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'That magnificent voice' - G.W. Perryman, Russell County, KY - Part II

In this installment, Rev. G.W. Perryman, a great Christian speaker from Russell County, KY, takes a bride in Danville, KY; assumes a pastorate in Owenton, KY where first child is born, and in same year, the young family moves to Vevay, IN, where he starts a publication, The Visitor. From Vevay, Rev. Perryman moves to the First Baptist Church of Newport, KY. This part II installment follows Rev. Perryman into the revival and Temperance Movement, a pastorate in downtown Cincinnati, retirement, and re-entry into the ministry to pastor a church in Middlesboro
Next earlier installment: 'That magnificent voice' - G.W. Perryman, Russell Co., KY

Contributed by JIM

"That magnificent voice:" The life and times of Rev. G.W. Perryman, late of Russell County, Kentucky.

Part II

In mid-1885, Rev. Perryman, then twenty-eight, finding himself with his doctoral studies completed at the Southern Theological Seminary in Louisville and with a full-time pastorate at the Owenton, Ky., Baptist Church, turned his attention to things matrimonial.

Eld. Z.T. Williams noted that "Soon after entering on his ministry there [Rev. Perryman] felt the need of a companion and helpmeet." In May 1886, the day before he turned twenty-nine, he and pretty Miss Sarah Eliza Waters, affectionately known to family and friends as Sallie, were married at the home of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Waters of Danville, "late of Stanford, Ky."

The Semi-Weekly Interior Journal (Stanford, Ky.) referred to Miss Waters as "an exceedingly bright, pretty and amiable girl...a devout Baptist [who] will make a genuine helper for her husband..." Sallie, a few years younger than George, turned 21 later that year. Of Rev. Perryman, the article remarked he was "a very promising young minister of the gospel who has already made considerable reputation as a preacher and as an evangelist."

The newlyweds immediately settled in Owenton, some seventy miles nearly due north from Danville, to continue his ministry there. According to A History of Owen County Baptist Association and Its Churches (online; no other bibliographical information available), Reverend Perryman served the First Baptist Church there for two years, eight months. (It isn't clear if that includes his part-time pastorate.)

Their first child, a daughter, was born the following spring, and sometime that year, the young family went to Vevay, Indiana, where Rev. Perryman pastored a church and started The Visitor, the first of a series of church newsletters he either founded or edited. It was there their second-born, also a daughter, arrived, and it was from there that he accepted in 1889 the call to pastor the First Baptist Church of Newport, Ky. Under his leadership in Newport, a new church building, erected at the corner of 8th & York streets at a cost of some $22,000, was dedicated in early 1892.

1893 brought both sorrow and a new venture. His beloved mother Nancy E. passed and her remains were interred in the tiny family cemetery on the farm where George had spent his early years. Earlier in the year he announced his entry into the lecture circuit, the first presentation to be a piece entitled "Grit, Go and Git." Over the remainder of his life, Rev. Perryman would spend great deal of his non-pastoral time both on the lecture circuit and stumping for the temperance movement.

The following years saw the advent of a third daughter to the Perryman household, and in 1895, the March 14 edition of the Maysville, Ky., Daily Public Ledger gave a glimpse of how incredibly busy he had been since arriving in Newport:

"Rev. G.W. Perryman of Newport has celebrated the sixth anniversary as Pastor of the Baptist Church there. He has received 400 into the church, preached 1,020 sermons, married 127 couples, and preached 200 funeral sermons of his flock during that time." According to the 1897 Cincinnati Enquirer Almanac, his salary for the previous year was $1,200. Adjusted for inflation that would amount to about $35,000 per annum today (2017).

In 1895, Rev. Perryman directly entered the political arena for the only known time in his life as one of six Democratic nominees in the school board election in Newport, outcome unknown.

Toward the end of 1896, he took a pastorate near downtown Cincinnati, but his stay north of the Ohio River lasted under two years. He accepted the call there knowing it was a troubled church, part of the problem being that many former members had moved to the suburbs, too far away to conveniently attend, and while he made gains both in membership and in other areas, the Cincinnati Journal and Messenger in June 1898 hinted at darker, more malevolent forces at work, stating

"The worm at the heart [of the church] had done it's work ten years ago, and while there has been hope that the Lord would turn the captivity, there have been many things in the way of its recovery...Bro. Perryman has fought the good fight and has seen some fruit of his labor, but he feels compelled to give over and retire from the conflict. He will leave with a high regard from the membership, many of whom grieve over the untoward conditions of affairs."

Rev. Perryman "retired from the conflict" in Cincinnati in the late summer or some time in the autumn of 1898 and toward the end of the year heeded the call to the lead the First Baptist Church of Middlesboro, deep in the Appalachian mountains of far eastern Kentucky.

As the 1890s drew to a close, Middlesboro (originally spelled Middlesborough) nearly qualified as a planned utopia gone flat bust. The town had been built from the ground up less than a decade earlier, but the high grade iron ore believed to be in the area materialized and consequently, neither did the anticipated influx of residents. The Kentucky Encyclopedia (2nd printing,1992, p 634) notes that when the frenzied construction boom ceased, the buildings included "an iron furnace, tannery, city hall, opera house, hospital, two schools, four banks, five churches, sixteen hotels, and numerous homes and businesses..."

In his two years there, Rev. Perryman also edited the church newsletter, The Baptist Evangelist, grew the membership sufficiently to warrant greatly enlarging the church building, and swelled the coffers enough to have installed the first pipe organ in the city. And too, it was in Middlesboro that his and Sallie's last child, a son, was born.

As 1899 drew to a close, the Perryman family again prepared to move, this time from Middlesboro to Paducah, very nearly the entire length of Kentucky.

To be continued.

(The foregoing is adapted from "That Magnificent Voice: A Word Sketch of Rev. George W. Perryman, a Man of His Convictions," (c)2017. Material adapted and used with permission.)

This story was posted on 2017-03-19 08:09:05
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Formal Portrait of Rev. G.W. Perryman

2017-03-19 .

Rev. G.W. Perryman: a scanned copy (compliments of Bill & Nora Davis, January 2016) of the photo my friend Margie B. Antle Stevens (1898-1995) gifted to me circa 1990. Some years later, I gave the photo to Rev. Perryman's kinsman, Charles Dexter "Chas" Carter. - Contributer

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