History Leaves of the Methodist Tree
Compiled by Johnny Cordell
Lost History of William Rogers
During one of my sojourns into the cemetery, I noticed a small grave marker. It was located just inside the cemetery gate close to the Kirklan graves. It was flush with the ground, almost unreadable due to the overgrown grass. It read “William Rogers, first to be buried in this cemetery. Started first Sunday School class.” I immediately wondered why there was no birth date, no death date, no information regarding his wife, or if he was ever married. At the time I did not know this was an ancestor, but over the last year, I have gradually solved the mystery. At one time there was a headstone, which included his wife, and dates of birth and death. The headstone was apparently soft limestone, and over ravages of time, crumbled and deteriorated. In the early 1950’s what remained of the headstone was removed from the cemetery and replaced with the present marker with what was known at the time.
William Rogers was born in 1793 in Halifax County Virginia. His father was William Rogers buried in Sparta, Tennessee. His grandfather was Dauswell Rogers who according to Virginia Militia Records served in Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774 against the Indians. An interesting fact was that Dauswell Rogers immediate superior officer was Lt. Daniel Boone. Also, Daniel Boone’s son Israel served alone side Dauswell within this elite Virginia Militia.
William Rogers married Patience Igou (Maiden name not officially documented) of Bledsoe County, raising a family on property near what is today the old Henry Barker Farm. His brother Dauswell (namesake of his grandfather) also moved to an area south of Dunlap. At that time this community was known as Delphi. Dauswell Rogers was known as “Daus” and later the community was named after him replacing the name Delphi. William Rogers started the first Sunday School in the community utilizing private homes. Rogers died in 1849 and his wife, Patience died in 1859. Since the church was built in 1852, we can now state with confidence that Mr. Allen Kirklan donated land for a cemetery during 1849, since William Rogers was the first to be buried in the cemetery in 1849.
The greatest Christian gift of William Rogers manifested itself in his son Josiah Rogers. He was an original and unique person, not following the beaten tracks, but with a man of large and lasting influence in his community. Dr. Richard N. Price in his Holston Methodism (Vol. IV p145) says of him: “A remarkable man in his community was Josiah Rogers, familiarly known as Uncle Si. He was the son of William Rogers and nephew of Dauswell Rogers. He was physically stalwart, intellectually scarcely reaching mediocrity, spiritually a veritable giant. Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove, and in courage not deficient, he had a firmer grasp on the esteem and confidence of the people in that section than any other man in it. He was born in 1817, born again in 1844, and ever afterwards led a joyous, Christian life. He was known far and wide as a great shouter. Frequently at church, at home, in the field, on the roadside and in times of bereavement his exulting soul would rise above every cumbering care in rapturous praise of God. He shouted because he could not hold his peace. At some times the people hung upon his ecstatic words with profound religious awe. His life was as consistent as his joy was exuberant.”
My research also indicates that William Rogers was possibly a veteran of the war of 1812. Because of poor record keeping, and wooden buildings susceptible to fire, much information was destroyed that otherwise would have been invaluable to today’s researcher. The William Rogers I have uncovered was from this area, but I cannot with absolute certainty identify him as our Chapel Hill Rogers. This William Rogers served with the 1st Reg’t Mounted West Tennessee Volunteers.
The Rogers name was quite prevalent in the founding of this nation, and William’s forefathers migrated from the extreme southwest of Virginia into the northeastern section of what now is Tennessee. One of the legacies of the family was the founding of Rogersville, Tennessee. Rogers, along with the family names of the founders of the original church, do not appear on our church roles today. Many of the original church members and families followed the westward movement as they embraced the doctrine of “Manifest Destiny”. However there are non-Rogers descendants of William Rogers today at Chapel Hill Church. Little Kate Cordell is a Great-Great-Great-Great-Great granddaughter of William Rogers. Additional research indicates the same holds true for Anna Mae Hartman’s grandchildren, as well as the grandchildren of Tommy and Martha Austin. Lula Bess Hickey has an indirect connection through her Thurman ancestors. There may very well be others, so if you think you may be a descendant, let me know and I will attempt to research it for you.
Having completed this research, it is my goal to replace the lost original headstone of William and Patience Rogers. Eric Reed has given me quotes and it seems the cost will be approximately $1,000 dollars. I feel an obligation to do this myself financially, but if anyone would want to contribute to this endeavor, it would be greatly appreciated. I hope to have this completed by Decoration Day 2018. As a footnote, there were three Methodist Ministers in the William Rogers lineage.
Resources: Dr. R. N. Price “Holston Methodism”
“The Circuit Rider and Those Who Followed” by Mary Thomas Peacock
Virginia Militia Pay Records
War of 1812 Muster Rolls and widow’s pension applications
Conservations with W.B. Cordell 1896-1996
Rogers Genealogy in America and England
Answer to last month’s question? Dr. R. N. Price, during his lifetime, authored the definitive history of the Holston Conference. What was the connection of this venerable pillar of Methodism to the original church in 1853? A young Rev. Richard N. Price was the first circuit riding pastor of the original church. He conducted a revival of very remarkable scope and power in 1853. Many who were converted later became religious leaders.
Next month’s question? John Wesley cracked open the door of Methodism in America, but what famous circuit rider literally kicked the door wide open for American Methodism?