15 hrs · 
After an exhaustive search of my ancestry for "Finding Your Roots," it was discovered that one of my distant relatives was an owner of slaves.
I didn't want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.
I regret my initial thoughts that the issue of slavery not be included in the story. We deserve neither credit nor blame for our ancestors and the degree of interest in this story suggests that we are, as a nation, still grappling with the terrible legacy of slavery. It is an examination well worth continuing. I am glad that my story, however indirectly, will contribute to that discussion. While I don't like that the guy is an ancestor, I am happy that aspect of our country's history is being talked about.
Ben Affleck

"...movie star Ben Affleck has another nine slaveholder ancestors from Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, according to publicly available U.S. Census records and genealogy research conducted by Breitbart News."

To: Ben
From: Randy

Re:  about hiding your TEN slave-holding great grandfathers

Your most significant ancestors in terms of their effects on YOUR LIFE and on the wealth distribution in today's America were probably the slaveholders. To omit them from your family's profile on "FINDING YOUR ROOTS" on PBS strikes me as similar to the whitewashes of American history that have, over the generations, turned the story of the United States into a fairy tale--The Shining City On The Hill that never was.

Slavery was the genesis of family asset accumulation that enabled many of today's Americans to start life as middle class (or better.) While many of today's slaveholder descendants like you, Ben, like to think they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, many descendants of the slaves of your 10 grandfathers didn't even have bootstraps.

After slavery, your folks and mine and millions of white folks like them, Ben, guaranteed their descendants a head start by instituting and enforcing the Black Codes, Jim Crow, prejudice, segregation, red-lining, selective law enforcement, chain gang work forces and mass incarceration, ad infinitum. The effects on generations of black families in terms of their starting line, their unequal playing field, and their diminished opportunities to rise in "class" are undeniable. So, too, is the fact that you grew up with the usual middle-class advantages thanks to the slavery that made the money that gave your grandfathers the ability to give the next generation a head start over the next generation of their former slaves.

That domino effect of slaveholder-descendants having a head start over slave descendants has created a wealth divide in America that persists today: the average white family has 13 times the net worth of the average black family. In 1865, blacks held an estimated .05 percent of the nation's wealth. 149 years later, in 2014, that number was still only 1.0 percent.

 "But a family's net worth is not simply the finish line, it's also the starting point for the next generation. Those with wealth pass their assets on to their children - by financing a college education, lending a hand during hard times, or assisting with the down payment for a home. Some economists estimate that up to 80 percent of lifetime wealth accumulation depends on these intergenerational transfers. White advantage is passed down, from parent to child to grand-child. As a result, the racial wealth gap - and the head start enjoyed by whites - appears to have grown since the civil rights days.    .............       "RACE -The Power of An Illusion," (c) California Newsreel, 2003 

Do you think you would be where you are today, Ben, without such wealth transfers, generation after generation?

Like you, Ben, I approached the subject of slavery with much trepidation. Unlike you, I think we should shine a light on it.  

My family's legend is that "We treated our slaves like family." If so, it must have been a very brutal family.

~Randy Reynolds

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Bartemous Reynolds by Randy Reynolds  

I was surprised to learn that Bartemous Reynolds, my great-grandfather (5 generations back,) was both a Baptist preacher and a slaveholder.  Wondering if that was unusual, I did some research and learned that, at a time when only 1 out of 11 white southern men owned slaves, fully 40 percent of Baptist ministers in South Carolina were slaveholders.  (James Oakes, THE RULING RACE) ...

Bartemous was born in Patrick CountyVirginia, and lived in Pickens CountySouth Carolina, during his young adulthood, before moving (with his slaves) to the area that is now Hall County,Georgia. He was a farmer, not a “planter,” but it was a big farm—1,000 acres… (I’ve also seen references to it being 3,000 acres.)  Like all prosperous farms of any size in the south, it ran on slave labor.  How many slaves, I don’t know.  

At the time of Bartemous’ death at the age of 85, he had only 280 acres left… the remainder had been sold off or, by that time, belonged to his eldest son Sharp.  He had barely enough slaves left to run an old man’s household and the much-reduced farm.  His remaining slaves were listed by the Hall County appraisers who evaluated the estate on the 28th of November, 1854, six days after his death.  They were:


Dick, Dan, Selia, Will and the four children, like their forebears, probably went to church with their white master and preacher.  Bartemous founded and, at various times, pastored Timber Will Baptist Church and Mud Creek Baptist church.

