Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 417 - 418)

"Rev. Jesse Riggs: Forty years a Baptist minister; born August 22, 1792; died January 27, 1869" - tombstone inscription at Double Springs Church.

Through the representations of Elders W. A. Keen and W. K. Cox, the subject of this sketch seems to the writer like an old acquaintance. Nevertheless, he has to confess that he has been unable to secure data and definite information for a sketch at all worthy of his subject. The scene of his labors, however, was in upper East Tennessee, the upper Holston country. He was about forty years pastor of the Double Springs Church, which was the largest church representing in the Holston Association in 1845, reporting that year 223 members. Brother Keen always regarded Jesse Riggs as his spiritual father and his father in the ministry always spoke of him as Father Riggs. In a great meeting held by him and William Cate (1841) with the Fall Branch Church, during Brother Riggs' pastorate of that church, Brother Keen (with seventy-five others) was converted, and was led down into the water and baptized by Father Riggs.

He was married to Mary Ann Barron, August 12, 1813, and to Hannah Humphreys, November 4, 1858.

In Minutes of the Holston Association for 1869 is a published obituary of Elder Jesse Riggs, "a beloved and much respected minister of the Association for forty years, and pastor all that time of Double Springs Church." It spells something for a man to be pastor of a church continuously for forty years.

Jesse Riggs, it is said, when thoroughly stirred, was a powerful exhorter; but steadfastly believed some very hard doctrine - in fact thought that whatever was to be would be sure to come to pass, and that the Lord didn't very much need human help to carry on His business. So, in the meeting above referred to, he had a suspicion at first that a good deal of the so-called "revival" was "fox-fire," and was about to shake off the dust of his feet against the place and leave the meeting. Brother Cate said to him, "Brother Riggs, how long have you been pastor of the church? How long have you been praying for these sinners?" "All the time," was the reply. "'Now, Brother Riggs, why should you be so scared when the Lord so marvelously answers your prayers?" Brother Riggs saw the point, and broke forth in a most wonderful exhortation.


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


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