, hung his wampum belt upon the muzzle, and set himself at ease. “You have been travelling some distance?” “Yes, a considerable distance, madam.” “Pray, sir, where are you from?” “From Kentucky, madam.” “And what news do you bring from that new country?” “Nothing much out of the usual way.” After a pause — “There is something which has excited a good deal of interest and talk among the people. Certain men have been there and brought strange things to their ears. Some do not understand these things; and others think there is a great deal of truth in them.” “Why, who are they; and what do they talk about?” “They call themselves preachers, and talk much about the Bible, and say people must be born again, and be converted, and the like of that; and many folks don’t know what to make of such talk.” “Well, if we believe the Bible, people must experience these things.” “Aye, that is another thing which they talk much about — experience: they often talk of experience as an important point; but many do not know what is meant by it.” “Every true Christian knows what is meant by it,” said the lady.

At this point in the conversation the old gentleman came in and took his seat. “But Madam, resumed Allen, you said every good Christian knows what experience means. Pray Madam can you tell what it means?” The old lady appeared unwilling to talk more before a thoughtless stranger, on the subject of experience. But Mr. Allen pressed the matter, saying he wished to know what it was. With some hesitation she told him the exercises of her mind till she found peace in believing on the Lord Jesus. Indeed, said Allen, is that what people mean by Christian experience? Then turning to the old man—he inquired of him—if he had the experience of grace in his heart. The old man said he hoped so—but did not know for certain that he was ever converted. Do you think, said Allen—an experience of religion necessary ?—for instance—if a man is strictly honest, pays his debts, is charitable to the poor, and upright, and moral, may not such a man be saved without all this fuss about religion? The old man thought that such a man might probably be saved. “In fact, says Allen, is it any matter what religion a man is of, if he is Only sincere, and charitable, and honest, and lives a good moral life?” The old man thought such an one might be saved as well as others. Supper was now announced.

Allen walked to the table, devoutly asked a blessing, and sat down. The old lady gazed at him for a time. In the name of common sense who are you ? Are you a minister of the gospel ? Allen smiled, told his name, and said he had been trying to preach the gospel. Now Mr. Allen, said she, ain't you ashamed to play such pranks on an old woman, to make her expose herself. Never mind, said Allen, you have not exposed yourself; you have borne an honorable testimony, that you are not ashamed of your religion, but are willing to confess Christ before men. But as for you, turning to the old man—you have given evidence that you know nothing about religion—and that you are in the gall of bitterness, and the bond of iniquity. He then exhorted the old man to flee from the wrath to come.

After a short visit at home, Mr. Allen prepared to return to Kentucky. The commission were well satisfied with his report; and in sending him back to his former scene of labor, they gave him for a companion, the Rev. William Calhoon, who had been licensed to preach on the 12th May of that year, 1792. In descending the Ohio, the boat in which they were embarked was attacked by Indians. Mr. Allen insisted on having his post, and rifle in hand, with cheerfulness, faced the danger as fearless and composed as if the enemy were not near.

On reaching Kentucky and resuming the work of a missionary, Mr. Allen resolved to get clear of his eccentric ways, and be as grave as Marshall, and his present companion, Calhoon. The year’ previous, Marshall seeing the impression made by Allen’s humor, resolved to relax somewhat of his gravity and follow the track of Allen. A few attempts, however, convinced him of the absurdity of all such attempts; and he renewed his efforts to improve the powers God had given him, and became the most impressive speaker in Kentucky. Allen admired gravity in others, and felt his want of it charmed with the ministerial dignity of his young friend, he determined to imitate him. With all the gravity he could assume, he went to his next appointment, rode to the house slowly, dismounted in a slow quiet manner, spoke gravely to the people, moved about in a solemn manner without a smile or exciting a smile in others. People were astonished. Are you unwell, Mr. Allen? Has anything happened, Mr. Allen? Have you heard any bad news, Mr. Allen? Any affliction among your friends, Mr. Allen? At last bursting into a laugh, to the surprise and merriment of all, he exclaimed — “I can play Calhoon no longer.” When the excitement was over, he made them weep under his sermon.

