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Written by T.S. Dalton   

"The Life and Labors Of a Poor Sinner"

Published 1912


In bringing before you this book, entitled "Life and Labors of Poor Sinner," I would not endeavor to impress you with the thought that I view it as a star in the literary world; but simply as a story, telling of the life and labors of a poor toiling minister of the Primitive Baptist denomination, who has toiled and labored in the Master's cause for nearly fifty years. 

My only claim in sending forth this book is that it contains the truth respecting the poor sinner mentioned, and we also feel assured that our views on the Bible, set forth in this book, are in harmony with the general tenor of the same and accord with the experience of the children of God. To them we dedicate this book, hoping that the God of heaven may bless it to their comfort and edification, and to the glory of His own great name.  Trusting that you may feel in your hearts to breathe a prayer to the God of heaven, that the poor author may be permitted to meet you in the glory world and join you in praising God through all eternity.


C H A P T E R  I.

I was born in Robertson County, Tennessee, four miles from Springfield (the county seat), on the third day of June, 1847. My father's name was Tolbert S. Dalton, and my mother's maiden name was Angeline Mathews. My father and mother had born to them four children, three boys and one girl; I was the youngest of the four. My father died about the time or just before I was born, hence I never knew the good of a father. My mother was left with four helpless children, and in very poor circumstances, without a foot of land, or anything else much, to subsist upon. Hence we were left upon the cold and merciless charities of the world. My grandfather took charge of us, moved mother onto his farm, and looked after our interests, and our dear mother toiled on hard to make a meager support for herself and four orphan children, and by her labors, and the goodness of grandfather, and our good neighbors, starvation was kept away from our door, but often our meals were scant, and the diet coarse and rough.

We were blessed with some little advantages of free country schools, and we tried to make the best of them we could. While our educations were very limited, yet we praise God that he has favored us with what we possess. After I grew up, and became more settled I went to school for a while, and assisted in teaching to pay my tuition, and by this means added some to my little stock of knowledge.

As strange as it may seem to many of my readers, somehow or other, I inherited a very mischievous disposition, that is for sport and fun. I don't think I was mean, they said I wasn't, but full of life and fun. I presume, however, that I came by it honestly, for they say my father was a very lively, joky man, and I know myself that grandfather was, and they used to tell me that I was just like them; so if some things in this book should appear ludicrous, and should cause you to take some very hearty laughs, I hope you will keep in memory that I was only a boy, and a boy will be a boy, and to try to make anything else out of him but a boy, you destroy all the boyishness there is in him. So I was just a boy, and I acted the boy in my every day life, as you can clearly see by following up my narrative a little farther.

I had several friends who grew up with me; and while I was rather the leader they all sanctioned my suggestions and readily helped me to carry them out. One of these was an uncle of mine, very little older than myself, whose name was Marion; but I nick-named him "General" and he was always at my side in all our exploits. Another was my brother, George Washington Dalton, whom I nick-named "Pen." He was more sedate and rather backward, but would help us out. Another was George Draughn, whom we styled "Popeyes," and Greenberry Fyke, who bore the name "Sockwringer."

With this team I was ready for any emergency, and nothing was too hard, in the way of mischief, for us to undertake. So we soon took the name of the wild team of Robertson County. We were often sent for by people to play our pranks for them to see, and our neighbors took many a hearty laugh at us in our sports; but none of us wanted to harm any one, or do anything to cause them and fun we were going to have at all hazards. So in our narrative we shall call each of these persons by their nick-names, showing how they figured in our sports of early life.

We shall give some few chapters in the beginning of this book showing our sports of early life, in order, if possible, to show the more vividly the miracle of God's grace in snatching me "as a brand from the burning," and giving me a hope in the dear Savior and a precious home among His dear people here on earth, which is the greatest joy and comfort of my poor heart now; a precious home which I have enjoyed now for over forty years, and the older I get the sweeter and dearer is that home to me. I trust while you shall read of my mischief while in my youth, you will not become disgusted with me, and cease to fellowship me because of this, for I trust that God has long since shown me the folly of such a life.

And I feel here that I would like to say a word to the young boys who may chance to read this. My object in writing it is not to encourage you to such a life; but rather to warn you against it, for you may some day, like myself, look back and feel it to be a source of grief to you. While I was never particularly rude or disobedient to my parents, yet I would often have my fun against their wishes, and have often wished since that I had acted differently. So you take my advice and act differently, and you will not have these things to lament in your older days. Remember the words of Ezekiel, "He that taken warning shall deliver his soul."

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 September 2006 )
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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.