These are articles about Dennis's uncles from Lamar, Missouri. You don't see stories like this in our papers today, so we thought you might enjoy reading these.
Lamar Has Ten Year Old Boy Teacher
from the Lamar Democrat,
Monday, December 7, 1925
Son of a Local Baptist Minister. The Child Seems to Have Made Known His Intention to Preach, On the Day Before He Delivered His First Sermon -- Filled His Father's Appointment -- Child Preached Thirty Minutes.
Lamar has a ten year old preacher. He delivered his first sermon at Bethany Sunday and he proposed to preach at Pleasant Hill next Sunday. It seems that the inspiration came to the ten year old boy, only the day before he delivered his first sermon. The following story of the boy preacher came from Bethany.
To the great surprise of all, James F. Jeffries, whose age is 10 years, 10 months, and 27 days, the eldest son of Rev. J.N. Jeffries, told his father Saturday that he wanted to preach the following day, December 6th, at the Bethany Baptist Church, where his father is preaching. His father gave way to him, expecting a very short talk. To our surprise he preached 30 minutes. His theme was repentance. The sermon was very good. He has been saved only 6 months and four days. He belongs to Bethany Baptist Church. He was saved at Bethany last June the 7th. He intends to preach at Pleasant View Baptist Church next Sunday where his father is pastor. We are all hoping he will do good in this lost and sinful world.
The Fame of Lamar's Boy Preacher is Spreading
from the Lamar Democrat,
Saturday, January 8, 1927
A year ago we ran a story of James Jeffries, son of Rev. J.N. Jeffries of this city who went out to one of his father's churches and preached. The fame of the boy preacher is spreading.
This story was published the Thursday's issue of the Carthage Evening Press:
Lamar, Barton County, has an 11 year-old boy preacher who astonished audiences with the sermons he delivers each Sunday at churches in various parts of the county.
James Jeffries, Jr. son of the Rev. James N. Jeffries missionary Baptist minister of Lamar was born in Cedar County, Missouri, Jan. 9, 1915. He was converted to the Baptist faith on June 2, 1925, and preached his first sermon on December 6, 1925.
More than a year ago he expressed his desire to preach and his father granted his request by inviting him into the pulpit. The Rev. Jeffries and the audience were astonished when the boy selected a text and preached for half an hour. Since then he has preached frequently, and for the past few months has held services each Sunday at three different churches in Barton County.
He reads an average of 10 Bible chapters each day. He seldom chooses his sermon theme before he reaches the church where he is to preach. When asked why he did not prepare his text he replies, "The Lord takes care of that."
He is a fifth grade pupil, and aside from keeping up with his school studies, he find opportunity to write sermons and composes religious poetry. His compositions are many and are on religion.
Since entering the evangelically field he has received many gifts as tokens of appreciation. His father has been preaching in various parts of southwest Missouri for the past 15 years. He was elected representative from Cedar County in 1914 and as a member of the legislature, preached a number of sermons to the convicts in the chapel of the Missouri state prison. He is the father of 12 children, James, Jr. being the 5th child.
Article from the Lamar Democrat, 1926
Great crowd to hear Jimmie, the boy preacher. The crowd that came out to hear Jimmie Jeffries, the ten year old boy preacher at the Lamar Baptist Church, Sunday evening, packed the building. Every available seat was taken and folks stood in the aisles. Jimmie took as his text, repentance. He read the verse from the Scripture just as the ministers always do, and when he announced the singing, he said they would sing some songs. He didn't remember the numbers. The crowd was generally very much surprised at the way the child handled himself. He seemed not a whit embarrassed before the big crowd, and was never at a loss for a word. Further it was agreed that the ten year old preacher did a good job of sticking to his text. Jimmie spoke for half an hour. The effort warmed him, he removed his dress coat. His father, Rev. J.N. Jeffries, followed with a short discourse. Jimmie preached his first sermon at Bethany if we remember correctly, just about a year ago. Apparently he had not talked about it until the day before the Sabbath in question, he gravely assured his father he was going to preach. Rev. Jeffries who had an appointment to preach at Bethany the following day, took Jimmie along and gave him a chance to preach. The boy occupied the pulpit for some time quite sure of himself and apparently never at a loss for the next sentence. Since then he has preached a good many times, in each instance much to the wonder of the congregation. Even some of the city papers have taken note of the remarkable boy preacher. Rev. Bert J. Smith jotted down a number of Jimmie's original sayings during the sermon. Here are a few pieces of the boy preacher's philosophy. "You can't go too far with God. If you do, something will happen." "Watch your step with the devil for he will lead you in the wrong way." "One thing's the matter with the town of Lamar, enough of the folks don't go to church. A good deal of this depends on the preachers."
Johnnie Jeffries, preacher boy
(dates shown are dates of newspaper items from Fair Play (MO) Advocate)
01/02/1930 Rev. Jim Jeffries and family have moved into the Goodwin residence on the north hill, where Rev. Jeffries will be close to his work as the new pastor of the Baptist Church.
(note: This house and the Baptist Church were in the north end of Fair Play. The Baptist Church was still there in 2010.)
02/06/1930 Rev. J.N. Jeffries, daughters Ethel, Martha, and Esther and son, Johnnie, are attending the Efficiency Bible School at the Southwest Baptist College at Bolivar this week.
(note: Ethel is age 19, Martha age 17 1/2, Johnnie almost 12)
02/27/1930 A Boy Preacher
This item was intended for last week's Advocate. Sunday night, February 16, at the Fair Play Baptist Church, Johnnie Jeffries, the eleven year old son of Pastor Jeffries of that church, delivered a sermon that would have been a credit to any ordinary minister. His thoughts were deep, his language good and his delivery excellent. Also, there was the serious, reverent attitude that ought to mark the delivery of a Gospel sermon at any and all times. If Johnnie continues to grow in knowledge and power he will be a great preacher before he reaches his middle life.
03/06/1930 The Baptist Church
Pastor Jeffries was ill with a severe cold last Sunday, and unable to fill his pulpit. His two young sons took his place, one in the morning and the other at night, both preaching very acceptable sermons.
(note: The sons were Jimmie and Johnnie.)
03/20/1930 Packed The House
Rev. John Wheary, pastor of Fair Play Methodist Church, took eleven year old Johnnie Jeffries, the young Baptist preacher, over to Wheatland, Wednesday night of last week, and Johnnie preached from the Methodist pulpit there. The house was packed with people eager to hear an eleven year old boy preach. Johnnie always pleases the congregation who hear him, and the Wheatland folks were no exception.
03/27/1930 Methodist Church News
We were glad to hear that during our absence the people of the community gave the two Jeffries boys loyal cooperation in our church services at both the morning and evening hour.
(note: The boys were Jimmie and Johnnie.)
04/10/1930 Local Folks Will Broadcast
Rev. John Wheary will take a group of Fair Play folks to Jefferson City Wednesday, April 16th to broadcast over W.G.N. (radio station) at 7 to 8 p.m. that day. Program will include special music, songs, and a short sermon by Johnnie Jeffries, Fair Play's eleven year old boy preacher. All folks of this community should listen to the above hour.
(note: Among the the persons from Fair Play who went, helping with the singing included: Rev. James N. Jeffires, Ethel Jeffries, Martha, Jeffires, Esther Jeffries, Jimmie Jeffries, Johnnie Jeffries, Jesse Mayse and his sister Zula. The Fair Play group also visited the Missouri State Prison.)
06/26/1930 Local News
Rev. J.N. Jeffries and son, Johnnie, spent a few days of the past week in Wishart.