Knocked Him Out.
Rev. Jeremiah Booker Doubles Up Satan In Winston County.
A Wicked Sinner Saved.
From the Alabama Tribune (Cullman), January 22, 1891
Submitted by Robin Sterling
The North Alabama Methodist Conference sent the Rev. Jeremiah Booker to the Bear Creek circuit in Winston county because he was strong in bone and sinew, as well as in the grace of God.
The circuit had been established three years and the three ministers who had been sent there before Rev. Jeremiah Booker reported that the seed sown had fallen stony places and brought forth no fruit.
They met with many trials and tribulations, and in several instances were saved from bodily harm by the grace of God and their own fleetness of limb.
Bear Creek was a hard country.
The tree of righteousness had been planted late there, and it did not thrive in that soil.
Sam Ashley, a moonshiner, hunter, and an all around bad man, was the renowned king of Bear Creek.
He could whip any man in Winston county and was a terror among the natives. His word was law.
Sam was opposed to religion and hated preachers, especially circuit riders; he said, when a man got religion he could not make moonshine whisky and was good for nothing.
When a circuit rider went to Bear Creek he heard of Sam Ashley before he learned the names of the deacons of his churches. The first minister sent there called on Ashley and tried to pray for him; the moonshiner insisted that the preacher drink a glass of corn whisky, when he refused Ashley whipped him so badly that he was unable to fill his appointment for two weeks.
Ashley was fond of a joke and never missed an opportunity to play one on a preacher.
Rev. Jeremiah Booker’s first appointment in his new circuit was at Bear Creek church. There was a large congregation present, anxious to see and hear the new preacher.
A few minutes before time for services to begin, the deacons discovered to their consternation that Sam Ashley was present, and the anticipated trouble when the new minister announced that he was going to preach the gospel if every man in Winston county got riled, but at the same time he did not anticipate any trouble with Mr. Ashley.
Just as services commenced Mr. Ashley quietly entered the church, and took a seat half way up the aisle. Under his arm he carried a bundle wrapped in an old newspaper. This bundle he deposited under the seat. Ashley remained quiet until after the opening hymn, then he arose and went out, leaving his bundle behind.
Rev. Jeremiah Booker was in his humble way a powerful revivalist. He could make sinners tremble and Christians shout. In his opening prayer that morning he prayed, "Lord, send down a spirit from heaven; send down one hundred spirits, Lord, here to this church this morning, to arouse these christian men and women and to turn these sinners from the error of their ways."
The one hundred spirits came rather unexpectedly. There was a slight movement of the bundle Sam Ashley had left under the seat, and then a faint buzzing of wings might have been heard.
"Ther good Lord be praised! Ther speerits air done come! Glory! Glory! Glory! I feel ther speerits here," and sister Mary Jenkins, who always led the shouting, clutched wildly at her throat as she began a merry-go-round dance down the middle aisle.
"Oh, Lord! I feel ther speerits an ther’re red hot from heaven," shouted sister Caroline Morrison, as she started a small sized Kirmess dance over in the amen corner.
"Glory be ter God, ther speerits air in my ear, S’manthy, fetch ther camphor, Glory halleluyah!" and old deacon Hightower, who had not shouted before in ten years, hugged seven of the sisters before the speerits left him.
The suspicious movements in Sam Ashley’s bundle were growing violent now, but with eyes closed and hands clasped, Rev. Jeremiah Booker prayed as he had never prayed before. "Send thy spirit among us, Lord. Arouse these sleeping Christians and startle these hardened sinners. I feel thy gentle spirit coming, Lord. I almost hear the music of angels’ wings—Yes, Lord, I feel they spirit now," and the preacher’s clasped hands came down on his bald head with great force.
Brother Booker, them’s hornets, shouted Deacon Jones, as he climbed through a window at the rear of the pulpit. Before the preacher could say amen, pandemonium reigned in the little church. Sam Ashley had left a nest full of hornets under a seat, and the hornets were the spirits that caused such an unexpected awakening in the church.
At Zion church the following Sunday Sam Ashley was in attendance and more trouble was anticipated by the congregation.
It was communion day. The sacrament was to be taken after the sermon. Deacon Moore always furnished the wine, and as was his custom, left it in his buggy until it should be needed after the sermon.
Sam Ashley did not enter the church that day. He waited until the congregation was thoroughly interested in the sermon, and then going a short distance into the woods he soon returned with a large brown jug under his arm. Going to Deacon Moore’s buggy he changed jugs. Taking away the sacramental wine he left one filled with corn whisky in its place. The exchange of jugs was made without being detected, Ashley seated himself on a log near the church to await developments.
The sermon ended, Deacon Moore came for his jug of wine, and soon the imitation of the last supper was being passed to the brothers and sisters kneeling in front of the pulpit. The brethren each took a long pull at the wine. There was a familiar taste about it they thought and before the glasses had gone far it was necessary to refill them again. They were refilled again and again until the jug was almost empty and the minister’s turn came. He placed the glass to his lips, then putting it down he looked at Deacon Moore long and reproachfully. Seeing the deacon did not understand the look, the preacher passed him the glass.
"Oh, Lord, that sinner Ashley has been at his wickedness again!" groaned the deacon when he had partaken of the cup. The deacon knew the peculiar flavor of Ashley’s moonshine whiskey too well to be mistaken.
Just then the minister saw Ashley standing near the church door, evidently waiting for something to happen.
Entering the pulpit again, Rev. Jeremiah Booker said: Brothers and sisters, I was sent to Winston county by the Lord and conference to fight Satan, and I am going to fight him. This meeting is now adjourned for half an hour while I go out and look for the gentleman.
Several of the brothers followed the minister outside where they found Ashley.
"You have been disturbing our worship again, Mr. Ashley," said the minister. "It seems as if your heart is too hard to be touched, and I am going to try other means."
"Want er fight?"
"I am a man of peace, but I came here to fight Satan."
At the prospect of a fight, Ashley was delighted. "Jis watch me wallop him," he said, as he pulled off his coat.
"Now, brethren, see fair play," said the preacher as he and Ashley entered a ring which had been marked off on the ground.
"Let us pray," said the preacher.
"Better watch ‘sted er prayin," said Ashley as he led for the preacher’s neck with his right.
May the Lord have mercy on you, prayed the Rev. Booker as he dodged the blow and caught Ashley on the nose with his left.
"You are a wicked (biff) sinner, but the Lord (biff) is merciful," and a terrible right hander in the jaw knocked Ashley down.
"You shall (biff) yet be saved, (biff) and become a shining light (biff, biff) of Christianity, (biff).
Right and left the Rev. Jeremiah Booker led with terrific force, and in less than three minutes the terror of Winston county was down with both eyes black and blood streaming from his nose.
"Let us pray!" (biff) as Ashley tried to get up. "Our fathers who are (biff) in heaven, (biff) lie still, Mr. Ashley, and repeat this prayer after me."
By this time Ashley was completely knocked out. He made no further effort to rise, and humbly repeated the prayer after the minister.
Rev. Jeremiah Booker became the most popular minister in Winston county, and Sam Ashley is now a prominent member of one of his churches.—W.L. Hawley.