Compiled by Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan K. T. Smith, 2003



May 30, 1834



        John Gossett, Senior, was born in the State of Pennsylvania and in his infancy his parents removed to and settled in Amherst County, Virginia, where he resided and grew up to manhood; he, after settling himself in Amherst, removed to N. Carolina where he remained a few years then returned to Amherst; thence he moved to Spartanburgh District, S. Carolina and lived there many years until he moved to west Tennessee [middle Tennessee] in the year 1798 and settled himself in Montgomery County, where he continued to live until his death on the 11th day of May, 1834, in the 94th year of his age. He was a preacher of the gospel in the Methodist Church nearly sixty years. He was a sincere and most exemplary pious Christian and was distinguished wherever he was known as being the noblest work of god, an honest man, exercising throughout life all the virtues and discountenancing every vice. A better neighbor, a firmer friend and a more charitable man, from good motives, free from selfishness, never lived or died.

        He lived well and died beloved; all the tears shed over his grave at his interment show that his neighbors had lost a friend and the human family a benefactor of inestimable worth; they as well as his family mourn the loss of him more than language can express an idea of.


June 6, 1834




Messrs. Editors. If you have no objection, you may publish the following as a tribute of respect and love which I owe to departed worth. [N. G. B. from Bowling-Green, Ky., May 28th 1834]

        Died, recently, in Montgomery County, Tennessee, the Rev. John Gossett who was born in Pennsylvania, Newcastle County, February 28th, 1743. At 13 years of age he was sent to an English school 20 miles from home, with an elder brother, where they boarded for the purpose of obtaining an education but receiving rough and cruel treatment from the proprietors of their boarding house, the little boys set out on foot; without a conductor and a great part of the way without a path to brook the difficulties of a wilderness country, filled with savage Indians and wild beasts, and that for a distance of 20 miles that they might again enjoy the embraces of fond parents. After a long and fruitless journey in search of home they arrived at a settlement on James River where they were treated kindly. The subject of this memoir had here the benefit of another school but such was the scarcity of teachers in those days that he only had the privilege of learning to spell and read. He afterwards learned to write, singularly, (viz.) finding an old manuscript (though unable to tell one letter from another) he proceeded to imitate what he saw in the manuscript till he finished it. This he carefully put away till he saw a person capable of reading writing and presenting it to him, was astonished to hear it all read intelligibly. He then made some inquiries about it and from this circumstance learned to write without a teacher. He was often the subject of deep awakenings but did not yield to be saved by divine grace till he was 35 years of age. He had no advantage from religious instruction or any aid whatever in seeking religion except from the spirit of God and a careful perusal of the Bible; hence his doctrinal views were all original. The pious partner of his joys and sorrow (Emma LeMaster) died some years before him in the triumph of faith. They were married when the subject of this memoir was in the 24th year of his age and unto the day of her death they lived in harmony and love.

          As soon as he was converted, though he had never heard a sermon, he commenced with burning zeal, warning sinners around him and many conversions crowned his labors. The first sermon he ever heard (by Thos. Hargate) he listened to with deep attention till the doctrine of "unconditional election and reprobation" was preached so plainly, that he left the house greatly discouraged. The second sermon he had the privilege of hearing was preached by Abram Rollins and was delighted with his doctrines and astonished to find a man so exactly agreed with him in sentiment. Two years after his conversion he was licensed to preach by Rev. Francis Asbury (Bishop of M. E. Church) and was a faithful and zealous gospel minister for the space of 56 years from the time he was licensed.

        After 9 years past I became acquainted with this holy man. I have often listened to him in public and private with thrilling interest and the facts recorded here, I penned from his own lips some years before his death. As a minister, he often brooked the snow and rain, crossed the dangerous watercourse, climbed the mountain's height, slept in the open wood, with no shelter to cover him from the gathering storm, sometimes amidst the furious mob with brandished swords over his head and pistols pointed at his breast and all this without fee or reward, telling sinners the way to god. He had innumerable seals to his ministry; for many times his persecutors fell before him with their carnal weapons and cried for mercy and asked him to pray for them. He once was in good circumstances but spent almost all his substance and his constitution was completely broken in the work of God. His philanthropy knew no bounds but extreme poverty in himself. But he is gone. I am not favored with the exact time of his death but am happy to learn from the "Clarksville Chronicle" that his end was glorious indeed.

N. G. Berryman

June 13, 1834


Author's Note: N.G. Berryman is listed as one of the presiding elders of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Macomb, Illinois.  Peter Cartwright founded the church in 1832.  From: The History of McDonough County, Illinois, 1885 Centinental Historical Co., Springfield, Illinois.