Goes to Housekeeping. Discussions with Mr. Maddox. Attends Meeting. Is Baptized by William Tharp. Double Damages for an Old Horse. Begins Trading. Moves to Floydsburg. Description of the Place.
In the spring of 1857 we moved to a place on Currie's Fork, near Centerfield, about a mile and a half from my former home and a little farther from hers. So it will be seen I married only a few miles from home. It may seem a little strange that we grew up in the same neighborhood, and knew nothing of each other till a year before we were married. But I rarely went to her church, and she as rarely went anywhere else. Our religious proclivities led us in different directions, and into different society. I had been taught to look upon |Campbellism| as the most miserable of all heresies; and till I began to visit at the Maddox house I was seldom in the company of |that deluded people.|
After moving to ourselves, we went nearly every Lord's day to the home of my wife's father, and this for several reasons: she wanted to attend her church, and this took her virtually home: this she enjoyed, and so did I. The old folks could not visit us on that day without missing church, and this they would not do. Mr. Maddox and I still engaged in the investigation of Methodism, |Campbellism| and Infidelity. I could feel the ground gradually giving way under me, but I was resolved upon thoroughly testing every inch, and not yielding till I should become satisfied as to the truth of all his positions. I would therefore study all week and arrange my arguments with the utmost care, and when the time seemed propitious I would present them as forcibly as I could. He would never say a word till I was through; then he would say, |Well! now let us test that.| Then he would very calmly and pleasantly pick the thing all to pieces, till I could see nothing but shreds. With a mere touch, my carefully built structure would tumble like a cob house. Thus the work went on for years. In the meantime I attended meeting with my wife nearly every Lord's day, and heard much good preaching. Every important point in the sermon would be afterward investigated, and, like the noble Bereans, I searched the Scriptures daily, |to see whether those things were so.|
During these years several successful meetings were held at the church, all of which I closely attended. One of these was conducted by John A. Brooks, and another by the lamented Simeon King. At the latter I came very near yielding to Christ, but persuaded myself that all was not yet ready. I delighted to see others obey the Lord, and enjoy the blessings of his religion, but I could not exactly see the way clear for myself. In spite of a more enlightened judgment, I would find some of my old erroneous notions clinging to me. I had a high regard for the church, and loved the company of its good members, and only a supreme carefulness, born of former blunders, kept me in disobedience.
In May, 1861, William Tharp and Wallace Cox were holding a meeting, and at this I confessed Christ, and was immersed by Bro. Tharp. My doubts as to the truth of the Christian religion and the way of salvation therein, had all been removed; and to this day not a shadow of a doubt has crossed my mind as to either. I now experienced a peace of conscience that I had not known since my thought was first disturbed in regard to the right way of the Lord.
I farmed for three years after marriage. The last year, we lived on the railroad just below Buckner's Station, and while here I had a little experience with the railroad company that teaches a lesson worth learning. I had an old horse, of not much value, but useful to me; he got out upon the road, and was killed by a passing train. I spoke of going to Louisville, to see if I could not get pay for it. The neighbors discouraged the idea, saying it would be useless. They cited a number of instances where stock had been killed, and in no case had any one obtained damages. But I went, found the Superintendent, and to him I made my speech of about three minutes' length. At its conclusion, he asked me if seventy-five dollars would satisfy me; and on my replying that it would, he handed me the money. He then remarked that the reason people got nothing in such cases, was because of the spirit in which they came and the way they talked about it. I left him feeling quite pleasant, for it was more than double the animal was worth. This was before I became an adept in Christian ethics.
In the fall of 1859 I began trading, having obtained an interest in a country store at a little place called Centerfield. We moved to the place, and I began to haul country produce to Louisville. I had a team which was said to be the best that came into the city, and I made weekly trips, bringing back merchandise. This I continued for three years, without the least regard to weather, and with scarcely a failure during the whole time. This employment threw me into rough associations in the city every week. Many engaged in like business from Kentucky and Indiana stopped at the same tavern, and most of them were given to dissipation. At home it was predicted that with my inclination to wildness this would finish me; and while truth compels me to confess that I often had |a jolly good time| with |the boys,| the excess of wickedness I saw had an opposite effect, and I came out at last a preacher.
The next year we moved to Floydsburg, sixteen miles from Louisville, because, as I did not stay in the store, but did the hauling back and forth, it was a better location for us. It is an old town, in which my maternal grandfather lived before I was born, in which I spent much time before I was old enough to work, and around which cluster the earliest memories of life. It was once a place of large business, on the main road from Henry and adjacent counties to Louisville, and in ante-railroad times a large amount of wagoning was done through the place. At certain seasons great droves of cattle and hogs were driven through it, and everything was lively; besides, it had a good trade with the country around. But the Louisville & Lexington Railroad, which runs within a mile of the town, killed it as dead as an Egyptian mummy, because all this through business was taken by the railroad, and the surrounding trade went to the stations or to the city. It is, therefore, a quiet, undisturbed little place to live in, if one is not dependent upon making his expenses there. Most of the old citizens, business men of its prosperous days, have passed away, and the town has the appearance of being at their funeral.
As far back as I recollect, and I know not how much farther, it had in it one church, built of stone, small, and with a roof as sharp as the best presentations of Methodism that were ever set forth in it. About 1850, this ancient structure was replaced by one of brick, of good size, but poorly furnished. This is the only church that has ever been in the place; and while the people have been unusually quiet and moral, they have never been burdened with religion. There is a graveyard in the rear of the house, opened, perhaps, when the first building was erected, and in this silent spot sleep many of my friends and relatives. I have never thought it made much difference where one is buried -- and in this I suppose I agree with most Protestants -- but it is one proof of the improved taste of the age to see the care now taken of our cemeteries. Such places were unknown when I was a boy and where I lived, and even yet, outside of our cities and larger towns, they are too rare. Every village should have a neat and well-kept cemetery, to take the place of the neglected old burying-grounds where,
|Each in his narrow cell forever laid,
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.|