Who was Editor John L. West?


Even though he did not own the publication, Editor John L. West paid expenses for the final issue of 1877 out of his own resources. A month later he paid about $1,500 for all new printing equipment after a fire destroyed the press, type and everything else used to produce The Alabama Baptist.
Photo courtesy of Special Collection, Samford University Library, Birmingham, Alabama

John L. West

John L. West, a native of Union District, South Carolina, was born December 11, 1848, and moved to Pickens County, Alabama, as a child with his parents, Aaron L. and Luvenia J. West. He was baptized at Oak Ridge Baptist Church and attended Howard College with a scholarship from Union Baptist Association, but he dropped out in 1872 because of bad health.

He was ordained to the ministry in 1871, preaching as a student at Hopewell Baptist Church and serving as pastor until his death in 1888. He also was pastor of Newbern Baptist Church. West served as moderator of Cahaba Baptist Association and chaired association committees. He married Mary E. Holmes on March 17, 1876, and they had six children.

West owned the John L. West & Co. Printing Company in Selma. He had been editor of the Selma Times and part owner of the Selma Printing Company. During the July 1877 Alabama Baptist State Convention, the board of directors that oversaw The Alabama Baptist was pleased when E.T. Winkler presented West as the new editor and proprietor of the paper.

In 1878, the convention granted ownership to Winkler and West. Then in 1879, because Winkler no longer wanted ownership, West requested total proprietorship of The Alabama Baptist. The convention agreed and transferred sole ownership to West, who said his years with Winkler were “pleasant and trustful.”

On January 1, 1885, Major John Gideon Harris of Livingston purchased half interest in the paper. Remaining in Livingston, Harris had no editorial control at first but solicited subscriptions for the paper. However, by the meeting of the convention in 1885, West had sold the paper to Harris.

On July 17, 1888, West died near Scott Station in Perry County. He was described as an outstanding minister in central Alabama known for his “loveable disposition” and being “gentle in manners and spotless minister of Christ faithful to the end to all that pertained to his calling.”

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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