Clemens Smith Means

1800 - 1879

Cumberland Presbyterian Church



CLEMENS MEANS was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, January 26th, 1800. His parents were Andrew and Nancy Means, both of Irish descent. He embraced religion at Rock Spring camp-ground, Overton County, Tennessee, November, 1822, under the influence of ministers, Robert Guthrie, Hiram A. Hunter, James S. Guthrie and David Foster.

The following very interesting sketch is given to the reader in Father Means' own language:

I will give a short sketch of the condition of our settlement in Overton County, in the year 1821. We had but little preaching. Rev. James S. Guthrie rode the circuit, to go around which took about four weeks. some interest was manifested. On the following year they held a camp-meeting in November, at Rock Spring, Overton County. At that meeting there were nine or ten of the McDonnold connection professed religion. Four of that number became preachers, viz: John and Robert Tate, Arthur Ledbetter and myself. The preachers who attended were James S. Guthrie and his father, Robert Guthrie, Hiram A. Hunter, D. Foster and Hiram McDaniel. From this meeting we returned home happy, and took up our cross and appointed prayer meetings and went to work,--and I can say for one, for life--having our prayer-meetings every Sabbath and Sabbath night and Wednesday nights, thinking it no hardship to walk two or three miles to meeting, and very often continuing the worship nearly all night. The result was very often two or three professions of a night.

In the fall of 1823, we had a camp-meeting at Cave Spring, which was of immense value and importance to the people of Overton County. Cave Spring will be remembered as the place where many were born of the Spirit, and from that time until 1860, the fourth Sabbath in September has been the regular time of holding camp-meeting at Cave Spring.

And now while mentioning the glorious times that we had in those days, I cannot forbear saying something about the impressions that were at work with me and how I was troubled sometimes. Looking at my weakness and having a family which was dependent on me for a support, would clear my conscience for a time, but again the worth of souls and eternal things would be presented to my mind accompanied with "woe is me if I preach not the gospel." Under these feelings I have often promised the Lord I would do the best I could.

With these impressions, I left my old associates and Christian friends and went to the then far West and settled in Clay County, Mo. I have found some friends of the Methodist order. With them the first year I enjoyed myself well, meeting with them in their class-meetings. In the meantime I became acquainted with Rev. Hugh R. Smith, and nearly all the Cumberland Presbyterians in Clay County. I also became acquainted with Rev. Robert D. Morrow and Rev. Archibald McCorkle. These two brethren, with Hugh R. Smith, held a camp-meeting in Clay County, Mo. I attended it. It was there and at that meeting that I determined to go into the work. Brother Morrow preached from these words "Occupy until I come." I also became acquainted with Solomon Kimzey, a candidate for the ministry. With him I associated and assisted in holding meetings, until the meeting of presbytery, which was about one hundred miles down the Missouri River, in Saline County.

I attended the presbytery and became a candidate for the ministry. The ministers who then comprised the Lebanon presbytery, were Finis Ewing, Robert D. Morrow, Archibald McCorkle, Henry Renick, Caleb Weeden, D. Kirkpatrick and Bro. Wear. The next year they cut off four or five counties and formed Lexington presbytery. Shortly afterward, say in the year 1830, they constituted the Barnett presbytery, and I fell within its bounds. At the house of Bro. Andrew Robertson, Clay County, Missouri, on the 4th day of April, 1832, I was licensed by the members of that presbytery, viz: Samuel King, Daniel Patton, Henry Renick and H. R. Smith. I remained within that presbytery until 1836, laboring with the above named brethren and some four licentiates, viz: Wm. P. Clark, Henry Epler, Matthew Patton and Wiley Clark.

Solomon Kimzey, the man whom I mentioned as being a licentiate in our Church, became dissatisfied on the subject of water, and joined a Church calling themselves "Separate Baptists."

I labored and assisted in holding camp-meetings and preaching in destitute portions of our country. As many of my brethren know, I never delighted in preaching in towns and cities.

In the fall of 1836, I returned to Overton County, Tennessee, and the following year placed my letter in the Chapman presbytery, and associated and labored with a portion of them for several years.

In the fall of 1838, the Chapman presbytery convened at Smyrna church, Jackson County, Tennessee, and on the 22nd of October, 1838, ordained Christopher Organ, A. M. Stone, Malchijah Vaughn, James F. Johnston, M. W. McConnell and Clemens Means. Hugh B. Hill preached the ordination sermon from II Timothy, 4th chapter, and 5th verse. Rev. Francis Johnston presided and gave the charge. The ministers present at my ordination, were Thomas Calhoun, John L. Dillard, George Donnell, J. M. McMurry, H. B. Hill, Francis Johnston, R. D. Bell, James K. Lansden and Jesse Hickman.

Shortly afterward the synod formed the Sparta presbytery, which was composed of the following named members, James K. Lansden, Jesse Hickman, Joseph Noland, M.Y. Brockett, M.W. McConnell, and Clemens Means. And now I felt greater responsibilities resting upon me than ever before.

About this time or a little before, A. S. Hayter and T. C. McDonnold came into the ministry. With them and the above named brethren, we saw glorious times. I will mention one meeting that A. S. Hayter and myself held in Poplar Cover, Fentess County. Neither of us was well, scarcely able to ride. But we made the effort, trusting the Lord, and I now say, I never saw a brighter manifestation of the power and goodness of God than on that occasion. It was no trouble to preach; and instead of being broke down after laboring with them five days and nights, we returned home strong in soul and body.

