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S. M. COWAN, V.D.M.
I was born March 10, 1801, in Blount county, Tennessee, twelve miles south of Maryville, county seat. My father and mother were members of Baker's Creek church, then under pastoral charge of Joseph Lapsly, Presbyterian, as I am informed. I was baptized by said minister, in said church, when an infant. In 1806 my father moved to Franklin county, in September. I have distinct recollection of our settlement near Marwood's Spring, not far from Goshen church. The first preaching we had was from Uncle Robert Bell, who settled at Beans Creek, I think in 1808. He was an own cousin of my father. He organized Goshen congregation, integrating to the Cumberland Presbyterian department. A better class of elders I never saw. I was brought up under their supervision. I can now look back and see the difference in bringing childred up in the fear of their Lord; it was better in those days than now.
When in my tenth year I was deeply convicted, but knew but little about religion, yet wished to know.
My father died September, 1815, I in my 15th year. I professed religion at Cane Creek, Lincoln county, five miles north of Fayetteville, in 1820. When I returned home we had a joyful time. My mother had kept up family prayers from the death of my father till my profession of religion, she then turned it over to me. The method was to read a chapter and sing a hymn or psalm, then kneel and pray. This was the regular order, and it was not long until I felt impressions to preach, or pursuade my surrounding friends and associates to become religious I kept those impressions profoundly secret for over a year. The good old men talked to me, and told me I must pray in the prayer meetings. I consented, and this increased my impressions to preach. I kept my impressions, as I thought, perfectly concealed. I found, however, I was suspected. Old Uncle John Cowan told me one day, after a religious conversation with me, he thought I would have to preach. I had not supposed I was suspected for having such thoughts. I went to the Lord again and again: I asked to know what to do. I could not see how mother could get along without me. The idea then was preachers must be educated, and go on a circuit. The impression got out. I had good friends who opposed the idea, some quite positively. That did not allay my impressions; they increased till I became miserable. I told my mother I could not be happy till I would try to preach. She told me if I believed God called me, he would provide some way for her to get along.
I joined Presbytery in September, 1822. I went to school to old man Witter, who taught in the academy at Winchester. I was under his tuition three years. I was licensed March, 1826, put on circuit embracing Franklin, Limestone, Madison, and Jackson counties, Ala., and part of Bledsoe county, above Jasper some twelve miles. It took me a month to make the round. To be from home so long was a hard trial, one whole month at a time.
I was ordained March, 1828, attended my first Synod, 1828, at Franklin, Williamson county, Tenn., at which our first General Assembly was appointed to be held May following.
In 1829 I was called to Fayetteville. I went in November and remained there as minister to that people till 1842. Rev. Hershal Porter succeeded me in that place, and I went to Hernando, DeSoto county, Miss. I settled within eight miles of that little county seat. I had an ample field for work. I soon found I had work to do, and remained there till 1850. My health failing me, I was advised to return to Tennessee, that the lime water would cure me of dyspepsia. I did so, I reached Fayetteville Christmas eve, 1850, cordially welcomed by the town. I remained there till 1858, then returned to Hernando, Miss. I was amply provided for. The people most heartily welcomed my return. I remained there till the war.
- TULLAHOMA, TENN., 1876.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, June 23, 1881, page 3] see fide