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March 2, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Notables: Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright, Part I

Buckingham County: Mt. Zion Baptist

Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

George Braxton Taylor wrote extensively about Baptist ministers preaching in Virginia during the 19th and early 20th centuries. His volume, Virginia Baptist Ministers: 5th Series, 19021914, with Supplement, includes an impressive biography of Buckingham County-born Reuben Baker Boatwright (1831–1913). Taylor describes the Boatwright family’s arrival in Buckingham:

Rev. R. B. Boatwright. Courtesy Boatwright Family Genealogy in America.

Buckingham County, where he spent much of his life, and beneath whose sod his ashes rest, gave him birth. Near Mt. Zion Church, January 23, 1831, he first saw the light, his parents being Reuben Boatwright and Mary Bryant. His grandfather, Reuben Boatwright, a soldier of the Revolution, coming from Prince Edward County to Buckingham County in 1788, had built his home, “Travelers’ Rest,” near Mt. Zion Church. The son of this Revolutionary soldier and the father of Reuben Baker Boatwright was an ordained minister, but he declined calls from Mt. Zion and other churches, choosing rather to look after his farm and to preach as occasion invited. The other children of the family were two daughters, who died when young, and two brothers, Charles P. and Thomas Frederick, and three half-sisters and one half-brother, P. P. Boatwright, offspring of the father’s second marriage. In 1847, when sixteen years old, he made a profession of religion and was baptized, near Mt. Zion and into her fellowship, by Rev. Wm. H. Taylor.

After having begun his education at Berryman’s Academy he entered Richmond College in the fall of 1856, Charles H. Ryland being one of his fellow students. Before his course of two years at the college was over he was licensed by his mother church to preach, and before he became a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Greenville, S. C., he did some preaching and was ordained at Mt. Zion, Rev. P. S. Henson and Rev. W. H. Taylor forming the presbytery. His year at Greenville was the first in the history of the Seminary, and he was one of the ten Virginia sent that session. His fellow-student, Charles H. Ryland, says that he was “the best theologian of his class.” From the Seminary it was not long before he took his place in the army, becoming chaplain of the 46th Virginia Regiment.


For more about Mt. Zion, click here: Buckingham Churches: Mt. Zion Baptist

Coming Next: Buckingham County Notables: Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright, Part II


Leave a Comment
  1. Joanne Yeck / Mar 2 2020 1:51 pm

    Thanks, Bill, for adding this information to the post!


  2. Bill Davidson / Mar 2 2020 10:59 am

    My Davidson family was closely associated with the Boatwright family back in Cumberland Co., VA in the 1700s. I suspect that my gggg-grandfather Philemon Davidson was married to a Miss Mary/Molly Boatwright, and I suspect that my ggg-grandfather Reuben F. Davidson was named for the earliest known Reuben Boatwright in that family. Unfortunately, there seems to be no proof of some of the likely “early” women in that family. For example, no one seems to know if the “early” Benoni Boatwright fathered any daughters (the last time I checked, anyway).


  1. Buckingham County Notables: Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright, Part IV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  2. Buckingham County Notables: Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright, Part III | slate river ramblings . . . .
  3. Buckingham County Notables: Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright, Part II | slate river ramblings . . . .

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