In January, 1771, Daniel Marshall, an ordained Baptist minister of great piety, zeal, and ability, originally from Connecticut, moved into Georgia from South Carolina with his family, and settled on Kiokee Creek, about twenty miles northwest of Augusta. In the spring of 1772, he organized the Kiokee Baptist Church there, the first Baptist church constituted in Georgia. Botsford Baptist Church, formed the following year by Edmund Botsford, was the second. Daniel Marshall continued pastor of the Kiokee Baptist Church until his death, in 1784, being succeeded by his son, Abraham Marshall, who was succeeded in turn by his son, Jabez Marshall, in 1819.
In 1784, the first Baptist Association, known as the Georgia, was formed in the State, probably at Kiokee church. At that time there were but six or eight Baptist churches in Georgia, and it is probable that the following were the original constituent churches of the body: Kiokee, Red Creek (now Abilene), Little Brier Creek, Fishing Creek, and Upton’s Creek.
The early ministers of the Baptists, impelled by a burning desire to preach the gospel, went everywhere proclaiming the Word, and the Lord blessed their work greatly. Again and again great and general revivals swept over the state in consequence of their faithful preaching. In 1802, not less than 3,345 new converts were added to the four Baptist associations of the state. From 1812 to 1813, over 1,200 were baptized in the Sarepta Association alone, and a great blessing descended upon the entire state. In 1827, a memorable and most remarkable revival of religion commenced in Eatonton under the preaching of Adiel Sherwood, and resulted in the addition of not less than 15,000 or 20,000 to the Georgia Baptist churches. More than 5,000 baptisms were reported that year in three Associations—the Georgia, the Ocmulgee, and the Flint River. After a sermon preached in the open air by Adiel Sherwood at Antioch church, in Morgan County, during which the Holy Spirit gave him uncommon liberty, 4,000 persons came forward for prayer, and for fifteen years afterwards persons who joined the Antioch and other churches referred to that sermon and time as the cause and date of their conversion.
William Cathcart - The Baptist Encyclopedia
Daniel Marshall was born in 1706 at Windsor, Connecticut. This is the same town that Jonathan Edwards was born in making it possible that Marshall and Edwards were sprinkled as children in the same church. It was not until he was thirty-eight years old that he was converted to Christ.
Shortly after his conversion he began to minister among the Mohawk Indians. When war broke out between savage tribes he moved and eventually settled down near Winchester, Virginia. It was here that he came under the influence of a Baptist preacher named Samuel Heaton. Marshall would become a Baptist, and, along with his wife, would follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. This was in the forty-eighth year of his life.
God used Daniel Marshall to plant the first Separate Baptist church in Virginia. Then, he planted one in North Carolina, six in South Carolina, and the first Baptist church of any kind in Georgia with six more to follow. Marshall is also attributed for starting the first Georgia Baptist Association.
Marshall served the Lord faithfully until the day of his death which occurred in November of 1784. He was in the seventy-eighth year of his life. We thank the Lord for our Baptist forefathers that gave us an example to follow.
James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers
John Waller was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, on December 23, 1741, and was a descendant of the honorable family of Wallers, in England. His profanity acquired for him the name of “swearing Jack Waller,” and his general wickedness that of the devil’s adjutant. He was especially bitter against the Baptists, and was one of the grand jury that persecuted Lewis Craig for preaching. Mr. Craig’s meek address to the jury arrested his attention and touched his heart. For seven or eight months his agony and remorse were intense. At length, having found peace in believing in Jesus, immediately he conferred not with flesh and blood, but began to preach the faith which he had destroyed, serving the Lord with greater zeal, if that was possible, than he had served Satan. Traveling through many counties, he attracted crowds of hearers and made many converts.
He preached 35 years, baptized more than 2,000 persons, assisted in ordaining 27 ministers, and in constituting 18 churches, and stayed 113 days in four different jails, and he was repeatedly scourged in Virginia. He now rests from his labors, and his works followed him.
William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia
The entrance of John Weatherford into the ministry must have occurred about the year 1761. He became at once a zealous and successful herald of the cross. He not only preached in his native county, but traveled much, especially in the southern part of the state of Virginia. As he was among the earliest Baptist ministers of Virginia, it was his honor to suffer persecution for the sake of Christ.
The rulers of the Episcopal Church were much vexed at the success of Weatherford. Wherever he went, his ministry was attended by crowds, and many were converted through his instrumentality. Various measures were adopted to silence him and his fellow-laborers.
Having gone down as far as Chesterfield, preaching the good news of salvation, he was arrested by Col. Cary, and thrown into prison. The imprisonment of Elder Weatherford occurred in the year 1773. He was in confinement five months. During this incarceration, he enjoyed much of the Divine presence. And, as it was with the Apostle, his trials only promoted the furtherance of the gospel. He continued to exercise a powerful influence in the county. His courage forsook him not. The love of Christ constrained him.
