Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages  311 - 312)

Martin V. Kitzmiller was born in Washington County, Tenn., January 25, 1825. He was a son of Henry and Elizabeth (Carr) Kitzmiller and a grandson of Martin and Mary Kitzmiller, who came from Pennsylvania and settled in Washington County, Tenn., about the year 1800. His maternal grandmother was Mary DeVault, M. V. DeVault, of Jones-boro, being a grandson namesake. The Kitzmillers are German descent, or Pennsylvania Dutch, and are a numerous mid noted family in this country.

Elder Kitzmiller was converted at the age of fifteen, and was baptized into the fellowship of the Buffalo Ridge Church, Washington County. Two years later, by authority of this church, he was ordained to the work of the ministry. He became an active and influential minister in the Holston Association, his name being prominent and of frequent occurrence in the minutes of that body. He was pastor of the Buffalo Ridge Church in 1845; (Benedict), and was also pastor of Harmony and Fall Branch, and perhaps other churches. He was a member of the council that officiated in the ordination  (1856) of Elder David Kitzmiller.

In early manhood (April 29, 1847) he was married to a Miss Mary Crouch, of his native county, to which union were born eight children, five sons and three daughters. Losing his first companion he was married a second time (March 4, 1897) to "an old acquaintance of the family and a member of his church," Melvina Lightbourn a daughter of James B. Lightbourn, "of the West Indies."

Leaving his native heath for the wider "west," a year or two before the breaking out of the Civil War, Elder Kitzmiller sustained his record of "pioneer" work in his adopted state of Illinois. Here he built up a number of new interests, notably the Girard and Auburn churches, serving one of them as pastor thirty years, the other, eighteen. During his Pastorate of the first named church he received into the fellowship of the church some 500 members, five of the number baptized by him becoming Baptist preachers. "Fully 1,000 persons were baptized by him" during his ministry. In addition to his pastoral and evangelistic work he served on the town school board, and in the year 1890 he was appointed postmaster at Girard, "a selection by President Harrison which met with universal approval."

Elder Kitzmiller died at his home, Girard Ill., at the age of 81. Several of his children survive him, living in the west. He has two living sisters, Mrs. Elizabeth Duncan, now 81 years old, and Mrs. John Robertson, who is 77 years of age. Dr. R. C. Kitzmiller, of Fordtown, Tenn., his only surviving brother, is now quite an old man and somewhat infirm, but is greatly interested in our Baptist history and rejoices in the success of the Baptist cause.


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


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