Source: Lillie D. Trueblood, “The Story of John Williams, Colored,” in Indiana Magazine of History, vol. 30, no. 2 (1934), pp. 149–52; online: http://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/imh/article/view/6753/7227.
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 30, Issue 2, June 1934
Title: The Story of John Williams, Colored
Author: Lillie D. Trueblood
Source: Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 149-152
Article Type: Article
The Story of John Williams, Colored∗
By LILLIE D. TRUEBLOOD
John Williams, familiarly known as “Black John”, was a negro who probably came to Indiana with the Lindley family. William Lindley, father of William B. Lindley, was the sponsor of Williams in later years. It was not uncommon for Friends or Quakers who came to Indiana from North Carolina to bring negro servants with them. After settling in Indiana, it was often true that these pioneers made it possible for such servants to acquire land, clear it and make homes for themselves. Black John lived on a tract of one hundred sixty acres that he purchased of John Reyman, Sr., lying southwest of the present Legion Grounds. Mr. Reyman held a mortgage on the farm for a time but the buyer paid it off rapidly. He cleared fields, built a cabin and raised sufficient grain to fatten many hogs and cattle each year until the time of his death.
A short time ago the writer learned from Oliver Overman, whose memory travels back for more than a half century, information relative to the subject of this sketch. Mr. Overman’s grandfather, Isaac Macy, lived on the farm adjoining that of Black John. Mr. Macy had intimate dealings with his colored neighbor. The mother of the writer lived with her sister who was a daughter-in-law of “Uncle Isaac”, as Mr. Macy was called. She used to relate interesting stories about Black John that exicted one’s fancy. So vivid was her description of him that it is easy yet to picture him. He was a giant of his race—tall and sinewy with enormous feet, so large that it was necessary for him to have his shoes made to order. They were made of home-tanned leather, for there were many tanneries in this country at that time. Tanning was a pioneer industry of much importance. An aunt of the writer used to be employed by Black John to knit for him a supply of socks each fall. This she did from her homespun yarn, and huge things they were with long feet and such heels as were rarely seen.
John became quite wealthy for those days and being a negro some jealousy arose against him, accompanied by a desire to lessen his importance. One morning early in December,
∗ This article is based on a paper read at the Memorial Meeting, held at Old Blue River Friends Church on Sunday, October 2, 1932. The passages quoted from legal documents or statements made in regard to court action were copied from or based on the records of the Indiana Supreme Court and of the Washington County Circuit Court.
1864, the good people of the Blue River community were shocked and saddened when Thomas Rodman, spread the news that he had found the lifeless body of Black John in his own dooryard. Rodman had called at the home of the colored man to buy some cattle. After the discovery, he had cause for uneasiness as there was danger that he might be accused of the murder of the defenseless man.
A strong feeling against negroes existed among the pro-slavery element of Washington County during and just after the Civil War. Following the emancipation proclamation, this element felt sure that negroes would receive citizenship to which they were deeply opposed. Impelled by the heat of the situation, they proposed to destroy colored people who would not leave the neighborhood.
On the December night when the tragedy occurred, there was a light snow on the ground. The perpetrators of the deed came to the home of Black John and aroused him from his slumbers. He ran out into the yard in his night clothes throwing his purse, which contained a small amount of money, behind the wood-box as he passed. A shot rang out and the victim fell near his own cabin door, the fatal bullet having entered his back.
Since the slain man had just sold a number of hogs, a common belief, for a time at least, was that the motive for the crime was robbery. If so, there was disappointment, as Black John had left the larger part of the proceeds of the sale with William Lindley. There were those who believed robbery to be only the ostensible object of the killing, the real cause being race prejudice. It is believed to this day by one who well remembers the tragedy that the men who committed the crime were not after money, but just out to kill a “nigger”, as they would have said it.
There were a number of colored persons living in the community and in the town of Salem near by. There was a darky meeting-house located on the southeast corner of the Joe Emmet Reyman farm with a cemetery close at hand where several colored people had been buried. It was in this burying ground that the dusky remains of our Old Blue River pioneer were laid at rest. They were conveyed to the cemetery by George Starbuck who received from William Lindley twenty-five dollars for the service.
The Blue River Friends who had interested themselves in the welfare of this worthy negro, who was never married, had counseled him to leave his property to his race to be used for the education of colored children in Indiana. Accordingly, Black John had made a will which was duly recorded in the County Clerk’s office at Salem. The document was drawn up and signed on January 15, 1857. It was witnessed by E. K. Coffin and Edward B. Hagan. The will contained the following provision:
All of my property, both personal and real, I hereby bequeath to William Lindley, to be held in trust for the education of the colored race in the state of Indiana; and further I appoint the said William Lindley as executor of this my last will and testament.