Sermons of other southern slave-holding Baptist preachers of that era were rife with politics, and often—directed at the slaves themselves—used scripture to justify their bondage, including such verses as:  

Colossians 3:22-25, Colossians 4:9, Deuteronomy 24:7, Ephesians 6:5, Exodus 12:44, Exodus 21:1-7, Exodus 21:7-11, Exodus 21:20-32, Exodus 22:2-3, Ezekiel 27:12,13, First Kings 2:39, First Kings 11:26-35, First Peter 2:18, First Peter 2:21-25, First Samuel 25:10, First Timothy 6:1-5, Gen.9:20-25, Genesis 9:25-27, Genesis 17:12,13, Genesis 37:27,28, 36, Genesis 41:1-45, Leviticus 22:11, Leviticus 25:40-46, Luke 12:46-47, Philemon 1:10, Numbers 31:28-40, Revelation 18:13, Second Samuel 8:2, and Titus 2:9-10,15.

Whether those slavery justifications were part of Bartemous Reynolds’ sermons, I don’t know.  No manuscripts, outlines or notes of his sermons remain, as far as I know. 

Both of the churches he founded are still active.


Sunday, September 01, 2013


by Randy Reynolds

Bartemous Reynolds (my great-grandfather, 5 generations back) helped wrest a civilization from the forest that covered the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in what is now Hall County, Georgia. He lay claim to 1,000 acres of Cherokee land, much of which still belongs to a single descendant today. He was elected Justice of the Peace.  And he pastored the Baptist Churches that exist today as Mud Creek Baptist Church on Mud Creek Road, Cornelia, Georgia, and Timber Ridge Baptist Church, Timber Ridge Road, Lula, Georgia.

Bartemous Reynolds grew corn, sugar cane and cotton and raised hogs, sheep and cattle on his 1,000 acre north Georgia farm.

And he, quite possibly, did it all without personally wielding an axe or a butcher’s blade or tilling the red clay soil with a yoke of oxen or building a fence or barn or feeding animals or shucking corn or picking cotton.  He never personally had to draw his own water from the well or build his own fire, unless he, for some reason, particularly wanted to, because he was not one of those yeoman farmers who owned or rented one or two slaves and worked in the fields beside them.  He ran a substantial enterprise that was extremely labor-intensive.

His wife, Mary Mildred Taylor Reynolds, was the granddaughter of Zachary Taylor of Patrick County, Virginia, and first cousin to the Zachary Taylor who was elected President of the United States a few days before her 72nd birthday in 1848—(the last American President who still owned slaves while in office.) Mary Mildred bore ten children, but did not have to rock them through the night when they were fretful, nor mind them during the day, nor suckle them if she chose not to, nor wash anybody’s clothes, nor cook any meals, nor weave, nor sew, nor start a fire in the fireplace in the morning.

They had slaves to do all that.

Nobody knows for sure how the Reverend/Justice Bartemous Reynolds and his wife and children treated their particular slaves, but there’s no reason to believe they had a system any different from their neighbors.  And we do have firsthand accounts of how slavery functioned in neighboring Athens and Atlanta, thanks to the oral histories of former slaves and their children gathered by the Federal Writers’ Project of the 1930’s:

(Former slave) Martha Harrison remembered her master as a man so frightened by his imminent death that he offered her thousands of dollars to pray for his salvation.  "But he couldnt'a got out of hell,"  she declared, "the way he beat my mammy."


Cousin Grady faced the gallows in a new suit and the assurance that he would soon be talking with Jesus.

Grandpa Levi was what might be called a “positive thinker,” boasting loudly,  “Ain’t no cannonball ever been made that could kill Levi Broom.”  

Secession was simmering in Georgia in the 1830s and Sharp Spencer Reynolds was against it.

