Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reverend Benjamin Fulton Jenkins

The following article was submitted by Janice Cox Brown, of Tyler, Texas, 2nd great-grand niece of Reverend Benjamin Fulton Jenkins. 

Reverend Benjamin Fulton Jenkins
March 22, 1842 – May 5, 1932
 Meade, Ohio and Daviess Counties, Kentucky

Benjamin Fulton Jenkins was the fourth child and youngest son of Benjamin Shacklett Jenkins and Elizabeth Tichenor Humphrey.  His paternal grandparents, John S. Jenkins and Sarah Quick Shacklett, (formerly of George’s Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania), were early Kentucky settlers before 1800 in Meade County (then Hardin County).  His maternal grandparents were Abijah Humphrey and Catherine Emerson of Burkesville, Cumberland County, Kentucky.

Ben Jenkins was born in early spring, March 22, 1842, near Doe Run in the rolling hills of farmland in Meade County. Benjamin’s brothers and sisters, all born Meade County, were Catherine Ann “Kitty” Jenkins, born February 1831; John H. Jenkins, born August 14, 1833; and Sarah Jane “Sallie” Jenkins, born June 3, 1836.  .  “Kitty Ann,” as she was called by the family, was married December 24, 1848, to Thomas Smith, a next door neighbor.  He was a son of Thomas J. Smith and Eliza Grant.  Thomas and Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith were the grandparents of my grandmother, Eva Caroline Smith, who married Jasper Newton Cox, in September 1908 in Ohio County, Kentucky.  Thomas Smith became a brother-in-law to Benjamin Fulton Jenkins, and both became members of the Cromwell Home Guard. 

            About 1855, when Benjamin Fulton was between twelve and thirteen years old, his parents moved from Meade to Ohio County, Kentucky, where he was raised to manhood on his father’s farm.  In between crops, Ben attended the county schools when he could and acquired a fairly good common education.  In the Ohio County, Kentucky 1860 Federal population census the Jenkins family is listed as living in the Cromwell District. At some point in his youth, Ben F. Jenkins became interested in wagon making.  In Meade County, they had lived not too far away from George P. Paul, a blacksmith.  When his father bought a farm in Ohio County about 1856, they lived near another blacksmith, Wm. W. Angell, a carpenter, D. C. Mitchell, and William Valentine, a wagon maker.  While still in his teens, Benjamin Fulton Jenkins, called “Fult” by his family, was a strong, healthy boy and was always a tinkerer.  In the 1860 census when he was eighteen, he reported his occupation as “wagon maker.”

            Even though Kentucky declared neutrality in the fast-approaching civil war, men and boys living near Cromwell, a small village on Green River in Ohio County, put down their plows and picked up guns to defend their homes.  The Cromwell Home Guards were organized in June 1861. Ben, then nineteen, and his brother, John, twenty-eight, joined up along with many of their friends, including his brother-in-law, Thomas Smith, and friends and neighbors, Leonard Thomas Cox and his father, Thomas Jefferson Cox.  As members of the Guard, they were anxious to help protect their own family members and their homes.

Later, probably thinking they would find adventure and excitement, the two young men, Ben and Leonard, were recruited and volunteered for enlistment in Company D (that later became Company H).  Their company became a part of McHenry’s regiment, designated as the 17th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, organized at Hartford and Calhoun, Kentucky, under command of Colonel John Hardin McHenry, Jr.  The two young friends, Benjamin F. Jenkins and Leonard T. Cox, were part of the brand new soldiers who, in December 1861, were formally organized and mustered into the service of the United States for a three year enlistment. 

During the war-torn years, the 17th Kentucky Regiment participated in the six major battles of Donelson, Corinth, Chickamauga, Shiloh, Atlanta and Missionary Ridge, along with many other smaller battles, assaults and sieges. When it was mustered out of service at Louisville, Kentucky on January 23, 1865, the regiment had lost a total of 298 men during service, with 7 officers and 128 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, and 5 officers and 158 enlisted men who died of disease. Benjamin Fulton Jenkins and his friend, Leonard Thomas Cox, both of Cromwell, must have considered themselves lucky to have survived the war and be returned home to their families.

