1893 Virginia Baptist State Convention Historical Newspaper Article and Records

11 May 1895 edition of the Richmond Planet newspaper. Features a photograph by James Conway (J.C.) Farley, “believed to be the first successful African-American photographer…”
This photograph, according to the accompanying article, includes Rev. John H. Turner, B.D., my third great-grandfather.






Spiller Academy-Some of the Persons
in the Picture – Leading Characters Commented Upon

The Virginia Baptist State Conven-
met at Suffolk, Va., Wednesday
May 8th with the Baptist Charch at
which Rev. W. W. Gaines is pastor
Rev. H.H. Mitchell. D. D. of Farm-
ville Va, is president. The picture of
this convention was taken May 1893 at Hampton, Va., by Mr. J. C. Farley, the colored photographer of Richmond
Va. The organization is upon the
grounds of Spiller Academy, Rev. R.
Spiller being the founder. The flag
may be seen floating to the breeze
The dwelling and the new building an-
swers the purposes of school-rooms.


Some well-known divines are in this
Commencing at the left may
be seen Deacon R.J. Bass, Rev. A.
Truatt. Revs. A. W. Shields, of Wash-
ington; J. E. Jones. D. D., A. B. Callis,
A. Chisholm, Revs. Cousins, James H. Holmes, W. T. Johnson of Lexington,
Va , W. M. Robinson, Henry Williams,
of Petersburg, J L. Barksdale of Dan-
ville, Va., M. D. Williams of Manas-
sas, Rev. Turner of Bowling Green,
William Troy, R. Spiller, Fields Cook,
L. B. Goodall, Sutton E. Griggs, Rev
Clark, Revs. W. H. Crawley, C.C.
Stumm, R. Wells, John Kirby J.B. Smith, Deacon J.M. Clark, Revs. W.
M. Moss, B. D., and Rev. D.C. Deans,
W. P. Epps, R. J. Morgan of Lynch-
burg, Rev. Isaac Lee, Deacon Stephen Jones, now deceased; Joshua A. Craw-ford. Rev. A. Gordon, Revs. T. J.
Chick, A. Binga, Jr., D.D., W.F. Gra-
ham, S.P. Adams, R. O. Johnson and
This is the organization which found-
ed the Virginia Seminary at Lynch-
burg, of which the brilliant Prof. Greg-
ory W. Hayes is president. There are
some striking characters in this group.

I was floored when I saw this article in the archives of the Richmond PLANET newspaper. Here I was —looking at a photograph of my third great-grandfather, though it is difficult to make any of the figures out. He was surrounded by his colleagues in the ministry and they are photo’d, as well. To boot, this photograph was taken by a hugely important but little-known historical figure, J. C. Farley.

Lots and lots of people, places, and things were noted in the article. Particularly, the name of the Virginia Baptist State Convention. Where could I learn more about this group?

My fingers did the Google-walk straight to the American Baptist Historical Society. Not soon after, I actually walked through the very welcoming doors of the Society at Mercer University and searched their archives.

Wonderful things were discovered…

Just one example? The Minutes of the 26th Annual Session of the Virginia Baptist State Convention Held At Hampton, Va. MAY 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1893.

These are the very minutes of the convention mentioned in the Richmond PLANET newspaper article above.

Source: American Baptist Historical Society Repository at Mercer University
Source: American Baptist Historical Society Repository at Mercer University


——- :0:——

Rev. J. L. Barksdale-High Street, Danville.

Rev. Alexander Truatt-Ebenezer, Charlottesville.

Rev. Archer Ferguson-Mt. Calvary, Richmond.

Deacon Spencer Green–First Baptist, Petersburg

Rev. P. F. Morris–Court Street, Lynchburg.

Deacon R. J. Bass–First Baptist, Richmond.

Rev. J. H. Turner,

Rev. W. H. Crawley-First Baptist, South Boston.

Kev. J. C. Lias-Mt. Airy, Longdale.

W. D. Laws- Northern Neck Baptist Association.

Rev. W. H. Dixon–First, Newport News.

Deacon S. Lockett–Second, Washington, D. C.

Rev. F. P. Diggs-Tappahonnock.

Rev. A. S. Thomas-Enon, Washington, D. C.

Rev. A. J. Brown, B. D.,- Queen Street, Norfolk.

Sister Rebecca Vandervall-Home Mission Society, First Bapt., Richmond.

Sister Winniford Hardy–Missionary Daughters, Gilfeld Bapt., Petersburg

Sister Julia Jordan – Foreign Missionary Society, Gilfeld, Bapt., Petereb’rg.

Rev. Wm. T. Johnson, B. D., – First, Lexington.

Miss Mary M. Booze, B. N., – First Bapt. S.S., Hampton.

Brother Wm. L. Price-First, Lexington.

Rev. W. M. Moss, B. D., – Loyal Street, Danville.

Rev. W. M. Robinson-Shiloh, Fredericksburg.

Rev. A. Binga, Jr.. D. D., -First, Manchester.

Rev. H. H. Mitchell-First, Farmville.

