Recollections of My Early Ministry
Thirty-eight years ago today I left my father's house, a pale,
delicate, inexperienced, beardless boy, to go to Wartree Circuit, taking
the place of B. B. Abernathy, who had died on the first round. I had no
license save as an exhorter. Wm. Burr was Presiding Elder. My circuit
lay on the Kentucky line in Tennessee, west of Cumberland river. The
Obids River Circuit lay just across on the east side of the Cumberland,
and was in charge of A. W. Smith. Bro. Burr placed Smith in charge of
both circuits, assigning me as junior. Each Circuit had its own
Quarterly Conference. As we traveled them unitedly, our work was 280
miles around, crossing the Cumberland river twice each round. We had
twenty-nine appointments. Two Mondays we had for rest days. One of our
rest days we had to travel thirty miles. The winter was a severe one;
accommodations often poor. At the end of the year our work summed up:
much suffering, great happiness, 147 conversions, 143 additions, $4.50
quarterage each, and ferriage and horse-shoeing $12.50 each, leaving me
with $8.00 less than nothing. Conference was held that fall at
Clarksville. There I was received on trial in the class with R. A.
Young, now D. D., and J. C. Putman, yet of the Tennessee Conference, and
Judge Milton Brown, of Scottsborough, a faithful local elder. From this
Conference I was sent to the Cumberland Circuit of twenty-three
appointments. Over 150 were added to the church, and I received $23.35.
At the close of this year just before Conference I went with John F.
Hughes to the Obids River Circuit to aid in a camp meeting, held at
Dinis Camp-ground. Here some five infidels took offense at the
preaching, and at its close followed the Presiding Elder and three other
preachers seven miles and attempted to mob us. They were armed with
clubs and so were the preachers, and the most wordless, bloody battle I
ever saw was had right on the highway. But the preachers lost no blood
and got no wounds. The infidels were brave and fought like tigers, but
God helped us, and our foes raised the white feather. My third year was
on the Salem Circuit with seventeen churches. A good revival resulted
at the close of this year and over 100 were added to the church. I was
paid this year $37.50. The next two years I was sent to the Winchester
Circuit. This was a two week's circuit with ten appointments. We had
fine success religiously, but quarterage was low—about $60.00 a year.
My sixth year was at Russellville, Ala. This was my happiest, best and
most successful year. The results stood: good meetings, $150 quarterage
(the full allowance of Discipline) board, and the best wife in the
world. In conclusion—this generation of Methodists and preachers do not
know what the generations before them endured to hand down to them the
grandest Christian heritage men and women ever had given them.
A. G. COPELAND.
Submitted by Laurel Baty