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Diary 1 of James Harvey Weaver

Contributed by Walter Weaver, great-grandson of Rev. James Harvey Weaver

I was born May 24, 1849 in Ashe County North Carolina. My Father was Rev. Hiram Weaver, a local Methodist Preacher. He was a thoroughly good man and did much in advancing the interests of the church in his community. He died in triumph in October 1873. My mother was a good Christian woman. She died in Feb 1889. I was brought up on a farm and became thoroughly familiar with all kinds of farm work. I was the 5th of eleven children. We were poor. And all had to work hard to make a living. But by hard work and the mercies [?] of our heavenly Father we always had plenty of the necessaries of life. My opportunities for an education were very limited. I attended the Common Free Schools of the county for 2 or 3 months each winter until I was 21 years old. I had formed the habit of studying at home which was of great service to me. I taught a School when I was (21) and received $2000 per month which was the first money I ever had. With this I set out for a better education. I went to the Jefferson Academy for three years or more, teaching a short session each winter to pay my way. When I entered the academy I was given the position of Assistant Teacher which enabled me with what money I had to get through one term. After I had been in this school for over three years the Principal, Mr. J. P. Martin resigned, leaving me in charge of the school for a year or two. On the 24th of Dec 1872 I was married to Miss Jennie Burkett, who for 21 years has made me a good and faithful wife. About this time I was licensed to preach, but owing to serious and protracted sickness I did not begin preaching much until two years later. My health being immeasurably recovered I taught school at Helton N. C. for three years. I then returned to Jefferson and took charge of the Academy again, but before I had taught long a vacancy occurred on the Jefferson Ci [Circuit?] and I was appointed by Bishop Dogget to supply the place until Conf. By this time I had made up my mind to join the Conference and was admitted on trial at Knoxville Tenn in 1878 and appointed to the Jefferson Ci. I was returned to this Circuit at the Conf held at Abingdon Va 1879.

Rev. James Harvey Weaver and two of his grandchildren
Photo courtesy of Walter P. Weaver
Rev. James Harvey Weaver and two of his grandchildren
Photo courtesy of Walter P. Weaver

At the Conf held at Morristown Tenn 1880 I was again sent to the Jefferson Circuit. This completed my four years on this charge. At the Conf held in Wythville Va 1881 I was sent to the Independence Ct in Va. At the Conf held at Asheville N. C. 1882 I was sent by Bishop Wilson to the Washington Ct in lower East Tenn. It was a move of 400 miles. I spent two pleasant years on this Ct. I had completed my course of study at this Conference in the fall of 1880. The Conf was held at Chattanooga Tenn and as above indicated I was returned to the Washington Ct. In 1884 the Conference was held in Bristol Tenn by Bishop Kiener [?]. At this Conf I was sent to the Franklin Dist in N. C. as Presiding Elder. I had up to this time traveled three large circuits. The first had 24 appointments, which I filled monthly. The second had (15) appointments and the third (18) appointments. The Franklin Dist was a large and laborious field. It had 16 pastoral charges and embraced seven counties. I was often gone four weeks at a time from home. I spent four very pleasant years on this Dist. No kinder or nobler people live than are to be found in the mountains of Western North Carolina. At the Conf held by Bishop Hargrove at Asheville N. C. in Oct 1888 I was appointed Presiding Elder of the Jonesboro Dist in East Tenn. At the Conference held at Morristown Tenn Oct 1889 I was appointed by Bishop Wilson as Presiding Elder of the Asheville Dist in N. C. While on this Dist I lived at Weaverville N. C. where I built and furnished an excellent Dist parsonage. I enjoyed my term of service much amongst this kind and generous people. During the 1st year of my term on the Asheville [District] the General Conf held at St. Louis Mo. formed the Western North Carolina Conference embracing the portion of N. C. west of the Blue Ridge. What had up to this time belonged to the Holston Conf. The first session of the W. N. C. Conf was held at Concord N. C. in Nov 1890 by Bishop Kiener. [Kienen?] I found myself in a new Conf and among strangers, but soon found they were brethren. I was returned to the Asheville Dist. The 2nd session of the W. N. C. Conf was held in Asheville N. C. Bishop Chas. B. Galloway presiding. I was again appointed to the Asheville Dist. The 3rd session of the Conf was held at Winston N. C. by Bishop E. R. Hendrix. At this Conf I was appointed to the Asheville Dist, this being my fourth year. At the session of the W. N. C. Conf held by Bishop W. H. Duncan at Charlotte N. C. Nov 29 1898 I was appointed to the Greensboro Dist as Presiding Elder. I moved to Greensboro N. C. Oct 12th 1898 and am now settled in my new home and have begun another year’s work. I am sure from what I have learned of this Dist I shall be [?] pleased. I have allways [sic] had better places than I have deserved. The Lord has been very good to us. All through these years we have had good friends wherever we have gone and our temporal wants have been amply supplied. I am now resolved to be more faithful to my Master than ever before.

