Backgrounds of the Restoration Movement: “Raccoon” John Smith and the 1832 Unity Meeting

“Raccoon” John Smith

Smith’s story is well told by June Baldwin Bork,

In 1814, after much thought, John took his wife and four children to Alabama with dreams of settling and farming a large farm and eventually becoming a prosperous landowner. But, as we will see, God had other plans for this man. The Smiths settled into a house near Huntsville and rapidly found new friends. Then tragedy struck. When he was away from home on a preaching mission and his wife was visiting an ill neighbor, a fire broke out in the Smith cabin and was totally destroyed. Inside, fatally trapped, were the two Smith children, seven-year old Eli and two-year old Elvira. Grief stricken, Anne went to bed, unwilling to acknowledge the tragic loss of her children. She sank into deep depression and refused to eat. Slowly, in spite of all efforts to save her, she weakened and died within months and was buried in Alabama.

The deaths of his two young children caused him to question the Calvinism of the day, as under the doctrine he’d been taught, the children were surely lost. Continue reading