In the fall of 1793, Messrs. Allen and Calhoon returned to Virginia, and met the Presbytery at Cumberland meeting-house, Nov. 8th. The record is — “Sir. Carey Allen and Mr. William Calhoon who have been under the direction of the commission of Synod producing their dismission from that body with recommendations to the Presbytery, were again received and recorded as probationers under their charge.” On the next day, Mr. Allen was appointed to supply in Albemarle, Madison, Louisa, Goochland, and Buckingham; Mr. Calhoon in Mecklenburg, Lunenberg, Nottaway, and Amelia. The tour performed the succeeding winter by Mr. Allen was remembered through life by the youths and children on whom his conversation made the deepest impression. The cheerful man of God fastened their attention, and engraved on their memory the things of religion. Some living now will say — “I remember him at our house," and will tell what passed.

In the Spring of 1794, Mr. Allen removed to Kentucky. In preparation for a permanent residence west of the Alleghenies, he was married to a daughter of Col. Fleming, of Botetourt. In passing back and forth during the winter, he preached at Pattonsburg. Coi. Skillern, an amiable old Virginia gentleman, not particularly inclined to religion, supposed to be somewhat infected*with infidelity, went to hear him. Struck with the benignant countenance of the preacher, and impressed favorably by his singular sermon, he sought an introduction, and invited him to his house. Mr. Allen declined the invitation, having agreed to pass the night with another family. “Weil, Mr. Allen,” said the Colonel, “I shall be happy to see you at my house at any time that will suit your convenience.” “But, Colonel, 1 am sent out to preach the gospel, I have no other business; so I preach wherever 1 go.” “That forms no objection, Mr. Allen, 1 shall be glad to see you, and have some of your conversation.” “Well now, Colonel, suppose I make an appointment to preach at your house a little time hence V’ “Agreed, Mr. Allen, make what appointment you please.” Mr. Allen immediately gave notice that on a certain Sabbath they might expect preaching at Col. Skillern’s. “Now, Colonel, you may expect me the Saturday before.”

On the appointed Saturday, Mr. Allen was most kindly received by the Colonel and his family; and the afternoon and evening were spent in cheerful conversation. The improvement of James River was the absorbing subject at that time. The passage of a canal through the Blue Bidge, on the banks of the river, was considered of vital importance to the Valley. The Colonel was greatly interested, as his possessions in lands and negroes were very large, and the difficulties in reaching market very much diminished the profits of his farming operations. Mr. Allen made no effort to turn the conversation in which the Colonel’s heart was so engaged. At bed time he said, “It is my custom, Colonel, wherever I lodge, to have family prayers before I retire, will you call in your family?” “Certainly, sir;” and the family were assembled, and worship attended with great solemnity.

On Sabbath morning the Colonel began on James River, and its improvements. “Colonel,” says Mr. Allen, “what day is this?” “Sunday morning, sir.” “Aye, so it is; and now will you tell me the design of the Sabbath day?” “It is for rest, and the worship of God.” “Well, then, Colonel,” said Allen, in his most pleasant manner, “we have had six busy days on James River, we are to let James River rest to-day, and all worldly matters, and attend to the proper business of the day. We will, if you please, begin with family worship before breakfast.” “Certainly, Mr. Allen;” and the family attended worship with great solemnity. After breakfast the Colonel began again on James River. “To the point, Colonel, to the point,” said Allen, and turned the conversation upon the unsatisfying nature of earthly things, and the necessity of laying a good foundation for time to come.

