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the life and writings of david marks

David Marks, Free Will Baptist evangelist, 1805-1845.


Historic texts courtesy Baptist Library Online, Mark Powell, editor.

DAVID MARKS WAS BORN in Shandaken, Ulster County, N. Y., Nov., 4, 1805. His father moved to, where he lived four years, and then returned to New York, taking up his residence in Junius, Seneca County. The teachings of a Christian mother early turned his mind to religion, and at the age of eleven he became a Christian. When thirteen years old, in order to improve his education, he set out on foot for Providence, R. I. He walked 368 miles. Arriving at Brown University, he was told that tuition could be furnished free, but no further assistance towards board or clothing could be rendered, so with a sad heart he walked back home.

In 1818 young Marks presented himself to the Baptist church in Junius for baptism, and had been accepted, but for some reason he was not baptized. In July, 1819, Rev. Zebulon Dean, accompanied by Samuel Wire, then an unordained preacher, went to Junius. They listened to Marks’ Christian experience, and, receiving their approval, he was baptized June 11, 1819, and became a member of the Freewill Baptist church in Phelps. The next year he joined the church which was organized in Junius.

When fifteen years of age he received strong impressions to enter the ministry. His father needed his help, but finally consented to what seemed the call of God. The "Boy Preacher," less than sixteen years of age, left home with his father’s blessing, and mother’s prayers, and with a letter from the Junius church, and the Saviour’s promise, "There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive a hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come, eternal life." Thus equipped he began his labors in what was called the "Holland Purchase." Success attended his efforts, and his youth attracted large congregations. During his three months’ absence from home, his father’s house was burned and his mother died.

He had enjoyed but ten months of study in school, and he earnestly thirsted for knowledge. Through the kindness of others he purchased an English grammar, which he studied while traveling from place to place. He journeyed through New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Connecticut, and into Canada, on horseback and on foot, all in one year. This was his method of work during the first ten years of his ministry. In 1829 he married Marilla Turner, of Zorra, Upper Canada.

At the fifth General Conference, held at Wilton, Maine, in 1831, the need of denominational publications came up, and Mr. Marks was one of the committee that made the report to the Conference which resulted in the establishment of the Book Concern. (See Printing Establishment.) Mr. Marks was appointed by the Conference as agent of the Book Concern, and held the office for four years, when the agency was transferred to a board of trustees. In 1834 Mr. Marks took charge of the church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In 1836 he began the organization of a church in Rochester, New York. After a year or two he resumed itinerant work, and then located at Varysburg. In 1842 , he moved to Oberlin, Ohio, to pursue his studies and obtain needed rest. But it was impossible for him to refuse the many calls that came for help.

He aided in establishing seminaries in Chester, Ohio, and Strafford, New Hampshire. His health for several years had not been good, and he could not endure the strain of such arduous work. His health continued to fail, and as death approached he met it triumphantly. Within a few days of his death he preached twice and wrote a farewell address to the Freewill Baptists. He died at Oberlin, Ohio, December 1 , 1845, at the age of 40 years.

David Marks was connected with the establishment of the Foreign and Home Mission Societies, and the Education Society. He was also prominent in the anti-slavery movement, and in other important branches of Christian work. A memoir of his life was published in 1846. It was edited by his wife, who is now Mrs. M. M. H. Hills, of Dover, New Hampshire. He was a leader in whatever work he entered upon, and he obtained the love and respect of all who knew him.

(Article taken from the Free Baptist Cyclopedia, 1889, pages 383-384)


the life and writings of David Marks

The Life of David Marks, to the 26th Year of His Age, Written by Himself - This 1831 edition of Marks' autobiography contains a remarkable account of his New York encounter with the early leaders of the Mormon movement. The passages in Chapter 22 are among the first printed references to the LDS church, making this book a rare and sought-after volume.

Memoirs of the Life of David Marks in His Own Hand

Sermon Notes in his own hand (Courtesy Bates College Special Collection)

David Marks' Final Sermon, Thursday, November 13, 1845

Funeral of David Marks (Funeral sermon by Charles Finney)

Final Comments of David Marks

David Marks’ Last Resolutions



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