A Short Story of My Life and Work
by Reverend Dock Columbus Bracy
June 11, 1859 – December 19, 1953
I was born a slave and was raised on the farm in the state of Georgia. When I was only eight years old, I was sent to the field to work. At the age of ten they put me behind a plough and a mule.
My mother said my master was my father, but he failed to treat me like a father. He only gave me twenty-five cents in his life and even though he was a rich man, he died poor.
My mother and stepfather had no learning, and just coming out of slavery they knew nothing but work in the cotton and cornfields. Thinking that book learning meant very little they kept me on the farm until I was a grown man. Consequently, I had a very poor chance in my boy-hood days to get an education. In 1871, to the best of my recollection, a white man came from the north and he lived in our community. While living in our vicinity he opened up a Sunday school in our little log church and taught us our a, b, c's out of Webster’s Blue Back Speller. I learned to spell a little and read some in that speller. In 1872 a day school opened. I only attended three weeks before my parents found it necessary to request my services on the farm. In 1873 our day school opened up again. I lived a mile from the schoolhouse but was able to attend it every day at noon. It was during this year that I learned to read and write under the guidance of the aforementioned teacher.
In 1874 our school opened up again, the teacher boarded near the church where he taught school. I went to him at noon and again at night. These two lessons cost one dollar per month. Our school term was short inasmuch as we only attended three months in a year. As I worked in the day, I found it necessary to study at night. We had no lamp to see by, consequently I was forced to study by the fireside. I was the lone boy in the family and had no one to encourage or help me; therefore, you can see that my chances to get an education were limited. The obstacles which confronted me made me study all the harder so that I might learn something about men and books, so that I might be of some service to myself and of service to my country and my race. I have come this far in life through many hard struggles.
At the age of twenty-three I married Miss Ella Westley of Madison, Georgia, that was in 1882 and we lived as man and wife for forty-one years and three months. To this union eight children were born, five girls and three boys. She died March 3, 1923, and four of our children sleep in the grave with her.
My son received his education at Morehouse College located in Atlanta, Georgia. My three daughters received their education at Spellman College, Atlanta, Georgia. I have five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. After entering into the gospel (ministry) I entered the Atlanta Baptist Seminary, whose name has been changed to Morehouse Baptist College. I spent six years in this school preparing myself for my life's work.
Today in my old age, I look back on the many struggles and hardships in my past life and today I rejoice that I had courage to fight my way up this far in life. I hope my life will inspire some young person who may chance to read it. May it inspire him and make him a better man and help him to make this world a more desirable place to live.
On June II 1859, I was born in Putman County, near Eatonton, Georgia. I received the major portion of my schooling at Atlanta Baptist Seminary. This institution of learning is now called Morehouse College. I attended the Atlanta Baptist Seminary for six years; from November 5, 1885, to January 4. 1891. After completing my work at this institution, I devoted seven years of my life to school teaching. With the background I received as a student and teacher. I was able to enter the ministerial field with a practical knowledge of worldly and spiritual phenomena.
During the forty-two and a half years that I was in active pastoral work, I served at the following churches:
Jefferson Baptist Church – Putnam County, Ga.
Sanders Chapel - Green County – Penfield, Ga.
Ebenezer Baptist Church – Athens, Ga.
Smyrna Baptist Church – Morgan County, near Madison, Ga.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church – Morgan County, near Buckhead, Ga.
Brief Synopsis of work accomplished at each church.
My ministerial services at Jefferson Baptist Church consisted of two Sundays in each month. With the co-operation of most of the members we were able to build a large house of worship. This early attainment served as an incentive to the members and today it is one of the leading churches in the southlands.
While at Sanders Chapel I saw the church-roll grow from a few members to many. My success at this Chapel lured me on to greater accomplishments.
Briefly speaking, very little success was in evidence during my pastoring at Ebenezer Baptist church.
When I learned that Smyrna Baptist Church had burned down, I willingly accepted the task of rebuilding this house of worship. This was a difficult endeavor, and it required the greater portion of my time. Consequently, I found necessary to leave Sanders Chapel and concentrate on the reconstruction of Smyrna. After rebuilding this church another fire demolished it fifteen years later. Again, it was rebuilt and today it stands as a symbol of righteousness still opening its doors to the down-trodden sinners. My most delightful pastoral days were spent at Smyrna.
I was called to Mt. Zion Baptist Church where I built another great church. The old church had deteriorated too almost nothing. In eighteen months, we built a great house of worship, raised $ 1,575.00 in thirty days, and had seats shipped to us from Chicago, III. I enjoyed many pleasant days while at Mt. Zion.
I served as moderator of the Madison Baptist Association for fourteen years; paid off an indebtedness of more than five thousand dollars and raised about one thousand to buy another tract of land.
I was converted April 1877 and joined the church in May 1877. I was licensed to preach in July 1884 and was ordained to the Christian Ministry in October 1888, by Rev. J. H. Taylor, my pastor. I received into the churches that I served a total of two thousand persons, baptized the same number, helped to organize six churches, participated in ordaining sixty-one preachers and one hundred and ten deacons. I married two hundred and ten persons.
In 1928 my health ran down completely. At this time, I found it imperative to give up active pastoral work. In 1929 I came to Boston, Mass. to live with my oldest daughter, Mrs. Susie E. Poole. My health improved to such a great extent that I have been able to render services to a good number of churches in Boston. However, at the age of eighty-two I feel the weight of years pulling on me, consequently I am able to do very little preaching. Still, I feel as Paul did when he was old and weak. He said, "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel." I have spent many years in the ministry, so I say to the young ministers: - "Preach the Word"
A Poem to My Fellow Ministers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Be a good leader and preach the whole truth
Go preach the gospel, brethren, be always meek and mild; the world may frown upon you, but Christ the Lord will smile,
Go preach the gospel, brethren, though it may be in tears, just call on your Master. He will drive away your tears.
Oh! Preach the gospel, brethren, and preach with all your might. If the enemy come against you, God will your battle fight.
Yes, preach the gospel. brethren, and preach it with a vim. Yes, Christ the Lord will help you. Then always look to Him.
Be careful, my dear brethren. Be always wise and strong, and do not preach false doctrines, nor teach your hearers wrong.
Beg God to be your teacher. Don't preach just what you think, but let the spirit guide you. Take time and speak distinct,
Yes, preach the word, my brethren. This is your Lord's command. And take good time to preach it, that all may understand.
Oh! Preach the gospel, brethren, and fear nobody's face. Preach what the spirit tells you, if it suits nobody's taste,
Preach the gospel, brethren, but always bear in mind, for if you fear the people, you sure will fall behind.
So, preach the gospel, brethren, though men may criticize. Preach as your Master bids you, 'til you have won the prize.
Just preach the gospel, brethren, however men may frown. Preach to please your Master if the world turns upside down.
When preaching to your hearers, don't preach to make them shout, but hold up the name of Jesus, and leave your poor self out.
Oh! Preach the gospel, brethren, and preach through thick and thin. And when your work is ended, great honors you shall win.
Oh! Preach the gospel, brethren, if you gain not a friend, for Christ is always with you, and will be to the end.
Now these words, dear children, are to all both young and old. If you want to live with Jesus, you must always respect your soul.
Now I soon must leave you, brethren. I am now four score years old. I cannot be mistaken for I know not my end.
God Bless You All
This short story was written between the years of 1943 and 1952.