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Elder Green Carrowan
(Extract from the "Minutes of the Kehukee Baptist Association," for December 25, 1832.)
Elder Green Carrowan was born July 27th, A. D. 1778, of poor but respectable parents. He was a very intelligent boy, but remarkably wild, which many times rendered his father very unhappy, for his father was a preacher of the United Baptist order, and a very pious man—his name was William Carrowan, who formally had had the pastoral care of the church on Mattamuskeet, in Hyde county, N.C. His son Green, from the best information I can get, was about as profane a man as ever was raised in Hyde county. I before observed he was a great grief to his father, but it seemed he had something rather to console him before his death. A few days before he died he observed to his negro man—Jim, said the old man, what do you think of my poor boy, Green? Oh massy, said Jim, I don’t know. The reply from the master was—Jim, you’ll find if you live, a great alteration in that lad in a short time. What evidence the old man had for it, is unknown to us, but so it was, the prediction came to pass in about two years after the old man’s death. But to give you a further account of the singular turn of this boy, though such a horrid profane child generally, yet he was a great mimic of religion and also of preaching. When his father would attend his stated meetings, his son Green, it is said, would go with him, and while the father would be in the house preaching, Green would have a parcel of young people with him, preaching to them, making use of the same motions and gestures of body that the father did. And on one time in particular when the old man was exercising in the house near a window, where his son could have full view of him while preaching. Green took his pulpit, which was a bye-stand—the old man when he entered fully into the meats of his subject was very animated, so that he made a great motion of body; Green trying to follow suit and copy after the old man, making use of the same words the father did, and loud as he dare do, not observing the tottering condition of parent, while in strong motion the bye-stand upset, and gave him a severe fall, he has often said, he really thought his neck was broken at first. In his vicinity there was a great revival of the Methodists—young Green became the head of a class, which he influenced to join him; these with other (illegible) pleasures seemed to be his pursuit, until the kindness and love of God and Saviour appeared, not by works of righteousness which he had done, the Lord happily arrested him in the 28th year of his age. His conviction was very pungent, but his deliverance was very clearly manifested: his call both to the fellowship of the saints and that to the ministry was clearly exhibited. He joined the Baptist church in Hyde county, and was baptised by John Bowen: and soon commenced in the ministry as a coworker with Elder Bowen, who had lately moved to Mattamuskeet. His preaching was greatly approved by the churches---he was what might be called a great preacher from the start; he was considered a man of great natural talents and profound knowledge in the Holy Scriptures; his sermons were not those of an orator, naturally speaking, but well stored with scripture arguments, such as are rarely surpassed by any; he made a bold but humble appearance in the pulpit, and extended very clear views in the doctrine of the gospel; he would display great ingenuity in communicating his ideas through certain metaphors, or cramp other observations, which sometimes would excite laughter in the irreligious, and would be apt to making the most severe Christian smile; some have thou't him blameable for preaching in this way, supposing he advanced the ludicrous style too far; be that as it may, he always appeared to close such subjects with solemnity; thro' this means he often would have his congregations laughing, and soon after have them crying. Great were the disadvantages which Elder Carrowan labored under, and which as is tho’t by many, prevented him from equalling if not surpassing any of his profession that ever yet arose—his father lived and was brought up in that part of Hyde county, which was at the time of his infancy, as obscure and unenlightened section of country as probably any where to be found; and being poor, he received but a small share of education; it was with difficulty that he could read the Holy Scriptures with correctness; he was a very industrious man, and hard labor was his lot from his infancy to his death.
In the year of 1811, he took the care of the church of South Mattamuskeet, and served them in that capacity until the year 1822, when he left them and moved over on the south side of the Pamlico Sound, close on between Goose and Oyster Creeks; he in a short time raised a church on that side, in Beaufort county, of which he had the pastoral care and so continued until his death; yet not withstanding his removal, he attended his old church of So. Mattamuskeet quarterly, and had the oversight of her as her occasional pastor.
