Who were Editors Taliaferro, Renfroe, and Winkler?


“The invasion of the South by a Northern army is a simple absurdity,” wrote H. E. Taliaferro, editor of The South Western Baptist, following the vote by Alabama representatives to secede from the United States. He argued the demand for cotton in the European nations would cause them to recognize the “independence of a Southern Confederacy…so soon as it is formed….”
Photo courtesy of Special Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, Alabama

Hardin Edwards Taliaferro

Hardin Edwards Taliaferro was a native of North Carolina, born on March 4, 1811, to Charles and Sallie (Burroughs) Taliaferro. He had been born Mark Hardin Taliaferro, but by 1829, he had traveled to Roane County, Tennessee, where his two brothers, Charles and Richard, were serving as a pastor and evangelist, and he had changed his birth name to Hardin Edwards Taliaferro. While living with Charles, Taliaferro learned the tanning trade, was converted, felt called to preach and entered Madisonville Academy.

During this time, Taliaferro met Samuel Henderson and his sister, Eliza, whom Taliaferro married in 1833. They moved to Talladega County in 1835, where he served small churches and owned a tanning business. He wrote articles for the Alabama, Georgia and Virginia Baptist papers, and along the way he wrote of his deep spiritual struggles in a piece called The Grace of God magnified: An Experimental Tract. Eventually he joined his brother-in-law, Henderson, as editor of the South Western Baptist in 1855, moving his family to Tuskegee by 1856.

On July 31, 1859, Taliaferro and John Edmunds Dawson combined their talents and assumed ownership and editorship of the paper. He maintained a supportive role, with Dawson writing most of the more spirited denominational and secular commentaries.

Dawson, a native Georgian, was recognized as a commanding person and gifted orator in the pulpit. He served Mercer University as a trustee and endowment fund agent, and he received the institution’s Doctor of Divinity in 1858. In July 1860, Dawson left because of his poor health and died in November. While editing the paper, Taliaferro completed Fisher’s River North Carolina, Scenes and Characters, the stories of its people and places, under his penname Skitt. It was anonymously published in 1859 by Harper & Brothers.

Taliaferro persevered with the newspaper, but by 1862, the war had taken an emotional and financial toll on his family, and he relinquished editorship and ownership. The paper survived when Henderson arrived to take the reins, with Taliaferro occasionally contributing articles.

Following the war, Taliaferro worked with new black churches in East Alabama in the Cross Keys and Mount Meigs communities, assisting and training members and leaders while editing The Tuskegee News. In 1873, he and his wife returned to Loudon, Tennessee, where he died November 2, 1875, leaving their daughters, Nancy and Adelaide, in Alabama.

John Jefferson Deyampert Renfroe 

John Jefferson Deyampert Renfroe, was born August 30, 1830, in Montgomery County, Alabama, to Nathan W. and Mahala (Lee) Renfroe of Georgia. His father moved the family to Macon County. He was baptized in 1848. He married Elsie Lee in 1852, and the couple had eight children. He was ordained to the ministry in 1852 in Cedar Bluff and served as a pastor in Calhoun and Cherokee counties until 1857, when he moved to First Baptist Church of Talladega and served there until 1860.

Renfroe worked in East Alabama Baptist Association raising money for work among the Indians. He enlisted in the 10th Alabama Regiment as a chaplain from 1863 to 1864 and gained recognition for his preaching to troops, which encouraged and strengthened morale.

He was corresponding editor of the Christian Index and South-Western Baptist from 1866 to 1873 and The Alabama Baptist from 1873 to 1876 and 1886 to 1887. He was awarded an honorary degree from Howard College in 1875. In 1886, he was called to serve as pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham. He died on June 2, 1888, and was buried with Masonic honors alongside Elsie and six of their children at Oak Hill Cemetery in Talladega.

Edwin T. Winkler 

Edwin Theodore Winkler was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Shadrack and Jeanette (McFarland) Winkler on November 31, 1823. He was educated at Chatham Academy, graduated from Brown University in 1843 and entered Newton Theological Seminary in 1843. While serving as assistant editor of The Christian Index, he served as pastor of First Baptist Church of Columbus, Georgia. He moved on from there to First Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia, and later to Gillisonville, South Carolina.

During his tenure as corresponding secretary of the Southern Baptist Publication Society beginning in 1852, he compiled “The Sacred Lute, a Collection of Popular Hymns,” eight of which he wrote. He was also editor of the Southern Baptist of South Carolina. He answered the call to First Baptist Church of Charleston in 1854. While in Charleston, his wife, Abby Turner Howe, died in July 1858. He married Rosa Cornelia Burckmyer in September 1859. During the Civil War, Winkler served as a chaplain in the Confederate Army. After serving as pastor of Citadel Square Baptist Church, Charleston, for a time, he accepted a call to Siloam Baptist Church in Marion, Alabama, in 1872. That same year, he became president of the Southern Baptist Convention Home Mission Board located in Marion, remaining until 1881 when it moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1874, Winkler became editor-in-chief of the reconstituted Alabama Baptist and served until the paper relocated to Selma in 1879. He died in Marion on November 10, 1883.

About thealabamabaptist

State Baptist newspaper serving Baptists in Alabama, providing information, inspiration and interpretation as well as challenging readers to serve and find opportunities for ministry that further the kingdom of God.
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