Aug. 24, 1842-March 10, 1926
|Robert A. Davis, son of Rev. John Stone Davis and Mary Ann White, was born in Franklin, Williamson County, Tennessee, August 24, 1842, and departed this life in the city of New Orleans, La., on March 9, 1926. His last remains were laid to rest on March 10, 1926, in the city of Houston, Tex., by the side of those of his beloved wife, who had preceded him to the better land several years ago. His father was a traveling preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and served in both the Tennessee and the Louisiana Conferences. His mother was a sister of three men who served the church for so many years and so faithfully in Louisiana— the Revs. Henry 0., T. B. and B. F. White. Two of his father’s brothers were also Methodist preachers, serving, one in Oklahoma and the other in Texas. One brother also, Rev. J. White Davis, was a preacher and died while in the active work of the Louisiana Conference. Brother Davis came from a family of preachers.
The early life of Robert A. Davis was spent in different communities in Tennessee, where his itinerant father served in the work of the ministry and both father and mother taught school. His parents being teachers, he had the good fortune of attention being given to his education in very early life. He attended different academies such as prevailed throughout the South at the time that he was growing up. Thus he secured a liberal education.
He was converted in early life in a revival meeting that sprang up in connection with a school that his mother was teaching in a rural community in Tennessee. Soon after his conversion he became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was licensed to exhort at the age of 17, while attending school in Alexandria, Tenn. There he passed through a revival meeting in which he did the work of an exhorter among his fellow-students. He was licensed to preach in September, 1860, and was admitted to the Tennessee Conference on trial in October of the same year. He was appointed to the Montgomery circuit, which he served until July, 1861. He left his charge and came to Louisiana to join his parents, who were then residing at New Iberia, in this State.
Soon after this he joined the Confederate Army and served throughout the Civil War. At one time he was sent home because of ill health, but he soon found his way back into the army, and served in the neighborhood of New Orleans over the same ground where his grandfather, John Davis, had served with Jackson against the British. He was with the Confederate Army in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas. As was true of many others, life in the army brought him face to face with his great calling. As soon as the war was over and he had received his discharge, he returned home to begin making preparations to enter the service of his Master in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in Louisiana, to which he gave so many years of his life.
He united with the Louisiana Conference at the session held in New Orleans in the spring of 1866, and was appointed to Big Cane and Evergreen circuit, which he served during 1866 and 1867. In 1868 he served the Spring Creek circuit. Of this charge he said: “It extended from Cheneyville to the Calcasieu River, embracing the territory from the Red River north of Rapides Bayou to the Texas line west of Alexandria, down Bayou Cocodrie back to Boeuf Bayou.” This was a vast territory in which he had been assigned to bear testimony for his Lord. Still, he speaks of finding time to help other preachers in their meetings. In 1869 and 1870 he was a member of the Mississippi Conference and traveled on the Clover Hill circuit. He was ordained elder by Bishop David Seth Doggett at Crystal Springs, Miss., on December 18, 1870. At that Conference he was transferred back to Louisiana.
The following are the charges served by Brother Davis after his return to the Louisiana Conference: Caldwell circuit, 1871 and 1872; Lake Charles, 1873; Patterson and Morgan City, 1874 and 1875; Vermillionville (Lafayette) and Plaquemine Brulee, 1876 and 1877; Moorginsport, 1877-78 and 1879; North Bossier, 1879-80, 1880-81 and 1882; Many, 1883; Colfax and Montgomery, 1884-85 and 1886; Coushatta, 1887 and 1888; Sparta, 1888-89 and 1889-90; Downsville, 1890-91, 1891-92 and 1892-93; Oak Ridge, 1893-94, 1894-95 and 1896-97; Waterproof, 1898, 1898-99, 1899-1900 and 1900-01; St. Helena, 1901-02; Zachary, 1902-03; Simmesport, 193-04; Lecompte, 1904-05. At the Conference in January, 1906, he was given the superannuate relation, but at the Conference in December of the same year he was again placed on the effective list, and served the following charges:
Tallulah, 1906-07 and 1907-08; Bienville, 1908-09 and 1909-10; Coushatta, 1910-11 and 1911-12. At the Conference in 1912 he was given the superannuate relation again, which he retained until his death. Thus, he gave forty-five years of his life to the active work of the ministry. Six years before he began work in Louisiana, he had united with the Tennessee Conference. But the great Civil War and some doubts as to his call into the ministry interrupted his work for a period.
On January 1, 1871, Robert A. Davis was married to Miss Lizzie A. Day, who was ever his faithful companion throughout the long years of his service in the Louisiana Conference. To this union were born nine children, five of whom still survive. These are Mrs. (Dr.) R. S. Crichlow, New Orleans, La.; Miss May, Houston, Tex.; Mrs. Baxter Andrews, Gainesville, Tex.; Robert B., Houston, Tex., and Mrs. G. L. Briggs, San Antonio, Tex.
Brother Davis belonged to a type of preachers fast passing from our midst; men who traveled large circuits, made long and difficult moves when there were few means of traveling, carrying their families from one place of service to another in the dead of the winter season; men who held revivals throughout the State and brought men to Christ. They laid the foundations of our Methodism in this commonwealth. To do this, they grappled with adverse conditions successfully. We have entered into their labors. Ours is a new day, with new difficulties. God grant that we may be as true to our calling and to our Master as were the fathers who went before us!
It was not my privilege to be associated with Brother Davis in the active work of the ministry. He was many years my senior. Perhaps there is one thing that should be said—when he was on the Oak Ridge circuit he was the pastor of my father’s family. On one occasion he was holding a meeting in our church and spending the time at my father’s home. One night after the service we were walking back home in the moonlight. He placed his arm about me and asked me about accepting Christ as my Saviour. I did not then yield to the Lord, but the recollection of this act has gone through life with me. He was the first and the only preacher who ever spoke to me about personal religion. Years afterwards, when I became pastor of Carrollton Avenue, in New Orleans, I found him living in the home of his daughter, Mrs. (Dr.) Crichlow, whose family were members of that church. Now I had become his pastor. He was a regular attendant at the services of the church as long as his strength would allow. When this no longer permitted, he tarried in the home of his daughter until the summons came from above.
“Servant of God, well done!
Thy glorious warfare’s past;
The battle’s fought, the race is won,
And thou art crowned at last.
“0 happy, happy soul!
In ecstacies of praise,
Long as eternal ages roll,
Thou seest thy Master’s face.”
W. L. Doss, Jr.
|Source: Annual of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Page 93-96, 1926|