Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Goodly Heritage

"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." Psalms 16:6

I've already told you my husband is a church planter. Throughout his ministry (which marked 19 years Sunday), he has either taken struggling churches trying to reestablish them, or he started one church from scratch in an area that needed a church.

In my spare time, I sometimes research our genealogy. I have found some amazing things. The man in the photo is the Reverend John Dupree. He is my husband's great-great-great grandfather. He was a church planter in Louisiana in the 1800's.

The following is the information I have collected about him:

Rev. John Dupree

Brother Dupree was born near Macon, Georgia in 1806. He married Mary Ann Taylor in early manhood. To this union were born nine children: 3 sons, Daniel Ivy, Stewart and Newton, and 6 daughters: Missouri, Sally, Nancy, Polly, Martha, and Ann.

Reverend John Dupree was ordained to preach the gospel of our Lord in 1842, at Big Sandy Missionary Baptist Church, Wilkinson County, Georgia. He was born the 26th of March 1806 and preached for 50 years. He died May 16, 1898. From Thigpen Tribe we learn where he was ordained and that in 1862 he moved to Louisiana. Also from this we learn that in 1881 he moved back to Georgia where he died and was buried.

Brother Dupree was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1841 and did faithful service in his native state until 1862, when he came with his family to Louisiana, and settled in very near wild country, about eight miles north east of the present town of Coushatta. He probably purchased as much as a section of land there for $.50 an acre in that part of the present Parish of Red River. The greater portion of the land is still owned by his descendents (as of 2001).

After moving to Louisiana he began at once, as a preacher, to administer to the spiritual needs of the few people in that section of the county. He was instrumental in organizing Liberty church soon after coming to the state, and was its pastor for several years.

Soon after coming to the state he was appointed as a missionary, with his field of service in the Black Lake, Grand Bayou, and Lake Bisteneau territory. The results of his work in this section is the organization of Ebinezar Church, north of the present town of Ashland, though it is in the lower edge of Bienville Parish, then on West to what is now known as the Methvin Community, there organizing Bethel Church in Red River Parish then on northwest to the Spring Hill Community and organized a church there, and was its pastor for a period of years, then on northeast into Webster Parish where he organized Bisteneau church, about three miles west of the present town of Heflin. Then crossing Lake Bisteneau at Port Boliver he went up on the west side of the Gum Springs Community and organized Gum Springs Church about a mile and a half south of the present village of McIntyre Church, now extinct. This church was in the reservation of what is now (1968) the Louisiana Ordinance plant. Due to the changes taking place during the reconstruction period after the civil, the Gum Spring church became disorganized, and the surviving members moved out on to -what is as of 1968- Highway 80, four miles west of the city of Minden and took the name Antioch. Brother Dupree was a leader in this organization. Brother Dupree's period of service was long and faithful.

He would ride from two to three thousand miles on horseback, preaching two to three hundred sermons each year. Through a part of this period he served as many as twelve churches, and preaching stations. His work was of a permanent nature, as proven by the fact that all of these churches are still functioning except Gum Springs, which became extinct shortly after the Civil War.

From the Federal Census 1880 in Red River Parish we learn where he and his wife, Mary Ann were living and also that his trade was listed as Doctor of Divinity.
History of Louisiana Baptist tells of a meeting of Baptists on September 24, 1864, and among the new ministers who had come into this region may be noted, John Dupree. Red River Parish Association, La. stated the churches represented by John Dupree were Pleasant Grove and Mt. Carmel.

A report by the churches in 1867 noted that Pleasant Grove and Liberty Churches were under the care of Elder John Dupree - they were called Elder in those days. Under same report Bethel Church was under his care and had a total of 15 members.
In 1871, Elder John Dupree constituted a church near Campto with 7 members, baptized four. He had also baptized about 24 people near Buckhorn. The church near Campto united with Bisteneau Church. Brother John Dupree -in 1871- supplied about 12 churches and as many stations with regular preaching, where there would have been none but for his labors.

From all reports, John Dupree baptized from 40 to 50 people a year. It was estimated that he traveled from two to three thousand miles each year. The record also states that he preached from two to three hundred sermons each year. In 1869 the State Board of the Louisiana Convention secured the services of the Rev. John Dupree to labor as a missionary, east of Red River.

