Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Echoes of camp
meetings and evangelist Rev. Elijah Kimsey
The Rev. Elijah
Kimsey was a great uncle of the noted Dr.
George W. Truett who became one of the
outstanding Baptist pastors and denominational leaders of the 20th
century. Rev. Kimsey did not travel far
from the mountain area where he was born, but his evangelistic zeal and
fiery preaching had such an effect on summer camp meetings in the
In a biography
about Dr. George W. Truett written by that
great preacher's son-in-law, Powhattan W. James, Dr. Truett
recounts how his "Uncle Lije" Kimsey waked up a floundering Methodist Camp
Meeting being held one summer near
The fact that
Rev. Elijah Kimsey was a Baptist minister
"Brethren, my thoul ith on fire. I want to preach to these people. The thooner, the better, brethren," Rev. Kimsey replied. "The fire is burning in my thoul," he reiterated.
The ministers told him he could preach at the service. They rang the bell to gather the people from their wagons and tents, and soon a crowd was under the brush arbor tabernacle. After an introduction by one of the Methodist elders, Rev. Kimsey was given the pulpit.
The story has been passed on for generations about that camp meeting and how the evangelist with a speech impediment began to preach and seemed not to be able to stop. His lisp only added to the interest, because everyone listened carefully to understand every word as Rev. Kimsey expounded the Scriptures and poured out his heart in zealous preaching.
As he preached, and as the services went on, sometimes not even stopping for the usual meals and fellowship, people in the surrounding area heard about the revival. The crowd increased as the Camp Meeting went on with exhorting, testimonies, singing, and preaching. As much as the people enjoyed eating around their campfires, fasting was a natural outgrowth of the spiritual climate and praying. Campers preferred hearing the preacher with a lisp and anointed with the Word of the Lord than to cook and eat.
It has been
said that particular meeting marked the beginning of a moral and
spiritual awakening of that section of
Who was this
preacher with the gift to move people to spiritual commitment? Elijah Kimsey was born
Elijah Kimsey, despite his pronounced lisp, had a
desire to serve through both teaching school and being a preacher. He pastored churches and taught in one-teacher
schools in the area of
Rev. Elijah Kimsey and Rev. John Corn were chosen as
Rev. Kimsey was too elderly by the time of the War Between the States to serve in the army. However, three of his sons enlisted and fought for the Confederacy.
Rev. Kimsey's beloved companion, Sarah Bryson Kimsey, mother of their nine children (William,
Thomas, David, Nancy, Amanda, Josiah, Araminta,
Elisha, and Sarah) died
The epitaph on Rev. Kimsey's tombstone is typical of his life: "He went and done what the Lord commanded."
c2006 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published
Dyer Jones is a retired educator, freelance writer, poet, and historian.
She may be reached at e-mail email@example.com;
phone 478-453-8751; or mail