At th6 hour of preaching, the house was filled; rooms, passage, porch, all were occupied, and some even standing in the yard. The attention to the sermon was good; some of the hearers were deeply affected. Towards the close of the sermon, Mr. Allen turned to the Colonel’s negroes who had been assembled, “You negroes, I have a word for you. Do you think that such poor black, dirty-looking creatures as you can ever get to heaven? I do not speak this because I despise you, and have no tender feelings for you; by no means. I pity you from my heart. You are poor slaves, and have a hard time of it here; you work hard, and have few of the comforts of life that you can enjoy; but I can tell you that the blessed Saviour shed his blood as much for you as for your masters, or any of the white people. He purchased pardon for you as much as for the white people. He has opened the door of heaven wide for you, and invites you to come in. I have thought the poor negro slaves, of all people, ought to strive the hardest to get religion, and make their peace with God. Your masters may make some sort of excuse for serving the devil, because they have many of the good things of this life, with the pleasures of sin for a season. But what have you to make a heaven of in this world? What do you get for serving the devil here? You may become religious, and find peace with God as easy as white persons, and I think easier too, for you have not half so many temptations in your path. Make God your friend, and take Jesus for your Saviour, and he will keep you through all your troubles here ; and though your skins may be black here, you will hereafter shine like the stars in the firmament. I entreat you, set about this work without delay. Break off from all your wicked ways, your lying, stealing, swearing, drunkenness, and vile lewdness; give yourselves to prayer and repentance, and fly to Jesus, and give up your heart to him in true earnest, and flee from the wrath to come.” The negroes wept abundantly. The white people were more affected with the address to the black people than with the sermon to themselves. Allen parted with the family on the kindest terms. He never visited them again. He soon left Virginia for ever.

In one of his various journeyings, he found at the tavern at which he called to pass the night, a company of young people assembled for a dance. The landlord, at his request, accommodated him with a comfortable room and blazing fire ; and announced to the company, when about to begin the dance, that a very agreeable gentleman had arrived at the house and taken lodgings, and perhaps might be induced to join the dance. Well, said a lively, pretty girl, I will go and get him for my partner. Entering his door, she dropped a handsome curtsy, and said — sir, shall I have the pleasure of a dance with you this evening ? Allen eyed her for a moment, and said — well, my little sweet-heart, I cannot deny such a charming little girl what she asks. So taking her by the hand, they together entered the ball-room, and took their stand upon the floor. Just as the fiddle was called for to begin — stop! stop! says Allen, we are a little too fast; I make it a point to engage in nothing without asking heaven’s blessing upon it. Let us pray. He put up a fervent prayer of some length. At its close, discovering he had made a deep impression, he gave a solemn exhortation. His lively partner, trembling with alarm, fell upon the floor, and was laid upon a couch. Some of the young men left the room; others wept profusely; and many exhibited deep feeling. The dance was broken up, and the evening spent in religious worship ; many were asking what they should do to be saved. Tradition says there were some hopeful conversions from among the enquirers. In his talent, or capability of saying and doing things which ordinary men could never accomplish, and should never attempt, was the secret of Allen’s popularity. His sanctified eccentricity made him a useful man.

A little before his removal to Kentucky, he preached in Lexington. Paine’s Age of Reason had been circulated among the youth, and a number of store boys and apprentices were quite captivated with the work. There was much talk among the young people about the soundness of the arch-infidel’s opinions. A large company had assembled to hear Mr. Allen preach. Towards the close of the sermon he said — “Young men I have a word with you before I close;— you say some of you, that ,by the help of Paine’s Age of Reason, you have found out that religion is all a fable, and that the Bible is nothing but a pack of priest-craft. Now, I ask you what do you know about religion and the Bible? When did you bestow half of the pains and time in studying the Bible that you have upon Paine’s Age of Reason? You green-heads, you are nothing but the retailers of the shreds and scraps of Infidelity; mere echoes of an echo. You know no more about religion than a goose does about geography.” This attack came unexpectedly. The serious and grave could scarce restrain a laugh; the contaminated youth bit their lips. Infidel talk was however banished from Lexington, or confined to private places. “Green-heads,” and “goose’s geography,” would silence all cavils at religion. The infidel was killed with his own favorite weapon.

Early in the spring, having accepted the call from Silver Creek and Paint Creek, which had been in his hands about two years, Mr. Allen removed to Kentucky. His father sent by him the following letter to Jacob Fishback:

Cumberland Cy., Virginia, March 7tb, 1794.

