Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 217 - 219)

Henry C., second son of Charles P. and Rachael Hamstead, was a native of Ohio, born September 16, 1829. His father was a native of New England, of English descent. His mother, whose maiden name was Rachael Crawford Craig, was of Scotch-Irish descent, but a native of Augusta County, Virginia and a granddaughter of Alexander and Mary Crawford who were murdered by the Indians in Virginia, in 1764.

Young Hamstead was educated at Central Presbyterian College, in Franklin County, Ohio. He was married twice. His first wife was Miss Ida Perkins. To this union were born three children. Losing his first wife he was married to Miss Eliza J. Olmstead, to which union were born two children. He came to Tennessee in 1866, locating at Clinton, where he
practiced law and edited a newspaper. In 1873 he was elected principal of Big Valley Academy, at Andersonville, Tenn., where, the following year, in a meeting hed [sic] by Elder Frazier Demarcus, he professed faith in Christ, becoming a Baptist.  January 25, 1874, by order of Mt. Harmony Church, near Heiskell Station, he was ordained to the ministry- Elders J. S. Coram, Bradford Demarcus, and F. M. Long constituting the ordaining council.

He was pastor of the following churches: In Knox County. Beaver Dam, Ball Camp, Sharon, Smithwood, Third Creek, New Hopewell, Little Flat Creek, Union, Meridian, Valley Grove, Lovel, River View, Mt. Harmony, near Heiskell, and Mt. Harmony, east of Knoxville; in Blount County, --Maryville. Nails Creek, and Lebanon; in Jefferson, Dumplin, Shady Grove, and Deep Spring; in Sevier, Beech Spring, Boyd's Creek, French Broad Valley, and Sevierville; in Grainger, Mouth of Richland; in Anderson, some five or six churches names not known to the writer. Into these thirty or more churches, and other churches in the same counties, it is thought Brother Hamstead baptized not fewer than 2,500, and perhaps as many as 3,000 professed converts-and "converts," in his counting, were those only who went into the water and into the church. Nearly a score of those converted under his ministry and receiving baptism at his hands became useful ministers of the gospel. He died November 14, 1914, aged 85 years, l month, 28 days. He was buried at Beech Spring, Sevier County, Elder S. C. Atchley officiating at the burial.

H. C. Hamstead had a trained and logical mind, was a fine reasoner, and a good debater. He did not seek popularity, but Blood like a rock in defense of what he conceived to be the  truth. He was what is popularly called a "doctrinal" preacher, and was strongly Calvinistic in his views.

He was thoroughly missionary, however, though "hard a-plenty in doctrine."  At Hall's X-Roads he had a friendly tilt with an "anti"-missionary preacher, who made the usual claim : -"We are the Primitive Baptists; you are not." Hamstead replied  "It is a well-known fact that we all belonged to the some denomination till the body split, in the `thirties' on the question of missions. Split a hog in two, can you tell me which Half is primitive hog and which not?" The argument may not leave been entirely convincing, but it was unanswerable and effective, ending the dispute.

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


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