Telemachus Camp - Evangelist

Memoirs of Telemachus Camp.

Memoirs of Telemachus Camp, published in the Western Evangelist & Baptist Messenger, Rockwell, Illinois, January 1850, Vol. 5, No. 7, pp. 44-45. Author of the article was Elder Peter Long, the editor of the above named paper, and the pastor of Mount Olive Church of which Telemachus Camp was a member.
Received as attachment by email, 11 Sept 2014 From Elder Robert Webb
The Primitive Baptist Library of Carthage, Illinois
Transcribed by Linda R.F. Arnold, 18 Sept 2014

Evangelist & Messenger.

Page 44

Memoirs of Telemachus Camp.

Telemachus Camp, was born in the State of Georgia, 1790 and died in Illinois Oct. 24th 1849. I have heard him say respecting his ancestry in the male line; that his grand father was an Episcopal Minister in the time, of the American Revolution; and I think sometimes officiated as Chaplain in the army. His grand son Telemachus, was informed by those who knew him that his religion was of such a stripe, he could preach and attend to the regular forms at church, and at wedding evenings amuse himself, and gratify his merry young friends, by playing the fiddle, while they danced—His sphere of operations was mostly in Virginia. He married many people; since none then were allowed in that colony to celebrate the Camp, was born in the State of Georgia, 1790 and died in Illinois Oct. 24th 1849. I have heard him say respecting his ancestry in the male line; that his grand father was an Episcopal Minister in the time, of the American Revolution; and I think sometimes officiated as Chaplain in the army. His grand son Telemachus, was informed by those who knew him that his religion was of such a stripe, he could preach and attend to the regular forms at church, and at wedding evenings amuse himself, and gratify his merry young friends, by playing the fiddle, while they danced—His sphere of operations was mostly in Virginia. He married many people; since none then were allowed in that colony to celebrate therite except an Episcopal Clergyman. After the war closed, he engaged in some trading enterprise; removed to the French settlment [sic] at Kaskaskia (now in Illinois) amassed considerable wealth, but getting into some kind of difficulty with the rude inhabitants of this outpost, he was murdered & his property squandered. One of the sons of the foregoing, and father of the subject of this memoir, settled in Georgia, at an early day, where he raised a large family of sons and daughters; and although the father lived, and died a non-professor; most if not all of his children became professors, and chiefly of the Baptist Order.—Telemachus, before he was fully grown, set up for himself, left his fathers [sic] house, went into Tennessee, then a new country; a few years after which he married Margaret Williams, and some years afterwards removed to Illinois, and with a few enterprising back-woodsmen, settled high up on Cahokia creek, now part of Macoupin county, in which vicinity he continued till the close of his life, a period of some thirty years. Himself and wife, being industrious and economical, acquired considerable property, & taught their children by example and precept, the excellent traits of industry, honesty, and hospitality. His wife and six children yet survive.

Young Camp made religion no part of his study till grown to man’s estate; but it then pleased God to awaken him to a sense of sin, and to view his guilty distance from God by reason of transgression—He not only like all other awakened creatures began to work under the law; but had even fancied that it was justifiable to retaliate an injury. Being now an inquirer after truth, he concluded, (a good notion too) that he would for one thing read the bible carefully through.—So he began at Genesis, and coming to the law of Moses, he saw there the demand was, “eye for eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” Which strengthened him in his former notion of retaliation; but reading on, and still honestly inquiring, he finished the precepts “given by Moses,” and commenced examining the principles of grace and truth, which “came by Jesus Christ,” where he saw a very different system brought to view—forgiveness forgiveness, was inculcated, and he who asked forgiveness for himself, had no ground to expect the blessing to be bestowed, unless he from his heart forgave those who, had trespassed against him. Here he saw much was wanting; and was led to ask of him who alone could give it; the bestowment of that forgiving temper.—After a long and mournful scene of sorrowful conviction for sin, he was led to a degree of comfort, and hope of acceptance with God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, but till his dying day, he carried with him, a disposition to “cast away his confidence,” because the evidences of his change, were not so fully manifested in his own mind at one particular time, as it had been to most of the people he took to be Christians. He often remarked, when conversing on these things, that he could always remember deep and powerful convictions for sin a long time, and could also acknowledge, that he had enjoyed comforts of mind, and a degree of joy, mixed with hope for the forgiveness of sins; but to him those comforts, hopes, &c., at their commencement to any particular point of time he could not do it: Yet nothing he remarked gave him greater consolation than the evidence he had of love to true Christians; for in this he thought he was not mistaken. He first united with what was then called Emancipating Baptists, which afterwards became assimilated with the Missionaries; but becoming in the course of some years dissatisfied with the views of the people to which he belonged, and the slackness of discipline in the church of which he was a member &c., he concluded (tho’ in good standing himself) to quit them, and did so, and joined the Old Baptists, with whose views and practices upon the whole he was best satisfied.

