Appalachia, Bulahann Church, Cabell County, Enon Church, From Youth to Old Age, Grant District, Guyandotte Valley, history, J.D. Carter, John A. Petit, John J. Perry, John J. Rowsey, Lincoln County, preacher, Salt Rock, Susannah Church, Thomas H. Perry, timbering, Tylers Creek, Union District, West Virginia, Zoar Church
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled his early days as a preacher in the Guyandotte Valley.
After I had preached my first sermon, I then preached in the school houses in the most isolated places. I had two reasons for this: first, I thought I would meet with less intelligence; and second, that they heard so little preaching, but to my surprise the people would come for miles to my meetings, and I would wonder why they came. Do they come through evil curiosity, or do they come from a sense of duty? I would pray to the Lord, down deep in my heart and soul that He would help me at this hour to preach His word with such power that these people, who have come here this day through vain curiosity, that they may be made to feel the weight of their sins, but if they have come for the good of the soul that they may go away from this place feeling it was good to be at church to-day. The hardest struggles I had in my work was from the time I entered the church to the beginning of the sermon. The presence of strangers and noted people generally embarrassed me to some extent until after I had announced my subject and read my text. After that I did not notice them anymore than others. I never tried to change my voice from the natural or make it appear I was educated, but put my whole soul and heart in my subject with the hope that somebody might be saved to-day.
About the time I began to preach there were three other young men who entered the ministry, J.D. Carter, John J. Perry and John A. Petit. These young men lived on Tyler’s creek. John J. Perry was the founder of Susannah church, one of the good churches of Grant district. He was killed by falling timber, near Salt Rock, in 1884. John A. Petit was the founder of Bulahann church in Union district. This church was named in honor of my mother, because of the interest my father and John J. Perry took in its organization. Bro. Petit was a fine preacher and had a great many friends. He was pastor of a good church in Ohio. He died, I believe, in 1885. Bro. Carter was the founder of Zoar church, another good church in Grant district. He was a large man of fine personal appearance. His ability as a preacher was second to none in this end of the state. He died in 1906. Knowing these three men as I did, I considered them the three greatest lights that ever went out from Enon church.
Many time I have put corn in my saddle-pockets and rode up the Guyan valley as far as I could by eleven o’clock, and in good weather I would meet from fifty to seventy-five people at a school house. Some of the men were bare-footed, and had their guns and a poke of salt with them and some of the old women would smoke their pipes while I was preaching to them. The men said to me, “we came prepared to salt our cattle and kill a mess of squirrels as we go home.” Sometimes on my way home I would think a people that had so little regard for the Sabbath and not enough respect for a preacher to feed his horse were not worthy of the gospel; and then I would think if nobody will preach to them they will never do any better, and as Christ had said: “Preach His gospel to every creature,” and as Paul had said: “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” I felt I could not live, or that great calamity would come to me if I did not preach the gospel.”
About this time I was going to school at Salt Rock. A Mr. John J. Rowsey, a very noted teacher was our instructor that year. Some of the old men tried to discourage me by saying if God had called me to preach I did not have to go to school to learn how. But I felt the need of a better education and knew that some of my appointments did not pay me one dollar a year and I was hard pressed financially. These things would discourage me very much. I saw at once there was a race to be run and a battle to be fought in this life, and I remembered that the Bible said the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but to them that put their trust in the Lord. I believed every word in the Bible was the word of God, I could not treat it with indifference. I was determined to preach all I could and go to school all I could, and raise my finance all I could, and as to those people that go to church with their guns and those that sit and smoke during preaching, I have a great love for them as well as others; for their souls are as precious in God’s sight as the souls of the rich and most refined.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 10, p. 25-27.
Appalachia, Barboursville, Bear Creek, Cabell County, civil war, Confederate Army, Enon Church, Falls of Guyan, genealogy, George Rogers, Guyandotte River, history, Lincoln County, Mud River, Salt Rock, South Carolina, Thomas H. Perry, Tylers Creek, Union Army, Virginia, West Virginia, William R. Brumfield
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled the early years of the Civil War in his locale:
In November, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. That was more than a sign of war; it was a declaration of war. Soon afterwards six other southern states seceded, and a little later three other states followed suit, and last of all, in May, 1861, Virginia seceded.
My father said he had worked, prayed, voted for the Union, but he thought he owed his allegiance first to the state and then to the general government. However, he advised us boys to stay at home, as there are many things involved in this war and its hard to say what the outcome will be. One Sunday, in 1861, many of our young people were at Enon church, and at that time the union army was at Barboursville, ten miles away. While we were at church a man came on horseback in great speed with his hat off, and when he got to the church he cried out: “Get to the mountains; the Federals are on their way to Tyler’s creek, and are destroying everything before them.”
We all ran to the woods in great haste, and remained there until the next day, except the women and the children, who returned home that evening; the old men advised the women and children to stay at home, as they did not believe the soldiers would do them any harm. But several young men from this first scare, joined the Confederate army, but I stayed at home and dodged the soldiers until the spring of 1862. During this time I thought of going north and going to school, and then I would think if I went north they would force me to join the army and I would have to fight my own people, and I could not do that. I thought if I was in the south I could not go to school; they would force me in the army and I knew I could not stay at home. So I decided as there was no neutral ground for me I would go to Dixie. At this time the Federals were scouting the country in every direction which made it difficult to go, but we set a time to meet in a low gap east of Joseph Johnson’s, a half-way place between Guyan and Mud rivers. That night we filled that gap more than full of men and horses. It was a dark night and we never knew how many men we had present, but think there were two or three hundred. We were suspicious of traitors among us that night. We did our work quickly, appointed a captain and mapped out our way for that night’s march. The way was down Tyler’s creek to the Salt Rock and then up the Guyan river. About midnight our captain said: “Gentlemen, follow me,” and as we slowly moved out of that gap it was whispered, “we do not know whose hands we are in , as there are so many more here tonight than we expected, and so many strangers.”
