Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
(page 212 - 214)
Jesse Hale was born in what is now Hamblen County, Tennessee, August 8, 1831. He was a son of Elder Jeremiah Hale. His mother's maiden name was Mary Ann Crouch, a daughter of John and Sarah Crouch, of Washington County, Tennessee. He was converted at old Friendship Church when a very small boy, only "seven years old," I have been told. His father, who was pastor of the church, "stood him up on a table" in front of the pulpit, saying to the church as he did so: `Brethren, this little lad is my son. He says he loves the Savior and wants to live with his people."' It is not certain that he was received for baptism; if so, his baptism was deferred, presumably on account of his extreme youthfulness. He was baptized, according to the church-book record, on the "Sabbath after the second Saturday in March, 1842," in his eleventh year. He was "dismissed from the church in full fellowship, August, second Saturday, 1850." He commenced preaching when nineteen years of age, but when and where he was licensed and ordained to preach I have not been able to ascertain. As a preacher he had varied gifts and more than ordinary ability. He had unusual influence over an audience; at one time he would have his audience "mad" and the next moment or two everybody would be "in tears." His force and personality were always "felt."
In his young manhood he was married to Diana Moore, a daughter of John Moore, of Hawkins County. To this union were born five children, three sons and two daughters. His home was St. Clair. Besides doing active evangelistic work he was pastor of Robertson Creek, Concord, Choptack, White Horn, and perhaps other churches. The testimony of his brethren and friends was that he was a "gospel preacher, full of love and the Holy Ghost."
During the Civil War he was chaplain in the Federal army, ministering to the soldiers in Ohio and instructing all who came to him in the "things of the kingdom of God." After the war he came home for his family, and returned to Ohio, where he preached for three years, "every Sunday but one "that being a fifth Sunday. On that particular occasion his wife, with apparent seriousness, called for an ax. "Wife, what in the world do you want with an ax on Sunday`"' She replied, "Why, I thought I would cut out a joist, to mark this day as one to be remembered; for once you are at home on Sunday." He was very much loved by his churches in Ohio. They proposed to "deed" him a good house and lot in town if he would remain with them as pastor. But his wife wanted to come back home. So he returned, locating near St. Clair, in Hawkins County. Tennessee, where he lived the balance of his life. He fell in the harness before he had reached the full maturity of his powers, passing to his reward, December 22, 1869. He was buried by the side of his father in the old burying ground of the Bethel Church, near the place of his birth, some four miles from Morristown. While still living but anticipating his death he "outlined his own funeral sermon," his daughter tells me, from the text: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim.. 4:7). He doubtless heard with joy the Master's "Well clone, good and faithful servant."
Elder Hale is survived by an only daughter, Mrs. Jane Hazlewood, who lost her father when only twelve years old, but not until he had baptized her, and a son, W. A. Hale, who lives in Iowa. The daughter was very much devoted to her father, and "his memory is still fresh in her heart."
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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