A Tribute to Elder Samuel L. Dark

DIED - Dec. 19th, 1898, at his late home, in the city of Macomb, McDonough Co., Ill., of old age, and infirmities incident thereto, hastened by pneumonia, at the ripe age of 92 years, 4 months and 18 days, Elder SAMUEL L. DARK. The subject of this sketch was born in North Carolina, July 31st, 1806. At the age of three years he moved with his parents to Wilson Co., Tenn. Then in 1828 came to Schuyler Co., Ill., where he taught school for a time, until the breaking out of the Black Hawk War. He enlisted, and served under General Duncan. It was during the campaign against the Indians, while in camp near Rock Island, Ill., that the first religious impressions came into his life. He was wild, reckless and brave, and in a spirit of bravado he received and quickly accepted, in mock solemnity, an invitation from his comrades in arms to preach a funeral sermon over a deceased army mule; and it was during the delivery of this discourse that he saw the deep depravity of a sin-defiled heart. And he never saw any real peace of mind until the crucified and risen Savior was revealed to him in a most miraculous way.

Then Jesus all the day long
Was his joy and his song;
O, that more his salvation might see.

Now my remnant of days
Will I spend in his praise,
Who hath died my poor soul to redeem.

Soon after this he united with the Old School Baptist Church, and straightway he conferred not with flesh and blood, but began almost immediately to preach Christ, and has continued for over sixty years without wavering, or turning either to the right or to the left. His was one of the most remarkable minds I ever knew. It seemed like an immense store-house, where everything that ever entered, was carefully stored for future use, and nothing was lost or mislaid. He was never known to ride a hobby of any kind, and never took sides in any difficulty between churches or brethren, but was always found standing in the breach, pouring oil on the troubled waters. He made no compromise with anything that seemed to him to detract from the glory of God, from the conception to the consummation of the great and glorious plan of redemption through Jesus Christ our Lord. His life was literally spent in the service of the church. He never allowed ordinary worldly matters to keep him from filling his appointments. His gift was that of a confirmer and establisher in doctrine, and an exposer of every false way. He was married three times. His first marriage, with Miss Matilda Moore, occurred in 1834. She died in 1836. This union was blessed with one child, which died in infancy. In 1841 he was married to Miss Christiana Waymack. Eleven children blessed this union, eight of them survive: Mrs. Samuel Thompson and Mrs. N. J. Goff, of Missouri; Mrs. F. Wilson and Andrew Dark, of Macomb; Mrs. G. B. Reed, in Schuyler Co., Ill.; P. C. Dark, Mrs. M. Curtis, and Mrs. Perry Huff, near Brooklyn, Schuyler Co., Ill., in and near the old home. The other three passing away in infancy and early manhood. Then in 1863, he married Mrs. Nancy Morris, who with one daughter, Mrs. Grace Dark Tutt, survive him, together with Miss Ophelia Morris, his step daughter, ministered to his wants during his declining years, and stood by him until he passed peacefully, as a shock of corn fully ripe for the harvest, into the presence of him who has said, "Come unto me." At the time of his death he was a member of the New Hope church, and was the pastor of the church, but for some time previous to his death he had been unable to attend the meetings. Sister Sarah E. Runkle, has kindly written of his last days, and his death, which we here append.

During all the past season, and for several months before his death, when I visited him often, I never saw him seemingly in darkness, or troubled with doubts, but he seemed always to be hopeful and cheerful, ever blessing and praising the Lord for his mercy to him, "the chief of sinners." At one time he said, "I know that religion is not a myth, but it is real, I feel it in my heart. Praise the Lord." &c. Several times I read some letters to him I had received, and he would weep like a child on hearing from the brethren, and that they remembered him, ever sending his love to the brethren, especially the ministers, beseeching them to be faithful in all things. "Tell them," he said to me on going to Salem Association, "to preach the truth against all opposition, and not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus." At another time when hearing of some trouble among the brethren, he said, "O, that the brethren would cease striving about words to no profit, but would forbear each other in love. When they are brought to the verge of the grave, and face to face with their Maker, then pride, preeminence and vanity, will find no place. O, that all may think on these things." He would always ask if there was any news from the churches or the brethren, even up to a few days before the last, and was so glad and thankful to have his brethren and friends visit him. I never heard him murmur, but said it was all right that he should suffer, and it was nothing to what Christ had suffered for him. He was ever grieving over his sins and shortcomings, and felt to be the least of all saints. He was conscious up to almost the very last, and when asked if all was bright before him? with a smile he raised his right hand in token of "yes," being then speechless. Two days before he died, I asked him if he was at peace, and happy? and with difficulty he answered, "Yes, I am nearly in the other world, I am happy. It is all yea and amen to the glory of God." A short time before he passed away, while suffering from shortness of breath, he said, "I will never be any better till I am resting on Jesus' breast." He died very easy and quietly, like a child going to sleep, without a struggle.

The funeral occurred from his late residence, Wednesday, at 2 o'clock p.m., Dec. 21st, and considering the inclemency of the weather, was quite largely attended. Elder Humphrey had charge of the singing, Elder Cottrell spoke in prayer, Elder Witty read the Scriptures, Elder Dobbs read the obituary notice, the writer spoke for a short time from II. Timothy 4:6-8, followed by Elder Dobbs, with short but very comforting and appropriate remarks. Also, Elder Cottrell spoke feelingly and briefly of the life and services of the deceased; then, after taking a last farewell look at the broken tenement of clay, we placed him gently in the grave, to await the pleasure of the Lord.

Champaign, Ill., Jan. 9, 1899.
Signs of the Times, 1899, page 93, 94.

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