|Death: ||Nov. 25, 1814|
La Salle Parish
Note: The below article was written with the understanding Rev. Nolley was born in 1790. His stone and other sources state he was born 4 - 6 years earlier.
It is 1806 in Sparta, Georgia. A sixteen-year-old orphan boy listens in rapt attention to the fiery sermon of Rev. Lovick Pierce. Out of the crowd that had come to the Revival, One hundred were saved. Among them was that boy: Richmond Nolley. It was to be the start of an amazing ministry.
After becoming saved, Nolley felt the call to the ministry. In 1807 at the age of seventeen, the Methodist Conference appointed him to preach to slaves in North Carolina. His appointments took him through South Carolina, Alabama and into Louisiana. He would often walk from congregation to congregation with his saddlebags on his shoulders. Not every appointment went smoothly. Nolley was almost drowned by an angry mob in Bayou Teche and had firecrackers thrown at him while he was in the pulpit!
On one of Nolley's journeys he came upon a man just arriving at Choctaw Corner Alabama with his family to set up a home. Upon hearing the preacher's greeting, the man said "What! Have you found me already? Another Methodist preacher? I left Virginia to get out of the reach of them, went to a new settlement in Georgia, and thought to have a long whet, but they got my wife and daughter into the Church; then, in this late purchase; I found a piece of good land, and was sure I would have some peace of the preachers, and here is one before my wagon is unloaded." Nolley responded, "My friend, if you go to heaven you'll find Methodist preachers there; and if to hell, I am afraid you will find some there; and you see how it is in this world; so you had better make terms with us, and be at peace."
In 1814, at the age of twenty-four, Nolley was again appointed to serve in Louisiana. His efforts had lead to a thirty three percent increase in church membership and his service was badly needed.
On his return trip, he and a friend spent the night at Sicily Island. Nolley decided to continue on, although the weather was cold and wet. Friday, November 25, 1814, Nolley stopped at an Indian Village near the present town of Jena. He thought that Hemps Creek, swollen with flood waters, would be too difficult to cross without help and so he hired a villager to help him. It was getting late. Rev. Nolley did not want to spend the night at the village. His flock needed him. He left his saddle-bags, valise, and some books with his guide, mounted his horse and attempted to cross the swollen creek. The current was swift. The banks were steep. Rev. Nolley could not climb to the shore. Nolley fell from his horse into the frigid water and the horse swam back to the Indian guide. He was able to pull himself up by a tree limb and climbed up the steep bank. Nolley yelled across the creek to his guide and told him to bring his horse in the morning. He was going to spend the night with a friend nearby. Cold, wet and exhausted, Nolley walked nearly a mile before collapsing and succumbing to hypothermia. A traveler found his frozen body the next day. From his muddy knees and furrows in the ground, it was made clear that he had spent his last moments on his knees in prayer.
Mrs. Polly Francis made his shroud and Mr. Young hammered out the nails and built the coffin. On Sunday afternoon, he was buried in Catahoula Parish near the road leading from Alexandria to Harrisonburg. There he rested until 1952. In that year, his remains were moved to the lawn of the Methodist church in Jena, and the church was renamed Nolley Memorial in his memory. His ministry lasted only eight years and he died at the young age of twenty four, but his memory and legacy lives on today.
According to the book "Annals of the American Pulpit by William Buell Sprague done in 1869, Richmond was born in Brunswick County, Va. around 1785. When he was very young, his family moved to Georgia where his parents died, leaving him an orphan. A Captain Lucas took care of him and finished raising him. The book also includes a letter about Rev. Nolley from Rev. Ebenezer Hearn describing Nolley:
Jacksonville, Ala., March 11, 1860
My Dear Sir: Your friend, who directed you to me for information concerning that devoted minister and martyr to his Master's cause, Richmond Nolley, was under a mistake in supposing that I was personally acquainted with him - I never even saw him - but, when I travelled West of the Mississippi River, in 1823 and 1824, I often passed the spot where he was buried, and his memory was then fragrant throughout that whole region. I used to hear him spoken of by the good people as a man of the rarest qualities, especially as one of the most eminent saints of whom they had ever had any knowledge.
He was represented to me as a tall, slender man, of dark eyes and espressive countenance, and with an appearance indicating great earnestness of purpose. His grand and all-absorbing desire was to glorify his Master in the salvation of souls. To this ruling passion every thing else was subordinated; and it mattered not where he was, or in what circumstances he was place, the upward tendencies and working of his spirit no one could fail to discover. He practised self-denial to such an extent, even in regard to his own physical wants, and, at the same time, laboured so constantly and severely in his missionary work, that his body became emaciated, and the effect upon his general health was very perceptible. It does not appear that he was distinguished either for talents or acquirements - his grand distinction lay in his unquenchable love to Christ, rendering his life a voluntary, unbroken scene of toil, and hardhip, and peril, to save the souls for whom his Saviour died. His death was in keeping with his life, and was worthy to be its seal and its crown.
It is unknown at this time who Nolley's parents were, but in Hancock Co., GA Will and estate records, there is the following: Richmond Nolley was Gdn. for Nathan Nolley and John Lucas was Security. Bond was for $1600 Dated January 5, 1807. The same day, Hines Holt, was Gdn. for Daniel Nolley and Polley R. Nolley and Simon Holt was Security bond for $5000. These may be brothers and a sister of Richmond, or nephews and a niece. A book published in 1899 "A Hundred years of Richmond Methodism" claims Rev. George Washington Nolley was a kinsman of Richmond Nolley.
[This is from his original headstone]
"Sacred to the memory of Richmond Nolley, An itinerant Methodist Preacher, who in the path of duty died near this place, Dec. 12, 1814. This monument was erected by his brother, A.D. 1879 as a memorial of his heroism, his fidelity, his purity, and his labors for the Lord."
Nolley Memorial Methodist Cemetery
La Salle Parish
Created by: Lora Peppers
Record added: Dec 12, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 32136897
Well done child of God!|
Added: Nov. 21, 2012
Added: Sep. 7, 2009
To the first Methodist Martyr in Louisiana on the 194th anniversary of your homegoing to Heaven. Rest in peace faithful servant of God!|
Added: Dec. 12, 2008