Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers
(pages 534 - 535)
Moses Wilburn was born March 19, 1827, in Hancock County, Tennessee. He was a son of James Wilburn, a poor, but honest and hard-working mountaineer, unable to give his children educational advantages. The boy Moses was brought up to farm-life, and learned hard work rather than letters. At the age of sixteen he professed faith in Christ and was baptized into the fellowship of what is now known as the Sneedville Church. His church by the laying on of hands ordained him deacon, in which capacity he served his church, some two or three years. He was licensed to preach, June 8, 1851, and was ordained to the full work of the ministry August 9, 1852. He was pastor of many of the churches of the Mulberry Gap Association, and at different times was the Moderator of that body. A partial record of his ministerial life gives, "days labored, 1,456; sermons preached, 1,718; persons baptized, 779; couples married, 88." Moses Wilburn was a man of "great moral and religious worth, and though uneducated was an able expounder of Bible doctrines. Wherever he preached or ministered in any way, his labors and his influence were greatly, blessed of the Lord." He was instrumental in bringing into the ministry a number of useful and noted preachers - among others, Dr. S. E. Jones and Elder D. L. Manis, both of whom he baptized. Dr. Jones says of him: "We could not call him an orator, yet his pulpit ministrations were powerful and there was an effectiveness and fluency about his speech which betrayed his wonderful pathos of soul, the pious fervency of his heart, and the living zeal of his nature. With unfeigned tears he sowed the precious seed; the harvest will wave, mature and golden, in eternal fields. He died July 4, 1878." For more than a quarter of a century he stood as a watchman upon the walls of Zion, faithfully warning the people. When, worn with watching and protracted illness, he fell asleep, he was buried in the Lawson graveyard in his native county, where the dead in Christ shall some day hear the summons, "Saints, arise!"
Brother Wilburn was married twice; first to Nancy Grimes, to which union there were born four children. His second marriage was to Sarah Grimes. Both of his companions preceded him to the better land.
Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.: Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919.
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