Thomas McCluney

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1823 - 1894

Photograph from the Minutes of Springville Presbytery 1903


By Rev. J. C. Smith.

The subject of this sketch was born in Chester District, South Carolina, May 8, 1823, departed this life at his home in Jefferson County, Alabama, March 26, 1894. When young McCluney was thirteen years old, his parents moved to the State of Alabama, and settled on Coosa river, near the present city of Gadsden. In the year 1842, Thomas professed religion. He was then twenty years of age, he promptly united with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Soon after joining the church, he was impressed that it was his duty to preach the gospel. But like many others have done, he sought to evade the responsibility. He told the Lord that he was not educated, saw no chance to acquire an education, that he wsa not gifted in speech. He made many excuses to the Lord, but still the impression remained with him. Finally, he made known to his father his feelings on the subject. The elder McCluney discouraged his son; so brother McCluney determined to follow the advice of his father and dismiss from his mind the thought of becoming a minister of the gospel. On the 11th of November, 1845, he was married to Miss Elizabeth S. Smith. This proved to be a happy union. To them were born two sons and two daughters, who reside in Alabama, one of whom Rev. J. T. McCluney, of Trussville, Ala., is a Cumberland Presbyterian preacher. Brother McCluney hoped that his getting married would settle the question of his call to the ministry, and that the Lord would then release him, but the impressions returned and to use his own language, "For fourteen years he sailed on a Jonah trip." But at last he concluded to offer himself to presbytery as a candidate for the ministry, at the same time hoping presbytery would reject him. At a meeting of the Talladega Presbytery, held at Porterville, DeKalb county, Alabama, in the year 1856, he was received under care of presbytery. He was licensed to preach in the year 1859, at Shady Grove Church. The presbytery would have, at that time, ordained him to the whole work of the ministry had he not requested for himself a longer time in which to prepare for this life work.

In the year 1860, at a meeting of presbytery held with the Coon Creek Church, Brother McCluney was ordained, Rev. J. W. L. Smith, preaching the ordination sermon, Rev. J. H. Willoughby presiding and giving the charge.

The second day of July, 1859, God saw fit to remove Brother McCluney's companion from this life to her reward above. He was again united in marriage to Mrs. Peruicia Reavis (nee Perkins) on the 30th of July, 1860. This was also a happy union, a result of which was three sons, all of whom live in the State of Texas. One of the sons by his second wife is a candidate for the ministry in the Red Oak Presbytery. After entering upon the work of the ministry Brother McCluney became a close student. He was well versed in the Scriptures, and well posted in the doctrines and usages of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He presented, from the pulpit, these doctrines in a forcible and attractive style. He was truly a doctrinal preacher, and his arguments seemed to be unanswerable.

While Brother McCluney was not what might be considered a revivalist, yet much of his ministry was spent in revival work. With Rev. T. B. Taylor his co-worker, he held meetings in the Elyton, Alabama, and Springville presbyteries. They labored together for fifteen or twenty years. Brother McCluney would frequently say that it took him and Taylor both to make a preacher. McCluney would pile the brush and Taylor would set fire to it.

Hundreds will rise up in the last day and call them blessed. Many of their converts are now in the ministry. These two men of God were devoted to each other. Their love for each other was like that of David and Jonathan. Brother Taylor died first, and Brother McCluney preached his funeral. The writer was present. The scene was a touching one. Brother McCluney in his sermon declared that the death of Brother Taylor practically ended his own ministry, that he had always been the "right arm of his power." This proved to be true, his own health failing shortly. Afflictions in his family prevented him from preaching during the last years of his life. His second wife preceded him to the better world. On Easter Sunday night he retired to sleep in his usual health. Some time during the night the messenger came, and his pure, spotless soul went home to God. Rev. J. S. Porter preached the funeral. Loving hands laid him away to sleep by the side of his second wife in Old Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Truly a great man in Israel has fallen.
       Waxahachie, Texas.
[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, August 4, 1898, pages 136-137]

Rev. Thomas McCluney, Jr. was the son of Thomas McCluney and Jane McCool McCluney. He was born in Chester District (later Chester County), South Carolina. The family moved to Alabama sometime during the 1830's. Thomas married Elizabeth S. Smith November 11, 1845 and they had seven children. Elizabeth died in childbirth July 2, 1859. Thomas then married Pernecia Perkins Reavis July 31, 1850. They had four children. Two of Rev. Thomas' sons followed him into the ministry. They were John Thomas McCluney and Smith Guthrie McCluney. Both were ordained in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church though Smith later was associated with the Presbyterian Church USA. A great grandson, the Rev. Alfred Cecil Casey, Jr. also became a Presbyterian minister with PCUSA. Three of his granddaughters, Bess McCluney Casey, Mary McCluney and Katie McCluney Sorelle, were the first women ordained as elders in their respective Presbyterian churches in Texas. He left a legacy for all his family to follow. It is a proud heritage.

Written by Kathleen Cox Nance
Great great granddaughter of Rev. Thomas McCluney
Ordained Presbyterian elder

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Updated February 6, 2008