on these days in the American Restoration Heritage: March 8-14

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Among the things that happened this past week in American Restoration Heritage history …

March 8

March 8, 1965 – In response to the events occurring in Selma, Alabama on “Bloody Sunday,” Fred D. Gray – a preacher within Churches of Christ and an attorney for Martin Luther King, Jr. – along with other lawyers on behalf of Hosea Williams, John Lewis, Amelia Boynton, themselves, and other plantiffs who are “similarly situated,” files a complaint, a motion for a temporary restraining order, and a motion for a preliminary injunction with the United States District Court in Alabama. The defendants in the resulting case are George C. Wallace (the Governor of Alabama), Al Lingo (Director of Public Safety for the State of Alabama), and James G. Clark (Sheriff of Dallas County, Alabama).

“The plaintiffs seek to have this Court guarantee their right to assemble and demonstrate peaceably for the purpose of redressing their grievances concerning the right to register to vote in the State of Alabama without unlawful interference. Included in the rights plaintiffs seek and ask this Court to adjudicate is that of walking peaceably along the public highway in the State of Alabama between Selma and Montgomery. Plaintiffs also ask this Court to enjoin and restrain the defendants and all persons acting in concert with them from arresting, harassing, threatening, or in any way interfering with their peaceful, nonviolent march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama, for the purpose of protesting injustices and petitioning their State government, particularly the chief executive officer — the Governor — for redress of grievances.”

The class action suit (Williams v. Wallace) results in Governor Wallace and the State of Alabama being ordered by the court to no longer oppress, but actively protect, those who will march from Selma to Montgomery. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 is the ultimate consequence of these actions.

March 9

March 9, 1889 – A preacher’s wife dies in Paris, Texas. The notice of her death, penned by John T. Poe, appears in the Gospel Advocate on March 27. Sadly, the story and some of the circumstances it references, are not terribly unusual. The notice reads:

“The wife of Bro. M. H. Lynn, died March 9, while he was away in the country preaching. He had been for some time on a preaching tour, and as his work was in destitute places, far from telegraphs and railroads, his children could not reach him with the news of her sickness. He did not hear of her death until the 15th, six days after death. He is left with a family of little children to mourn the loss of the good wife and mother. Her great desire was to see him again before death. She called for him in her last hours, but he was far away doing service for Jesus. Thus another instance is presented of sacrifice that must be made by the wife of the poor, pioneer preacher. While he preached she took care of family and family interests at home as best she could. And when battling at last with grim death, she wanted him with her, and called for him, but he could not hear. She was a Christian, and who shall say her crown will not be bright? We tender our sympathy to Bro. Lynn, but he needs more than that. He has traveled and preached many weary months, and was paid scarcely anything. Some churches in fair standing called him for meetings and did not pay his expenses to and from, although his preaching was good, and many have been baptized through his labors. Will not those churches where he labored make up some amount and send him word in this hour of need? Send to M. H. Lynn, Paris, Texas. Brethren if you are sorry for Bro. Lynn, just send an expression of your sorrow in something substantial to help the poor preacher in his hour of trial.”

March 10

March 10, 1845 – Alexander Campbell, Sr. sets out on a two-month, 2,500 mile preaching tour through a portion of the South. His itinerary consists (in this order) of travels through Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Some of his major stops along the way include time in Augusta, Baltimore, Charleston, Frederickburg, Richmond, and Wilmington.

Earlier, in 1838, Campbell had conducted a far more extensive tour of the South, covering twice the distance, through Alabama, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.

Significantly, this 1845 tour through the South begins just one month after Campbell initiates a fascinating article series in the Millenial Harbinger, the title of which is “Our Position to American Slavery.” Campbell’s stance on slavery is careful and nuanced; there is something in it to excite, and disappoint, everyone, no matter their perspective. To the abolitionist, Campbell comes across as an unquestionable ally, but a needlessly weak one; something like a thin walking cane. To the slaveowner, Campbell is most certainly challenging, to say the least, but at least he seems more sensible and less offensive, than the abolitionists.

