Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
(pages 429 - 430)
Pioneer of higher education and first President of Mossy Creek (now Carson and Newman) College.
William, son of Vincent and Abigail Rogers, was born April 3, 1817. He was converted early in life and identified himself with the Baptists. He was educated at Maryville College and the University of Tennessee.
In May, 1846, he was called to ordination by the Pleasant Grove Church, Sevier County, and was soon thereafter ordained to the full work of the ministry by Nails Creek Church, of which he was a member.
From 1849 to 1851 he was pastor of the Dandridge Church, successor to Elder Duke Kimbrough.
February 11, 1851, in connection with C.C. Tipton, he was appointed by the "Baptist Educational Society of East Tennessee" financial agent for the "Mossy Creek Baptist Seminary," and instructed to raise money to "complete building, purchase library and apparatus, and also for endowment." August 7 following he reported "three and a half months' labor, and $2,386.50 in bonds, notes, books, and cash in hand" for the college; also the "favor and goodwill of many friends," a spirit of "improvement" among Baptists, a sentiment in favor of "educating the ministry," and some "difficulties to contend with."
August 7, 1851, he was elected first president of what is now Carson and Newman College, with Robert Reedy Bryan as "associate professor."
In September of 1851 the college opened its first session in the Baptist church building, and in November following President Rogers died.
William Rogers was a man of scholarly attainments, fine executive ability, and a commanding speaker. His death was a great blow to the infant college.
In early manhood Elder Rogers was married to Miss E. J. Williams, daughter of Captain Wm. B. Williams, who lived on Little River. To this union were born two sons.
A tombstone in the old Mossy Creek Cemetery reads: "Sacred to the memory of Rev. William Rogers, President of the Mossy Creek Missionary Baptist Seminary, member of the Dandridge Church: Born April 3, 1817. Died November 24, 1851. An exemplary member of the Baptist church, a useful minister of the gospel, humble and persevering in the cause of Christ. He sacrificed property, health, and life for truth's sake."
So costly a sacrifice may have been necessary in laying the foundations of a great denominational school. We cannot tell. The decrees of God and the ways of Providence are inscrutable, and it is not for us to say to Jehovah, "What doest thou?" But it is possible for short-sighted man to take things out of the hands of Jehovah and make a providence of his own, that is not for the best. And the sacrifice of so promising a life, at the age of 35 - a life that promised in every way to be a tower of strength to the cause of higher education among East Tennessee Baptists - seems, to the feeble sense of man, at least, to be a distinct loss to the denomination, and a calamity greatly to be regretted.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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