Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
J. J. KENNEDY
(pages 279 - 281)
Jackson J. Kennedy was born in Wilkes County, North Carolina, November 18, 1813, and at a very early age moved with his parents to Anderson County, Tennessee. He learned the trade of cabinet-maker and carpenter, and had "no superiors in his trade."
In his earlier years he had but limited educational advantages, but he was a student and in course of time acquired stores of knowledge. In 1840, upon a profession of his faith in Christ and submission to the ordinance of baptism, he became identified with the Baptists. The same year (July 6) he was married to Miss Eliza H. Yarnell, a young woman of excellent Christian character and worth. The issue of this union was a family of six children, three sons and three daughters. All the children "'felt the influence" not only of the mother but were drawn in the right way by the piety and exemplary conduct and teaching of the father, and "maintained a respectable position in their respective communities."
In 1857 he was duly ordained to the ministry, Elder Joshua Frost officiating at his ordination. He spent some six years in ministry to churches not far from Clinton, "particularly Salem, Zion, Bethel and Blowing Springs." In 1863 he removed with his family to Cleveland, Tennessee, where he was especially active in Sunday school work as long as he lived. He was the first minister, I am told, to organize a Sunday school in the town of Cleveland after the Civil War. He was always an active worker in the church but he seemed most pleased to lay himself out in Sunday school work.
Brother Kennedy was a man of "pure mind and clean life, chaste in thought and conduct, an example to old and young - his influence being felt for good in all circles where he mingled. He never was heard to use a profane word, and would not use tobacco or whiskey in any form or way."
He died shortly after a stroke of paralysis, his earthly career ending October 10, 1898. He was buried in the cemetery at Cleveland, his tombstone bearing the inscription: "A sincere and practical Christian - He kept the Faith." In his last illness he said, "My house is in order, but I regret that I have not utilized my time more effectually." He was a great reader of the Scriptures. A little less than a year before his death he bought him a new Bible, and after making the family record in his "bold, clear hand" he added, "This November 18 (his birthday), 1897, 1 bought this book to read through this year and began reading." Whether he finished the book I do not know, but he finished his earthly pilgrimage before another birthday rolled around.
Elder Kennedy is survived by an only son, John L. Kennedy, an attorney in Nashville, now in his seventies, and an only daughter, who lives in Los Angeles, California.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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