INDIAN TERRITORY—ARKANSAS PIONEER
who blazed their way through the trackless forests of America in the days of our
fathers and gave us this land of liberty and spiritual freedom were not
city-bred chaps, nor hothouse plants, by any means. They were of that rugged
caste whose hearts burned for freedom, and had a purpose born of a conviction
that we must be a free people.
the same manner, holiness pioneers who blazed the way for true religion on the
frontiers of Texas, and the Indian Territory, and the mountains of Arkansas,
must be the same sturdy type of men as those in the early days of our country.
Among these pioneers, there was none more daring nor who endured greater
hardships than Rev. J. D. Scott. Born on the frontier of Texas, and with meager
educational advantages, but with a determination to preach holiness or die, he
entered unexplored fields along religious lines, and planted holiness in the
Indian Territory, which afterward became Oklahoma, and no state in the Union was
more suddenly transformed from “rowdyism” to strong Pentecostal Nazarene
churches than this state. There is a reason. Fearless preachers planted gospel
seed into hearts of desperate characters, who instantly became as desperate to
tell the world what God had done for them.
J. D. Scott was converted down in the straw, at an old-time mourners’ bench,
when there was no thought of telling a fellow to “take it by faith,” but
they were supposed to pray till something happened. As soon as he was converted
he was called to preach, and at once began the study of the Bible, and his zeal
was so great that many of his friends feared that he would go crazy.
soon discovered a something remaining within that gave him serious trouble, but
was told that he must endure it through life. But, in answer to fervent prayer,
one day as he drove along the public road “the fire fell,” and he shouted
until his buggy pony ran away with him. He had never heard a sermon on holiness,
but God had sanctified him. Soon after that he met Rev. H. L. Averill and heard
him preach, and knew that God had given him that same blessing. About this time
he met James Hunton, another rugged pioneer of holiness. Soon after this he went
to Fort Worth, and began gospel work in Bethel Mission, where he soon ran out of
money, and sent his wife back to his father’s, while he kept “batch” and
continued the work. His wife returned to him in the spring and they traveled
together, preaching holiness, and the first year received $4.50 for their work.
At this mission and training school in the Bethel Mission he received his first
training for gospel work.
went on an extended preaching tour through the Indian Territory, picking cotton
between meetings to get money to go to the next place, and to buy their
met Dr. Hobbs, who was conducting a holiness mission in Ardmore, I. T., and
joined him for awhile. Dr. Hobbs bought a tent and Brother Scott went to
Wynnewood in the early spring of 1896, put up the tent, but a snowstorm struck
town, blowing the tent down. Here he was, away from home and friends, and the
weather was cold and rainy all spring and no money. He walked six miles out into
the country, and found a schoolhouse, hunted up the trustees and got permission
to start a revival meeting. The rain had put the people behind with their crops,
and they said, “No time for a meeting now,” but you can try it. He sent to
Wynnewood for his wife, while he walked the country, advertising the meeting.
People came out of curiosity, to hear a holiness preacher, who had never
conducted a meeting alone.
power came on the people, and the schoolhouse was crowded every night. The
meeting ran two weeks with great interest. The preacher had only five sermons,
but he put in good time in testifying, and telling what God had done for him.
This was enough for these simple-minded people. They filled the altar and prayed
through by the score. From this first meeting there was a call for others, one
after another, until thirteen meetings were held within a radius of twenty
miles. Most of them were in schoolhouses, with split logs for benches with no
backs. The first collection at the close of the meeting amounted to 10 cents.
of these meetings was held in the little village of Seven Shooter, sometimes
called Poker Sandy; and the preacher and wife were entertained in the home of a
Mr. Dalton, a cousin of the famous “Dalton gang,” so notorious in the
reconstruction days after the Civil War. Cowboys would attend these meetings
wearing great spurs, with chime bells hanging on them which would jingle as they
walked. After the services at night they would start home shooting off their
revolvers, until the darkness would blaze and the woods roar with the reports of
their guns. The boys liked the preacher and a gospel that would make a man quit
sin, so they devised a plan to pay him. They met and played cards all night with
some other boys, and put all they won in the collection, which was a good sum
for those days.
this place the people became so interested in their missionary work that they
bought them a horse and buggy. Nearby was another village that they called
“Robber’s Roost.” This was in what was then known as the Choctaw Nation,
among the Choctaw Indians and white people who leased land for farming purposes
from the Indians, most of them living in log cabins with dirt floors. The
parlor, living room, dining room, and kitchen were often all in one room.
revivals broke out among these rugged pioneers, and people fell off their seats
like dead men, and often lay for hours unconscious, to come through shouting the
praises of God. People shouted holiness, testified to holiness, threw away their
tobacco, paid their outlawed debts, and fixed up old grudges that had stood for
years. This stirred the tobacco-chewing preachers and cold professors, and great
persecution broke out against these holiness preachers. They were called
Mormons, bandits, church splitters, and it was even told that J. D. Scott had
robbed a bank down in Texas, and that he was over in the Indian Territory to
evade the law. They said that there was a $1,000 reward for him. This report
reached his father down in Texas, and he wrote for him to come home and clear
the matter up. He could not leave the meeting, so he left the matter in the
hands of the Lord and went on preaching.
churches were closed against him, and he had to build brush arbors, and hold
meetings in schoolhouses. This sort of thing kept up for two years, which gave
plenty of free advertising to the meetings. During this time there were hundreds
of people saved and sanctified in that part of the Chickasaw Nation.
