Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
Joel Aldridge was a well-known minister and note evangelist in the Northern and Mulberry Gap Associations. He was "licensed" to preach, June 8, 1833, by the Mouth of Richland Church, Grainger County, Tennessee. He was ordained by the same church, August 12, 1837, Elihu Millikan, Samuel Love, James Kennon and William Mynatt acting as a presbytery. The records of this church for August 11, 1838, read: "Chose Joel Aldridge assistant pastor." He was a missionary of the Northern Association, and did a great deal of effective evangelistic work north and south of Clinch Mountain. Elder Asa Routh bore this testimony to him as an evangelist; "Joel Aldridge was the best revivalist I ever saw; he swept Clinch Valley by his wonderful power in protracted meeting efforts. From Powder Spring Gap to Puncheon Camp, when there were no churches between these points, he swept the valley clean of sinners, leaving no heads of families in the ranks of the enemy, except a hard knot or two - snarly cases, on which the devil had a first mortgage. He was not a boisterous preacher , as you might suppose; he reasoned and persuaded with tears." I am indebted to Elder Routh for the following incident: "Brother Aldridge lived on the south side of Clinch mountain. While holding a meeting somewhere up the valley an urgent request came for his wife for him to come home at once; the family were out of provisions, had nothing to eat. Dismissing his meeting he hastened home; but stopping for dinner with "Uncle Jakie Beeler," he told him his situation with tears. Dinner over, 'Uncle Jakie' said to him, 'You stay right here and rest a bit till I do an errand and return.' He got together everything that was needed for present emergencies, and said to his guest, "this will go straight to your home; go back and take up the meeting.' He got on his horse, weeping for joy, and without delay returned to the meeting."
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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