Being from a religious and Godly family, Benjamin had joined the Baptist church when he was young, and about four months after his return from the war in January 1865, he had already felt “called” to the ministry.   No doubt he was strongly influenced from all he had endured upon the battlefield, where he saw so many sick and wounded soldiers being nursed.  Benjamin Fulton Jenkins was ordained in April 1865 by Alfred Warder Taylor and immediately took up his work in the ministry under the direction of the Gasper River Association of the United Baptist Church.  He was said to “have a strong physical development, a well balanced mind, and he became an accurate and logical reasoner, a clear and forcible speaker, and an eminently successful pastor, recognized for his knowledge of the Bible.”

Eventually, Ben Jenkins bought and managed a well-watered and timbered farm of 113 acres near Beda, about three and one-half miles from Cromwell, where he lived for about twenty-one years.  He was up at dawn, farming five days a week until dusk, and preaching on the weekends, where he held or assisted other preachers in holding large revivals, called, in that day and age, “protracted meetings.”  All day meetings and dinners on the ground were held in the summertime.  He traveled by horse or buggy and sometimes on foot to preach at his churches, performed weddings, and performed hundreds of Baptisms in ponds and creeks. 

            A little over three years after his return from the Civil War when he was twenty-six, Benjamin chose for his bride, Elizabeth Iler Arnold, nineteen, the daughter of John H. Arnold and Altha Jane Iler.  The young couple married July 5, 1868, and had six children: Susan E., John A., Altha C., Laura D., Benjamin Franklin, and Broadus Smith Jenkins.

            In the 1870 census Ben Fulton Jenkins was found living at Cromwell, (listed as Benj. F. Jackson) and listed in the household was Benj. F., age 28, wagon maker, and his wife, listed as Eliza J., age 21; and their little daughter, Eliza S. age 1; also living in their home were both of his parents: Benj. S. Jenkins, age 67 and his wife, Eliza T.

Ben and Elizabeth Jenkins had been married fourteen years when their last child was born, but the happy event turned sad when Elizabeth died from complications of the birth.  She was only thirty-three when she passed away on October 17, 1882, at her home in Cromwell, one day after giving birth to Broadus Smith Jenkins.  “Bettie” as she was known was buried at the Arnold Cemetery, not far from Bald Knob Church

My grandmother told me that when Elizabeth died, Benjamin's sister, Kitty Ann (Jenkins) Smith took the baby and cared for him until he was almost two years old, when Benjamin married for a second time.

            Sometime after 1883, Ben moved his children to Habit, in Daviess County.  Benjamin Fulton Jenkins, sixty-one, and Nancy Emmaline Miller, twenty-seven, born Ohio County, married in Daviess County, Kentucky on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1884.  Nancy, called “Emma,” was the daughter of James C. Miller and Frances Y. Haynes, who moved to Daviess County in January 1871. 

Emma became the step-mother to Ben’s six motherless children, ranging in age from Susan, 16; John, 13; Altha, 11; Laura, 8; Benjamin, 6; and Broadus, 2.  Ben and Emma’s union produced four children of their own:  James C. M. “Miller,” Emerson Haynes, Josiah Clint “Joe,” and an infant, who was born and died on the same day.   

Emma and her husband had been married thirty-six years when she died on May 31, 1920 at her home in Owensboro, Daviess County.  She was sixty-three at the time and left her husband and one son, called Joe Clint, age fifteen, and two grown stepsons, Benjamin Franklin and Broadus Smith.  She was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Daviess County.  Her obituary was published in the Owensboro Messenger newspaper, Tuesday, June 1, 1920:

"Mrs. Emmaline Jenkins"

Mrs. Emmaline Jenkins, wife of Rev. B. F. Jenkins, died at her
home, 604 Lewis street at 3:55 o'clock.  Mrs. Jenkins is survived by her husband and three sons, Frank, Smith, and Joe Clint Jenkins.

Rev. Sam P. Martin, assisted by Baptist preachers of the Daviess County Association, will conduct the services from the Third Baptist church, at 3 o'clock this afternoon.  Baptist preachers are requested to attend in a body.