Sir—I received your letter by my son Cary; and I read it, and I believed every word that you wrote to be the truth. My heart said give him up, cheerfully up, to do the Lord’s work, be it where he was called for most. But my flesh scringes at it, and would make the water flow out of my head very freely; and I could not help it. But it appears to me now, at this time, he is wanted here as much as at Cantuck ; and I will give reasons for it. Cary’s connexion is very large, and people that are of no church are very fond to hear him ; they have faith in him. He is now married, and I am pleased at that; perhaps it may be a means of hearing from him oftener than had he married in Cantucky. But now, my dear sir, you have all the advantage of me, his old father, who must go out of the world shortly, and Cary a favorite child. Will you sympathise with me, and let him come to see me. His friends would now stop him from going could they do it. But his heart is at Cantucky; and I never did undertake to persuade him against going, but often told him I was opposed to it, and could not be angry with him. I am now sixty-five years old, a planter, and never was but a little over one hundred miles from home in my life. I have seen and felt two revivals in my time; and now we are very cold in religion again. I was in Hanover when religion first sprung up in my neighborhood ; and now at that place there is scarcely the shadow of religion. And will it be so here ? God forbid it should. If it should I cannot stay here. But I am in hopes when the seed is sown in the heart it will not die. My desires are the same now as ever ; and I feel now like I never could give up to the foolish fashions and customs of the world. I remain a stranger, but am in hopes a friend to you and you to me. Danl. Allen.

The simplicity and godly sincerity that appear in this letter characterized all that section of country around Hampden Sidney College, occupied by the Presbyterian congregations. Mr. Allen would probably have yielded to the wishes of his father and friends, and have remained in Virginia for life; but his numerous admirers in Kentucky gave him no rest, sending messages and letters to call him west of the Alleghenies.

On the 11th of October, 1794, he was ordained pastor of the two churches that had given him the call. Feeling himself the shepherd of the flock, he was ready to spend and be spent for those for whom Christ laid down his life. v One cold winter night ho preached in a log cabin to a crowded auditory. After service, leaving the room in a free perspiration, he rode some miles to the place of his lodging ; took cold and fell ill. A cough succeeded, and a rapid decline. On the 5th of August, 1795, he breathed his last, being in his twenty-ninth year; leaving a wife and one child, a daughter. As he approached his end, his desire to be useful lost none of their intensity. He called the elders to his room for counsel and exhortation. He sent for members of the church in companies, and exhorted them; and thus kept the spirit of piety alive. He departed in the triumph of faith. His grave is in a burying-ground near Danville, marked by head and foot-stones, erected in 1523 by the Presbytery of Transylvania.

The sedate, unaffected, sincere, and conscientious young companion of Cary Allen, on his second trip to Kentucky, William Calhoon, was reared in Prince Edward County, the son of a pious elder in the Briery Church. Born in 1772, and early instructed in religious truth, and the practice of strict morality, unusually inclined to gravity, and very respectful to religion, and its ministers, he became a member of Hampden Sidney College, at the age of fourteen. He was a student there during the great revival, which made its appearance, among the Presbyterians, first in Briery; and was a partaker of its blessings. His father lived about six miles from the College, and required his son to return home every Saturday, and pass the Sabbath with the' family in private, social, and public worship of God. This keeping the Sabbath holy cherished in the mind of the youth those religious impressions early made. All the jeers and laugh of the thoughtless boys in College, not one of whom was known to be religious, could not destroy the conscientious sedateness of young Calhoon in any matters that concerned morality and religion. In cheerfulness and close attention to his studies he was surpassed by none.

When William Hill began to be disturbed about the condition of his soul, he requested this sedate lad, as he was going home of a Saturday, to ask his father to send him some good book to read. The message was delivered in presence of the family. Miss Peggy, a pious elder sister, said, “I know what to send—I have got the very book for him.” And on Monday, young Calhoon carried to College a much used copy of Alleine’s Alarm to the Unconverted. This book was the occasion of discovering the seriousness in College, and of uniting the prayerful in a social band. In the revival which followed, the bearer of the book was a hopeful partaker of the blessings. That Allen, and Hill, and Read, and Calhoon, and Blythe should cherish a warm friendship for each other and for Legrand, was but the natural consequence of companionship in the early exercises of a renewed heart. Allen, mirthfully eccentric; Hill fiery, passionate and lofty, yet mirth-loving ; Read, resolute but full of kindness, with the simplicity of a child; Blythe, full of generous feeling, and from the hour he wept in Hill’s room over his remissness in religion, an unflinching defender of the truth as it is in Christ; and Calhoon, with his gravity, ardor, and tender conscience, all of them ran for Christ a race marked with their individual characteristics, and abounding in blessings to the church.

