Letter to Rev. Samuel Leard

Below is a letter written by Turner to Rev. Samuel Leard of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. In it, Turner shares his appreciation to Leard for being the one that led him "to the feet of a pardoning Jesus."

*Note: While there is no date published on this letter, we assumed that the publication date had to come before Turner became Bishop because he does not mention being Bishop in the letter. 

Source: W. P. Harrison. Gospel Among the Slaves: A Short Account of Missionary Operations Among the African Slaves of the Southern States. Publishing House of the M.E. Church, South. Nashville, Tennessee. 1893

To Rev. Samuel Leard

Dear Father in God: 

Language is inadequate to express my pleasure at a reception of the letter from one to whom I owe so much; who when I was a wild, reckless boy, in 1851, at the camp meeting just beyond Abbeville Court House S. C, opened to me my sad condition, in one of your masterly sermons, and as a mighty instrument in God's hands led me to the feet of a pardoning Jesus. From 1851 up to this moment I have carried in my breast a grateful heart that God ever gave you to the ministry. I love you while living, will love you when dead, and will love you in heaven. 

A short sketch of my life would run as follows: 

I was born near Newberry Court House in 1833-34, possibly 1834; went to Abbeville with my parents when a boy, and was bound to Mr. Thomas Jackson (carriage maker) to learn the trade. I joined the Church under Rev. Mr. Crowell, on probation, at Abbeville, in the latter part of 1848, but soon went to cursing and getting drunk whenever I could ,get whisky, and was the worst boy at Abbeville Court House until you, at Sharon Camp Ground, in 1851, so stunned me by your powerful preaching that I fell upon the ground, rolled in the dirt, foamed at the mouth, and agonized under conviction till Christ relieved me by his atoning blood. I was licensed to exhort shortly afterward by Dr. Boyd, now sleeping in the cemetery at Marion, S. C, and from that time to the present I have been in the Master's service. I went to St. Louis, Mo., in 1858, was admitted into the itinerant service of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and went to Baltimore and spent four years at Trinity College, with a view of going to Africa as a missionary. But the war being in full blast disarranged my plans.... I have preached and worked for God in every position held, from the day I gave you my hand up to the present. I am a poor sinner living upon the mercies of God, and would be thankful to be remembered by you at a throne of grace. God, however, has honored me far beyond my merits. God bless you, and may your earthly career terminate amid blessings innumerable!

Your humble servant,

Henry M. Turner