Pioneer Colored Christians
Pioneer Colored Christians
HARRIET PARKS MILLER
“The primitive order with its picturesque
types, has passed with the days that are
dust. The mirthful banjo is mute, and the
laughter, songs, and shouts of the old plantation
quarters no longer float out on the
W. P. TITUS, PRINTER AND BINDER
TO THE READER.
In the busy rush of life, the virtues of singleindividuals too often escape notice, or make butslight impression on the minds of their contemporaries.It is in after years, when the actorsare dead and gone, that their virtues shine forth,and speak from the silence, through the penof some one who catches them before it is toolate.
No history is richer, or more beautiful, thanthat written of lives led by wisdom, and goodness.
The writing of this little book is inspired by adesire to perpetuate, as examples, the lives ofsuch people. While the trend of my thoughtswill center around one special family,—theCarrs—I shall not omit honorable mention ofother colored citizens, who walked upright amongtheir fellow men.
I shall also make mention of leading whitepeople who befriended the colored race in itsearly struggles for religious liberty.
I write with the hope, that what I say, willhave a tendency to deepen the sympathy, andkind feeling which should ever exist between thetwo races living together in the South.
Port Royal, Tenn., July, 1911.
Interview with Aunt Kitty Carr, September,1901, in which she tells of her birth in Virginia,1815.
At six years of age, she was given by her motherto Mrs. Edmond Winston, who one year later,brought her to Tennessee. Marriage in early lifeto Rev. Horace Carr.
She was free born; effort to deprive her of herbirth right.
By the assistance of kind white friends, she isenabled to legally establish her freedom.
Reading of Prayer Book.
Rev. Horace Carr.
His birth in Spring Creek neighborhood, in 1812.
Belonged to Aquilla Johnson, and was sold fora division of the estate. Bought by Mr. JamesCarr, of Port Royal, Montgomery county, Tenn.
After master’s death, he hires himself from hismistress, and locates on a retired spot near “HorseShoe Bend” of Red River, by permission of Mr.William Weatherford, its owner. Mode of makinga living. Joins Red River Church, and is ordainedto preach. Invitation by Mr. E. L. Fort, topreach on his premises.
Worship of the two races together, in antebellumtimes.
Department in white churches for colored worshippers.
Civil war brings changes, and they have churchesand schools of their own.
Sketch of Dr. P. F. Norfleet, of Port Royal,Tenn., who gave land on which to build MountZion, one of the first colored churches in MiddleTennessee.
Amusing story of Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Hawkins,of Turnersville, Robertson county, Tenn.
Aunt Kitty describes her vision, or dream, inwhich the future Mount Zion appeared to her.It takes tangible form, and Rev. Horace Carrassembles his people under a large white oak treeon the lot donated by Dr. Norfleet, and assistedby Revs. Chess Ware, and Ben Thomas, of Guthrie,Ky., organizes the church.
First house of worship soon erected. Toosmall, and later torn away to give place to largerbuilding.
Two buildings burned, but the faithful Christiansdid not lose hope.
List of charter members.
Younger generation following the religious footstepsof their ancestors.
Mr. William Bourne gives lot for buryingground.
Rev. Althens Carr.
Birth and early life. Obtains education undergreat difficulties.
An eloquent pulpit orator.
Two funeral sermons heard by the writer.
William, and Jack Northington, two worthybrothers.
Why Uncle Arter Northington was called“Paul.”
Rev. Horace Carr tells of an antebellum cornshucking on Mr. Waters’ farm.
Describes great excitement in Port Royal neighborhood,the night the stars fell, November, 1833.
Rev. J. W. Carr.
First work from home, and beginning of hiseducation.
Letter of appreciation to Port Royal friend, ashort time before his death at Savannah, Georgia,August, 1907.
Statistics showing great progress of the coloredBaptists of United States, Georgia leading theSouthern States along this line.
Interview with Rev. Luke Fort (col.,) of Guthrie,Ky., in which he tells of first sermon he ever heardRev. Horace Carr preach.
Was the latter’s son-in-law nineteen years.Describes a patroler raid on a quiet meeting beingheld one Saturday night on the E. L. Fort plantation.
Joe Gaines’ o’possum, cooked for the Port Royalmerchants, turns to a house-cat, and he is madeto eat same.
History of Benevolent Treasure Society, No. 7.
Visit to Aunt Eliza Gaines Williams. Shetalks pleasantly of her white people, the Norfleets,and Gaines.
Describes last visit to Rev. Horace Carr.Second visit, for the purpose of taking her picture.She was eighty-two, and this was her first picture.
Dan, and Jerry Fort, aid materially in securingMount Zion Church history.
Uncle John McGowan.
His early life.
Tells of a chicken fry, and what it cost him.
Describes how he was sold.
Passing events of his life.
Tribute to the late E. L. Fort.
History of Port Royal, Tennessee.
Passing of four of the most prominent membersof the Carr family.
Sketch of Captain C. N. Carney, one of theearly settlers of Montgomery county.
Loyalty of his colored people, beginning first,with Uncle Isaac, the faithful blacksmith on theCarney plantation.
Rev. Peter Carney (col.), Presbyterian minister,and remarkable character.
Aleck Carney, a useful citizen, and churchworker.
Betsy Neblett, his late sister, the “Good Samaritan”of her neighborhood.
“THEY HAVE GONE FROM OUR MORTAL VISION,BUT IN MEMORIES SWEET, THEY ABIDE WITH US.”
The people whom you will meet in this littlebook did not live in fancy.
They were humble instruments through whomGod sent a message clear, and strong, that willgo on, and on, through the coming years.
