Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 138 - 140)

Bradford Demarcus was a son of Solomon and Mary Demarcus. He was born near Andersonville, Anderson County, Tenn., May 5, 1820. He was one of eight children, and was brought up to farm life, his father being a farmer. His grandfather, William Demarcus, was a native of France, but at an early day came to this country and settled in North Carolina. His mother was a daughter of Wm. James, from England. She was a "pious woman and a strong Baptist. She knew Bunyan and the Bible pretty much by heart, and would have been a preacher if she had only been a man." Young Demarcus owed much to the piety and godly counsel of his mother. He was converted in his twenty-second year, in a meeting held by Elders Chesley Boatwright and Woodson Taylor in a school­house where the New County Line Church (Grainger County) now is, and was later baptized into the fellowship of that church by Elder Taylor. Soon after his conversion he began to exercise his "gift" in the way of prayer and exhortation. In 1842 he was "licensed" to preach by Bethel Church, and in August of 1847 was ordained by Beaver Dam Church, Elders J. S. Coram, Homer Sears and Gordan Mynatt constituting the ordaining council.

Elder Demarcus made a remarkable record as pastor. In November, 1847, in connection with the venerable Joshua Frost, he organized the Mount Harmony Church (Knox County), and was called to the pastorate of the church the following April. To this church he received fifty-two annual calls, the last one being extended him just one hour before his death. He was pastor of Beaver Dam Church twenty-nine years, of Zion Hill twenty-five years, of Third Creek Church twenty odd years. He was also pastor of Fair View, Valley Grove, Pleasant Hill, Sharon, Union, and other churches. He was mainly instrumental in the organization of four of the above churches. During his pastorate of Beaver Dam, Zion Hill, Mt. Harmony, and Third Creek churches there went out from these churches fifteen new churches to keep house for themselves.

Elder Demarcus was eminently successful in revival meetings. In a ministry of more than fifty years he witnessed over 2,000 conversions, baptizing nearly that number with his own hands.

Brother Demarcus was an East Tennessean by birth, and never was off his native heath [sic]. He traveled considerably in his preaching tours, went "around the borders" pretty well, but was "never out of East Tennessee" till he went to heaven. He "believed in foreign missions," he said, "but never could get very far from Jerusalem." He never preached for a "set salary," but received whatever the churches would "give."  If a church was "hot," the pay was good; if the church was "luke-warm," he didn't get much; if the church was "cold," he got nothing at all.

Next to his mother his greatest helper, in his younger days, was Chesley H. Boatwright, who taught him his letters in a log cabin, in Hickory Valley, Anderson County, who also for some years was a father to him in the ministry. His true and most constant yoke-fellow in the gospel was William Hickle, a man after his own heart.

Elder Demarcus was, we might say, a self-made man, and for the most part a man of one book - the Bible- although in his twenty-fourth year he spent some time in the University at Knoxville, where he received training and equipment enough to teach school.

Brother Demarcus was married three times: First, to a Miss Emily Weaver; second, to Mary Smith;  third, to Mary Ellis. By his first wife he had seven children; by his second. twelve. One of his sons, J. W. Demarcus, is an alumnus of Carson and Newman College and a Baptist preacher.

Like Barnabas, Elder Demarcus was a good man. He lived his religion, and had the confidence of the people. He preached more funerals and married more people, it is thought, than any country preacher in all East Tennessee.

Just a week before his passing he preached at Salem Church on the subject of forgiveness. He stood to the last firm and unshaken on the solid rock, and sung with his expiring breath, 'How Firm a Foundation." He died at his home in Knox County, near Beaver Dam Church, April 22, 1899, near the close of his 79th year.


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


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