The will was probated on December 22, 1864. On March 10, 1865, the executor reported the sale of the land for $5,175. The total realized from the sale of all property was $6,401.87. The final report of the executor was filed on April 13, 1867, which showed a balance, after deducting all expenses, of $5,537.58. The report of the executor adds: “I release to the court the above amount and hereby relinquish my trust”.
Though he had completed his duties as executor, William Lindley felt it to be his obligation under the terms of the will not only to act as executor but to hold and administer the fund after the settlement of the estate. In April, 1869, therefore, he asked the Court of Common Pleas to return to him the money coming from the sale of the property of John Williams in order that he might carry out the trust. The judge of the court refused the request and then Mr. Lindley appealed to the Supreme Court of Indiana which found for the appellant. He was required to give bond in the sum of $12,000, after which he was authorized to hold the proceeds of the estate and administer the charitable trust. This settlement was made in 1870.
It is now possible after more than sixty years to throw further light on the use of this fund. The Trustee, William Lindley, or an heir, must have turned the fund over to the Indianapolis Asylum for Colored Orphan Children. Be that as it may, the custody of the funds and the use of the income therefrom were legally confirmed as vesting in the institution by the Washington County Circuit Court on June 1, 1926.
The Court’s answer to the petition of the Indianapolis Asylum for Colored Orphan Children reads:
And the court having examined said petition and being advised as to said report [of the Executor, William Lindley], do now grant the power of said petition to the Indianapolis Asylum for Colored Children and approves of the report therein contained. It is therefore ordered and directed by the court that the Indianapolis Asylum for Colored Children, Be and is appointed Trustee under the Will of John Williams deceased, to have and to hold the fund in trust provided for in said will according to the terms thereof. That said sum consists of principal of $5,000.00 now held in cash by said asylum together with accumulated interest amounting to $750.00. And in the management of aforesaid trust, the same shall be in all things under control of the Indianapolis Monthly Meeting of Friends Church, to which church the directors of the asylum shall make annual report, and to the Washington County Circuit Court every five years. And it is further provided that the Indianapolis Asylum for Colored Children shall bear all expense of administration including a fee of four ($4.00) dollars to this court.
The present generation of Washington County have been wholly ignorant of the existence of such a fund and of its intended purpose until the writer of this paper searched the records and published her findings in one of the local County papers. This was only a beginning. Much light has been added by more recent research. Such mystery seldom shrouds the last will and testament of one of the citizens of our community, and it is altogther an unusual circumstance, It may be said in conclusion that while Black John did not wield a great influence when alive, rather the opposite, the circumstances connected with his untimely death, the way he was guided in disposing of his earthly belongings, the discovery of how his bequest is being used in our commonwealth—these things may make their impress on future generations. The provision which he made to aid in the education of colored children, makes it the concern of the Society of Friends at Blue River to work for the education and uplift of backward races.
He was a man of quiet mien and lowly birth, Who dwelt among our fathers long ago; Only a rough stone marks his resting place, But memory is more than monument of stone.
James T. Mace ← Here is a webpage describing my academic presentation on 25 May 2013. I propose to use canonical biblical exegesis to synthesize a Trinitarian ecclesiology and practice global loving solidarity in support of the persecuted Church.
The eschatological ecclesiology will be further useful over the next several centuries in bringing maturity to the global Church as the Spiritually empowered imago Trinitatis Sociae, the incarnate image of God stewarding the cosmos. Thus shall we both fulfill our temporal Great Commission and enable further attainment of humanity’s perfection, which is our eternal destiny.
Bio-Reading Music: “If Ye Love Me” (John 14:15–17a; by Thomas Tallis, ca. A.D. 1505–1585).
Song lyrics: “If ye loue me, keepe my comandements, 16 And I wil pray the Father, and he shall giue you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for euer, 17 Euen the Spirit of trueth” (John 14:15–17a in the A.D. 1560 Geneva Bible).
His “commandments” are the Dual Love Command, to love  God and to love  fellow Christians: “whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 This is His commandment, that we  believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and  love one another, just as He commanded us. 24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 John 3:22–24).
Preliminary Spiritual Autobiography (still under development)
In ca. A.D. 450, St. Patrick of Ireland wrote the Confessio patricii, a short declaration, an apologetic defending his life and mission in the Church. I here do something similar with a brief account of how Christ has been active in my life calling me to and equipping me for the ministry in which I find myself.
I discern my calling to practice constructive biblical theology providing a foundation of rock to “raise up an army” to spread the love of Christ throughout the cosmos for such a time as this (cf. Esther 4:14), when the global Church must arise in systemic competition for the prize of planet earth both against Humanism (with its ideologically governmental “Universal Brotherhood of Man”) and against Islam (with its doctrinal praxis of the global Ummah).
