Contributed 9 Jul 1999,  by  Mary Lu Nelson Johnson,
132 Skyview Trail, Trafford, AL 35172-9288

Published in The Cumberland Presbyterian, 
July 1, 1880, page 2:



"Rev. H. B. McMAHEN, the subject of this sketch, was born in Abbeville District, State of South Carolina, on the 27th day of July, A. D. 1804. His parents’ names were David and Sallie McMAHEN. In his early life his parents moved to the State of Alabama, where he continued with them until he was of age.

"He professed religion in his fifteenth year, through the instrumentality of pious training and by the direct agency of the Holy Spirit. He joined the Memphis Presbytery, as a candidate for the ministry, in McNairy county, Tenn., at its meeting in April, 1835, and was licensed to preach the gospel of the grace of God by said Presbytery, at Ebenezer church, Madison county, Tenn., at its meeting in October, 1839. He was ordained to the whole work of the ministry in Union county, Ark., by the Ouachita Presbytery in the fall of 1849. Rev. A. FORTENBURY preached the sermon, and Rev. J. F. KING presided and gave the charge. He continued in connection with this Presbytery until his death, which occurred at his home, in Columbia county, Ark., May 9, 1880. His age, at his death, was 75 years, 9 months, and 13 days.

"The most active part of his life was during the time he labored as a licensed preacher, and he often said, ‘This was the most useful part of my life.’ This was in the early days of our Church, when she practiced, and perhaps, adopted the itinerant system of work. He was, in the true sense of that term, a "pioneer preacher." He rode and preached in localities where society was scarcely organized. He traveled many of the circuits of Tennessee and Mississippi, while he resided east of the river. He came West with the tide of emigration in the year 1848. Here he was engaged in active missionary labor as long as he was able to work. He was the first Cumberland Presbyterian preacher in the State of Louisiana. Here he missionated and established churches until his removal to Columbia county, Ark., where he lived, labored, and suffered till he died. A few years after he moved where his family now resides he became sorely afflicted, his health became impaired, and he continued to decline until, at his own request, he was placed on the superanuated list. He never grew any stronger, but continued this relation to the Presbytery to the last.

"His style of preaching was not at all times pleasing; neither did he labor for that purpose. His commission was not to go and please the people, but to preach the gospel to them; and if ever uninspired man fulfilled that commission, the writer is of the humble opinion that Uncle McMAHEN did. He was not a pedantic preacher, but was grave, and seemed at all times to be burdened with feelings of solemnity. He felt the weight of the preacher’s responsibility resting continually upon him. He was not a stylish preacher, in the modern sense of that term, but labored, rather, to please God, save the people, and built up the Church. His manner of preaching was more forcible than it was persuasive. He was a modern Boanerges. He came like an earthquake, and mightily bore down all opposition, and by the help of God’s Holy Spirit, would force conviction upon the minds and hearts of the people. He preached the law of God, with its awful terrors, more than any other doctrine, and in this lay the reason of his success. Would to God all our preachers would follow his example in this more than they do. We would soon see the life and activity brought back to the Church that it possessed in its early days.

"But Rev. H. B. McMAHON’s voice is no longer heard amongst us – it has been hushed in death; yet he lives, and will continue to live, in the hearts and affections of surviving men and women. Does he not live in the affections of many of God’s people that now live, and did live, within the boundaries of what was once known as the Henderson and Perdy circuits in the State of Tennessee, and the Hernando circuit in Mississippi? I know he lives in the hearts of brethren and sisters in Louisiana and Arkansas. His burning words are still remembered; and though he is dead, he speaks loudly by the example of a pious life, and by his quiet submission to and Christian fortitude in bearing the nine years’ afflictions, which at last laid him in his grave.

"He leaves a loved and loving wife with five children at home, together with sons and daughters both in Texas and Arkansas, to mourn their loss. He was a good citizen, a good preacher in any place, and a good counsellor and presbyter. Like his bereaved family and connection, we miss him too. But we do not mourn for him as for one without hope, for father McMAHEN died as he had lived – a Christian. He loses the associations of family relations, and brothers for a time, and joins the society of the Master, angels, and just men made perfect; he loses the heavy afflictions under which he groaned so long, and gained a country where perfect health will be his portion forever. In a word, he is exempt from all the evil effects of a sin-blighted earth, and has gone to breathe the atmosphere of holiness and heaven.      ATHENS, ALA."

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