Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 143 - 144)

Robert Donaldson was born in Manchester, England, August 12, 1835. He was a son of Thomas Donaldson, a native of Scotland. His mother, before her marriage, was a Miss Tudor, born in Liverpool, England. Young Donaldson was educated in the old country, but when old enough to take care of himself left his native England and his father's home and, in company with three older brothers, took passage for New York City (about the middle of the last century), seeking a home in this country of larger opportunity. About the year 1856 the brothers left New York and came to the coal fields of the South. December 24, 1858, Robert Donaldson and Miss Hulda Marlow, of Kentucky, were united in marriage. To this union were born eleven children, four sons and seven daughters. He was converted about the year 1861, in the state of Kentucky, and in the same state was ordained to the ministry, somewhere in the seventies, probably in 1872. In 1873 he came to Caryville [sic], Tenn., interested in coal mines and "miners." Here he found a few Baptists but no house of worship, no church, no Sunday school. With the help of the good people of the place a house of worship was soon erected, Brother Donaldson becoming pastor. He continued pastor of the church for three years, building up, by the blessing of the Lord, a good Baptist interest in this new mining town. He was called to the Jacksboro Church, a cultured people, and in a town long famous for good schools. He served this church as pastor for a number of years. He was also called to Coal Creek and Heiskell's Station, and served these churches jointly some seven or eight years. He then went to Birmingham, Ala., where his brother, Edward, was in the coal business, with the intention of casting his lot in that city. But he only stayed a short time, and returned to Coal Creek for a second pastorate of that church. He now witnessed new additions to the membership of the church, and was enabled to build, by the help of the brethren, a "nice new house of worship" for the Baptists, the house in which they now worship.

He was pastor of the church at Robertsville, preached the first sermon (April 19, 1891) in the new Baptist meeting­house at that place, and visited and preached for the church often. He was also pastor of Poplar Creek, New Salem and Fairview churches. The last church of which he was pastor was the Moran Memorial Church, at Dossett. Here he "fell on sleep," September 27, 1898, and here rests his body in the quiet church yard, awaiting the resurrection of the last day. Elder Donaldson is survived by two sons and four daughters and many relatives and friends, who revere his memory.


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


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