Philip McDonnold

? - 1815

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

Cumberland Presbytery
Big Spring, Wilson County, Tennessee
A committee was appointed to confer with the several young men. They report that Mr. Solomon Reece be recommended to write a discourse, study English grammar, and bring a certificate of his moral character to our next Presbytery, in order to be examined by a full Presbytery on experimental religion and his call to the ministry; that Mr. Samuel McSpadin be recommended to exercise his gift in a way of public exhortation anywhere within our bounds; likewise that he be recommended to study English grammar and divinity; that Mr. Price be permitted publicly to exhort within the bounds of the societies where he is known, with the consent of the sessions of such societies; that Philip and James McDaniel [sic McDonnold] be recommended to go to school, and improve themselves in common English, study English grammar and other useful books, as far as they have opportunity, and that they be recommended to attend Presbytery, hoping that in future they will be useful to the Church. Unanimously concurred in by Presbytery.
[Source: Minutes of Cumberland Presbytery, March 19-22, 1811]

Cumberland Presbytery Minutes - October 9-11, 1811
Ridge Meetinghouse
The Presbytery having, by their committee, last session examine Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] on experimental religion and his call to the work of the ministry, which was satisfactory, and having received a good report of his moral character, at the same time having recommended him to go to school, which it appears he has done, and from his attention to study has made good progress, which encourages the Presbytery to resolve therefore, that said McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] be received, and henceforth considered a candidate for the ministry, and that he prepare a discourse from Revelation 3:20, to be delivered at our next Presbytery; and as the Presbytery wish to give a proper countenance to literature when it can be obtained, they do hereby request said McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] to go at least one year or more, if circumstances will admit, to Lebanon Academy, to attend to such studies as Messrs. Finis Ewing, Ephraim McLean, and Young Ewing, will direct, who are hereby appointed a committee to superintend his education.

Resolved, that for the purpose of educating Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], the ordained ministers present, do mutually agree and bind themselves to collect or procure ten dollars, and as they can, for the above purpose, and if there should be any more money raised than will be necessary, it shall be applied to similar purposes by the direction of Presbytery; one-half the money to be collected at least by our next Presbytery, the balance by our next fall session.

Whereas, five dollars have been collected from several elders now present, for the purpose of assisting in paying the tuition of Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], Presbytery therefore orders that such money, or whatever other moneys may be collected from elders and brought forward, shall be put into the hands of the committee appointed to the care of his tuition, and shall go proportionately to lessen the sums the preachers are bound to procure.

Presbytery proceeded to examine Messrs. William Barnett, David McLin, and William Bumpass on English Grammar and Divinity, which were unanimously sustained, and Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] on English Grammar, which was sustained.

Ordered, that Messrs. Robert Donnell, Samuel Donnell, William Barnett, David McLin, William Bumpass, and Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], be required to stand an examination on English Grammar at our next stated Presbytery.

Cumberland Presbytery Minutes - April 7-9, 1812
Sugg's Creek Meetinghouse
Mr. Thomas Calhoun, in compliance of an order of Presbytery to collect money for to school Mr. Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], paid $10.00. Mr. Hugh Roan, toward schooling Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], paid $1.00. Just received for same purpose $.75; David Foster $5.00; Robert Bell $5.00; James B. Porter $7.1875; Finis Ewing $5.50; Hugh Kirkpatrick $5.00; Ephraim McLean $5.00. Which money was given into the hands of the committee appointed to superintend his education.

Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] delivered (by his agent) a discourse from Revelation 3:20, as part of trial, which was sustained.

Ordered, that Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] prepare a discourse, to be delivered at our next Presbytery, from Romans 10:4.

Cumberland Presbytery Minutes - November 3-6, 1812
Lebanon, Christian County, Kentucky
Presbytery made inquiry of the committee appointed to superintend Mr. Philip McDaniel's [sic: McDonnold] education with respect to his progress. Agreeably to the report of the committee, it appears that he has made satisfactory progress in the several branches of literature to which he was directed to attend. It also appears from said report that the whole demand against the Presbytery for said McDaniel's [sic: McDonnold] tuition and board is fifty-seven dollars and ten cents; out of which sum there has been received by the committee, at the two former Presbyteries, forty-nine dollars and forty-three cents; which sum, however, is now paid to the committee out of monies just received for the above purpose from the following persons, to wit.: Messrs. William McGee paid nine dollars and forty-three and three-quarter cents; Samuel King, nine dollars and forty-three and three-quarter cents; Hugh Kirkpatrick, four dollars and fifty cents; David Foster, four dollars; amounting in the whole to twenty-seven dollars and thirty-seven and one-half cents, which is to be at the future disposal of the Presbytery.

