Elder P. M. Atchley was born in Sevier County, Tennessee, February 22, 1827.  His parents were pious, exemplary Baptists, in moderate circumstances in life, but reverses of fortune reduced them to poverty, so that young Atchley grew up with no advantages of an education.  He grew up in a religious community, however, and in early life made a profession of religion and united with the church.  Following his conversion he became a love of good books and attained to a good degree of learning.

Brother Atchley was thrice married, and had for wives three excellent Christian women.  He  was married to Charlotte Garrett, September 22, 1852, to which union were born two daughter, one of them dying in infancy.  April 10, 1856, he was married to Margaret E. Thomas.  To this union were born four children, three daughters and one son - three of whom dying in infancy.  Losing his companion, he was married a third time, to Martha J. Thomas, who became the mother of two sons, one of them dying when an infant.

Recognizing in his many sad losses and sore bereavements the hand of God and a voice calling him into the ministry, and to repent of "vow and promises unkept," to preach the everlasting gospel, he yielded to his "impressions to preach," and was accordingly licensed by the Alder Branch Church, in 1864, to exercise a public gift, and in 1866 was ordained to the full work of the ministry by the sanction of the same church -- Elders Robert S. Atchley, N. H. Haggard, and Hiram S. Blair acting as a presbytery.

Brother Blair says of him:  "He has labored with a good degree of success in various places in the country.  He has served as pastor at Boyd's Creek and Zion Hill churches.  He is an excellent Sunday school man, is in  frequent demand for addresses before Sunday school conventions, and has organized a model Sunday school in his own neighborhood, many of the pupils of which have been brought to Christ and to the church under his labors and influence.  His Sunday school has now become a church of ninety-three members.  He is one our best revival preachers, but his health will not permit full-time work.  He has held important offices of trust in his county.  He is a strong advocate of Baptist principles; is much beloved and highly esteemed by this brethren.  He is tender-hearted, ready to sympathize with his fellow-beings in their afflictions or distress, laying himself out to minister to their wants.  He is a social and pleasant companion, greatly delighting to converse with his brethren upon the subject of religion and the prospects of future rest and happiness in heaven.  He is a good and useful minister in the cause of God, and would be greatly missed.  May the good Lord spare his life to labor in His vineyard." (Condensed from Borum.)

Brother Atchley passed to his reward June 14, 1910, and was buried in the Alder Branch cemetery,  Elder S. C. Atchley conducting the funeral services.  All of his ten children preceded him to the better land, seven  of them dying in infancy.  He survived his last wife some four years, living with his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Dona Atchley, and his grandchildren, preaching occasionally, as he had strength.  The last of his family to outstrip him in the lane of life was his son, Elder N. A. Atchley, who died in 1907.


Source:  Burnett, J .J. Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers. Nashville, Tenn.:  Press of Marshall & Bruce Company, 1919, pgs. 30-32.

Transcription copyright ©2002 to Rose-Anne Cunningham. All rights reserved.

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