Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
M. C. HIGDON
Michael Columbus, a son of Deacon Thomas and Rebecca (Cate) Higdon, was born January 30, 1823, in Jefferson County Tenn. He was one of a family of fifteen children, ten sons and five daughters. He was the oldest of five brothers who became ordained Baptist preachers. His father moved to McMinn County when young Higdon was a small boy. Remaining here two or three years, he moved to Monroe, locating about four miles from Tellico Plains. Here the lad grew to manhood, receiving a limited education from the public school,. of the county.
June 5, 1843, he was married to Mary Ann Crawford. in his twenty-first year he went on a visit to Illinois, where he was converted. Returning to his native state, he united with the Baptists, being baptized by Elder Carroll Lee, in the fall of '44. The second Saturday in July, 1845, he was licensed to preach by Shoal Creek Church. In '47 he was ordained by Friendship Church (Polk County), Elders Z. Rose, I. Simmons ands Win. Sims acting as a presbytery.
He was pastor of the ordaining church, as above, also of another church of the same name, in Bradley County, of Ocoee, Ocoee Union, Greasy Creek, Hiwassee, Union, Smyrna, and other churches. He held a great meeting with the Ocoee Church in the time of the Civil War, in which there were 100 conversions. As a result of the meeting he baptized eighty into the fellowship of the Ocoee Church, and twenty to twenty-five into the Smyrna fellowship. In the "fifties" he spent seven years in Georgia, organizing a church of fourteen members, "swiping" in the whole of a Methodist congregation, except one or two members," and building up the membership to 175. At the close of the war he served two years as missionary of the Sweetwater Association. He was Moderator of the Association twelve or thirteen years, was also Moderator of the Eastanallee several years.
He has baptized from 1,500 to 2,000 people, including three Methodist churches. He doesn't work well in "union meetings"; can pull better in "Baptist harness," and thinks that Baptists have to give account to their own Master, and, therefore, ought to do their own work in their own way. He doesn't call on excluded members "to pray"; let them be "as a heathen and a publican" till restored to confidence and fellowship.
In the days of lawlessness and misrule, following the Civil War, Brother Higdon and Bother Z. Rose wanted to hold a meeting at Roger's Creek. On their way to begin the meeting they were met by a number of parties who warned them that a gang of outlaws had threatened to "ride them on a rail" if they undertook to hold the meeting. They had already given a Methodist preacher a "lesson" of that kind. A number of the members said, "If they ride you on a rail they will have to do the same for us." The preachers went on to the church. Brother Rose preached and Brother Higdon followed. The meeting continued. Quite a lot of ruffians were present, with guns, pistols and swords. A great many came to the "mourners' bench" for instruction and prayer, among the number two rough fellows with sword and pistol hanging to their belts. Rose unbuckled the belt of one of the fellows and Higdon the other; handing the arms back to the crowd to take care of they went on with the meeting. There were a number of conversions, and at the close of the meeting a good collection of "greenback" money was taken, showing that the soldiers had a part in paying the preachers.
NOTE.-"Father Higdon, who has been a preacher for fiftysix years, was present (at the Eastanallee Association), giving inspiration and encouragement to the brethren.". (J. J. B., in report to Baptist and Reflector, September 27, 1900.)
Elder Higdon has since departed to be with Christ.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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