History of Virginia - Rev. C. O. Pruden

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Rev. C. O. Pruden

REV. C. O. PRUDEN. Although he has been called from the scene of his earthly ministrations, Rev. C. O. Pruden, rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church of Chatham for more than thirty-seven years, is not forgotten, and his influence is still a vital force in the community where he labored so long and earnestly. He was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Juno 8, 1856, and died very suddenly while visiting friends at Richmond, December 9, 1927. His funeral services were held in Emmanuel Church. He was a son of John Thomas and Sarah Ann (Denson) Pruden.

The boyhood of Reverend Pruden was spent on his father's farm in Nansemond County, Virginia, on the west side of the Nansemond River. He was baptized in Saint John's Episcopal Church, a little brick edifice near Chuckatuck, built in 1755, near the site of an ancient church built as early as 1642, when Nansemond County had been divided into three parishes, of which Chuckatuck was the west parish. While but five years old when the war broke upon the country, he began to be useful, and at six was actively engaged in doing farm chores, fishing, oystering and clamming, the last three occupations being carried on not as sports, but to gain a living. When still almost too short to reach the plow handles he began to plow corn. In the midst of these activities, far beyond the strength or capacity of a child, he went to school whenever the opportunity offered. Later on for a tithe he was an inmate of the home of Rev. James Craighill of Suffolk, and under his preceptorship was prepared for confirmation and studied theology. He became a communicant of the church and looked forward to entering the ministry. Two of his brothers also became clergymen, and both survive him, they being

Rev. A. A. Pruden, a chaplain of high rank in the United States Army, and the other, Rev. Nathaniel Pruden, a retired minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

After completing his academic education C. O. Pruden entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, and during his vacations he spent his time in work as a lay reader in Powhatan and Pittsylvania counties. In 1884 lie was ordained a deacon of the church, and was placed in charge of Barrister Parish and in that year commenced his long connection with Chatham.

The religious needs of the negroes appealed to him, and in March, 1890, he commenced to work among them, and built at Chatham Saint Luke's Episcopal Church, and also established a church school for colored children, both of which are still in operation after thirty-three years. In 1902 Reverend Pruden and his colleague, Reverend Dabney, organized a church school for girls, of which he was president, and Mr. Dabney, secretary and treasurer. A charter was secured, and a fine school building erected on the bill, which property is now owned by the diocese.

Mr. Pruden was a man of robust physique, quick in action, and massive of build. Kindly in disposition, genial by nature, he made friends everywhere, and no one enjoyed healthy out-of-door sports more than he. To his death lie was a good hunter, an excellent shot and fisherman. A born orator, he could sway his congregations, and yet used to depend more upon a simple sincerity than upon glowing periods to drive home the force of his arguments. Blameless and honorable in his personal life, he set a high standard of morals, gild carried men with him into the path of right living through the example of his own acts.