A Brief Sketch History
of the Mississippi River Association,
by Elder Peter Culp, 1848.

Fayette County, Tennessee, July 5, 1848.

BROTHER BEEBE:- I wish to give a short account of the Mississippi River Association of Baptists, as not long since I purchased a copy of Benedict's late History of the Baptist denomination, in which I find but very little said about that Association, and very little of what is said is true. Alas! if the work throughout is as erroneous and deficient, I pity his readers. He has prophesied, as many of his tribe have done in years past, the utter extinction of the Old, or Primitive order of Baptists. But I know that he will prove to be a false prophet although he may, with all the Hagarine Baptists in the world desire a fulfillment of his predictions; for the Primitive or Old School Baptists have the Lord for a Sun and Shield, and he will give them grace and glory. But Hagar, the bond woman, and her issue, shall be cast out, and shall receive none of the inheritance. Truly her family have multiplied so that they lie along the valley like grasshoppers for multitude, and they eat their meat at Jezebel's table. Our God may suffer her and Ahab, (alias his satanic majesty,) to drive his prophets out of the land for a season, yet they shall be fed as Elijah was, and the poor widow's oil will hold out to the end of the famine. As to the falsehood he utters against the Old Baptists, in charging them with holding members in bondage, so far as my knowledge extends, it is utterly false; for few as our numbers are, our churches would rather be without such members. I know of none, neither do I believe that Mr. Benedict himself believed it when he wrote the falsehood; for I am well acquainted with the churches of two or three Associations, and I hope the brethren throughout the land will let us know if they know of any such cases; and if any such can be found, I for one, will plead for their emancipation.

In the History, page 808, he says, "The Mississippi River association was founded in 1833 by consent of the mother body; it is located immediately on the great river whose name it bears, in the southwest corner of the State. It has never been very prosperous, and at present it is said to be in a divided condition. The session for 1846 was held in Shelby county which is probably a central position for this feeble interest."

And here the history ends; but if the reader will read his account of the Big Hatchy association, you will see he makes it out to be the largest in the whole state; a powerful interest, to be sure. But what are the facts in the case? The Mississippi River Association was constituted in 1832, instead of 1833, and at that time was nearly or quite as large as the Big Hatchy, which he styles the mother, and afterwards the said Big Hatchy underwent another division which was not quite so agreeable to this venerable Mother. Do you wonder why? I will tell you. The antichristian, effort, or modern mission spirit had grown so large that it turned the mother out of doors, took from her association book and name by fraud, for these are the facts; after some ineffectual ballotings for moderator it was agreed that whoever got the majority should hold the book and retain the name. Elder A. Meeks was the Old School choice for moderator, and he left the house and a majority of the delegates followed him, leaving the book and papers in their possession, and they held on to them and would not give them up, notwithstanding Meeks had the majority. At this time, the mother, as she is styled, had fewer members than either of her daughters; or rather, the Mississippi River, or the party that went with Elder Meeks, which were truly Old School. These formed into a body called the Regular Baptist Association, and this left the Big Hatchy an out and out family of Hagarines, which, by means of anxious benches, and straw-pen altars, she has since grown to the size Mr. Benedict represents. Now I will return to the other portion, the Mississippi River always retained a majority of the Old School, and the Hagarines left by churches and members till she became purged, since which she has enjoyed peace. But Mr. Benedict gives no account of her at all subsequently to her organization, as I will show before I am done, that that "feeble interest," he mentions, is a disorderly little few that were botched together by one S. T. Toncray, who was neither missionary nor anti-missionary, but would live with any who would allow him to dictate for them, whether Old or New School. He at last died insolvent, and I believe a Mr. R. Jones received his mantle.

Now, as I have the Mississippi River book and minutes before me, I will give her number of churches and members as she stood yearly from her organization down to the present time; and if I have room, close with a short history of S. T. Toncray and his little or feeble interest, as Mr. Benedict calls it. In 1832, the Mississippi River Association was constituted with 16 churches and 550 members. In 1833, 18 churches, and 603 members. In 1834, 20 churches, and 615 members. In 1835, 17 churches, and 560 members. In 1836, 20 churches, and 603 members. In 1837, 22 churches, and 458 members. (Several churches not represented this year, the effort system being at work.) In 1838, 22 churches, and 465 members. In 1839, 20 churches and 414 members. In 1840, 20 churches, and 409 members. In 1841, 17 churches, and 380 members. In 1842, 14 churches, and 365 members. In 1843, 12 churches, and 329 members. In 1844, 12 churches, and 322 members. In 1845, 12 churches, and 248 members. In 1846, 12 churches, and 249 members. In 1847, 12 churches, and 270 members. The above brief account is copied from the Association book.

I promised to give a concise history of S. T. Toncray. In 1832, before the organization of the Mississippi River Association, S. T. Toncray was delegated to the Big Hatchy association by a church which he alone had constituted in Memphis, Tenn., in the constitution of which he had included himself; and one other church which he had constituted which came at the same session, and contrary to the constitution which required that two or more Elders should be present at the constitution of churches, &c. But, after some objection, he was received, and at the same session, it was agreed to set off the churches within certain bounds, to form a new association; and here begins the Mississippi River Association; and S. T. Toncray being a man of talents, was in a short time made moderator; now all was well enough. But after awhile many reports of an unpleasant character were circulated about him; one of which was, that he never brought any letter from whence he came; and the brethren removed him from the position of Moderator. After a while a difficulty arose between him and Elder H. T. Moran, which got into the Association, and lasted several years, to the great annoyance of the brethren. About the year 1841, Toncray was rejected, and he being smart carried off some two or three churches, and put them together, and here begins the little feeble interest, which Mr. Benedict speaks of, which he represents in the table of churches, &c., from minutes of 1846. S. T. Toncray, Mod., and M. L. Roy, clerk. It does appear to me that Mr. Benedict gloried in giving hard names to the Old Baptists, and in placing a false face on every transaction he mentions where the children of God have been compelled to separate from the Ishmaelitish brood, or to remain in bondage, sure enough. He speaks of our churches holding members in bondage; but let him examine his own ranks, and there he may find many grinding under a load of taxes, virtually fastened on them by Conventions, Societies, etc. Brother Beebe, I wonder why he did not put down those questions, 4, and 5, which have respect to obligation of church members, in temporal affairs, under page 806? Ah! that might have disclosed a secret to the rest of his brethren, how this venerable Mother is usurping their rights hereabouts. But I wish Mr. Benedict to put it in his next volume that there has been a kicking up and the riders have not mounted yet; perhaps however they may in time, when the people are better broke.

Yours truly,


- Signs of the Times, Vol. 16, No. 23, December 1, 1848, pages 177-178.

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