James Patterson Pressly

James Patterson Pressly

Death 30 Mar 1877 (aged 68)
Burial Due West, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 17616797 · View Source
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Son of David Pressly and Jane Patterson. Husband of Elizabeth Bonner Young.

Rev. James Patterson Pressly, D. D. — Dr. James P. Pressly belongs to a most distinguished family. Three of his brothers achieved distinction, two as physicians and one as an eminent theologian. His father was David Pressly, and his mother Jane Patterson, of Cedar Springs Church . They belonged to that good stock of Scotch-Irish people who helped to make up the Associate Reformed churches in Abbeville Co., S. C, some hundred and twenty-five years ago..

Of the parents of Dr. Pressly a friend, Gen. P. H. Bradley, said: "His father was a man of uncommon energy and business tact, and he succeeded in amassing a considerable fortune for his day. For strength of character and keen perception his mother had few equals." As a boy Dr. Pressly attended Union Academy , a school taught in the neighborhood by his brother, Dr. John T. Pressly. Afterwards, with his cousin, Dr. E. E. Pressly, he went to Miami University , Oxford , Ohio , then under the presidency of Dr. Bishop. He was but sixteen when he entered college in 1824 and only eighteen when he graduated. After returning home he began the study of theology under Dr. John T. Pressly, his brother, the pastor of Cedar Springs. He was very youthful in appearance at this time, and was remarkable for his timidity. He was licensed on February 21st, 1829, at Due West, and was ordained to the full work of the ministry at Generostee March 27, 1830 ..

After licensure Dr. Pressly labored for a time in the vacancies of the Second Presbytery at Due West, Generostee, Bethel in Laurens Co., etc. He then visited various points in Georgia , Alabama and Florida . Two of the places visited by him were settlements of Associate Reformed people in Dallas and Wilcox Co's., Ala. Most of these people had emigrated from South Carolina. Those in Dallas Co. went chiefly from Newberry and Fairfield , and those in Wilcox from Long Cane and Cedar Springs in Abbeville. These communities being destitute of a preacher called Dr. Pressly. He went to Alabama just after his marriage and began work in this laborious charge in 1830. He divided his time equally between Prosperity in Dallas and Lebanon in Wilcox. The two places were forty miles apart and on different sides of the Alabama river. The work was arduous. but Dr. Pressly did not shrink from it. He made his home in Wilcox, and regularly every other Saturday he rode to Dallas on horseback, preached on the Sabbath and returned on Monday. This was Dr. Pressly's first and only pastorate. He remained in this field about ten years. Here he made his reputation as a preacher. He was a close student. All his sermons were carefully written and memorized. This was his habit through life. He never went into the pulpit without the most careful preparation, yet never used a manuscript or a note, nor did he approve of it in others. His sermons were chiefly doctrinal, and as expounder of Paul's Epistles, and the great doctrines of human depravity, atonement, justification, sanctification, God sovereign and man free, conversion, etc., he had few equals in the Associate Reformed Church or in any Church..

He had some peculiarities as a preacher, resulting from his excessive modesty and timidity. He rarely ever gestured. He scarcely ever moved his eyes from a point straight in front of him and a little above his audience. He never used his handkerchief or looked at his watch while preaching. He never moved out of his tracks or turned to the right hand or to the left. But with all his timidity in the pulpit he was intensely in earnest, this manifested itself in his eye and in the tone of his voice, and he was often eloquent, he possessed the eloquence of truth in its naked simplicity..

But the great work of Dr. Pressly was done as a teacher in Erskine College . About the year 1840 his relation as pastor with the churches in Alabama was dissolved and while he was looking about for another field of labor he was chosen Professor of Languages in Erskine College , and accepted the position as the call of God. Dr. Pressly was identified with the college from the day of its organization to the day of his death. The latter part of his life he was Professor of Greek only. He was a most conscientious and faithful teacher, never slighting his work. He was a thorough scholar, mastering whatever he attempted to do, diligently preparing himself for his work. He was exacting in his demands upon himself, he was likewise rigid in his requirements of others. The diligent might confidently expect his approval, his merited commendation, the lazy or idle student might just as well expect his severe rebuke, he had no patience with the student who was trifling with his work and wasting his time. It is safe, therefore, to say that but few men have been more successful as teachers of the ancient languages than Dr. Pressly..

But not only did Dr. Pressly do a great work for the Church as teacher in Erskine College , he was also a most useful servant as professor in the Seminary. During his whole period as Professor in the College, he was Professor of Greek Exegesis in the Seminary, and in interpreting Scripture he excelled, possibly his highest attainment was in the knowledge of the New Testament. He was also professor for some time of systematic Theology. He left his impress upon the minds of a large number of ministers of the Associate Reformed Church..

Dr. Pressly was married three times. His first wife was a playmate of his youth [Jane], a daughter of Col. John Hearst of Cedar Springs, a sister of the late Dr. John W. Hearst. She died early. His second wife [Elizabeth Bonner Young] was a member of his church in Wilcox Co., Ala. , a daughter of Samuel Young, Esq. and a sister of Rev. J. M. Young. She died in 1841 leaving two children—Mrs. Reid, now deceased, and Sam. P. Pressly, still living. The third wife, Mary Eleanor Young, was a daughter of Francis Young of Generostee, S. C, a sister of Revs. James L. and John N. Young. Three sons, the late Rev. D. B. Pressly. Dr. F. Y. Pressly, Prof. Jno. L. Pressly, and one daughter, Mrs. Calvin Pressly, were the fruit of this marriage. Dr. Pressly entered into rest March 30, 1877, full of years and of service and ripe for glory..



The centennial history of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church: 1803-1903.

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  • Maintained by: Barbara Reid Ruiz
  • Originally Created by: Patricia
  • Added: 21 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17616797
  • Barbara Reid Ruiz
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for James Patterson Pressly (21 Nov 1808–30 Mar 1877), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17616797, citing Due West ARP Church Cemetery, Due West, Abbeville County, South Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Barbara Reid Ruiz (contributor 47673477) .