Comments?  Facebook me or send to 

Some comments will be added to 


By Randy Reynolds

31 years before the Civil War, former Georgia Governor George Troup and the state’s aristocratic landowners were pushing hard for secession. They were opposed by former Governor John Clark and his backers, who were mostly tradesmen and small farmers including 29 year old Sharp Spencer Reynolds of Hall County (my g-g-g-grandfather.) When young Reynolds expressed his views in a letter to the editor of the Statesman & Patriot, the editor of a rival paper, the Athenian, ridiculed him. Sharp Reynolds responded in a second letter to the Statesman & Patriot, June 19, 1830. (He writes like an educated man, though there is no record of where he may have gotten that education.)

“I had no thought of exciting the ire of that most renowned and potent knight of the quill, the editor of the Athenian… But inasmuch as he has thought fit to pause a moment in the career of his glory, and honor my humble effusion with his ‘right wittie and conceited’ remarks, I have been driven to the necessity of fleshing my maiden pen, by entering the lists against this gigantic opponent, and joining battle with him and his auxiliary.”

(If this reads like something plagiarized from Mark Twain, please note that this was five years before Mark Twain was born to Sharp Reynolds’ cousin.)

Sharp wasn’t afraid to take on the power structure, because he felt truth was on his side: “We are informed, by sacred history, that a certain little son of Jesse, David by name, armed only with a sling and smooth pebble from a brook, encountered and slew the mighty Goliath… and the cause of his success is stated in the same authority to have been the armour of truth in which he stood invulnerably clothed. Now although there may exist the same disproportion between my assailant of the Athenian & myself, intellectually speaking…I feel that the mantle which protected David, had descended upon my shoulders…”
In other words, Me David. You Goliath.

Sharp Reynolds tried to show that Troupites weren’t practicing what they preached: “The government of Hall county stands in the same relation to the Government of the State, as the latter does to the Government of the United States. …A party of the State wishes forcibly to resist the right of the United States’ Government to interfere with its regulations… That same party is busying itself with endeavoring to control the conditions of every county in the State…”

“…the Athenian—printed in Clark county—stoutly objects (to what is going on in Hall county) and with a long string of jibes, and jeers, and reproaches, seeks to (interfere)…”

The newspaper was also practicing what today would be called “false equivalency” –they treated Sharp as if he—not the armed insurrectionists—was stirring up all the trouble. He responded:

“The Athenian raises so great a lure and cry, as if like Troup, I had talked of guns, swords, & pistols…. Its extreme sensibility upon this point, is a sufficient commentary upon the enormity of its own doctrines in regard to the relation of the State, to the United States—so much for the gratuity of its interference; let us proceed to dissect the carcass before us.”

Sharp must have gotten some laughs with lines like “Let us proceed to dissect the carcass before us” but it was a serious issue. George Troup, while governor, had signed a treaty with his cousin, a half-Indian named William McIntosh, giving the State of Georgia title to all remaining Creek Indian lands. McIntosh had no authority to do this—and the Creeks murdered him for it. President John Quincy Adams called the treaty illegal and overturned it. This enraged former Governor Troup and the plantation owners, and they began agitating for secession. Former Governor Clark’s followers, including Sharp Reynolds, favored a more reasoned approach: they stayed in the Union and took the Creek Indian lands “legally.”

Sharp writes that it was the “…height of imprudence to take possession of the Indian lands under a title which was not only voidable, but actually void; when by pursuing a different course, with a little patience, it could be had (and was) with title sound and indefeasible.”

Even after the state reclaimed the Creek land, the Troupites continued to demonize the Clarkites for not being willing to secede. Sharp said the Clarkites were only doing the patriotic thing:
“We refuse to enter into the disunion schemes of Troup, and there lies our sin. Because we will not contribute to strengthen the arm that is raised to cut up root and branch the tree of our liberty, planted by Washington, Jefferson, and their illustrious compeers…

"Because we are not willing to erect the standard of civil war... we are subjected to the abuse of the Athenian, and all others who would plunge us into civil war…”

When Sharp Reynolds wrote that letter at the age of 29, the issue was “States Rights”--the state’s right to secede over how to take land away from the Creek Nation.

When he was 60 and the plantation owners finally got the Civil War they had wanted for so long, the issue was still (supposedly) “States Rights”—the state’s right to secede from the Union. But after seceding, they formed their own nation—the Confederate States of Americathat denied the right of states to secede!