With C. S. Lewis’ “holy dissatisfaction,” I see the Church in the world and consider how much more we can succeed at our Great Commission. How much more will the Church shine out as the light of the world (e.g., Isa 49:6; Matt 5:14) drawing all humans unto Christ (e.g., John 17:21) when we are united coals of flaming love, like the bush burning but not consumed? How can we reassemble the divided stones of the altar, in loving solidarity one with another, to bring down the heavenly Fire into the world (1 Kings 18:31–32)?
We are to be soldiers of Christ practicing the God-given unity which Ignatius recognized as one of the distinguishing marks of the true faith:
“train together with one another: struggle together, run together, suffer together, lie down together, rise up together, as God’s stewards and assessors and ministers. Please the Captain in whose army ye serve” wielding “your love as your spear” (epistle of Ignatius To Polycarp, Ign. Pol. 6:1–2).
So I must seek to facilitate ecumenical unity of denominations like Romanism, Orthodoxy, Copts, Protestants, et al, bring rapprochement between Liberal/Progressive and Conservative arms of the Church, equip the antidote for those tempted by homosexuality, etc. My life has led to this point that I can help provide vision for constructing Christian civilizational Life via empowering Hope from eschatological ecclesiological Light, offered in the spirit of that faithful little lad whom St. Andrew brought to humbly offer 5 loaves & 2 fish (John 6:8–13), which, when used by his King, fed over 5,000 souls with 12 basketfuls left over.
Father’s Prophecy of My Future Ministry
My mother testifies how, when I was 3 years old, one church minister told my parents how much she disliked it when I was occasionally absent from Sunday school since they could hardly take care of the other children without my active presence comforting those in need. And my father prophesied to my mother: “Mark my words–one day Jim will be a preacher.” Although my father was a Deacon and Elder who raised me in the Church, I was entirely unaware of this prophecy until years after his death 40 days following the 9-11 terrorist attacks on the West.
Apostasy into Scientism
During my rebellious early teen years, father allowed me freedom to stop attending church with the family, a liberty of which I negatively took advantage. So I was drawn away in the educational system by the glamour of Scientistic Humanism, during which time I won many awards, including a statewide gold medal for my essay on alternative energy sources. But I had embraced a destructive ideology, voicing, e.g., the opinion that “Wars are good things because they decrease the surplus population.”
Christ’s Preveniently Guiding Hand along the Road Back to Faith
I began to be drawn back toward the light when I worked for the Mercer Shaw Evangelistic Association, an itinerant ministry of music, as Distribution Manager handling shipping and finances regarding sales of recorded musical products. With my earnings in hand, I took off driving a Bedford troop carrier from London to Johannesburg, first reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings while driving through the southern Saharan Mordor.
There I encountered the godly example of the since-beatified Père Charles de Foucauld, who gave up titles, riches, and a life of selfish hedonism in order to devote his life in ministry to others until martyred by militant internationalist Senussi Islamists, some of whom believed they had been following the awaited Mahdi antichrist. This example led the way for me to escape egocentrism and give my life for the good of others.
I received a loving witness of Christian hospitality from the church in central Africa. One idyllic evening looking upon the tranquil Congo from the hilltop, I had a vision while sitting with Peace Corps workers on the grave of the missionary who founded the church and school on the banks of the river, deep in the jungle of the central région de l’Equateur.
Later in Tanzania (after surviving a murderous hippo charge and passing through the forbidden kingdom of Burundi in order to avoid Idi Amin’s invasion of the Kagera River region), there first clearly came to me the memorable impression of the distinctly globally unitive power of the Church of Jesus Christ. This came when cross-culturally encountering a vibrant, fully-native, contextualized Christianity at a Christmas Eve service before beginning the five-day climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro in the morning. From the mountain heights looking down upon my Father’s world, I began to see how Christ is working to bring together all its ethnic groups under His banner.
After experiencing the violent reaction to Apartheid in South Africa, I returned to America and spent a brief, relatively unfruitful sojourn studying medicine at Oklahoma State University. I soon took off again to circumnavigate the globe in search of Truth.
Submission, Salvation, and Experience of Christ’s Existential Reality
During a Near Death Experience in New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Forest following my ingestion of poisonous mushrooms, with great sadness I received from Christ the message: “You have to go back; there is still something you have to do.” Within two days after my return to earth, two different Christian messengers claiming to speak to me from the Holy Spirit were sent to provide hospitality and assist me on my quest to pursue this unknown mission, mysteriously encountering on the way the international community of successors to Charles de Foucauld, Les Petits Frères de Jésus.
