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ALEXANDER TRAVIS

The sacred position which Mr. Travis occupied, together with the wholesome work accomplished by him in giving so much moral tone to the character of Conecuh County, demand that he occupy the first place in the biographical sketches of her useful and prominent men.

Alexander Travis was born in Edgefield District, South Carolina, on August 23rd, 1790. He was the child of humble, though respectable parents. Having been reared on a farm, he was inured to hard service, and thereby the better fitted for the toilsome duties which awaited him in the latter half of his useful and eventful life. The educational advantages of young Travis were limited, not exceeding an imperfect training in the rudiments of the English. But possessing more than an ordinary stock of native intellectual power, he absorbed much information from diverse sources, which gave him a respectable position in society.

In appearance, Mr. Travis was tall and dignified, and by the gravity of his bearing commanded universal respect. He was converted in 1809, and baptized into the fellowship of the Addiel Church, in South Carolina. One year later, he was licensed to preach; and in 1813, was ordained to the full work of a Baptist minister. Assuming charge of several churches, he retained his pastorate until his removal to Alabama in 1817. Upon coming to Conecuh, he located near Evergreen, where he resided till his death. Such was the zeal of this consecrated missionary, that he would gather together, as he could, a batch of hearers, from Sunday to Sunday, to preach to them the richness of grace in Christ Jesus. Nor were his efforts vain; for soon he collected a sufficient number of converts together, with those who had previously been members of Baptist churches, to organize a church near his home. Hence he became the founder of the famous Old Beulah Church, situated between Sparta and Brooklyn. This he did in 1818.

Nor were his labors restricted to this particular section; for in all directions his energies were exerted in the organization of yet other churches. The sparseness of the population compelled him to take long and trying journeys from week to week. But never did inspired apostle address himself to his work with more alacrity. During the week he was an earnest, active student. His library was a plain English Bible; over this he would assiduously pore, by the aid of blazing pine knots, after his labors in the field. Such was the devotion of this pioneer disciple, that he would leave his home early on Friday morning in order to walk to his appointments, thirty-five miles away. And not unfrequently, in these foot-marches, he would encounter swollen streams; but, nothing daunted, he would strap his saddlebags, which he always carried in his hands, about his neck, boldly plunge in, and swim to the opposite shore. Through his indefatigable exertions, thriving churches were established in different parts of the county, and some in districts quite remote from others. And such was his zeal, his success, his ability as a preacher, and his affable firmness as a pastor, that he remained in charge of several of these churches from the period of their formation to his death. This was true with respect to the Beulah and Bellville churches. Of the former he was pastor thirty-five years; of the latter thirty-two.

A large and flourishing interest was established by him in the Higdon settlement, between Burnt Corn and Evergreen. Because of his peculiar parliamentary ability, Mr. Travis was chosen the Moderator of the Bethlehem Association for more than twenty consecutive sessions; and because of his earnest support of education, he was made the first chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Evergreen Academy, for many years together. So evenly balanced were all his powers, mental, physical and moral, that he was admirably fitted to the work providentially assigned him in a rugged, pioneer region.

Elder Travis died in 1852, at his old home, where he had lived full thirty-five years. His death was a public calamity, and was universally lamented. He was emphatically a good man. He was, in many respects, a man of greatness. He was unswerving in his principles, and had the courage of his convictions, which he boldly evinced when occasion required; and yet, in his general deportment, he was as meek as a child. At the pulpit end of Old Beulah Church may be seen today by the passer-by, a plain marble shaft, which marks the resting place of this sainted pioneer hero.



Source: History of Conecuh County Alabama, by Rev. B. F. Riley, Thos. Gilbert, Steam Printer and Book-Binder, Columbus, GA, 1881







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