So what “States Rights” were they really seceding for?
It was, of course, the right to maintain legal human bondage.

Though even today defenders of the Confederacy use the “States Rights” talking point, the actions of the Confederacy itself, in denying States Rights, serves as a testament to the emptiness of this claim. So, too, do the words of Sharp Spencer Reynolds in that letter to the editor he wrote 31 years before the war: 

“…there is no Ignorance so Impenetrable as the willful—no misrepresentation too shameless for the purposes of deception.”


by Randy Reynolds 

This is how family history gets passed down…

I found out about the murderer in our family, Grady Reynolds, 75 years after it happened. 

I recall that it was one of those lazy Sunday afternoons in the 1970s that I spent in Great-grandmother Chesty Reynolds’ front room where her bed was.  My grandfather Bonnell Reynolds and I were on the naugahyde sofa, my great-uncle Kermit was straddling a canebacked chair backward and “Grandmother” was in her bed just inside the front door.  A farmer’s wife accustomed to small quarters, she had always used the front room for her bedroom.  She would live to a robust 96 years of age, but at the time that she and these two sons of hers told me this story she was still in her eighties, a picture of health, propped up against several pillows, chenille spread pulled tight beneath her, a pretty quilt neatly folded over her legs.

That was 43 years ago, and the events I learned about that day happened in 1897, so this story has been in the family for 118 years.  My dad Gene Reynolds, who is 84, had never heard it despite spending countless hours with his grandpa Allen Reynolds on the front porch out at the farm in late-night talks about family history.  Even though Allen was the murderer’s first cousin, Gene didn’t remember him ever mentioning Grady going to the gallows.

“I never even heard the name,” said Gene.

“And you didn’t know you had a third cousin that killed a storekeeper and pretended he bought the store?” I asked.

 “How do you know all this?” he asked.

“Papa Bonnell and Kermit and Grandmother told me about it back in the ‘70s,” I said. 

“Are you sure?”

“Sure I’m sure.  I got the name wrong.  I remembered it as Gary, but I found out today it was Grady—Reuben Grady Reynolds, and I just thought you could give me some details.”

“Well, I never heard of any Reuben Grady Reynolds,” said Gene.

After finishing Sunday “dinner” at my Papa Bonnell’s house that day in the early 1970s, I moved over to the couch to watch a football game on TV with Uncle Bob, who didn’t much enjoy the games, but always watched the halftime scores to see if the teams he had bet on were covering the point spread.

Uncle Strick was sitting in the armchair nearest the TV but had no interest whatsoever in the game.  He was holding my infant daughter Kristi, rubbing the top of her head, saying, “Ain’t the top of their heads soft?”

My young wife Sherry was helping Mama Maude and Aunt Willeen clear the table while my radical Aunt Katrina sat there at the table, pretty as you please, as if she had the same rights as a man to sit there and not do dishes, but nobody begrudged her the usurpation because she kept a conversation going from the table to the couch to the kitchen. She also kept a cigarette going, as did her husband Bob, from his end of the couch, and Strick near the TV.  The room was a haze of after-dinner smoke that bothered no one because it was always like that when the family got together.

Papa finished his meal by sopping the remainder of the brown gravy from his plate with a piece of chocolate cake (his favorite flavor combination) and then put a big dip of CC Snuff beneath his bottom lip before settling into his plush green swivel chair.

When the halftime recap was over Uncle Bob rounded up Katrina and Kim, and they said their goodbyes and headed home to the Sardis community.

Once everything was spic and span in the kitchen, Willeen told Strick to give the baby back to Sherry, and they collected their kids Sharon and Phil, and took off for their little home on a hill near River Bend.

Sherry took our two little girls into Papa's back yard where we lived in the “Little House” which was sort like a shotgun house in the slums, only smaller.  But we loved it because it was close to Mama Maude and Papa’s and put us in the orbit of all those uncles and aunts.

At this time, maybe an hour after “dinner,” Papa made his move.  He spit into the can beside his chair and rearranged the snuff beneath his bottom lip and said, “You know, I wouldn’t mind riding out to Mom’s this afternoon. If I put a little juice in your car, do you think you could ride me out there? That is, if you don't have anything else to do which I don't mind if you do. I don’t want to put you out any.”

