Rev. Cader Price
By Harold Graham, E.D
A neighbor needed a coat to wear to attend church during the winter months. The Good Samaritan gave him his only coat. A neighbor needed a horse to plow his fields. The Good Samaritan gave him a horse to use.
Stories of Biblical proportions, yes. But the stories took place in rural Mississippi and not in the Holy Lands. The Good Samaritan was Rev. Cader Price and these were only two of many deeds of kindness and generosity attributed to Rev. Price in his lifetime.
Cader Price was born in the wilderness country of Montgomery County, Georgia, on 8 January 1800. His father, Zachariah Price, died when Cader was a small child, and he and a younger brother, Reubin Price, were left for their mother, Zilphia Rayburn Price, to rear. Zilphia married (2) on 8 January 1809, Tattnall County, Georgia, to John C. Cooksey, had additional children, and the family soon began a migration that likely included Tennessee before they arrived in Greene County, Mississippi, in 1819. They moved to Covington County, Mississippi, the following year, and this is where Cader had his first religious experience. This is also where he married to Eleanor (also) Price, said to be a daughter of Joseph Price.
Cader’s first religious experience was so profound that he soon desired to serve in the ministry. This decision was supported totally by his wife Eleanor, but before his ordination to the ministry could be completed, he had to finish one important task. He must learn to read. Intelligent and perceptive as Cader was, he, in all of the family’s wanderings, had never had the opportunity to attend school. Now, by candlelight and with Bible in hand, his wife Eleanor taught him to read.
Cader’s stepfather, John C. Cooksey, was dead by 1822 and his father William Cooksey, left with the responsibility of rearing his grandchildren, died in Covington County in 1828. Following the death of her father-in-law William Cooksey, Zilphia Rayburn Price Cooksey took most of her family, first to Rankin County, then to Neshoba (Newton) County where they settled in 1834.
Cader and Eleanor Price settled in Rankin County and built a simple home at Steen’s Creek about 1829. Cader was licensed to preach on 20 August 1831 and ordained into the ministry on 16 March 1833, both events taking place at Steen’s Creek, and Cader became the pastor at Steen’s Creek (Steen’s Creek later became the First Baptist Church of Florence.) in 1835 following the death of then pastor Rev. Isham Russell. With the exception of one year, Cader served as pastor of Steen’s Creek for a period of 35 years until poor health caused him to relinquish the position.
Since it was the custom in rural churches to employ a pastor on only one Saturday and Sunday each month (worship services being provided on both days), Cader also served other churches in Rankin County including Antioch, Brandon, Dry Creek, Mt. Pisgah, and Pelahatchie (now Fannin) and Mountain Creek Church in Simpson County. He also helped establish Brandon, Mill Creek, Dry Creek, and Mountain Creek Baptist Churches.
With the formation of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Association in 1837, Rev. Cader Price served as it's first Moderator and preached the opening sermon at its first conference. He also served three additional terms as Moderator. In 1854, when the Strong River Baptist Association was formed with Steen’s Creek becoming a member, Cader Price helped write the Articles of Faith and the Rules of Decorum and preached the introductory sermon at their first associational meeting. He also served four terms as Moderator for this association.
According to a Historical Sketch of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church, Cader Price and Stephen Berry of Scott County formed the Presbytery for the formation of Enon Baptist Church in Newton County on March 5, 1836. This church was located east of Decatur, and although later disbanded, served as the parent church for Decatur (Clarke-Venable) and Beulah churches. Cader Price preached the service, said to be the first sermon preached in Newton County. He remained as pastor until September of that year, at which time Rev. Shadrach Jones agreed to serve as pastor.
Although Cader Price lived in Rankin County he maintained both religious and family ties with Newton County. He was a frequent guest minister at Pinckney and is believed to have also preached at New Ireland and (Old) Ebenezer. In 1855 he was present at the ordination of Rev. Henry Gill into the ministry at Pinckney Baptist Church in Newton County. He was described as a tireless worker, and, in all of his service, never failed to saddle his horse at a moments notice to ride sixty miles or more to serve the Lord.
His family ties to Newton County begin with his mother, Zilphia Rayburn Price Cooksey. Zilphia was born in 1785, South Carolina and died 24 June 1857 in Newton County. From her marriage to Zachariah Price, she had sons Cader Price and Reubin Price. Reubin, born ca. 1802, Tattnall County, Georgia, married Hannah Odom and had a large family. They were early residents of Newton County, but moved from Newton County some time after 1850.
From her marriage to John C. Cooksey, Sr., Zilphia had the following children:
- John C. Cooksey, Jr., married (1) Susan (MNU) and (2) Evaline Odom. John settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834 and remained a resident here until after 1870, at which time he moved to Texas with his family.
- Samuel N. Cooksey married Sinthia Ann Odom and settled in Neshoba (Newton County in 1834. He moved to Texas in the 1870s but before leaving, deeded his property to his youngest son, Bart Watson Cooksey. The property remains in the hands of a family member and timbers used by Samuel to build his log cabin in 1834 have been preserved. Samuel has numerous descendants in Newton County though his sons Bart Watson Cooksey and William Harper Cooksey.
- Katherine Cooksey married David Gill and settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834. They had a large family and later moved to Arkansas.
- Zilphia Cooksey married Thomas Sessums and settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834. They had a large family and would later move to Tuscola in Leake County, Mississippi. Zilphia and Thomas have numerous descendants in Newton, Leake, and Scott Counties.
- Letitia (Lettice) Cooksey married James Augustus Rayburn and settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834. She moved to Texas with a daughter after 1860, but left behind many descendants in Mississippi.
- James William Cooksey married (1) Elizabeth Miller and (2) Louisa Parker and was an early resident of Newton County. He later moved to Texas with his family.
- Margaret Elizabeth Cooksey married Shadrach Odom and they were residents of Newton County before moving to Leake County, Mississippi, where she died in 1917.
The generosity of Rev. Cader Price was such in his lifetime that he entered his final years penniless. His esteem was so great within the church community, though, that he was superannuated by the church during these hard times. With his death on 24 May 1872, and no money to pay for his funeral, the church took up a special collection to pay for his funeral and to erect a fitting monument.
One final deed in the life of the Rev. Cader Price is of special significance to the writer. Although Cader and Eleanor Price had no children, they took in homeless children and helped raise them. Among these children were John M. Gates and his sister Lucy, left in Cader and Eleanor’s care when their father died and their mother remarried.
Cader Price brought John M. Gates to Newton County where John met and married Martha Parks. John became active in the church affairs at Pinckney and was Church Clerk before he enlisted in the Confederacy. He died in a Canton, Mississippi, hospital in 1862, but not before he fathered one daughter, Zelphianna Gates, later wife of Joshua Lafayette (Dot) Hollingsworth and my great-grandparents. A priceless gift for which I am grateful! To give John M. Gates a life was to give me life.
1. Boyd, J. L. An Abstract History of the Simpson County Baptist Association, 1853-1927,
2. Farr, Eugene I. History of First Baptist Church, Florence, Mississippi, Formerly Steens
Creek Baptist Church, Florence, Mississippi, n/d.
3. Historical Sketch of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church, n/d.