Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
ROBERT S. ATCHLEY
Robert S., son of Isaac and grandson of Thomas Atchley, was born March 31, 1818, in Sevier County, Tennessee; died July 7, 1880. His birthplace is seven miles about Sevierville, "near the foothills of the Smokies." Brother Atchley never attended a college or seminary; his library, however, now in possession of one of his grandsons, has in it a number of Greek and Hebrew books, the markings in which by his hand plainly indicated his familiarity with them. His nephew, W. D. Atchley, Esq., tells me his preacher uncle had a working knowledge of Greek, "dug out" at home. He was pastor of Alder Branch, Providence, Bethel, Red Bank, and Banner churches. He had good gifts and was laborious in the ministry, which was mostly in Sevier and Blount counties. Like most preachers of his day he received very little for his preaching. "his heart was always burdened for the lost sheep, and only three hours before he died, with seemingly supernatural strength, he sang feelingly that beautiful song, "The Shepherd of the Hills."
Brother Atchley was twice married; first, to Louisa Clark. The issue of this marriage, if living, are in the west. His second marriages was to a Miss Watson. To this union were born four children, three daughters and one son. His youngest daughter, Mrs. W. M. Spence, lives at the old home about Sevierville, with a dear, patriotic boy "gone to the war."
Elder Atchley is described as "tall, dark-eyed, always wore a grave expression, talked little, was studious, and seldom laughed; he was of a mild temper, small in his own estimation, faithful in filling his appointments, and a power in the communities where he labored."
For several years, beginning in 1847, R. S. Atchley was a messenger of the Alder Branch Church to the Tennessee Association, his name appearing on the minutes also as pastor of a number of churches representing in that body.
He was also an active and efficient worker both in the East Tennessee and in the Sevier Association, when those bodies were organized.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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