Mr. McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] read a discourse from Romans 10:4, which was unanimously sustained as a poular discourse.

Agreeably to the appointment of Presbytery, last evening, Messrs. McGee, Ewing, King, Kirkpatrick, and Calhoun met at Mr. Finis Ewing's as a committee to attend to the examinations of the young men under the care of Presbytery. The committee report as follows: Messrs. William Barnett and Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] attended and were examined on Divinity and English Grammar, which examinations were unanimously sustained.
The above report was sanctioned by Presbytery.

Presbytery received by the hands of Philip McDaniel, [sic: McDonnold] five dollars, Joseph Brown one dollar, Daniel Benham one dollar, and Samuel Miller one dollar, for the use of our Presbytery library, which monies are deposited in the hands of Mr. McGee to buy such books as he may think proper.

At Lebanon, the sixth day of October, 1812, Cumberland Presbytery having received sufficient testimonials in favor of Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], of his literature as required by this Presbytery, of his good moral character, and of his being in communion of the Church, proceeded to take the usual parts of trial for his licensure, and he giving satisfaaction as to his accomplishments in literature, as to his experimental acquaintance with religion, and as to his experimental acquaintance with religion, and as to his proficiency in Divinity and other studies, the Presbytery did and hereby do express their approbation of all the parts of trial, and he having adopted the Confession of Faith of this Church, as adopted by this Presbytery, and satisfactorily answered the questions appointed to be put to candidates to be licensed, the Presbytery did and hereby do license him, the said Philip McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], to preach the gospel of Christ as a probationer for the holy ministry within the bounds of this Presbytery, or wherever he shall orderly be called.

Ordered, that Mr. McDaniel [sic: McDonnold] ride on the Livingston and Kentucky circuits, and that Mr. Chapman spend the time from the intermediate to our spring Presbytery, on the same circuits.

Cumberland Presbytery Minutes - April 6-9, 1813
Beech Meetinghouse in Sumner County, Tennessee
Mr. Bell has just paid five dollars, which is the balance due by him to the committee entrusted with the education of Mr. McDaniel [sic: McDonnold], which sum is delivered into the hands of the stated Clerk, which, being added to what he had in his hands before, makes, in the whole, twenty-four dollars and seventy-one and a half cents.

The following persons shall be considered under the direction of said Logan Presbytery when constituted, to-wit: Philip McDaniel, [sic: McDonnold] Robert McCorkle, Green P. Rice, John Barnett, and Daniel Boe; the boundaries of said Presbytery to be as follows: Beginning at the mouth of the Duck River, thence a direct line to Cumberland River, so as to include the settlements of Yellow Creek, thence up Cumberland River to the mouth of Half-Pone Creek, thence a direct course to the Kentucky state line, where the old Kentucky road crosses said line, yet so as to leave Karr's Creek society in the bounds of said Presbytery, leaving out what is called the Ridge society; thence eastwardly to undefined boundaries (it is understood, however, that the counties of Cumberland and Wayne, in Kentucky, are not to be considered in the bounds of said Presbytery), thence northward and westward to undefined boundaries from each point. It is expressly understood, however, that lines striking off from said bounds of said Logan Presbytery are to include William and John Barnett and Philip McDaniel, [sic: McDonnold] yet not so as to include any society in the Cumberland Presbytery, or territory to form one on, and it is hereby understood that all the congregations, etc., with the natural or prescribed boundaries of either of the Presbyteries shall be considered under the care of their respective Presbyteries; and it is hereby expressly directed and mutually agreed to, that said Elk and Logan Presbyteries meet this Presbytery with their documents on the first Wednesday in October at the Beech Meetinghouse, in Sumner County, and State of Tennessee, for the express purpose of constituting a Synod; and it is hereby directed that the committee appointed to draw up a complete though succinct account of the rise, doctrines, etc., of the Cumberland Presbytery, make their report to the Synod when constituted. And it is hereby ordered that Messrs. Bell, Kirkpatrick, and Ewing divide in three equal parts, as near as may be, all the books and money belonging to the Cumberland Presbytery Library, and allot to this Cumberland Presbytery one part, to the members intended to compose the Elk Presbytery one part, and to the members intended to compose the Logan Presbytery the other part, to be disposed of in their several Presbyteries accorading to the institution of the library.

