Born: Oc­to­ber 16, 1847, Oak Bow­ery, Ala­ba­ma.

Died: Oc­to­ber 15, 1906, on the way home from a re­vi­val meet­ing. Be­fore bu­ri­al, his bo­dy lay in the ro­tun­da of the state ca­pi­tol in At­la­nta.

Buried: Oak Hill Ce­me­te­ry, Car­ters­ville, Geor­gia.



Sam was the son of John and Queenie Jones, and hus­band of Lau­ra McElwain. His pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther and great-grand­fa­ther were Me­tho­dist preach­ers.

Jones grew up in Car­ters­ville, Geor­gia, north of At­lan­ta. Dur­ing the Am­eri­can ci­vil war, he joined Un­ion troops go­ing to Ken­tuc­ky.

After re­turn­ing home, he stu­died law, was ad­mit­ted to the Geor­gia bar in 1868, and be­came known lo­cal­ly as a bril­liant at­tor­ney. How­ev­er, he was a no­to­ri­ous al­co­hol­ic. Fol­low­ing a death bed plea from his fa­ther, Sam had a con­ver­sion ex­pe­ri­ence, quit drink­ing, and fo­cused on his faith.

Jones was or­dained by the North Georg­ia Con­fer­ence of the Me­tho­dist Epis­co­pal Church, South, and preached in the Van Wert cir­cuit, a group of five church­es spread ov­er four count­ies. He be­came one of the Am­eri­can South’s most fa­mous ev­an­gel­ists in the late 19th Cen­tu­ry.

In 1885, he head­lined a re­vi­val in Nash­ville, Ten­nes­see, where he con­vert­ed Tho­mas Green Ry­man, who, along with Jones, built the Un­ion Gos­pel Tab­er­na­cle, lat­er named the Ry­man Au­di­to­ri­um (home to the Grand Ole Op­ry).

After Ryman’s death in 1886, at his own ex­pense, Jones had a large op­en-air struc­ture called The Tab­er­na­cle built for in­ter-faith meet­ings. For the rest of his life, Jones held ser­vic­es there each Sep­tem­ber, bring­ing to his home­town co-work­ers who helped him in re­viv­al meet­ings through­out the coun­try.

Meanwhile, Jones raised funds for the Me­tho­dist Or­phan Home in De­ca­tur, Geor­gia.

Jones went on to preach not on­ly across the Am­eri­can South, but al­so in New York Ci­ty; Bos­ton, Mas­sa­chu­setts; Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio; St. Lou­is, Mis­sou­ri; Los An­ge­les, Ca­li­for­nia, and in Ca­na­da. It has been es­timat­ed Jones preached to three mil­lion Am­eri­cans.

In his ser­mons, Jones preached that al­co­hol, danc­es, and the the­ater were all sin­ful. He be­came known for his ad­mo­ni­tion, Quit Your Mean­ness.

As an ex­am­ple of his preach­ing, in an evan­gel­is­tic cam­paign in San An­ton­io, Texas, he de­clared that the on­ly dif­fer­ence between San An­ton­io and hell was that there was a ri­ver run­ning down the mid­dle of it.