THE STRANGE PREACHER AND THE REMAKABLE INFLUENCE
HE HAD ON SINNERS
By S. C. Turnbo
Among accounts of revivals in the religious world is one given me by Mr. Joshua Baker a Missionary Baptist preacher who is an old timer of Washington County, Ark. Said he, "Church matters did not take any tangible form at Fayetteville, Ark. until the year 1847, when one day during that year an old man who was afoot and carrying an old ragged grip sack come into town and when he reached the front of Jim Suttons store door he stopped and sit down on the side walk. While he ocupied this seat several men and women passed him but the old man seemed to be so tired that he hardly looked up. They knew he was a stranger there and the most of them wondered where he was from. In a half an hour or more, Doctor Pollard came along by where the old fellow was sitting and he rose to his feet and introduced himself to the doctor and ask the doctor his name. Then he wanted to know if there was a church house in town and Pollard informed.him that there was. The old man now inquired of the doctor if the people would give him the privilege of preaching in it. "Of course we will" said Pollard. "Well, I would like to preach tonight", said the old man, and Pollard replied., "I will announce an appointment for you", and the doctor remarked further that he would go and see the trustees of the house and ask them to circulate the appointment and have the bell wrung at the proper hour and the old men thanked the doctor very kind for his courtesy. Just before they parted the old man says "I have not had dinner today", and Pollard requested him to follow him and he taken him to his house and gave him plenty to eat and the doctor invited him to remain at his house and to make it his home while he remained there preaching and the old man thanked him and consented to do so. When the hour for evening services arrived the bell at the church house was wrung a long time and nearly all the population of the town turned out to hear the strange preacher. Doctor Pollard conducted the preacher to the house of worship and introduced him to the congregation and the old man began the services by making a few plain remarks which was followed by a pathetic song that seemed to touch the heart of every one present, then the discourse followed which was spoke in simple form and language but it had weight and power. It appeared that every man and woman in the house felt the effects of it. Just before dismissing the assembly the preacher ask permission of the people if he might prolong the meeting into a protracted one and his request was readily granted. It proved to be an interesting meeting. Everybody in town wanted the preacher to go home with them for dinner or stay all night but he refused all invitations and did not visit anywhere except Pollards where he eat and slept and the house where he preached. The services continued 21 days and nights which resulted in 300 convertions and he did all the preaching himself. Though a number of men and women assisted at singing, Nearly all the old men and old women, young men and young ladies of the town and including a large number of the country people promised by their actions that they were tired of sin and recklessness and would live a better life. The converted included lawyers doctors, merchants. It was a memorable time. The entire 300 converts were baptized. Among them was the famed judge Dave Walker who was baptized in a new suit of broadcloth. He had the coat which was of the claw hammer fashion buttoned up tight around him. Mr. Walker refused to pull off his boots and was baptized in them. He would have been baptized with his hat on but he thought it would float off his head under the water and pulled it off. After the converts were all baptized. The preacher, whose name was Robertson remained a day or two longer to advise the converts to organize a church. He told them that they had the privilege of joining any church they desired to but he said he had rather they would go into the Baptist Church as he was a Baptist himself. As far as I know no one knew where he come from. On the morning of the day he preached the last sermon to his converts which was done at mid day, Judge Dave Walker and other influential citizens of the town and county bought a fine horse for $125 and a rig worth $25 beside this they raised $50 in gold, and after the meeting was dismissed, Judge Walker, Doctor Dean and Doctor Pollard were appointed unknown to the preacher to conduct the preacher down to the horse rack where the horse was hitched with the saddle and bridle on and on reaching the rack where the horse stood they presented the horse and the rig and the $50 to him. The old man was taken by surprise, but was greatly pleased at the generosity of the people. On reflecting a few seconds he says, "Brethren, I am told that there are a number of widow women and orphan children in this town that need help and though while I appreciate your kindness in offering me this horse and $50 as a gift these people I refer to need it worse than I do and with your permission my brothers I return the horse bridle, saddle and $25 of the money you gave me back to you. Please sell the horse and equipment and add the proceeds of the sale to the $25 I return to you and distribute it equally among the deserving widows and their children". He now thanked the men in a courteous manner and after tipping his hat to them he walked away from them and as far as the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas is concerned they never knew where he went to, for that was the last we saw or heard of him."
Springfield-Greene County Library