There was born to us a son on June 21st 1875. We called him Charles Clinton. He was baptised by Rev. John M. McTeer P. E. of the Wytheville Dist Holston Conf. He joined the church at Franklin N. C. when he was nine years old. He is now (18) and has graduated at Weaverville College and is now a student at Trinity College at Durham, N. C. He has always been a loving and obedient son and no little [?] source of great happiness to his parents. Our daily prayer is and has ever been, that God would make him a good and useful man. And this we expect. Our family now consists of myself and wife, and Charles our Son, and Rush York our niece. We are all in good health, contented and happy in our work.

Asheville N. C. Oct 13, 1900

After nearly seven years I will again add a few lines to this sketch. I spent only one year on the Greensboro District. At the Conference held at Statesville, N.C. 1896 by Bishop A. W. Wilson I was taken from the District and put in charge of West Market St Station Greensboro N. C. This was the third time I had been moved by Bishop Wilson at the end of one year. I do not complain of this for I am sure all these changes were for my good. I spent four most delightful years at West Market Church, during which time the new and elegant church was completed at a cost of above $40000. It was a time of constant and hard work. This in my opinion is one of the best congregations to be found anywhere. I shall love them forever. During my four years there were added to the church 340 members making a total membership of over 600. The Conference for these years [was held] 1895 at Reidsville N. C. by Bishop W W Duncan. In 1896 the Conference was held at Salisbury N C by Bishop Galloway. In 1897 the Conference was held at Asheville N. C. [by] Bishop King. In 1898 it was held at Winston N C by Bishop G. P. Fitzgerald. At this Conference my time being out at West Market St. I was sent to Salisbury St. [?]. I spent but one year at Salisbury and had reasonable success. More than one hundred were added to the church. I formed many personal friendships there. And would have willingly staid [sic] longer with this good people had the Bishop so ordered. The Conf for 1899 was held at Concord N.C. by Bishop Key, and I was sent to Central Church Asheville N .C. where I am now. I have had a laborious year’s work here so far. And I have had much to discourage me, and also some encouragement. This is a hard field as are all resort towns. We have many good and faithful people in this city. I think I can see signs of progress in many good directions. I have much cause for gratitude to God for his goodness to me and my family during all these years. We are in good health and in comfortable circumstances. My son Charles spent two years in Trinity College when he graduated. He then spent one year in Vanderbilt University at Nashville Tenn. He then entered Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore Md. where he graduated last June 1900 (after spending three[?] years). He is now teaching at Rutherford College N. C. I am so thankful that God has permitted me to help him prepare himself for life. And let me live to see him enter upon his life work. And my prayer is that he may be abundantly useful. My niece Ruth graduated at Greensboro Female College and is still with us. And my good wife has also been preserved in life and health and is still as ever the light and joy of our home. For all of these blessings may we never cease to be greatful.[sic]