Yet the forces of darkness did not want to lose their grip on me, requiring a dramatic spiritual power encounter by Christ in a slummy suburb of Sydney when I finally submitted to His lordship, crying out, “Save me! And I’ll be Your man!” Instantaneously His palpable love filled the room, putting the cloud of evil preternatural darkness to flight, and I knew in the true power of His life and light my ultimate destiny.
After encountering a biblical archaeologist lecturing at the Sydney Opera House, I altered my plans to study the tribal religions of New Guinea and arranged to meet him in Cairo in a couple of months.
But first I stopped on the way in Southeast Asia for an independent anthropological expedition among the hill tribes of the Golden Triangle. There I was taken hostage by the infamous Burmese opium warlord, Khun Sar (alias Chiang Shi Fu) and literally lived through the 23rd Psalm. This occasion provided the opportunity to experience another valuable lesson of the existential provision of Christ’s presence (and this one was more incarnate than the purely demonic oppression from which He previously delivered me). As He Shepherded me, hands bound, buffeted by rifle butts, up and over hills, down into valleys, wading streams on the night march to a small jungle prison camp deep inside the forbidden Shan Plateau, I passed through valleys of death but feared no evil. He even prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Upon my eventual release as chosen courier of letters to Pres. Reagan offering to sell all the heroin from the region to the U. S. government (to keep it off the streets), I bequeathed my first cross, which I had bought near my hovel in Sydney, to one of my captors, a Burmese Christian school-teacher-turned-freedom-fighter. Ever since that time, I have borne a burden for the persecuted Christians of Burma, suffering brutal genocide in the longest-running civil war on the planet. (See more in these 3 links to the Free Burma Rangers.)
Mission, Excavation, and Experience of Christ’s Intellectual Validity
I made it to Cairo on time via Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and preached to persecuted churches in Egypt and Turkey about how Christ walks with us through the vale of suffering. I also saw how events described in the Bible are confirmed by the archaeological record, giving me a greater faith in the veracity of the scriptural accounts. Returning to Oklahoma, I joined the ranks of those I once thought weird by pursuing a wide array of biblical, archaeological, historical, linguistic, philosophical, political, film, and speech studies.
Through these studies, including two archaeological excavations in the late-bronze and iron age Shephelah (Tell el-Hesi and Tel-Lachish, with publication re the latter), I gained a solid foundation in the historical basis of our faith. Ours is the God of history Who works within this good creation to reclaim all enemy-occupied territory.
And in my semester with Rev. Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer III in his pioneering Alpine community of L’Abri, Switzerland (as the final new disciple to literally sit at his feet on his right hand before his death), I experienced the philosophical and practical aspects of incarnating a true community of love so that I feel called to carry on the torch.
D. A favourite exploration of such themes occurred while playing the role of Tevye (Best Actor) in the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Based on their mutual worship, the loving community of the village Anatevka provided a basis by which to weather the storms of intercultural conflict and persecution.
Practicing Non-Academic Ministry
Growing out of extensive theatrical experience with Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park, I implemented my calling by founding and leading for several years the Soldiers of Christ ministry, using the metaphor of mediaeval chivalry for discipleship of men and boys, writing and producing plays and dramatic teaching performances incarnating exemplars of Christian virtue from biblical, literary, and historical sources in churches and schools, public evangelism, summer camp, and numerous television spots re biblical doctrine, Christian history, and cultural apologetics.
The Lesson of the Twelve Stones
Christ taught me in yet another way of His powerful provision to fulfill whatever calling a servant has (Ephesians 3:16–21). He did this by holding me up, as if by His vast invisible hand beneath, during the entire second half of a twelve-mile swim (roughly equivalent to running two consecutive marathons) before I raced off to serve in prayer as Chaplain for a meeting of the Oklahoma County Republican Men’s Club studying Constitutional government.
I was to swim 12 miles in 7 hours (and was enabled to finish in 6:56), stopping at the end of each mile to symbolically place another stone in rebuilding the altar of divided Israel so that the empowering, “altaring” fire could fall on us from heaven (1 Kings 18:31–39). Throughout, I briefly suspended the quest at times in order to record spiritual insights as they came, and they were many.
Academic Soldier of Christ
A couple of years later, I discerned a call back into the academy and have picked up three master’s degrees in biblical studies, historical, and systematic theology. I have chosen to begin my doctoral work in St. Andrews, Scotland, formerly the ancient Pictish Kilrymont. Here in A.D. 877 my 36th great-grandfather Causantín mac Cináeda reestablished the Celtic Culdee monastic community church, which continues today as the Church of St. Mary on the Rock (into which I, thinking of my academic work to revive the Church while bearing aloft the wooden cross on the final stage before placing it behind where the altar stood, recently led the ecumenical Good Friday pilgrimage of all St. Andrews churches). But later that same year, grandfather Causantín was cruelly martyred through torture after defending his people from heathen Vikings’ antichristian “Jihad.”
