A HERO RESTING
(Obituary of Shadrach James Denson)
John H. Smallwood, Jr.
Copyright Ó 1997-1999, all rights reserved
(In going over the church records in Scott County, Rev. J. L. Hughes brought to light the notice which the Baptist Association of the county gave to the death of Shadrick [sic] J. Denson. Mr. Denson was the great grandfather of the large Denson connection residing in Jasper County.)
Shadrick [sic] J. Denson was born in Ashbury, N. C., Apr 23rd 1800 and departed this life Jan 1888, having nearly reached the ripe old age of 88 years.
He received a limited education in the county schools of that day. But possessing an analytical mind and being a devoted reader, he acquired a great deal of knowledge. He moved from North Carolina in 1818 into Alabama and settled in Washington County.
He was married first to Miss Althea [sic] Chambers in 1820. By this marriage he reared ten children. He left children, grand children and great grand children to the number of 140. His 2nd marriage was with Mrs. Perry in 1863. She was a sister of old Brother W. W. Eley, being the treasurer of Harmony Association. His 3rd marriage was with Mrs. Lyon (nee’ Frances Lyon) in the year 1871, who survives him. The Lord, while chastening him, yet gave him as good wives as ever were claimed. They were all and each of them to the fullest extent, all the word can imply, a good wife and kind mother. Too much praise on them can not be bestowed, nor can his children and grand children ever feel too grateful especially to the last stepmother, for her devotion to their dear old father in the last days when he was blind, for she did every thing to make him happy and comfortable. May God reward her and Jesus bless her as she did it unto him.
In 1822, he united with the Baptist church, was baptized by Elder Norris in Washington county, Ala. In the winter of 1828 he moved to Rankin county, Miss. He was one of the commissioners that located the county seat at Brandon.
He remained in Rankin county several years, and was in the constitution of Mt. Pisgah church.
In 1834 he moved in the Choctaw Purchase and took a leading role in the organization of Scott county, assisted in locating the county seat at Hillsboro. He was in the organization of Mt. Pisgah Association and was the last surviving member.
He was in the organization of Jerusalem church (Ludlow) where he served long and acceptable as deacon. This was the church of his love. Truly it could be said of him as regarded Jerusalem church (paraphrased somewhat):
For her tears did fall
For her his prayers ascend;
To her his cares and toils were given
Till toils and cares did end.
His clay rests beneath her walls as he had always expressed a wish, yes his injunction to bury him there was almost as imperative as of Jacob to his sons that they should not bury him in Egypt but to take him back to his beloved Canaan.
He served as justice of the peace, as a member of the board of police and in 1855 when the Democratic party was split twain on the Know Nothing question and after making two other failures to obtain a candidate, the joint senatorial convention met at Ludlow and tendered him, entirely unsought, the nomination. He still declined, but as the last measure the committee informed him that if he did not accept, the convention would adjourn and let the nomination go by default. So great was his repugnance to becoming a political officer holder, this alone induced him to take the field and he was triumphantly elected. Serving the term of four years. A committee of gentlemen of Madison [county] again waited on him at the end of his term, stating that he was succeeded in bringing the party, when inevitable defeat surely awaited it. They again tendered him the nomination. He declined. He held no other political office, but about 1848 was appointed by the Governor as superintendent of the R. R. from Jackson to Brandon, now a part of the A. & V., and the same was built and much graded east of Brandon under his supervision. But the greatest field of usefulness was to his labor as a layman in the pioneer days of the Baptists in the early settling of this country. Then it was necessary that the experienced members should visit the surrounding churches to give counsel and otherwise help especially the weak churches. He did a great deal of this labor in Scott, Madison, Rankin and Leake counties.
He was ordained to the full ministry in the early part of 1860. As long as his strength permitted was actively engaged and the Lord prospered his work at every point by large ingatherings.
He became blind about the latter part of 1868 and though a cross, yet cheerfulness never left him up to the day he took his bed. His character none could well know but admire: he was the friend of the poor, and none ever applied to him but got relief if in his power to give it. He was the friend of truth and justice; the oppressed ever got his sympathy and he would always condemn injustices. If it were one of his own children that had wronged even a negro. Quick to resent a wrong he was anxious to see the least evidence of the penitence of the wrong doer, that he might fully forgive and his happiest moment, it seemed to me, was when an offender would turn to him, and say "I repent." He then forgive not in part, but in whole. His home was ever open to his friends nor did he ever turn away a traveler seeking lodging. His home was thrown open to all at meetings of his church and associations. He paid liberally to the support of his church, the pastor and to her enterprises. he made a rule to pay a dollar annually to foreign mission. Since his blindness he paid this last year at the meeting of Harmony Association. He had for several years been waiting for the summons to call him home. "There is a Beautiful Land far Beyond the Skies," had been for several years a great favorite hymn of his. It would have surprised you at the clearness of his voice. It had lost none of its melody, in singing this and other hymns about two years prior to his death. Others returned to his memory. A very long song, perhaps 20 or more verses that his mother taught him when a boy, at first it came by the single verse at the time until all had been recalled except two verses. Upon these his memory played truant with him, but alt last these came and he could then until his death , sing all through without hesitation. many incidents of his boyhood days also were thus resurrected. The song alluded to is not in print, but alas, for human calculation, his song until then had not been thought of in 20 years. END
From Mrs. G. M. Nutt (nee’ Kate Burks). The name of this song was, "When My Final Farewell to this World I have Said." I have heard my father sing it often, he being the party’s grandson.
Source: The Jasper County News (Bay Springs, Jasper Co., MS), 17 Dec 1936, p. 2, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.
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