The Gurley Herald

Thursday, September, 29, 1904




On July 16th, 1904, Rev. J. C. HUNKAPILLER, one of the old landmarks of Methodism in North Ala., passed away.  Brother Hunkapiller was born in Blount County, Ala., Sept. 19th, 1833.  His parents were very poor and from some cause he had to care for himself from seven years old.  Through the ministry of the Methodist circuit rider he was converted in 1847, and immediately joined the Methodist Church to which he belonged for nearly 60 years.  In his twentieth year, he married to Miss Nancy S. PARROT.  To them were born 9 children, Rev. Lee P. HUNKAPILLER of North Ala. Conference being the youngest son.


Rev. Hunkapiller never was an idler in the vineyard.  After he had been in the church a few years he was made class leader which in those days meant important and responsible service for the church.  He was licensed to exhort in 1861; he joined the Confederate army and served till at the battle of Chickamauga, in 1863, he was so badly wounded as to disable him for further service.  He taught school for a year, about 66 and 67, he served as supply on the Marshal circuit.  He was ordained Deacon by Bishop McTYEIRE at Huntsville in 1866, and Elder by Bishop PAYNE at Gadsden in 1870.


When the North Ala. Conference was organized he was admitted on trial, and traveled about 15 years as a member of the Conference, although serving poor charges with small salaries, he had a large family to care for.  This finally caused him to buy a small farm and put his boys to work that his salary might be so supplemented as to support his family.  This was soon followed by his location.  He did not cease, however, to work for the church, for 33 years of the 34 since he joined the Conference.


Brother Hunkapiller was no ordinary man, as important speaker on most subjects, he was always ready. While not an educated man, he had a fine command of common English and never wanted for a word in preaching.  There was never a more popular preacher in the country, where he labored.  Everybody had the utmost confidence in him as a Christian gentleman, and the people heard him gladly; to illustrate this popularity; about two years ago his little barn was burned and the old buggy he had used for many years in preaching to the people was burned also.  How great was his astonishment when a few days his neighbors presented him with a new buggy and harness.


The Holy Spirit sanctified his ministry in conversion of many souls.  He was the pastor of Methodism in a large portion of the Huntsville District.  His familiar figure will be sadly missed at our District Conference, while his ready, earnest and effective preaching will be missed throughout the country of New Hope where he made his home for many years and where he lived at the time of his death, and was serving the New Hope circuit as supply.  He had not recovered from a severe case of smallpox, a bowel trouble set up which resulted in his death.  The writer was called to bury him, arriving at his home church were found only a few members of his own family and a very few friends to bury him.  How sad it was that he, who had married the people and buried hundreds of their dead must be buried in painful isolation.  His life was such that it may well be said of him.  “Blessed are the dead which lie in the Lord; from henceforth, yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors.”              W. J. REID