Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
The Acuffs have been a prominent and well-known family in Grainger County, Tenn., for many years. Three of the family - Anderson, John D., and Simeon - a cousin and two brothers, were Baptist ministers of good repute, standing well in their community, being men of integrity, honored and useful in their day and generation. They were not pioneers in the strictest sense of the word, but were rather middle connecting links between a remote and a less remote past in the history-making period of Baptist in Grainger and surrounding counties. My sketches of these worthy ministers, like many of the more than two hundred sketches in this volume, are fragmentary and imperfect, on account of a regrettable scarcity of available materials for an adequate history. These sketches, fragmentary as they are, it will also be noted, appear on the first pages of the book, where it might be expected by some the biographies of the oldest preachers, the veritable "pioneers of the wilderness," would be found. This, the author would explain, is not accidental but according to plan: he is writing history biographically, not chronologically, and simply publishing the sketches in alphabetical order, and not otherwise. This, in passing, which might better serves as a post-script to the Preface, if the Preface were not already in the hands of the printer.
Anderson Acuff was born in Grainger County, Tenn., October 9, 1809, and died February 13, 1893, at the home of his son, Noah Acuff, in Knoxville, and was buried in the church-yard of Glenwood Baptist church, near Powell Station, Tenn. He was twice married - first to Miss Lucy Popejoy, a daughter of Nathaniel Popejoy, to which marriage were born five sons and four daughters. His second marriages was to a Mrs. Hubbs, a widow, but of this marriage there were no children. He had a fair education, for his day and time, and taught school some during his early manhood. He was a carpenter and furniture-maker by trade; did honest work and made a living. He was an ordained preacher and was pastor of churches; the record of his ordination, however, we have not been able to find. Revival meeting work had a fascination for him that was irresistible, which led him to travel here and there and hold meetings. He was very much at home when it came to baptizing happy converts, and was considered an admirable and unusually graceful administrator of the ordinance - the comments of those who witnessed his performances in the baptismal waters being, "he was the best hand at the business I ever saw," "He had the greatest sleight in baptizing," "He knew exactly how to put them under," etc.
His ministerial activity was confined mainly to the counties of Grainger, Claiborne, Jefferson, Union and Knox. His associates in the ministry were William Hickle, Joshua Frost, Mark Monroe, and R. M. Wyrick. Elder Acuff was a useful minister, was jovial in disposition, and carried about with him a fund of humor and good nature that was perennial and refreshing. He was also able in prayer and exhortation, enjoyed the confidence of the people, and drew them to him wherever he went. The last few years of his life he was in rather poor heath, preaching only occasionally, upon special invitation.
Dr. S. D. Acuff, a successful physician of Knoxville, who kindly furnishes "notes" for this sketch, is a grandson of Elder Anderson Acuff.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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