History of Middle Tennessee Baptists

History of Middle Tennessee Baptists

by J. H. Grime, 1902


In the spring of 1899, the Ministers' and Deacons' meeting of New Salem Association, while in session at Cedar Creek Church, appointed a committee to memorialize Salem and New Salem Associations on the question of a History of the Baptists of this section. The committee, from sickness and other causes, failed to do so.

In the spring of 1900, at Grant (Buena Vista Church), another like committee, consisting of Elders T. J. Eastes, J. J. Carr, and J. H. Grime, was appointed. In the fall of 1900, the matter was presented to both bodies, and a joint committee appointed by the two Associations to get up a History and put it in permanent form. That committee, in connection with a mass meeting of brethren, held at Round Lick Church, in January, 1901, asked this author to prepare said History. This was concurred in by Enon and Wiseman Associations, and Deacon J. M. Williams was appointed to collect material for said work.

The task has been an arduous one, and the mind which compiled these pages and the hand which penned them have often grown weary, yet no pains, labor, or means have been spared to make this work what it should be. Every effort has been made to record things as they were. Accuracy has been the motto. Days, yes even weeks and months, have often been spent in unraveling one difficulty. And we wish to acknowledge our appreciation of all the assistance rendered us by the brethren and sisters and friends.

No one is more conscious of the imperfections of this work than the author; yet he believes that a fair degree of accuracy attaches to all its statements.

It has been a most cherished hope of this author to contribute something to the perpetuation of the names of the Baptist heroes who first planted the standard of truth among the vineclad hills of the upper Cumberland Valley.

No effort has been made at literary excellence, and those disposed to criticize will doubtless find a fruitful field. The great object has been to infuse into these pages the spirit of those gone before and give an accurate record of their labors and practices.

Hoping that these pages will inspire someone to nobler deeds and to more faithful service to the Master, this volume is sent forth on its mission of love.
Cave City, Ky., April 7, 1902


The statement of the origin and history of Salem Association is left entirely with the author of this volume. The preservation of our denominational history has been sadly neglected. Brother Grime, my yoke-fellow in Gospel Bonds, has rendered the Baptist denomination a valuable service in collecting and putting into book form the organization and history of an Association which contains denominational records and events which should not be lost. I know of no man better qualified for the work than he. Years of diligent search, while living in the territory, with an eye to the importance of preserving valuable denominational information, eminently fit him for the authorship of a book, which will be read with thrilling interest. It will be read by the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of a worthy ancestry-an ancestry which laid well the foundation stones of Baptist faith and practice in Middle Tennessee. The progeny of the present generation will scan its pages with profound admiration and tenderest emotion. The denominational historian in the far distant future will grace the pages of history with important and frequent quotations from "Grime's History of Middle Tennessee Baptists." The times, the men, the territory, the issues, the events, the incidents, and the principles, coming within the scope of the present volume, easily place it as a valuable addition to Our denominational literature. As the memorial stones, carried from the midst of Jordan and pitched in Gilgal by Joshua, were to remind the future traveler who passed that way of the triumphant march of a favored people, so this batch of history, so kindly collected and bound in print by Brother Grime, will indicate to the future pilgrim who passes this way that he treads the old tenting ground of God's Saints who "fought a good fight and kept the faith."

I am glad to see in the present volume the faces of many brethren and the biographies of others who laid the foundation of Baptist faith and practice in the original territory of Salem Association. This part of the book will be read with tender emotion and will lead us back amid the hard fought battles of other years; and the origin and history of the old churches will acquaint us with pastors, deacons, clerks, and membership of God's obedient children who are on the other side. To me, the present volume is a voice from the dead. It is a joyful reminder of battle- scarred veterans. What a task of mingled joy and sorrow to turn the pages of this, to me, blessed book and look on the faces or read sketches of ministers with whom I have labored in word and doctrine, who are now on the other side of the silent river. What blessed memories crowd into my soul as I read of those whose voices I have heard, whose hands I have grasped, and with whom I have sat in the pulpit in the years gone by. They are at rest. As I think of them, I remember the sainted Jas. Barrett, E. B. Haynie, John W. Bowen, Natty Hays, William Suite, Louis Dies, Richard Lyon, Zack Lyon, L. H. Bethel, J. J. Martin, J. M. D. Cates, J. C. Brien, Moses Allen, M. A. Cathcart, Henry Bass, Johnny Hearn, D. N. Jarrard, William Hunt, H. W. Pickett, A. J. McNabb, William Grimmet and Morgan Green. The above list of fallen ministers, with whom I have preached and prayed, sung and wept, exhorted and shouted, will grace the pages of any honored history recording the labors of men who wrought for the good of men and the glory of God. Some of them unletettered 'tis true, and some were men whose learning and information compare favorably with the foremost men in our Baptist Zion.

