Friday, November 5, 2010

Old Book Brings to Life Rich Histories

What a pleasure to find a biography of Rev. S. M. Fisher who was a pastor of one of the oldest black churches in Ft. Smith Arkansas. (Information about his life came from a wonderful book in the massive GoogleBooks collection.)  The book , Our Baptist Ministers and Schools by Dr. A. W. Pegues discussed the impact that leaders in the African American churches, particularly the Baptist churches, had during their tenure.

From the book it s learned not only about his contributions to the churches in western Arkansas (Van Buren and Fort Smith, Arknasas,) but also to the church as a whole, as he later became a leader within the region.

A genealogy friend and colleague in Tennessee*, shared with me an excerpt from this book, because it contained an amazing biography of her ancestor, Rev. Robert Johnson, of Washington DC.  The biography was rich and full of detail about his life as a slave, his escape to freedom and his life as a minister of the gospel. I was thrilled to read the passage that she shared, and even more intrigued by the book itself.  What an amazing treasure it is and it contained in rich detail much information about African American Baptist preachers throughout the nation.  

The great thing is that this book resides in the public domain on Google Books. Since I research multiple states, I was interested in learning whether pastors from any of the communities that I research, were included.   I was delighted to read something about a man, whose name I had never known----Rev. S. M. Fisher.  Ironically, Rev. Fisher, was a pastor at the First Baptist Church, in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, where my own gr. grandfather Samuel Walton had once been ordained as well. Reading his biography was enlightening, an  heart warming to see that this man left such a strong impression on the community where he lived.

The excerpts from Google Books about Rev. Fisher are fascinating:

(All excerpts taken from the book 
Our Baptists Ministers and Schools)

The greater lesson is that there are so many untapped resources that exsit.  Old books, manuscripts, personal papers, record sets--we should not stop looking for the next resource. Thankfully, my friend in her relentless effort to find more data on her own ancestor, revealed a very useful resource for all of us.  No one person knows of every resource, and this is a wonderful example of how important it is to keep looking.

(Special thanks to genealogist Sedalia Gaines of Chattanooga, Tennessee for sharing this resource.)


Nicka said...

Hi Angela! By no irony, Rev. SM Fisher was ordained at Evergreen Baptist Church in Lake Providence, East Carroll Parish, LA. This is the area that I research for my own family. Many of my oldest traceable ancestors are buried at the cemetery at Evergreen. Thanks so much for posting this. It will definitely give me more to add to this post at my own blog -

Angela Y. Walton-Raji said...

You are quite correct. On page 194 of that text, Rev. Risher's earlier years are outlined. Born in Mississippi, he and his family were taken to Louisiana when he was young. He was ordained in Louisiana at the Evergreen church that you mentioned. I look forward to reading your blog as well. Thanks for visiting.