Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 221 - 224)

William Hickle was the son of John and Katherine Hickle. He was born in Virginia, March 9, 1807, and died June 23, 1891, aged 84 years, 3 months, 14 days.

He professed faith in Christ at Little Flat Creek, was approved by the church for baptism August 19, 1726 [sic], and was baptized September 11th of the same year. His church granted him license to preach October 21, 1826. In June, 1827, he was ordained by the imposition of hands, Samuel Love, William Billue, and William Williams constituting the presbytery.

He preached his first sermon at Little Flat Creek Church in his twentieth year. June 7, 1827, according to the record, "William Hickle and Nancy Rutherford were married by Win. Sawyers, Esq."

At some time during the sixty odd years of his ministerial life William Hickle was pastor of the following churches, and not infrequently five or six of them at a time: Cedar Ford, Powder Spring Gap, Locust Grove, Puncheon Camp, Hickory Valley, Elm Spring, Head of Barren, Carr's Branch, Cedar Grove, Little Barren, Adair's Creek (now Smithwood), Mount Pisgah, Little Flat Creek, Central Point, Buffalo, Mill Springs, Sulphur Springs, New Market, New Prospect, Alder . Spring, Milan, Maynardville, Graveston, Lyon's Creek, Blackwell's Branch, Lick Branch, and Warwick's Chapel, in all twenty seven churches, and these scattered over several counties.

Added to the pastoral care of all these churches was the vast amount of protracted meeting and missionary work which he did. He was a missionary of the Northern Association for number of years, and organized several new churches within its bounds. He also served the Association as Moderator for  twelve years, and was for ten years its clerk. He was largely instrumental in organizing the Northern Association, the origin of which is as follows: In 1838 the Powell's Valley Association declared against "missions and the societies of the day." Whereupon the following churches, belonging to that body, namely, Puncheon Camp, Powder Springs, Mount Pleasant, and Clear Branch, by their appointed messengers, "met in convention" at Glade Spring Church, Campbell County, for the purpose of effecting a new organization. Elders James Kennon and William Hickle were appointed a "presbytery  to examine the articles of faith of the churches proposing to go into the new compact, and report on same. The presbytery made a satisfactory report and, accordingly, the "Northern Association of United Baptists" was organized, November 30, 1838.

Elder Hickle was a leader and an active preacher in this Association up to within a year of his death. He was pastor of Cedar Ford and Prospect churches till only a few months before his confinement to his room in his fatal illness.

Brother Hickle held a great many successful meetings and was instrumental in "turning many to righteousness," but I find no evidence that he ever kept a record of the number of professed conversions made under the influence of his ministry. He was untiring in his labors, had a robust frame, a large store of health and good nature, and was always lively and full of innocent pleasantries. He preached so well when in the pulpit and was of such a jovial and joking disposition when out of the pulpit that not a few of his friends and admirers said: "When he was in the pulpit, you would think he never ought to be out, and when he was out, you would think he never ought to be in." For the most part he was serious in the pulpit and, on account of his good nature, was popular out of it, and, upon the whole, his humor was an element of power.

He had a powerful pair of lungs and a good voice for singing. He could preach and sing for weeks in a meeting without getting hoarse in the least. He loved to sing, and only a week before his death, after seven weeks of confinement to his bed, he sang with delight, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and  "Nearer, My God, to Thee."

The following incident is vouched for by good authority. In his younger days Brother Hickle was holding a. meeting with Lyon's Creek Church. One of the attendants was a good Methodist brother, a Brother Trent, who was accustomed to "shout" in Methodist meetings when the "spirit moved" him. As the preacher, one day, was preaching away on some glorious' theme Brother Trent, getting too "full" to contain himself and observe the proprieties of a Baptist meeting, cried out, "Hold on, Brother Hickle, hold on! I don't want to interrupt you! But I can't stand any more!"

Among Elder Hickle's associates in the ministry I mention James Kennon, Joshua Frost, Chesley Boatwright, Bradford Demarcus, Joel Aldridge, Samuel Love, J. S. Coram, Asa Routh, and the Acuffs, Simeon, John D. and Anderson. All of these have long since gone to their reward.

Three miles north of Luttrell, in Union County, stands the old house where William Hickle lived, labored and suffered in the ministry for sixty years. He had a family of eleven children to support. His farm was poor. His churches paid him but little. He had devoted himself to the ministry and given his time to preaching. The result was poverty and suffering. Many a time has the writer heard the remark: "Uncle Billy Hickle did more work as a preacher and received less pay than any man in Tennessee."

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


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