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, the son of John Price, Jr., and Zilphia Rayburn. His parents divorced when 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 on 4 January 1820.
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 step-father, 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 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 [Later known as First Baptist Church of Florence.], and Cader became the pastor at Steen’s Creek 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 its 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 is also reflected in the minutes for Enon. This church was located east of Decatur near the current Beulah church, 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. WPA records also reflect that Cader Price served as the first pastor at Old Ebenezer Baptist Church during this same period, this church now extinct, but the parent church of New Ireland Baptist Church, among others.
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 other churches in the area. In 1855 he was present at the ordination of Rev. Henry Gill into the ministry at Pinckney Baptist Church in Newton County. Rev. Price was described as a tireless worker, and, in all of his service, who never failed to saddle his horse at a moment’s 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 at Pinckney 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 and lived in both Scott and Rankin Counties.
From her marriage to John C. Cooksey, Sr., Zilphia had the following children:
1. John C. Cooksey, Jr., born 1809, Tattnall County, Georgia—died 1892, Karnes County, Texas; married (1) Susan (MNU) and (2) Evaline Odom. John settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834 and remained a resident here until after 1880, at which time he moved to Texas with his family.
2. Samuel N. Cooksey, born 7 October 1811, Tattnall County, Georgia—died 4 March 1902, Temple, Texas; married Cynthia Ann Odom and settled in Neshoba (Newton County in 1834. He moved to Texas in the 1870’s 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. Cynthia Ann died on 1 June 1890, Temple, Texas, age 75-6-22.
3. Letitia (Lettice) Cooksey, born ca. 1812, Tattnall County, Georgia; married James Augustus Rayburn and settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834. After the death of her husband in 1845 she later moved to Texas with a daughter, but left behind many descendants in Mississippi.
4. Zilphia Cooksey, born ca. 1813, Tattnall County, Georgia—died after 1880, Leake County, Mississippi; married William 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. [William Cooksey Sessums, referenced elsewhere in this edition of Remembering, was one of their children.]
5. Katherine Cooksey, born 7 June 1816, Tattnall County, Georgia—died 13 September 1863, Grant County, Arkansas; married David Gill and settled in Neshoba (Newton) County in 1834. They had a large family and later moved to Arkansas.
6. James William Cooksey, 16 November 1819, Greene County, Mississippi—died 1902, Walker County, Texas; married (1) Elizabeth Miller and (2) Louisa Parker
7. Margaret Elizabeth Cooksey, born 21 July 1821—died 27 May 1917, Leake County, Mississippi. married Shadrach Odom
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.
Now, it is at this point that my story changes from that earlier published. That story had not long been posted on our website when I had a call from a distant cousin (as I was to learn), Jerry Stevens of Jackson, Mississippi. It was not long after this call that Jerry visited a lady in Rankin County, and, upon mentioning the name of Cader Price, the lady slipped into another room and brought back a paper bag that contained the Family Bible of Cader and Eleanor Price, this Bible clad in the original deerskin from the days that Rev. Price preached the Gospel. This Bible revealed many details about the family, most importantly of which was that Cader and Eleanor had two daughters.
How did I miss that important detail? First, the two daughters were born after the 1820 Federal Census was taken, when the family was living in Covington County, Mississippi, and, secondly, the daughters married prior to the taking of the 1840 Federal Census, when the family is living in Rankin County, Mississippi. Thirdly, Cader Price is not listed on the 1830 Federal Census, the family then in Rankin County, but there is a mysterious Micajah Price on this census with two young daughters who otherwise can not be explained. Is this correctly Cader Price? Apparently so. That being the story, we reconstitute the Price genealogy beginning with the two children of Cader and Eleanor:
Generation No. 1
1. Zilphia Ann Price, born 8 October 1820, Covington County, Mississippi—died 20 May 1902, Rankin County, Mississippi; twice married (See later)
2. Sarah Ann Price, born 10 January 1822, Covington County, Mississippi—died 25 July 1899, Rankin County, Mississippi. Sarah married in Rankin County, Mississippi, on 9 July 1839 to Jesse M. Miller. They were living in Newton County, Mississippi, in 1850, but later would return to Rankin County.
Generation No. 2
Zilphia Ann Price married (1) on 31 May 1835, Rankin County, Mississippi, to Thomas O. Gates, born ca. 1815, Mississippi—died 3 July 1848, Rankin County, Mississippi, and the marriage produced six children: John M. Gates, Eleanor Leacy Gates, Sarah Ann Gates, Lucy Ann Gates (later wife of William B. Hines), Cader Price Gates, and Joseph D. Gates, the latter two sons dying in infancy. Only John and Lucy would marry and have issue.
Zilphia Ann Price married (2) on 5 December 1849, Rankin County, Mississippi, to John A. Stephens [Spelling also occurs as Stevens], a native of Lawrence County, Mississippi, who had been previously married and had children from that marriage. They were living in Lawrence County in 1850, but later returned to Rankin County. Their marriage produced four children: Wilson Price Stephens, Alice Stephens, Daniel W. Stephens, and Mary Stephens.
The dynamics of raising children from two marriages apparently were too much for Zilphia Ann and her new husband John A. Stephens, and John and Lucy were sent to live with their grandparents, Cader and Eleanor Price. Cader Price brought John M. Gates to Newton County where he became active in the church affairs at Pinckney and was Church Clerk before he enlisted in the Confederacy. He also met and married his future wife at Pinckney.
Generation No. 3
John M. Gates, born 26 October 1836, Rankin County, Mississippi—died 2 June 1863, while in military training for the Civil War; married in 1857, Newton County, Mississippi, to Martha (Patsy) Parks. Their marriage would produce one child:
1. Zelphia Anna Gates, born 1 December 1859, Pinckney community, Newton County, Mississippi—died 20 March 1936, Piketon community, Scott County, Mississippi; married Joshua Lafayette (Dot) Hollingsworth. These were my great-grandparents.
I have long been inspired by Cader Price for his acts of kindness toward others, but never fully understood where that inspiration came from. Now my understanding has come full circle. It is part of my DNA.
- Boyd, J. L. An Abstract History of the Simpson County Baptist Association, 1853-1927, n/d.
- Farr, Eugene I. History of First Baptist Church, Florence, Mississippi, Formerly Steen’s Creek Baptist Church, Florence, Mississippi, n/d.
- “Historical Sketch of Clarke-Venable Baptist Church”, n/d.
- Cader Price Family Bible, photocopy in NCHGS Archives
- 1820 Federal Census, Covington County, Mississippi
- 1830-1900 Federal Censuses, Rankin County, Mississippi
- Marriage records, Rankin County, Mississippi
- 1850 Federal Census, Newton County, Mississippi
- Minutes, Enon Baptist Church, photocopy available, NCHGS Archives