On the twentieth day of February, 1847, I left the home of my childhood on the
banks of the Cany Fork of the Cumberland, in White County, Tenn. My father
moved away from the old homestead soon after, and until recently I never saw the
scenes of my early childhood again. But on the 6th of last month, in company with
my brother, W. G. Copeland and his wife, I took the L. & N. north bound. On
the next day at 2:30 P M we left the train at Doyle Station on the M S & T Branch R
R. Here I was in three miles of my birth place, and in one and a half miles
of early day's school house. Forty-two years had wrought such changes that I felt
like I was in a strange land among strange people. True there were my kindred and
the children of old friends. An old man, venerable and gray sat in the
veranda, and when I asked the post master if there was a letter for A. G. Copeland he
rose up and inquired if that was Gwinn, then I saw before me my old friend and
kindred Levy Kurr, then a gentleman came forward and took my hand and wanted to
know if I remembered Jim Hill, he was a school fellow of mine 57 years ago. Then a
large fine looking fellow came to me and asked me if I remembered Seth Arnold.
He now weighs 186 pounds, and was my pupil in 1852, 6 years old. Then a kind
looking man of about 48 years introduced himself to me as Williams, and asked me if
there was any reason why I could not take dinner with him. I knew no reason why I
could not and did so. On the way to his house, he told me he heard me preach
frequently at Mr. Smiths on Cumberland River above Grandville 42 years ago. And that he
was then a child of six years, and he said that I gave him a small Testament
with my name in it, which he had kept all these years. Mr. Williams is a worthy
ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church. He and his good wife showed me no
little kindness. At night I heard Mr. Goodpaster preach an excellent Presbyterian
sermon on Naman the leper. On being introduced to him I found he was the son of
my old friend Goodpaster, Esq, who prosecuted the five infidels who in 1849
attempted to mob John G. Hugges, Tom Wainright, Wm Hickman and myself in Overton County
on our way home from holding a camp meeting on Obed's river circuit. The Lord
helped us mightily, and the fun was all on the other side.
Ben Gist, one of the most enterprising men in his county, who has dealt larger in stock, and turned more of the people's horses, cattle and hogs into money and into their pockets than any other man, met us and took us to his home. At his house I made headquarters. His wife is my cousin, and she is a jewel, and her daughters are gems from the same mine. Melons, fruit, music and smiles suitable to charm a king, feasted us during a pleasant sojourn.
Railroads are in one sense like preachers. They turn the world "upside down". All along each side of the one running through White County can be seen and felt its throbbing pulses. New and better houses, fences and crops finer and better churches and schools, neater and more attentive people greet you as you approach the iron road bed. I never want again to live out of hearing of the neighing of the iron horse, or feel disconnected with the pulsations of its steaming arteries.
A. G. COPELAND.
Submitted by Laurel Baty
The engraving of Rev. Anderson G. Copeland and Wife, Minnie Johnson Copeland, is from
“Memorial Sketches of the Lives and Labors Of The Deceased Ministers Of The North Alabama Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, South (1870-1912)”
by Rev. W. T. Andrews, published in 1912 by the Publishing House of the M. E. Church South, page 114.