Archives and Manuscript Repository for the Continuing Presbyterian Church

The Southern Presbyterian Review
Digitization Project: Author Biography

Isaac J. Long
(23 February 1834 - 10 December 1891)
by Wayne Sparkman, director of the PCA Historical Center.

Isaac Jasper Long was born in the Anderson District of South Carolina on the 23rd of February, 1834, and was the fifth and youngest son born to Isaac and Lettie Hamilton Long. His youth was beset with the death of his father when he was about 10 years old, and his mother died some four years later. Between the years 1841 and 1847, he was able to attend school a mere total of fourteen months.

ollowing the death of his mother, he lived with one of his older brothers until, at the age of seventeen, he hired himself out as a farm laborer for $5 per month. He persisted with his education, taking instruction in English from the Rev. J.S. Pressley, "reading at night by the light of burning pine knots, and paying for his instruction out of his meagre wages." In 1852 he became a member of New Hope Presbyterian Church, entered Moffettsville Academy in 1853 and then Thalian Academy in 1854. Isaac later attended the Center College of Danville, Kentucky, graduating in 1858, ranked second in his class of twenty-seven and delivering the Latin salutatory upon commencement.

Isaac Jasper Long
[Photo source: The History of Presbyterianism
in Arkansas: 1828-1902
, pg. 100]

A scant four days later, he began studies at the Danville Theological Seminary, enrolled there from 1858 to 1859. Here he began his studies in theology under Dr. Robert J. Breckinridge and during these two years at Danville he also served as co-principal of the preparatory department of Center College. In the summer of 1859 he returned to South Carolina and married Callie P. Kennedy , the wedding taking place in Itonia, South Carolina on 30 August 1859. Miss Kennedy was the second daughter of his former teacher in the Thalian Academy, the Rev. John Leland Kennedy [1]. Subsequent to the wedding, the young couple returned to Danville, where Isaac returned to his studies and teaching.

ong was licensed by the Presbytery of Transylvania on 12 April 1860, as it met in Lebanon, Kentucky. With the arrival of the summer months, he then resigned his position as co-principal of the Center College preparatory department and returned with his wife and first child to South Carolina. In October, he entered Columbia Theological Seminary as a resident licentiate, continuing his studies in theology under the renowned Dr. James H. Thornwell. That education was cut short by a lengthy battle with typhoid fever in the winter of 1860. That, and the beginning of the Civil War brought a change in his plans and he took on duties as Stated Supply at the Concord Presbyterian Church in April of 1861. Accepting a call from that church, he was ordained and installed as its pastor by Harmony Presbytery on 31 October 1861.

The Concord Church where Rev. Long served his first pastorate was located in the Sumter District of South Carolina, and he served there from 1861 to 1866. The timing of that pastorate is noteworthy, in that the Civil War began with the engagement at Fort Sumter on April 12 and 13, 1861 and that later, from 1863 to 1865, Confederate forces defended the Fort as Union troops laid seige for 22 months, finally reducing the Fort to rubble. Thus Rev. Long's first pastorate was undoubtedly a particularly trying time. A various times during the War he served as a volunteer chaplain in the army, serving without rank or pay. Rev. Long's own records indicate that during his time at Concord, he admitted eighty-eight people into membership, and that of these, seventy-seven were African-Americans. Of this number, ten united with the church in 1866 after emancipation. During that same time he baptized thirty-two adult African-Americans and twenty-eight infants born to the African-American members of the church.

With the conclusion of the War, the now renamed Presbyterian Church in the United States began to turn its full attention to the work of missions, both foreign and domestic. The Rev. J. Leighton Wilson, serving as chair of both committees for the denomination, called upon Rev. Long to tour the state of Arkansas and report on the needs of the churches there. Arriving there by way of Memphis in July of 1866, Rev. Long first went to Little Rock, where he interviewed Rev. Thomas R. Welch, D.D., who was then Stated Clerk of the Synod of Arkansas. Rev. Long next visited several churches, including the Presbyterian church in Batesville, AR. Here he found a revival meeting in progress under the direction of the Rev. A.P. Silliman of Alabama, and Long remained there for ten days assisting him in that effort.

That exposure to the people of Batesville led to their asking him to become their pastor. They issued an invitation which stated "The undersigned members of the Presbyterian Church and others, desiring the services of a Presbyterian minister, earnestly request the Rev. Isaac J. Long to remove to Batesville and supply the church here, and we hereby assure him that we will endeavor to give him a comfortable support and render his situation pleasant among us." The invitation was signed by thirty-four citizens of Batesville, twelve of whom were Presbyterians; others were Baptist, Methodist, or of no affiliation. It is noted that no specific salary was mentioned, and so in accepting the invitation, Rev. Long gave evidence of his faith in God's provision in this call.
Resigning his pastorate at Concord, he arrived in Batesville with his family in April of 1867. Soon after, he also took on the charge of pastoring the work at Jacksonport, spending half of his time there until 1868, when relieved by the Rev. D.C. Boggs. Rev. Long remained at the Batesville church for sixteen years and one week, at last resigning his pulpit there to assume full-time work as the president of Arkansas College. Even after that official resignation, he continued to serve the Batesville congregation from time to time as Stated Supply up until his death in December of 1891.

