The obituary of J A Clifton that is listed in the Minutes, SC Annual Conference of 1906. Phillip Stone, Archivist, The Sandor Teszler Library, Wofford College in Spartanburg, SC, sent the obituary to me. The following is the exact obituary:

"Rev. Jesse Alexander Clifton, DD, son of Jesse C Clifton and Mary H Walker, was born in the eastern part of Chester County, SC, September 26, 1845 and died at Marion, SC, the 14th of June, 1906.

His father was by occupation a farmer, and served in the Confederate army as lieutenant and captain of the militia, and was regarded as a man of decided courage, energy and integrity.

Among his ancestors were Alexander Walker, Justice John Gaston, William Clifton and William Heath; all of who came from Ireland and settled in Chester, SC before and during the American Revolution. His great-grandmother Esther Gaston, was a woman of marked devotion to the cause of her adopted country, and is honorably mentioned in Mrs. Elliot's "Women of the Revolution". It was through William Heath and his noble wife that Methodism was introduced in that part of Chester County.

He grew up on his father's farm, where he found much pleasure in both open fields and woods, and developing a strong constitution and receiving superior moral training from his parents.

When the war came, although he was under sixteen years of age, he went to the front and was with Hampton and Butler for four years. He was a scout for two years, and did many acts of daring. On one occasion he went through the Yankee lines in the night and captured General Meade's saddle horse, hitched just outside the tent. He had a deep saber cut on the side of his neck and another in the corner of his eye, and a bullet just over his heart, which was never removed.

After the war he did much to aid in the redemption of his State from radical rule. He received the advantages of the schools of his community and also the classical school conducted by Prof. Matthew Elder. He was a great reader all of his life, and all the standard works, both English and American, poetry and prose and theology, had engaged his thoughtful attention. After the war he went to the University of Virginia, where, in addition to studies in the literary department, he graduated at the head of his class in law, and was elected final orator by his class, and received compliments on his speech that have lingered in the history of the university through the years.

A sermon preached by the Rev. J L Shuford deeply convicted him of sin, and for three months he had a terrible battle, which resulted in his sound and powerful conversion, alone in his room at the hour of midnight. He joined the Methodist Church at El Bethel, in Chester County, in 1868.

With his conversion came his clear call to the ministry, and in the same year was licensed to preach. He served one year as a local preacher and was admitted on trial into the South Carolina Conference in 1869 in Cheraw. He appointments have been as follows:

Columbia circuit 1870-1872

Fairfield circuit 1873

Batesburg circuit 1874-1876

Saluda circuit 1877-1878

Graham circuit 1879-1880

St Matthews circuit 1881-1882

Spring Street, Charleston 1883

Newberry station 1884-1885

Central Church, Spartanburg 1886-1889

Buncombe Street, Greenville 1890-1891

Bethel, Charleston 1892-1895

Abbeville station 1896-1897

Sumter station 1898-1901

St Paul's, Orangeburg 1902-1905

Marion 1906

Where he died in the thirty-seventh year of his active work in the South Carolina Conference.

Dr. Clifton was unique-a genius. In a masterful address he once said God had made only one man like himself and would not make another. He stood out in his individuality before men. He could say and do things that would have been the undoing of anyone else.

He was a man of wonderful magnetism and reached up and down the scale of life in helping men, the highest and the humblest. His sympathy for people in trouble of any kinds brought into action all he had, and brought out the real greatness of his nature. The greatness is nowhere the better shown than in helping with our all those who are in sin and shame and sorrow. This he did on every occasion.

His humor, wit and pathos, together with his strong intellectual powers and fine oratorical ability, put him in great demand for lectures, speeches, dedications of churches, and school and college commencements all over the state and beyond. It is highly probable that he did more of his kind of work than any man in the South Carolina Conference. 

He left nothing written all his lectures and speeches and sermons were worked out in his heart and head, and were recorded only in the minds and hearts of his hearers and in the books of God. In every charge he ever served his popularity took in all people of whatever Church. The Negroes, for whom he often preached, idolized him.

His sermons were remarkable in that they reached up to the strongest mind in the audience and down to the lowest, and thus he got hold of all. He was one of the finest preachers of our land, and at times climbed to marvelous heights of eloquence and power.

There were always brains and gospel and pathos and the way to Christ in every sermon he preached-and he loved to preach.

He was strong in his moral character, true as steel in his friendships, unwavering in his faith and courage, devoted to the work of the Lord, ready to help any man that was down, and as gentle and guileless and unsuspicious as a little child.

"Jesse Clifton"-that is how he has been called and that is the way he will be remembered by the people at large. On the recommendation of some of the most literary men in Charleston, SC, Rutherford College, NC, conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon him when he was pastor of Bethel Church. But the public had long before given him that title and the higher one of "Jesse Clifton". It is only to remarkable men who are too great for titles to hang on to them that the people will give pet names. Unborn children will have handed down to them the sayings and doings of "Jesse Clifton".

On November 24, 1868, Dr. Clifton was married to Miss Mary E Hicklin, daughter of Dr W J Hicklin, a prominent physician of Chester County. They were devoted to each other through all of their married life, and she stood by him with the truest heroism in all of his itinerant career. Two people could not have been better suited to each other as man and wife than they. Sr. Jesse A Clifton, Jr., Mrs. Mary C Kelly, J Sam Clifton, Hon. John Hicklin Clifton, Mrs. Josephine Camp, and Mrs. Kate M Hill are their living children. They have one buried at Newberry, and one at Greenville, who died in infancy.

He was elected by the South Carolina Conference as a delegate to the last four General Conferences, where he rendered efficient service.

"Jesse Clifton" was perhaps the most universally popular and beloved member of the South Carolina Conference. For years one of the features of the South Carolina Conference was his speech on the resolution of thanks for the entertainment of the Conference.

Dr Clifton fell asleep without a struggle while sitting in a chair in the parsonage at Marion; his ever faithful wife was at his side, fanning him at the time. The interment was at Sumter, and people came from different parts of the State to pay their respects to his memory. Camp Glover, Confederate Veterans, Orangeburg, of which he was a chaplain; and the Board of Stewards of the Orangeburg station, where he ad served the previous four years and was exceedingly popular, sent delegations. The funeral services partook of the nature of a memorial service and many high and loving tributes were paid to his memory. Dr C C Brown, pastor of the Baptist church at Sumter, and the Methodist churches at Marion and Orangeburg held memorial services, and various charges throughout the Conference have passed resolutions in memory of "Jesse Clifton"

Marion Dargan"


Thank you to Allyson for sharing this information