Also here in St. Andrews in A.D. 1559, Rev. John Knox, a fellow alumnus of the University of St. Andrews and minister at my Parish Church of the Holy Trinity, kicked the Scottish Reformation into high gear. Fulfilling the prophecy he had made when exiled as a galley slave, brother Knox returned to preach in St. Andrews from 11–14 June, including his famous sermon “Cleansing the Temple,” and Scotland, indeed the entire world, has never been the same since. (Also educated at St. Andrews was another of my great-grandfathers who was Knox’s theological and ecclesial assistant Rev. John Craig, a Dominican monk who miraculously escaped burning by the Pope in Rome before becoming chaplain to Scottish monarchs, author of what became the National Covenant, Scottish Catechisms, etc.)
The cleansing of the Church temple that I am facilitating is purification from anti-biblical misdefinition of the Second Great Commandment (Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27, etc.). We are to have a uniquely special primacy of love for fellow Christians above non-Christians (cf., e.g., Galatians 6:10). The general disobedience to the Commandment (which we cannot obey when we don’t even know what it is) generally weakens our witness to the world and prevents our complete maturity into the renewed eschatological humanity, the perfected imaginem Trinitatis Sociae, the incarnate corporate image of the Social Trinity, the Body of the God-Man Christ Jesus.
Brother Knox saw great importance to the truth that any enduring work must be founded upon Scripture. The verse we find inscribed upon his house is the very foundation upon which my 21st-century reformation beginning from St. Andrews is based.
So, after about a decade of examining the issues re the Second Great Commandment and the Samaritan parable, I am content to move forward full steam ahead with intense, full-time attempted academic verification of the hypothesis that the Second Great Commandment is still limited in scope to the covenant people. If correct, this will restore the everlasting intra-ecclesial love ethic to its proper formational role so that the Church may more brightly shine as the loving communitarian solidarity for the world.
In early 2014 I’ll be leaving St. Andrews and going to Canterbury to participate in the founding of the University of Kent’s upcoming interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Early Christianity and Its Reception. There my ca. 48th great-grandmother, the Merovingian Blithildis, brought the first introduction of Christianity to Anglo-Saxons, in A.D. 597 converting her husband, St. Æthelberht, who thus became England’s first Christian king, erected Canterbury Cathedral, and gave his full support to the cause of Christianity in his Kentish realm.
My first project for the new Centre may well be to show both the various ways in which proper understanding of the Loyal Samaritan was corrupted as its covenantal Hebraic context was lost in the Hellenic world (with, e.g., its Stoic philosophy), transformed into either an allegory of the cosmic Christ saving humanity or an expression of general humanistic φιλανθρωπία (philanthropy) as found in Greek novels, and how the Second Great Commandment suffered universalization in the post-Constantinian establishment of Christianity as the state religion.
Amidst my more academic pursuits, I have continued involvement in establishing global communion of Christians and ministering to the persecuted Church. I will probably after graduation relocate in the war-zone of central Nigeria, where Christians are being violently persecuted on the front line of Islamist expansion towards the south in their bid to control all Africa. There I will join my friends administering the ECWA Seminary in Jos, teach, and continue the mission to revive the Church worldwide through academic writing and other means of global presence.
It is not an easy quest to fulfill Christ’s commission: “there is still something you have to do”; “raise up an army” . . . “wielding your love as your spear.” But my Captain has shown His past provision for both marching through the valleys of death and crossing the 12-mile waters. I trust He will do the same in future as I walk through this minefield on the path to restoring the Creator’s intent for the perfection of Their renewed global humanity. So I will offer up my few loaves and fish, knowing that Christ will use them to perform miraculous transformation. My prayer is that one day I shall hear His approving, “Well done, good slave [doulos; δοῦλος]” (Luke 19:17). Soli Deo gloria! Halelu-Yahweh!
The last paragraph of Confessio patricii: “I pray those who believe and fear God, whosoever deigns to look at or receive this writing which Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, has composed in Ireland, that no one should ever say that it was my ignorance if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God’s good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that—as is the perfect truth—it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die.”
This is a link to my M.Litt. Dissertation for the University of St. Andrews, “Ensign for the Nations: The Heilsgeschichtlicher Phase of Messianic Reunification in Luke-Acts.” It has to do with showing that Luke-Acts indicates that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah fulfilling the predicted reunification of north and south Israel, Judaea and Samaria. This understanding has been hidden until recently due to supremacist Judaean (i.e., Jewish Israelite) polemic and related millennia of misunderstanding of the biblical book of 2 Chronicles.
