Absalom Barden Wright was born on November 3, 1826 at the headwaters of Wolf River in Fentress County, Tennessee.
At the age of sixteen, he was bitten by a copperhead snake inside his old home place. It was becoming dark in the old house, where Absalom had gone to pick up some oats. When he reached down to pick them up, a snake bit him on his right wrist. He left the oats behind, got on his horse and race the one half mile to his home. His father tried everything he could think of to help his son, but nothing worked. His shoulders, neck, and head became so swollen that it nearly prevented him from breathing, causing people to fear he would die from suffocation. As a last resort, Absalom was given strong whiskey to counteract the snake poison. He drifted off into unconsciousness about midnight. When he awoke about ten o'clock the next morning, he could hardly recognize himself. His right arm was swollen almost as large as his body!
After recovering a little, Absalom felt as though he would rather die than to go through a like suffering again. For the next three spring seasons, Absalom’s arm changed to the color of a serpent and shed off the outside skin. His friends feared that his arm would have to be taken off, but eventually Absalom outgrew it. At the time Absalom was an unsaved boy and he knew it, and it made him shudder to think how near he was to the gate of death in an unsaved state.
Absalom's convictions for sin grew heavier and from early boyhood he had a strong impression of mind that he should do considerable work for the Lord before he died. He would weep bitterly whenever he heard his brother, Edmonson, preach and earnestly appeal to sinners. He wrote, "I would think, if someone would only come and take me by the hand, how readily I would go to the anxious-seat and seek salvation."
In the summer of 1843, someone did take Absalom by the hand. It was August and the Cumberland Presbyterians were holding a camp meeting in the Poplar Cove area. Absalom vowed to the Lord that he would go to that meeting and seek his soul's salvation. But, by the time the meeting came on, Absalom had about overcome all serious impressions he may have had about his needing salvation. He went to the meeting full of life and mischievous fun and, as he had done in the past, he picked out an old man who was shouting aloud God’s praise and make fun of him. On the second night of the camp meeting, Absalom’s heart was melted in deep penitence following the sermon and he went forward to the altar to pray. But, in his words, he ‘got no relief.’ He wrote in his autobiography that it was hard for him to appropriate the precious promises of Christ to his own personal good. A couple of afternoons later, just as the preacher began to preach, there came up a heavy rain, which caused the congregation to retreat to the surrounding campsites with different speakers at each campsite. A man by the name of Tyndall began exhorting in the campsite where Absalom had sought relief from the rain. Directly, he called mourners to come forward. Absalom stood still for a short time before someone took him by the hand and encouraged him to make one more effort. As he started toward the altar, he suddenly fell to the ground crying, "O Lord, here let me die or be saved!" He cried from the very top of his voice, saying “O Lord, save or I perish!" Absalom remained in that condition for some time, when all at once the very same old man that Absalom had made fun of a few nights earlier came and told him to get up. The old man laughed and talked so kindly to Absalom that his faith laid hold on Christ and instantly he arose, shouting “Glory! Glory, Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest!" As Absalom went through the camps rejoicing, he came upon his father, who at hearing of his son’s salvation, threw himself back in the chair he was sitting in and shouted, “Glory! Glory! Glory,” while clapping his hands together. Absalom continued rejoicing throughout the camps, shouting at the very top of his voice, “Hallelujah! I'm saved! I'm saved! Glory to God and to the Lamb forever!”
And so, at about three o’clock in the afternoon of Monday, August 28, 1843 in the Poplar Cove area of Fentress County, Tennessee, five miles west of Jamestown, the county seat, Absalom Barden Wright was happily converted to God.
Bro. Wright was licensed to preach on July 31, 1848 during a meeting a Five Springs Methodist Church in Clinton County. For nearly 50 years, he boldly traveled throughout Tennessee and Kentucky preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
On November 8, 1893, Absalom was thrown from his horse and killed. He is buried at Wolf River United Methodist Church Cemetery at Pall Mall, Tennessee.
(Taken from A.B. Wright's autobiography published in 1876.)
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