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JIM: Revival fires spread across Adair Co. in fall of 1911

There was much redemption in Adair Co., KY in that year of fall fervor, 1911, and, "Jim" - a man of Melchizedekian mystery, perhaps of that time -notes with due reverence of one revival: This unequivocally qualifies as one of the greatest revival ever held in Adair County, and possibly even eclipses the well-known meeting held at Lovedale Church in 1985 with Bro. Cleston Pickett in the pulpit. The News of October 4th, 1911 reported that 'Large congregations gather at each service, and indications point to an awakening of the people.' with this open to challenge score: Lovedale (1985) - 105; Roberts Bros & Their Wives Protracted 3-Week Revival in Columbia, KY (2011) - 125, but does not cite any handicap for the wickeder state of human condition in the capitol city of Adair County of 100 years ago, relative to the more righteous population in the environs of Lovedale in 1985, nor whether, in his conservant nature, Murrell Burton was too modest about the phenomenon there on the Fringeland of the Sacred Triangle - Ono, Esto, Sano. -EW

By "Jim"

The summer and early fall of 1911 was long, hot, and dry. Perhaps the weather served as a reminder to the unsaved -- a foretaste of a glory not so divine, as it were. And too, perhaps the Elders and Reverends and Ministers and others of the Gospel used the weather as an analogy for things to come for the unrepentant.



At any rate, revivals dotted the landscape that summer and fall like freckles on a redhead. The August 9th News mentioned two such revivals, one at Tabor and one at Cane Valley, with 25 and 26 conversions, respectively. At about the same time, a gathering of Civil war veterans got caught up in the spirit. An Old Soldiers get-together was held at Weed that August, and Rev. Thomas Hadley, the long time News correspondent for Rowes X-Roads, wrote that it was the best reunion of its kind he'd ever attended, that there were "about fifty old soldiers there, and such preaching, singing, praying and shouting, I never heard before; just a regular old time camp meeting."

The August 23rd edition carried a report from far off West Fork of the revival just ended there, in which the Revs. Wells and McKey and their wives led fifty-eight souls to confess their Savior. From West Fork, the McKeys and Wellses, who preached the sanctification doctrine headed into Adair County to "Concord, near Fairplay," and in the first few nights, twoscore and ten in the congregation forsook the prince of darkness to become shining beacons in the army of the Lord.

So profound was the effect of all these revivals and the continued good work of the regular ministers of the shire, the News was able to report in late August that during the just-closed fair, not a single man was arrested for drunkenness or breach of peace; indeed, the only disturbance of any kind was a fight between two women and that fracas, the News informed readers, was brought about by jealously. (In a truth-in-reporting moment, however, the article went on to state that just after the fair closed on Friday afternoon, two men were arrested after letting the demon rum whisper sweet nothings in their ears.)

In mid-September, the drought was broken, at least to an extent. Rev. Hadley from Rowes X-Roads noted, "What a big rain to-day. The biggest rain since April," but the revivals continued with a full head of steam into the fall and reached their zenith when the Roberts brothers and their wives held a meeting in Columbia that ran for over three weeks, closing on Sunday night, October 22.

This unequivocally qualifies as one of the greatest revival ever held in Adair County, and possibly even eclipses the well-known meeting held at Lovedale Church in 1985 with Bro. Cleston Pickett in the pulpit. The News of October 4th, 1911 reported that "Large congregations gather at each service, and indications point to an awakening of the people."

Talk about an understatement! The services soon moved to the courthouse, and on Sunday, October 8th, "the building would not accommodate all who desired to attend." One sermon in particular, delivered by Rev. John F. Roberts wife, drew front page accolades:

She Dealt in Facts

The sermon preached by one of the Mrs. Roberts last Tuesday night was a nail driver...The lovers of fashion were handed a warm dish at short intervals all through the discourse; and men who use profanity and vulgarity were trimmed about right. The cigarette smoker was not forgotten and the boys who roll the little papers and who were present, will not soon forget the occasion.

It was a stinging rebuke to those who indulge in certain fashions and ugly habits. She admonished the young and also the old to quit their meanness, seek and find religion, the only assurance for a happy contented life, and reward in heaven at the close of earthly habitation.


The October 18th edition of the News stated that "up to last Friday, there had been 43 conversions at the Roberts Bros.' meeting. Nearly all of this number were grown persons." The last week of the revival must have been a humdinger, as the following week, three days after the revival closed and while the heat of hellfire and the stench of brimstone lingered in the air, came the report that

It was one of the best attended meetings ever held in Columbia, all denominations taking part...Between 125 and two hundred persons made a profession of religion, and a great many who had departed from the faith, were reclaimed.

Without a doubt, the streams of the auld sod ran dark a century ago from all the sins that were washed away, and there was much rejoicing throughout the land. A "Jim" production


This story was posted on 2011-08-11 04:30:30
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