First baptisms in the Shenandoah
1770 – A BAPTIST PREACHER IMPRISONED FOR PREACHING WITHOUT A LICENSE IN VIRGINIA IN 1770 – February 26, 1770, was the beginning of the three-month imprisonment of John Pickett, mentioned in the entry for January 14, in the Fauquier County, VA Order Book for 1766, pages 242 and 243. The prison was a two room log building 18’ long and 16’ wide, dovetailed, with layered wood of good mortar between each log. There was a brick wall between the rooms with a fireplace in each room, secured with grates above and below to prevent the prisoners from escaping up the chimney. The only ventilation was a window 12 inches square in each room. These colonial prisons were like ovens in the summer and freezers in the winter, certainly not “country clubs” of our day in comparison. Many of those early preachers lost their health from these conditions and never recovered their strength. The opposition of John Pickett was at times fierce. Some times when he would preach in a grove of trees in the Culpepper area the, Anglican Church parson would appear with his supporters, sit a few yards in front of Pickett, and take notes of what he considered to be false doctrine. The parson would call him a schismatic, a broacher of false doctrines, and one that held up damnable errors. This was done to hold him up to public scorn. Often it backfired, in that it caused people to be sympathetic toward Picket. At that time, many were disgusted with the state hirelings, among whom there were those of disrepute. Some who were attracted by this confrontation and debate were converted to Christ. After Pickett was released his zeal led him to continue his labors around Culpepper and over the Blue Ridge. It is reported that the first baptisms to take place in the Shenandoah, there were as many as fifty who followed there Lord in this ordinance.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 79.
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Posted: 03 Feb 2014 12:00 PM PST
Chesterfield, County, VA
Being a Baptist was a crime
1774 – DAVID TINSLEY AND HIS FELLOW BAPTISTS, WERE DEFENDED BY PATRICK HENRY FOR PREACHING WITHOUT A LICENSE – David Tinsley was arrested on February 4, 1774. According to the Order Book of Chesterfield County, Virginia, Number 5, page 400, the charges were as follows: “David Tinsley being committed, charged with having assembled and preached to the people at sundry times and places in this county as a Baptist preacher, and the said David, acknowledging in court that he has done so. On consideration thereof the court being of opinion that the same is the breach of the peace & good behavior, It is ordered that he give surety…of the penalty of 50 pounds & two sureties in penalty of 25 pounds each.” This means that his crime was preaching the gospel as a Baptist. March 4 of the same year, Archibald W. Roberts was indicted for using hymns and poems instead of the psalms of David following communion and the sermon. Tinsley was confined for four months and 16 days in which he and fellow prisoners preached to the assembled crowds through the grates of the prison. The Association meeting at Hall’s Meeting House in Halifax County passed a resolution on behalf of the suffering preachers and received an offering for their defense. The money was wrapped in a handkerchief and sent to Patrick Henry to defend the preachers. Finally the jailers erected a wall over the window of the jail but when the crowd gathered a handkerchief on a pole told the preachers that the people were ready to hear and they commenced to preach. Those gathered became known as the “bandana brigade.” Fasting and prayer gained their release. There were only two more arrests, one in 1775 and the other in 1778 before permanent liberty was secured. There were many conversions however.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 47.
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Elder Elijah Craig
“Polecat” Baptists – a stench to some, a blessing to others
Bartholomew Choning, James Goolrich, and Edward Herndon were all Baptist laymen in the state of Virginia in the latter part of the 18th Century, and all had the gift of exhortation. They were fearless men and were accused of “jamming a Scripture verse down the throat of every man they met upon the road.” They were evidently apprehended and imprisoned to await trial July 15, 1771. After the trial, the court record “ordered that they be remanded back to the gaol.” John Burrus, a licensed minister, was hauled into court along with the three laymen. These men were all from Caroline County, Virginia. Then there was Elijah Craig who spent time in jail at Bowling Green, Virginia. Those from Caroline County were members of Polecat Baptist Church because of its proximity to “Polecat” Creek. All of them had been preaching without state church ordination or proper license. The church was later named Burrus Meeting House after the venerable preacher, and when the church was moved from near Polecat Creek to the White Oak Seats the name became Carmel. Carmel Church is still located on U.S. Highway 1, just north of Richmond, Virginia, one mile West off of Interstate 95. In the churchyard there is a memorial to these men and all who suffered incarceration for the sake of the gospel. Inside the church is a famous painting by Sidney King of Patrick Henry defending the five Baptist preachers in Fredericksburg, Va., at an earlier date. The church experienced a revival under the leadership of Andrew Broadus. The church still stands today as a testimony against those who would bring our churches back under state control.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: adapted From: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp. 289-91.
