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a number of successions of this kind. There was no friction; the two preachers were neighbors, were intimate friends, and utterly unlike. They attended each other's services and seemed to enjoy them. I sometimes think they engineered the whole thing with a perfect understanding between them." The further description which Dr. Johnson gives of Mr. Frazer helps us to see him: "Mr. Frazer was a man of uncommonly fine physique and would arrest the eye of a stranger in any gathering. His dress was always carefully considered, and his carriage would suggest that he had been a student of military movements. Corresponding with these were his simplest utterances, every sentence seeming to have been fashioned and laid aside beforehand, ready to be called up on occasion. And yet nothing seemed artificial or stilted, but quite as natural as if he had grown up that way, as I think he did. Everybody held him in highest esteem, and I never heard from any person a discrediting utterance about him. While he was serving a term as pastor once, he had an eruption on his upper lip and could not use his razor. As soon as the activity of the latter ceased, a moustache that lay in hiding made its appearance, and went into the pulpit too. That was an outrage upon public opinion in those days: 'Baptists never persecute, but a Baptist preacher must not wear a moustache.' Nobody stopped to consider the inconsistency of the two propositions, and a good-sized stir was imminent, especially among the ladies. When the preacher took in the situation he informed the people that the presence of the offending member was no more according to his will than theirs, indeed was over his protest, and it would be removed as soon as circumstances would permit. Then all was peace; and sympathetic smiles and regrets took the place of frowns.
"Mr. Frazer's style in speaking was that of the teacher rather than that of the preacher—didactic, expository.
The pulpit in those days was much given to spiritualizing, but he would have none of it. His utterances were measured; his thoughts suggested mainly by the text, and following one another in logical order. He was in no sense a 'protracted-meeting preacher,' but his life was like a light that shone steadily and always. One of his sermons was to me probably the best and the most profitable I ever heard. Near his house and on the road that led from it to the church and post-office, a school was taught by his neighbor, Mr. Reuben Coleman, one of the most godly men I ever knew. Mr. Frazer often passed the school-house, and usually on horseback. I attended this school one year, although it was hard upon five miles from my father's, and one day Mr. Frazer came along during recess, and found a crowd of us boys perched upon the rail fence that skirted the road. Whether or not he meant to give us a sermon I do not know, but he stopped, and, with his horse and saddle for a pulpit, began to talk to us. I might say his text was the question: 'What three things does a young man most need in this life?' and his words took, in my mind, the orthodox form of a sermon, with three divisions, viz.: 1. Religion. 2. Health. 3. Education. It seemed to me that he had his answer partly wrong, and that Religion and Education ought to change places in the schedule of life. However, the sermon lingered with me, and the more I pondered over it the more I inclined to accept it. I am sure it had something to do with my future."
The following incidents from the pen of Mr. John Hart, Sr., illustrate the character of Mr. Frazer, to whom they refer, and give one a peep into the life of the Goshen Association in those days: "Rather easily flurried and thrown off his balance, he was not always proof against the interruptions incident to a country congregation. In a sermon at Lower Gold Mine he mentioned some very degrading sins, and added apologetically that he could not suppose any of that audience guilty of those sins. A half-drunken wag stood up and said: 'Right you are about that, Mr. Frazer. I don't think any of these people do such things.' The sermon did not go on. On another occasion, while the Goshen was on the high tide of prosperity, Mr. Frazer was taking a collection for the Board. A pompous rich man, not a member, rose and walked to the clerk's desk, floating between forefinger and thumb a twenty-dollar note. The preacher's eyes glistened through his glasses with pleased expectation. The gentleman waved the note down on the table and bade the clerk 'change that and take out a quarter.' The exquisite politeness of Herndon Frazer did not repress a very audible 'sigh' of disappointment."
Mr. Frazer was married twice. His first wife, who was Huldah Herndon, daughter of Joseph Herndon, and who left no children, died in April, 1845. About four years after this he married Martha L. Rawlings, whose two children were Herndon, familiarly called Don, and Huldah. Don, who gave promise of a life of distinction, just upon the threshold of young manhood, fell a victim to typhoid fever. This severe blow, along with that of the Civil War, proved to be more than the venerable man of God could bear. In earlier days his home had been that of "the country gentleman with the air of amplitude and refinement, and bespeaking always a hospitality that made everything the property of its guests." After the War he was left with but scant comforts. On July 20, 1877, when he lacked but one month of having reached the good old age of eighty-five, he passed to his eternal reward, full of years, of faith, and of hope.
This sketch gives facts and in some cases language taken from papers prepared by Rev. W. J. Decker, Dr. Robert Frazer, and Rev. Dr. J. L. Johnson.
Putnam Owens, who was born in King and Queen County, February 14, 1813, was one of three brothers, who were Baptist preachers. His brothers were Rev. R. R. Owens and Rev. Warren Owens. He was licensed to preach, by the First Church, Petersburg, July 12, 1834. He was educated at Richmond College, and on November 19, 1838, his ordination to the ministry took place, the Presbytery consisting of Rev. Smith Sherwood, Rev. Thomas Hume, Sr., and Rev. J. S. Baker, at Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, Virginia. In 1839, he became pastor of the Suffolk Church, and also of the Smithfield and Shoulders Hill churches. The churches which he served longest were Black Creek, Southampton County; Western Branch, Nansemond County; Beaver Dam, Isle of Wight County, and South Quay, Nansemond County. He was pastor of Black Creek thirty-six years, and of the other three not quite so long. In 1878, the year after his death, these four churches aggregated 926 members, with a Sundayschool enrollment of 513. The records show that at Western Branch, in 1855, he baptized twenty-four, and the same year, at Beaver Dam, thirty-eight. During his whole ministry he baptized more than 1,522 persons. He was a prominent and influential member of the Portsmouth Association, and he often attended the General Association, but his modesty prevented his worth from being widely known beyond the bounds of his own field Of irreproachable and lovely character, firm in his adherence to the truth, scriptural in his preaching, he increased in power and usefulness to the end of his life. His death took place at the home of Dr. Kelso, after an illness of ten days, May 10, 1877.
Joseph Herndon Gordon, son of Elder John Churchill Gordon, was born March 15, 1810. It is quite the custom in Virginia for a son to have his mother's maiden name, and so it was with Mr. Gordon, his mother being a Miss Herndon. He became a preacher because the message of salvation was as a fire in his bones, and he could not but sound it forth. Although there were in his pathway obstacles that would have caused many a man to follow some other calling, or none at all, it was not so with him. He was a dwarf, being some four feet in height, with a head, hands, and feet large enough for a man of normal height. "This terrible deformity to one so well educated, so refined, so wealthy, in most cases would have caused a hiding away from the gaze of strangers, but it was not so with him. He had felt the blessed power of the gospel, and longed to bring every one around him to experience the same blessedness." He was pastor first and last of Flat Run, Zion, Mount Pisgah, and Mount Pony (now Culpeper Courthouse) churches, at least two of these being fields where his father before him had been the undershepherd. It was largely through his influence that Lael (Shiloh Association) was organized. Week after week he went to his appointments, preaching as best he could. His traveling was done on horseback, and at Flat Run the brethren put up a special horse block that he might more easily mount and dismount. A stout plank was fitted between two oak trees, with steps leading up from the ground. The steps have long since fallen, but the plank may still be seen held firmly in place by sixty or seventy yearly rings with which the strong oak trees have enclosed it, as though they are not willing for the work and spirit of such a man soon to be forgotten. In the