Rode 2,200 miles to wed
1792 – Three days after Abraham Marshall arrived back from New England where he had gone seeking a wife, he spoke again of his intent on marriage. The forty-four year old preacher and thirty-one year old maiden had a whirl-wind six day romance then the bold preacher proposed marriage and at 7 pm that evening, the couple were married before a group of friends. Abraham had stopped at the John Waller home in Spottsylvania, Virginia on his way to the North where he met his daughter, the lovely Miss Ann Waller. John Waller was the famed Separate Baptist preacher of that day. Miss Ann proved to be of the same hardy stock, and the couple set off on their “horseback honeymoon,” which covered approximately five hundred and fifty miles. Abraham told of his trip in his diary, how they swam rivers and creeks, chased loose horses, slept out under the stars, and shivered through cold and rainy days and dark nights, and ever meeting good friends…until three months absence to a day, found “us at home amid the tears, joys and congratulations of friends, on Big Kiokee.” Ann proved to be a great blessing to her husbands ministry. The couple had four sons, and their oldest son Jabez, succeeded his father as pastor at Kiokee. He wrote tenderly of his mother, “Through the whole of her life she was exemplarily pious…Often, when her husband was traveling and preaching the glad tidings of great joy to perishing sinners, would she collect her little family at home, her children and servants, and teach them and instruct them in the ways of truth…Often would sing with them, and collect them around her upon her knees, and supplicate the God in whom she had trusted, to bless her rising family.” Ann died in 1815 at age 54, Abraham died in 1819 at age 72. What an example for us.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 130.
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Three generations of pastors
1832 – Jabez Marshall died and ended three generations of the Marshall’s family as the pastors of the Kiokee Baptist Church in Georgia. His father Abraham and his grandfather Daniel had followed before him. Jabez died of the complication of measles at the age of thirty-nine along with that of an overworked body. This ended sixty years of the ministry of this one family. Jabez was also the pastor of the Sharon Baptist Church and had founded the Salem Baptist Church. Jabez had performed the marriage of Issachar J. Roberts in 1830 and his bride who pioneered a missions to lepers in China and finally died there of leprosy himself in 1866. Jabez was a zealous advocate of all mission’s activities at that time. At his own request he was buried at the church rather than in the family cemetery. The Marshall family were Separate Baptists who ministered from 1772 to 1832. Jabez was the oldest son of Abraham and Ann Marshall, but his early life didn’t hold much hope of spiritual fulfillment. His father sent him off to college but he had little interest in an academic life. When he returned home he was soon under great conviction of sin and was saved and baptized. It wasn’t long until he was preaching and exhorting, and after proving the sincerity of his faith was ordained into the gospel ministry. Abraham passed away in the summer of 1819 and Jabez served as the interim pastor of the church and then was called as full time pastor in Nov. 1821. It wasn’t long that he proved himself to be the same caliber Shepherd that his father and grandfather had been for the flock. He was persuasive in his preaching, and is messages never lacked doctrinal undergirding. What a great reunion day that must have been when all three Marshall’s met again when home at last.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 127.
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First Black Baptists in Savannah, GA
1788 – Andrew Bryan was ordained into the gospel ministry. Bryan pastored the first Negro Baptist church in Georgia. The church was founded by Abraham Marshall whose father, Daniel, founded the first Baptist church in Georgia. Abraham baptized forty-five black believers and along with others who had been previously baptized he formed them into a church and called and ordained Andrew Bryan as pastor. Bryan had been a convert of George Leile who had been a slave of Deacon Henry Sharp of the First Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia. When Deacon Sharp detected that his servant was called of God, he emancipated the stirring preacher so that he could give himself totally to the preaching of the gospel. Ordained in 1775, Leile labored in and around Savannah before leaving in 1775 for Jamaica in 1779. Thus Leile predated the service of William Carey, “the founder of modern Baptist missions.” Upon Bryan’s death a resolution was passed by the Savannah Baptist Association in 1812. It read in part: “the Association is sensibly affected by the death of the Rev. Andrew Bryan, a man of color, and pastor of the First Colored Church in Savannah. This son of Africa, after suffering inexpressible persecutions in the cause of his divine Master, was at length permitted to discharge the duties of the ministry among his colored friends in peace and quiet, hundreds of whom through his instrumentality, were brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus…”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from; adapted from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 26-28.
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Some of these pastors were former slaves
The Ogeechee Baptist Church was formed in Savannah, Georgia on Jan. 02, 1803 with 250 members which was the third black Baptist church instituted in America. The first black Baptist church in America was the First African Baptist Church of Savannah, the results of the ministry of Abraham Marshall and Jesse Peter ((black), who instituted the Kiokee Baptist Church in Appling, GA. The pastor at Savannah was George Lisle (black), who eventually went as a missionary to Jamaica. Some of these pastors were former slaves, like Lisle and John Jasper who had been given freedom by their masters. However, when Rev. Henry Cunningham was called to the First African Baptist Church of Philadelphia (the sixth black church in America), his master wouldn’t release him. Henry had been a deacon in the 2nd Baptist church in Savannah (black) and later served as its pastor before being called to the Philadelphia church. Some members asked his master to let him go north to raise money to purchase his freedom but his master refused without surety, but there was no way that Henry could provide such a sum. But thank God, two faithful members of 2nd church, who were free-born, stepped forward and gave themselves into servitude as surety for Henry. The money was raised, the men were released and joined their beloved pastor in Philadelphia and formed the nucleus of the First African Baptist Church in Philadelphia. “Greater love hath no man than this…”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins /, pp. 3-4.