Hickory N. C. Oct 18th 1910

After these years I will resume my story. At the Conference held in Greensboro N. C. Nov 1900 I was returned to Central Church Asheville. This Conf was presided over by Bishop H. C. Morrison. I had a laborious work this year at Asheville. The church after much urging and planning finally agreed to the erection of a new House of worship. I secured $30000 Towards the enterprise. And the plans were selected and agreed upon and $1000 paid for the same. So that I felt that the new church was assured. But in pressing this enterprise upon the congregation I incurred the displeasure of some leading men who were opposed to building a new church. In view of this fact I asked for a new appointment. At the Conference held at Gastonia Nov 1901 by Bishop Hargrove I was appointed Presiding Elder of the Shelby Dist and the Conf held at Monroe N. C. Nov 1902 I was returned to the Shelby Dist. This Conf was held by Bishop A. Coke Smith. At The Conf held in High Point in Nov 1903 and presided over by Bishop Smith I was appointed to the Statesville Dist as P. E. While on the Shelby Dist I lived in Shelby and had two most pleasant years among that noble people. I enjoyed my work on this District and had a good measure of success. At the Conference held in Charlotte N C in Nov 1904 by Bishop Duncan I was returned to the Statesville Dist. At the Conference held in Greensboro in 1905 I was appointed to the Statesville Dist. This Conf. was held by Bishop A. W. Wilson.

The next session of the Conference was held at Mt Airy N. C. Nov 1906 and was presided over by Bishop Wilson. It was a most delightful session. The Bishop delivered a series of lectures on Romans which were profound and highly instructive and were greatly enjoyed by the Conference. I was at this session of the Conf returned to the Statesville Dist which completed my term of service with this good people. While on the Statesville Dist I made my home with Son at Davenport College in Lenoir, and had a pleasant time in his family and with the teachers and girls in the school. At the Conf held at Salisbury Nov 1907 by Bishop Morrison I was sent to Hickory N. C. where I am at this time. I was returned to this charge by Bishop James Atkins from the Conf held in Asheville N. C. in Nov 1908.

The Conf for 1909 was held in Hickory N. C. and was again presided over by Bishop Atkins, and I was appointed for the 3rd time to Hickory and am now closing up my third year’s work with this kind and appreciative people. I have enjoyed greatly my work amongst them and trust I have not labored in vain. And if it is their wish, and the Bishop so desires, I shall gladly fill out my term here. I have now passed my 61st “mile stone” on the journey of life. I am so far as I know in good health and have lost none of my interest in the Lord’s work, and shall be glad if I may yet have some years in which to labor for the advancement of his Kingdom. And am trying to hold myself in readiness daily to render up my account to Him for my stewardship.

I feel deeply greatful for the long time of service he has given me and my only regret is that I have not made a better use of my time and opportunities. My life has been a happy one. We have allways had good places and many kind friends. We have allways had our temporal needs fairly well supplied. My good wife and I have been permitted to journey together for thirty seven years. Our son Charles C. Weaver has been spared to us and is now a useful man, fulfilling an important post of duty in the church. His good wife and fine children have added greatly to our happiness in these last years. I feel that we can never make adequate returns to our Heavenly Father for all his great mercies to us. But we would give ourselves, our children, and all anew upon his altar for any service he may have for us.

Monroe, N. C. Sept 23 1912

After a lapse of two years I will add a chapter to the forgoing account of my life and labors as will be seen. I did not get to fill out my full term at Hickory. I left them with regret and wide genuine love for those good people. And trust I carried with me in leaving them confidence and love. The Conference of 1910 at Winston, N. C. was presided over by Bishop E. R. Hendrix [?]. We had a most pleasant and harmonious session at this Conference. I was appointed to Central Church Monroe N. C. and am nearing the close of my second year. The Conf of 1911 was held at Salisbury N. C. Bishop E. E. Hoss presided and we again had a delightful session. I was reappointed to Central Church Monroe where I am at this time. This is a strong charge in every way. We have nearly seven hundred members and they are strong financially. I have never served a more appreciative people. I constantly preach to large congregations of attentive people and think I can see some marked signs of real spiritual growth amongst them. I have added so far during my term here about two hundred to the membership of the church. I think if I may be the judge I have done some of the best work of my life here. And have never enjoyed my work better anywhere. This has been made possible by the interest these good people have shown in me and my work. And the ever abounding grace of God in giving me perfect health. And all other necessary blessings of his providence and goodness. And to him I trust I am profoundly greatful and desire still to render to his cause the best service I may be able to render. I love these people and shall be glad to serve them longer if they so desire and the bishop shall so appoint. The only drawback to our perfect happiness here is the distance from our children and the dificulty [sic] in reaching them promptly if we should have a sudden and urgent call to go to them. Or they to come to us. My son is now President of Emory & Henry College at Emory Va and is entering on his third year of service in that position, and I think is succeeding well.

