Poquonock Roots and Spiritual Wings: Missionary Traditions in the Marshall Family

From The Poquonock Tercentenary Edition of The News-Weekly, September 30, 1949

In pulling together background information for a tour of Elm Grove Cemetery, it quickly became apparent that Carrie Phelps Marshall Kendrick (1883-1963) was regarded as one of Poquonock’s history keepers. Born on lands that had been farmed by her family for eight generations, I wondered what drew Carrie to Georgia where she married her husband Alexis Dawson Kendrick (1873-1931) in 1904 and began family life.

The Kendrick family file in our library provided some clues. Descendants of Founders of Ancient Windsor (DFAW) awarded Carrie an honorary membership in 1990 and noted that she and her husband were in fact seventh cousins. A newspaper clipping announced that her daughter Charlotte P. Kendrick had just left to spend three years as a Baptist missionary in Kodiak, Alaska. It went on to mention that her forebear, the Reverend Daniel Marshall, was a missionary seven generations before Charlotte, founding the first Baptist church in Georgia. The Marshall family genealogy in the second volume of Stiles’ The History of Ancient Windsor revealed more, as did other Marshall genealogies and a detailed history of Georgia’s early Baptist churches.

Reverend Daniel Marshall was born in Poquonock in 1706. Catching “seraphic fire” from the evangelical Reverend George Whitfield during the Great Awakening, Marshall took his wife and three young children and went to preach among the Mohawk Indians near the headwaters of the Susquehanna River in the 1740s. Among son Abraham’s first memories were “smoking wigwams and their tawny, untutored inhabitants” according to David Benedict in A General History of the Baptist Denomination in America and Other Parts of the World (1813). With the outbreak of the French and Indian Wars, Marshall moved his family south, ministering in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and finally Georgia from 1754 to 1771 as his family grew to include eleven children.

The church he established in 1772 continues to this day as the Kiokee Baptist Church in Appling, Georgia, the oldest continuously running Baptist church in that state. Reverend Marshall managed to keep his frontier church open during the tumultuous years of the American Revolution in Anglican-dominated Georgia, and was arrested at least once. Described as “a stammerer, and no scholar,” but a man of great earnestness by his contemporary Morgan Edwards in Material Towards a History of the Baptists in the Provinces of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia (unpublished notes), Reverend David Marshall’s ministry nonetheless had a lasting impact. He died in 1784 and was succeeded in the Kiokee church ministry by his son Abraham, and later by his grandson Jabez Pleiades Marshall. Great-grandson Alexis Epinetus Marshall, great-great grandson Alexis Abraham Marshall, and great-great-great grandson Alexis Dawson Kendrick continued as Baptist ministers in Columbia County, Georgia.

In 1786, two years after his father’s death, Abraham Marshall made a trip back to New England, preaching to thousands along the way. During his trip, he visited with his cousin Reverend Eliakim Marshall of Poquonock and debated the merits of adult versus infant baptism, a strongly contested topic at the time. Family ties between the Poquonock and Georgia branches of the family continued through the generations.

Carrie Phelps Marshall, born and raised on the old family farm in Poquonock, married her seventh cousin, Alexis Dawson Kendrick in 1904. We would still love to know how they met. Their six children, including their youngest William Phelps Kendrick (1916-1997), were all born in Georgia, but by 1918, Alexis Kendrick’s draft registration card showed the family living in Windsor, with Alexis ministering at the Mount Olivet Baptist Church in Hartford. Our library’s Hartford Times scrapbooks included a newspaper article about Reverend Kendrick’s death stating that the family moved north to assume the management of the large family tobacco farm on Marshall Phelps Road because Carrie’s parents were in poor health.

Daughter Charlotte continued the family’s missionary tradition, receiving her MA from the School of Religious Education at the Hartford Seminary in 1936. In 1939, Charlotte Kendrick journeyed to Kodiak, Alaska, on the Aleutian Islands, to serve as a house mother at the Baptist Mission and Orphanage, where she was also in charge of the junior church. Kodiak, a fishing village, was experiencing a boom. As Charlotte recalled later, tents were renting for $30 a month and wooden structures for $100 a month. But as hostilities worsened between the United States and Japan, the Aleutian Islands were increasingly scrutinized by both nations as a possible military launching pad. After the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, the mission and orphanage was closed, and American citizens extracted. Although Charlotte hoped to return to Kodiak and continue her work, it was never to be. She was director of religious education for the Center Congregational Church in Torrington when she died in 1955.

The Poquonock Tercentenary Edition of The News Weekly shows Carrie Phelps Marshall Kendrick and Charlotte Kendrick compiling Poquonock history for the upcoming tercentenary celebrations. Although generations of Poquonock Marshalls journeyed far on spiritual missions, their hometown roots always ran deep.

For a bit more history on the Poquonock area, check out this audio recording made by Carrie Marshall Kendrick in 1962.

 

By Christine Ermenc, Executive Director, 2014

2017-11-07T09:29:57+00:00