Unknown, But Not Forgotten
The basis of America’s greatness surely has been caused by the preaching of the glorious Gospel But the magnificent impact of the Gospel has not primarily been produced by a few brilliant preachers, but rather by a multitude of faithful ministers who have labored in out-of the-way places. These have served forgotten and unknown, but it has been through their efforts that our nation, in days gone by, became the great bastion of freedom. William Hickle was just such a preacher. He was born in Virginia on March 9, 1807, and his Lord called him home on June 23, 1891. His parents moved early to Tennessee. As a lad William had trusted Christ as his Savior at the Little Flat Creek Baptist Church, and he was baptized on August 19, 1826. With no formal training, the youth was licensed to preach, and in June the next year, the twenty year old William Hickle was ordained. During the next sixty years, William Hickle pastored twenty-seven churches, and not infrequently, he served five or six of them simultaneously. William enjoyed robust health, and he possessed a jovial spirit. He was used of God in “turning many to righteousness”’ and was known for his good natured humor. It is said that Rev. Hickle possessed a powerful set of lungs, and he could preach and sing for weeks without getting hoarse in the least. Just a week before his home-going, after having been confined to bed for seven weeks, he sang with delight, “Jesus, Lover of my Soul,” and “Nearer My God, to Thee.” Throughout his lifetime Rev. Hickle was paid little, but he gave himself fully to the ministry. Someone commented, “Uncle Billy Hickle did more as a preacher and received less pay than any man in Tennessee.”
Dr. Dale R. Hart, adapted from: “This Day in Baptist History III” David L. Cummins. pp. 141 – 142
“I will print it.”
December 22, 1677 – John Bunyan was granted a license to publish Pilgrim’s Progress. The time of his birth on Nov. 30, 1628 until he entered the “Celestial City” on Aug. 31, 1688, was a time of religious controversy, political unrest, and social violence in England. Being a man of peace Bunyan still became caught up in the political controversies and became very weary over it all. Controversy also surrounded the writing of his Progress which for many years had lain in a drawer. He had had many consultations with various friends and associates as to the impropriety of using the allegory method to deal with such a somber subject. The result of these consultations was his determination with the words, “I will print it.” The book’s publication brought multitudes to serious consideration of their peril as they read such serious consideration of their eternal peril. The Progress met with such popularity that the 10th edition was published by 1865. In that some had endeavored to counterfeit his writings for personal profit, he wrote the following words in the prefix to the second part of one of the editions: “Some have, of late, to counterfeit My Pilgrim, to their own, my title set; Yea, others, half my name, and little too, Have stitched to their books, to make them do.” Also some attacked his integrity and accused him of copying the works of others. He defended himself by prefacing his Holy War with a verse which began, “Some say the Pilgrim’s Progress is not mine, Insinuating as if I would shine. In name and fame by the worth of another, Like some made rich by robbing their brother.” Though Bunyan’s library at one time only consisted of the Bible and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, his writings and in particular Pilgrim’s Progress can be found in practical every library in the world.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 534-35.
He was imprisoned… for preaching without a license
November 28, 1750 – Philip Hughes was born in Colver County, Virginia. Following his conversion to Christ he was baptized by David Thompson on August 10, 1773, and three years later he was ordained into the ministry. His along with the name of Elijah Baker should be emblazoned in Baptist history as outstanding pioneers of the faith. Baker was born in Lunenburg County in 1742 and was converted under the ministry of Jeremiah Walker and baptized by Samuel Harriss in 1769. Soon Baker was preaching as an itinerate evangelist and was used in the establishing of a number of churches. He was imprisoned in Accomack County for 56 days during the Revolutionary war for preaching without a license while the colonists were fighting for civil liberty. However he preached through the prison bars and a Mr. Thomas Batston, Esq. heard him and invited him to Delaware. In order to silence him, the rude Virginians shipped him “anywhere but America.” They got tired of his preaching, praying and singing and put him on another ship, but the wind wouldn’t blow so they thought him being the problem, they put him on another. It finally put him on shore, and he was surprised to find out that he had landed in the state of Delaware. Remembering the offer, he made his way to Squire Batston’s home. The next year – 1779 – he was joined by Hughes from Virginia. They labored together as evangelists and saw many saved through faith and repentance. They were instrumental in founding 22 churches and were assisted in their efforts by ministers and laymen, in organizing churches and ordaining ministers. They were challenged by two Methodist preachers to debate on the subject of baptism and afterwards 3 Methodist class leaders were baptized and in a later debate 22 were baptized.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins /Thompson/ , pp. 495-97.