“Sure,” I said.  “But keep your money.”

“No, no, I insist,” he said.

There was many a day back then when my pockets were as empty as the tank of my powder blue 1968 Mustang, so after an appropriate amount of back and forth, I took his dollar. 

Visiting the Great-Grandmother that I had always known as simply “Grandmother,” was not my favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It was nice to see her and Kermit, the son who lived with her the last 30 years of her life, but I really didn’t care all that much about the back and forth between them and my Papa Bonnell over Who married Whom and  in what year; Who died when;  did you hear about Cousin Whomever or Aunt Whoozitz; or where is So-and-So buried?  It was all I could do to keep my eyes open.

Somehow Uncle Baylous Reynolds’ name came up and they started talking about how great it was that his son, our cousin Grady, got religion before he went to the gallows and I perked up.

Grandmother was just a young girl and not a Reynolds yet when Grady was hanged over in Jefferson, Georgia, just a few miles from The Glade, but she remembered it well.  “We knew all about it. People came from far and near.”

Papa Bonnell, who wasn’t even born till 1907, obviously knew the story. “It was a double hanging.  Him and Bud Brooks.”

Kermit, born in 1924, seemed to know as much as either of them.  “They built a 16 foot fence around the gallows so that nobody could see the actual hanging.”

“Just Grady and Bud’s families and the sheriff and a few others,” said Grandmother.  “Everybody else was there just to watch them walk from the courthouse to the fence.”

“What always got me,” said Papa Bonnell, “Was how come they bought each of them a new suit to be hanged in?  Why waste all that money?”

“Well, but I bet they looked nice at their funeral,” said Grandmother.

Kermit said gently, “Mama, do you know what happens to the human body when a person is hanged?”

Papa frowned.  “Uh, let’s not get into that.”

Grandmother showed her displeasure by uttering her strongest epithet:  “Well, I never!”

Kermit said, “They buried ‘em side by side over at the Reynolds-Barton Cemetery in Lula.”

“I ain’t been to that cemetery in years,” said Papa. “I need to ride over there and have a look one of these days.”

“Ain’t got no name or date on their headstone,” said Kermit.  “All it says is something like “Hanged, buried side by side…They robbed a grocery store and…a man was killed.”

“They was cousins,” said Grandmother.   “Grady’s mother was a Brooks and it was her nephew Bud Brooks that helped Grady with the murder.”

“Now, let’s get the story straight,” said Bonnell.  “Bud didn’t help with the murder.  He just helped split open the body after Grady shot the man.”

“I think it was Grady that split him open with the ax,” said Kermit.  “Right down the center of his back. All Bud did was help take out some of his insides and  fill up the corpse with rocks and bind it up so he’d sink when they threw him in the Oconee River.”

“That was after Grady shot him in the back of the head,” said Bonnell.

“Well, I don’t know if we need to talk about all that,” said Grandmother, briefly focusing her watery blue eyes on me.

My newsman’s instinct felt the story ending too soon, so I piped up:  “Why’d they kill him?”

“He was a wealthy store owner, just a young man, really, without any family hereabouts,” said Grandmother.  “And they heard he kept a lot of money hid in his store.  Didn’t trust the banks.”

“Grady was dirt poor,” said Kermit.  “Cuttin’ railroad ties for a living, bootlegging on the side, him and Bud both.”

Papa liked to keep a story on track.  “They had a contract to make railroad ties in the woods over near Bellton, when they come up with this scheme to kill the storekeeper.”

Kermit said, “Grady’s the one that made him an offer on the store and  lured him out of town by saying they needed to go get the money at Harmony Grove Bank.  And, oh yeah, they could do some bird-hunting the next morning.   The storekeep was an avid bird hunter.”

Papa added, “Bud wadn’t even there, I don’t think, when Grady shot the man in the back of the head.”

Kermit continued, “After they threw the corpse in the river, they went back to the store and tried to find the hidden money, but didn’t find any.  So they kept the store open, told folks that they had bought it.”

“Made a little money selling merchandise,” said Papa.

“Now, what I heard,” said Grandmother, “Was that Grady also let his family come in there and take foodstuff off the shelves.  Gave ‘em everything they could eat or carry off.  He was done divorced at that time, left his wife when he became a drunk, but he fed ‘em well for a few days there.”