Rev. W. F. Graham–Fifth Street, Richmond.

Sister Victoria Banks-1st B. S. S., Hampton.

Rev. R.B. Hardy, B. D. – Mt. Zion, Charlottesville.

Dr. D. N. Vassar–Coles’ Missionary Society, Louisa County.

– Rev. J. H. Holmes, Deacons J. C. Farley, R. J. Bass–First, Richmond.

Dr. C. C. Stumm-Mt. Zion, Staunton.

Dr. A. Chisholm-Washington Street. Bedford City.

Bro. J. A. Crawford–Ed. and Miss, Soc., Court Street, Lynchburg.

Rev. A. B. Callis–Nazareth, Orange

Rev. Alexander Gordon–Diamond Hill, Lynchburg.



Rev. M. D. Williams–First, Manassas; First, The Plains; Mt. Calvary, Fairfax Courthouse and North ern Virginia Association.

Deacons W. J. Smith and Spencer Green-Harrison Street, Petersburg.

Dr. J. E. Jones, Coles’ Miss. Port Walthall, Chesterfield Co.

Rev. C. S. Coleman, Young Ladies’ Ed. Clubs, Piney Grove and New Arbor, Halifax County.

Rev. H. Moore -9th Street, Berkley.

Rev. J. H. A. Cyrus–Mattaponi Association.

Rey, A. Smith-Staunton River Association.

Rev. T. M. Coles, N. Spiller, P. F. Morris–Court Street, Lynchburg.

Deacons A Forbes, Henry Watkins, Rev. H. Williams, Gilfield, Petersburg.

Dr. W. B. Johnson, Deacon Scott Lockett–2nd, Washington, D. C.

Rev. W. B. Bassett–Jarrett Depot.

Rev. Isaac Lee–Eastern Shore.

Rev. Cbarles H. Newman–Harmony Village.

Mrs. H. C. Humbles, President of Women’s Missionary Society-First Baptist, Lexington.

Rev. D. C. Deans–Ebenezer, Staunton.

Rev. J. B. Smith–Long Mount. Concord, and Mt. Obed, Appomattox

Rev. F. D. Cook–Ebenezer, Alexandria.

Rev. R. G. Adams–North Danville, Danville

Rev. H. Williams–Gilfeld, Petereburg.

Prof. G. W. Hayes–Lynchburg.

Rev. Willis Brown–Piney Grove, Princess Anne Co.

Lawyer Bassett–First B. S. S., Hampton.

Brother R. L. Hill–White Rock, Lynchburg.

Bro. E. A. Munford–H. M. Society, Gilfeld Bapt., Petersburg.

Rev. J. M. Young, Bro. W. H. Mills, Mrs. J. M. Young- Bank St., Norfolk.

Rev. J. M. Armistead, Bro. Win. Elliot, Mrs. M. M. Garrett, Mrs. Ellen L. Driver, Mrs. Jane Baine-Zion, Portsmouth.

Rev. H. L. Barco–First, Berkley

Rev. L. W. Milton-Little Zion, Bows Hill.

Rev. R. H. Bowling, Rev. Charles Gatewood, Deacon A. B. Campbell, Mrs. Mary J. Moore, Mrs. Dianna Seeds–Bute Street, Norfolk.

Rev. H. P. Weeden-3rd, Hampton.

Rev. R. H. Porter–3rd, Alexandria.

Bro. R. F. Robinson–Mattaponi Asso.

Bro. W. P. Epps, Deacon S. D. Jones–Ebenezer, Richmond.

Rev. D. C. Winston-St. John and Antioch, Essex Co.

Deacon J. M. Clark, Deacon Thornton Day–High St., Danville.

Rev. -Champ–Rock Creek, D. C.

Rev. S. W. Madden–Alford St., Alexandria.

Rev. Wm. Gibbons–Mt. Carmal, Washington, D. C.

Bro. Wm. Scott–Mt. Zion, Charlottesville.

Rev. R. Spiller, Deacon Moses Robinson, Deacon Giles Banks, Deacon Jas. Pierce, Deacon A. Boykin–First, Hampton.

Rev. W. W. Gaines–First, Suffolk.

Bro, James E. Fuller-S. S. U., Norfolk.

Rev. Dr. Shields–member–Washington, D.C.

Rev. J. J. Jones–Prince George C. H.

Rev. H. Powell-Little Gilfield, Ivory.

My forefather, Rev. J. H. Turner, B.D., along with four others—was appointed to the digest committee, per the minutes of the convention.

The minutes of the 1893 convention documents that a wide variety of topics were discussed, including missionary work in Liberia, temperance, educational work, among many other important issues.

That document and many others are digitally and physically housed at the American Baptist Historical Society, located at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia.

If you have a relative that was connected to the Baptist Church, you certainly want to check there for clues and for a potentially brick-wall breaking discovery.

As it relates to genealogy, always be sure to check historical newspapers and the professional associations that your ancestors may have been members of. Remember the FAN Club Method, as you look. There is a wealth of information available. We just have to do the search and find.

This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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