Logan Presbytery Minutes - August 31-September 1, 1813
Redriver Meeting House in Logan County, Kentucky
Ordered that an intermediate Presbytery composed of all the Ordained preachers belonging to this Presbytery be held in the bounds of the Mount Moriah congregation on the first Friday in next February for the purpose of ordaining Phillip McDonald, William Barnett is directed to preach the Ordination Sermon and William Harris to preside and give the charge. Phillip McDonald is directed to prepare to stand an examination on Divinity and all the branches of literature required by the confession of faith of our Church and also deliver a discourse from Romans 8th Chap and 1st Verse.

Logan Presbytery Minutes - March 8-10 1814
Lebanon, Christian County, Kentucky
The minutes of the intermediate Presbytery were received and read as follows (to wit) The intermediate Presbytery met at Micajoh Rowlands in the bounds of Mt. Moriah congregation on the 1st Friday in February 1814. Members Present, Rev. Messrs William Harris, Alexander Chapman and William Barnett. Constituted by prayer. Rev. William Harris was chosen Moderator and William Barnett Clerke.
Phillip McDonald delivered a discourse from Romans 8th Chap and 1st Verse, which was sustained as preparatory to Ordination. Presbytery adjourned to meet tomorrow morning at 7 o'clock. Concluded with Prayer
Saturday 5th Presbytery met agreeably to adjournment. Constituted by prayer. Members present as on Yesterday.
The Presbytery having received testimonials in favour of Phillip McDonald's moral character and of his being in the communion of the church, and of his aptness to teach proceeded to take the usual parts of trial required by our discipline, (that is) his acquaintance with experimental religion, his internal call to the ministry, his knowledge of Natural and Revealed religion, of Philosophy, of Astronomy, of Georgraphy, of Ecclesiastical history, of English Grammar, and also his knowledge of the constitution of our Church all of which were satisfactory.
Rev. William Barnett preached the Ordination sermon from St. Mark 16th Chap and 15the Verse.
Said Phillip McDonald having adopted the confession of faith of this Church and satisfactorally answered the questions appointed to be put to Candidates for the whole work of the ministry, the presbytery did and do hereby set P. McDonald apart, by the imposition of hands and prayer, to the whole work of the ministry, after which a solemn charge was given agreeably to appointment by the Rev. William Harris who presided, and the whole was concluded with prayer.
William Harris Mod.
William Barnett Clk.

[March 9, 1814]
The Rev. Phillip McDonald appeared and took his seat in presbytery, indisposition prevented his attendance on Yesterday.

Logan Presbytery Minutes October 4-5, 1814
Mount Pleasant, Montgomery County, Tennessee
Membes Present: Phillip McDonald
Ordered that John Barnett ride the whole of his time as a missionary in the Western District and that Rev. Messrs Chapman and McDonald ride the half of their time in the Eastern District.

Logan Presbytery Minutes April 4-6, 1815
Liberty meeting house in Christian County, Kentucky
Member present: Rev. Phillip McDonald
On inquiry it was assertained that the missionaries had complied with the order of last presbytery, with the exception of Alexander Chapman, William Barnett and Phillip McDonald, who were reproved, and directed to be more punctual in future.

Presbytery allots the Library in the following manner, (viz) ...Frazers Key fourth Volume of the Christian Monitor and Geography of the New Testament to Phillip McDonald...

Ordered that an intermediate Presbytery be held at Piney to meet on the second Friday in August next for the purpose of Ordaining said John Barnett and setting him apart to the whole work of the ministry and that Phillip McDonald preach the ordination sermon and that Finis Ewing preside and give the charge and that William Barnett and Alexander Chapman attend as members.

Logan Presbytery Minutes November 1815
Redriver meet house in Logan County, Kentucky
Presbytery has learned with deep regret that the Rev. Phillip McDonald is dead, but while they deplore the loss that his brethen and the Chruch have sustained by the afflicting event, they rejoice that he died unshaken in that Faith which he preached to others and in full confidence of eternal felicity.





There is something mysterious as well as melancholy in the early death of a useful minister of the gospel. The bereavement is felt by the church, and can but be regarded as a public calamity to the world.

Whatever may be the reason of the Great Head of the Church for thus calling to an early grave those who seemed so well calculated to guard and promote the interests of truth, we are not to attribute it to a disposition of the part of Deity to afflict his people unnecessarily, or to withhold from his cause the requisite instrumentality. Brilliant talents and great usefulness are sometimes perverted and even idolized by the church, and this may be the cause of the early removal of very successful preachers from the walls of Zion. God will not suffer idolatry on the part of his people to pass unrebuked. It matters not, however, whether we can or cannot ascertain the cause, we always feel peculiar regret at the death of a great and good man.

