This Tribute to my paternal ggg-grandfather on my father's mother's side as written by my cousin Aletha Jackson before her death.
This is a tribute is in remembrance to Father Stephen Pressley (Prestley) one of the pioneers of this community.
He was born in a place in South Carolina (Darlington County). His life is one worth emulating by those who knew him. He labored hard and long but died in the wilderness of human effort and determination long before the promised land of human fulfillment was reached.
He strived with force towards his goal and without stretched hands tried to seize the desired prize but he did not reach the land of promise. But through sacrifices he sought to prepare the way for his sons and daughters and threw the torch to the hands of another generation and encouraged them to seize it and keep the faith.
Though he was brought here as a slave, he resolved to show that in spite of circumstances, in spite of changes, crises, confusion, conflicts and even chaos, he would live a life that would help build a Christian Community, that would foster justice and peace in the hearts of men and in the lives of the community where he organized the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. His life and work will be remembered until Jesus comes back for his church.
Dr. C. McCartney painted a beautiful word picture when he said, "God has placed in the hand of man two wonderful Lamps. One is the Lamp of Hope which leads us forward through the uncertain mists of the future. The other is the Lamp of Memory which takes us by the hands and leads us back through the gloomy mist of the past to the happy scenes and memories of yesterday." Memory is a gift of God and can be a very beautiful thing . I would like to remind this Community what you already know, you have a enough memories to last a lifetime and the scriptures tell us that the memories of the just are Blessed!
Memory furnish such clear pictures to the mind that words seem unnecessary. Memory brings snow in the winter. Memory brings roses in the spring. Memory walks the silent streets of yester year, and connect people of the present with people of the past.
Father Stephen was born in Darlington County, South Carolina on January 3, 1820. He married Phyllis who was also born in South Carolina in September 1819. To this union, 8 children were born, (2) sons and (6) daughters. They were Mr. Alford Pressley, Mr. Issac (Isam) Pressley, Mrs. Peggy (Pressley)Brayboy, Mrs. Celia (Pressley)Mitchell, Mrs. Caroline (Pressley)Hines, Mrs. Sophia (Pressley)Latin, Mrs. Elsie (Pressley)Edwards and Mrs. Maria(h) (Pressley)Hines.
He was a slave from South Carolina brought here by the Witherspoon family. As he grew up in life, God spoke to Father Pressley and he built a Brush Habor and held Church service. Later the white people gave him money and land and he built a lumber church in the year 1872. He called it, Bethel Baptist Church in Frierson, LA where he pastored until his death.
In his pastoral, God spoke to him and he built a church in the Gloster Community. He organized the Morning Star Baptist chruch in the year 1891. He held service under Brush Habor and later built a wood frame. He ran a revival and in the "Soul Saving" meeting nine (9) confessed Christ (all girls). They were Sister Ada Pressley, Sister Nannie Pouncy, Sister Nina Hines, Sister Nora Hines Latin, Sister Lottie Pouncy Pressley, Sister Lenor Davis, Sister Hattie D. Chatmon, Sister Nornie Cory and Sister Debbie King Latin.
Now he has living three (3) grandchildren, Mrs. Ada P. Jamison, Mr. Alford Presley, and Mrs. Phyllis Douglas. Rev. Pressley have a number of great grandchildren and a host of great great grands, 3rd grands, 4th grands, 5th grands, 6th grands and 7th grands. (At the time of original writing)
He also pastored the Marthville Baptist Church for a number of years.
He died on October 30, 1904 at the age of 84. Mother Pressley died in 1907 at the age of 87.
We must not forget that Father Stephen Pressley served his generation well and by the will of God, he sleeps on. The voice at midnight came. He started up to hear. A mortal arrow pierced his frame, he felt it but felt no fear. He heard the voice from Heaven say, " servant of God, well done. Rest from thy loved employ. The battle is fought, the victory is won, enter thy Masters' joy." The Golden Gates were opened and Heavenly Angels smiled and with their tuneful harpstrings welcomed him in. They shouted High and Holy. A Servant of God entered in safe from all temptation. A soul sealed from sin. They led him through the Golden Streets on to the King of Kings. A Glory fell upon him from the rustlings of their wings. The Savior smiled upon him as none on earth smiled and Heaven's Great Glory shone around the Heaven born Servant of God's.