Just A Closer Walk With Thee….Religion In The Mountains – Part 1

Quoting the late Rev. John G. Dubosq (originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) who spent most of his time preaching at Jollett Bible Mission in the Jollett Hollow region of Page County, VA…
“Yea. It has been hundreds of them have been saved since I
come in here, maybe thousands. All over, all this part
of the country, I use to preach. I preached in every
little hamlet there is around about here.
And, the Lord, the good Lord saved a lot of them. I guess
there was hundreds and hundreds of them that was saved
here at the mission. I, I tell you if it was…..,
I feel like some time sitting down and cry, thinking of
the hundreds.”

You see, mountain residents relied heavily on their faith and this portion of the mountains was no different. From revivals, to weddings, to funerals, the mountain people settled themselves on their faith in a higher power. The message of God would be carried from mission to mission by circuit preachers who would walk or ride many miles to spread the Gospel, sometimes preaching a few times each day.

But, how did Rev. John G. Dubosq end up in a hollow in the mountains of the Blue Ridge so far from the big city of Philadelphia? Rev. Dubosq shares his story in an interview conducted by Dorothy Noble Smith on December 1, 1977…
Finally, ah, they, they sent word up for me, they
wanted me to go, and Willie Wiggins and, and a couple
of men got together and raised enough money, it didn’t
cost much to go, go on the train, you see a train rode into Shenandoah Junction, and then from Shenandoah Junction on into Elkton, four o’clock in the
morning. I, I was in El, Elkton, in Shenandoah in Shenandoah rather, and there was to meet Joe Meadows and Buzz Meadows on horseback. They, they was to come in, and, there was quitea crowd. We stayed there until six o’clock. Just at six
o’clock in comes Joe Breeden and different ones. These two men, Buzz Meadows and Joe Breeden, Joe, no, Joe Meadows. And they said; Oh, he
was a big tall feller. He said,’Are you Mr. John’?” I
said, “Yes, yes I am.” “Well,” he said, “We come down
to take you up to where you are going to live at.”

So in 1932 Rev. Dubosq made his first appearance in the mountains. I’m sure it must have been quite an interesting trip for a young man who had spent the majority of his life in the confines of Philadelphia. He goes on to mention the amount of time it took to get back into the mountains and the amount of times they had to cross Naked Creek saying: “We had to cross the creek nine times before we got up to Buzz Meadows’ store”.

So here he stands…in the middle of a landscape he could’ve never imagined in his head, surrounded by people he doesn’t know. What does Rev. Dubosq do? He gets to work of course, by working with the local men to erect a proper Church. Quoting Rev. Dubosq…
“all the men around here wanted to build a church,
they wanted me to be the preacher in the church. So, we
all worked together, and we got lumber. Lumber was awful
cheap. Will Samuels use to go across the mountain, and he had a horse and took a couple of horses, and they pulled lumber all the way across, had it cut over there and everything.”

It wouldn’t be long before the mission would be doing works though out the area. Rev. Dubosq recalls on numerous occasions making sure the local residents had enough clothing for their families. The most heart-warming aspect of this is that he never charged a dime for the clothing he secured through donations although he does remember the local residents giving him local produce and meat. When asked about his mission work to other areas of the mountains, Rev. Dubosq replied:
“No, never had a horse. I start out maybe, six or seven o’clock in the morning and I would walk until I come to the first place, see. Where they, these people had a church, where there was preaching. I would preach for them there, after I got through preaching for them there then I would go to another church, to another place that they
would have. I use to preach four or five times on Sunday. Get home about two or three o’clock the next morning.”

Unfortunately, not everyone was thrilled with Rev. Dubosq’s presence. In the interview with Ms. Smith he recalls one mountain resident who never cared for him one bit saying, “they, they wanted to get me out, see, up there.
They didn’t want me up on the mountain, see, after a while. There was one, one fellow up there, he used to sit way up on top of the mountain, see. Up there, and he used to shoot at me, to try to scare me, see, he’d shoot. He fires a shot down there, I went out the door to go get something, I don’t know what it was, and the shot went
through my hat.”

DuBosq and wife
Rev. John G. Dubosq with wife

During his 46 years preaching in the mountains Rev. Dubosq claimed to keep a faithful attendance of “75 people every Sunday”, proving that the majority of the mountain residents enjoyed his teachings. On October 1, 1978 at the age of 94, Rev. John G. Dubosq passed on to glory after a few years of illness. He was survived by his wife Reba A. (Price) Dubosq along with many children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great grandchildren. The mountains lost a wonderful person on that day in 1978, but his legacy lives on.

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About Blue Ridge Ramblings....

For as long as I can remember history has always held a special place in my heart. Genealogy has always played a large part in my history research....
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5 Responses to Just A Closer Walk With Thee….Religion In The Mountains – Part 1

  1. Diana says:

    I barely touch on the subject of Appalachian religion in my book. Many of my customers spent their Sundays as part-time pastors without pay. Your blog is delightful and informative.

  2. Many thanks Ms. Diana…care to mention the name of your book?

  3. Sandra Breeden says:

    I went to church and still attend the Jollett Bible Mission and Rev. John DuBosq was my preacher. He married me and my husband on March 9, 1971. His wife (Bea) witnessed it.

  4. This is the area where my Merica relatives came from. They were the mountain people that lived where the Blue Ridge Parkway is now and were moved out of their homes by the govenment to buld the Parkway. Most of them settled just below the mountain in the Foothills. I am so proud of them and the legacy they left for all of us.

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