REV. GENERAL HARRISON JACOBS
By Rev. R.H. Robb, D.D., Georgia Conference
CHARACTER SKETCHES, page 47-49
Rev. General H. Jacobs was born near Hamlet, North Carolina, November 29, 1859. In a letter to the writer, he says, “Father was of Jewish descent, mother Indian descent.” He is six feet in height, with a wiry body well developed by hard work and a clear, keen, piercing eye that could look clear through you. Born in a backwoods state on the eve of the civil war and raised by poor parents he had no educational advantages to mention. As he himself expresses it, he only knew the old blue-backed speller.
With no home restraints and with a natural disposition to ramble, he left his native state when nineteen and landed at Silver Springs, Florida. The next year he had a serious spell of sickness and felt drawn northward.
He stopped in South Georgia. There he met Miss Eliza Robinson who later became his wife. They raised nine of their twelve children. She proved a true help-meet to him and had much to do in making his life a success. She was patient, wise and industrious. Near to her father’s he secured a small farm where he was a hard worker and farmed scientifically.
Their home was truly Christian. The father was the head of the house and while possessing much of the will-power of General Jackson, after whom he was named, was an affectionate husband and a tender, loving father. All were God fearing and religious. It was also a hospitable home – a head-quarters for the preachers when near, and he was liberal according to his means.
He first made a profession of religion when about sixteen and united with the near-by Protestant Methodist Church but through neglect and wandering around, backslid. He was reclaimed in 1884 and then united with the new Congregational Methodist Church, but soon after joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. During his boyhood days the Spirit moved him to the ministry, but no start was made until 1886 when Dr. James Mitchell discovered his gifts and licensed him to exhort, and the following year, in a district conference, he was licensed to preach.
Then began a useful ministry marked by faithfulness, zeal and loyalty in warning sinners to flee from the wrath to come. He was a diligent student of the Word and an intelligent preacher. As it was difficult to support the regular pastors in that region, where the churches were far apart and poor, he was drafted in as supply pastor and for thirteen years served in that capacity.
He was faithful for caring for the various interests of the churches he served and many confessed and were added to the churches. Another characteristic of his ministry was his interest in Sunday School. He was a successful teacher of Bible classes everywhere. Being a poor man with a large family to care for and affliction in the home all the time, he could not take the work of a regular itinerant, but he labored near and far all over South Georgia.
It was while active in his ministry that he decided to visit the scenes of his youth in his native state. When his neighbors learned that he had become a minister, of course, nothing would do but he must preach to them. For several days the meeting continued with interest. As they insisted that he should return for another meeting the next year, all he could do was to consent and so it was continued for years, the friends paying all expenses of the trip. These annual visits with a few omissions, were kept up from 1904 to 1920 and many conversions and accessions were the result.
Living near the famous Okefenoka Swamp in Charlton County, Georgia and always interested in fishing and hunting, he spent much time in the swamp. It is a peculiar freak of nature, containing 660 square miles. There are in it little islands, lakes and prairies, and it abounds in birds, fish and game – a resort for sportsmen. His expert knowledge of the place made him a trusted guide and his services were much in demand. Many came from far and near to visit and enjoy the rare opportunities this resort afforded.
One such party from Atlanta had an engagement with him to spend part of their Christmas season there. They were a jolly crowd and determined to enjoy themselves to the full on this occasion. Evidently they considered that a supply of liquor and its accompaniments would add greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion. The first night was spent to their satisfaction. There must have been considerable rough conduct, for the next morning the faithful guide informed them he was sorry to say he would be compelled to leave them and return to his home. “I fear the God of Abraham,” he remarked “and I could not be a guide to such an ungodly company.”
They had all confidence in him as a guide, but now he challenged them as a Christian. They hurriedly considered the question and knowing they were at his mercy, assured him that they would live a moral and orderly life for the rest of their stay, if he would remain, and he did so.
Most of the children are married and gone. Affliction is still in the home and for more than a year the faithful wife who had been sorely afflicted passed to her reward. The church no longer assists him in any way and he often feels like he is forsaken, but amidst it all, he keeps up his Sunday School work, teaching in two nearby schools. He closes an interesting letter to the writer with these words. “The Lord God bless you and yours. I’ll meet you in the city of the New Jerusalem.”