The Western Recorder for August 12, 1915, contained an editorial with this heading: "T. T. Eaton." This article said:"We are now getting far enough away from the grave of this giant of grace and truth to form an impartial estimate of his life and character. That he was a very remarkable man, all admit, and that he filled a place all his own, none will deny. … In our time we have known many great men and ministers, yet, all in all, we are disposed to regard T. T. Eaton as the most versatile genius it has ever been our good fortune to know. … He seemed to know much about many things, and something about everything. … With him thought was an instant conclusion rather than a tedious process." This same number of the Recorder contained an article of his reprinted, by urgent request, from an issue of 1909, entitled: "Call to Moral Men." The Recorder carries on its front page, from week to week, the motto selected by Dr. Eaton, with the Greek for the first two words: "Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
Thomas Treadwell Eaton was born at Murfreesboro, Tenn., November 16, 1845, his parents being Dr. Joseph H. Eaton and Esther M. Treadwell. At this time Dr. Eaton was professor in the College in Murfreesboro, the institution that in 1847 became Union University, with him as its president. This Dr. Eaton, when a child, during a severe illness, was pronounced by the physicians to be dead. The mother, however, despite all appearances and the verdict of the doctor, maintained that the child was not dead, because he was the child of too many prayers to die so young. Young Eaton, after attending Union University, went to Madison University, Hamilton, N.Y., where his uncle, George W. Eaton, was president. When the Civil War broke out he returned home to enter the Confederate Army. His service as a Confederate soldier was "the thing in his life of which he was most proud." He was one of Forrest's men, and, though only a youth, was made a "headquarter scout" by Gen. Stonewall Jackson. After the War he entered Washington College, now Washington and Lee University, being there under General Lee. Before his graduation he was tutor, and had been offered the place of assistant professor; at his graduation Commencement he took the orator's medal, and made two of the four speeches delivered by students. During his college life he accepted Christ, and was baptized by Rev. John William Jones.
From 1867 to 1872 he was professor in Union University, and his first pastorate was at Lebanon, Tenn. From this place he went to take charge of the First Baptist Church, Chattanooga. At Petersburg, his next field, he remained some five years. Next came his last and his longest pastorate, namely, at Walnut Street Baptist Church, Louisville, Ky. Here he remained some twenty-seven years. During these years the meeting-house on the corner of Walnut and Fourth Streets was sold and the present meeting-house on Third and St. Catherine Streets built. Before this period Dr. Eaton had been editor of the Christian Herald, of Tennessee, and a contributor to the Religious Herald and other religious papers. For a large part of his life he was editor of the Western Recorder. Before the end of his life he had written a number of books, namely, "Talks to Children," "Talks on Getting Married," "Angels," and the "Cruise of the Kaiserin." He had many popular lectures, two of these lectures having these titles: "Poor Kin," "Woman."
Dr. Eaton was a man of tireless energy both of mind and of body. It seemed as if his hunger for knowledge and his love of work would make it impossible and unnecessary for him to sleep. He used to say that he had learned to be in two places at one time and that he had hopes of learning to be in three at the same time. His capacity and versatility were often imposed on. He told how in one of his pastorates a member sent for him posthaste all the way across the city on a midsummer day. When he arrived at the house, very hot and out of breath, the good woman said she wanted him to help her get a cook. While he was pastor in Louisville a countryman once shipped to him a carload of mules, asking him to sell them and remit the money. Yet another countryman asked him to look into the character of a certain clerk who was asking for the hand of the farmer's daughter.
He was a leader among Kentucky and Southern Baptists, and a debater of great ability. In appearance he was tall, with a head and face in which the marks of intellectual strength were very clear. His face as it appears in the excellent steel engraving, in the Minutes of the Southern Baptist Convention of 1908, shows to great advantage and with great accuracy his high brow, his clear-cut nose and mouth, his strong, bright eyes. It is the face of the thinker, of the man of action.
Suddenly on his way to a Chautauqua, at Blue Mountain, Miss., June 27, 1907, where he was to lecture, he was stricken with apoplexy, at Grand Junction, Tenn., and was soon dead. A great crowd attended the funeral at the Walnut Street Church, Louisville. There were some one hundred and fifty ministers present. Addresses were made by Drs. T. T. Martin, W. P. Harvey, P. T. Hale, Lansing Burrows, and C. M. Thompson. The sermon was preached by Dr. J. M. Weaver. His wife, who before her marriage was Miss Alice Roberts, died some two years after her husband. Their two children, Joseph H. and Maria (Mrs.
E.C. Farmer), are still living. Dr. Eaton was one of three children who lived to man's estate.
[From George B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, Fifth Series, 1915. - jrd]
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