It is a pleasure to read the origin and history of the churches I have had the honor to serve as pastor and to learn who were my predecessors and successors and what is interesting to me along this line will be interesting to all pastors. And then, too, the members of these and all the other churches will be deeply interested in reading their own history in the calling of pastors, election of deacons, and other church work.

Another interesting feature of the book, it gives the present work of an Association organized eighty years ago. I look with sacred love on the faces of living, active ministers and read of their work and churches. We will soon be with the Fathers. Our children and grandchildren will soon read of us as we now read of those who occupied before us. And a pleasing thought is, they will read from the same book.

Another interesting feature of the book is the information it gives on the subject of divisions growing out of missions and methods, the significance of denominational names, the Baptists, the Missionary Baptists, who they are, the Primitive Baptists and who they are, etc.

I rejoice that the labors of a few good men and women eighty years ago in launching Salem Association are to be recorded and preserved. I am glad that their fidelity to Baptist faith and practice was uncompromising, I am happy to know that their loyalty to the faith was honored of God in building an Association which in the eighties was the largest in Tennessee. Four Associations now occupy the original bounds.

I am glad to have been born within the bounds of dear old New Salem Association and to have been baptized into the fellowship of one of her churches thirty-four years ago. Since my ordination thirty-two years ago I have missed but two sessions of her meetings. Within her bounds I began the conflict and here I expect to fight my last battle and lie down with the Fathers to sleep in hope of a Glorious Resurrection. Some day amid rustling wings and bursting tombs I expect to rise, and with Salem's redeemed meet the Lord in the skies.

May this book be read with interest and profit by the brotherhood. May its author live long upon the earth and be useful in his day and generation. May the pastors, churches, deacons, and clerks, with God's help, push the work committed to them by the Fathers. May Salem Association, whose history is faithfully written herein, be upon the earth when Jesus comes. May this little volume be found filling its mission a thousand years hence.

"Lord, when thou mak'st thy jewels up,
And set'st thy starry crown;
When all thy sparkling gems shall shine
Proclaimed by thee thine own;
May we, a little band of love,
We sinners, saved by grace,
From glory unto glory changed
Behold thee face to face."
John T. Oakley
Henderson's X Roads, Tenn., March 10, 1902

The preservation of the history of the churches of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Godly Ministers who founded them, is, or should be, a work dear to every Baptist heart.

The Baptists, standing as they do for a regenerated membership, the baptism of believers only, the Ho1y Scriptures the only authoritative rule of faith and practice, salvation wholly by the grace of God, the entire separation of Church and State, complete religious liberty, they, being responsible to a sovereign God, should be diligent to publish their principles to the world. It is certain none others will do so, except incidentally. In their opposition and persecution, they record the principles they oppose, and these principles so mutilated and corrupted as to frame an excuse for their conduct.

Some thirteen years ago New Salem Association was formed of churches that had been regularly dismissed from Salem Association, which had been in existence since 1822. Many have been the trials through which they have passed, but "Thus far the Lord hath led me (us) on," and "Here we raise our Ebenezer." "Thank God and take courage."

The Lord has raised up among us some mighty men of God whose lives were a benediction to the churches and the world. The histories of some of these were almost lost, but our brother, by his zeal, has rescued them from oblivion. He now brings them forth in a printed book that will preserve their memories for the encouragement and instruction of future generations.

