James O. CcClurkin
Information taken from the book
The Primal Families of the Yellow Creek Valley
William J. Nesbitt
J. O. McClurkin was one of the twelve offspring of John McClurkan and was one of four brothers who became preachers. The other three being Will, Christopher, and Newton. J. O. McClurkan was a very frail and unhealthy child, and spent many hours in sickness as he grew up. His conversion to Christianity at the age of thirteen is related by Merle McClurkan Heath, in her book A Man sent of God, printed in nineteen forty seven.
J. O.'s conversion should be the voice of encouragement to any discouraged Sunday School teacher. It was like this. The revival season was on, following as it always did in that community, wheat threshing time. Those were busy days for the ladies of old Bethany Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Hams cooking, stacked apple pies, pound cake and corn meal light bread baking, filled the kitchens with a sweet aroma in preparation for the dinners which would be spread on the ground out under the trees in the church yard. The log church was swept and clean. Sweet-smelling hay from the wheat fields had been scattered in a semicircle in front of the pulpit on which penitent sinners might kneel and seek pardoning grace. Old Brother Jim Parrish, the man of God who for long years had been pastor of Bethany Church, had seen great things happen in that pile of straw, so he had reason to expect the workings of God in the hearts of the people at the revival season. The fresh new hay was the outward expression of his faith as well as an unspoken invitation to sinners.
He was a constant seeker during this revival meeting on that hay-carpeted floor, riding horseback behind his mother day after day to attend. He was a timid child. He had longed to become a Christian, yet he had never sought God openly because he shrank from doing those things which brought him into public notice.
The last service of the meeting had been dismissed. You could hear, above the restless feet of horses in the road and the grind of steel-rimmed wheels on the gravel, the happy voices of friends and neighbors as they reluctantly drove away to their widely separated homes.
But the revival was not over for God and a boy who still knelt in the straw. Nor for the pastor and the boy's Sunday School teacher, who lingered prayerfully with him, encouraging him, instructing him. They were faithful to him in his youth and obscurity, little dreaming that a great soul winner was then being born into the family of God, one whose pen and influence were to reach across the seas. His conversion came as quietly as the breaking of the day with all the beauty and freshness and wonder of the dawn. When he walked out of that almost deserted church, he said that he walked into a new world, a world bathed in the glory of God.
"The stars," he said, "shone with a new luster. I had never seen the moon so brilliant. The atmosphere seemed charged with a fragrant aroma. The darkness was light. 'Behold, all things had become new."
Following his salvation here in Bethany Church, J. O. McClurkin grew strong in the Lord, becoming an active minister at the age of seventeen affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. At nineteen, he enrolled in Cloverdale Academy in Dickson County. Following that, he attended Tacuna College for his theological training in Tacuna, Texas.
During his second year at Tacuna, he married a neighbor girl, Martha Frances Rye, on November fifteenth, eighteen eighty two. His bride's father remarked that James would not live a year due to his frail nature, and he expected to have to support his daughter and grandchild.
James lived to become a major holiness leader of his time, and he went on to found several organizations, the most notable being Trevecca College in Nashville, Tennessee.
He contracted typhoid fever and went to be with the Lord on September sixteenth, nineteen fourteen, at the age of fifty three.