But modern science, in happy union with true religion, has set free biblical truth from these obscuring factors. Archaeology has shown the untruth of the Judaean polemic and set the Books of Chronicles free to converge with the prophets who predict reunification of all Israel, Judaea and Samaria. Archaeology and genetics have also shown the falsity of Judaean slanders against Samaritans that wrongly alleged them guilty of religious syncretism and racial miscegenation; science shows the Samaritan Israelites are just as much Israelite as are Judaean Israelites.
Thus this paper indicates that the proper understanding of the parable of the Loyal Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 is that all Israelites must love one another in order to participate in Jesus’ messianic renewal of Israel. Theological application of this will show that the Second Great Commandment is to love one’s fellow Christian as oneself.
This historic document was probably written in the hand of my 3rd great-grandfather Moses Martin, a founding church member called upon for his writing skills.
This project will be continued to incorporate the rest of the ancient manuscript with typed transcription on facing pages.
There are in history some extraordinary servants of God whose impact is disproportionate to their lack of public acclaim. Such a one is the Rev. John White (1575-1648), who happens to also be my 10th great-granduncle. (See excellent sites here, here, and here.)
Rev. White was a Fellow of New College, Oxford, the Rector of Holy Trinity, Dorchester (where he instituted social reforms incarnating the Second Great Commandment into civil government centuries ahead of their time), visionary founder of New England, and a leading moderate Puritan member and sometime Prolocutor / Chairman of the Westminster Assembly of Divines.
The chart below shows Rev. White’s relation to several people, whom I will describe further in the article to follow this brief introduction. Two of his nephews were prominent pioneers in America: 1) William White immigrated on the Mayflower (1620), and his son Peregrine was the first Christian born in New England; 2) Thomas Gardner II (my 9th great-grandfather) was the 1st Colonial Governor of Massachusetts (1623). White’s great-grandsons were John & Charles Wesley, famous founders of the Methodist revival, and he was also related to Col. John Hathorne, a prominent judge of the Salem witchcraft trials. The chart goes as far as Fred Macy Martin, my maternal grandfather.
Perhaps the most neglected area of White’s life is his extraordinary ministry that earned him the title, “Patriarch of Dorchester.” While this amazing saga has been given book-length treatment, many popular accounts of White’s life understandably allow this portion of his experiments in civil construction to be overshadowed by his other important work in American colonial adventures. But for those who are concerned with incarnating biblical principles into civil society, esp. with working out the 2d Great Commandment, White’s work in Dorchester is at least, if not more, important than his work helping found the New World. The most comprehensive treatment of White’s life remains the definitive work by Frances J. Rose-Troup, John White, the Patriarch of Dorchester and the Founder of Massachusetts, 1575-1648, with an Account of the Early Settlements in Massachusetts, 1620-1630 (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1930). But this is out of print and somewhat difficult to obtain (although I use it in .pdf format). Therefore, the best, widely available treatment on this phase of ministry is by David Underdown, Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the Seventeenth Century (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).
In 1606 White was appointed rector of Holy Trinity parish in Dorchester. On 6 August 1613 half of Dorchester was destroyed in a great conflagration, which its inhabitants regarded as a “fire from heaven,” the catalyst for the events described in this book. Rev. White became the agent to which people looked for rebuilding the town from the ground up, and he synthesized a wonderful experiment in constructing civilization according to biblical principles, changing Dorchester into the most Puritan community in 17th-cent. England. Over the next twenty years, a time of increasing political and religious turmoil all over Europe, Dorchester became the most religiously radical town in the kingdom. The first three chapters describe political and social structures, and chs. 4 and 5 go on to relate how the paternalist Elizabethan town oligarchy was quickly replaced after the heavenly fire by Pastor White and his supporters struggling to reorder through institutional reform and moral discipline.
This group of men had a vision of a godly community in which power was to be exercised according to religious commitment rather than wealth or rank. Productive Christian capitalism empowered the loving care of the genuinely weak and needy in Christ’s Name, schools and retirement programs arose, while moral vice decreased inversely as piety burgeoned. These social reforms they instituted are a model to which those desiring to construct Christian community of loving solidarity today should look for valuable lessons.
“I want you to faithfully act in loving covenant loyalty, not mere empty ritual”
. –– my paraphrase of Hosea 6:6; quoted by Jesus in Matt 9:13 and 12:7
“Is this not the fast which I choose, To loosen the bonds of wickedness, To undo the bands of the yoke, And to let the oppressed go free And break every yoke?” –– Isaiah 58:6 NASB95
This Sunday morning I stood overlooking the woods in the falling snow atop Mt. Pleasant (Jessamine Co., Kentucky) at the church founded by my 3rd great-grandparents. Church had been called off due to the snow, but I was not alone, for spiritual communion with my saintly forefathers led me to ponder their roles in the struggles against slavery, prompting me to record this note re Christian activity in establishing godly principles into civil society.
