Rev. Robert H. Guthrie
REVEREND ROBERT HENDERSON GUTHRIE, MINISTER AND POLITICAL LEADER IN HAMILTON COUNTY, TENNESSEE
(written by R. Scott Guthrie, descendant of Robert H. Guthrie.)
Robert Henderson Guthrie was a pioneer minister in the Bradley and Hamilton County area of Tennessee, political leader after the War Between the States and a prominent citizen of East Tennessee. Robert entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church and was licensed as a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church "South" for the Chattanooga circuit. He was licensed on September 23, 1848 by Elder, J. Atkins. This license was renewed on September 08, 1849 and September 06, 1850. At the Holston Conference held at Wythville, Virginia on October 16, 1853 Robert Guthrie was named a Deacon and his license was signed by Bishop, Robert Paine.
After 1853 Robert was forced to leave the ministry due to an "affliction of the throat" and did not return to his circuit until 1874. Some of the churches Reverend Guthrie ministered at in Southeast Tennessee were; Cleveland, McDonald Station, Harrison, Marrs' Hill, Liberty, Henniger's Chapel, Lebanon, New Baltimore, Union School House, Old Fort, Zion Hill and Price's School House.
During the period of 1874-1875 Robert kept a journal of his travels recording the busy life of a circuit preacher in the nineteenth century. His journal has been preserved by descendants until present and is considered to be an historical treasure. The journal was microfilmed in the latter half of the twentieth century and is now available for public viewing at the Bicentennial Library in Chattanooga.
In 1864 Robert Guthrie served as County Court Clerk for Hamilton County which at the time was under Federal military authority. A hasty election was held for the few people "qualified" to vote or hold political office at the time. Reverend Guthrie held this office during the difficult days of reconstruction and continued to serve until 1870. In 1871 he was elected the first County Court Clerk of the newly formed James County, Tennessee. From 1878- 1880 he served as chairman of the James County Court and was Postmaster at Harrison for many years. Robert was also an active member of the Masonic Order in Hamilton County, Tennessee. Before the town of Harrison was flooded by the waters of Chickamauga Lake, his home was considered an historic landmark in the area.
EXCERPTS FROM THE ROBERT HENDERSON GUTHRIE JOURNAL 1874-1875
*Note: The excerpts are printed as written in the text.
Rode 20 miles to John Blackburns... Lodged at Bro. W.H. Weatherbys... a good home. May Gods blessings rest upon that family.
Sabbath- I preached 9 1/2 a. m. Price's School House. at 3 p. m. New Salem, at night Marrs Hill - three times on one day.
Friday - left home and rode 6 1/2 miles to Ooltewah - took dinner at J.G. Ruston, after rode 3 miles to Bro. Math Hinches. Bro. Hinch got a turnip weighing 6 1/2 lbs., measuring 26 1/2 inches round and firm.
I rode 27 miles to Harrison or in sight. The town was covered with water. The Tennessee River was higher than ever known before. But once in 1867 it was 4 feet higher. Commenced falling last night March 4. Today at 11:00 o'clock, my brother Lawson died. How sad I feel.
Harrison is a village of 200 inhabitants located on the Tennessee River six and one half miles from Ooltewah, the county seat. It is a good section of farming country and has considerable trade. There are 2 stores, 3 churches, Methodist, Methodist South, and Cumberland Presbyterian, and an excellent high school. The exports are chiefly wheat, corn, and dairy products. Ship to E. T. Virginia and Georgia Railroad at Tyner's Station. Mail semi - weekly. R. H. Guthrie, Postmaster.