These reflections will naturally arise in the minds of many on seeing the name of the Rev. Philip McDonnald at the head of this article.

In thus introducing his name to public notice, the writer has been prompted by a wish to preserve the memoryof one who had but few equals for pulpit eloquence in the great valley of the Mississippi. He is aware, however, that he is not the man to do justice to the character of brother McDonnald, having had but a limited personal acquaintance with him, and heard him preach but a few times.

Mr. McDonnald was present at the first campmeeting the writer ever attended. He preached every day, and although near thirty years ago his appearance, voice, and action in the pulpit are as distinctly recollected as the occurrences of yesterday. On Monday of the meeting, he made his most powerful effort, from the text, "Whose fan is in his hand," &c. At the close he appealed to the congregation on his knees. A more powerful effect upon an audience the writer never witnessed. He has occasionally seen discourses closed in the same way since, but never with the same result. Sometimes he has thought injurious impressions were made, and perhaps the audience disgusted. And he gives it as his opinion that such a measure should never be resorted to unless urged by feelings next to irresistable. For one preacher to adopt a measure simply because it was seen to be useful in the hands of another, is any thing but wise.

With the parentage and early education of the subject of this notice the writer has no knowledge. He was converted at a campmeeting among the hills of Cumberland river. The preacher is yet living who wept and prayed with him on the memorable night of his conversion. He told the writer not long since that he felt convinced at the time that God had a work for him to do in his vineyard.

The appearance of brother McDonnald in the pulpit was unusually impressive. Ideas and words seemed always at command, while his feelings commanded him at least so far as modulation of voice, jestures, &c. were concerned. His elocution was not boisterous and vehement, nor was it a theatrical affectation of pathos, but the most natural and expressive annunciation of his thoughts and feelings in a voice truly melodious, accompanied by a countenance which changed with every vibration of thought and motion.

The subjoined letter casually fell into the hands of the writer but a few months since, and may be regarded as the means of suggesting the foregoing remarks. The letter he thought worth publication, not because it exhibits the high order of intellect possessed by the writer, for it is a private communication, addressed in haste, and without care to a special friend, but because it gives the undisguised feelings of the preacher's heart, in view of the unfruitfulness of his labors.

It will be seen also from this hasty note of brother McDonnald, that in preaching he aimed at the immediate conversion of sinners. Present results were what he wanted. The minister who thus preaches, rarely, if ever, labors long without seeing more or less of the divine blessing upon his efforts. But here is the letter.

"LOGAN COUNTY, Jan. 22d, 1813.

Reverend and Dear Sir:

I have just come from Mrs. McDowel's, where I tried to preach Christ to a large and attentive congregation. There was some feeling among the people, "but the former days were better than these."

I am almost worn out preaching, and yet with a sorrowful heart must tell you that there has not to my knowledge been a conversion on my circuit for the last two months. God have mercy!

I am waiting with great impatience to receive your list of appointments for this circuit. I long to see you and hear you preach. We expect a two day's meeting at Red river meeting house, to commence on the 20th of next month. Help will be scarce, and we hope you will attend. If in your power to do so send word to bro. Chatham Ewing.

But it is late at night, and a fatigued body bids me lay down my pen and go to bed. I am yours in the bonds of a peaceful gospel,


Rev. William Harris."

It will be seen that this letter was written on the circuit which was the theological school of brother McDonnald. He carried his books in his saddlebags--read and studied one day, and preached the newly acquired ideas the next, and thereby recorded them on his mind.

In this school most, if not all of the first preachers in the Cumberland Presbyterian church were trained, and the writer doubts whether any thing has been gained where the itinerating plan of preaching has been discontinued. A system that worked well when the church was struggling for life, ought not to be abandoned in haste after her existence is settled. Your congregations may all have pastors, but is your country supplied with congregation. Besides who will go into our border neighborhoods, and be ready to preach the gospel so soon as the emigrant shall erect his cabin? Not the settled pastor, but the oldfashioned circuit rider.

But there are objections to this system. So there were thirty years ago, but they were disregarded by the fathers of the church.

A few general remarks will close this article.

To young men preparing for the ministry I would say, though you may dispair of reaching that point of eminence and usefulness attained by many of those who have ceased to act in the church below, still fix your eye on an elevated model. Nothing so dwarfs the mind, and gives a commonplace character to its operations, as to adopt a common model in the ministry. Let no acquisition of any given amount of knowledge and usefulness satisfy you.