More than a year and a half has elapsed since any record was made in this book. The Conference of 1912 was held [at] High Point, (Bishop Denny presided at the Conf in High Point 1912) and I was returned to Monroe for my third year. The year was pleasant and reasonably successful as to the church work, but was much saddened by increasing illness of my dear wife. In August we had to take her to Richmond Va for a very serious operation where she spent a month. And then my Son took her to his home at Emory Va where she staid [sic] for a month. She came home to Monroe the last of October only able to walk about the house and yard a little. The Conference for 1913 was held in Trinity Church Charlotte presided over by Bishop J. H. McCoy. We had a delightful session at this Conf. I was for the seventh time elected a delegate to the Gen Conf. I was also returned to Central Church Monroe for my fourth year and was glad to be sent back. As my dear wife was in declining health I did not wish to move. She never regained her strength after the operation, but steadily lost strength until after Christmas she soon had to take [to] her bed. She suffered greatly and endured it with great fortitude and patience. On the last day of February 1914 at 11:38 PM she ceased from suffering and went home to be forever with the Lord. We carried her body to Emory Va and laid it to rest on the hill overlooking the college where many other bodies of the saints of Holston sleep. The funeral service was held in the college Y.M.C.A auditorium and was conducted by our two friends Rev. E. L. Bain of Western N. C. Conf and Rev. T. R. Handy, with Revs. Guy and Sutherland. The good people of Monroe showed us every possible attention and kindness during her sickness and after her departure. She never could have had better friends in any place than she had in Monroe. [Here the ink is smeared.] It was beautiful. And I can never forget them or cease to be greatful to them for their kindness and love. The people of Emory also did all in their power to bring comfort to our hearts in this dark sad hour. This is the severest trial of my life. For forty one years we had walked side by side and hand in hand, and with our hearts united in the bonds of true love, sharing each other’s toils and cares with mutual joys and sorrows. And now she who was my stay and comfort has been taken out of my life, and I am left in my desolate home with no voice to break its silence. Or hand to touch or smile to welcome me when I come in at the evening time. The tears blind my eyes as I try to write. I do not complain for I am sure it is best thus, but I did wish so much to have her walk down life’s decline with me. But now I thank God for giving me such a companion for life’s pilgrimage and leaving her with me so long. I only wish I had made her life happier. No man ever had a truer, or more devoted wife. A woman of pure and noble character; she was strong to bear her own burdens and helped me bear mine and also helped many others – a woman of great good sense, of deep, strong sympathies and love for all. She was the light and joy of her home, devoted to her church and true to her Lord. Her work on earth is done. She has gone to enjoy her well earned rest. And her works will follow her. May we all join her in her Heavenly Mansion when our work is done. I here offer some of the things said about her and said truly.

[Here follow several pages of articles from newspapers and other publications detailing the death of and services for Jennie and the fulsome eulogies given.]

Dec 10, 1914 Greensboro N C

The Conference for 1914 was held in Shelby N. C., Bishop R. G. Waterhouse presiding. He made a fine impression by his presidency and preaching. At the close of this Conference I was read out to the Greensboro District as Presiding Elder. I was on this one year twenty years ago and left Greensboro as Pastor of West Market St. Church sixteen years ago. Hence I am somewhat acquainted in these parts. I have met many old friends and have made some new ones. I have had a most cordial reception so far where I have gone on the Dist and especially in Greensboro. I am now settled in the Dist parsonage. Rev. W. O. Good and his lovely family are living in the parsonage and I am boarding with them. They are as good to me as my own children could be. This is a most happy arrangement for me as I am alone in the world except my dear children who live at Emory Va.

