John Crawford 1788 - 1873
The Cartersville American
April 15, 1884, page 1
On the 12th of April, 1788, in Greenville district, South Carolina, John Crawford was born; he died at his home near Cassville, in Bartow county, Georgia, 12th of August, 1873.
In early youth he made up his mind to raise his father’s family to circumstances of greater comfort. His father was a poor man with a large family. This boy, with a firm will and a persevering energy, clung to his early determination for eleven years. He was successful. Here was the combination of generous aims and honesty of purpose that eventually carried him into the ministry. Diligence and liberality, under the divine favor, made him a man of means; and his example strikingly illustrates the truth, that “he who sows with blessings shall also reap with blessings.”
In 1814, when twenty-six years old, he volunteered for service in the Creek war, and bore arms through a campaign of six months. On his return from camp he settled on a farm in Laurens district, South Carolina, and shortly after, married Miss Martha Clore, who walked the way of life by his side until death called him away, leaving her, with six little children, “to follow after.”
He began his Christian career by joining the Rocky Mount Baptist church Laurens district, South Carolina, in 1819. For more than a half century he lived the life of a consistent Christian. In the glow of his early experience he felt that those who are receivers should be givers also, and heard and obeyed the Voice which says, “ye are my witnesses.” He at once began to preach the gospel, and was soon ordained to the ministry.
Mr. Crawford came to Georgia in January, 1836, and settled in Bartow county, within a mile of Cassville. He joined the church in that town, which was then named Beulah. He spent the first year in evangelistic labor in Cherokee Georgia, without fee or reward from man, but not without tokens or blessings from on high. The next two years he held the pastorate of Beulah church on those annual calls, which certainly have no precedent in the letter of Scripture, and which, to say the least of it, seem contrary to the Bible spirit. But in 1839 the church called him without limit of time, and he served for twenty one consecutive years. It was during this term of service that the Baptist denomination in the state was rent in twain by the anti-mission schism; and though, when that unhappy agitation began, there were members of the church warmly in favor of “the non-fellowship resolutions,” and of division, his influence availed to preserve harmony and peace.
The labors of Mr. Crawford were not confined to Beulah church. He ministered to other churches, far and near, and did much preaching at intermediate points, in private houses or in groves—wherever, in fact, he could gather a congregation of his fellow-mortals about him. Such service, not unnecessary now was more needful then; for that was the period of the early settlement of Cherokee Georgia, and, amid the usual and unavoidable roughness of frontier life, there was great destitution of churches, and a sore famine of the word of God. These things stirred his spirit within him, and the desert blossomed as the rose under his hand. He had a pointed, concise style and deeply earnest spirit, when bringing the truth of God and the soul of man together. Not a district in all this section of country but has today many witnesses to the faithfulness and effectiveness with which he toiled as herald of the cross. Not a church scarcely, unless of more recent origin, but will remember his ardent zeal and unflinching courage in her service; full surely not Cassville, nor Petit’s creek, (now Cartersville,) nor Rome, nor New Bethel, nor Enon, nor Raccoon creek, nor many others.
Mr. Crawford was one of the prime movers in the organization of the Middle Cherokee Association and of the Cherokee Baptist Convention. He was the largest contributor to the Cherokee Baptist college, located at Cassville; and was president of the board of trustees of that institution from its foundation to the burning of its buildings by United States troops in 1864.
“Old father Crawford,” as he was familiarly called by those who knew him well and loved him, passed a little over forty-seven long and useful years of his life in his native state, and a little over thirty-eight years in his adopted state, and he left behind him in both that memory which “smells sweet and blossoms in the dust.”
When old age came upon him, he grew of necessity, less active in the ministry, but he abated nothing of his interest in the cause for which he had so long wrought and wept. At last, when no longer able to preach himself, it was his wont to call his neighbors together in his own house, and have someone else to preach to them there. In his last illness, the preaching, at his request, was in his own room; and, as he listened to the precious truths of the gospel, his soul feasted, his heart rejoiced, his eyes overflowed with the comfort of the Holy Ghost. So death came to him less as an enemy, than in the form of an angel fresh from the presence of the Lord, and bringing something of the splendor of that presence with it. In what the poet pictures as “the Arch Fear,” he saw rather “the Gateway to Glory,” and stepped gladly through to be forever with the Lord.
Beautiful life this; beautiful in its length; beautiful in the manner in which it was spent; beautiful in what it accomplished; beautiful the example it left behind for those of us who yet linger on the shore.
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Last modified: September 26, 2006