Famed orator and evangelist Lorenzo Dow (1777-1834) recorded in his diary two visits to the Danville and Pittsylvania County area of Virginia. His descriptions are reprinted below.
Dow began his ministry as a Methodist, but in later life moved independently of the Methodist denomination. He is credited with being a founder of the camp meeting movement and America's Second Great Awakening.
I started this morning an hour before day, and rode thirty miles [from Belmont, General Joseph Martin's home at Henry court house] to Pittsylvania court house [Chatham]. — Here were several of my spiritual children, amongst whom was Polly Callaway, whom I once had pointed at whilst preaching, the first time she had ever saw me, and God struck her under conviction; she ran away thirty miles to a camp meeting, where God set her soul at liberty; and almost the whole of her father's family have been brought to God: and her brother is become an itinerant preacher. One soul was set at liberty today, some mocked and caused interruption, but good was done during the three meetings.
I held meeting sun half hour high, and then rode eighteen miles to Wilson's meeting house; these were tender times — eight miles hence I spoke at night.
I spoke at Rockingham court house, N. Carolina, to fifteen or sixteen hundred people, who appeared in general solemn and well behaved, considering the inconvenience of standing in the freezing air and falling snow, more than two hours. I rode twelve miles and spoke at night.
I spoke in Danville to about two thousand; this was the seat of Satan's kingdom, yet I believe I shall one day see good times in this quarter. Some children were brought forward, for me to pray for them, instead of offering them up in baptism, which I had never seen before.
My horse was brought to me [at General Martin's]; rode twenty miles, to Watson's meeting-house, where I spoke to a listening multitude: the bench on which I stood suddenly let me down out of sight of the people; recovering dexterously, I observed it was a loud call to sinners to be in readiness, lest they should sink lower than the grave. My pilot being of an airy turn, I said, as something is to be given for something, and as you have come to favor me, I will pay thee, and pointing to him, directed my discourse from Solomon's irony, and concluded from Rev. xvi.15.
Spoke in Danville in the open air, and then at Allen Waddel's.
Was awakened by a singular dream, (about one o'clock) that I had disappointed the people through my neglect, and as my sleep departed, I roused the family, got some refreshment, and took my departure: overtaking some people on the road, who were going to the meeting, was informed of the distance being nine miles beyond my expectation, which otherwise I should have disappointed the people, the road also being intricate. — I spoke to hundreds, and also the next day at Halifax court-house, where some A-double-L-part people [Calvinists] got angry, and attempted to kick up a dust.
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