“He got arrested because he didn’t know about the horse,” said Papa.  “Seems like the storekeep, I think his name was Hunt, had a stud horse that he kept in his stable on some property he owned about a mile away from the store.  This horse was his pride and joy and he talked about it a lot.  Then somebody went in there one day and saw the horse hadn’t been fed or cared for in days, no provisions had been made for it,  and that’s when everybody got suspicious that there must have been foul play.”

“Grady got arrested first and they made him talk,” said Kermit.  “He told them where to look to find the body weighted down in the river and it was still there, right where he said.  He blamed the killing on Bud and said he only helped move the body.”

“My, my, my,” said Grandmother, as if thinking about it for the first time.

“They caught Bud a few days later up in South Carolina somewhere and brought him back on the train,” said Papa.  

“A lynch mob gathered at the train station when they come back, but the leader said they was gonna let Bud and Grady go to trial. Wadn’t go’n do nothing that night,” said Grandmother.

“Grady got religion while he was in jail and he confessed everything and they was both sentenced to hang,” said Kermit. “Then Bud demanded a new trial because he said liquor made him do it, and he wasn’t accountable.  That was in March. They hanged ‘em that December.”

“It was in all the papers, Jackson County and Hall County both,” said Grandmother.  “Grady grew up here in The Glade, you know.”

“What they did was pure evil,” said Papa.  “But they got prayed through there at the end.”

Grandmother said, “Grady’s wife, her name was Martha—they called her Mattie—didn’t go see him in jail till the very last day.”

Kermit added, “But his mama and sisters kept a vigil with him at the jailhouse for over a week before the big day.  Wore their selves out praying, singing and reading the Bible with him.”

“He got religion,” Grandmother said.  “He was ready to meet his maker and made a right nice little speech for his last words.  The paper said he urged people not to drink and told them they should read the Bible and pray and go to church and they wouldn’t end up where he was, but now he was content to pay for his crime because he knew for sure he was saved.”

Papa Bonnell, who believed most of the Bible and some of the Book of Mormon, added the type of thought that he seemed to constantly be toying with:  “The killers had a chance to get right with God and confess Jesus Christ as their savior, so I believe they went to heaven.  But what about the victim, Mr. Hunt?  Nobody gave him no time to pray. He was shot in the back of the head and then split open with an ax.  What if he wadn’t already in good shape with the Lord?  Are we supposed to think the killers went to heaven and the victim went to Hell?”

The fire in the space heater hissed.  The clock on the wall ticked.  And we avoided each other’s gaze for a while, each of us lost in our own thoughts.


by Randy Reynolds

Pvt. Levi Broom, CSA, was a descendent of an English knight (the Earl of Anjou) who changed his name to Broom in honor of the humble sprig of Broome that he carried with him in the Holy Land during the Crusades.  Before Levi, an illiterate third-generation American, went off to fight his own crusade against the Yankees, he wasn’t thinking of symbols of humility.  He was what might be called a “positive thinker,” boasting loudly,  “Ain’t no cannonball ever been made that could kill Levi Broom.” 

Levi fought with the Glade Guard Volunteer Rifles (Company I, 24th Georgia Infantry) through about 50 of their engagements, including The Seven Days, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Saylor’s Creek and Deep Bottom.  He was captured at the Second Battle of Deep Bottom, Virginia, on August 16, 1864, and spent the rest of the war, and three months afterward, in a prison camp in Elmira, New York.  When he got home to Hall County, Georgia, he often repeated his boast that the cannonball hadn’t been made that could kill him.

After the war, Levi farmed for a living on the hillsides of Hall County, Georgia.  In his latter years, he suffered from Alzheimer’s (or some similar condition) that caused him to wander away from home frequently.  According to his grandson Allen Reynolds, Levi was often found roaming deep in the woods, talking to the trees and yelling, “Ain’t no cannonball ever been made that could kill Levi Broom.”  He lived until the age of 90.

