William A. Cothran

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1812 - 1879



Died, February 4, 1879, Rev. W. A. Cothran, of the Memphis Presbytery. He was born in Orange county, North Carolina, May 11, 1812; came to Tennessee with his parents when about nine years old; professed religion in the nineteenth year of his age, and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He was received by the Hatchie Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church on probation for the ministry about the year 1834; the exact time when he became a probationer and his licensure is not known. He was in school sometime at old Cumberland College while preparing for the ministry. He was married to Tabitha Winn in 1839. He was ordained in October, 1840, at Bethesda camp-ground, in Gibson county, Tennessee, by the Union Presbytery. Reuben Burrow, Jr., was ordained at the same time, both of whom were in the organization of the Memphis Presbytery, and, at the time of brother Cothran's death, were the only two of the original members in it. It will be seen from the dates given that brother Cothran was in the ministry for more than forty years, during which time he was active in the work. He may be reckoned among the fathers of our Church in West Tennessee. At the time he entered the ministry this part of the State was comparatively a new country and sparsely settled. Churches and church houses were few. So much of his early ministry was given to what was then called circuit riding. We are informed that in those days preachers, to fill the orders of their Presbytery, would be from home for weeks at a time; that they had to ride over a vast territory, and swim creeks and rivers in order to reach their scattered appointments--preaching in school-houses, and in the houses of private families, and in the open air. In this way protracted meetings and camp-meetings were held, congregations were organized and built up. It was then that our preachers did much work for little pay; yet they had raiment to wear and the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruise of oil fail, and God was with them blessing their labors. We would not reckon brother Cothran among the brilliant of our ministers, but his place was with the good and active preachers of his day. He devoted much time to the reading of the Scriptures, and took much pleasure in commenting on them and explaining them to others.

His aged companion who had walked life's pathway with him for thirty-nine years and shared the labors of life preceded him only four days in her death. She had given her heart to God in early life, and was a true and devoted Christian, a faithful companion, an affectionate mother, and a good neighbor. The writer of this sketch was intimate with her in the last years of her life and feels that he has lost a true friend and a Christian mother; and, as a congregation, we shall miss Aunt Tabitha, as she was familiarly called, when we meet in a congregation at Ebenezer to worship. Her familiar face will be seen no more, her voice in praise to God will no more be heard in the tabernacles upon earth. She died as she had lived full of faith and hope. In the last few days of her sickness she talked much of the reality, and joy, and power of the Christian religion. So passed away a good man and woman who fought the battles of life together, who passed ways in one week and lie in on grave. Peace be to their memory. They leave two sons, who are heads of families. May the earnest prayers of father and mother not be forgotten by them, but may they, with all their house, come and worship the God of their father and mother.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, April 10, 1879, page 2]

Please Contact the Archives with Additions/Corrections

Updated 5 February 2019