My 3rd great-grandfather Moses Martin met Sarah/Sally Singleton, daughter of Manoah, who owned and worked several slaves in Jessamine Co., where he was also Magistrate / Justice of the Peace. Moses and Sally were original members starting the church meetings on the hill that became Mt. Pleasant church in the year of our Lord 1791 (officially established in 1801). Moses, a fine calligrapher who later became the church secretary, was chosen to write the stirring pioneer history of struggle for civil religious liberty leading up to the founding of the church as well as the Church Covenant, espousing Christian principles of loving societal responsibility. These important original documents are still in the hilltop church he helped found looking over the town of Liberty (est. 1794; now Keene) being built up around grandfather Manoah’s grist mill.
Moses fathered William Evans Martin (born 7 October 1812). Being opposed to slavery and desiring to leave the slave state of Kentucky, Moses and his family, with teen son William, moved (between 1825–1829) to pioneer what would be the new free state of Indiana. Somewhere in this time, Moses set the slaves free, not only his own but also the slaves of his wife Sarah (daughter of slavery proponent Manoah). Sarah took Moses’ emancipation ill, and some sort of strife (perhaps a kind of non-divorce separation) hurt their marriage. While they never divorced, and while it may reflect a contemporary burial practice of filling up plots in the order in which people died, Moses and Sarah are nonetheless not buried next to each other in the Old Hebron Cemetery, Washington Co., Indiana, a fact that could symbolize the suffering Moses was willing to undergo by his following Christian principles of love in emancipating all the slaves he could.
Such events as these were the American complement to contemporaneous efforts by that great soldier of Christ William Wilberforce (1759–1833) in waging his heroic and successful efforts to awaken the British Empire into abolishing the reeking sin of the slave trade (begun by another of my great-grandfathers, John Hawkins).
In Indiana, Moses’ son William Martin met and married (2 Nov 1837) Hannah Starbuck, daughter of George, a Fighting Quaker from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts (at least five grandfathers of Hannah had been colonial governors from the days of the first Puritan settlement of 1623).
George Starbuck became a noted leader and activist in the Underground Railroad, hiding and aiding escaping slaves. His house, a stop, or “station,” on the Railroad, later became a monument enshrining their bravely loving actions for the cause of liberty. Those slaves that reached George had to cross over the mighty Ohio River from Kentucky to freedom in Indiana.
A spiritual insight into the situation that escaping slaves endured is gained from such noted negro spirituals they sang as, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” The spirituals possessed a double-entendre not only of the afterlife but also of earthly civil/political liberation, with Christian activists like grandfather George being one of the “band of angels” helping escaping slaves.
“I looked over Jordan [e.g., the Ohio River], and what did I see coming for to carry me home? A band of angels coming after me, coming for to carry me home.”
“Many slaves in town and in plantations tried to run to a ‘free country’, that they called ‘my home’ or ‘Sweet Canaan, the Promised Land’. This country was on the Northern side of Ohio River, that they called ‘Jordan’. . . . The Underground Railroad (UGRR) helped slaves to run to free a country. A fugitive could use several ways. First, they had to walk at night, using hand lights and moonlight. When needed, they walked (‘waded’) in water, so that dogs could not smell their tracks. Second, they jumped into chariot, where they could hide and ride away. These chariots stopped at some ‘stations’, but this word could mean any place where slaves had to go for being taken in charge. So, negro spirituals like “Wade in the Water”, “The Gospel Train” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” directly refer to the UGRR.” (http://www.negrospirituals.com/history.htm)
Another secret spiritual included the lyrics, “I don’t have much time to linger here,” sung as slaves were communicating among themselves that they were preparing to escape that night. Hidden meaning is found in the famous negro spiritual, “Wade in the Water,” on the surface modeled after the healing at the Pool of Bethesda (cf. John 5:2–9), with a message of taking faithful personal initiative in actively moving from slavery to a new life of freedom. Even more specifically, it was sung also to encourage runaway slaves to walk in the water, instead of on land, in order to avoid dogs and trackers on their journey north.
Was my 2d great-grandfather William (son of Moses the emancipator and married to abolitionist Starbuck’s daughter) not also involved in the anti-slavery movement? I wish his grandson, my grandfather Fred Macy Martin, were still alive to ask what he knows. Further research will tell, but that may mean waiting for a personal interview with all of them at a future date.
