by Joseph Addison Scarboro
October 28, 1919
Long, long, hath been the day, Father,
Through morning, noon, and eve;
Still ’round Thy throne we gather,
With longings, still believe.
The battle still recounting
The long, dark bloody age;
Prophetic finger pointing,
Hope finds on every page.
This light alone the darkness
About us can illume.
This hope alone endow us,
The conflict to resume.
‘Tis evening now, the shadows
Make gold the evening sky;
The promised vict’ry gladdens
Each waiting watchful eye.
Sweet rest our strength refreshing,
Passed death and weeping sore;
Come holy sabbath gladness
And joy forevermore.
Joseph Addison Scarboro, my great-great grandfather, was born August 8, 1857 in Bullock County, Georgia, and died February 25, 1932. In his own autobiography “A Sketch of Real Life,” he writes, “I was born poor and raised on corn bread. From my earliest recollection I worked hard, in the house and field. My FIRST recollection is that of my father taking me in his arms and kissing me goodbye when he went off to the war (1861-1865) and I’ll never forget how bitterly I wept, for I thought father would be killed. He went through the war without a wound” (Scarboro 1). His father, Absalom Scarboro, dropped the ugh from the surname at the time of his second marriage (from a letter to his niece Clara in 1927).
J. A. Scarboro was an ordained minister in 1876 at Poplar Springs Baptist Church in what was then Summit, Georgia, today Twin City, Georgia (Summit was merged with Graymont into Twin City in 1924) and became a missionary and circuit preacher, traveling throughout the American South, North, and Southwest in the years following the Civil War. He left his family and farm to share the gospel with a country torn in the aftermath of war. In his own words in a letter to his children in 1923, he “had an opportunity to see the best and the worst of our country.” J.A. Scarboro was also a foundational missionary and minister in the early years of the American Baptist Association that began in 1905, becoming its third president in 1930 (Baptist Roots), and a critic of the board system of the Southern Baptist Convention.
He was editor and publisher of the monthly journal The Gospel of the Kingdom in Statesboro, Georgia by at least 1897. He was also later office editor of The American Baptist Flag in Fulton, Kentucky. He published
- Are Mission Boards Scriptural? A Speech on the Negative Side
- The Bible, the Baptists, and the Board System
- Evolution in My Mission Views, or, Growth of Gospel Mission Principles in My Own Mind
- Go-Ology or The Theology and Philosophy of Missions
- The Institutional Incarnation of Satan in Romanism Pagan and Papal (family records, Baptist Roots, Taylor).
The sources for the publication dates conflict in some cases, but the writings are universally attributed to him. If you have access to any of these publications, I would welcome your contact.
J. A. Scarboro also wrote a gospel track, God’s Plan of Salvation, which was first published posthumously by his wife, Lucinda Bowen Scarboro in 1932, and again by James Miller in 1995, which you can download from this blog and read.
“J. A. Scarboro was a man of vigor almost amounting to genius. He had no lazy bone in his body. Ambitious to do things, he labored with all his might and at things which he understood” (Brannen 100). In 1901, as he was adjusting machinery in a brick mill, someone turned on the machinery and he almost lost his hands and feet. “To the end of his days, he was a cripple as a result of that accident but his energy was unabated.”
He “was self-educated and became a mental giant. Unequaled as a Theologian, as a public speaker few equaled him and with vigor almost amounting to genius he used his abilities in championing righteous causes. He was unafraid to challenge anything he believed was wrong” (Baptist History Homepage). Dr. Ben M. Bogard wrote that he “was a leader in thought–a teacher that was surpassed by very few if any. A great man. But he became so disgusted with so-called leadership that he wrote strong articles against all leadership. He seemed not to realize that he was himself a great leader. He led by teaching, by influence, by example…The church remembers him with admiration and love. Those of us who are left behind should redouble our diligence to make up for this great loss” (Baptist History Homepage).
He was known as “a very able minister” who “espoused the cause of the ‘gospel-mission plan’” (Kirkland and Hassell).
He is buried “in the exact spot where he stood…as he delivered his first sermon” at Poplar Springs Church in Summit, Georgia (Baptist History Homepage).
Brannen, Dorothy. “Early Churches in Bulloch County.” Bulloch County Historical Society, 1 Jan. 1983.
“Joseph Addison Scarboro”. Baptist Roots. http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~henle/genealogy/Baptist/BaptistWork.htm. Accessed 30 May 2021.
Kirkland and Hassell. “A Condensed History of the Church of God.” 1896. http://www.reformedreader.org/history/condensedhistory.htm. Accessed 29 May 2021.
“Scarboro: Baptist Pastor, Author, and Editor.” Baptist History Homepage. 1932.http://baptisthistoryhomepage.com/scarboro.j.a.bio.html. Accessed 29 May 2021.
Scarboro, Joseph Addison. “A Sketch of Real Life.” 1889.
Taylor, Francesca. “Rev. Joseph A. Scarboro.” Geneology.com. https://www.genealogy.com/forum/general/topics/rarebooks/1365/. Accessed 30 May 2021.