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Elder John Leland

John Leland was born on May 14, 1754, in Grafton, Massachusetts. He describes his father as a Presbyterian and his mother as a separate new-light Christian. He was baptized in June of 1774 by Elder Noah Alden. Leland joined the Baptist Church in Bellingham, Massachusetts in 1775. He left for Virginia around 1775/1776, and ministered there until 1791, when he returned to Massachusetts.

A well-known secular incident in Leland's life was The Mammoth Cheese. The people of Cheshire, Massachusetts made and sent a giant cheese to President Thomas Jefferson. Leland took the cheese from Cheshire to Washington, D. C., and presented it to President Jefferson on January 1, 1802. While there, Leland was even invited to preach to the Congress and the president. Of this incident he wrote, "In November, 1801, I journeyed to the south, as far as Washington, in charge of a cheese, sent to President Jefferson. Notwithstanding my trust, I preached all the way there and on my return. I had large congregations; let in part by curiosity to hear the Mammoth Priest, as I was called."

Leland died on January 14, 1841 in Cheshire, Massachusetts, six days after preaching his last sermon. His tombstone reads, "Here lies the body of John Leland, who labored 67 years to promote piety and vindicate the civil and religious rights of all men."

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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.