Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 333 - 335)

Jonathan S., son of William and Mary Lindsay, was born in Carter County, Tenn., September 28, 1823. He was one of a family of ten children. He had an older brother, William, who was a Baptist preacher of influence and great usefulness. The father, with his family, moved to Campbell County when Jonathan was only six months old. His father worked in iron - was a "forge builder" - and was in good circumstances till young Lindsay was about fourteen years of age, when he had the misfortune of losing his property. This providence left the son largely on his own resources, to help make a living for the family and to get an education. Fortunately he lived only three and a half miles from Jacksboro, where he obtained a fair education. At the age of sixteen he had an offer of a "free education" from the University of Tennessee, provided he would teach in East Tennessee, when graduated, as long as he had studied in the university. This appealed to him, and he had his things "packed" ready to go, but his father was in delicate health and prevailed on him not to go. So he finished his education and made a little money by teaching several schools in Campbell and Anderson counties.

At the age of twenty-four he was converted in a meeting at Deep Ford, held by William Lindsay and J. C. Hutson, and was baptized by Chesley H. Boatwright.

He was married October 3, 1850, to Katherine L. Keeney, and their home was blessed with a family of twelve children. six sons and six daughters. Four of his sons and two of his daughter, he educated at Mossy Creek (later Carson) College. He also gave the college a hundred dollars at one time and, at different times, helped poor boys to attend the college.

The first Baptist Sunday school in Campbell County was organized by Jonathan Lindsay at Indian Creek Church. He was ordained deacon by this church in 1851, and in '62 was ordained to the ministry (with C. L. Bowling), Elders J. C. Hutson , Wm. Lindsay, Levi Adkins and Powell Harmon acting as a presbytery.

He was pastor one year at Indian Creek, and some three or four years at Jacksboro. But he was not much inclined to take the pastoral care of churches. He was a substantial farmer, and felt like he could do more good making money - and giving to the cause of education and missions and aiding his brethren in council than by assuming the responsibilities and duties of a pastor. He was a liberal supporter of his home church, and gave liberally to almost every church and school and worthy cause within his reach. He rarely failed to attend the public gatherings of his brethren, such as "associations, conventions and commencements," and always helped finance such occasions in a public-spirited way. For instance, when the East Tennessee General Association met at Morristown, and J. R. Graves was there, a collection was taken for some denominational enterprise, when Brother Lindsay gave all he had with him (about $20), and had to borrow money to get home on.

Jonathan Lindsay was a leading spirit in the organization of the Clinton Association, and was frequently urged to allow himself to be voted on for moderator, but he always answered he could "do more on the floor of the association than in the moderator's chair." He never failed to attend his church meetings or the meetings of his association, unless providentially prevented.

In 1885 he was one of a committee appointed by the Clinton Association to effect the organization of the New River Association, which was done in due order, and that body was launched auspiciously.

For many years Brother Lindsay had advocated the founding of a high school for the boys and girls within the bound of the Clinton Association, and when the Andersonville Baptist Institute became a reality he was jubilant, and, like Simeon of old, felt that he could "depart in peace," since his eyes had seen a long-deferred hope fulfilled.

From personal knowledge the writer can testify, with R. Riggs and a host of others, that Jonathan S. Lindsay was a man of "sterling worth, of high moral ideals, regular in his habits, faithful to his church and Sunday school, liberal with his means, a safe and wise counselor, a good minister and a good citizen, a man who believed in progress and who did a wonderful amount of good in his day."

February 26, 1902, he passed to his reward, honored and loved by all who knew him.


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


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