Jacob Roger Raynor – Pastor

Rev. J. Raynor did not appear as a witness in the pension file. He is the man who married Thomas Allen and his 2nd wife Kate Wiley.

Jacob Roger Raynor was born in Tennessee around 1838. Or 1839 or 1842 or 1849 depending on which census you are looking at.  He was in Indianapolis by 1870.  In the 1870 census, Jacob, his wife Sarah and his mother-in-law made up the household. All were literate and he was attending school. Relationships between household members were not specified in the 1870 census, however Sarah and Jacob both gave the same last name.  His occupation was listed as “cook”. His mother-in-law, Jennie Harper, did laundry and his wife kept house.

In 1873 Jacob R. Raynor and Sarah Bennett were married in Indianapolis. I realize that this is three years after they were living as a married couple. Perhaps they had been married during slavery and decided to have their marriage recorded and legalized.

In the census for 1880, the year that he married Thomas and Katie Wiley, Rev. Raynor lived at 123 4th Street with his wife and mother-in-law. His occupation was given as Minister of Colored Baptist Church. His wife, Sarah, was an artist in a wax works.  His mother-in-law kept house.

Rev. Raynor was a Baptist minister also working as a carpet layer to supplement his income.  I found several small items in the Indianapolis Recorder, an Indianapolis black newspaper.  The items usually mentioned funerals he preformed and Sundays when he preached. The article below gives a brief history of First Baptist Church and mentions Raynor as an early pastor. He continued to preach there through the years. It’s too bad the attached photograph was of a different pastor.

Indianapolis Recorder 1902-01-11

“The New Bethel Baptist church was organized in the year of 1875 in a house on Tinker street, known now as Sixteen No. 1209, the home of William Jackson. During the summer of that year they were successful in erecting a small house at the present location. Elder J. R. Raynor was pastor and superintended the work with much success. In the fall of 1883 Elder J. F Franklin was called but stayed but a short time. In the spring of 1884, the present pastor Elder N. A Seymour was called to lead them. He preached with telling effect and in the spring of 1885 the church called an ordination council and after  a careful   examination Elder Seymour was found eligible for ordination and on August 12 1885, he was selected for the work. With a few- faithful friends, a strong confidence and will power, he went into the work, took Christ for his council and the Holy Spirit to lead him. Rev. Seymour has been successful in paying the original debt and bought the adjoining lot, which gave them a space of 170 ft. deep and 65 ft.  wide. A new church has been erected on this site, that has a seating capacity of 800, at the cost of $5,700 and is second to none in the  city. The first services in the new church tomorrow. See program in church notes. MC”

In the 1900 census Raynor is living alone but there is no information about him. All the lines are blank. I am not sure what this means – had his wife and mother-in-law left or died? Was he not home when the census enumerator called and none of the neighbors knew more than his name?

By 1910 he was listed as widowed.  He lived alone, rented his house and occupation was minister in a Baptist church.  Items stopped appearing in the Indianapolis Recorder after 1915 and he does not appear in the 1920 census. Although I did not find a death record, I believe that he died around 1916, in his mid seventies.

19 thoughts on “Jacob Roger Raynor – Pastor

  1. When I started reading posts in your A-Z Challenge this year I never imagined that you would be able to track so many people who had contact with Thomas Allen. To find that the pastor’s name who married him to his second wife began with ‘J’ shows the lengths you have had to go to.

    1. I thought the “insufficiency of the aortic kind” was going to lengths. I’ve got X, Y and Z covered. And Q. If only I’d written them up months ago! I’m going day by day right now.

  2. I don’t know why but I’m picturing Rev. Raynor’s life as a sitcom. You know, a young man and his wife, living with the wife’s mother. He’s working as a cook to put himself through school hoping to become a minister (did people go to school for ministry back then?), but his mother-in-law is always giving him a hard time for “living in sin.” Throw in some wacky neighbours who refuse to admit they know him when the census people come around, and it practically writes itself!

  3. Fascinating stuff! I found my great-grandparents’ marriage license years ago, when I visited the county where they lived then. That was cool–and also raised some questions, when we noticed that it was dated a year later than the family had thought. My grandmother was born 9 months, almost to the day, after the wedding!

  4. This is a wonderful document to have, as are the news articles about the church. Researching Rev. Raynor was an excellent way to get a fuller picture of Thomas’s life. I have also done this for doctors who examined my Union Army ancestor when he applied for his pension (numerous times!) and it’s interesting to contrast their lives with my ancestors to amplify his story.

  5. Old family histories sometimes indicate that someone had a “common law marriage.” Until I read this post and the comments, I never really thought about the possible reasons, possible family pressure to legalize the marriage, etc. It’s interesting to speculate about why couples in days gone by chose to (or not) legalize their marriage.

    1. Yes, those “helpful” neighbos… I never came across one like that before either. It really just had his name and dwelling number.

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