Arkansas College was begun in 1872 under authorization of the Presbytery of Arkansas. A provisional Board of Trustees was appointed, among whom was Dr. Long, and the school opened in September of 1872 with sixty-five students enrolled. A.C. McGinnis comments regarding the school that,

A charter for the college was signed by Acting Governor Hadley, James Johnston, Secretary of State, and Thomas Smith, superintendent of education. The first campus of the college was between College Avenue and Boswell Street and between Seventh and Eighth Streets. The first permanent building, which is in regular use by the First Presbyterian Church in 1976, is now known as Morrow Hall, honoring the family of the late John P. Morrow, Sr., a member of the college board of trustees for thirty-eight years at the time of his death in 1965. Two facts concerning the college should be mentioned here. Although it was under Presbyterian auspices, it was a non-sectarian school and has remained so. When the school began, it had both elementary and high school departments in addition to a four-year college course, which made it possible for students to enroll in the primary department and attend until graduation with a bachelor of arts degree.

That inclusion of preparatory departments would appear to have been drawn from Rev. Long's own background and training in Danville.

In summary of the ministry of the Rev. Isaac J. Long, it seems best to quote from the concluding paragraph on his life found in The History of Presbyterianism in Arkansas:

"As a scholar, Dr. Long was thorough, rather than polished; as a preacher of the gospel, he was logical, forceful and instructive, rather than ornate or rhetorical; as a presbyter, he was wise, practical and effective, speaking comparatively little in our church courts, but always with weight and effect. His familiarity with the Bible and its teachings, both doctrinal and practical, was both minute and comprehensive and a "Thus saith the Lord" was to him the "End of controversy." Accepting the doctrinal standards of the Presbyterian Church "As containing the system of doctrines taught in the Holy Scriptures," and its form of government as most logically conforming to that of the Apostolic Church, he boldly and ably proclaimed them and was for them never, in any sense, an apologist. Accepting the Bible as the very Word of God, its teachings were to him practical rules of life, not mere theoretical ethics. With this ever in mind, he erected no standard of conduct for others that he did not apply to himself. To him "Duty was the sublimest word in the English language." In illustration of his faithfulness in the discharge of the duties which were his, it can be stated that, during the twenty-four and a half years of his membership in Arkansas presbytery, he was absent from but three meetings of that body, and during the smae period, it is believed, that he was absent from but two meetings of this synod, in each instance for reasons entirely beyond human control." [History, pg. 106]

McGinnis, A.C., A History of Independence County, Arkansas (Batesville, AR, 1976) [http://fly.hiwaay.net/~dmglenn/april76.htm]
Miller, S.G., et. al., : 1828-1902, pp. 100 - 106.
Scott, E.C., Ministerial Directory of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, (Austin, TX: Press of Von Boeckmann-Jones Co., 1942), pg. 414.

[1] The web site at http://www.e-familytree.net/f6408.htm indicates that the parents of Mrs. Long were the Rev John Leland Kennedy (1801-1877) and Jane Harvey Chamblin (1810-1858).

Articles published in the Southern Presbyterian Review--
Powers of the General Assembly, 19.3 (July 1868) 395-403.
Other publications--
A discourse commemorative of the life, character and services of the Rev. Thomas Rice Welch, D.D., delivered before the Synod of Arkansas at Camden, Ark., November 17, 1886, (St. Louis, MO: Farris, Smith & Co., 1886), 17pp.; HFM.
Outline of Ecclesiastical History: for the use of colleges, high schools, and theological classes, (St. Louis: Printing House of Farris, Smith, 1888) 125pp.; 19 cm.; ASB; AFU; AKC; CLU; FTO; KTS; MRT; VLA; AUP; DTM; IXA; VUT.
Sketch of Arkansas College, (s.l., s.n., 1876), 18 pp., AFU, AUP.
William Wiley [biographical sketch], in
Memorial Volume of the Semi-Centennial of the Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, (Columbia, SC: Printed at the Presbyterian Publishing House, 1884), pp. 370-371. [HC]

See also:

Isaac J. Long letter book, 1857-1861. This item is a letter book titled "Cherished Memories" owned by Isaac J. Long, a student at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. The book contains notes of friendship from various young men with whom Long attended school from 1857-1861. Also included within the book is a commencement program for Centre College dated September 17, 1857. 1 volume; 25 cm. [Housed at the Kentucky Historical Society Library].

Notebooks, 1858-1859, 2 volumes, consisting of lecture notes taken by Isaac Long when a student under E.P. Humphrey at Danville Theological Seminary, for the course "On Biblical and Ecclesiastical History." These volumes would be potentially formative for Long's own later work, Outline of Ecclesiastical History. [Housed at the Presbyterian Historical Society archives, Montreat, NC. and cited in Robert Benedetto's work, Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Presbyterian Church, U.S., (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990), Collection #1012, pg. 274]