We can summarize much of Campbell’s take on “the peculiar institution” in the form of a brief question-and-answer session:

Q. Is Campbell a slaveowner? A. At this time, no. While it is true that he once owned slaves, he freed them. Q. Is slavery a moral matter; a question of sin? A. No. “… there is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting it, but many regulating it. It is not, then, we conclude, immoral.” Q. Should slavery be a test of faith and fellowship? A. Since it is not immoral, most certainly not. Q. Is slavery even an issue then at all? A. Absolutely – as a matter of politics and practicality. Q. What of slavery now in the U.S.? A. “… in this age and in this country it is not expedient.” The peculiar institution might, “in certain cases and conditions,” be “right,” but this is no longer the right time in this country. Slavery is an institution that finds itself at the wrong time in the wrong place for it is “not favorable to individual and national prosperity” and is “not in harmony with the spirit of the age …”

Many, especially those who have more of their roots in the Stone, rather than Campbell, wing of the Stone-Campbell Movement, will urge Campbell to make slavery a more central issue and to see it as a core value, a matter of faith and fellowship. However, Campbell will consistently ignore such appeals, seeking instead to pursue what he believes to be a much deeper value, a more necessary goal, namely, the union of Christians.

March 11

March 11, 1811 – Barton W. Stone, Sr. and Reuben Dooley embark on a preaching tour through the state of Ohio and are exceedingly well received by those who hear them. In his journal, while on this tour, Stone comments:

“We preached and baptized daily in Eaton [Preble County] for many days. No house could contain the people that flocked to hear. We had to preach in the open streets to the anxious multitude. At night, after service, the cries and prayers of the distressed in many houses around were truly solemn. Almost the whole town and neighborhood were baptized and added to the Lord. We left this place and preached and baptized in many other places.”

Historian and author James DeForest Murch (Christians Only; p.91) adds that:

“… in Adams County [Stone] converted Matthew Gardener who became a giant in evangelism. In this area many churches sprang up which Stone visited every year for twenty years. In Meigs County, he went to baptize William Caldwell, with whom he had a long correspondence, and stayed to bring almost every Baptist church in the country into the ‘Christian Connection.'”

Stone and Dooley set out on this preaching expedition with precious few resources. Stone, in his journal, notes:

“We were poorly clad and had no money to buy clothes. Going on at a certain time through the barrens, a limb tore Brother Dooley’s striped linen pantaloons very much. He had no other, nor had I another pair to lend him. We consoled ourselves that we were on the Lord’s work and he would provide. He tied his handkerchief over the rent, and we went on and preached to the people. That night we lodged with Brother Samuel Wilson, whose wife presented Brother Dooley a pair of home-spun linen pantaloons.”

March 12

March 12, 1811 – At the age of twenty-three, Alexander Campbell, Sr. marries his first wife, Margaret Brown, who is twenty years of age.

Margaret (Brown) Campbell is the daughter of John & Eliza Ann (Grimes) Brown, John being is one of the most successful businessmen in that part of Virginia. Alexander and Margaret will enjoy sixteen years of marriage and the birth of four children (Jane Caroline, Alexander, Decima Hemans, and William Pendleton) before Margaret is taken away by death at the age of thirty-six in 1827. The inscription on her gravestone in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia reads, in part:

She was in truth a good wife, a tender
mother, a faithful and affectionate friend.
She lived the life of a christian and died full
in the hope of a blessed resurrection unto Eternal Life.

The Last Lines she had sung declared her praise
and feeling in the prospect of death and the grave.

‘No terror the prospect begets,
I am not mortality’s slave;
The sunbeam of life as it sets,
Paints a rainbow of peace on the grave.’

The words of this song, The Angels That Watched Round the Tomb, were penned by William Bengo Collyer and first published by him in 1812. Years later in 1911, not many months before his own death, J.W. McGarvey will quote the words of this same song, in its entirety (eight stanzas), in a chapel talk to his students at the College of the Bible in Lexington, KY. Its meter is such that it could be sung today to the tune of Without Him I Could Do Nothing.