He continued in membership with this body till he died. Some fifteen years of the last part of his life he was a member and clerk of Mount Olive Church. His health had been in a declining state for about twelve months, which ended in something much like the consumption; and which reduced him in flesh to a comparative skeleton, although he was able to walk about a little until within a few weeks before his death. I visited him often myself in his last afflictions, and was most distrest to see his own mind so disconsolate for as to my own opinion I had no fears respecting his future state. He was over fond of the company of his pious friends, many of whom visited him; at which interviews he expressed much gratitude for their kindness, and wondered that so many good people, should be so kind to one, considered so unworthly in himself. The only alteration in his mind, as the final scene approached was his increased love to the saints of God, and a full resignation to the divine will to dispose of him according to his good pleasure. Thus he passed through “the valley and shade of death.” I could write a volume respecting this kind friend, whom I loved so tenderly while living, and whose memory I so much revere now he is dead, but I must not let the ardor of friendship carry me beyond proper bounds, several times in his sickness he enjoined on me after his death to inform his brother in Georgia, and sister in Alabama by letter of this event. I assured him I would if I outlived him—this pleasing painful task, I have performed.

His Character,

Open candid and sincere, he scorned dissimulation, particularly in religious matters. When he spoke deliberately, he did not know how to say anything but the truth. Punctuality was with him a cardinal virtue, from which he never wilfully [sic] departed. His friendship was ardent, & deeply rooted, extending to all those in whom he had confidence, and whose dispositions were of a good quality—His judgment of character was good; and although he only trod in the ordinary walks of life, had his native intellect been properly cultivated, he would have shown as a star of superior magnitude.

These amiable traits of character were however sometimes a little sullied, with those infirmities with which all have to contend—He was easily irritated at what he conceived to be improper conduct; and once provoked, he was not soon reconciled—He was indignant at the discovery of ingratitude; and took it very hard, when his orders were disregarded by those who should have obeyed them. He was often too fond of the world, and fatigued himself when there was no call for it; this at times he much lamented; he also cultivated at times, a spirit of pensiveness that done him no good, a kind of melancholy, to which he was constitutionally addicted.—As further illustrative of the character of the man, not as laborend [sic] legends, but as stubborn facts, we present the reader with the following


When young, in his native country, a man his superior in strength, had insulted and beat him severly without just cause—Provoked by the injury, and unable with bodily strength to defend himself; he resolved to be revenged in a summary manner. Lacking opportunity before he removed, he still determined after he had reached a distant State, to return and take vengeance on his adversary—And even after beginning to read the Old Testament, he still thought revenge was right. But becoming acquainted with the gospel, and having his heart imbued with its spirit, (as he hoped,) suddenly the man who had injured him came into his mind—and O! he said had he been in his presence, he could

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have clasped him in his arms,--forgiven him with all his heart, and prayed God also to forgive him; which he did pray for then. His malignity with his former foe was ended.

He was not only hospitable to such as he considered true ministers of the gospel, but if they were needy would cheerfully bestow on them some of his worldly goods (we speak this from personal knowledge)—But such as made preaching a trade found little quarters with him.—A Tyro of the latter kind, too lazy to work, or study, and too ignorant to preach, except to make a noise, and strike the Bible, and stamp the floor, was recommended by a friend to call on Camp, a week or two, while he held occasional meeings [sic] round in the neighborhood—Camp was an early riser, so several mornings he rose, fed the young mans horse, and then called him up from his bed to his breakfast; in a few days getting tired of such guests, he looked the preacher in the face while eating breakfast and said to him, “Br. S----- if you don’t get up, feed your horse, and attend to prayer before breakfast, you and your horse may go without any thing to eat.” The young Divine never opened his eyes wider in his life, and very soon after took his horse and left.

Once in performing a trip to Georgia, and travelling from one relatives residence to another, he made choice to travel part of the time on foot, hearing of a book called the “Dialogues of Devils,” he called in a book-store, and inquired of the store keeper if he had one; the man told him he had a book called “The Devil on two sticks;” Camp concluded it was perhaps the same, purchased it; but after reading a little, found it to be some ridiculous romance, then going to the book-seller requested him to take it back, and let have something else in place of it as he was deceived in its character; the man took it back, but Camp had got some of the nonsense in his noddle, prosecuting his journey and coming among some hills, he gathered a stick for a staff; the hills continuing; to help himself the more, he took a stick in each hand, when instantly it popped into his mind—“the Devil on two sticks,” the Devil on two sticks,” and constantly in spite of him for a long time, as if some one was speaking to him it kept ringing in his mind—the devil on two sticks, the devil on two sticks.

He was kind to the poor at his house and otherwise beyond what we can now narrate—once on the high way he found strewed on the ground about five dollars; he made all possible inquiry, but never found an owner; he then put it into the hands of two faithful persons to give to the poor, which was done accordingly.

Although he acknowledged his liability of too great attachment to the things of the world, he had not the least relish for nonsensical amusements—When at anniversaries &c., (where he happened sometimes by accident) he would see men of age and steadiness marching and parading about, he was astonished. In 1840 politics ran high. He was of no party—did not vote itself, and being hard of hearing paid little attention to what was going on. With some friends near a road side once day, crowds were going by to Springfield to a great convention; he had heard nothing about “Log Cabins” &c. At length he remarked to his friends, “what do they mean by moving yon house,” says one “that’s a log cabin,” and then explained to him the nature of the convention—Well! Exclaimed Camp, “what will people get to doing at last?”!!

He was much impressed to keep up family worship, which part of his life he did with regularity, and when negligence or any cause kept him from it, trouble assailed him from a conscious neglect of the discharge of duty—he told me all about his trials on this head. Awhile before he died as I was about to go away, he addressed his family and others around and said quit your work till we have prayer; my trouble in life, continued he, has been, I was too busy to serve the Lord.

Notwithstanding his industrious habits, he spent a great deal of time in going to meeting far and near; and particularly in the fall of the year attended a number of associations; his principal object was to hear the preaching—He was commonly a member to the Kaskaskia Association from the church he belonged to.—This association was held in an adjoining county about a month before his death, he was appointed, and intended to go, but was not able. I was to see him the day before it commenced; he said when I was about to start, “I was in hopes I should be able to go this one time more to the association, but I shall not be able—tell all the preachers farewell for me; and request any that can with convenience to come by my house and hold meetings”—This request I made known to the brethren and for him bade them farewell.


Many things connected with the memory of the dead, are calculated to awaken profitable reflections among those that survive—particularly to shun what they saw in them that was wrong, and follow what was right. Let the true christian for one thing, if he wants peace of mind in a dying hour be mindful to practice in life and health known duties, and avoid known sins, otherwise these “little foxes,” will make distressing work among the vines. Again christians often set the standard of experience too high, and represent it to be circumstantially more uniform than it is, to the great embarrassment of many tender lambs of the flock—A thorough change of heart, is what constitutes the “new creature,” whether the evidence came all at once, or only first seen like, “men as trees walking.” Many of the most seemingly brilliant experiences, are illusory, and of the Devils manufacture.


Wake fav’rite muse! And spread-thy gen-
            tle wing,                                 [sing—

and with thy flowing numbers sweetly
Tho’ Winter reigns, and pensive nature
             weeps,                                   [sleeps;
Approach the tomb where TELEMACHUS
The foliage fades before Decembers
            storm,                                   [warm,
But mem’ry lives, and friendship’s ever
Thou art not coming to a warriors grave
To chant the triumphs of the martial
             brave,                                    [state
Who liv’d admired—at death interr’d in
With false inscription thus—“Here lies
             the great.”
But thou approachest to the quiet dust
Of one, who put in God alone his trust,
Of one who did in life and death confess,
If ever sav’d ‘twould be alone by grace.
Short are our comforts here—how soon
             they end;                                  [friend;
Low lies thy former true and faithful
Who in thy travels bore thee company,
And never left thee in adversity.
When pain and fever rack’d thy aching
                  head,                                  [thy bed
This friend so constant watch’d around
To soothe, thy weeping children and thy
            wife,                                       [life.
Till sickness yields again to health and
Oft hast thou tarried at his kind abode,
And witnessed pleasure in the gifts be-
And angel hospitality could trace,
In every smile that sparkled in his face.
The halt, the lame, the poor were wel-
             come there,
And none but idle loafers need despair.
But God’s true servants were his fav’rite
(Since acts the ruling passion ever tests;)
While hypocrites read in his piercing
“I love your absence not your company”
Yet fierce sectarianism did not hold
Within his breast her empire uncontrolled.
A Baptist, out and out, he was ‘tis true.
Yet gave to other christians credit due.
Our loss is great—But cease the murm’ring strain
We trust our loss is his eternal gain.
And while we still the pilgrims journey run,
His virtues copy—and his errors shun.
He’s left forever this sad world below.
A few more days and we shall leave it too.

County Coordinator Kathleen Mirabella
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