Monday, June 6, 2016

Pray Together, Stay Together

I've heard the expression, "Couples that pray together, stay together." What about four generations of several interconnected families?

Ministers in an interconnected family; created using Microsoft PowerPoint

Rev. Samuel Blair (1712-1751)

Rev. Samuel Blair was my 6 times great grandfather. He and his brother, Rev. John Blair emigrated from Scotland to the colonies in the 1720s and settled in Pennsylvania. Samuel Blair was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1730, after studying at Log College in Bucks County. The brothers became prominently identified with Presbyterian institutions and were early trustees of the College of New Jersey, now known was Princeton University. Rev. Samuel Blair served as acting-president of the college for a year, became vice president of the same institution, and the first professor of theology of Princeton Theological Seminary. He eventually became the minister at Faggs Manor in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and began a college for classical and theological studies. One of his students, Rev. Samuel Davies, considered the "Apostle of Virginia," thought Samuel Blair was the finest preacher on two continents. "None was better than he at the exposition of God's word."

Faggs Manor Church, now known as Manor Presbyterian Church, the second
oldest Presbyterian church in the U.S.; courtesy of member

I have written about his son, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. (1741-1818) previously in the post entitled, Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. He was a pastor at the Old South Church in Boston, chaplain for an Revolutionary War artillery brigade, and the second chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816)

I have also written about Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816) before in the post entitled, Apostle of Kentucky. David Rice, Jr. served in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. He married the daughter of Rev. Samuel Blair, Mary Blair. His family was Episcopalian but he converted early to Presbyterianism and studied at the College of New Jersey. Rev. Rice spent over 20 years in Bedford County, Virginia, working among the slaves with Rev. Samuel Davies. As a result of that work and his basic human dignity, he became an ardent abolitionist. However, the powerful planter lobby in Virginia forced him out of the state. He settled in Kentucky in 1783 and joined its abolitionist society. During the 1792 Kentucky Constitution Convention he gave a speech entitled, "Slavery: Inconsistent with Justice and Good Policy."

Pamphlet of speech given by Rev. David Rice, Jr. at the 1792 Kentucky
Constitution Convention; courtesy of Internet Archive

His son was Dr. David Rice, III, and his daughter, Frances Blair Rice married Rev. James Mitchell.

Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841)

James Mitchell was born in Pequea, Pennsylvania, and removed to Bedford County, Virginia, with his parents and siblings. He became a licensed Presbyterian minister in 1781 and preached until the year before his death 60 years later. John B. Smith, president of Hampden-Sydney College, said that Mr. Graham on his visit, preached the greatest sermon he had ever heard, except one, and that was preached by this powerful weak, gentle and strong old man, Rev. James Mitchell. Rev. William Foote in his Sketches of Virginia, wrote of James Mitchell: "He pleads a cause, and has pleaded but one all his active life; pleads it in simplicity and earnestness and with success; pleads it in his daily life, and from the pulpit. That cause is the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ, the message of mercy to sinful man; that he pleads always, and every where, with a warm heart and trumpet voice." The church at the Peaks of Otter asked him to become their minister in 1786 and he remained at that congregation's minister until his death. Three sons-in-law and one grandson followed him into the ministry.

Covered bridge in the outskirts of Pequea, Pennsylvania; personal collection

One daughter, Sarah Dodridge Mitchell, married her first cousin, Rev. Samuel Davis Rice, son of Dr. David Rice, III, and Jane Holt.

Rev. Samuel Davis Rice (1795-1864)

Samuel Davis Rice was named after Rev. Samuel Davies, the "Apostle of Virginia," and student of David Rice's grandfather and good friend of his father, Rev. David Rice, Jr. He was the pastor of Diamond Hill Presbyterian Church in Gladys, Virginia, from 1853 through 1863.

Rev. Samuel Rice (1712-1751) was my 6 times great grandfather; his son, Rev. Samuel Rice, Jr. (1741-1818) was my 6 times great uncle; and his son-in-law, Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816) was my 5 times great grandfather. Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841) was my 4 times great grandfather and his son-in-law, Rev. Samuel Davies Rice (1795-1864) was the husband of my 4 times great aunt.

Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. 
Apostle of Kentucky


  1. I have some of this in my family tree too and I haven't quite decided if it simplifies things are makes them more complicated!

    1. I know exactly what you mean. When I first started researching families of Scottish descent, I thought the naming convention they used would be really helpful until I discovered my 3X great grandfather had 78 grandchildren and 15 of them were named Robert Muir all born within 20 years of each other. What a mess!