(Levi Broom is my 3g-GreatGrandfather, husband of Melinda Broom, father of Mary Margaret Reynolds.  I’ve heard stories about him all my life. Today, for the first time, I saw a picture of him on the Internet, hence the inspiration to tell a little of his story. There'll be more of it in my upcoming book on his Great-great-grandson Gene Reynolds.)  


by Randy Reynolds

Gene Reynolds’ nerves could interrupt the rhythm of his breathing when he drank strong coffee, and Sister Effie’s coffee was strong even by South Louisiana standards.  He cleared his throat and took a long, slow sip of the powerful brew, more to hide his smile than anything else.

“E.J., I know you did it, you might as well confess,” said Bobby Jarrell.

“Sister Effie, you’d have been proud of your son,” said Gene, his pale blue eyes twinkling over the rim of the coffee cup.  “Just picture it:  the giant  auditorium packed to the rafters.   Church of God people from all over the world waiting to hear the final tally of the vote for General Overseer.  Charles W. Conn got so many votes—it was in the hundreds.  Ray Hughes—he got even more. And Reverend Robert Jarrell—one.”

“Everybody laughed at me. They thought I voted for myself,” said Bobby.

Sister Effie laughed.  "Makes a mother proud." 

“You’ll have to come out to the debate in Folsom, Sister Effie.  Your son’s going to be the moderator.”

“What debate?”

“E.J. here got challenged by the Jesus Only’s," said Bobby.   “They’re bringing in their top gun, the number one man in the whole United Pentecostal Church, J.L. Welch.

Gene said, “They think they’re gonna kill a gnat with a cannon.  He’s got a wall full of degrees and all I’ve got is a high school equivalency.  But I’ve been memorizing scripture since I was eight years old and I don’t mean to brag but I can handle myself on doctrines of the church with anybody.  I’m going to pour the scripture on them.”

Gene's nerves were humming. “They see me being just a young guy out here pastoring a church in the country and they think their top debater is going to come in here like Babe Ruth and hit a home run.”

 Fast Forward 50 years to Jan. 2015:  

From: Bobby Joe Jarrell


I'll be more than happy to share what I remember.  I'm honored that you asked. 

There was a Oneness Preacher in Covington by the Name of Lamb. Bro. Lamb had a radio program on Sunday afternoon. He challenged anyone under the sound of his voice who believed in The Trinity to a debate. Lamb said he had a place secured that was big enough to hold the crowd, the Debate Agreement drawn-up, and that he was ready.

 Now, although The Reverend E.J. Reynolds had a Sunday Morning Broadcast, he chose to call Mr. Lamb instead of using the AirWaves to accept the challenge.  

When they met-up Lamb decided that he had rather them hold hands and pray that which ever one was wrong that God would strike dead. 

The Reverend Reynolds told Lamb that the only way he would be willing to do so is if Lamb could show him where that was ever done in the New Testament. Lamb not being able to produce the Scripture, went around town telling that Reynolds refused to debate him.

Several days later Lamb had the misfortune of running into The Little Pot-Stirring Reverend Robert Jarrell. After a brief handshake The Reverend asked, "how does it feel for a Church of God Preacher to tell you what you can & can't preach on your own radio program"?

Lamb said,  "I didn't want to preach about that anymore."

 E.J. kept plugging The Trinity Doctrine on his Radio Program, but not to the point of being overbearing. He was always a man of class.

Well, the Oneness had a HotShot debater named J.L. Welch from Georgia. They called him the "GeorgiaBullDog." So they got in touch with J.L. He & E.J. came to terms and set a date. 

Probably one of the things I'm most proud of about The Reverend Robert was that The Reverend Reynolds chose him as his Moderator for The Debate.

All of The Oneness said, "after J.L.'s first 30 minute segment of the Debate that Reynolds was going to jump in his car and go home." 

The first night of the Debate, E.J. passed out a pamphlet listing 2000 Undeniable Scriptures proving The Trinity. 

Through-out the Debate the Oneness done everything physically possible to shut Reverend Reynolds down. They would clap their hands as fast & loud as they could in order to drown-out the Voice of Brother Reynolds. They also removed his BlackBoard from the stage.

It's my understanding that E.J. & J.L. gained a mutual respect for each other during the debate, became friends and stayed in touch with each other.

And Brother Lamb learned the art of SelfControl. 

-Bobby Joe Jarrell

Sent from my iPhone

Care to comment?  Facebook me or send to
Some comments will be added to