Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
HIRAM S. BLAIR
(pages 51- 52)
Hiram Blair was born in Blount County, Tennessee, in the first quarter of the last century. His parents were poor but honest. On account of financial misfortunes, the boy Hiram was forced by hard necessity to toil and sweat to help secure for the family the necessaries of life. This necessity of his boyhood life deprived him of educational advantages, and thus handicapped him for life. This disadvantage he could only partially overcome by hard study in after life. But a worse handicap than a lack of education was his moral environment -- associations and temptations which made it hard to do right and easy to go wrong. The result was he came the bond-slave of sin, and gave his life and the influence of his example to Satan, until it pleased God, through His abundant mercy to save him. This He did in a meeting at Bethel Church, Sevier County, under the preaching of Eli Roberts and G. G. Sims. The investigation of the Scriptures changed him from Methodist to Baptist views, and he "went down into he water" to be "buried with Christ in baptism," October, 1847, in his nineteenth year, becoming a member of Bethel Church. Later, at the organization of Jones Chapel, he became a constituent member, beginning, soon after, to exercise the gift of public prayer.
October 7, 1850, he was married to Miss M. J. Patterson, to which union there were born a son and two daughters. In August of '55 he was married to his second wife, a Miss Mary J. Allen, and to this marriage were born eleven children, five sons and six daughters. In 1863 his church (Jones Chapel) licensed him to preach, and December 25, 1864, ordained him - Elders John Russell, R. S. Atchley, and G. G. Sims serving as a presbytery.
As pastor, Brother Blair served Providence, Bethany, Sugar Loaf, Union, Wilsonville, Powder Springs, and other churches. For a number of years he served as missionary to the East Tennessee Association, holding meetings, collecting funds, strengthening weak churches, witnessing many conversions. His most successful labors were in Cocke and Sevier counties, though preaching considerably, and with good success, in Jefferson and Blount. He was not an idler in the vineyard. He was not afraid of work, and knew how to stick to a job. He gave a great deal of time to the Lord's work, with little or no remuneration.
He was generally in evidence at the associations and other public gatherings of his brethren, and always willing to serve on committees and to do whatever was needed to be done. Brother Blair was a solid man, and a plain, good, old-fashioned preacher. He had the confidence and respect of everybody, and maintained a spotless reputation. He used to visit the churches of Joseph Manning, and preach for him occasionally, when the writer was a boy. Our recollection is that his mind worked slowly in the beginning of his discourse, but he warmed to his subject as he proceeded, and usually gave to his hearers an instructive and edifying sermon. He was faithful to improve his gifts, and wrought faithfully and well for the Lord and the Baptists, who, in his thinking were the Lord's "chosen people."
Near his home in Sevier County is a grave and a marble slab above it, bearing this his inscription: "In memory of Eld. H. S. Blair; born July 26, 1828; died June 4, 1894 - aged 65 years, 10 months, 8 days. A sinner saved by grace.
" 'Here sweet be my rest,
Till He bids me arise,
And view Him in triumph
Descending the skies.' "
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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