John Miller Cameron

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1791 - 1878



I had almost despaired of obtaining any reliable account of this old father in Israel, and especially of the latter part of his life, when the following notice from the pen of B. B. Berry appeared in a recent number of the Cumberland Presbyterian, which we take great pleasure in transferring to our pages:

"Rev. John Miller Cameron was born in Elbert county, Georgia, on the twelfth day of August, 1791, and died at his residence after a painful and distressing affliction of two months' duration, on the twenty-first day of February, 1878, being eighty-six years, six months and nine days old.

"The deceased while a youth came with his father and family to Kentucky in the year 1804, and settled near the mouth of Green river, in Henderson county, at which place he was married to Mary Orendorff in the year 1811. From this place he removed to the Territory of Illinois, and settled in what is now White county, in the year 1813; removed from there to Belleville in St. Clair county in the year 1816; and from there to Sangamon county in the year 1818. This move was made about the time that Illinois was admitted into the Union. He stopped for a time near Springfield, after which he settled on Rock Creek in the same county, at which place the writer became intimately acquainted with him. He was at that time a candidate for the ministry in the bounds of Sangamon Presbytery, and about the year 1827 was licensed to preach. He devoted the principal part of his time to the ministry until 1832, when he removed to Fulton county, Illinois, where he was instrumental in building up several church organizations. He remained there until the year 1836, when he removed to the territory of Iowa, and settled for a time in Jefferson County, where he was an instrument in building up several more church organizations.

"Shortly after the admission of the State into the Union he again removed to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and at that place built up an organization and erected the first house of worship in the place. He devoted a portion of is time in visiting and preaching in the counties of Mahaska, Wapelo, Van Buren, Jefferson, Keokuk, Henry, Jasper, and others; was always punctual at the judicatures of the Church, and seldom failed to be at his own appointments.

"In the Spring of 1849 he started with his family across the plains a distance of two thousand miles, to California. He arrived at a place now known as Fremont about the first of October of the same year; remained there but a short time; then went to Sacramento, where he remained during the Winter. In the Summer of 1850 he removed to Martinez, preaching occasionally until the Fall of 18561, when he removed to Sonoma county, near the present town of Sebastopol, where he purchased a farm on which he has ever since resided. He was set apart to the whole work of the ministry by the California Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1854. After this his time was mostly spent in visiting destitute places, preaching and organizing churches, and, after the organization, in visiting and supplying said churches until prevented by affliction and extreme old age. His wife died after a short illness at her home in Sonoma county, on the 25th day of March, 1876, at the advanced age of eighty-two years. Since this time the deceased seemed to be broken down in spirits, disconsolate, lonely, and dejected.

"Father Cameron was eminently a pioneer at the time of his settlement in Illinois in 1813, in Iowa in 1837, and in California in 1849. These States respectively had not been admitted into the Union. His life has been spent upon the frontier; and his occupation practically was to clear the way for those who would follow. He was a devoted husband, a kind and affectionate father, and a generous neighbor. He died as he had lived, faithful to every obligation. He was beloved by all who knew him; and a great many friends and relatives mourn their loss."
[Source: Logan, J. B. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois, Containing Sketches of the First Ministers, Churches, Presbyteries and Synods; also a History of Missions, Publication and Education. Alton, Ill.: Perrin & Smith, 1878, pages 207-209]

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Updated February 23, 2016