Why the Name Reynoldson for this particular School,
Post Office, and Church?
A transcript from two books I, Sally Koestler, happen to own.
First is a short excerpt from James A Delke’s [he happened to be step-brother of my great grandmother Ann Ward Moore. And he was also the first headmaster of Reynoldson Institute.] “History of Chowan Baptist Association 1806-1881.”
“The summit of the rising ground in front of Piney Grove Church was chosen as the site of the Institute. The name Reynoldson was prefixed, to express the love and esteem held for that pious and devoted man of God, whose Christian labors with us converted so many souls.”
page 61 re 1854 establishment of the school
From the section entitled Name in the book “Pride of the Past” …. by Edith Freeman Seiling page 18 – 20
“No recorded resolution to change the name of this church from Piney Grove to Reynoldson has been found. However as early as 1866 when the church sent its letter to the association the church was referred to as Piney Grove (Reynoldson). To indicate the location of Piney Grove since a post office by the name of Reynoldson and a school by the name of Reynoldson were located here. The first official change in church minutes is the “Church at Reynoldson” referred to in the ordination of William Benberry Waff in 1885.
But still why Reynoldson? Without a doubt, Reynoldson Church acquired the name from the school and the post office. The school was named Reynoldson for the remarkably eloquent and devoted servant of our Lord John Smith Reynoldson.
John Smith Reynoldson, an Englishman, was born in Branberry, near London, England March 6, 1812. At an early age, he went to sea as a cabin boy. “After many voyages and accidents at sea, he was brought by the grace of God into such love and zeal, that he abandoned the high seas and devoted his life to a proclamation of the Gospel. He was “awakened on the subject of religion,” while in New York City. Later “he was converted to Baptist principles” at a Baptist church in Portsmouth, Virginia. From hence he became a school teacher in the mountains of Virginia and an ordained minister in 1842. From 1844-1847, he worked for the General Association of Virginia in the Valley of Virginia and then as an agent for the Virginia Home Mission Board.
Later he accepted the call to be pastor of the Market Street Church in Petersburg, Virginia. However, this was not the kind of work he felt called to do. “A city charge was too small a sphere for him. He longed to labor among the churches at large.”
Two years later he resigned this church to give himself “wholly to itinerating and holding protracted meetings.” in both Virginia and North Carolina.
When the Chowan Association met at Piney Grove in May 1852, J. S. Reynoldson was the agent for the Chowan Baptist Female Institute. He addressed the Association on this occasion. When the final decision was made to establish a male academy and the site chosen at Piney Grove, the Association picked at first to name this Chowan Reynoldson Seminary. Later it became a private school known as Reynoldson Institute.
In 1853, John Reynoldson decided to return to his native England to visit his mother, brother and other relatives and friends. After several months visit there, he planned to return once again to America. In 1854, he boarded the “City of Glasgow” for America, bound from Liverpool to Philadelphia, and was never heard of again.
When, the Virginia Association met June 1854, Brother S C Mason offered the following resolution in memory of Rev. Reynoldson to the Association for adoption. “Whereas, there is every reason to suppose that our esteemed brother Rev J S Reynoldson died in the steamer City of Glasgow ….. Resolved the destitute condition of the family of our brother, those churches among whom he has so zealously and successfully labored be requested to contribute of their substance to the widow and fatherless children.”
In response to the last resolution, some brethren pledged themselves to pay five dollars per annum for five years.
Thus, the name Reynoldson was given this location many years ago to honor a distinguished evangelist. The post office and school are gone. Nonetheless, the Baptist Church to which the name transferred stands there on the Hill as a memorial to John Smith Reynoldson, the eloquent evangelist, and as a beautiful tribute to God.
[ the bio is footnoted to the State of NC by Walter Scott Vol 22 p 74 Gates Co records and Freeman private papers.]
Post Script: I received a
query from Buzz Reynoldson, who lives in Yuma, AZ. That prompted this page. He told me of another Reynoldson about the same time named Robert whose story was a parallel of John Smith Reynoldson.
There was a “Robert Reynoldson” who was a nephew to my G.G. Grandfather “Robert Reynoldson” in mid-1800. Who became a Baptist Preacher in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England, And started a Boys School Called “Upper Hill Street.”
He built it into a large school. But I think the History of the two Churches and Schools are so similar in that Robert made a large Baptist Church in Wisbech also.
Robert Reynoldson left England in 1857 for Canada/America. Lived in Canada eight years then moved to Iowa Four years later on to Nebraska, Where he