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Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project



Early Ringgold County produced many local preachers, elders and other religious leaders. Most notable, perhaps, was Wm. McFARLAND, who lived on a farm north of Benton. Rev. McFARLAND conducted religious campaigns in dozens of schoolhouses, churches and other religious centers.

Several years ago, the late Lawrence TODD wrote the story of a McFARLAND Revival from the viewpoint of a mischievous juvenile. It was printed first in the Diagonal Reporter.

"Diagonal was never the same after Rev. McFARLAND preached inthe little white church in Frog Holler. Long before services began the place became so crowded it was a problem to even close the door.

About when the congregation became restless, Old Bill, as he was known, mounted the pulpit, closed the Bible and peeled off his coat. For a few seconds he just stood there, his blazing eyes terrible to behold as he took stock of the sinners.

My veins filled with icewater as I remembered having thrown a roack at the school bell, tin-canned a dog and snapped a split-stick on the tail of a backyard broadcaster.

Without preamble or the telling of a bad joke, Old Bill made many wish they hadn't done certain things. He knew the Bible from "In" to "Amen," and was a master of words. Within minutes some of the faithful were rolling in the aisles, others stood up, shouted and screamed as Bill poured out a torrent of words.

Word by word he described the awful consequences of sin.

Stepby step his eloquence took us into purgatory where we stood on the edge of the fiery pit and listened to the moans of sinners swimming in a lake of fire.

After about three hours of the greatest preaching I have ever heard a few knealt before the altar to receive the blessing of this simple man of the cloth. Usually just before midnigh somebody dragged a dog from beneath the stove and a silent congregation filed out the door.

Most had been put through the wringer and everyone knew it.

Old Bill never preached up to the elite, he had little and wanted less, and may the Good Lord bless and keep him."

SOURCES: "Faith Comes to the Prairie" Ringgold County Historical Society. 1972

Transcribed by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2011

To contribute to Ringgold County's Tales From The Front Porch, contact Sharon R. Becker at
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