Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
C. C. BROWN
(pages 71 - 75)
Crocket Carter, son of David W. and Permelia A. Brown, was born January 29, 1841, near Warrensburg, in Greene County, Tennessee. He was one of family of twelve children, four daughters and eight sons. His father was a carpenter, but had a farm, and all the children were taught to work. His grandfather, Isaac Brown, came from the "valley of Virginia," first to Washington, then to Greene County, Tennessee. He was of English stock. His paternal grandmother was a White, from South Germany. His grandfather Wise, from Virginia, was also German. His grandmother Wise, who was a Callahan before her marriage, was of Irish descent, her mother having been been in the "County of Cork, Ireland."
Young Brown was brought up to farm life, and had to work hard to help support the large family. Having a thirst for knowledge, he would often take his book with him to the field that he might study during the "rest" moments. At the age of fifteen he spent one term at the Morristown High School. This was followed by a period of farm-work and home-study. Then came the Civil War, with its demoralizing influences. At the close of the war, returning home, he read and began the practice of law. In a meeting at St. Paul's a Presbyterian church, near Morristown, in the fall of 1866, he was converted and joined the Presbyterian Church.
In his twenty-seventh year, February 10, 1867, he was married to Miss Mary C. Baker, a daughter of William and Jane Baker, of Greene County, Elder Harvey Smith performing the ceremony.
About this time his impressions that he ought to preach began to deepen, and with the "call" to preach came a call to study the New Testament Scripture to see what he would be called on to preach and teach as "the world of the Lord." He was a Presbyterian, but had not studied the Bible. Then there was Jonas B. Castiller, a Baptist preacher, who kept poking Baptist doctrine at him, saying to him, familiarly, "Crocket, what will you do with this? and this? and where do you get your infant baptism?" and so forth. His doctrinal views undergoing a change, he decided to unite with the Baptists. Approved for baptism by Friendship (later Bethel) Church, and at the water's edge giving his reasons for a change of church relations, he was baptized by Elder Jesse Hale, in May, 1869, his wife, who also was a Presbyterian, joining him in this act of obedience to the Head of the church. In May, 1870, by the authority of his church, he was ordained to the full work of the ministry - Elders Henry Hale, T. J. Lane, and R. B. Godfrey acting as a presbytery. He did evangelistic work and served as pastor of Mansfield Gap Church till 1872, when he made a visit to northwest Missouri, to see his father's family and prospect a little in the new country. Here for two or three years he did monumental work, organizing and establishing churches. Years afterwards the writer visited on of these churches - High Creek Church, Atchison County - now a strong and wealthy church in what is now one of the "garden spots" of the world; and hear the saints speak lovingly and much of "Brother and Sister Brown," expressing their grateful appreciation of their fruitful pioneer labors among them.
In 1876 he entered Carson College, graduating the following year, with Prof. S. E. Jones, D. D., J. M. Susong, and the writer. Later his alma mater made him a D.D.
For a few years he served successfully as pastor of the following churches: Concord, Dumplin, Mt. Olive, Mossy Creek, Morristown.
For three years ('84-'87) he was Secretary of State Missions. For some time he had been looking wistfully towards the West, where he had some attractive calls. He mentioned this confidentially, to a member of the State Board, while entertaining the board's proposition to him to take the secretaryship. "Yes," said the member, "that would be pleasant and would mean more money, but you can do more good in Tennessee. Guild your monument here." A few days later the two met again, when Brother B. said, "You are right. I have settled the matter. My life-work shall be in Tennessee and in her bosom my bones shall rest."
As Secretary, he was laborious and efficient, servicing the denomination with all his consecrated powers. His work was a great strain on nerve and brain. Few men had stronger sympathies and his sympathies went out to the poorly paid and struggling missionaries of the board, whose salaries were past due - and many were the times he exhausted his own means to supply their need.
C. C Brown was popular and magnetic. He had in him a great deal of droll wit . Even before his conversion, on occasions of public gatherings, it was a common thing to "see a crowd gather around him" to listen to his jokes and enjoy his wit. After his conversion by the same magnetic personality he drew men to Christ and the better life. He rarely preached without dewy eyes and tears in his voice. Especially did it seem that never got done repenting for the grievous sins of his past life - a fact which always added force to his exhortations and appeals. Socially, he was a good mixer. As Secretary, he was a good organizer - and in every way he had power with "the masses" of the people.
For some months before he reached the end of this journey he had been passing through "the valley of dark shadows" not in fear of death, but in unrest and in the vague fear of some unknown evil. Sometimes he would be assailed by doubts. Specters of the night would flit across his brain. His mind would be shadowed by the suggestions of skepticism, as by an evil spirit. A great "if" seemed to loom up before him at times - a result, for the most part, I am sure, of nervous depression and the impaired state of his health. But with a clear premonition of the approaching end the demon of doubt departed. The clouds were rifted, the shadows were lifted, and the sun shone. It was "victory" at last. His sun went down without a cloud. When with trembling hand had signed his will, among his last words were these: "Brethren, Christianity is true. The best and highest witness for it is what it does.
" ' Plunged in a gulf of dark despair
We wretched sinners lay,'
but God reached down his saving hand and (here making a gesture) scooped the sinner in, 'saved us by his grace.' Other systems will fail, but Christianity will go on - it will never fail." He fell asleep July 2, 1887.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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