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05 February 2014

That Preacher Was No Preacher

Parson Baker married a relative of mine in Missouri in the late 1870s. In an attempt to learn the name of the church, I decided to search for the minister in the 1880 census. After some searching, I found him, listed a a farmer. In many rural areas preachers or ministers may have had another "real" occupation and not even be listed as a "minister" in a census. 

That preacher you are looking for may have marrid a lot of couples and given a lot of sermons, but the census taker may have written down "farmer," "carpenter," or something else as his occupation in the censs.


  1. I found a great grandfather that was reported to be a preacher that actually was a Justice of the Peace. He married a lot of couples, but never was a preacher. Might have been an elder or a trustee in a church, but never ordained or called as a preacher.

  2. Many early religions, before today's evolvement, were farmers, etc. We also need to know that many times the word "Preacher" meant "Man of God" and could be used to describe anyone who did the work of religion. We need to be especially careful of any suppositions about the right or wrong of their reported work. So many of the early preachers, men of God, didn't rely on offerings to live. They related the scriptures as saying that, with the exception of "missions", they were to take care of themselves. One needs to be very careful about deciding that what is written is not correct. Because it could be.

  3. My maternal grandmother had an older brother. He attended both medical and theology schools, beginning with theology. In order to afford going to medical school, as a student minister, he would preach for a year, then attend medical school, repeating this until he was an MD. He became a pioneer physician in Huron, SD.

  4. My mother's paternal grandfather was a farmer and carpenter, but felt the prompting to be preacher and so he added that to the his other work: A hard-shell Baptist minister who worked all week and on Sunday preached at one or two small rural north Missouri congregations.