committed to historic Baptist & Reformed beliefs

 

 

CHAPTER XII.

THE FALLEN HEROES

 

Dr. Wm. J. Simmons, D.D., LL.D., Kentucky
Prominent among those who made possible the achievements herein chronicled are the following who played their parts like heroes and have gone to their reward: Rev. Wm. J. Simmons, D. D., LL. D., of Kentucky, was one of the noblest spirits that has been given to the Baptist family. For several years the representative of the American Baptist Publication Society, Philadelphia, Pa., he was brought to see the needs of his brethren as it was given but to few others to see them. Seeking to meet the demands of his denomination, he was indefatigable in his efforts to organize them and to develop its resources. It was through his influence that the American National Convention was organized in 1886. To him Kentucky Baptists owe much, for it was he who founded her Baptist educational institutions and organized her forces, inspiring her Frank, Parrish, Steward and others now prominent in her religious and educational affairs. Dr. Simmons died in 1890, leaving a bereaved denomination.

Rev. L. M. Luke, D.D., Texas
Rev. L. M. Luke, D. D., of Texas, held various positions among Baptists in that state. The most effective work done there, however, was in the educational field as financial agent of Bishop College, Marshall, Texas. He was later called as Missionary Secretary of the National Foreign Mission Convention, and on its being merged with other bodies into the National Baptist Convention, he was elected to the same position in the consolidated body. Only a few weeks afterward, in the latter part of 1895, he passed from labor to reward.

Rev. E. K. Love, D.D., Georgia
Rev. E. K. Love, D. D., of Georgia, was one of the most active and prominent preachers among the Baptists of the country. For many years he was hailed by Baptists everywhere as the leader of Georgia Baptists. As a former President of the American National Convention, President of the Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia and pastor of the First African Baptist Church, Savannah, Georgia, the oldest, and at that time, the largest Negro Baptist church in the world, he held a commanding position. He died April 12, 1900, leaving a splendid record. President Morris in an eloquent tribute to his memory said, "His devotion to the principles of this organization (the National Convention) was so strong that nothing but death could separate him from the work undertaken by it. If I am correctly informed he was standing at his post when the fatal arrow of death struck him down. 'A veteran sleeping on his arms, beneath the red cross shield.' "

Rev. R. DeBaptist, D.D., statistician and counsellor
Rev. R. DeBaptist, D. D., of Illinois, was a potent factor in the development of the work among Negro Baptists. He was one of the best-known and beloved preachers in the United States. A deep thinker and a splendid systematizer, he was invaluable to the denomination in the gathering and reporting of Baptist statistics. The Baptists of the West especially looked to him as a wise counsellor and leader, and no honor was too great for them to bestow upon him. Honored and revered by the brotherhood in general, he passed to his reward.

Rev. W. H. McAlpine, D.D., organizer
Rev. W. H. McAlpine, D. D., of Alabama, was indeed a pioneer organizer among Negro Baptists. For more than thirty years he was a prominent leader in the denomination's activities. As the first president of the National Foreign Mission Convention, which was organized in 1880, he was intensely interested in the development of the missionary spirit among Baptists, and did much to make possible the great success that has come to the National Baptist Convention in the mission fields of Africa. His ability and efforts in the interest of Christian education were recognized by the Baptist brotherhood in Alabama and they honored him with the presidency of Selma University, Selma, Ala. He was one of the very few organizers of the old Foreign Mission Convention left, who were honored veterans at the Quarto-Centennial Jubilee of the Convention in Chicago, September, 1905. His death only a very few days later was a severe shock to the great Baptist family.

Prof. G. Hayes, educator and orator
Prof. Gregory Hayes, A. M., was a man of great intellectual and oratorical ability Referring to his death in annual address in 1907, President Morris said. "So much has been written and said about his great worth to the race and denomination that it would be only a repetition to speak of it here, and yet the very fact that he was a member and strong supporter of the principles and policies of the National Baptist Convention, makes it necessary that we make mention of him in this address." Prof. Hayes was at one time Chairman of the National Educational Board, and rendered excellent service. In the upbuilding of Lynchburg Theological Seminary and College, Lynchburg, Va., to which he dedicated his life, and of which he was the distinguished president, he built a monument to his great powers and life. On December 22, 1906, he was called from the arduous but honorable labors of earth to higher and nobler service in heaven.

Dr. Carr, national evangelist
Rev. J. W. Carr, D. D., came into prominence as a "National Baptist Evangelist." But as pastor of the large and prominent Second Baptist Church, of Indianapolis, Ind., and as an acknowledged leader among Indiana Baptists, he was honored with great influence which brought him into the front ranks in the National Foreign Mission Convention and later in the National Baptist Convention. At the death of Dr. E. K. Love, he was called to the pastorate of the historic First African Baptist Church, at Savannah, Ga., which position he held at the time of his death, the last week in August 1907.

Prof. Wm. Cansler prominent layman
Prof. William L. Cansler, A. M., of Nashville, Tennessee, was one of the most faithful and prominent laymen of the denomination. A teacher in one of the public schools of Nashville, a member of the Trustee Board of Roger Williams University and Secretary of the Tennessee Baptist State Convention for nearly twenty years. He held a high place among his people as an educator and churchman. Having resigned his position as a teacher in 1898, he accepted the position of chief clerk in the mailing department of the National Baptist Publishing House, and was soon afterwards appointed Auditor of the Publishing Board. In 1899 he was elected Secretary of the National Baptist Convention, succeeding Wm. H. Steward, who resigned after having served in that capacity since the first session of the Convention. Still honored with these positions, and leaving a splendid record, he died August 13, 1907.