March 13

March 13, 1812 – At 3:00 p.m. today, Alexander & Margaret (Brown) Campbell welcome the birth of their firstborn child, a daughter. They name her after Alexander’s mother, Jane Caroline. Jane will grow up to marry (at age sixteen) Albert G. Ewing. She and Albert will make their home in Tennessee (Nashville) until Jane dies at the age of twenty-four of “consumption” (aka: tuberculosis; TB), the same illness that claimed her mother.

Alexander is twenty-four years of age at Jane’s birth. Robert Richardson, Alexander’s first biographer, tells us of the powerful effect Jane’s birth had on her father’s theology, particularly his understanding of soteriology:

“Soon after this event, a considerable change took place in his views in regard to baptism. His wife, with her father and mother, was still a member of the Presbyterian Church, and, as the child grew, it is natural to suppose that the question of infant baptism became to him one of immediate practical interest. It is certain, at least, that up to this period he does not appear to have given to the subject of baptism a sufficiently careful attention. The unity of the Church, the overthrow of sectarianism and the restoration of the Bible to its primitive position, had been the leading objects with him, and with his father; and, regarding the question of baptism as one comparatively of small importance, they seem to have left it, in a good degree, undecided in their own minds.” (Memoirs of Alexander Campbell)

March 14

March 14, 1854 – The man the famous statesman and orator Henry Clay once referred to as the finest natural orator he had ever heard, Jacob Creath, Sr., dies at the age of seventy-seven in Lexington, Kentucky.

Though having never attended school, Creath had been ordained as a Baptist preacher in 1798. His unusually fine speaking skills, coupled with great ability to just get along with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, had lead to his being something of a force among Baptists in Kentucky. However, at the age of fifty (1827), nearly thirty of those years being invested in Baptist ministry, Creath left the Baptist Church for the Restoration Heritage. His decision, long in coming and filled with much soul-searching, resulted in a significant number of Kentucky Baptists following him into the Restoration.

Alexander Campbell, upon hearing now blind Creath preach in 1850 (Creath was totally blind the last seven years of his life), wrote of him in the Millenial Harbinger:

“Though his once brilliant eye is quenched in darkness and his subduing voice is broken into weak tones, he rises in his soul while nature sinks in years; and with a majesty of thought which naught but heaven and hope can inspire, he spoke to us a few last words, which so enraptured my soul, that in the ecstasy of feeling produced by them, when he closed there was silence in my heart for half an hour; and when I recovered myself, every word had so passed away that nothing remained but a melancholy reflection that I should never again hear that most eloquent tongue which had echoed for half a century through Northern Kentucky with such resistless sway as to have quelled the maddening strife of sectarian tongues and propitiated myriads of ears and hearts to the divine eloquence of Almighty love. Peace to his soul; and may his sun grow larger at its setting, as his soul expands in the high hope of seeing as he is seen, and of loving as he has been loved.”

Note: Jacob Creath, Sr. is not to be confused with Jacob Creath, Jr. (cf. the post for Jan. 9 in this series). The Jacob Creath, Sr. (1777-1854) spoken of in today’s post is the uncle, not the father, of Jacob Creath, Jr. (1799-1886).

links: this went thru my mind

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Atrocities, Boko Haram, terrorism & violence: Nigeria’s Forgotten Massacre: 2,000 Slaughtered by Boko Haram, but the West is Failing to Help

“One of Africa’s most senior church leaders has accused the West of ignoring the threat of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, days after the reported slaughter of up to 2,000 people by the group. Ignatius Kaigama, the Catholic Archbishop of Jos and president of the Nigerian Bishops Conference, spoke as bodies lay strewn on the ground in Baga, in north-east Nigeria, after a surge by Boko Haram fighters who took over the border town earlier this month. He highlighted the stark difference between the West’s willingness to act when 17 people were killed by militants in France and the approach to the slaughter in Africa.

