WNC History Timeline

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www.childers-shepherd.org, 28 Dec 2008
                              John Ammons – Autobiographical Notes

(By his own account, in selections from his book, Outlines of History of French Broad Association and
Mars Hill College
, Mars Hill College Press, 1908, 2001.)

“John Ammons was the son of Stephen Ammons, and grandson of Ephraim Ammons, one of the first
settlers of the country. The only schools of his childhood were what was called Old Field Schools; to
these he was sent a few months each year from his ninth year up to nineteen. His only text-books were
the Blue-back Speller and Fowler’s Arithmetic. He soon mastered the Blue-back Speller and Fowler to
the Rule of Three; this was thought to be a wonderful accomplishment for one of his age. The boy
delighted in reading, but his home afforded nothing but the Bible and a song book; these he read with
avidity, especially the Bible; this he read from Genesis to Revelation over and over again, till he could
almost repeat it from memory. He grew up to manhood with no other literary advantages save a few
books that an old Baptist preacher loaned him; these were good books and he derived much profit and
a great deal of pleasure from reading them.” (pp. 62-63)

“He professed religion in his twentieth year and united with the church at Gabriel’s Creek, and was
baptized by Rev. Robert Pattison. Soon thereafter he married Miss Sallie E. Jervis, daughter of E.
Jervis, of Madison County; his wife, like himself, was poor and uneducated. This was October, 1850.”
(p. 63)

“In October, 1856, he was ordained by East Fork Church, of which he was a member, and entered at
once on the active work of the ministry, and in which he has continued without a break till the present
time, 1907, covering a period of fifty-three years.”

“His first work after ordination was in a revival at Bull Creek Church, and the first person he baptized
was a negro, whom he baptized into the fellowship of this church.” (p. 64)

[The next years saw him conducting revival meetings at various locations in Buncombe, Henderson,
and Madison counties, and assisting Rev. Stephen Wallen in the organization of Marshall Baptist
Church. Then, around 1858, he entered Mars Hill College as a student.]

“He was then twenty-seven years of age, with a wife and three children to support. He had accumulated
a little property, but in thirteen months in school this was all consumed and a debt created amounting to
one hundred and twenty-five dollars.” (p. 65)

[Civil War]: “During the first two years of the war he spent most of his time as missionary to the North
Carolina troops in the Western Army. He marched with them on their marches, slept in their tents, and
preached to them in their camps, but his health failing he resigned, and was called to the care of the  
Waynesville Baptist Church; here, till the close of the war in 1865, he conducted a school for young
ladies and children, and ministered to the church as its pastor.

“In February, 1866, he returned to Mars Hill, and in April following he was elected President of Mars Hill
College, to succeed Prof. Pinkney Rollins, resigned. Here he remained till February, 1868. The school
under his management was a complete success; at the same time he was pastor of Hominy Baptist
Church in Buncombe County.” (p. 66)

[Morgan Hill]: “In 1867, he purchased a small farm at Morgan Hill in Buncombe County, to which he
removed in 1868. This year he taught at Hominy in Buncombe County, the best paying school he ever
taught; the five months paying five hundred dollars. Closing the school at Hominy he decided to quit
teaching, but the people at Morgan Hill would not let him rest. Yielding to their solicitations he taught at
that place for one year; at the same he was pastor at Locust Old Fields (Canton), and at Morgan Hill in
Buncombe. The three churches paid him one hundred and eighty-five dollars. . . .

“In 1897 he was called to Morgan Hill Church, which he served for five years. This pastorate was a
wonderful success, and the church grew and prospered; sixty-seven members were added by baptism
and quite a number by letter. It’s true the devil made some inroads, but was foiled in his purpose, viz,
the destruction of the church.” (pp. 71-72).

[For more about Rev. John Ammons, see his own book, cited above, and a fine book by Professor John
Angus McLeod, From These Stones: Mars Hill College, 1856-1967, Mars Hill College Press, 1955,
2000; pp. 77-85. Both books are available at the Mars Hill College bookstore.]