FROM REPORTED DEATHS
THE NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE
By Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2002
Many lives contain whole chapters of goodness, not a word of which is ever put on a tombstone.
--NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE, August 10,1893
For many years during the second half of the nineteenth century THE NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE was the official general periodical of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Its editors offered the readers a wide variety of "news," principally dealing with the doctrine and ministry of the church and other religious entities and interspersed amid all this sectarian material were mundane articles and advertisements that were found in most newspapers and periodicals of the time. One consistently popular feature was the obituarial "memoir," submitted by lay folk for their deceased relatives and friends, primarily among but not limited to members of the church.. Occasionally members of other Protestant denominations published their death notices in this respected periodical.
Genealogical information that in many instances would now be lost or obscured were it not published in these "memoirs" has varying value as the information submitted was only as reliable as the knowledge and honesty of the contributors of these obituaries. Some contributors displayed natural grief but banalized their biographical accounts by over-stating the virtues and supposedly sterling characters of the deceased. Other contributors had keen insights into the characters of the subjects of their sketches for which genealogists may be thankful.
Staff members of the periodical also had to contend with the penmanship in which these obituaries were written, clearly leading to errors in spelling and in the reporting of vital statistics.
Even so, we may find interesting, sometimes fascinating details about the lives of multitudes of ordinary people in these "memoirs" (obituaries), enabling us to form some acquaintances with their lives.
The most complete collection of THE NASHVILLE CHRISTIAN ADVOCATE is now found in the Methodist Library, Drew University, Madison Avenue, Madison, New Jersey 07940. These periodical files were once kept in the library of the Methodist Publishing House (the publisher of the CA) in Nashville, Tennessee but these were transferred several years ago to the denominational library at Drew University.
The compiler strongly recommends that serious genealogical researchers obtain copies of the obituaries; as careful as he has attempted to be in his abstracting it may be that he has made errors; too there are anecdotal accounts in these obituaries that persons interested in their ancestors and other relatives will want to read and make apart of their continuing family histories.
Jonathan K. T. Smith
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