“Our subscription list is nearly five hundred. Now why can’t we make it one thousand in the next few months,” the editor wrote in The Free Will Baptist Record. The paper was a monthly, published by the Ladies’ Aid Society of Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Nashville. The first editor was Mrs. Fannie Polston; associate editor, Pastor Dell Upton; manager, Mrs. Ed Parker.
For twenty-five cents a year the subscriber could receive an eight-page paper, attractively printed and well edited. It contained news items, devotional thoughts, letters from readers, and advertisements.
The Record began publication in 1907 and ceased in April 1909.
Although published by the Ladies’ Aid Society, it had general appeal. Besides those from Tennessee, subscribers wrote from Ohio, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, and included a man in the navy with a New York address.
The June 1908 issue announced four tracts on Free Will Baptist doctrine: Washing Feet, Communion, Why I Was Baptized, and Final Perseverance. Dell Upton and E.L. St. Claire wrote the tracts. The paper announced in August that 1,000 of the tracts were on the presses. They had received an order with cash for 500 copies.
Sadly, fire destroyed most of the back issues and the subscription lists of The Record. The few copies preserved show the optimism, zeal and faith of the Free Will Baptist people at the turn of the century.
About the Writer: Mary Wisehart served many years as chairman of the Free Will Baptist Historical Commission.