Brother Dupree's period of service closed in Louisiana about 1881. His wife died and he went back to Georgia. Then he married a second time to a widow named Mrs. Lila Thomas. She already had a son named Henry L. Thomas and a grandson named Guy Thomas of Milan, Georgia. Guy and Henry both were still living in March of 1961. Guy Thomas had written to Dr. Daniel Edward Dupree and told him that his step-grandpa Dupree was buried near the line of Laurens and Wilkerson counties, Georgia, which was about 72 miles from Milan, Georgia. Guy's father, Henry was 94 years old in 1961.

John Dupree came back to Louisiana in 1893 and visited several of the churches which he had organized carrying a bed roll with him, and lying on a pallet on the platform till the preliminaries were over to conserve his strength. Then he would rise and preach with fervor for his Master and Lord. He died in 1894 at the age of 88, near Macon, Georgia.
The historical marker in Red River Parish Louisiana says:
Reverend John Dupree
(1806-1899) Pioneer Baptist preacher and missionary. He organized many churches in Georgia as well as sixteen in Louisiana east of Red River, where his labors began in 1862. Traveled great distances on horseback. Baptized hundreds of converts.
Located in Martin, District 4, Red River Parish. Red River Parish.

We thought it was fascinating that his ancestor did exactly what he does. Then, this week, I was doing a little bit more research on my family and found a direct connection to Thomas "Dunkin" Dungan. He is my great- (x10) grandfather. He started the first Baptist church in Pennsylvania and was instrumental in the founding of the Pennepack Baptist Church which is the second oldest Baptist Church in the United States.

Last year, The Baptist History Preservation Society erected a memorial at Pennepack Baptist Church. It reads as follows:

In the latter half of the seventeenth century, Baptist from England and Wales settled in the County of Philadelphia. Their gathering as baptized believers led to the formation of the Pennepack Baptist Church.

In 1686, Elias Keach, son of the famed English Pastor, Benjamin Keach, arrived in America. Though unconverted, he presented himself as a minister of the gospel. His name secured for him the opportunity to preach and the aforementioned group of believers, in need of a pastor, were among those who gave ear to his message.

Baptist historian Morgan Edwards records the details of this event: "He performed well enough till he had advanced pretty far in the sermon. Then stopping short, looked like a man astonished. The audience concluded he had been seized with a sudden disorder: but, on asking what the matter was, received from him the confession of the imposture with tears in his eyes and much trembling."

The deceiver became the first convert of his own preaching and from this time he dated his conversion. Keach repaired to Elder Thomas Dungan who, at Cold Springs in 1684, founded the first Baptist Church in the colony of Pennsylvania. Dungan administered the ordinance of baptism to Keach and the young preacher returned to Pennepack.

The Pennepack Baptist Church was constituted in 1688. It is recorded that "by the advice of Elias Keach and with the consent of the following named persons viz: John Eatton, George Eaton and Jane, his wife, Samuel Jones, Sarah Eatton, John Baker, Samual Vaus, Joseph Ashton and Jane, his wife, William Fisher, John Watts, and Elias Keach, a day was set apart to seek God by fasting and prayer in order to form ourselves into a church. Whereupon Elias Keach was accepted and received as our pastor and we sat down in communion at the Lord's table."

The same year, 1688, Elder Dungan died, and in 1702, the Church at Cold Springs was absorbed into the Pennepack Church. Though not the first established, to "Ye Olde Pennepak" belongs the distinction of being the oldest Baptist Church in Pennsylvania. It is also one of the oldest Baptist Churches in America.

Yes, we have a goodly heritage.


Starla said...

Very interesting.

Tori said...

Wow Terri,
That's pretty amazing. And to think Bro. Mark is a chip off the old old old block!
How neat, I did Johnny's but could only get so far, the records are sometimes very sketchy, specially the censuses.

Donna Livingston said...

That is great, Teri. Preacher (James Beller) was at the Pennepack Church when they erected the memorial. They spoke to the acting Pastor and the church is NOTHING like it was originally. The Pastor is a um....alternate lifestyle.... If you know what I mean. It is a sad thing to see.