“Estimates of the death toll in Baga and surrounding villages, which were razed by fire, have been put at up to 2,000. Most of the dead were women, children and the elderly who could not flee in time, said Amnesty International, which labelled it the group’s deadliest massacre yet. A further 30,000 people are thought to have fled their homes, 7,500 seeking sanctuary in Chad and the rest adding to Nigeria’s tens of thousands of displaced people.”

Cinema, film, Martin Luther King, Jr., movies & Selma: * David Oyelowo: ‘Selma Was a Spiritual Endeavor For Me’; * The Saints Go Marching On Selma

* “A lot of the people on the set were people of faith—they were either Christians or they’d been raised that way, and so it was very easy to talk about faith. Obviously, we were portraying people of faith, and there were several scenes, especially more difficult ones, where we would all pray together before going into those scenes.”

* “… it is most unfortunate that the editors did all they could to remove the references to Christ and the Gospel from King’s sermons, which are still powerful but end up sounding just like political diatribes for the most part. They don’t reveal the real spiritual core of what motivated King and what resonated in his message in and outside the churches. King was in fact deeply indebted to E. Stanley Jone’s biographical portrayals of Gandhi and his message as well as to the Bible. Fortunately, it is at least clear in the film that he and Malcolm X fundamentally disagreed on things like non-violence …”

Conformity, desensitization,  group dynamics, injustice, kindness & niceness: The Virtue of Not Being Nice

“… those who refuse to adjust to injustice and well-established discriminatory practices will inevitably irritate and annoy the accommodating majority. These people may not be as easy to get along with because they will not be passive and well-adjusted to a misshapen world. And they will care a whole lot less about the irritation they cause or disapproval they experience than they do about the needy people they seek to help. These are the kind of people Jesus calls us to be.”

Extermination of the Canaanites, genocide, God, holy war, OT & war: The Hope of Holy War

“… the Old Testament war stories then are subversions of the mentality of holy war.”

Faith, misconceptions & public education: Public Schools Aren’t the Enemy

“It’s time to repair the relationship between public education and the Christian community.”

Civil War & Stephens County, OK (17)

Johnson, Moses (1839-1907)

Moses Johnson served as a wagoneer with Company H of the USA, 98th Illinois Mounted Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. As a teamster, he drove a wagon that carried the company’s essential supplies (food, equipment, ammunition, spare parts, baggage, etc.). He had to have some mechanical skills to maintain the wagon and keep it ready for service at all times and in all sorts of conditions as well as have no small amount of patience in the care and keeping of the horses or mules that pulled the wagon. A wagoneer had to be good at a number of things; something of a patient, jack-of-all-trades sort of person, if you please. It was hard, endless work that not just anyone would have been cut out to do well. While he would not normally have been one to serve in combat in a line of battle, it would not at all have been beyond request for him to do so should the need have arisen, and from the biography that follows below (which was penned in the mid to late 1890’s) we know Moses was involved in such.

“Moses Johnson, a retired farmer and prominent citizen residing in Olney, is a native of Richland County. He was born on the 24th of May, 1839, in Decker Township, and is a son of Moses and Sarah (Mason) Johnson, the former born in Kentucky in 1799, and the latter in Pennsylvania in 1805. When young people they came to Richland County, where their marriage was celebrated [on December 23, 1869]. Mr. Johnson was one of the earliest pioneers, locating here in 1815. For many years he engaged in farming and stock-raising upon a farm which he developed and improved. His death occurred August 13, 1849. His wife long survived him and died at the home of her son Andy in 1887. Mr. Johnson started out in life poor, but became the possessor of a handsome property as a result of his diligence and industry. He took quite a prominent part in public affairs and was a leading citizen of the community. In politics, he was a Democrat, and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Johnson family numbered eight children. Thomas, who served as a Captain in the Ninety-eighth Illinois infantry, is now deceased; Jane died in this county; Polly and Elizabeth are both deceased; A. V. is a prominent farmer of Decker Township; Permelia has also passed away; Moses is the next younger, and Celia, deceased, completes the family.

