Nathan Fox Gill

1830 - 1918

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

Recollections of Rev. Nathan F. Gill.

I was born November 11th, 1830, on White's Creek, in Davidson county, Tennessee, nine miles north of Nashville. My father's name was George Gill; he was born in Chester county, South Carolina, and was the son of James Gill and Mary A. Gill, nee Fox. He was the youngest of four brothers, all of whom served seven years in the Revolutionary War. My father's great-grandfather came from Ireland early in the settlement of South Carolina. My mother's name was Martha R. Marshall, the daughter of James and Margaret (nee Wilson) Marshall. My maternal great-grandfather was Gilbert Marshall, who came from Ireland. Rev. James and Rev. D. R. Marshall were my mother's brothers. Rev. Joseph Papa and Rev. J. L. Smith married my mother's sisters.

My father and mother, with my mother's mother, were three of the charter members of the White's Creek (now Mt. Hermon) congregation. I think in 1825 my father was made an elder. Except three years, when I was a child (three to 6 years old) I lived on the farm where I was born until I was thirty years old.

I professed religion at what was known as the old Buck Church Camp Ground, five miles north of Nashville, in October, 1842, and joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at the same meeting. I was ordained an elder in the White's Creek congregation in October, 1850, and went to synod that year at a church four miles north of Franklin, Tenn., (Springfield). In October, 1858, I joined the presbytery in Springfield. The Springfield Presbytery was united with Nashville Presbytery in the fall of 1852.

For three years I attended school at White's Creek Spring, taught by Professor E. L. Crocker. I was licensed to preach in the spring of 1854, at McAdams, in Montgomery county, and was ordained in the spring of 1857 at Hermon, my home church. In the summer of 1855, I traveled as agent for the American Bible Society in Davidson county on the north side of the Cumberland river. In the summer of 1856, I rode the circuit on what was then known as the Nashville circuit. There were eighteen appointments, and the round was made in two weeks until the camp and protracted meetings commenced, which was in July. In the fall I started to McMinnville to go to school, but took sick on the way and stopped at Robert Halston's, on Steward's Creek, and had to return home. In the Christmas week I was sent to McMinnville, where my brother was teaching, having charge of Cumberland Female College. I attended school at Rev. J. W. Poindexter's school until spring, when I was again ordered by the Nashville Presbytery to ride what was then the Springfield circuit, which had twenty-eight appointments on it. I had the promise of another young man, J. D. Alexander, to ride and divide time with me, but he did not come to my help and I filled these appointments every three weeks, preaching twenty-eight times in twenty-one days. I think I was the last circuit rider in the Nashville Presbytery. I preached for Hendersonville and Ridge for nearly two years. Walnut Grove Church was built one year before that time and is now what was Ridge Church. In 1860 I taught school at the Marshall Schoolhouse, near Gilbert Marshall's.

On the 8th day of August, 1860, I was married to Miss Carrie L. Bayley, in Elkton, Ky., and in January following took charge of the Greenbrier Academy, but remained there only until that session closed. The Civil War came on and brought on such confusions that I came back to my father and raised a crop on his farm in 1862.

The Civil War was progressing and the Federal army had taken possession of Nashville and the surrounding county, and the guerillas had said that I should either go into the army or they would kill me, and feeling that it would be best for my father's family, I moved from Tennessee with the expectation of stopping in Kentucky, but did not find a place until I got to Indiana.

I went to Booneville, Ind., and joined the Indiana Presbytery in the spring of 1863. In the spring of 1864 Dr. Freeman offered resolutions memorializing the General Assembly to pass resolutions declaring its loyalty to the government and out of this grew the resolution that produced such bitter feeling in the Church. The General Assembly met in Lebanon, Ohio. The next Assembly met in Evansville, Ind., in 1865. I had moved back to Tennessee in February before and found the Nashville Presbytery partially organized. Presbytery met that spring in Goodlettsville and there was a strong feeling against sending commissioners to the General Assembly on account of the political feeling existing. I was with great difficulty that I succeeded in being elected, though I volunteered to go if elected and was elected as one of the commissioners. I do not remember who the other one was, or who the elders were. I wrote to Rev. J. G. White, who was then pastor of the church at Evansville, telling him that the Nashville Presbytery had elected commissioners to the Assembly and if it was so we could get there we would be there. It was the action of the Nashville Presbytery and the information received through this letter that caused the General Assembly to come South as far as Owensboro the next year. But I did not go to the Assembly, for the reason that the moderator of the Nashville Presbytery refused to give me my commission. He said it was not because he was opposed to my going, but was opposed to anyone going. I could have gone, and suppose I could have gotten a seat in the Assembly, but that would have spoiled my plans. I wished to present as friendly an appearance from the South as possible, so as to reconcile as far as possible those who were so bitter on each side.