The pallbearers will be Prof. A. Powell, H. M. Talbot, E. O. Miller, George Milliken, S. B. Lee and J. W. Cottrell, with interment in Elmwood Cemetery."

            My grandmother said her grandmother’s brother, “Uncle Fult” as he was called by the family, was really smart.  On the day of my visit, she went to her big trunk and took out a yellowed “tract” of three poems B. F. Jenkins had written about the Civil War.  I had photocopies made.  Grandmother had written on front of the “tract” “My great uncle wrote these poems.  My grandmother Smith’s brother.  Mother.” 

            I quote these poems below, written by the old soldier many years after the Civil War had long been ended.  He must have given the war much thought throughout his lifetime as he recalled his service and the difficulty of getting used to the rigors and demands of army life. 


                                    Ring on, old bell; we still hear thy chimes
                                      Thy  music to  us  is still  sublime
                                    With wondr’s vibrations the world shall hear,
                                      American  freedom  loud  and  clear.
                                    Thy notes of freedom hath no bound –
                                      Their effects are felt the world around;
                                    Freedom to think and freedom to act,
                                      In science and genius has made its track.
                                    The wondrous advancements of this age
                                      Are only the announcements of another page
                                    (this line, on fold is illegible)
                                      As tyranny is smitten by thy Liberty peals.

                                    Ring on, old bell, thy glorious note;
                                      O’er land and sea may freedom float,
                                    The bondage and tyranny shall lose its power,
                                      And kings shall quail and monarchs shall cower.

                                    The soul, the genius, the mind set free,
                                      Has marked this age of Liberty
                                    With wondrous strides of inventive skill
                                      Like improvements made on the mortar mill.

                                    The reaper takes the sickle’s place,
                                      The whip-saw is lost in the hand-saw race,
                                    The oar, and paddle, and even the sail,
                                      Before the steam engine on the waters quail.

                                    The old great lamp that hung on the jam,
                                    By the electric light has received a slam
                                      These items are enough for the reader to see,
                                    What the bell rang out, Man Shall Be Free! 


                                    What caused the war, did the boys in gray?
                                      Not they, not they.
                                    What caused the war, did the boys in blue?
                                      Not true, not true.

                                    What part, then, did they play,
                                      The boys in blue, the boys in gray?
                                    They were the arbiters of national strife
                                      That was here in the beginning of the
                                      Government’s life.

                                    Two systems of labor do not agree,
                                      One slave, the other free
                                    The labor system of every land
                                      Must have its laws on which to stand.

                                    Two systems of labor in one domain
                                      Causes strife to the legislative game.
                                    The law making powers can never agree
                                      While one part is slave and the other free—
                                    On tariff and taxes one public domain,
                                      One suffers loss, the other gains.
                                    The best men that lived tried to adjust,
                                      For Congress was forever in a big fuss,
                                    Trying to fix what never could be,
                                      With one part slave and the other free.

                                    If free labor and slave had neither been sin
                                      Lawmakers would have had the same trouble within.
                                    Hence it was left to sword and blood
                                      To settle what congress never could.

                                    As we were the arbiters of that day,
                                      Lay a flower at the grave of the blue and the gray,
                                    And think not to say that we caused the strife,
                                      That cost so many a noble life.


                                    This solemn tread will soon be o’er
                                      This day heaps honors on heroes dead;
                                    And you and I will be no more,
                                      Yet, resting on the same cold bed.

                                    Around our graves, then, who will march
                                      To pay tribute to the fallen brave,
                                    And bear the colors of this arch,
                                      And wave them o’er our silent grave?

                                    They will lack the experience we have had,
                                      Of standing by mid battle’s storm,
                                    And looking on our fallen dead,
                                      Seeing fresh-spilled blood from manly form.

                                    Oh, if I had inventive skill,
                                      I would superceed artillery’s roar;
                                    I would spike each gun that dares to kill,
                                      And sheathe the sword from shore to shore.
 I would make one gun of the blood war spin
                                      I would load it with the love they bore.
                                    And shoot it through the stubborn will
                                      Until carnal war is heard no more.

