Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 99 - 101)

Jonas B. Castiller was born in North Carolina in 1814. He was married three times. His first wife was Rhoda Solomon, a daughter of James Solomon, of Cocke County. To this union were born a son and a daughter, William and Isabelle.  His second wife was Mrs. Betsy Solomon, widow of John Solomon. This second wife had a daughter, Molhe, by her first husband. His third wife was Mrs. Sarah Solomon, widow of Howard Solomon.   Brother Castiller lived near Point Pleasant Church, Cocke County. He was pastor of this church for a number of years, also of Clay Creek, Pleasant Grove, and other churches. He spent a great deal of his time holding meetings about over the country, frequently associated in his work with Elder John Russell, of Sevier, County. He held a memorable meeting with Bethel Church, which greatly helped to establish the church in its feeble beginnings. In looking over the records of the old Friendship Church,  I see Jonas B. Castiller was frequently "Moderator pro tem." When the beloved C. C. Brown was a young man, and clerk of the Friendship Church, he was a great admirer of Brother Castiller. Brown was inclined before and after his conversion, to the Presbyterians,. and but for Castiller's influence would likely have been a Presbyterian preacher. Castiller was constantly prodding him with some difficult question with regard to the Presbyterian system: "Crocket, what will you do with this? and this? and this?" until he got Brown to reading the Bible for himself, and then led him down into the waters of baptism.

When the East Tennessee Association met with the Big Creek (Del Rio) Church in 1867, Brother Castiller was a messenger of the Pleasant Grove Church, and at that meeting be and Elder John Russell were appointed "Associational missionaries for the ensuing year." About 1870 he moved to Fackler, Alabama, where he became pastor, and continued his ministerial work, "preaching to from two to four churches till his death, February 17, 1877. He lived a Christian soldier, and died as he had lived. He was buried near Fackler , Jackson County, Alabama." His son, William, moved to Arkansas at the close of the Civil War. His nephew namesake, Jonas B. Campbell, now 64 years old, lives at Fackler, Alabama. A host of the Inmans, Holts, Solomons and others, of Cocke, Jefferson and other counties, are his kith and kin.

The following incident is a sidelight on the character of Elder Castiller. The occurrence is a boyhood recollection of Elder P. H. C. Hale. Before the Civil War Brother Castiller drove hogs (as was the custom in those days) to South Carolina for Esquire James Hale.  Brother Castiller was "conscientious about keeping the Sabbath," and with the consent and endorsement of Esquire Hale, gave his drove of hogs their Sunday "rest" until they reached the market. According to the testimony of both the men, the Sabbath-observing hogs got to market in a shorter time and in better condition than other droves that were taken straight along and not allowed their "Sabbath rest."


Burnett, J .J.  Sketches of  Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers.  Nashville, Tenn.:  Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.


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