Franklin Howard Kerfoot was born August 29, 1847, at "Llewellyn," in Clarke county, Va. His father, Dr. Franklin J. Kerfoot, was a prominent physician and a warm-hearted, large-minded Christian gentleman, residing on his farm near Berryville, Va. His mother's maiden name was Harriet Webb. She was from the Blue Grass section of Kentucky. She was a cultured, high-spirited woman of intellectual force and strongly-developed poetic nature. When young Kerfoot was thirteen years old the war between the States began, and the following session he was compelled to leave school in order to cultivate his father's farm. He had made good use of his early years, being well advanced in Latin, Greek, and mathematics. Just before the war ended, in his eighteenth year, he joined Col. John S. Mosby and his men. Returning home after peace was declared, he worked hard on the farm and ran a wheat-thresher for the nieghboring farmers. By his resistless energy he secured the funds for his future education. At the age of twenty he entered Columbian College, Washington, D. C., and in two years received the degrees of Bachelor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Law, afterwards receiving the degree of Master of Arts. But having strong convictions that he should preach, he entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1869. On account of his health the next session he went North and entered Crozer Seminary, in which school he graduated. Dr. James P. Boyce about this time appointed him to the agency for raising money and securing the co-operation of Southern colleges in the work of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which he continued until January, 1873. He now made an eight months' tour of Europe, Egypt, and Palestine, then entered the University of Leipsic and followed special studies for a year. Returning home, he was called to the care of the Midway and Forks of Elkhor n churches, in Kentucky. In 1877 he was asked for a second time to take a position in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He accepted, but before entering upon his work he was called to succeed the celebrated Richard Fuller as pastor of the Eutaw Place Church, in Baltimore. After due consideration he secured release from the Seminary and accepted this call.
In 1883 he succeeded Dr. Wayland Hoyt at Strong Place Church, Brooklyn, N. Y. After serving this church for about, two years he was dreadfully lamed by a fall and had to use crutches for over a year. He resigned, returned to Kentucky, and was recalled by the Midway Church. Not long after this he was elected as co-professor with Dr. James P. Boyce in Systematic Theology and Pastoral Duties in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville. At the death of Dr. Boyce, in 1889, Dr. Kerfoot was elected full professor, also financial agent and treasurer of the Seminary, in which position he remained until the summer of 1899. He then resigned and was elected corresponding secretary of the Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, holding the position up to the time of his death, which occurred at Atlanta, Ga., on June 22, 1901. His life-long friend, Dr. Henry McDonald, delivered his funeral oration, and his body was laid to rest in the beautiful Blue Grass section at Shelbyville, Ky. Dr. Kerfoot was a man of commanding appearance, had a strong, musical voice, and was one of the most popular of our preachers and denominational leaders. His death was a great loss to the South. In rightly estimating the influences which helped him to be so useful those who knew him best will never forget the power of the noble, charming, Christian woman who stood by his side in his work for the denomination.
Read Dr. Kerfoot's Sermon The Assured Safety of the Saints.
[From Henry T. Lothan, editor, The American Baptist Pulpit at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, 1903, p. 730. Document from Google Books. — jrd
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