Dr. S. E. Smith, organizer and counsellor
Rev. S. E. Smith, D. D., was one of Kentucky's splendid sons, who gained a high place in the councils of the denomination, and in the affections of the brotherhood throughout the country. In him the National Convention had a devoted adherent and a gallant defender. It has been well said of him, "He was always ready to serve in any capacity that his brethren placed him." As an organizer and church builder he had few superiors. He had just accepted a call to the splendid Second Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio, when on August 5, 1907, he was stricken by the hand of death.

Prof. Wm. Rosborough, pioneer musician
Prof. Wm. Rosborough was a native of Texas and a product of Bishop College, Marshall, Texas. He was a natural and talented musician, and his thorough knowledge of theory and harmony enabled him to rise rapidly as a composer and director. Rev. Dr. I. Toliver, of national reputation as an evangelist, induced him to become his associate in evangelistic meetings throughout the country. He then composed "Celestial Showers," that splendid collection of gospel songs, for use in these meetings. Later he was called by the National Baptist Publishing Board to the position of its Musical Editor and Manager of its musical department. Here he made a splendid record. His "National Baptist Anthems" are of great merit and are rendered in all of the large Negro Baptist gatherings held in this country. A pioneer in his line among Negroes, his untimely death, December 3, 1903, was a great loss to the denomination.

Dr. Blackshear, preacher and orator
Rev. J. J. Blackshear, A. B., D. D., of Roger Williams University, was one of the most brilliant young men who has entered the Negro Baptist ministry. As a preacher and orator he was captivating. His splendid ability made him a figure of national prominence. He was intensely interested in and identified with all missionary movements of the denomination. In the educational field he rendered valuable service, having been a teacher in Houston Baptist Academy, Houston, Texas, and Dean of the Theological Department of Guadalupe College, Seguin, Texas. He had served as pastor of prominent churches in Indiana and Texas and had just begun his pastorate of the influential Second Baptist Church, Columbus, Ohio, when he met a sudden death in a gas explosion April 6, 1907.

Dr. Vann, a national Baptist officer and preacher
Rev. M. Vann, D. D., a graduate of Roger Williams University and a conspicuous figure in all great gatherings among Negro Baptists, was indeed the pride of Tennessee Baptists. As Superintendent of Missions in Tennessee he was both powerful and influential, and gave great prominence to Baptist work in the state. In connection with the late Rev. R. N. Countee, the founder of the Bible and Normal Institute, Memphis, Tenn., he rendered invaluable service in the establishment of that institution, first as an instructor and later as a member of the Board of Trustees. In the year 1892 he was elected President of the American National Convention which place he filled with distinction for two years. As a leader in the councils of the denomination he was positive, aggressive and yet, tender and sympathetic. He fought for principles and policies with a determination that challenged the admiration of all, but none were more ready to shelter and defend the weak. Loved and honored by his brethren he died at his post as pastor of the First Baptist Church, Chattanooga, Tenn., July, 1897, one week after his election to the presidency of the Tennessee Baptist State Convention.

Dr. Purce, prominent college president
Rev. Chas. L. Purce, D. D., was one of the denomination's strongest educators. He was greatly beloved by the entire denomination, but was especially dear to the hearts of the brethren in Alabama and Kentucky. As president of Selma University, Selma, Ala., he did much to raise the standard of the Baptist ministry and to develop a strong and useful young manhood and womanhood among the younger Baptist Christians of that state. For eleven years he administered the affairs of the State University, Kentucky. A brilliant set of young ministers in various sections of our country attest to his ability as a theologian and instructor. No greater eulogy could be given one than that paid Dr. Purce in these few words by the editor of the American Baptist. "He was an earnest, faithful and untiring worker, and his judgment was clear and discerning," and these by the editor of the National Baptist Union, "Dr. Purce was an amiable character, a strong, brave, manly hero, a man who honored God and served his people loyally and faithfully to the end." In him the National Convention had a loyal advocate. Stricken with paralysis, he died August 17, 1905, leaving the presidency of State University, to reign with Christ above.

"These all died in the faith," and left enduring records, and in dying they left a great and glorious work for the Baptist family to carry to its fullest fruition. With Cramp we may feel assured that "A great work is before us, both at home and abroad, demanding ardent love, enterprising boldness and indomitable perseverance."

A pioneer and wise counsellor
Rev. W. T. Dixon, of Brooklyn, N. Y., was indeed one of the "Fathers in Israel." Dignified in bearing, mild in disposition and a wise counsellor; all who knew him believed in him as their friend. It is a splendid proof of his greatness that he was the beloved and honored pastor of the large and influential Concord Baptist Church, of Brooklyn, for nearly 50 years. Though he lived for all these years in the far North, away from the great mass of his people, he espoused their cause throughout the country. As president of the New England Convention, for years his influence and power were widespread. He was a supporter of the National Baptist Convention. He was unusually fond of the association of the young ministers and was a great inspiration to them. On Tuesday, June 22, 1909, after a long and useful life of service in the denomination he went to his reward.

 
 
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