Isbell, Robert Smith


February 1836 - July 7, 1925
The subject of this memoir, Rev. Robert Smith Isbell, was born in Richmond, Virginia, February 1836. At the age of seventeen he entered Randolph-Macon College, from which he was graduated in 1858, with the degree of A. B. and A. M. conferred upon him. At the same time he was awarded a diploma in French, graduating with the highest honors of his class, He was a member of the Franklin Society, and was awarded the gold medal for oratory. In 1859 he accepted a position as teacher in the Collegiate Institute at Baton Rouge, where he taught until the breaking out of the Civil War in 1861, when he joined the Confederate Army, was stationed at Port Hudson, La., and was made Captain of the Signal Corps under General Gardner. Later he was transferred to Louisiana State University, where he taught until the university was closed by Federal troops.
The writer is not informed at what age Brother Isbell was converted or when he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was received on trial into the Louisiana Annual Conference in 1873 and was ordained deacon, January, 1874, and received into full connection and ordained elder, January, 1875, and he remained a member for fifty years, some forty of which were spent on the effective list.
Brother Isbell was a loyal and faithful Methodist itinerant and served many charges in his Conference, some of which were calculated to try the mettle and spirit of the man, but he was always equal to the occasion and deported himself in the true role of a gentleman and the Christian spirit. Brother Isbell was a Southern gentleman, to the manner born, and a loyal, faithful Southern Methodist throughout his long life of eighty-nine years and five months. He fell on sleep on Tuesday night, July 7, 1925.
Brother Isbell bore his age gracefully, and his faith was strong and unabating. He loved and honored his church and her doctrines, and was zealous for her good name and prosperity as long as he lived. While I had known Brother Isbell for many years and held him in the very highest regard, I did not know him intimately until the last year and a half of his life, at which time I got very close to him and was delighted and charmed with the splendid and brotherly spirit of the man. We can truthfully say that Brother Isbell was faithful unto death.
He was thrice married. There were born unto him by his first wife six children, two of whom are living, Mrs. E. E. Hendrix, of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Mrs. R. R. Redditt, of Columbia, La., with whom he spent the last years of his life.
A good man has served his day and generation by the will of God and has been gathered to his fathers full of years.
Source: Journal of the Louisiana Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1925, Pages 112-113, by S, S, Bogan.

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