“The boyhood days of our subject were spent upon a new farm, and he was early inured to the arduous labors of developing the raw prairie. He conned his lessons in a log schoolhouse, which was four miles distant from his home. When ten years of age he began plowing with oxen. He early learned to swing the scythe and cradle, and in all departments of farm work he became proficient. He remained at home until 1862, when he enlisted [on September 3, 1862] in Olney as … [an original] member of Company H, 98th Illinois Infantry [Regiment], of which his brother [Thomas] was Captain. The regiment was assembled at Centralia and started for Louisville, Kentucky. The train was wrecked at Bridgeport by rebel sympathizers, and seven men were killed and seventy-five wounded. Mr. Johnson afterward went to Nashville and from there to Murfreesboro. He participated in the battles of Chickamauga, Atlanta, Lookout Mountain and Resaca, and was for one hundred days under fire while on the way to Atlanta. He started to the sea with Sherman, but returned to Louisville, where he was put in a cavalry corps and took part in the famous raid under Gen. Wilson. With his regiment he charged the works at Selma, Alabama, and after the capture of that place went to Macon, Georgia. In 1865 he was honorably discharged and on the 7th day of July of that year reached his home. The regiment lost heavily, about two-thirds never returning. Mr. Johnson was wounded in the service, but he proved himself a faithful soldier and was always found at his post of duty [until he was mustered out on June 27, 1865].

“In 1869 our subject married Miss Margaret Porterfield [b. July 3, 1846 in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania; d. October 16, 1932 in Duncan, OK], a native of Pennsylvania, and unto them have been born the following children: Mary P., James Allen, Sarah A., Idella, William Herbert, and Laura [and two more who died at an early age]. After his marriage, Mr. Johnson began farming and stock-feeding. He owned one hundred and twenty acres of land, a part of the old homestead, and for many years he successfully carried on business, but in 1892 he laid aside all cares and removed to Olney, where he is now living a retired life. Socially, Mr. Johnson is a member of the Grand Army Post of Olney, the Masonic lodge of Mt. Erie, and the Independent Order of Mutual Aid. With the Methodist Episcopal Church he holds membership, and to its support he contributes liberally. The duties of citizenship are by him faithfully discharged with the same fidelity which he manifested when in his country’s hour of peril he aided in the defense of the Stars and Stripes.” (Source: History of Wayne County)

The 98th Illinois was part of a rather famous brigade, Col. John T. Wilder’s “Lightning Brigade.” Wilder’s Brigade was among the first of Union brigades to be equipped with the new Spencer repeating carbines, an armament that greatly increased a regiment’s available firepower over that of its foes. Since the Spencer provided literally a seven to ten fold increase in sustained rate of fire, it’s no guess as to the genesis of the brigade’s nickname of “Lightning.” The 98th Illinois received their Spencers on May 31, 1863 and a look at the regiment’s record of service will tell you that they stayed hot. Hoover’s Gap (June 24-26, 1863), Chickamauga (September 19-21, 1863), Resaca (May 13-15, 1864), the siege of Atlanta (July 22-August 25, 1864), Rome (October 12-13, 1864), and a famous charge that resulted in the defeat of Nathan Bedford Forrest‘s men at Selma, Alabama (April 2, 1865) are just some of the better known instances of the 98th Illinois’ exploits during the war, with their action at Chickamauga being the most significant.

When exactly Moses came to Oklahoma from Illinois, I do not know. I know several of his children moved to the Duncan area prior to his death and one of them struck it rich in Oklahoma with an oil well. One of his sons, James Allen Johnson, was also one of the earliest businessmen in Lawton, OK, served as a Captain during the Spanish-American War, served as the school superintendent for Comanche County from 1915-1924, and went on to be elected twice to serve as an Oklahoma state representative in the early 1930’s.

Moses Johnson died on Monday, January 7, 1907 and is buried in the Duncan Municipal Cemetery (block 7, space 6) in Duncan, Oklahoma. His black gravestone proudly gives testimony to his service in the 98th Illinois Infantry.