He preached at the door of the prison as long as allowed the privilege; when refused that, he preached through the grates of the window. But such determined opposition did he meet, that an effort was made by his enemies to put a stop to that also. For this purpose they built an outer wall, or fence, above the grate; but Weatherford devised means to overcome the obstacle. A handkerchief, by the congregation, was to be raised on a pole, above the wall, as a signal that the people were ready to hear. His voice being very strong, he could throw it beyond these impediments, and convey the words of life and salvation to the listening crowd. Before his release, some souls were blessed, and he was owned as the honored instrument in their conversion.
Of those who felt that they had experienced the renovating influence of Divine grace, nine wished to follow their Master, by being buried in baptism. He sent to his native county for Elder Williams to come down to perform the ordinance, but he shrunk from the dangerous undertaking. He then remembered that Elder Chastain, of Buckingham, was, as he thought, of a truer stamp, and sent for him. He came, and in the night, or perhaps about twilight, these persons were baptized.
James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers
James Ireland was born in England, but through rebellion and a calloused heart he sailed to America. Upon his arrival, he took charge of a school in the northern part of Virginia. At this time he had not the fear of God before his eyes. “I could soon,” he says, “join in the wicked amusements of those around me without remorse, and being of an aspiring disposition, it did not suit my taste to be a common accomplice with them, but an active leader in all their practices of wickedness.” But God, who is rich in mercy, had determined to pluck him as a brand from the burning. He became deeply concerned about the salvation of his soul, having perceived that all his former hopes for heaven were flawed. After much reading of the Word of God, he was at length brought to behold the beauty and sufficiency of Christ. “My head,” he observed, “was like a well of water, while the tears ran down for several hours without intermission; and, of all the tears I ever shed, these were the sweetest. My hard heart was melted into contrition, while I was laid low in the dust before God, under the sweet impression of his goodness to me.”
Immediately after his baptism he returned home, and in the spirit and power of his Master devoted himself to the great work of preaching the gospel. Soon, he found that bonds and imprisonment awaited him. His growing popularity and success excited the indignation of the rulers of the established church, and brought down upon his head fierce persecution.
It was in Culpepper, Virginia that Ireland was conducting a service and was disrupted by the magistrates. Ireland stated, “The magistrates instantaneously demanded of me what I was doing there…I replied, that I was preaching the gospel of Christ to them; they asked, who gave me authority so to do. I answered, 'He that was the author of the gospel had a right to send forth whom He had qualified to dispense it'. They retorted upon me with abusive epithets, and then inquired if I had any authority from man to preach. I produced my credentials, but these would avail nothing, not being sanctioned and commissioned by the bishop. They told me that I must give security not to teach, preach, or exhort, for twelve months and a day, or go to jail. I chose the latter alternative.”
Ireland would be in the Culpepper jail for a total of five months. They attempted to blow him up with gunpowder, but the quantity obtained was only sufficient to force up some of the flooring of his prison. There was also an attempt made by Elder Ireland’s enemies to suffocate him, by burning brimstone at the door and window of his prison. A scheme was also formed to poison him. But the mercy of God prevented. He states, that he might speak of a hundred instances of cruelty which were practiced.
When Ireland would preach through the little iron grate to people that assembled outside the jail, his persecutors would ride horses through the crowd trampling down the people. Clubs were shaken over the heads of people threatening them to never attend there again. The negroes attending were stripped and subjected to stripes for simply listening to Ireland preach. When Ireland would preach the gospel of his dear Redeemer to the people, some got a table and stood upon it for the purpose of making their water in his face. Although the treatment in the Culpepper jail was severe, Ireland would still sign his letters of correspondence, “From my palace in Culpepper”.
A final attempt to end the life of Ireland was made when the authorities imprisoned a drunken wretch with him. The drunk was by profession a Roman Catholic. His stature was of an enormous size and was intended to put this Baptist heretic to death. However, Ireland showed him all the kindness that he had to offer. He shared his bed and board with him, taught him the alphabet, and even bought him a New Testament. Ireland would instruct him in the ways of religion and won him to Jesus Christ. The next time that Ireland was engaged in preaching through the iron grates, some ruffians grabbed him by the hair of the head and held his face against the grate. The new convert grabbed them by their hair and held them against the grate until Ireland was finished preaching. He said, “He would take care of the preacher if the preacher would not take care of himself.”
Although Ireland faced many persecutions both in and out of prison, he remained faithful to his Master. He was an itinerant preacher in Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Rappahannock, Culpeper, and Fauquier counties. He planted South River (now Happy Creek), Smith’s Creek, Bethel, and Water Lick Baptist churches. Ireland was pastoring the Buck Marsh Baptist Church in Clarke County, Virginia at his death.
He had labored nearly forty years in his Lord’s vineyard, and during a great part of the time through much infirmity of body. He was always distinguished as an able minister of the New Testament rightly divining the Word of Truth. He endured all things, as seeing Him who is invisible.
James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers