Adlai Boyd

1804 - 1881

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister



REV. ADLAI BOYD was born in Iredell county, North Carolina, November 26, 1804. His parents, John and Elizabeth Boyd, in 1811 moved to Wilson county, Tenn. In 1814, they moved to Christian county, Kentucky, and the next year moved to Stewart county, Tennessee, and settled near the Kentucky line.

In 1817, at Saline camp-meeting, in Trigg county, Ky., he professed religion, and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He at once became an active member, and led or conducted prayermeetings. In 1822 he and Joseph A. Copp placed themselves under the care of Anderson Presbytery, at Liberty meeting-house near Greenville, Ky. In this old church-yard, side by side with his loved wife and his daughter Margaret, will he sleep until the resurrection morn. The greater portion of his long, laborious, and successful ministerial life, was spent in the Anderson Presbytery, in which he became a candidate for the ministry, and in which he was licensed and ordained.

His first appointment was on what was known as the Christian circuit. He had a sister living ten miles from Hopkinsville, in a neighborhood where two or three Presbyterian families lived. The pastor of the church at Hopkinsville had an appointment to preach at the house of one of his members. It was on a week day. The preacher failed to attend. It was a rest day with brother Boyd, and he was there. The people in attendance requested the proprietor of the house to ask the young man to preach. He refused to do so. He said it would be an insult to that intelligent audience to have that beardlessboy attempt to appear before them in the capacity of a preacher. Brother Boyd was very young, and had a boyish appearance. The congregation insisted that he should preach. The landlord finally consented, but said he would not go in the house. Brother Boyd was invited, and without knowing the opposition, proceeded with the services. Before he was half done preaching, the good old man was looking him in the face with streaming eyes, drinking down the precious truths, as they fell from the youthful stranger's lips. When the sermon closed, the good old man, forgetting their stockings were of different colors, took the youth in his arms, and thanked God that he had given the Church such preachers.

In 1826, brother Boyd and Rev. B. H. Pierson, now Dr. Pierson, of Arkansas, who has been a tower of strength in the Church for three score years, were sent by Anderson Presbytery to what was then known as the Kentucky purchase. The labors of these brethren were wonderfully blessed. Brother Pierson tells of their having seventeen conversions at a two days' meeting at a private house. More than one hundred persons were added to the Church during the year they traveled in that country. Brother Boyd and the sainted Wilkins were holding a meeting in the northern part of Christian county. On Sunday they had to move out of the house, as all could not be accommodated in the church. While brother Boyd was delivering his message with great earnestness, and with telling effect, the rain commenced falling rapidly. Brother Wilkins asked the audience to repair to the church. He took brother Boyd by the arm. He preached to them until they were assembled in the church without the least abatement in the interest. There were several professions before the congregation dispersed. Brother Boyd, in connection with another, was appointed to visit the churches in the Green River country, and preach to the congregations on their duties as church members. His labors were greatly blessed.

During all the years of his ministry, he was faithful in the work that God had given him to do. It may be truly said of him that he died with the armor on. Brother W. J. Gregory, of Chico, Texas, states the following: "I have heard brother A. Boyd preach when I was a boy, and often since. In some respects he was a wonderful man. When in Kentucky last summer and autumn, I had the privilege of attending a protracted meeting with him, at my old church. He was then preaching to the congregation. I heard him preach some of the best sermons I ever heard. His head was clear; his voice was clear and strong. I heard him preach a sermon on the will of God. The finest sermon, I thought, that I ever heard. He told me that he would sometimes ride forty miles in a day, and preach at night. He was a faithful, good man, and fell at his post. He was an amiable man, and greatly esteemed by the people. At these meetings numbers were converted."

His last sermon was preached from the first chapter and first verse of St. John, and was laid by those who heard it to be the best sermon they ever heard him preach. He preached on Christmas day, and New Year's day he was cold in death.

This is the testimony the children bear of their father: "Pa was seventy-seven years one month and five days old; can safely say he was a Christian sixty-five years, and for fifty-nine years he strove hard to perform his duty in the blessed Master's vineyard. All these long years he rode over hill and dale through the wooden country of Kentucky, to break the bread of life to an awaiting and thirsty people. It may be truly said of him that he fell with the harness on. He went on his last mission through rain and pelting snow, and presided at church session Christmas eve at Old Cypress, preached there the next day, and New Year's morn his body was a lifeless form in Greenville, while his spirit was singing the songs of the redeemed of earth. No more storms to be exposed to, no more prayers to offer, no more sermons to preach."

He died at his daughter's, whose husband is the nephew of Rev. T. B. Reynolds, deceased, who died in his early ministry, one of the brightest lights that ever adorned the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

When brother Boyd was a young man he married Miss Joanne Cessna, of Muhlenburg county, Ky. She possessed many personal attractions, and with all and the greatest of all she was a most exemplary Christian lady. She certainly possessed in an eminent degree the act of making her husband and their guests feel happy. He almost idolized his wife and children. She assisted in organizing the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church that was organized in the county, when she was a young lady. she died Jan. 3, 1864, leaving eight children to mourn her absence. Her funeral was preached by Dr. Bowden. She was buried in the cemetery at Liberty church, and eighteen years afterward her husband was laid by her side. The snow was falling fast at the time both were buried.

Brother Boyd was married a second time. He leaves a wife with four children, with a competency to support his wife and educate the children.

[source: Cumberland Presbyterian, April 13, 1882, page 2]