Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 423 - 425)

Jesse Preston Roddy, son of James and Margaret Roddy, was born in Rhea County, Tennessee, August 10, 1823. He was the oldest of a family of eight children. The loss of his father by death was a providence which placed upon him, at the age of seventeen, the responsibility of caring for a widowed mother, and a lot of fatherless children. This stern necessity deprived him of all educational advantages. September 6, 1841, he professed faith in Christ, and was baptized by Elder Chas. Taliaferro into the fellowship of Bethel Church. February 6, 1842, he was married to Miss Emily McClane, to which union were born nine children. At the call of Bethel Church he was ordained, October 2, 1867, by a presbytery composed of J. B. McCallon, Asa Newport and R. T. Howard.

In his early ministry he was associated with Elder McCallen [sic]  in missionary work in the old Hiwassee Association. Later, in September of 1875, he was a leader, together with G. Rose, Allen King, W. A. Selvedge, Horace Sturges, and others, in the organization of the Big Emory Association, and became the first missionary of that body. He served in this relation a number of years, laboring mostly in the mountain districts of Roane and Cumberland counties. He also labored extensively in Rhea and Meigs counties. He was a great lover of the "hill country," where he was greatly loved by the people, and where he was successful in planting new churches and building up struggling Baptist interests.

He was a good organizer, an untiring worker and a successful evangelist. He was "at all times fully in the gospel harness, and at work. No man would overcome more difficulties in order to fill his appointments. He rode over mountains as no other man, visiting the poorest hovels to tell of Jesus, and his love. He attracted crowds to hear him preach, and by his earnestness and sympathy held them and influenced them for good as no other man. He labored successfully and built up a good interest in the destitute places of our mountain country." (Win. Whitlock.)

Leaving his native East Tennessee, in 1892, he went to Texas, locating in Dallas County, where he served as missionary of the Dallas County Association, also as pastor of the Prairie Valley Church, until physical disabilities compelled him to give up his work. The clerk of the church bore testimony to the high esteem in which the church held their beloved pastor.

This servant of the Lord wound up his life's work, and died at his home, near Landcaster, Texas, January 13, 1898, in his seventy-fifth year. Friends and loved ones prayed earnestly for his recovery, but it was the Master's will for him to rest from his labors.

At the first meeting of the Big Emory Association, after his death, beautiful and tender words of testimony were spoken by Elder Joseph Wilson, Brother S. J. Martin and others, in regard to the character and life of Brother Roddy as a "pioneer of the mountains" and the bringer of glad tidings to the poor.

The committee appointed by the association to memorialize Elder Roddy, in a "biographical obituary" (Minutes, 1898) pay worthy tribute to him as a "citizen, father, friend and faithful servant of the Lord - now gone to his reward, and to hear the welcome:

 "' Servant of God, well done'.
Rest from thy loved employ!' "


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


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