When about nineteen years of age, Mr. Calhoon offered himself a candidate for the ministry, to the Presbytery holding its sessions at the Briery Meeting House, April 1st, 1791. His examination took place that evening, in the dwelling of Mrs. Morton, and record was made of his acceptance. In the absence of the moderator, Robert Marshall, a licentiate under the care of the commission of Synod, opened the Presbytery, being present, in preparation to go with Allen to Kentucky on a mission. In October, at Cub Creek, the candidates, Moses Waddell and William Calhoon, appeared for examination. In the evening, at the house of Littlejoe Morton, they read their trial pieces, Mr. Calhoon’s being a lecture on 110th Psalm. The examination on Greek and Moral Philosophy was on May 10th, 1792, at D. S. Mr. Calhoon was called to open Presbytery with his trial sermon for licensure, on John 6th, 37, All that the Father give thme shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. On the 12th, William Calhoon, Moses Waddell, and William Williamson, having passed the various examinations and trials required by Presbytery, were licensed to preach the gospel. One of the candidates for licensure, Mr. Waddell, had a seat in Presbytery as elder from Cumberland congregation. At a meeting of the Presbytery at Bethel, July 27th, 1792, Mr. Calhoon was recommended to the commission of Synod:—And at a meeting of the commission, in Harrisonburg, Sept. 22d, he was appointed missionary, and sent with Mr. Allen to Kentucky, on his second visit to that region.

In descending the Ohio, the boat in which the missionaries were embarked, was fired upon by some bands of savages, for plunder. The cheerful Allen,- and the sedate Calhoon stood bravely for defence, and demanded an equal exposure to danger. Allen, by his mirth-moving eccentricities, would first attract the attention of strangers, and his frank, open-hearted bearing in his piety, would impress those whose attention he had won. The youth, gravity, uprightness, and bravery of Calhoon, now about twenty years of age, made an impression in his favor as a minister of the gospel, who was to bo listened to with respect. His sociability in private circles, and deep earnestness in the performance of his ministerial duties, held the attention once gained, aud often ripened it into abiding seriousness. Allen preferred Calhoon’s manner to his own, and would have adopted it if he could ; but found, like Marshall, who preferred Allen’s, in some things, to his own, that in style and manner, it is better to improve nature, than to try to change her; imperfections may be remedied, and excellencies improved.

Mr. Calhoon was an acceptable missionary, and travelled extensively among the infant and scattered settlements of Kentucky. He left no diaries or journals. It is not known that he ever kept any. He had an excellent memory. He trusted it like Robinson of North Carolina; and it was faithful to him. Almost everything respecting himself he committed to her charge, the dates and facts of his various travels, his experience, his reading, his observations on men and things, the sayings of those he loved, his interviews and discussions, all were safely treasured np for time of need. He often entertained his family and others with his adventures in Kentucky; but left no record.

