Robert Frazier

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1809 - 1872

Deceased Ministers

Rev. Robt. Frazier of Jackson Presbytery

[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1872, page 21]


A Brief Sketch of the Life and Death of Robert Frazier, Founder of the Messenger.


Rev. Robert Frazier was born in Blount county, East Tennessee, Nov. the 18th, 1809. In 1819 he removed with his father to Jackson county, North Alabama, and settled on the Tennessee river, just above Larkin's Landing, where he was raised. His father, Samuel Frazier, died in 1827, leaving a widow and ten children, five sons and five daughters. Rev. A. J. Steel, then of Franklin county, Tenn., and who still lingers on this side the river, though in the ministry full fifty years, preached his funeral the following year at Blue Spring campmeeting, where the town of Larkinsville now stands, at which Robert Frazier and two of his brothers professed religion and joined the church. In 1829, at a session of the Tennessee Presbytery in Huntsville, Ala., he placed himself under its care as a candidate for the holy ministry. Dr. Dennis, lately deceased, also became a candidate at the same time. Twelve months afterward both were licensed and placed on circuits, as was the custom then. These circuits embraced a portion of Tennessee and North Alabama. Finally he went to Greenville College, East Tennessee, where he remained a close student for three years. Having left College, he gave himself wholly to the work of the ministry. I have no information in reference to his ordination. While devoting himself to his calling he became acquainted with and married Miss Isabella McCarny [sic. McCamy], and settled in Athens, McMinn county, and soon commenced editing the publishing The Religious Ark, which was an ably conducted paper of the Church. Subsequently he removed to Memphis, where he again began publishing the Ark. He was editor also of other papers at different times. In his introduction to the Church Militant, an able monthly periodical of the Church, he says: "I come once more, and the fifth time as editor," &c. So he was an editor seven different times in his long and eventful life. As an editor his last labor was devoted to the Cumberland Presbyterian Messenger, which he commenced, in connection with Rev. E. B. Crisman, in Memphis, in January, 1872, and lived to publish two numbers. In these two numbers, however, he evinces the great strength and originality of his powerful mind.

But alas! how soon he is stricken down in death! On the 20th of February, 1872, he was attacked with a slight chill, but was soon up again. Another chill, however, followed, and the disease now assumed the form of Meningitis. Soon he lost all consciousness, and on Monday morning, the 26th, at 6 o'clock, all that was mortal of Frazier was no more.-- "How are the mighty fallen!" "He was not; for God took him." For more than forty years he had been a preacher of the gospel. His life had been a success, because he had given it from his youth to Jesus in the work of the ministry. His work, though long and laborious, was now done. The pen, to the use of which he had been inured so long, had suddenly dropped from his hand, and his tongue was forever silenced in death. "The silver cord was loosed, the pitcher broken at the fountain, the wheel at the cistern"; and the dust was ready to return to the earth as it was: and the spirit to God who gave it.

His oldest brother, Gen. Joseph P. Frazier, accumulated quite an amount of property, was a leading politician of North Alabama for many years, was often a member of the State Legislature from Jackson county, and shortly before his death came near being a nominee for Governor of the State, and to be the nominee in his party was virtually to be the Governor. He died in 1857. Samuel W. Frazier was a Cumberland Presbyterian minister of very precious memory to the Church, of sound talents, and was exceedingly popular and efficient in the pulpit. He was sent in 1838, though he was young, by the General Assembly to Texas as a missionary, where, after preaching promiscuously through the country to large congregations with great acceptance, he was chosen Chaplain to Congress of that Republic, and a few weeks afterward died in the Capital, much lamented by the members and people generally. He was a young man of great promise to the Church. To us how strange the providence! No man of his age promised more to the Church. Albert G. Frazier was a useful and devoted minister of the Church for many years in North Mississippi, where he died in 1862.

They were all men of uncommon minds. Their father was an intelligent man, and had a good library of books--a rare thing indeed in this country in that day--which the boys used to read frequently till midnight, after working hard all day on the farm. This accounts in some degree for their superior intelligence and fondness for books. It shows also the lasting force of early habits.

The sterling piety of the family was doubtless traceable to their mother, than whom I never have known a more devoted Christian. Truly she was a mother in Israel.

The subject of this brief sketch, though not the oldest of the three, was the first in the ministry, and survived the others many years. His mind was of a superior order, and he had been a life-long student. Books had been his constant companions from his earliest youth. He was familiar with the best standard works of his day, and could quote from memory freely from them--books written by the very best authors in Europe and America. His memory was excellent and he possessed a clear, sound judgment. Dr. Abercrombie, the great English metaphysician, wisely teaches in his mental philosophy that no man ordinarily possesses an extraordinary memory and judgment. He possessed both in an eminent degree. He was so given to mental pursuits and his calling that he cared little for property.

His criticisms were always rigid, but well founded and profitable. His great mind grasped truth readily, indeed almost intuitively, especially upon theological subjects. His knowledge of the Bible was profound, his research and observation extensive, while his experience was varied and rich, of long standing and full of wisdom. Upon the administration and government of the Divine Being I have heard him do some of the ablest preaching to which I ever listened. When he was properly at himself, and the circumstances were all favorable, his wonderful mind seemed to grasp more of the Almighty--his wonderful works in nature, providence and grace--than that of any other man I ever heard. He used the purest English in the pulpit; his arguments were powerful and conclusive, and his whole manner tended to fasten conviction upon every one who listened to him while preaching. Prominent among the great characteristics of his mind was earnestness. He was one of the most earnest men in the pulpit I ever heard. Says Dr. _______, of Memphis--"At the close of one of his powerful sermons at a campmeeting in Mississippi, about ninety mourners pressed to the altar for prayer."

But how sad the history in the closing scenes of life! How strange the providence toward him and his family! Once he was blessed with a happy family--an affectionate wife and a number of intelligent and promising children. But one after another was stricken down and consigned to the silence of the grave, until but two are left--both daughters. His great heart bore up with Christian fortitude, until his last son was taken. He fell from the third story window of the "Jackson block" upon the pavement in Memphis, in November, 1871, and was instantly killed. He was a young man of fine education and extraordinary business qualifications. His father was at Synod in the city of Corinth at the time. The news reached him by telegraph a few hours after. The tragedy of his death was so terrible that the shock was too great. Sorrow overwhelmed his feelings. He could bear up no longer, and his health commenced declining. His mind, however, was still active and powerful, as was clearly evinced in his editorials in the MESSENGER. At last nature succumbed, and disease fastened upon the vitals of life; there was no recuperative power, and death was the result. But--what a consolation to his relatives and friends--we sorrow not as those who have no hope. More than forty years he had belonged to the family of God, and to him all that while heaven was but a question of time. His foundation was as the solid rock, his strong and buoyant hope was as an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, his title in Jesus was intelligent and safe, and his higher and inner life was hid with Christ in God--consequently heaven was sure. Bless God for such a safe and sure religion, which makes us like Jesus, and therefore not only gives title to, but also qualification for heaven.

Of all that large and intelligent family, one after another has fallen and now sleeps in death, except my wife, who is the only surviving member. Peace to their ashes! I write the foregoing sketch not only because of the affinity existing between the family and myself, but because it is due the memory of departed worth, and also because he was founder and editor of the CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN MESSENGER.
   SCATTSBORO, [sic. Scottsboro], ALA., January 3rd, 1873.
[Source: The Christian Messenger: Devoted to the Theology, History and General Work of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and Christianity in General, [Waynesburg, Pennsylvania] March 1873, pages 67-71]

Frazier Family Information

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Updated 10 October 2018