Sketches Of

Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers


(pages 173 - 174)

John Gilbert, second son of Elder James Gilbert, was born in Lee County, Virginia, November 26, 1812 ; died in Tennessee, March 20, 1891. Converted at the age of 17; he united with the Mulberry Gap Church, Hancock County.

He was ordained to the ministry at the age of 24, and was 54 years a preacher of the gospel. He was pastor of Mulberry Gap, Thompson Settlement, Beech Grove, Sneedville; in fact, most of the churches in Hancock County and within the bounds of the Mulberry Gap Association. He was missionary and moderator of that body for a number of years.

In his twenty-third year he was married, to Miss Orpha Baker, a kinswoman of Dr. Jesse Baker; and in 1852 he was married to another of the Baker family- Lydia, a daughter of Jackson Baker. The issue of the first marriage was eight children, while to the second marriage were born nine children. The responsibility of providing for two large families made it necessary for him to work hard and live hard - if he gave much time to preaching. A good deal of the time he was away from home in meetings. When at home he worked on the farm and in the tanyard, five days in. the week, giving his Saturdays and Sundays to the churches.

Elder Gilbert had only an "old-field school education, but he was a great power among the churches. He possessed all the attributes of a good man. His heart was always overflowing with the love of God, and his zeal for the cause of religion never tired. He baptized 2,800 people." As to his temperamental make-up and disposition, I have been told, he "was a Woodson Taylor sort of man, smooth and conciliatory exactly the opposite of his brother Thomas:" Both were powerful preachers, in their way. In his last sickness he selected as a text for his funeral Paul's triumphant words, "I have fought the good fight," etc., with the request that "Brother Tom preach his funeral." His end was peace. His body was laid to rest in the graveyard of the Mulberry Gap Church, where it awaits the resurrection morning. His praise and the savory influence of his life are in all the churches.


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


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