There might be many interesting and amusing anecdotes related of this ingenious man, could the materials be come at with correctness; but to hand down to the public mere heresay or fligaty reports, we feel some degree of caution. Among the many, I give you the following—when Elder Carrowan first began to be a popular preacher, he visited the church on Core Sound, Hunting Quarters—previous to his going over, two Methodist preachers had been there, and picked up (illegible) their class a considerable number, who when Elder Carrowan went over, and they heard him paint out to them their experience, and proved to them believing baptism by the scriptures, their honest hearts compelled them to go into the water and they were by Elder Carrowan baptised. The Methodists alluded to, lived in Newbern, and these disciples of theirs (as they thought) the news of their being baptised soon reached them, and it seemed to vex their righteous souls, at what they considered unlawful deeds. A short time after two young men from Hunting Quarters being at Newbern, and these preachers hearing of Elder Carrowan’s next appointment, hired the young men to come after them, in order as they said to confute the babbler and send him home; withal to defend their flock, inasmuch as they looked upon themselves set for the defence of what they called the gospel. They agreed to give each man ten dollars. Accordingly the young men preformed their part of the contract; they had them there on the day of Elder Carrowan’s appointment, and they heard him preach—the gospel system, both as to doctrine and ordinance, was so well authenticated and proven by the scriptures, that the man whose lot it was to follow him, acknowledged that according to the present standing of the scriptures, that Carrowan’s sermon could not be denied; but he assured them that all the scriptures were not correctly translated from the original Greek. He told them that there was a brother of his in Newbern, who could correct ninety-five passages, and he himself could correct fifteen or twenty. There was an old Baptist sitting under him, who not being acquainted with hearing the Holy Scriptures thus treated, raised up his head and looked him in the face, and instead of saying you are an emissary of the devil, said you are an advisary of the devil; if the people are a mind to hear you, they can do so, but I shall go out. The old man got up and they followed him into the yard, leaving the two Methodist preachers by themselves, who having nobody to preach to, soon followed the crowd. The young hirelings were not slack concerning their promises; one of them accosted one of the preachers, saying, pay me the ten dollars; which like an honest man he pulled out and paid him—the other young man went to the other preacher and demanded his payment, which he refused and said it was not due; why? says the young man; I’ve had no chance; well but said the young man, I’ve done what I promised to do, and you shall pay me or I’ll warrant you for I did'nt agree to give you any chance to confound him; I was only to fetch you here which I have done, and if you do not pay me I will warrant you; but the people persuaded the young man out of the notion of warranting, saying if he was so mean, as not to pay it, let him off so. This was all the beating poor Carrowan got, the preachers going off leaving their supposed flock willing captives to Baptist principles, and one of their hirelings without his money. One acted the part of a punctual man, but his bad cause made him appear, as is said of an old proverb, a fool and his money soon parted—while the other showed the principles of malice and roguishness.
Elder Carrowan was twice married—his first wife was a daughter of Foster Jarvis*, on Swanquarter; by her he had seven children, six of whom were alive at his death. His second was a daughter of Henry Carrow, on Mattamuskeet Lake—by her he had nine children, eight of them were alive at his death. He was a man of strong constitution and enjoyed a great portion of health, until about two years before his death, notwithstanding a large helpless and expensive family, who were mostly dependent on his bodily labor for support. Yet while in health up to his last sickness, he continued to travel and preach extensive tours, visiting the sister churches in the adjacent counties over a large portion of the state of North Carolina, especially the southern part on the sea-board. He was much better qualified as a gospel preacher than a disciplinarian; and it has been said by many, that his qualifications were such as would have justified him traveling and preaching all the time; as they thought he filled up the place better, than to take the pastoral care. He generally had large and attentive congregations in his own neighborhood, and his preaching made a great noise abroad, so that it was a rare case but that he had a full congregation wherever he went. In his private conversation he was very entertaining and agreeable; those who heard him might with propriety have said, this man is in earnest, he believes what he says and says what he believes; and those who dissented from him in opinion were still pleased with hearing him. In his first religious exercise he was led to dig deep into his own heart, where he found such opposition and rebellion, that when he obtained pardon, he attributed it to sovereign grace alone; which sentiment, so interwoven in his soul, he ever proclaimed aloud to a dying world. Nothing appeared to be more disgustful to his mind, than to hear works grief together, as the foundation of a sinner’s hope. To hold forth the Lamb of God as a piece of a Saviour, or to consider the self exertions of a natural man, to be the way unto Christ, the true and only way, were extremely displeasing to that soul of his, which delighted so much in proclaiming eternal love, redeeming blood, and matchless grace.