There is every thing in the state of our country and the world to stimulate preachers of this age to the highest efforts of intellect, and the most faithful improvement of all the powers they possess. Nations are agitated, and signs of revolution abound. May the collision be confined to mind. Should the present foundations of society be broken up, and the social fabric taken down, master spirits and plastic hands will be required to rebuild the edifice. In this noble work, preachers of the gospel must bear a part.

Never has a wider door been open tothe spread of truth. The government of christian nations is rapidly extending over the pagan world, and offering protection and encouragement to the missionary of the Cross. Facilities for travelling have brought the world together as one vast neighborhood, while the improved art of printing gives wings to though, and enables mind to act upon mind regardless of distance. These advantages are equally at the command of man, as well as truth, and will be seized by the enemy of religion, if not speedily improved by the church.

A word on the subject of memoirs of our departed ministers. The writer regrets that this matter has been so much neglected. Men of a high order of talents, as well as piety, have gone from the walls of Zion, and no effort has been made to preserve their memory, and transfer their example to posterity except in a brief obituary notice published in a newspaper.

Without attempting to point out the cause of this neglect, or the loss sustained by the church from it, the writer would suggest the outlines of a plan to collect materials to remedy the evil in future. Let associations be formed by the religious students of our institutions of learning, embracing candidates for the ministry, &c., and make it the duty of each membver previous to his leaving college, to place in the archives of the society, a succinct account of his early education, youth, &c., up to the period of his leaving the institution. When he dies, let the association call on some intimate friend to furnish a sketch of his life from the time he left the college till his death. Place all on permanent record, so that should a memoir ever become desirable, the requisite materials will be at command. The association might correspond with preachers and candidates for the ministry not connected with college, with a view to the same object.

One or two thoughts to the church. You have been blessed with the toils of great and good men who have gone to reap their reward in heaven. Long ought they to live in memory, and long will they live in the fruits of their labors. It becomes your duty to pray that others may be reared up to occupy their place, and that the light of Zion may continue to shine with increased brightness till the triumphs of the gospel shall spread over all the hills and vales of our own country, and over the whole world.

While you love the doctrines of religion as taught from your pulpits, be careful to love the duties of religion still more. As your numbers increase, and field of operation extends, take care that no sectional interests spring up to prevent concentrated effort on general subjects. Little streams of benevolence that should fall into a common current, are sometimes withheld to sustain village and neighborhood interests, and are too often permitted to cross each other greatly to the injury of the general prosperity of the church. Guard against this evil.

[Source: The Theological Medium, Vol. 2, No. 1, November 1846, pages 306-309]

Philip McDonnold died before my day, but as his father, Redmond McDonnold, was my father's uncle; and as his mother and younger brother, Barnett, long survived him, I used to hear his wonderful career discussed very often. The family lived in what was then called Stoglan's Valley, on the borders of what was then Wayne County, Kentucky. I made many a visit to their home, and the name of Philip was spoken with profoundest veneration. By some strange freak the orthography of his name is perverted into McDaniel, even in the published minutes of his own presbytery. The McDaniels were another family and no kin to the McDonnolds, but a noble preacher rose up among them at a later day. I know that Dr. Beard tried to collect material for a biography of Philip McDonnold, but as he never published the biography, it may be that he failed to secure the necessary facts.

McDonnold was an extemporaneous orator and left no writings at all. The old people said that when he came from the woods (which was the closet of prayer in those days) and went into the pulpit, he was often as white as a sheet. When he began his sermon, pouring down torrents of oratory and of fire upon them, there was but one way to resist, and that was to run as quick as possible out of hearing. Wonderful things are related about the effects of his oratory. People said he often made them feel as if the day of judgment had already come. Many of our old people, David Lowry among the number, insisted that the spiritual power of Philip McDonnold's oratory was never equaled on earth. He married a daughter of General Robert Ewing, who was Finis Ewing's oldest brother, and died in 1815, at the close of his twenty-first year. His only son, Philip Monroe McDonnold, entered the ministry, receiving licensure. He married, and then, like his father, died, leaving only one child. After Philip McDonnold's tongue had been dust for more than fifty years old men still wept when some of his thrilling appeals to sinners were mentioned in their presence.

[Source: McDonnold, B.W. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Nashville, Tenn.: Board of Publication of Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1899, page 96]

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Updated February 7, 2012