If I could have only brought my good wife back to Greensboro I could be so happy. But she has gone to a better home and I must not complain but endure my great loss until God calls for me. I am getting started on my work and looking forward to a pleasant year if I can only have health and strength to do the work that has been assigned me. For several days I have not been feeling quite as well as usual and have put myself in the hands of a Doctor and feel some uneasiness about my health from what he has told me. But I hope I may be able to do this work. And if not I shall try to abide the Master’s will, and hope I shall have grace sufficient for affliction if it comes as I have had for the arduous labors of an itinerant ministry for the last thirty seven years. I am trying to be ready to render my account for my work at any moment. As I look back over my life I see many imperfections in my life and work, and can only leave it all to the mercy of a loving Saviour. I have no merit to depend on for salvation and am trusting in the blood of my redeemer. I want to live closer to him this year than I ever have done in the past and do more for his cause.

Greensboro N. C. Oct 14 1915

I am now within one month of the end of another Conf year. My health has greatly improved and I am so thankful I have been able so far to do the work on the District with the exception of one month when I was not well. And I now hope I may finish this year’s work and yet be spared to do some other years work for the Master’s cause. I have thus far had a most pleasant year, and hope I have been able to do some good. For the last several weeks I have spent much time here alone on account of the sickness of Mrs. Good’s parents. She has had to be with them and my pleasant house has again been broken up. But I do not get much lonely. I feel I have a friend allways with me, One who can comfort and keep me. I dread a little my next month’s work. It will be the hardest and most trying. God give me strength, grace, and wisdom, for all I have to do.

Jan 24 1917

More than a year has passed since I have made any record in this book. The Conference for 1915 was held at Reidsville N. C. Bishop Waterhouse who was to preside was not able to be present and sent Bishop Lambeth [?] in his place. We had a most pleasant session and I was returned for another year to the Greensboro Dist. My health had been so far restored that I felt able for the constant hard work required. And I entered upon the work with renewed zeal and energy. And as the year passed I steadily gained strength and was able to fill each appointment for the year and was present at each one one time. I preached every Saturday and allways twice on Sunday and frequently three times. I preached in all about one hundred and seventy sermons. It was one of the busiest and happiest years of my life and I think one of the most successful. I am so thankful that I had health sufficient to enable me to do this year’s work. The Conference for 1916 was held at Gastonia, Bishop John C. Kilgo presiding. He gave us a pleasant and good session of Conf and I was again appointed to the Greensboro Dist and have entered on my work and have nearly completed my first round. This Dist last year made by far the best report made by any Dist in the Conf. I was greatly gratified at this and give credit for the same to the blessings of our good Heavenly Father that were upon us, and to the earnest faithful work done by the preachers of the Dist. I am looking forward to the work of this year with great hope that it will be even better than the last. I do not think I have ever had a Dist so well manned as this one is now. And with God’s blessing upon us we ought to realize great results. I am glad to be able to enter upon my work in good health. And I trust I shall be able for all that will be expected of me during the year. I wish here to make a record that ought to have been made earlier. At the beginning of the year 1916 I secured as occupants of the dist parsonage Jule [?] N. L. Eure and his good wife, and they made a most pleasant and delightful home for me during the year and I am most happy to be able to continue the arrangement for this year. I could not ask anything better in my home relations. They are as good to me as my own children could be, and I am so thankful that God in his good providence has given them to me and thus enabled me to have a pleasant home life, which means so much to me, since the loss of my dear good wife. Her name and memory are ever present with me and I am glad to think that her redi[?] and happy spirit is also with me. God help me that I may never dishonor her memory. And may her influence live on with me to the end of my earthly pilgrimage.

[He died Feb. 21, 1917, just over a month after penning these lines. He apparently had a heart attack and fell dead on the street in Greensboro while awaiting a trolley.]