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Doll Cole 3

Johnny Jones, Noveber 2000

continued from Cole 2
Over ten years ago I attended homecoming at Joseph Chapel on Highway C, one of the prettiest churches I've ever seen. Even the highway curves away nicely from its neat white frame, surrounded by hills and woods and pastureland. There's a cemetery out back and a church bell. At this church I first heard of Rev. Doll Cole, from his daughter, Dolly Blount. His words tell about what was important to him:

"When I was conducting a meeting someone who was converted gave in a testimony something like this, `I never prayed before in my life.'

"`How strange,' I thought. I tried to remember a time when I didn't pray. Once I climbed to the top of the old log smokehouse and sat astride the clapboard roof and sang `By the grace of God I'll meet you,' and never before had I received such a revelation of God's presence. As I sat there alone and sang that old hymn, the Spirit of God bore witness with my spirit that I was a child of God. And I felt that I had been born again. Every doubt seemed to flee as I sang louder and louder, `By the grace of God I'll meet you.'

"Long years have passed since that hour. Storms have risen, thunders have rolled, lightnings have flashed. Pain and sorrow and sickness and death have hurled themselves across the summit of that old hill where the smoke house once stood. But time, sorrow, and disappointment have all failed to drown the memories of that sacred hour. That is one of the mountain peaks of my Christian experience."

Doll Cole spoke about praying aloud in the woods. "We would follow a winding stream high up in a deep wooded retreat, and there we marked a little grassy spot where we would go and kneel and pray every day. The hills took up the echo of our prayers and the trees seemed to join in solemn worship. A giant oak with its mighty branches stood near and under the shade of its heavy foliage we would kneel. Our voice was audible, and perhaps not a human being ever heard."

He spoke about how he came to his calling of the ministry: "Brother Maynard was pastor. And one day when we were holding conversation in our home, he said to me, `Brother Doll, don't you believe that God has called you to preach the gospel?' He seemed so serious about it he wasn't even smiling.

"And I said, `Yes, Brother Maynard, I do.'

" And he said `I'll give you Exhorter's License.'

"So time drifted on and a revival was begun at Sugar Grove. Brother Maynard was doing the preaching. One night to the astonishment of everyone he arose at the close of the service and pointing his finger straight at me said, `Brother Doll, I can't be here tomorrow night. Will you preach in my place?' If a thunder bolt hurled from the skies had struck my soul, the shock would not have been greater. Every eye was turned upon me, some in pity, some in amusement. I seemed to be frozen to my seat. I was trying in vain to find words to answer the man, who still stood erect, with his finger pointed straight at me. I was half afraid of him. Then he smiled, for he knew he had won. I was answering, `Y-E-S.' Then facing the audience Bro. Maynard announced, `Doll Cole preaches tomorrow night.'

"I think that Satan then unchained every devil in hell, released all the powers of darkness at his command in my soul. He said, `You can't say a word. You'll be so overcome and embarrassed, you'll make bad matters worse. My advise to you is not to make the effort.'

"I said, `Satan, God and man have my word. And what you say may all be true, but I can stand.'" And he did, along with other early Methodist ministers. Here is Doll Cole's description of one of the circuit riders: "Brother Marlat was called a circuit rider, but he was walking when he came. At his first appointment at a little town on the circuit the people were gathered and were waiting for the new preacher.

"Marlat was late; he came down the dusty road, covered with perspiration, with pants rolled at the bottom. In almost breathless suspense the people waited. Marlat came in and hurried up the aisle singing, `All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name.'"

Doll Cole speaks of his own time as a Methodist preacher: "I preached also at Davisville. On Sunday evening I would go up the river to a little schoolhouse and after service would ride home horseback through a deep wooded country. The road was only a winding path, leading through the mountains, with branches of trees hanging so low that at times I was compelled to hold to my hat with one hand and guide the horse with the other as the darkness was so dense that I could neither see the horse nor the path I was trying to follow. One night in particular I well remember I lost my hat five times and each time had to dismount and feel around in the darkness til I found it."

Stories of the independent, Godly people who lived here before us make me glad I live in the Ozarks, too.