Monday, October 26, 2020

Henry Slade Preached His Own Funeral

Although Bro. Henry C. Slade, Kentucky's famous "feud breaker," created perhaps more sensations during the course of his life than the average mountaineer of his state he broke all records the day his own voice preached a funeral sermon over his dead body, directed the music and made one last impassioned address to the rough people among whom he had lived and worked for so many years.

When this man, who in his little mountain church had won widespread fame was breathing his last in his humble cabin under the mountains, he had a talking machine drawn ⁵close to his bed and then poured into it the story of his life and a last plea to the rough mountaineers. This was the climax of his life's noble work.

Bro. Slade died on March 7, 1905 and a couple of days later the strange funeral service was held. Word had gone far and wide that the minister would preach his own funeral sermon, for the members of the congregation had spread the news till it became the wonder of the mountains. When the body was carried Into the church and placed upon the trestles in front of the altar, hundreds had gathered to hear the dead pastor presch. One of the minister's friends started the machine and a familiar voice spoke saying: "The Lord giveth and the lord taketh away."

He then invited the congregation to stand and join him in singing "Blest Be The Tie That Binds," afterwhich the dead preacher began telling his life story, his struggles, his hopes and his fears. He spoke of how the first three years of his pastorate church members met in each others homes because they had no meeting house, and how his efforts were rewarded in the fourth year when families, who for generations had bitterly fought each other, with many murders being the result, were brought into the Christian fold, and how those families had helped build a church building.

At the end of the sermon the voice admonished the people to be constant in well-doing. And then the voice asked the congregation to rise and sing "Jesus, Lover of my Soul" and the members of the church joined their dead pastor in that old hymn.

When the ceremony was over the congregation, awed and whispering, stood in groups while the body was borne out of the church to the burying ground, where it was laid to rest.

For eleven years, Bro. Slade had preached to his mountain congregation, first in the homes of the people and afterwards in the little church at Rideout. Through his efforts, the Howard-White feud, and the famous Tolliver feud were ended.

Bro. Slade had become interested in the talking machine while on a visit to Louisville, and on returning to the mountains took with a talking phonograph machine and a number of records, among which were the latest musical successes, the best in oratory and many humorous recitations. Such a luxury had never before been heard of in that remote mountain district, so when Bro. Slade turned his Wednesday evening prayer meetings into talking machine entertainments the church was crowded.

He became so impressed with the importance of the talking machine he believed he could do good after death, and hence conceived the Idea of preaching his own funeral sermon. By doing so he helped to settle the difficulties between many families who were threatening declare open war at any time.

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