                                    Yes, I would make a gun so very large
                                      That all the world could hear,
                                    And load it, with LOVE the charge,
                                      And fire it in God’s fear.

                                    That unborn millions might possess
                                      The victory we have won.
                                    As around the graves we march to bless
                                      The Blue and the Gray as one.

                                    Yes, o’er my head in years to come
                                       When men do honor in the brave
                                    Let love’s soft thunders shake my home
                                       As o’er my grave the flag is waved.

                                    And still is love and peace unfurled,
                                      ‘Till the seven last thunders shake the world,
                                    Then from the grave the good will rise;
                                      Then Comrades meet beyond the skies.

Probably one of the fullest accounts of the life of Benjamin Fulton Jenkins was written by Wendell H. Rone (1884-1943) and can be found in “A History of the Daviess-McLean Baptist Association.”

Reverend Benjamin Fulton Jenkins

“No minister has been more universally loved and respected in the history of this Association than Elder B. F. Jenkins.  Our subject was born of humble and Godly parentage in Meade County, Kentucky, on March 22, 1842, and was the youngest child of four born to B. S. and his wife, Elizabeth Humphrey Jenkins.  His grandfather was John S. Jenkins, who emigrated to Glasgow, Kentucky, about 1790, where he remained but a short time when he moved to Daviess County; and from thence to Meade County, where he reared a large family of nine children, of whom B. S., the father of our subject, was the sixth.

Brother Jenkins’ early educational advantages were limited to a great extent, but, by diligent study, together with a strong physical development and a well balanced mind, he became an accurate reasoner, a clear and forceful speaker, and an eminently successful pastor.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Brother Jenkins enlisted in the Union Army, serving in Company D., Seventeenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, where he followed the fortunes of the Army of the Cumberland through all its famous battles of Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga, and Atlanta, doing his duty bravely for three years and four months.

It was during his services in the Army that he felt called to preach the Gospel.  He had previously professed faith in Christ and had been baptized into the fellowship of a Baptist Church by Elder Alfred Taylor while a small boy.  One of the gifts he took with him to the war was a small Bible, which he kept with him at all times, and from which he read continuously, when occasion permitted.

Having returned safely from the War, we find him ordained in the Gospel Ministry on the Third Sunday in April 1865, at the Green River Baptist Church, near Cromwell, Ohio County, Kentucky.  Elders Alfred Taylor, J. S. Coleman and J. F. Austin served as presbytery.  This began an active ministry, which was to last for fifty-eight years.  In that time he served a total of forty-four churches, most of them within the Green River section. 

He also held a total of 298 protracted meetings, and as one of the tangible results of these meetings, over 8,000 persons were converted and baptized into the fellowship of Baptist Churches.  Many of these he baptized with his own hands, while others were baptized by the pastors whom he assisted in the meetings.

Among the large number of converts at these meetings were forty-four young men who later became ministers of the Gospel, twenty-six of whom he baptized himself.  Many of these became prominent pastors.  Among them may be mentioned M. W. Whitson, J. N. Jarnagin, and Granville Dockery.

Brother Jenkins was the author of three tracts during his ministry – “Meat and Milk of the Gospel,”  “What Causes Panics?” and “Baptist Axioms.”  The last mentioned tract had a circulation of over 14,000 and was commented on very favorably by the brethren and the Baptist Press.  It is so outstanding that the author has included it in this history.

On July 5, 1868, Brother Jenkins married Miss Elizabeth I. Arnold of Ohio County, Kentucky.  Six children were born to this union:  Susan E., John A., Altha C., Laura A., Benjamin, and Broadus Smith.   The first Mrs. Jenkins died in October 1882, the day after the birth of her youngest child, and Brother Jenkins married Miss Emma Miller, the eldest daughter of J. C. and Frances Miller, on December 24, 1884.  Four children were born to this second marriage, but only one survives.  The second Mrs. Jenkins died in 1920.

Our Brother served the following pastorates in this Association during his active ministry:  Bell’s Run, 1885-1890, 1893-1899; Buck Creek, 1885-1891; Island, 1888; Mt. Carmel, 1888-1899; Livermore 1889; Calhoun, 1892-1893; Glenville, 1892-1895; Bethel, 1896-1900;  Stanley, 1897; Beaver Dam, 1898-1900; Red Hill, 1899-1900; Mt. Liberty, 1901-1904; Concord, 1901; Bethlehem, 1903-1904; New Hope, 1906-1907; Richland, 1908; Hopewell, 1915-1917; and Hall Street in Owensboro, 1917-1918.  The last named pastorate was entered into on the day he was seventy-five years of age.

Besides the above-mentioned pastorates, we note that Brother Jenkins also held several pastorates in Ohio, Butler, Hancock, and Muhlenberg Counties.  He served as Missionary for the Gasper River Association from 1867 to 1870.  He preached the Annual Sermon before the Daviess County Association in 1891 and served as Moderator in 1909 and 1910.

Near the year 1923 he left the state and moved to Missouri to live with his son, B. Smith Jenkins.  Even in his advanced years, he continued to faithfully witness for Christ and led many souls into a walk with Him.  He died at the home of his son in Springfield, Missouri, on May 5, 1932.  His remains were brought back to his native state and laid to rest in the Elmwood Cemetery in Owensboro.

For many years Brother Jenkins lived near Cromwell in Ohio County.  Still later in life he made his home on a small farm near Habit, in Daviess County.  From that time on until his removal to Missouri, his home was on Lewis Street in Owensboro.  For many years the Pleasant sight of Brother Jenkins in his stove-pipe hat and frock-tail coat greeted the eyes of the brethren in the Association.  He reached the advanced age of ninety and gently fell asleep.”

Obituary from "The Ohio County News" - Friday, May 13, 1932:

Rev. B. F. Jenkins Had Baptized 7,500 in 55 Years as Pastor

        Funeral services for Rev. Benjamin Fulton Jenkins were conducted at the
        Third Street Baptist church in Owensboro, Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock,
        and included brief talks by Rev. C. G. Cagle, Rev. Norris Lashbrook,
        Rev. J. J. Willet, Rev. Sam Coakley, Dr. O. C. Robertson and others.
        Interment was in Elmwood cemetery beside his last wife.  His death
       occurred in Springfield, Missouri, Thursday, May 5.  His age was 90 years,
       2 months and 13 days.

       Rev. Jenkins was born March 22, 1843 in Meade county and moved to
       Cromwell at the age of 12 years.  When the call came in 1861 he enlisted in
       Co. K 17th Kentucky Infantry serving his country as a soldier 3 years, 3
       months and 17 days and engaging in some of the fiercest conflicts, of the
       war between the states.

      Just after the war he was ordained as a Baptist minister and remained active
      until the age of 78, serving as pastor of 44 churches within a period of 55
      years. He assisted in 294 revivals and baptized 7,500 converts.  He ordained
      44 young men into the ministry, 26 of them having been immersed by him.
      Much of this service was in Ohio county, where he is remembered by most
      of the older citizens.

      In 1867 he was married to Elizabeth I. Arnold, whose death occurred
      October 17, 1882.  Six children were born to this union.  Sue, John, Altha,
      Laura, Frank and Smith.  Only the two last named survive.  Frank resides
      at Memphis, Tennessee and Smith at Springfield, Missouri.

     On December 24, 1884, he was married to Nancy Emmaline Miller, who
     also preceded her husband to the grave.  Four children were born to this
     marriage.  All died in infancy except Joe C. Jenkins, who resides in
     Gainesville, Florida."

Thus ends the life of Benjamin F. Jenkins, an old soldier and an eminent preacher in Ohio and Daviess Counties and Western Kentucky, whose sermons and good preaching were long remembered by those who heard him. He advanced to the age of ninety, living a life of simplicity and devotion, faithful to his Lord until his death, May 5, 1932. 

His final wish to be buried in his beloved home state of Kentucky was granted.  He lies beside his second wife, Emmaline (Miller) Jenkins in Elmwood Cemetery at Owensboro, Kentucky.

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