Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
C. L. BOWLING
Cornelius Lindsay, son of Caswell C. and Mary (Lindsay) Bowling, was born in Roane County, Tennessee, Dec 11, 1836. His father was a wood-workman and his grandfather, Larkin H. Bowling, was a worker in iron. He lost his father when but a lad of six summers. He was converted in his fifteenth year, and was baptized by Elder William Lindsay, united with the Indian Creek Church.
In 1855, he went to school to J. W. Miller, who was teaching at Clinton. Leaving home with a dollar and a half in his pocket, he started out to get an education. On his arrival at Clinton he found out that his one dollar bill was a "counterfeit" bill -- leaving him forty cents for an arithmetic and ten cents for a pencil. He boarded with an uncle, working out his board bill, and hopefully pursued his studies. It was not long till he was able to secure a certificate to teach school.
In 1860, at Wallace's Cross Roads (now Andersonville), he preached his first sermon, from the works, "Ye are the light of the world." He was then teaching. But feeling the need of a better education, in January of this same year (1860) he entered Carson College. But the Civil War coming on, the school was broken up. The next four or five years he taught school and farmed, preaching occasionally. November 29, 1862, he was ordained by Indian Creek Church - William Lindsay, J. C. Hutson and Levi Adkins constituting the presbytery (Jonathan Lindsay being ordained the same day and by the same presbytery).
From '66 to '68 he was County Superintendent of Public Schools for Campbell County. In the year 1868 he was married to Miss Martha Hall, daughter of Judge M. L. Hall, of Knoxville, who brightened his pathway for three brief years and died. Saddened by this sore trial, he never married again.
In '72 he re-entered Carson College, graduating in '78 and tutoring in the college till '81. While in college he was pastor of Sweetwater, Island Home, Ball Camp, and other churches.
Some years ago he had been pastor of Fincastle seventeen years, Jacksboro sixteen years, Indian Creek and Smithwood quite a number of years; also Caryville, Coal Creek, Powell's River, Salem, Andersonville, in fact almost every church in the Clinton Association. He was missionary for the Clinton the first year after the war, and witnessed 365 professed conversions, baptizing ninety-eight into fellowship of the churches.
C. L. Bowling made an enviable record as a preacher, but he was confessedly enamored with the school-room. He taught at Jacksboro, Fincastle, Clinton - many places in the counties of Anderson, Campbell, and Knox. "I think I have accomplished a great deal of good by teaching." he was wont to say; "I am proud of many of my scholars." Brother Bowling was a smooth-tempered, quiet, and lovable man, and a good preacher. It was the writer's privilege to know him in college, nearly four years, then to visit him in his home, near Jacksboro, a few years ago, stay over night, and have delightful fellowship with him as of yore, talking over "old times." He started out in life poor, with a widowed mother and three sisters to care for; but he made good, and was comfortable in his old age. He gave a hundred or two dollars to Carson College, and has contributed to many of our mountain schools and churches, liberally, according to his means.
With all his teaching and farming, it is said, I believe, that through all his ministerial life he was never "without the care of a church," and never laid his preaching armor by till he passed from the church militant to the church triumphant, May 16, 1906, while still pastor of the Jacksboro Church. His memory is blessed.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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