He was a great light or luminary among Baptists—how many mourners he has comforted, and from their weeping eyes he has wiped the tears away; how many careless unconcerned sinners he has been the means of awakening; and how many wavering minds he has established; and to how many repenting sinners his words have administered peace and consolation, can be fully known only at the great day. It may be truly said, a great man has failed in Israel. In the summer of 1831, he was taken with a fever, which for a short time confined him to bed; when the fever abated it was hoped and believed that it was the ague and fever, which is so common in the low sickly country; his health having so much improved, he attended the Kehukee Association , held at Flat Swamp meeting, Pitt county. And on Sunday, it being the first Sunday of October 1831, he was appointed to preach on the stage, which appointment he filled and preached from Joshua, vii chap. and part of the 25th verse: “And Joshua said, why hast thou troubled us; the Lord shall trouble us this day.” It was an awakening and edifying discourse, and which proved to be his last. From this day he began to grow worse, and with much difficulty it was that he was enabled to reach home; and it was soon discovered that his sickness had changed to a dropsical nature, of which he never recovered. During his last sickness his whole tune appeared to be employed in expounding the scriptures to his brethren and friends who assisted him, exhorting them to stand fast in their faith and to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; and at the same time rejoiced that he was able to bear his afflictions with patience and fortitude, believing that he should shortly realize the heavenly promises of the Lord. On the first Saturday and Sunday before, in December, while Elder Carrowan was on his death bed, it being the time of the Mattamuskeet church quarterly meeting, at which time he was melted down with love and praise to the giver of all good, for his inestimable goodness and kindness in sparing him to witness the ordination of his brother George W. Carrowan, and also that of Asa Sawyer, respecting which he thus expressed himself: “That I want words and a heart of more thankfulness to praise my Redeemer, for sparing me to see him raise up one (even my brother in the flesh) to go in and out before my old church, which I have had the care of for so long; that he is so kind before I depart, that he has already filled the vacancy my death will occasion.” At which time a visiting brother in the ministry enquired of him the state of his mind, also respecting his doctrinal tenets, and asked him, if he regretted his past life being spent in proclaiming the truths and doctrine of predestination and election; the effectual calling; the saints’ final perseverance, &c.&c. to which he replied, Those glorious doctrines were taught me of the Lord in the 28th year of my age, and that he had no doubt but they would be sacred in his latest hours; but he had to regret that he had been compelled to waste so much of his precious time in laboring to provide necessaries for the support of his family; and thereby had failed as fully and completely in fulfilling that great command given him of the Lord, namely, “Preach my gospel to every creature”---but if it was the will of God, again to restore him to health, that he did intend the balance of his days should be spent in the service of the Lord, declaring to the world the salvation thro’ the merits and suffering of a dying, risen Redeemer.
This great man of God conquered the last enemy, and ascended to that rest , that remaineth for the people of God, on the 31st day of January, 1832, aged 53 years, 6 months, and 4 days.
* The Jarvis Research Group believes that the first wife of Elder Green Carrowon (Carawan) could have been Agness Jarvis, daughter of Foster Jarvis, III and his wife Elizabeth (Mason) Jarvis, not Britannia Jarvis as sometimes reported. It is believed that Britannia Jarvis was a daughter of Joseph and Sophia Jarvis.
(Biography abstracted and submitted by Kitty B. Humphries.)
McGowan / Sheppard