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 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.

Jones’ works in­clude: