Father Clayton and “Grasshopper” Shinn

Steven asks this responsible question after compared Quillen Shinn unfavorably to Daniel Bragg Clayton:

Well Clayton was a bit of a grasshopper too, but of course, just in the south., and usaully within 400 niles of home, but where does circuit riding end and grasshopering begin? the furtherest west Clayton preached was Texas, and as far as I know just one trip. But he was certainly a wide circuit riding minister –

I think the issue of one of stewardship.

  1. Clayton was as much a newspaper editor (and later a newspaper correspondent) as a circuit rider. I contend newspapers, pamphlets, biographies, sermons and liturgies, hymnals, and children’s resources were written for the lay market was a deliberate response to the dire clergy shortage. This shortage was particularly hard in the South. You don’t see Shinn making as much use of the written word. You do see a lot of photographs of him. (Here’s one of Clayton, though.)
  2. Shinn was the national missionary; Clayton was a minister — admittedly esteemed with a de facto extra-territorial mission; I think he was one of the few ministers at the first Alabama Convention, even though he was from South Carolina — with no particular authority for his works. This makes me esteem Clayton’s accomplishment more.
  3. Shinn’s grasshopperness was — I think — recognized in his own lifetime; Clayton got the rare honorific of “Father” by his younger contemporaries.
  4. Clayton’s “works do follow him.” (Rev. 14:13) That is, as much as anything survives. The eponymous church is Newberry, of course, and I believe he helped organize the Liberty Universalist Church in Louisville, Mississippi. It isn’t affilitated with the UUA today, but I have heard recent reports that it has stepped back from the edge of the cliff. I don’t think any of Shinn’s churches have survived.
  5. Shinn was a celebrity minister; Clayton was a well-regarded one. Not to overdraw the line, but that’s where the difference between the two comes down to me.

I can be convinced otherwise if this doesn’t bear scrutiny.

Author: Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

4 thoughts on “Father Clayton and “Grasshopper” Shinn”

  1. Well, I certainly dont know enough of Quillen Shinn to be able to say nice things about him… All I can say is that Donald Bragg Clayton, Thomas Chapman, and Athalia Irwin thought enough of him to push for his continous work in 1901 and 1903 when attempts were made to end the Southern Missionary leadership. . I have no idea if these three – wanted him or kist wanted anyoneone to keep the southern missionary role.
    All three knew what it took to do the job though.

    On the otherhand, like you I cant begain to say enough nice things about Clayton –
    we can add the love his congregations had for him by mentioning that they bought him a house and paid for his tombstone – and named children after him. For those who dont know the story, this is not local congregation – this is the folks 400 miles away — they loved him enough to buy him a house when he lived 80-400 miles away!

    However , while he preached at Liberty in Mississippi, I thought the church was founded by folks from Feasterville SC, who even named the church for their own home church ,

    So how much influence was the midwesterner Rev Pingree on Clayton?? Quite a bit, I would say!

    :-) watching folks uninteasted in U history have their eyes glaze over….
    and say, how come Pingree and Clayton arent in most of the UU who’s whos?

  2. Gee, I would have to open my big mouth, eh?
    First why do I think D.B.Clayton was an influence on Clayton?
    1) Pingree was big on debates, as was Clayton (in those days a good relgious debate could last for days) Clayton also had his debates published in book form. 2) the same year of Pingree’s death, Clayton gave a son “Pingree” as a middle name. There is no other example of a Clayton family member with Pingree as a name (and that includes Clayton’s wife’s family – back for generations)

    Enoch M.Pingree (1816-1849)
    bron in New Hampshire, ordained 1835 and moved to the midwest – Kentucky and Ohio. pastor of the 2nd Universalist Society of Cincinnati 1842-
    Louiville Ky in 1843-1849 but active in south Ohio Miami area.
    known as a combative and fromidable debator in the frontier style. Also a good organizer and adminstrator. organized the Kentucky convention.

    “A Debate on the Doctrine of Universal Salvation: Held in Cincinnati, O., from March 24, to April 1, 1845. Between Rev. E.M. Pingree, Pastor of the First Universalist Church, Louisville, Ky. and Rev. N.L. Rice, D.D. Pastor of the Central Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, O. Taken down by a Reporter and Revised by the Parties.”
    went throught 3-4 printingsbetween 1845 and 1848.
    “A Debate on Universalism Held in Warsaw, Kentucky, May, 1844, between Rev. E.M. Pingree and Rev. John L. Waller…Reported by a Stenographer and Revised by the Disputants.”

    I believe one of these is online….but googling i couldnt find it.

    and Pingree had his biography published in 1850 – contaning some of his writings from The Star In the West.

  3. hmm, why dont i proofread?
    Pingree as an influence on Clayton!
    Although, Clayton admits that Clayton was an influence on him (his father and stepmother that is)

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