Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 415 - 417)

John Wiley Reed was born on Powell's River, near where it empties into Clinch River, in the year 1840. He was a son of John Reed, commonly known as "Sonny John," and was of `black Dutch descent." He professed faith in Christ at New Salem Baptist Church, in Anderson County, Tennessee, in a revival meeting conducted by Brother Azariah Herrell, assisted by Elder Frazier Demarcus. Uniting with New Salem Church, he was baptized by Elder Herrell, October 18, 1866. His church licensed him to preach, or exercise a "public gift," the second Saturday in October, 1869, and shortly afterwards ordained him. He was at once called to the care of Zion Church, which he served as pastor for four years. He was also pastor, at one time or another, of New Salem, Pleasant hill, Longfield, Macedonia, Cedar Hill, Island Ford, Island Home, Coal Creek, Beech Grove, Indian Creek, Jacksboro, Grantsboro, Murrayville, Newcomb, Big Spring, in fact nearly every church in the Clinton Association. He was pastor of Longfield Church, near Coal Creek, from 1883 to 1887, anal again from 1896 to 1910, altogether a period of seventeen years. He was unusually popular as a pastor, and generally had more churches on his hands than he could properly care for. In addition to his work as pastor he held a great many protracted meetings, and baptized hundreds of people.

He served one or more years as Moderator of the Clinton Association, was a member of the General Assembly of Tennessee, one session, and was a member of the State Senate also. He was a good presiding officer, had varied gifts, a splendid physique, a good voice, and was a popular and able speaker. His educational advantages were limited to the common schools of the country, but he was a constant reader, and by reading "acquired a fund of varied and general knowledge. so much so that the public scarcely detected in his speaking any indication that he was not well educated."

With a strong mind and fine physical frame, J. W. Reed "possessed a great gift of speech, and was one of the best and most logical reasoners on doctrinal and theological questions of any of the preachers in this part of the country. He was also among the foremost in defending Bible teaching and practice and the distinctive doctrines of the Baptists" (W. R. Riggs).

J. W. Reed, in young manhood, was married to Miss Manda Caroline Coatney, a daughter of John Coatney. The issue of this marriage was ten children, five sons and five daughter --eight of the family still living.

March 27, 1910, at three score and ten, Elder Reed passed from his earthly home, four miles east of Coal Creek, to his heavenly home in the better land.

May the good seed be has sown in the Clinton Association, and elsewhere, bear much fruit in the years to come.


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


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