The next spring (1866), Nashville Presbytery met at Stone's Creek (now Cloyers) and I worked to get Dr. Provine to go to the Assembly, knowing that he was in correspondence with both those of the North and of the South who were conservative, and also that he had written resolutions upon which some of us thought the Church ought to remain and not separate. It was the paper adopted at the Assembly at Owensboro, known as "Dr. Bird's compromise;" it was only re-written by Dr. Bird.

I only remained in the Nashville Presbytery two years. I took a letter in the spring of 1867 and joined the McLin Presbytery in Illinois the same spring. I preached at Iuka and Bethel, in Marion county, Illinois, two years. I went from there to Booneville, Ind. I remained there for nearly three years, and was a member of the Indiana Presbytery while there. From there I went to Bloomfield, in Green county, Indiana, and joined the Morgan Presbytery. I found that church very much discouraged, and some of the members were in favor of joining the Congregational Church; in fact, there was a Congregational minister there who expected to receive the Cumberland Presbyterian Church into the Congregational Church.

The church was considerably built up while I was there. The church house was repaired and a parsonage bought, principally through the efforts of the ladies. I was while I was there that Julia Leavitt joined the church, who is now missionary in Japan. I was compelled to leave there because of the financial crash in addition to the general financial trouble in 1875; the crops of a great many members of the church were destroyed by the high water, which destroyed everything in the river bottom.

In 1878 I went to Owensville, Gibson county, Indiana, joined the Indiana Presbytery, and preached at Owensville and Bethel for several years, during which time the church at Bethel was very much built up. I moved from Owensville to Ft. Brand, in the same county, and preached at Mt. Zion until 1884.

In May, 1884, I moved to Ireland, Dubois county, Indiana, and took charge of the Shiloh congregation, which had seven regular preaching places in the bounds of the Morgan Presbytery. The membership of the church was about doubled while I was there in four years.

In 1890 my family moved to Nashville, but I preached in Kentucky, at Providence and Dixon, in Webster county, for two years and during that time belonged to the Anderson Presbytery. Since that time I have belonged to the Nashville Presbytery and have supplied the following congregations at various times: Bethel, Cross Plains, Kissady, Horseshoe, Tusculum, Cane Ridge, West Harpeth, Ash Grove, McKays and Pleasant View.

I have five children: N. Eugene, George R., Bayley J., Marshall and Bass P. George married in 1888, and died in 1890. The others are living at this date, April, 1899.
Los Angeles, Cal.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 21, 1903, pages 648-649

Rev. N. F. Gill
1027 N. Coronado St., Los Angeles, Cal
Los Angeles Presbytery - Pacific Synod

[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1917, page 256]


On March 19, 1918, 6:30 a.m., Rev. Nathan F. Gill was called higher and answered. Truly a good man is gone. Faithful to his Church, true to his God and his fellowman, he it is to whom the present life of our great work, as it is on the Pacific Coast, is largely due. Never faltered and maintained his confidence in our cause to the last. Brother Gill had suffered three strokes of paralysis and was struck by an interurban street car and carried eighty feet on the fender. His death occurred just two days before the meeting of his Presbytery which he has so often hoped he might attend. So we planned and carried his body to the church. When our roll call was made the first time Brother Gill didn't answer "present," he having answered the great Roll Call. We had a beautiful service, each member of Presbytery telling some special way he had been helpful to them. Five years continuously he had been at Sunday school every Sunday, for which he had received a gold badge of honor, and this attendance was between the age of eighty and eighty-five. His casket was literally covered with beautiful flowers, and also a ripened sheaf of wheat, suggestive of the ripened life. He was eighty-seven years, four months, and one day old.--W. L. Williams.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 2, 1918, page 15]

Report of the Committee on Deceased Ministers

N. F. Gill, Los Angeles Presbytery - March 19, 1918

[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1918, page 100]

Gill Family Information

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Updated January 3, 2008