Realizing the rapidity with which the good oldcolored types were passing away, I went oneSeptember afternoon, 1901, to see Aunt KittyCarr, for the purpose of obtaining some interestingfacts concerning herself, and her remarkablefamily.
Her husband, Uncle Horace Carr, had beendead twenty-four years, and she was then livingwith her son Horace, at his farm on Red River,a mile or two from Port Royal, Tennessee.
I found her on the back porch peeling peachesto dry, and when I made known to her the intentof my visit, she was amused, and said, “Lor MissHarriet, what am I say, that will be worth readingin a book?”
On assuring her of the esteem in which she andher family were held, and the importance of suchlives being left on tangible record, she seemedwilling to tell me, in her quaint way, what Iwished to know.
Aunt Kitty was a small yellow woman, ofrefined features, and dignified bearing.
She spoke as follows:
“Of course you have heard that I was freeborn?”
“Yes,” I replied, “you were the first free bornperson of your race, that I ever saw.”
“I was born near Spotsylvania, Virginia, in1815. That’s been a long time ago. I’ll soonbe eighty-six years old. My children, and grand-childrenare kind to me, and don’t want me towork, but I am not satisfied to sit idle.
“My father was a Frenchman of some importance,by the name of Truell; my only recollection ofhim was his long curly hair that came down tohis shoulders. My mother was free born, andgave me away.
“One bright spring day she was sweeping herfront yard, and I, a little girl of six years, wastaking up the trash, that she swept together,when a pretty white girl sixteen, or seventeen,rode past the gate, and called for a drink of water.As she handed the drinking gourd back, she said,‘That’s a handy little girl you have there, I wishyou’d give her to me.’ ‘All right,’ mother replied,and the lady passed on, and nothing more wasthought of it, till nearly a year afterward, a nicecovered wagon drove up to our gate, and thesame lady called for me.
“A few days before, she had married a Mr.Edmond Winston, and they were going to housekeeping.
“My mother gathered together my little budgetof clothes, and handed little Kitty, and theclothes over to the colored driver, saying, ‘Heretake her.’
“And they took me; I have never thoughtmother acted right.
“The new married couple lived in Virginiaabout a year after that, when they decided tocome to Tennessee, and brought me with them.We came a long journey, in that same coveredwagon, and settled in District No. 1, Montgomerycounty, near where Fortson’s Spring now is.
“They were as kind to me, as they could be,and I was content to stay with them.
“After coming to Tennessee, Mr. Winston didnot live very long, and his widow, after a respectabletime, married a Mr. Coleman, grandfatherof the first Mrs. Polk Prince, and great grandfatherof Mrs. Lewis Downer, of Guthrie, Ky.
“But I was always called Kitty Winston.The Colemans and Johnsons were related, andthrough their visiting from Fortson Spring neighborhoodto Spring Creek, farther down towardClarksville, I met my lifetime companion.
“He was the property of Mr. Aquilla Johnson,of Spring Creek, and was first known as HoraceJohnson.
“We were married when we were both quiteyoung. Soon after our marriage, it was necessaryto make a division of the property, and Mr.Johnson sold my husband to Mr. James Carr, ofPort Royal, grandfather of Mr. Ed, and RossBourne.
“We had not been long settled down to quiet,peaceable living in our little cabin home, whenit began to be whispered around among a cruelclass of white people called overseers, that I couldbe deprived of my free birth right, and made aslave. Of course it made me very unhappy, andI prayed earnestly over the matter.
“I went to sertain good white friends who hadknown me longest, and laid the case before them,and they advised me to go to Esq. Dick Blount,of Fortson’s Spring, and he would fix up somepapers that would establish my freedom for alltime to come.
“I put out for the Blount home in haste, myhusband going with me. When we reached there,a member of the Esquire’s family told me he wasdrunk, but if I could wait an hour or two, hemight be sober enough to talk to me. Of courseI waited. We were seated in the back yard, anda quiet couple we were, for it was a solemn timein our lives.
“By, and by, we saw the Esquire came out onthe back porch, and washed his face. I whisperedand asked Horace, if he reckoned he was washingthe drunk off.
“We walked up to the door, and told our mission;Esq. Blount advised us to go on to Clarksville,and said he would follow on shortly.
“We waited, and waited, on the Court Housesteps, and I had about decided he was not coming,when we looked up the street, and saw him.
“He took an iron square, and measured myheight, wrote a description of my features, andasked me if there were any scars on my body. Iknew of none, except a small one the size of asilver dime, on the back of my neck, caused fromthe deep burning of a fly blister. I showed himthat.
“He kindly fixed up the papers, and handedthem to me. I kept them closely guarded, tillmy oldest daughter, Mary Waters, was going tomove to the State of Ohio to live, and not knowingwhat might happen to her there, she asked mefor them, and I willingly gave them to her. Ialways regretted that I did not keep a copy, forit would be a curiosity to the present generation.”
As she quietly sat, and told me all this, hergrand daughter, Eleanora Carr Johnson, was anattentive listener, never having before heard suchdetails of antebellum history. The afternoonseemed too short; so pleasant was the interviewthat I regretted not having gone oftener, to seeher. She referred incidentally to a little prayerbook, “Morning and Night Watches,” by Rev.J. R. McDuff, D. D., from which I had often readto her, in days gone by, and expressed a desire tohear a certain chapter once more.
Feeling that she would enjoy hearing it, I hadcarried the little book along with me, and readto her as follows: “May it be mine to cheerfullyfollow the footsteps of the guiding Shepherdthrough the darkest, loneliest road, and amidstthickest sorrows may I have grace to