1847–1906

October 16, 1847, Oak Bowery, Alabama.

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.

Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, Georgia.

portrait

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, Jones 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 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, Mas­sa­chusets; 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.

Jones’ works include: