Upton, T.J.


May 18, 1830 - Oct. 17, 1912
On the 17th day of October 1912, Rev. T. J. Upton passed from this life and entered into rest at the age of eighty-three years. His death occurred at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Burnett, of Minden, La. He was the eldest son of D. W. and Susan R. Upton, and was born in Columbus, Ga., May 18, 1830. He grew to manhood in Talbot County, Ga., and there was converted and united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1848. He said: "The genuineness of my conversion I have never doubted, though I have on several occasions doubted my present acceptance with God." For some time he resisted the call to preach, until, like Paul, he felt: "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel of the Son of God." He was licensed to preach by the Quarterly Conference of the Buena Vista charge in Marvin County, Ga., in May, 1856. He continued as a local preacher until he came to Louisiana and was admitted into the Louisiana Annual Conference in February 1859. He said: "I have never looked back, and have no desire to do so now. I have served twenty-two charges in this Conference, and about two-thirds of them were circuits; the others were stations. For about three years I served as Financial Secretary of Horner College. In all these years I have ever aimed to do my duty in the fear of God."
He was granted the superannuate relation at the Conference held in Minden in December 1907, and continued therein until his death. He was married to Miss Elizabeth Wheeless in 1849. To them were born nine children, two of whom preceded their mother to the grave. The others are members of the Church of their parents. He paid the following tender tribute to the memory of his wife: "On December 23 my dear wife was called to her reward. We had lived together in the sacred relationship of husband and wife for fifty-three years. Having witnessed her conversion and her upright life for so many years, I think I am safe in saying that I have never known her equal in Christian character and living. She let her light shine in all the relationships and responsibilities of life, and when the end came she was ready to go." This writer and wife lived in that home for two years. Truly it was a godly home, and a truer woman or a finer Christian character than Sister Upton we never knew. Their home life was beautiful. Their son writes of his father as follows: "He was our horse, and we rode him as such; we tousled him and piled ourselves onto him; we played all sorts of pranks on him, and he in turn played pranks on us. He was the greatest romper of us all. No child ever escaped his notice, and he spoke kindly to all. Even the negroes gathered around him to hear him talk and ask his advice. I never knew father's faith to waver. I have seen the clouds, big and black, hang low about him, but I never knew him to falter or lose confidence in God. In the most trying times he would say: 'It will all come out right, for God rules.' In the forty-seven years that he served charges there were many bitter struggles, but I never heard him complain or grow despondent. He always spoke a word of cheer to others. One time mother said: 'Papa, there is nothing for dinner. I cooked the last we had for breakfast, and the children are hungry. What shall we do?' He answered: 'Call the children in and we will have prayers.' He laid our condition before the Lord as if he were talking to an earthly father. Within a short time a negro climbed from off a load of cotton and carried to our house the half of a large hog and said: 'Marster told me to fotch dis to de preacher--said you might want some pork.' The negro had scarcely disappeared down the road when another drove up to the gate with a cartload of general provisions --about all that we needed. He said: 'De folks in de town told me to fotch dese to de preacher."'
He was a clear, strong preacher. Few men could make the truth contained in a text more luminous than he or press it home more pointedly on the consciences of men. He once said: "My association with my brethren has been delightful, and with some of them it has been unbroken for forty-seven years."
Duty seemed to be his watchword. At a time when his salary was so small that his family could not live on it a business firm offered him a salary five times as large, but he refused it and went on faithfully in his Master's work. Near the close of his life, when his mind had worn out, he preached to the negro man who cared for him and urged him to accept Christ. Once this man sang an old hymn, and Brother Upton joined him, carrying the bass part to the end. His son related this touching incident: "One day he went into the kitchen and said to my sister: 'Gussie, have you any food in the safe? I want a biscuit.' She followed him and found him distributing it to the widows and orphans he imagined the Conference had put in his care."
He was ever the friend of the man who was in trouble, fearlessly defending the right and as boldly condemning the wrong. He feared nothing but sin. He had but one rule of life, and that was to do right. He was a foe to be dreaded by evil and evil men, and a friend to be trusted. I cannot better close than with a paragraph from his autobiographical notes, written in 1905 at the request of his eldest son: "My future prospects are glorious beyond description. I feel that I will not live much longer; that I am ready to go. And in looking back I feel that I have been engaged in a good cause. I have been in earnest; I have kept the faith; I have tried to do my duty and to live right before God. Though I have made many mistakes, my motives have been pure. God knows that I feel that 'henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me in that day.' This thought makes me happy."
"'Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle fought, the victory won,
Enter thy Master's joy.' "
Source: Journal Louisiana Conference Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1912, pages 65-66 by J. D. Harper.

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