1897 he was engaged to teach an Indian school, connected with an orphanage that
was being built at a little village called Bee, twenty miles west of Durant.
This was in a rich country, and the people were a different class of citizens. A
revival was started, Rev. Beecher Airhart, Noah Cooley, and C. B. Jernigan
conducting the services. The meeting was a great success. Here Bud Taylor and
his wife were sanctified, who have done much for the holiness movement since.
Just before the meeting began Brother Scott’s baby was taken very sick of
pneumonia, and no doctor was called, but prayer was made to God. It came very
near dying, and the people were enraged, a rope was bought and a hangman’s
knot was tied ready to hang Scott if the baby died. But God heard prayer and the
baby was suddenly healed. Rev. J. D. Scott remained there two years as head of
the school, then went to Peniel, Texas, and entered the Texas Holiness
University, where he took a theological course under Dr. A. M. Hills. He and his
wife would go to school until cotton picking time, then pick cotton for money to
take him through another term.
with Rev. George Constable, Rev. Allie Irick, and Rev. Noah Cooley, all young
students in school, deciding to make their debut in the world, planned a big
evangelistic tour through the North. They expected great results. They stopped
off at Little Rock, Ark., and worked awhile in the Door of Hope Mission, that
was then run by Rev. Mrs. E. J. Sheeks. From there they went to Jonesboro, Ark.,
where for the first time they met with the Church of Christ, their first real
holiness church. Scott and Irick both joined and were ordained the same night,
as that was the way of doing then. They went on to Memphis, Tenn., and then to
Milan, Tenn., to visit the first Church of Christ, that was organized by Rev. R.
L. Harris in 1894. They got as far as Kentucky, and all went financially broke,
and had to write back for money to get home on.
returning home, Will Nelson, a sanctified brick mason, bought a gospel tent for
Brother Scott, and he organized a band of eight workers. After holding two
meetings in Texas they went to the mountains in southeastern Arkansas and opened
up a work that continues till this day.
first meeting was at Giliham, Ark., where they had to put up the tent and do all
the advertising of the meeting themselves. Here they had a fine meeting, then
they went to Lockesburg and pitched the tent in the courthouse yard. Great glory
and power attended this meeting and many people were saved and the country
stirred for miles. One man was called to preach, who went at it with a vim.
Lockesburg they went to Grannis, being hauled across the mountains in log
wagons. Here there was much opposition, and the workers had to live on canned
goods and sleep under the gospel tent for days before there was a home opened to
them. The meeting ran on for days, and many of the hardest cases in the country
were saved. On the last night of the meeting there were forty or fifty people
clearly saved, and not less than three hundred people shouting at one time. The
good people bought a home and presented it to Rev. J. D. Scott and family to
have them locate there, while he continued to push his evangelistic work. Here
he organized the first holiness church in southwestern Arkansas.
following winter he opened a Bible school at Old Cove, where another holiness
church was organized. A goodly number of holiness people located there and a
literary school was opened in connection with the Bible school, with Rev. L. A.
Campbell, principal, and Rev. J. D. Scott, Bible teacher. Throughout the summer
months he did evangelistic work across the mountains. It would take three wagons
and teams to haul their big gospel tent and workers and their camp tents. God
gave them hundreds of souls in that country and nearly a score of holiness
churches. Brother Scott was an ardent believer in organizing his work as fast as
he went, and established campmeetings and schools. In this country he invited
Rev. C B. Jernigan to assist him in revival work and to organize as he went.
They were fast friends, and Rev. J. D. Scott did not open a new work without
inviting Jernigan to assist him in the work after he had opened the new field.
this country he came in touch with Rev. W. F. Dallas, who also was a mighty
pioneer, and was the District Superintendent of the Arkansas District for
several years. Also with Rev. Bob Cook, Rev. Truman Adams, and Rev. Joseph N.
holiness association was formed in August, 1902, called the Southwestern
Arkansas Holiness Association. In July 1904 a state association was formed with
Rev. J. N. Speakes president and Rev. J. D. Scott, secretary. In February 1906
the Bible school buildings at Old Cove burned and they moved to Vilonia, Ark
where Rev. J. D. Scott was elected president of the board of trustees of the
Arkansas Holiness College and financial agent for the school. A church was soon
organized at Little Rock and Rev. C B Jernigan engaged for a revival, after
which Rev. C B Jernigan was engaged for a revival in the college at Vilonia,
which resulted in the organization of a holiness church there.
union of the Church of Christ with the Independent Holiness Church was
consummated during this time, and Rev. J. D. Scott was chosen as one of the
editors of The Holiness Evangel, the official organ of the church, published at
Pilot Point, Texas, with Rev. C. B. Jernigan as the other editor. This threw the
two men very closely together, who had been fast friends for years.
Scott’s health failed, and he could no longer carry on evangelistic work. He
moved to Pilot Point, Texas, and took the office and had charge of the paper
work, while his co-laborer, C. B. Jernigan, took his place in the field.
his removal to Pilot Point, Texas, he was elected superintendent of the Bible
Institute and Training School, the official church school of the Holiness Church
of Christ, and was filling these places of trust when the General Assembly of
the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene convened there, at the time the great
church union took place. He was the first Superintendent of the Dallas District
after the union, afterward going to Mexico as missionary, and to edit a paper in
Mexico for our mission stations; but the Mexican revolution broke out and he
returned to the States, locating in California, taking the pastorate of the
Pomona church, afterward he was Superintendent of the Missouri District, and is
now managing editor of our great paper, the Herald of Holiness.
He was a pioneer to the manner born, and faithful to organized holiness.