Search billions of records on


    Clipper Reid Dowland's 

  Interviews with older folks

          Transcribed by Joe Stout

Editing & Webpages by MaryCarol

Interview with Rev. George T. MAYO

Age 85, Born June 14, 1860
Interview taken in 1945

My grandfather , William Mayo was from North Carolina.  He came to this country and took up a lot of land out near Palmersville, and lived there on that land all of his life.  He raised a large family.  He told me that he walked over the grounds of Dresden when it was heavy wooded land.  My Father was named William too.  I lost him in the Civil War.  He fought under Forrest on the Confederate side.  That is getting back a little too far back, and you people will be getting on to my age if I don t watch.  Oh I don t care who knows my age.  I am getting now so I am a little proud of it.

I was a pastor for 55 years.  I did not hold so many pastorates, because I stayed so long at one place.  I was pastor at two different places for 21 years, then I was then at different places for 17, 15 and 12 years.  I preached at Cottage Grove, Henry County, 21 years; State Line,  KY, 21 years; Trimble, on the I. C. Road, 15 years; and Palmersville, 15 years.

I began preaching for the Primitive Baptist Church.  I then united with the Missionary Baptist Church about 35 years ago.

Q: Are those the only two denominations you preached with?

A. Yes, I started in the Primitive Baptist Church, and they got to splitting up on non essentials, and then I went with the Missionary Baptist.

It was the Baptist Family at one time, but when they originated a Missionary Society in Keltenering, England, in B. B. Wallace s parlor, and sent Missionaries to the foreign fields, that caused the split.  The Primitive Baptists did not believe in foreign missions nor Sunday Schools or Missionary Boards.  The result is that the Missionary Branch has grown by leaps and bounds, and the Primitive Baptists are fast pass his sermons, if he gives the required attention to the different propositions that come up. 

We have laid the land off two big - like the Seventy Five Million Campaign.  We got about 60 millions, but we would up with a big debt, and have just last year gotten out from under it.  It took us 20 years to get out from under it.  The Missionary Baptists have paid all their debts.  They do not now owe anything.  Our finances last year were the largest of any one year, the figures show.

Q: What was the basis of the early churches - or certain denominations objecting to Fraternal Organizations - lodges like Masons and Odd Fellows?

A: One of the main objections to secret orders was that Christian people should not be members of an institution that kept their main virtues to themselves or had some secret to it.  They believed that they should have whatever virtues they had out in the open, and if it was not good, everybody ought to know it.  I think the good should be published to the world.  We have enough of the bad published, haven t we?  Well most of them take secret orders in the church now.  The Missionary Baptists do, but the Primitive Baptists do not.

Q; What year did you start preaching?

A: I was 28 years old when I started preaching, 62 years ago.

Q: What is the reason for this difference in the attitude in the people of today toward the churches?

A: I think the big difference is worldliness and pleasure seeking.  You take the things that we have now that we did not have then.  When I was a young preacher, we did not know anything about them - the good roads, automobiles, picture shows, etc.  They have all kinds of pictures.  I do not condemn picture shows unless they are filthy.  I have seen some picture shows that are real educational, but when they get down  to filth and immorality, I do not thik it is right.  There was another split when I was a young preacher, while I was affiliated with the Primitive Baptist Church.  We had some pretty strong men then, they are gone to glory I hope.

The split over the question of Absolute Predestination of all things, good or bad.  We had a big trial at Mayfield, Graves County, KY, over this question.  The question was asked one of the preachers who was present:    Do you believe that God, before the foundation of the world, predestined that whatever act that men commit in this world, that God s predestination brought forth that act?  He said he did, and then after the split was all over they were styled  The Can t  Help Its  and those opposed were known as  Can Help It , in other words saddling the responsibility on God.  I went with a Primitive Baptist to an Association.  That church where we went split over that question, and just across the public road the  Can t Help Its , were building a church - just a road between them.  When we got pretty close, he says:  Now what in the world did they want to build a church over there for.  I says:  I now exactly why the built it,  They can t help it. 

Q: In the earlier church days in the Primitive Baptist Church especially did they take their religion warmly.  Did they shout like the Missionary Baptists later did.  Did the Primitive Baptists ever shout?

A: Why they taught the Missionary Baptists how to shout.  I have seen them shout all over the altar lots and lots of times, three or four at a time.  Shouting has played out now.  It is not very fashionable.

Q: Back in your earliest preaching days, what is the extent of these manifestations?  Some say they jumped up and down and some had the jerks, and would go in a trance, and while they were in this unconscious state it would be necessary for some of the others to get them out of the way.

A: You must be talking about the Holy Rollers.  They get under what they call a spell, and somebody always catches them and lays them out.  I never knew any Primitive  Baptists to have these spells.  They would shout and tell you how they love the Lord.  I do not believe we have what shouting kind of religion now.  They used to have enough religion to shout all over the church.  They don t have it now.  Not only the heart power but the spiritual power too has come out.  I tell you back before my day, we had some great preachers and great evangelists;  John Wesley.  His movement has come to all the nations of the earth.  Alexander Campbell started a great movement.  He was a very brainy man.  We had some great men in those days - Men of God.  There were some right and some wrong, but they must have had the spirit or they could not have started those movements. 