In November, 1793, he was received back from the commission by the Presbytery, at Cumberland meeting-house, at the time Mr. Alexander was received a licentiate from Lexington; on December 25th, of the same year, he was transferred to Transylvania Presbytery to become a resident of Kentucky. On the 12th of February, 1795, he was ordained pastor of Ash Ridge and Cherry Spring. Not being entirely satisfied with his position and prospects he returned to Virginia, and at the Cove, May 9th, 1799, was, without written credentials, received, on oral testimony of a dismission from Transylvania, a member of Hanover Presbytery. For some years he preached at D. S. and other places in Albemarle. On the 3d of May, 1805, at a meeting of Presbytery at Bell Grove, he accepted a call from Staunton and Brown’s meeting-house, and was on the same day transferred to Lexington Presbytery. To these he devoted his time and strength for a series of years. The increasing services, required by the enlarging congregations, induced him, as the infirmities of age came on him, to withdraw, first, from Staunton which he thought, and rightly, required the undivided attention of a minister; and then, from Brown’s meeting-house, which had taken the name of Hebron, and which required the labors of a strong man. Retaining a great degree of activity and resolution he supplied vacancies, and preached in neighborhoods that were desirous of hearing the gospel, and not favorably situated to attend upon divine service in the regular churches. His ministerial labors were always equal to his strength, and often, in the estimation of his family, beyond it. He was never satisfied, in that particular, till he felt conscious he had gone to the utmost of his strength, and that consciousness he often found on a bed of pain and exhaustion. His family were never afraid that he would rust out. He was always afraid that he should not wear out.

He was united in marriage to the eldest daughter of Dr. Waddell ; and was happy in his domestic relations. She survived him, having been his companion in his joys and sorrows about half a century.

Mr. Calhoon was a hearty Presbyterian. Reared under the fostering wing of Virginia Presbyterianism, he gave the Church of his parents his earliest and his latest love. He carefully studied her doctrines, examined her forms, and investigated her history. In comparison with the Church of Rome, he was a Protestant upon conviction; in the philosophy of his religious creed, he was a Pre-destinarian; in the forms of the Church he held to the parity of the clergy and simplicity in worship ; in practice he was pure in morals, upright between man and man, and exercised a benevolence that would embrace the whole race. He was a friend of all institutions by whomsoever conducted that contemplated the conversion of the world to God, and the elevation of the human race, on Christian principles.

Mr. Calhoon was a ready, prompt man. All his stores were at his command at a moment’s warning. His self-possession was never surprised. He always appeared at ease. Preaching, at a certain time, at Rocky Spring, Augusta County, a member of another church exclaimed in the midst of sermon — “I deny that doctrine,’’ and by his rudeness excited some uneasiness in the congregation. “Good people,” said Mr. Calhoon, “be pleased to be quiet; that gentleman and myself will discuss the matter.” In a few moments the discussion was through, and Mr. Calhoon went on with his argument, and finished his discourse as if nothing had happened. Quick in retort, he would sometimes disconcert that master of words and humor, Dr. Speece. The directness of the thrust was equalled only by the kindness of the manner.

Mr. Calhoon was a brave man. Unobtrusive, unpretending in his manner, very polite in his intercourse with his fellow-men, frank, open and cheerful, and master of his passions — he was never known to show any cowardice. He seemed to know his position and the danger that was imminent, and the way he must ward it off, escape, or overcome, and could adapt himself to circumstances with wonderful facility. In one of the necessary journeyings from Kentucky, which in those days were always performed on horseback, he was passing alone a track of wilderness, and was overtaken by the approach of night, some miles from the lonely tavern where he might lodge. A bright moon cheered him with her light. Suddenly a horseman emerged from a forest path, and, in silence, took the road a few steps in his rear. Annoyed by the singular conduct of the stranger, after proceeding some distance, he suddenly wheeled his horse and said — “Sir, I am strongly impressed with the belief, from your appearance, that you are a robber. I must protect myself. Now 1 order you to take the road before me until we reach the next house. Then if it appears that I hare wronged you, I will make any amends in my power.” The horseman, after a moment’s delay, took the lead in silence for about a mile, then suddenly by a side path dashed into the forest. It was the opinion of those at the tavern, which Mr. Calhoon soon reached, that by his presence of mind and promptness he had escaped the hands of one of those, who had for some time infested the wilderness and committed numerous robberies, and some murders. Prompt in command and in danger, he was profoundly submissive to constituted authority in its legitimate exercise, fearless of exposure or of disgrace.

