Feb 13, 2009

Graves vs. Hardshells?

In a book about Missionary Baptist pastor and historian, Robert Samuel Duncan, titled as "Life Story of R. S. Duncan," and written by Wiley J. Patrick, I have discovered that a written debate, lasting two years, was carried on by Dr. J. R. Graves, and Dr. R. W. Fain (Hardshell Baptist), which discussion involved the writings of Duncan.

I plan to keep researching the history of men like Dr. John M. Watson and Dr. R. W. Fain, two leading elders of middle Tennessee who sided with the anti-mission Baptists and were opponents of the mission Baptists and leaders such as Dr. R. B. C. Howell.

Here is what I have discovered about this two year discussion, about the book by Duncan on the Primitive Baptists, and on his other writings on the history of missions, and on Dr. Fain.

First, let me cite from the biography of Duncan.

"My aforesaid publications did not complete my literary work. In the early years of my missionary agency, I wrote a series in six chapters, under the caption: "Who Are the Primitive Baptists, the Missionary or the Anti-Missionary?"

This series was published in the Religious Herald of Richmond, Va., in 1872, and attracted some attention. They fell under the eye of J. R. Graves, editor of "The Baptist" of Memphis. He wrote, asking a more elaborate treatment of the same topic, in a series of articles for his paper, stipulating to pay me therefor liberally. I agreed thereto, and commenced, in Midsummer, 1873, an exhaustive treatise of the subject. These articles appeared weekly in "The Baptist," in some forty chapters. I traced the missionary principle and practice of the Baptists as existent among our churches of that day, back through the early American churches, thence up to and in the English and Welch churches (Baptists). I then passed on through the Dutch churches, the Paulicians, the Waldenses, the Donatists, the Novatians, and thence to the Apostolic churches. All along the line I found a missionary people. They were Propagandists.

Rev. R. W. Fain (Anti-Mission), editor of the "Baptist Watchman," Nashville, Tenn., solicited Dr. Graves for a discussion of the subject I had treated in his paper. He offered to publish my original articles in "The Watchman," if permitted to review them. I consented, and Dr. Graves accepted his offer. The discussion followed and was read by thousands of people. Thus the light shined out, where, possibly, it was most needed. This newspaper discussion lasted the larger part of another year, making almost two years' agitation of the missionary problem in the Southland.

I once thought of publishing in book form my above named articles, but the means were not available. I even did a considerable amount of work on the manuscript, which I have-yet on hand. The whole, if finished, would make a book of from three to five hundred pages." (pg. 135-136)

See here

I am desperately wanting to find the issue of the "Religious Herald" for 1872 and the six chapters on "who are the Primitive Baptists?" written by pastor Duncan! I have not been able to find these old issues on the internet. I am also hoping to find old issues of "The Tennessee Baptist" and of the "Baptist Watchman" published by Dr. Fain. There are so many lost manuscripts like this that need locating by Baptist historians and preserved. The information in many of these old works is invaluable. If anyone has information on how to locate, especially on the internet, these old issues of the "Religious Herald" and the "Tennessee Baptist," please let me know.

I am still looking for several old sources of historical information such as the writings of Elder John Clark of Virginia, and of the paper he edited from 1854 till he died, around 1890, called "Zion's Advocate."

I am still looking for information about Elder (Dr.) John M. Watson, and Elder (Dr.) R. W. Fain, and of their writings, and the old periodicals they helped to publish, papers like "The Old Baptist Banner," and "The Baptist Watchman," and "The Herald of Truth," besides other old first generation Hardshell periodicals, like the "Signs of the Times," and the older "Primitive Baptist" periodical of the 1830's and put out from Tarboro, N.C.

I am also hoping to locate Elder C. H. Cayce’s “Hotshots”pamphlet some day.

I am also desirous to find any of the first debates by the Hardshell founding fathers and any evidence that any Baptist leader, church, or association, believed neo-Hardshell views on the new birth prior to 1860. Or, before 1800.

I am also still anxious to find copies of the Hardshell periodicals published in the 1800's, particularly the writings of Elder (Dr.) J. C. Hurst on Hardshell “insanity" (and the writing of Elder Samuel Neal Hurst, famous lawyer and preacher, and brother of the former), wherein he gave his reasons for leaving the Primitive Baptist denomination and the pastorate of the famous Thornton Gap Primitive Baptist Church in Virginia.

I am also finding it difficult to find any writings by Elder James Osbourne, an important, yet often overlooked, leader among the first anti-mission Baptists.

I am also desirous of finding, hopefully on the internet, any copy of Burkett & Read’s first history of the Kehukee Association and any information and writings by those who signed the Black Rock Address.

It would be a delight to find any information about the debates that Elder Daniel Parker had with Dr. J.M. Peck at the outset of the mission controversy.

Anyway, back to Baptist historian, R. S. Duncan. He says:

"My taste for history was inborn, as I fully believe; but developed in my boyhood home as I read books from my father's small but select library. The older the book the better, was my motto. My taste for this class of literature grew with my growth. I became a Baptist, settled in my own new home. Then, soon after, I became anxious to know more of the history of the Baptists and their institutions; how they were formed, how they grew, and what their principles and methods were. I wrote far and wide, gathered up associational minutes, old church record-books, and whatever would throw light on the methods and principles of my people; all of which I did, that I might be better fitted for the work of the ministry, which I had then entered. In time, I had accumulated quite a stock of old and new documents relating to Baptist history in Missouri. These I classified, labeled, put away, and continued to add to my collections. About 1868, S. W. Marston came to Missouri and commenced a similar work to what I had been doing some ten years. Several years later we met. He proposed that we sell or buy out, one the other. The result was, I bought his material for $60, thus putting all the collected documents together. Still I had no purpose whatever of writing a book, but had now in mind the gathering of material for some one in the future to use in writing a history of the Baptists in Missouri."