So I follow in my forefathers’ footsteps, also being led to oppose the forces of slavery today, of which there are various kinds. One is that of legislated practical servitude to and dependence on what may be termed Statism (whether Humanist, pseudo-Christian theocracy, or neopagan). Such Statism erects a self-perpetuating political bureaucracy that legislates theft by confiscatory taxation in order to practice redistributionism whereby they aggrandize the state and addict those to whom they redistribute wealth, making them dependent on the state. Thus are both the middle and lower classes enslaved to the governing class, the former has the fruit of their labour unwillingly confiscated while the latter receives stolen largess creating the enslavement of dependency.
Another form of slavery, in the midst of the general oppression and Dhimmitude of a pseudo- theocratic Shari‘ah state, is a more directly forced Islamic slavery now in global resurgence. Philosopher-publisher Father Richard John Neuhaus observes: “you prick the Christian conscience . . . and get Wilberforce’s crusade to end slavery in Britain and dominions [and, I add, the American abolitionists’ crusade]; you prick the Islamic conscience in the same time, and you get Mulay Isamail’s declaration that he cannot tamper with the place God assigned for unbelievers” (“The Public Square,” First Things [June-July 2007]). The current revival of Islam still properly believes and acts in faithful observance of these Qur’anic revelations today.
Human beings are still in bondage in Sudan and elsewhere in the Islamic world (see, e.g., Robert Spencer, “The Persistence of Islamic Slavery“). Places like Muslim Pakistan still practice child slave auctions.
For example, consider the creeping imposition of Shari‘ah Law and violent spread of imperialistic Islam not only in Sudan but also in Nigeria. The history of the former Islamic empire in northeast Nigeria sets a precedent for their revival in current Nigerian practices. Slavers preferred the “booty” of young women and children valuable as concubines and eunuchs. Islamic law provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by allowing as many concubines as their fortunes allow. Young boys were often mutilated to create eunuchs, who would bring higher prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Only a small number of the boys survived after the mutilation. History repeats itself as Christian women are kidnapped and forced to “marry” Muslim men today.
But a modern Underground Railroad is run by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) facilitating the redemption and other mass liberation of many thousands of Christian slaves in Southern Sudan suffering under rapacious Arab Muslim masters from the North, showing that our activism and support of groups like CSI and iAbolish can make a difference (603 Southern Sudanese slaves were just liberated at the end of November).
C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia showed, e.g., in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (although censored from the latest film), an Islamic-style system of state-condoned slavery, with the central government of the Lone Islands cooperating with the piratical slavers supplying human merchandise in exchange for the “crescent” coins of the robed and turbaned buyers for the Calormene Empire in a way similar to real-world historical practices of the Barbary Pirates supplying the Islamic Caliphate. Slavery in The Lone Islands was overthrown by the godly soldier of Aslan, King Caspian, as has similarly occurred in our world. In A.D. 1620, my 9th great-grandfather, Admiral Sir Richard Hawkins (son of John, founder of the triangular English slave trade), led a naval expedition against the piratical Muslim slavers of the Barbary Coast, and so in A.D. 1805 did President Thomas Jefferson and the United States Marine Corps, whose hymn commemorates this liberation from slavery in its first stanza, “. . . to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our country’s battles on the land as on the sea.” (On an interesting side note, the term leathernecks used for U.S. Marines derives from this event when they wore stout leather collars as armour against the terrible beheading strokes of Muslim scimitars.)
Thus does my family heritage within the historic struggle of Christians to liberate captives strengthen the task of doing my part to create theological foundations for a strong Christian civilization that will overcome both our major competitors for the future of this earth: the growing movement toward tyrannical Statism enslaving lower classes to a blasphemous god-state as well as the current revival of Islamic political culture bringing increased return not only to Dhimmitude but also to both sexual and chattel slavery in places like Nigeria and Sudan.
The highest form of faithful action in loyalty to the covenant is to obey the Double Love Command: 1) love Trinity, love Christ; 2) love Their elect Community image, the Church of Israel, the Body of Christ. The Second Great Commandment (2GC) includes the requirement to give assistance to your fellow covenant member in his physical need. As the Loyal/Faithful Samaritan obeyed the 2GC by helping his Judaean fellow covenant member (Luke 10:25–37), so did Christian abolitionists like grandfather Starbuck help rescue their fellow Christians enslaved and suffering, and so, if we want to love God, be faithful to the covenant and obey the 2GC, must we today help persecuted and enslaved Christians, the global Church lying beaten and robbed in the ditch like the fellow Israelite the Samaritan helped. All Christians have a choice: they can, like grandfather George, belong to the “band of angels” helping their suffering fellow Christians, or they can shut their eyes and be “No-good Samaritans” in danger of judgement.
“Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalms 82:4 NASB95)
“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17 NASB95)
“If you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter; 12 if you say, ‘Look, we did not know this’––does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it? And will he not repay all according to their deeds?” (Proverbs 24:11–12 NASB95)