When we came to where my father lived on Tyler’s creek, I asked George Rogers, a man of our company to wait with me until I could go to the barn and get my horse, for I had left my horse in the barn until we were ready to march. This delayed me about twenty minutes. Mr. Rogers and I thought we would soon overtake our men, but when we came to a bridle path that led to the mouth of Bear Creek, much nearer than by way of Salt Rock, it was so dark we could not see the track of a horse, and as we did not know which way our men had gone we were much perplexed and lost some time at this point, but decided to go the nearer way, and when we came within one mile and a-half of the falls of Guyan, we heard considerable shooting in our direction, and as our men were twenty-five or thirty minutes in the advance of us, the shooting must have been at our men, and as our men were not armed the shooting was all from one side and it may be that half of our men are killed. we stopped and decided that we would wait for daylight. We hitched our horses about fifty yards from the road and lay down under a beech tree that stood about twenty-five yards from the road, and we went into a doze. Suddenly, in front of us, there was a moving army and we could not tell whether they were going up or down the road until the rear guard passed, and then we knew they were going down the road. While they were passing, I said: “George, these are our men.” George said: “Be still, say nothing.”
When morning came, Mr. Lucas, a man living in that neighborhood, said to us: “The men that have just passed down the road killed Mr. Brumfield and had fired into a body of unarmed men at the falls just before day, this morning.” We understood the rest and at noon that day we were back again at my father’s house.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 5, p. 14-16. Note: As of 1862, Cabell County remained a part of Virginia and Lincoln County did not exist.
alcohol, Appalachia, Cabell County, Democratic Party, education, Election of 1856, Enon Church, Falls of Guyan, From Youth to Old Age, history, James Buchanan, John C. Fremont, Lincoln County, politics, Republican Party, Salt Rock, Saton Rowsey, schools, Thomas H. Perry, Tylers Creek, West Virginia
About 1910, Rev. Thomas H. Perry reflected on his long life, most of which was spent in the vicinity of Tylers Creek in Cabell County, West Virginia. In this excerpt from his autobiography, Mr. Perry recalled the 1856 presidential election as it occurred near the Falls of Guyan and his early education:
When I was eleven years old I went to my first election; in 1856. James Buckhanan [sic], democrat, and John C. Fremont, republican, were the candidates for president, and as I could not vote, I did not take much interest in politics. I wanted to see how and what they did at elections.
The election was held in a store building, two miles below the falls of the Guyan river, now Lincoln county. The first thing I noticed was a barrel of whiskey standing upon a large tree, the head of the barrel being out, and large tin cups were hanging on nails that were driven into the side of the barrel. The whiskey was free for everybody and strange to say, but one out of that three or four hundred men who drank that whiskey that day, was drunk, and he thought he would die, and he began to beg the people to pray for him. Some said: “Let him died; a man that would make a dog out of himself and get drunk because the whiskey was free, was not fit to live.” But one man said: “I will pray for him.” He kneeled by the side of the drunk man and shut his eyes and raised his hand. I thought I never heard such a prayer in all my life as that man offered for the drunk man. It made me tremble to see the drunk man and hear the other men pray. During the prayer I resolved that I would never get drunk, which vow I have kept to this day. I never saw but few drunkards in my boyhood days. They were considered a low class of people, and ruled out of society. In those days the surplus peaches and apples were made into brandy, and as you could buy pure whiskey for twenty-five cents per gallon by the barrel, it was so cheap and plentiful the people did not have such a craving for it. In my neighborhood it was generally used in moderation. It was not the great evil of the day as it is now. The great evil of intemperance, in my opinion can only be overcome by freedom and moral suasion.
As I do not want to lose sight of the election: I went to the end of the store house where there was a window and a voter came to the window and took his hat off and gave his name to commissioners of the election. Commencing at the head of the ticket, one of the judges asked the voter who he would vote for, clear through the ticket. So we all knew who the voter voted for, from one end of the ticket to the other. I like that way of voting as there are less frauds in elections held that way than there are with the secret ballot. I think it was in 1856 a Mr. Howard made up a large school and taught it in Enon church. Mr. Howard had a great name as a teacher and the young people came for miles to this school.
The commissioners contracted with Mr. Howard to teach in this school the poor children of the district. This did not please some of our young people. They said this would be going to school with paupers, but when they found that the law of Virginia required the teacher who received the free school fund to teaching reading, writing, arithmetic, English, grammar, geography, state and U.S. history and the elements of physical science, and such other higher branches as the school might direct, they saw if Mr. Howard could teach all these branches he was a good scholar and they said nothing more.
Mr. Saton Rowsey was our next teacher. He was said to be a hustling teacher. In my ten years schooling before the war I had seven teachers, in the three years after the war, three teachers–ten in all. Dr. Bias taught the last school I attended. He was about twenty years old and I was about thirty. He was considered a fine instructor. He is now practicing medicine in the west. I always felt that pupils should have the greatest respect for their teachers.
Source: From Youth to Old Age by T.H. Perry, Chapter 3, p. 11-12. Note: At the time of the 1856 presidential election, Cabell County yet remained a part of Virginia.
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