"In the summer of 1875 Dr. Yeaman, then editor of "The Central Baptist," solicited me to write, for the paper, some sketches of the Baptist churches in the state, for which he stipulated to pay me. I commenced at once, and, three months later, these sketches had awakened such an interest among the people, that their publication in permanent form began to be called for. Then I resolved to make the attempt to write "The History of Missouri Baptists," and at it I went, as I had opportunity. Between six and seven years was I in completing the manuscript. Scammell & Company, St. Louis, became my publishers, and in 1882 the book issued from the press. This was my second book. Three editions were disposed of, except about two hundred unbound copies which were lost by fire at the bindery. My remuneration was six and a fourth per cent of the gross receipts from sales. Twenty-five years from the commencement of the collection of material this history saw the light of day. It became a reality.

Observations: During most of the period of writing the Missouri Baptist history, I was busy in my agency work, and hence was compelled to do a large portion of my book work at night, while others slept. This, I am now sure, was unwise, for it came near costing me my life. I was exhausted on completing my book, being barely able to ascend the stairway to my study. But this one thing I can now say: I now live in the consciousness of having tried to do what I could, and seemed to be my duty, all of which comforts me. In this consciousness I am paid, but financially I was not."

"In the publication of this book I took no step but what the hand of the Lord seemed to be leading me to take.

The work consists of over 900 pages, with an index and table of contents, and has over one hundred illustrations, most of which are portraits of living and deceased preachers, including not a few old pioneers ; also some laymen." (pg. 130-131)

Pamphlet Publications

My first pamphlet publication was from the press of the Herald Publishing House, Columbia, Mo., in 1890. The following, from the title page, will explain:

An Address
Delivered at Jefferson City, Missouri,

—on the—

Before the Missouri Baptist Historical Society,

October the I7th, 1889.

This address was delivered by appointment, made by the society the year before. The document is on deposit among the archives of the Historical Society. Two thousand copies were published for circulation.

See here

Oh for the life of a writer and historian! It is obvious that pastor Duncan put tremendous amount of work into his research and writings and it will be a grand thing to find his writings against the Hardshells. There were others who wrote in answer to the question of "who are the primitive Baptists?" and it is hoped that those writings will also be found.

Here are some tidbits of other information I have collected on Elder R. W. Fain and his publication work. Please note that he was a dear friend to Elder Watson, even completing the work of Dr. Watson on the book "The Old Baptist Test," and dying four years after his dear friend and both having a lasting effect on the history of middle Tennessee Baptists and of the mission controversy.

"The Baptist Watchman was established at Jasper, Ala., in 1868. It was moved to Murfreesboro in 1869, and to Nashville by C. W. Nance in 1872. B. E. Mullins and R. W. Fain were at that time the editors, and I, Bunyan Stephens, associate editor." (Page 369)

("History of Nashville, Tennessee" By John Wooldridge, Elijah Embree Hoss, William B. Reese")

See here

From the "Baptist History and Heritage"‎ (Page 41) by Southern Baptist Historical Society, Southern Baptist Convention Historical Commission - Baptists (1975), I found a tidbit of information in which there is mention of "a discussion with R. W. Fain, a Primitive or "Old Baptist," and the mention of "Dayton," probably Dr. A. C. Dayton, and the mention of a comment "To Elder Samuel Boykin," Baptist Banner, January 23-June 25, 1864."

I hope I can locate more information about this debate.

From the book "Biographical Sketch of Primitive or Old School Baptist Ministers," we read this about Dr. Fain.

"Fain, Elder R. W. (M.D.), of Nashville, Tenn., was born December 8, 1807; died February 2, 1870. Dr. Fain was a close friend and fellow-laborer of the late Elder John M. Watson and revised and greatly enlarged the second edition of Dr. Watson's book entitled "Old Baptist Test." He was a gifted preacher and able writer, skillful physician and higly esteemed by his brethren as a minister and by his contemporaries in the medical profession."

("Biographical Sketch of Old School Baptist Ministers" by Elder R. H. Pittman, page 101)

There is mention in Dr. Watson's "Old Baptist Test" a paper he supported called "The Herald of Truth." This paper seems also to have been started by Dr. Fain.

"About the same time the Herald of Truth, a Baptist paper, was published by Dr. R. W. Fain."

See here

If anyone has information on where information can be had on the items of interest mentioned, please let me hear from you.


Matt Bailey said...

I'm working on a thesis examining the Red River Baptist Association split between Missionary & Primitive Baptists. I'm curious to hear your views on the split in the Tennessee area. Who do you think the key figures were?

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Matt,

I would have to check my notes for a complete list of leaders, but off the top of my head I think of Elder John Watson and C.F. Cayce as leaders of the Hardshells in Tennessee with M.C. Howell on the other side. I have posted several blogs on these men in the gadfly.