Brother Hayter soon went to Alabama. I continued awhile longer in the hills and mountains of East Tennessee, witnessing at many places, the conversion of sinners. Many whom I beheld in their first love, have gone where all good people go.

In 1848 I left the brethren of Chapman and Sparta presbyteries and came to Texas. I here found two of my old friends, who had come to Texas before me, viz: James McDonnold and James S. Guthrie, ministers with whom I had associated in Tennessee. The next summer, which was the year '49, James S. Guthrie and myself joined the Texas presbytery. As near as I can recollect, the following brethren composed the presbytery, James McDonnold, J. C. Barnett, R. O. Watkins, A. H. Watkins, M. Smith and Brothers Ruter, Gilkerson, and Cunningham.

The first sermon I preached in Texas, was at brother Alfred Tates. Shortly after that I preached at Rockspring and at Douglass. To these two churches I have preached monthly ever since the year '48. I have charge of these two churches and Carreso and Friendship. It is even the case that since I have been in Texas, my labors have been confined to Nacogdoches, Angelina, Shelby, San Augustine and Rusk counties. My principal associates and fellow laborers have been J. C. Barnett, while he lived, R. O. Watkins, A. H. Watkins and A. S. Hayter. It has so happened that all, or nearly all of the preachers go west of my field when they come to Texas. Had I not been providentially hindered, I would myself, long before this date, have gone west. However, I now see clearly had I left, the Texas presbytery, the first one organized in the State, would have ceased to exist. Taking this view of the matter I am gratified to know that I have been one of the three ministers who have kept our presbytery alive.

After scanning a part of my life, touching here and there a few scenes, through which I have passed, I cannot forbear remarking that so far, the Lord being my helper, I have lived at peace with all the brethren. But we know not what a day may bring forth. It is for me to remember that the Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble.

As I have written a little about my past life, I will in a few words tell something of my intentions for my remaining days. Preaching and attending to the churches constitute my employment. In this work I expect to be found when I am called on to render an account of my stewardship.

My health is good, and I am stout for a man of seventy-seven.

[Source: Biographical Sketches of Living Old Men, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in Six Volumes. Vol. I. By E.B. Crisman. St. Louis, Mo. Perrin and Smith, Steam Book and Job Printers, 1877, pages 84-92]


DIED, Sunday morning, December 21, 1879, at the residence of his son-in-law, W. M. Vaught, near Douglass, Nacogdoches county, Texas, of influenza, Rev. Clemens Means, aged seventy-nine years, ten months, and twenty-five days.

The subject of this notice was a son of Andrew and Nancy Means, both of Irish descent. He was born in Randolph county, North Carolina, January 26, 1800; embraced religion at Rock Spring camp ground, Overton county, Tenn., in November, 1822, under the influence of ministers Robert Guthrie, Hiram A. Hunter, James S. Guthrie, and David Foster. Father Means soon after joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and went to work by assisting in holding prayer meetings, etc. During the camp meeting season, in the year 1823, Father Means felt the impression that he was to preach the gospel, and that it was, "woe is me if I preach not the gospel." Father Means left Overton county, Tenn., and settled in Clay county, Mo. It was at a camp meeting in Clay county, Mo., that Father Means determined to go into the work of the ministry. At the next meeting of Lebanon Presbytery he became a candidate for the ministry. In 1830, the Barnett Presbytery was constituted, and he became a member of that Presbytery; at a meeting of Barnett Presbytery, in 1832, on the 4th day of April, he was licensed to preach the gospel. He remained in the bounds of this Presbytery until 1836, laboring with the brethren of said Presbytery. In the fall of 1836, he returned to Overton county, Tenn., and in 1837, joined Chapman Presbytery, and in the fall of 1838, on the 22d day of October, he was ordained by said Presbytery, and set apart to the whole work of the ministry. Shortly afterwards, the Synod formed the Sparta Presbytery, and he became a member of said Presbytery.

In 1848 he came to Texas, and in 1849, he joined the Texas Presbytery, with which he remained until the day of his death, missing but few meeting during a period of thirty years. He had just returned home from the last meeting of his Presbytery, "when he was taken sick"--where he had assisted for the last time in the work of his Master, in endeavoring to promote the interests of his beloved Zion. In the life of Father Means we had fully demonstrated, both by precept and example, the realities of the Christian religion. God in his providence has seen fit to call Father Means from our midst, and what is our loss is his eternal gain; he has been called from the labors of the Church militant, to the enjoyments of the Church triumphant. His labors are at an end, and he has entered the joys of the finally faithful. It can be truthfully said of father Means that he was a good man, his highest aim in life was to love God, honor his cause, do good, and to persuade sinners to flee the wrath to come.

Father Means was married twice; his first wife was a Miss Nancy Carlock, they were married on the day of _____ in the State of Tennessee. They lived happily together to see a ripe old age, raising a large family of children to be grown, and to see the most, "if not all of them," to become members of the Church, and settled in life. His first wife died some time after the close of the war, and after the lapse of some two or more years, he married a widow King, of this (Nacogdoches) county, Texas. They had no children. Father Means leaves a wife, several children, and a large circle of friends to mourn their loss.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, March 18, 1880, page 2]

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Updated July 15, 2010