Mr. Calhoon was a social man. He enjoyed society and made himself agreeable. Always preserving the propriety of his ministerial character, he would approach the young and thoughtless, and even opposers of religion, with cheerful news and pleasing anecdotes, and give the conversation a religious turn to impress some great truth of a spiritual nature. In the discussions that would sometimes follow, he was remarkably happy, in setting forth the truth, removing all difficulties and objections. In the opinion of some his preaching talents, of a high order, were excelled by his conversational powers. It is certain that the good impressions made by his pulpit services were not obliterated by his private intercourse. “Do you remember” said Dr. Speece to Mr. Calhoon, soon after the death of the Honorable William Wirt, “the discussion you had with Mr. Wirt when you were living in Albemarle?” “I do very well” replied Mr. Calhoon. “Well,” said the Dr. “I visited him in his last sickness, and he told me that he was a miserable man ever after till he embraced Christianity.”

Mr. Calhoon related the circumstance of the discussion. He called to see the family of Dr. Gilmer at Pen Park, near Charlottesville. Mr. Wirt the husband of the eldest daughter made a part of the family. In the afternoon the origin and authority of the Christian religion became the subject of conversation. Mr. Wirt arrayed the arguments and facts and illustrations of the French infidel philosophers, at that time exercising a vast influence in Virginia by their novelty, apparent fairness and the support they received from men high in the public estimation. Mr. Calhoon was endeavoring to convince the young lawyer of the dangerous ground on which he was standing, and the unsoundness of the positions he had assumed. Mr. Wirt was arguing that Christianity was of human origin, and of course its facts fabulous; Mr. Calhoon, that it was from God and its facts and doctrines of course all true. The discussion grew warm. Both felt its importance. At late bed time Mr. Wirt himself conducted Mr. Calhoon to his room, conversing all the way, and while he was preparing for bed; then sitting down continued the discussion till the candle flickered in its sacket. Then undressing he threw himself into an adjoining bed and continued the discussion. The dawn found them still warmly engaged, unconscious of the passage of the hours of night. After breakfast Mr. Wirt accompanied Mr. Calhoon several miles on his way, still earnestly engaged in the discussion. In consequence of that discussion Mr. Wir said he was a miserable man till he embraced Christianity.

Mr. Calhoon was a punctual and pleasant member of judicatories, fond of discussion, and not tenacious of an opinion about mere circumstantials. Contending valiantly for the truth, he could yield a world of non-essentials for love, and give up a proposition frankly expressed for the proposition of a brother that would secure unanimity. His conscientiousness was sometimes extreme. He knew not how to give up an appointment for preaching, except for sickness or some most marked providence of God. Distance, cold, storm, mud, waters, must be in .excess to shake his resolution one moment. His conscience was more likely to make him do and suffer more for little things than the generality of men will for the greatest. He would sooner ask an ungodly crowd at a village tavern to join with him in prayer before he went to rest, than many others would call their quiet families to the worship of God. His greatest difficulty with his conscience was to find the boundaries of prudence. His great horror of being at fault in his duty as a Christian minister, or man, often led him into positions which the prudence of some would have avoided, and the cowardice of others would have shunned. He never counted the cost of fearing God and keeping a good conscience.

Mr. Calhoon was not fond of his pen. He could use it. It probably would have been better for him and those that came after him, had he used it more. One short letter of recollections sent to F. N. Watkins, enriched the sketch of the revival at Hampden Sidney College, in the former series. He could tell an anecdote, or relate a fact, well. He had multitudes at command; and often resolved to commit, some of them at least, to paper; and at last suffered most of them to pass away with himself. He wrote but few sermons. He meditated and arranged his thoughts with care. But if, in the warmth of his public exercises, any new thoughts, or a new arrangement pleased him, he adopted^ them forthwith. Sometimes like his beloved preceptor, he would follow one head of his discourse or the new thought, to the entire neglect of the symmetry of his announced plan, or pre-arranged order; and so subject himself to the suspicion of having lost his way, or of not having prepared his sermon. Those that knew him understood the whole matter, and sometimes rejoiced, and sometimes mourned, at the event. In any circumstances he was not a dull preacher; always good, he was often deeply interesting. God appointed him trials fitted to his nature; he felt them and acknowledged the hand that smote. A particular relation might instruct others how to bear, and how to avoid, afflictions. But like his brother Hill, having reaped the benefit of sore trials, he has left the record of them to the book of God.


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