Our rearing has a lot to do with it.  If I had been born and reared a Methodist, I would have been a Methodist.  A young man was asked what doctrine he believed. He says:  I believe exactly what my mother believes  and he was asked what she believed, and he said:  She believes exactly what I do.   They used to carry me to a revival at night when I was a little boy living with my grandmother.  I never had any father or mother either.  They went in a wagon with a yoke of oxen.  I remember one time it was a dry time.  We started on back home and the tires ran off of the wagon wheels, and they had to put the tires back on to keep the wheels from falling to pieces.  I was crying.  I never will forget that.  That is the way they went to church in those days. 

The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was born in a camp meeting up here on Green River in the Cumberland Mountains.  They had a time also for two or three years.  What we used to call the Old School Presbyterians, the same as the U.S.A. Church and the Baptist confession of faith is exactly the same.  John Calvin was a strong predestinater.  Lots of people know Baptists as the Calvinistic Baptists, because they believed so much like Calvin believed.  We have got lots of Pharisees now.  You did not have to be a Jew to be a Pharisee.  The Legalists believe that salvation depends upon the law.  You are not saved by obedience to law, but by obedience to Christ - Christ is the Law.  That belief is exactly the same  Pharisee Belief as it was in Christ s time.  One of our old preachers went to the Fifth Sunday Meeting.  He had  been there three days, and they had had a round table discussion on the scripture.  He had been sitting there listening for three days.  After a while they said to him:  Brother Summers, you have been here three days, and you have not said a word.  What do you think about the interpretation of the scriptures?   He says:  Well, what I am going to say to you is this; I have not got as much sense now as when I came here. 

Q: Do you believe a knowledge of the design of baptism is necessary before one could be saved?

A: No.  A knowledge of God s grace is necessary.  I think it is fine for a man to have an opportunity of knowing the design of baptism, but he can learn the design after he is saved.  I do not think it is necessary to know about the design to be saved.  Salvation is not on what you know.  If that were the case, the ignorant would be lost.  The real facts are that about all we know, we learn after we are saved.  As long as we are controlled by evil, we are going away from God.  When saved, we have an understanding that we do not have before being saved.  We are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is Christ or nothing.  We are created in Christ Jesus into good works, that is, when we come to good works - after we are saved.  God has ordained that the new creature shall walk in good works, because the other kind of man does not want them.

Q: We have not yet gotten your genealogy.  Would you mind giving us the members of your family and your ancestors?

A: I married Miss Ella Savannah McWherter.  We reared 8 children to be grown. My children are: 
Dr. B. S. Mayo, age 62, married Daye Hillis, living in Greenfield TN., 
Will T. Mayo (deceased) 60 married Virginia Buckley, 
Spurgeon Mayo, 57, married Sarah Jeter of Dresden, lives in Columbia, TN, 
Vivian Mayo(deceased) 54, married Will D. Wilson, lives in Mayfield, KY, 
Ruth Mayo, 52, married P. T. Porch, lives in Greenfield, 
Judith Mayo, 50, Married Granville D. Stanley, lives in Greenville, MS, 
Rozelle Mayo, 58, married M. P. Meadows, lives in Greenville, MS, 
Elise Mayo, 47, married Ivan V. Anderson, lives in Chicago, IL. 
My Grandchildren:

Dr. Mayo s children:
Thomas Hillis, 24, single, lives in Chicago, IL?
Jane, married Joe Cowgill, Capt. in Army, Jane lives in Greenfield, TN
Ellen, married R. W. Schleich 

Vivian Wilson s children:
W. D., 28, single (in army) 
Tom, 19, single (just discharge from army)
Betty, 16, single

Will Mayo s Children
Two daughters who died young.
Will T. Mayo, 30, married Evon Melton, lives in Dresden, TN

Spurgeon s Children
George Mayo, 23, single, in Manila

Ruth s Children

Judith s Children

Rozelle s Children
Marvin Meadows, Jr. 12

Elise s Children
Ivan V. Anderson, Jr. age 6 years

George T. Mayo s Great Grandchildren
Will T. Mayo, Jr.s Children
Jean age 14
Tom age 12
James age 10
Grace age 8

Jane Cowgill s child
Ellen Cowgill, age 2 1/2 years

Q: Did you ever hear about the way they used to make a lamp out of meat grease?

A: Well they used a crockery bowl and filled it with meat grease, then they would take a rag and twist it and make a wick and stick it down in the grease and light the end of it.  It would make a light just as good as the brass kerosene lamps that they had.  They also used to mold tallow candles for light.

They also ground their coffee and would hold the coffee mill between the legs and turn the crank round and round to grind the coffee.

I will tell you a joke about the coffee mill that one of my fellow preachers told me once.  It seems that one of the visiting preachers was spending the night at Sister Brown s house, and he walked in the next morning where she was getting breakfast, after he had gotten ready for church, and says:  Sister Brown, is there anything I can do to help you.   She says:  I will let you grind the coffee.   He started to grind the coffee and says:  Sister Brown, this coffee mill is getting loose, you have used it so long.   She replied:  If you had been between my knees as many times as that coffee mill has, you would be loose too.

BACKto Dowland Interviews Page

BACKto Greenfield page

RETURN to Weakley County Home Page

Webpage & Graphic designs by MaryCarol
© 2002