Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
(pages 495 - 498)
Alvis, son of Jacob and Huldah Stooksbury, was born April 20, 1845, near Loy's Crossroads (now Loyston), Union County, Tennessee. His grandfather, Robin Stooksbury, came from Virginia to Tennessee, with his family, early in the last century. His grea-tgrandfather, Jacob, was the son of Wm. Stooksbury, who was the only son of Lord Stooksbury, of England, and came across the waters to seek a home in the new world before the War of the Revolution.
The subject of our sketch was brought up on a farm, and in early life had few educational advantages. In fact, the only school education he ever received was obtained at two or three short sessions of the public schools of his native county; the rest of his equipment he got from the school of life and experience. In this school he acquired the virtue of self-reliance and self-help.
In August of 1862, in a meeting held by Elder Reuben Green, he professed faith in Christ, and was baptized, uniting with Big Springs Church, Union County.
July, 1871, his church licensed him to preach, and December 20, 1873, ordained him. He was pastor of this, his home church, twelve years. He was also pastor of Alder Springs. Liberty, Big Valley, Loy's Crossroads, Powell's River, Fincastle, and Maynardville churches; for a number of years, serving them faithfully and well.
In addition to his pastoral work, he obeyed Paul's injunction to his son Timothy, "did the work of an evangelist." This he did extensively and successfully, not only among his own churches but on destitute fields and assisting his fellow-pastors. There were few more successful revivalists than Alvis Stooksbury. He was a tender, winsome, persuasive preacher; popular with all denominations, popular at funerals, popular with the young people.
In October, 1865, he was married to Elizabeth Duke, a daughter of William Duke, of Union County. To this union were born seven children, five sons and two daughters, all of whom were converted and became working members of Baptist churches. One of his sons, Prof. W. L. Stooksbury, at one time professor in the American Temperance University, at Harriman, later a professor in Carson and Newman College, and now of Knoxville, is one of our most successful educators; and another of his sons, Dr. J. M. Stooksbury, is a successful physician.
That Alvis Stooksbury was a trusted citizen and had the confidence of the people was evidenced by the fact that he was elected Trustee of his county (Union) and served in that capacity from 1872 to 1874, with entire satisfaction to the people of the county. For six years he tried his hand and head at the mercantile business, along with preaching, but did not succeed, for the reason that his heart was divided - he was not wholly following the Lord. He gave up the "goods business" and gave himself wholly to preaching the gospel. This brought him peace of mind and a good conscience, and the Lord "added the living," which had been previously withheld.
September 1, 1892, he was made a "Master Mason,", and was "chaplain" of his lodge at the time of his death.
February 15, 1895, he left home for an evangelistic campaign. He was preaching in a successful revival at Sharon Church, Knox County; on the second Sunday of the meeting he preached three times, and at night was stricken with pneumonia, from which he never recovered. Lingering nine days on the border-land between earth and heaven, he passed to his reward May 5, 1895. His body was taken to his home in Campbell County, where "hundreds of friends from Campbell, Anderson, Knox and Union counties thronged to see the face of and pay the last tribute of respect to one whom they had loved in life and now delighted to honor."
The love of Christ constrained him, and his consecration deepened to the end. His life-motto still speaks from above his grave: "The longest talks and the longest walks I ever made were for Jesus."
Through heat and cold he often went,
And wandered in despair,
To call poor sinners to repent,
And seek the Saviour dear.
The last sermon he preached was a fitting close to his life: "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Ps. 73:24).
This sketch may fittingly close with the following tribute by Brother U. S. Thomas, who knew Elder Stooksbury intimately and was converted in one of his great meetings "Brother Alvis Stooksbury was a noble man of God, a close student of the Word, and a magnetic and eloquent speaker. He was never at a loss for a word. He stuck close to the Bible and his sermons were always fresh and meaty. He was a man of commanding appearance. He had a wide influence, and the people came from far and near to hear him. Above all, he was full of the Holy Ghost, and led many to the Saviour."
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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