Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
P. B. M'CARRELL
( pages 356 - 359)
I am standing at the grave of the beloved and lamented P. B. McCarrell. On his monument here in the Mount Olive cemetery (Blount County) I read this inscription: "In memory of Rev. P. B. McCarrell. Born December 14, 1841. Departed this life August 6, 1887. A faithful Baptist minister, a worthy citizen, an affectionate husband."
Pleasant Baker McCarrell was the son of Joseph G. and Jane McCarrell, being one of a family of eleven children. His paternal grandfather, James McCarrell, was born in Scotland. but, coming to this country, settled first in Virginia, then moved to Tennessee, settling in Knox County. His grandmother came from Pennsylvania, but was of Irish descent, hence the Scotch-Irish characteristics of our subject. P. B. McCarrell belongs to a family of singers, and was himself a fine singer. His grandfather was educated for a preacher. but discovering his real gift, decided to be a singer. When Dr. J. R. Graves lectured and preached in Blount County he lead Brother McCarrell associated with him as his singer. They were so well suited to each other, Dr. Graves said, "When I get to be bloody, `Bake' McCarrell shall be my Sankey."
Brother McCarrell never attended college, but got a good working education from public and private schools and by studying at home. In his youth the miscarriage of an axe unfitted him for labor on the farm and made it necessary for him to prepare himself in some way to live off his wits. Fortunately he had energy and ambition, along with a good mind, and so was enabled to master difficulties and rise superior to the circumstances of his birth and environment. He taught school, and in educating others educated himself - in studying school tactics, learned how to handle grown-up people and manage churches.
He was converted in his fourteenth year, in a meeting held at Mount Olive Church, by C. C. Tipton, Isaac Hines and J. M. Stansberry, and was baptized by Brother Hines into the fellowship of the Mount Olive Church. In his nineteenth year (May 1, 1860) he was married to Miss Sallie Johnson, a woman of rare good sense, piety and domestic virtues. She was a devoted wife, and though having no children of her own, was a true mother to the children of others.
By vote of Mount Olive Church, May, "second Saturday," 1867, he was licensed to preach. May 10 of the following year, at the request of Mt. Lebanon Church, he was ordained "to the office of an evangelist," and authorized to "exercise all the functions of a minister of the gospel." Signed by the presbytery, Wm. N. Carson, pastor; William Billue, late pastor; H. S. Hodge, elder; Wm. L. Cottrell.
As pastor he served the following churches most efficiently and with great satisfaction: Mt. Lebanon, Alt. Olive, Rockford, Gallaher's View, Stock Creek, Laurel Bank, Alder Branch, Pleasant Grove, Island Home, and Sevierville. He was pastor of five of the above churches at the time of his death. He was greatly loved by his churches, was popular with the people, and was well supported. This enabled him to buy and pay for a good home at Rockford.
As pastor-evangelist he had marked success. His brother-pastors sought his aid in protracted meetings, and many weak and pastorless churches were strengthened and put on their feet by his labors. "He was the leading man in revivals in this county. He held powerful meetings in Blount and Knox and Sevier counties, and built up the churches. He loved children, and had a great influence over them. He could get down among the people and have them to do anything he wanted done" (J. W. Hitch).
He was a strong advocate of temperance and preached it us a part of the gospel. He believed also in the legal prohibition of the liquor traffic. He was the chosen leader of the prohibition movement in Blount County, where he lived, and made his power felt not only for right living but also for righteous legislation.
The most marked characteristics of P. B. McCarrell, as I gathered them from many sources, were his studious devotion to the Bible, his unfailing energy, his punctuality (he made it a rule never to disappoint a congregation), his whole-hearted consecration to the Lord's work, his love for his own Baptist brethren, and his charitable and sweet-spirited disposition toward all Christians. One of his favorite Scriptures was " Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." Dr. E. A. Taylor preached his funeral discourse in the presence of. a vast concourse of grief-stricken friends, paying worthy tribute to the deceased.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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