May 7, 2011

BIOGRAPHY: Sylvester Hassell

BIOGRAPHY: Sylvester Hassell

FROM "ADVOCATE AND MESSENGER," SEPTEMBER 1928, BY ELDER R. H. PITTMAN: "BROTHER HASSELL IS DEAD!" These sad words were first heard by me as they were whispered in my ear during the morning service at the Ketocton Association Sunday, August 19, 1928, and as the news spread many hearts were saddened and tears of sorrow shed. And upon reaching home Sunday night I found a telegram from Charles Hassell awaiting me, and regret very much that I could not attend the funeral services of this dear man of God. He was very near and dear to me. For thirty-five years, we have been very close friends, and during the last years of his life, we were closely and intimately connected. His editorial service on the staff of the Advocate and Messenger was a blessing to thousands and an inspiration to his co-workers with whom he was in perfect harmony. The writer was last with him in January in a meeting in which he labored for reconciliation of estranged brethren; and on July 16th-his last letter to me-he said "I would be glad to see you again." But no more shall we meet in this life. He has been called up higher; and heaven to me is a little dearer, because of his going. Elder Sylvester Hassell, of Williamston, N. C.; minister, historian, teacher, was doubtless the best authority on church history in North Carolina, and possibly in this age. He stood among the foremost thinkers and writers of the United States. His ancestors came from England to North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century. His parents were Elder C. B. Hassell and his first wife, Mary Davis. He was born in Williamston, N. C., July 28, 1842, and died there August 18, 1928, having reached the ripe age of 86 years and 21 days. He was educated at the Williamston Academy and the University of North Carolina, taking a high stand at both, and graduating with honors. He was proficient in several languages, was principal of a school for young men in Wilson, N. C., and professor of languages in a northern college for some years. He published, in 1886, the Church History, the most complete work of its kind ever published by our people, and a monument more lasting than granite, to him and to his father, who began the work. In 1892 he became associate editor of the Gospel Messenger, and in 1896, its proprietor and managing editor, which position he retained nearly twenty years when the paper was sold to Elder Z. C. Hull, of Atlanta, Ga., from whom it was purchased by the writer in 1923, and all this time Elder Hassell has been on the editorial staff. He was twice married; first to Mary Isabella Yarrell, in 1869; and second to Francis Louisa Woodward, in 1876. Of his religious experience he recently wrote: "At the early age of ten years I knew and felt that I was a sinner. When about twenty years of age, I thought, I had consumption; and I fled to the law for justification, but found only condemnation. I was then led to feel, while alone in my bedroom at my father's house, that Jesus bore my sins in His holy death on the cross. I wept bitterly over this impression, but I waited five months to be assured of the reality of a blessed change in my soul. I then went to Skewarkey Church near Williamston, related my experience, and was received into membership. I was baptized the next day, January 11, 1864, by my father, Elder C. B. Hassell, in Roanoke River, when the ground was covered with frozen snow, and the ice in the river was more than an inch thick. It was the happiest day of my life. I began speaking in public in December 1871, and was ordained in August 1874. *****I have served Shewarky, Jamesville, Hamilton, Great Swamp, and Coneto Churches, but now serve only Skewarkey Church. I feel myself to have been only a poor sinner, an unprofitable servant, saved only by Sovereign, free, electing grace, if saved at all." Thus wrote this great man in the last editorial from his gifted pen. Truly, he was a Prince in Israel. As I am able to judge, it has not been my privilege to know one who bore more marks of real greatness. In manners, humble and retiring as a little child; in general information, he has been called "a walking encyclopedia;" in service, untiring and unselfish; in character, irreproachable and unstained; in deportment, gentle, kind and tender.

Articles may be found HERE

Duty-faith Expositions

Free Grace Expositions