Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
(pages 431 - 434)
Zachariah, son of Francis and Elizabeth Rose, was born in Buncombe County, N. C., July 2, 1809. His parents were very poor in this world's goods, and the death of his father, when young Rose was but a boy, left a widowed mother and six children for the oldest to look after and provide for. This necessity, in the providence of God, cut off for young Rose all opportunities for an education till he was grown. Moving, with his mother and the younger children, to McMinn County, in East Tennessee, he had his first introduction to school life in Forest Hill Academy, near Athens, where he vigorously prosecuted his studies for six months. - So rapid was his advancement that he soon became a teacher in the academy. By close application, both in school and at home, he at length became a good English scholar, and acquired a working knowledge of Latin and Greek. In his fourteenth year (September, 1822) he professed faith in Christ, and uniting with New Providence Church, Monroe County, was baptized by Elder George Snider, August 7, 1823. On December 23, 1832, he was married to Mrs. Sarah Burch (nee Miss Cate), to which union were born nine children, eight of whom he was permitted to see grow up and become Christians in very early life.
Z. Rose, I have been told, was chairman of the first county court of Polk County, helped to lay out the county, and taught the first school in the county.
He was ordained by the Ocoee Church, Polk County, November, second Saturday, 1841, Elders Jason Matlock, Clemence Sanders, and Elijah Clayton acting as an ordaining council. Soon after his ordination the Lord graciously visited the Ocoee Church with a wonderful revival, as a result of which Elder Rose baptized into the fellowship of that church 100 new converts. His labors were similarly blessed at other place. The first thirty years of his ministerial life were spent, almost entirely, in protracted meeting, or evangelistic work, in East Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, north Georgia, and Texas. In this work of evangelism his labors were greatly blessed of the Lord. He labored three years in Texas, organizing and fostering new interests, and strengthening weak interests in Eastern Texas Association.
For more than a quarter of a century Elder Rose was clerk of the Sweetwater Association. He was largely instrumental in the organization of the Big Emory Association, which he considered necessary to the development and increased efficiency of the Baptist people of that section.
Elder Rose was a man of more than ordinary organizing and executive ability, not only in the Lord's work but in business affairs. He lived and labored, at one time and another, in seven different counties in East Tennessee, residing in some of these a second or third time. In the meantime, and as an accompaniment to his moving, he sold and bought, and bought and sold, and "swapped," farms, any number of times; built fifteen grain mills, several sawmills, and quite a number of church-houses and schoolhouses. He was a many-sided man. He was a sound doctrinal preacher, but was not as "hard" in his doctrinal belief as some of his ministerial brethren. He had a number of discussions with the champions of other faiths, and was considered one of the ablest debaters in lower East Tennessee. He was a good writer and contributed many valuable articles to the religious press; was a great admirer of Dr. J. R. Graves, and wrote for his paper - not always agreeing with the editor. He wrote a pamphlet on election and predestination, which was widely read. He was a strong man, an uncompromising Baptist, and left a lasting impress on his day and generation. He labored and prayed earnestly for harmony and cooperation among all true Baptists, "missionary, anti-missionary, so-called, and omissionary," along the lines of Baptist evangelical teaching and evangelistic endeavor for the salvation of a lost world. I find in my "notes" this tribute from Dr. N. B. Goforth: "Elder Z. Rose was a strong preacher of a pure gospel, and might be classed with Ephraim Moore, T. J. Lane, Woodson Taylor, John Scruggs, and other strong and militant Baptists of his day. Give him a place of honor, let his name stand prominent on the roll of worthy Baptist names in our East Tennessee Zion."
In 1875, Elder Rose lost his first wife, and in the following year he married the widow Neil, of Meigs County. In September 1886, after a lingering illness, Elder Rose fell asleep in Jesus, and was buried in White County, Tennessee.
Among the living descendants of Zachariah Rose is Pastor W'. N. Rose, of Jonesboro, Tennessee, who possesses in good measure the spirit and worthily wears the mantle of the elder Rose, his grandfather.
Since writing the above the following incident has come to me, being vouched for by good authority: Just before the Civil War Elder Rose held a four days' debate with a Methodist preacher at Rhea Springs, in Rhea County, where the Methodists had held their annual camp meetings for a number of years. On camp meeting occasions it was a popular and prevalent custom, I believe, in those early days, to sprinkle babies; it sometimes happened also, on such occasions, that the usual revival was enlivened by denominational thrust and counter-thrust and throwing out challenges for public debate. On the occasion here referred to there were present some fifty ministers, among them three preacher-brothers of note and ability, vast crowds of people being in attendance. The preachers were proclaiming their doctrines boldly, sprinkling infants, as usual, and challenging discussion and refutation. Elder Rose accepted the challenge, and one of the three "preacher-brothers," who was considered the ablest debater, was appointed to engage him in public debate. It was a battle royal, continuing four days, resulting, it is claimed, in complete victory for the Baptists, and the establishment of the Rhea Springs Baptist Church. It is also said that the Methodists broke camp and never had another meeting at Rhea Springs, and that for twenty-five years after the debate a case of baby sprinkling in that community was not heard of.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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