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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hechler Porter

David Madison Chaney: A Preacher of More Than Ordinary Powers . . .

A continuing series drawn largely from Laura Power Marbut and Sarah Powers Thielbar's book David M. Chaney, 1809-1859, Allied Families and Descendants. The book has long been out of print, having been published in 1971 by Heritage Papers of Danielsville, Georgia.

The Mississippi Association met at Bluff Creek church in 1842, and a new body, Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association, was organized. Bluff Creek Church with D.M. Chaney [David Madison Chaney] as pastor was organized in 1841 with membership of 74, the largest number in the twenty-two churches. In subsequent minutes, D.M. Chaney is listed as clerk, moderator, preacher of the associational sermon, and chairman of many committees. Since they had no publication at that time, a circular letter was sent to each congregation during the year. The circular letter of 1848 prepared by D. M. Chaney was on "repentance." According to the historian, "These points are elaborated with considerable ability, showing that Mr. Chaney was a preacher of more than ordinary powers and attainments."

(Marbut and Powers, pg 1)

The historian Marbut and Powers are referring to was William Edward Paxton. He was born in 1825 in Little Rock to David and Lucy (Edwards) Paxton, and his mother always said he was the first white child born in that village. William's aunt, Elizabeth Paxton, married Samuel Houston, and their son was the famous Samuel Houston. William Paxton graduated from Georgetown (Baptist) College in Georgetown, Kentucky, with nominal grades. He received a graduate degree from that school and later studied law and became a lawyer. He married, saw service in the Civil War, and in later years wrote his book on Baptist history.

Bluff Creek Church is also still in existence in Clinton, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. That website can be found here, but there is nothing pertaining to its long history on the website.

A perusal of the history of Baptists of Louisiana: from the earliest times to the present by Paxton (which has been digitized and can be found online here) shows several entries for David Madison Chaney. He was given as an ordained minister in one entry, as a clerk in another, and as serving in several other capacities within the association of Baptist churches at the time.

Bluff Creek Baptist Church may have looked similar to this one.

The Eastern Louisiana Baptist Association, like Bluff Creek Church, is still in existence today, and is quite active in Louisiana. I had no luck, however, finding out anything more about its history. You can view the website here.

The association meetings on record, according to Marbut and Powers, were:

. . . hailed with delight. They were occasions of social, spiritual, and intellectual fellowship. The place of meeting and the preacher of the annual sermon were regarded as among the most important brought before the body. The church entertaining the association made the most elaborate preparations. Dinner was served on the grounds, and neighbors for miles would solicit guests to go home with them. It was not unusual for a hospitable farmer to have forty or fifty guests in his home. Most of the people came on horseback, some in wagons, and many walked through the trackless forest. The association would last three days. The minutes of these meetings have furnished invaluable historic records. Such was a Baptist association of the old time."

(Marbut and Powers, pg 1)

While David Madison Chaney was a gifted, dedicated preacher, he was also a family man, as we shall see next month.

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