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The first camp meeting in Limestone County was held by the Methodists



By Thomas Smith Malone

Excerpt of transcription from The Athens Post, May 9, 1867

Page 2, Column 2

Part X

We promised, in the last number, to give in this paper some account of the earlier camp-meetings, held in this county by the Methodist.

First Camp-meeting in Limestone County was held by Methodists

The first camp-meeting held here by any denomination, of Christians, was held by Methodist, members of other denominations assisted and conducted by Mr. Blackman. who indeed did most if not all, of the public preaching. He is said to have had several assistants, as exhorters, public prayers, singers, etc.

The encampment, we have been informed by one who attended it (old Mr. Craig), was rather rude, and not arranged with especial reference to creature comfort or taste. It was held in the immediate vicinity of the present town of Athens, the precise point not recollected.

Our informant stated that it made a deep impression on the inhabitants, especially Mr. Blackman’s ministration, which were remembered as being deeply impressive and very solemn. The next camp-meeting held by the Methodists, and the first where they built a regularly laid out camp-ground, was named Malone’s, and was located some half a mile from the late Ebenezer Church stood-eight miles from Athens, on the Decatur road, or half a mile off the road, to the left as you go to Decatur in swamp bottom, some three-quarters of a mile above the ford.

Built on Neely Malone’s land

It was built in the Spring of 1818, on Neely Malone’s land, and was annually used until 1823. Malone’s “Meeting House,” stood a mile this side of the Camp-ground, and was built in the year 1817. The meeting at Malone’s campground was presided over by Rev. J. Boucher assisted by Reverends Thompson. Walker. Farris, Copeland, Nelson, Sampson Lane, and Queen Morton. Revs. Donnell and Porter both came to the meeting before its close, and each preached with great acceptability and decided success, as the writer well remembers hearing the great numbers of mourners spoken of in after years.

The Mr. Porter spoken of as being present is believed to be he, who was then, and a year or two thereafter, Presiding Elder, in the North Alabama District. This is affirmed by some; but denied by others.

New campground at Cambridge

In the Spring of the year 1823, it was determined by the principle campers, to break up the Malone Camp-ground, owing, in part, to the annual disturbances, created there by some young men in its vicinity, and build up, and hold the next Campmeeting at Cambridge, which was accordingly done. Campmeetings were regularly held at this place Cambridge from that year 1824, till the breaking out of the War, with perhaps, but two years interregnum.

Perhaps a larger number of conversions have occurred at this place than at any other in this section of country. Perhaps as much ministerial ability has been displayed here, as at any other in our country. I think that Rev. Wm. McMahon became Presiding Elder over this section in 1821, and he, at least, held the first meeting at Cambridge. The writer remembers many precious names, who, long years ago, labored there, and begs to name, in this place, only one, whose effort, on the occasion referred to. he very distinctly remembers.

Boy preacher

It was late in August, perhaps the 29th day, 1826, at night, Monday, when it was circulated around the camps that a boy was to preach that night, and that the young people, must go out and hear him. At the sound of the horn, the writer, with six or eight young companions, marched to the altar, and seated themselves a few steps in front of it. In a few minutes, the boy preacher arose, and made, as the writer thinks, a very feeling and strong appeal, especially to the young people.

When the invitation was given by the speaker, the writer, with his companions, arose and marched bodily to the seekers bench, and there we wrestled, like Jacob of old, till the “breaking-of-day,” when, or thereabouts, six of us made professions of having found Jesus. The “Boy Preacher” was John B. McFerrin, the present distinguished, and eminently useful, Dr. J. B. McFerrin, of Nashville. Respectfully, T.S.M. Athens, May 3, 1867.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Statehood presents the times and conditions they faced in lost & forgotten stories which include:

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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