Brother Jesse Vawter

grave siteI, Jesse Vawter, was born December 1, 1755. My parents were David and Mary Vawter, members of the Episcopalian Church. I was sprinkled in infancy and received as a member of that church, and could read my Bible in my eighth year, and was brought up to farming, but had by nature a mechanical turn of mind.

At ten years of age I had serious thoughts of religion and heard a parson preach from these words: “Who among us shall dwell with devouring fire, who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Isaiah xxxiii:14. That subject made a deep impression on my mind, although I understood nothing more than a local fire. About this time I committed the Lord’s Prayer, which I would repeat when I would lie down at night and in the morning, in order to get religion, but finally concluded that I would live moral and sober until I married and then I would get religion, concluding that religion did not suit young people and when I was settled in the world it would be easy to obtain it.

As stated above, my mind inclined to mechanical labor. In 1774, in my nineteenth year, my father consented to hire me to a house carpenter and joiner. In the course of that year our work led us twenty miles from my father’s, and in the bounds of Baptist preaching. Perhaps in the month of May I went to the first meeting. The preacher was Thomas Ammos; his text was Job X:15 : “If I be wicked woe unto me. but if I be righteous yet will I not lift up my head.” These words came home to my heart with such light and power that they made me tremble. I had never felt the like before. I strove to be composed and not let any person know I was affected, but all in vain, the tears would run. I did not think I was as wicked as some, but thought I was not altogether right — that there was some little wrong about me, and now I thought the Lord had called on me to repent and seek Him, which I was determined to do. I thought by praying, reading and reforming that I should soon atone for my past sins and bring God under obligations to me (alas! poor blind man).

Instead of that, I discovered the corruption of my nature and the deceit of my heart, and that all my efforts had been selfish and, of course, sinful, and that God says, “Son, give me thy heart,” which I had not done. I now did believe that God had called me, and if I had sought Him through Jesus Christ,

I might have obtained mercy; but now it appeared to me as if all hope was gone forever. I yet would try to pray, but thought my prayers only added to my guilt. I concluded God was angry with me, that his law condemned me, and it was in vain to ask His mercy, for I thought my case was finally fixed forever. Yet my heart would pray for mercy if it could be bestowed according to the divine government, for I did believe God was right and His law was right, and if I was condemned forever it would be right, too. I concluded justice would not suffer me to live on the earth when right appeared. I thought I should be in eternity before morning, and in the morning that justice would terminate my life before night.

One clear morning in July, 1774, I thought I would retire and try to pray once more before I died. When I got to the place I thought I dare not ask for mercy, yet my heart seemed to crave mercy, but I could not see how God could have mercy on me consistent with His divine perfection. Finally I concluded my fate was fixed to go down to ruin forever, and I rose up to go to my work. As I arose a reconciliation took place in my mind — the will of the Lord be done. With this reconciliation I had a view of Jesus and His righteousness. I thought all nature shone with His glory. I could now see how God could have mercy upon poor sinners and be just and justify him that believed in Jesus. I did believe He had lived and died for sinners and rose again for their justification, and that I was one of those poor sinners that He came to seek and save. My soul was filled with love. I thought I could tell to my companions how good God was, and they would feel as I did, but they understood not what I told them. In the month of October our work led us into the bounds of another Baptist church, to which I offered myself and was received and baptized. The first Saturday meeting I ever attended I thought was the prettiest sight I ever saw. The church was called Rapidan, in Culpeper County, Virginia, but now Madison County.

I thought I would work as much as would keep myself in clothes and spend my time in going to meeting and be with the preachers; which I did for some years. I would sing and pray and close meetings for the preachers. In 1780 I began to think it was best for young persons to marry, and on the 29th day of

March, 1781, I was married to Elizabeth, daughter of John and Sarah Watts, of Culpeper county, Virginia. In January, 1782, the 8th day, our first son, John, was born, and in May we moved to Holston, where we lived eight years, and had two sons and three daughters born, and joined a Baptist church, whose monthly meetings were twenty miles off. The preacher would come to my house and have meeting in our neighborhood. Having lost all hope of a Baptist church near us, we moved to Kentucky in 1790, where we joined the Great Crossing Church in Scott County, and lived there five years. While there I appeared to be a silent member. In 1795 we moved down on the north fork of the Elkhorn and moved our membership to Melonal’s Run, where I was more active.

In 1799 a revival of religion broke out on the Ohio, and in 1800 it appeared to spread over the whole state. A number of my neighbors and four of my children had obtained hope in Jesus, which led us to form ourselves into a church and build us a house.

From: The Vawter Family in America, Pages 15-18. Published by THE HOLLENBECK PRESS, Copyright 1905, By Grace Vawter Bicknell

Jesse Vawter was born in 1755, died in 1838. He married Elizabeth Watts (daughter of John and Sarah Watts). During the Revolutionary War, Jesse served in Capt John Camp’s Company, First Virginia Regulars under Col. George Gibson. Jesse and Elizabeth had nine children: John, William, James (b.1783), Frances, Mary, Sarah, Julia, Achilles, and Ann. Jesse grave site is shown above.

Born: Dec 2, 1755 in Virginia
Died: March 20, 1838
Buried: Wirt Cemetery, on SR 7,just north of Madison Indiana

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