Brother J. H. Grime, having been selected by Salem and New Salem Associations for this work, has done it well and faithfully. He has labored with diligence and perseverance, sparing neither time nor expense to accomplish the work assigned him. He has thus brought the two Associations in particular, and the great Baptist brotherhood in general, under lasting obligations for the preservation of this valuable bit of the history of the Lord's people.

I bespeak for the work a hearty reception, that it will be read and preserved with a gratefu1 pride, and that our minds and hearts will be stirred to emulate the glorious examples of self-sacrificing devotion furnished us by the Baptists of these Associations and those nearly related to us.

To Brother Grime a debt of gratitude is justly due. By this work he is entitled to be enshrined in our memories, and remembered with love and gratitude.

This history will be a monument to his devotion to the cause, and while perpetuating the memory of our fathers, the pioneers in the work in our beloved Tennessee will justly perpetuate the memory of him who has done so nobly in preserving our history. The Lord bless the book and the author.
T. J. Eastes
Grant, Tenn, March, 1902

I gladly give my feeble endorsement to this entire work, and more especially to so much of it as deals with the history of the Enon Association, its churches, ministers, and members.

Just such a work as this is needed, and no one is better qualified to write it than Brother Grime, and I am sure that most of its readers will be surprised at the great amount of information it contains. Coming generations will rise up and call him blessed who has bestowed so much painstaking care and labor to present in permanent form the daring deeds, the true moral courage, the works of love, the living working faith and Godly heroism of their fathers.

No people have accomplished more with so few opportunities and such unfavorable environments. Those noble men of God, in the face of untold difficulties, often seemingly insurmountable, plunged into the almost impenetrable forests, climbed the rugged hills, crossed the turbid, rushing streams in the face of their bitter enemies, and conquered the land for Christ. Most of them were what the world calls illiterate. Yet, with a heart all aglow with love to God and men, no danger could affright them, no difficulty hinder them, and no obstacle, however great, impede their onward march. They read God's Holy Word by a torchlight, a flickering candle, or a grease lamp, digging deep for its precious treasures of truth, with the one grand purpose of giving it to their fellow men. Their souls set on fire by God's boundless grace, they unfurled the gospel banner to every passing breeze, and with the Sword of the Spirit in hand and grace in their hearts they led the advancing hosts to most glorious victories and left to us an inheritance richer than all the gold and diamonds of earth. And now, God has raised up our dear brother to give to us in this permanent form brief sketches of their lives and labors. May their heroic deeds and faithful labors inspire us, who read this book, with greater courage loftier aims, higher motives, and nobler ambitions May God's richest blessings rest upon everyone who reads these pages.
Horse Cave, Ky., February 24, 1902

The study of the history, lives and testimony of those preceding us, who have been accounted faithful and true, is certainly praiseworthy, and of great advantage. Paul was ready to recount the faith, sufferings, and patience of the holy men and prophets, who lived before his day, to animate his brethren to greater valor. Surely then, with advantage, we can study the history of those who form such a conspicuous part of this work.

It is a matter which I feel to be of the highest importance, that Baptist and their children should be thoroughly conversant with the history of their own denomination. It is especially important that they should know of the conflicts and hardships through which noble men of God passed in other ages, and that they should be taught the grand principles for which these noble worthies earnestly contended and were ready, many of them, to seal their testimony with their own life's blood.

There has been a time in the past when Baptists were not accorded the privilege of writing their own history, but were dependent upon their enemies to record their doctrines while their own bodies burned at the martyr's stake. We feel glad in our hearts to know that this is not true at present; for beneath the blazing sun of religious freedom Baptists can now write their own history and none dare intimidate or molest.

The author, in writing this book, has bestowed upon the Baptists of this Upper Cumberland Valley a lasting benediction for which those now living will ever be grateful. Their progeny also, in generations to come, will rise up and call him blessed. They, too, will read with interest how our ancestry, in the long ago, lifted the banner of King Immanuel and planted the truths of our blessed Savior, which are more lasting than the hills of earth, in these fertile plains of ours.

We bespeak for this work a wide circulation in the homes of our Baptist brotherhood. Wm. M. S. WILKS
Enon College, Tenn., March 1902

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