Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 547 - 549)

In the minutes of the Tennessee Association, for the year 1834, is an obituary notice of the life and labors of Elder Richard Wood, of pioneer fame. The obituary ("biography" rather) states that Richard Wood had a "large family, all of them members of Baptist churches, and two of them ministers of the gospel." One of these "ministers," doubtless, was William, and the other, most likely, was Joseph P., whose name I have seen in association and church records. William Wood was a member of the Forks of Little Pigeon (now the Sevierville) Church during his youth and young manhood. In 1816-17-18 he was a messenger of his church to the Tennessee Association, being a "licensed" preacher, and serving the Association as "clerk," these three years. Under date of "first Saturday in August, 1818," is this item in the records of the Forks of Little Pigeon : 'The matter in respect to Brother William Wood's ordination is taken up, and unanimously agreed to" - but there is no record that this agreement was carried out. He was likely ordained by Friendship Church, since his name appears in the Tennessee Association minutes for 1819, as an "ordained" minister of that church. In the same year, though not clerk, he is requested to use his clerical gifts in "writing a history" of the Tennessee Association, which he did, and was paid "four dollars" for his work. He was a messenger of Friendship Church to the Tennessee Association in 1821, and also the following year, when he was appointed by the Association to write the "letter of correspondence" to the Powell's Valley Association, and with other brethren  was sent as a "corresponding messenger" to that body. At the same meeting "Brethren Richard and William Wood," father and son, are appointed to write the customary "circular letter" on some vital topic, to be appended to the minutes.

In 1824 he is found operating in the Hiawassee Association; in this year he represents that body as a "corresponding messenger" to the Tennessee Association, and is appointed, with Elijah Rogers and Duke Kimbrough, "to fill the stand on Sunday." In this same year Elder Wood baptized Hezekiah C. Cooke, into the fellowship of Connessauga Church, McMinn County, and, in 1830, gave his daughter Mary in marriage to young Cooke, who afterwards became a zealous and useful preacher of the gospel and an able advocate of Baptist principles. In 1826 he was appointed a "corresponding delegate" to the Caney Fork Association and to write a "corresponding letter" to the Tennessee Association; he was also appointed, with Elders Duke Kimbrough, William Jones and Samuel McBee to preach on Sunday, which they did, "each of them delivering a sermon to a very large, respectable, and seemingly well affected congregation." In 1828 he is a messenger from Connessauga Church, and is appointed to write another letter to the Association of his first love, the Tennessee. When the Sweetwater United Baptist Association was formed (1830) , Elder Wood cast his lot with that body, and served as clerk of the Association for the years 1833-34-35. In '34 he preached the Introductory sermon from the text, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" (Job 21 :15). This year, according to the minutes, he is an ordained preacher of New Providence Church; the year following he is a messenger of Tellico Church. He was appointed by the Hiwassee Association (1830) to write a "letter of correspondence" to the Mud Creek Association, to serve on a committee to receive the "contribution from the churches,' and to "preach on Sunday," with Elders Richard Wood and Duke Kimbrough. In 1851 William Wood and H. C. Cooke were messengers to the Sweetwater Association from Connessauga Church. Elder Wood was appointed as one of the delegates to the General Association, also to preach the Introductory sermon the following year, when the body should be convened with Hopewell Church. The next year, however, Elder Wood was not in attendance, consequently another brother was called on to preach the sermon. His failure to attend is explained, perhaps, by the fact that at this time he was laboring to keep a weak interest alive at Chattanooga, which interest he represented, this year (1852), at the Hiwassee Association. At this meeting he was appointed to serve on two important committees, to "preach a missionary sermon on Sabbath," to attend the Sweetwater Association and also the General Association.


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


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