Dr. Robert Benjamin Headden
The Cartersville News
Thursday, 14 August 1913
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Dr. R.B. Headden Dies at His Home in Rome This Morning
The sad news reached the city this morning that Dr. R.B. Headden had died in Rome. Dr. Headden with stricken with paralysis at the reunion of the blue and the gray at Gettysburg, and after rallying sufficiently for the trip, he was brought back to Rome, arriving there a week or ten days ago. Dr. Headden was for a number of years pastor of the Baptist church in this city, and was greatly beloved. His death will be a great shock to all his friends.
The Cartersville News
The Death of Dr. R.B. Headden at Rome
Dr. R.B. Headden died in Rome Thursday morning last, 14th.
He went to the Gettysburg reunion and while there had a stroke of apoplexy and very near the spot where he was wounded in the famous battle. He was removed to a hospital at Lancaster, Pa., and when he was thought able was moved to Rome, where he grew worse gradually until the end came.
Dr. Headden was much beloved and many of his friends were in Bartow county where he was reared and where he served the Master as minister. The Rome Tribune-Herald has the following sketch of his life.
Robert Benjamin Headden was born at Cassville, Bartow county, on December 25, 1838. He was descended from old Baptist families of England, his father, William Headden, having been born in England. He was educated at the old Cherokee Baptist College, when that institute was in its prime. On April 22, 1869 he was married to Miss Mary E. Dyer, who has been his faithful help-mate for more than forty years. Five children blessed this union, of which three survive, Mrs. Robert S. Kennard, of Little Rock, Ark., Mrs. F.S. Key Smith, of Washington, D.C., and Miss Nancy Headden, of Rome. There is also an adopted son, Howard Headden, of Little Rock; and one grandson, Robert Headden Key Smith. Dr. Headden leaves three brothers, W.J. Headden, of Austell; George Headden, of Cassville; E.A. Headden, of Nashville; and one sister, Mrs. F.W. Smith, of Rome.
Dr. Headden measured up to the highest standard of Christian manhood in all relations, and his family life was especially beautiful and affectionate. He extended the privileges of his home to those in sickness, orphaned or in distress, all in an unostentatious manner.
While he was a youth in the twenties he responded to the call of his state and volunteered in Company B, of Phillips’ Legion, which was recruited in North Georgia. He was a gallant soldier and was terribly wounded in the hip at Gettysburg.. After his recovery, and contrary to the orders of his physicians, he re-enlisted and fought the war through. His distinguished services caused his promotion from private to sergeant. He carried the memory of the “Lost Cause” in his heart, and the final journey of his life was a visit to the scenes of the sixties.
Of genial and friendly nature Dr. Headden enjoyed mingling with his fellowmen, and was a Mason of high degree. He was a member of Oostanaula lodge, of Rome Chapter and of Rome Commandery Knights Templar. Since the foundation of the commandery in 1887, he had been its prelate, and had never missed a meeting at which candidates were knighted. His manner of conferring the degree was impressive in the extreme and had called forth the commendation of officers from throughout the state. He was the General Prelate of the Grand Commandery of Georgia in 1897 and 1898, and was regarded with the greatest affection by his brethren. His influence in whatever direction [illegible] was all for good, and now were more so than in Masonry with the opportunities for close comradeship with the young men of Rome, who revered and honored him.
In 1866 Dr. Headden was baptized into the fellowship of the church at Ramah in Campbell county and was ordained in the summer of 1868. He preached in Bartow county until 1870, when he was called to the church at Cartersville, which he served until 1883, when he came to Rome as pastor of the First Baptist church. During the three decades of his pastorate the church enjoyed a wonderful development and his efforts were blessed by a prosperity that made the old first church one of the leading churches of the state. It was as a pastor that he baptized members, performed the wedding ceremonies, and buried the dead for the people of two generations, therefore there grew up a relation with a thousand tender ties. Of delightful personality, spotless character, and consecrated zeal, he indeed made his mark upon this community as a whole, as of course upon his own church.
He taught by example, but could eloquently expound precept. His sermons were characterized by a lucid exposition of gospel truths. He spoke quietly, and was always well poised, but put into his words such earnestness and force that his preaching was always effective. His powers showed no waning with the advance of years, and his congregations commented upon the fact that his last sermons were his best ones. He offered his resignation to the church, and it unanimously refused to accept this, declaring that it wanted his services as long as he would consent to serve. A few months ago he again tendered his resignation, insisted upon its acceptance, and entered upon the relation of pastor emeritus to the church, to which position he was elected for life.
All of the affairs and obligations of the church were conducted in a systematic manner by him, but he placed especial emphasis upon the cause of missions. For years the First Baptist church of Rome was known as the largest contributor in the state to the cause of missions. This was in large part due not only to the sermons of the pastor but to his individual contributions which were at all times most liberal. He contributed to all good causes, and the extent of his works of charity, though never mentioned, was uniformly large.
The unusual attainments and high pulpit ability of the pastor caused him to be given the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. The benefit of his advice and counsel was sought by the different organizations and institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention. He was a trustee of the Theological Seminary at Louisville, a trustee of Mercer University, and for a long time a member and president of the state board of missions. Other positions were pressed upon him from time to time, but these with characteristic modesty he refused.
During the closing days of Dr. Headden’s life, when his friends realized that he would soon be taken from the, messages of love and sympathy came from far and near. He will be sadly missed and greatly mourned by the community which had been the scene of his endeavors for thirty years. He had never been heard to speak aught but good of any man, and none spoke other than good of him.
The sympathy of the entire city goes out to the family, whose grief is in part assuaged by the assurance that he was one of the best of men and that it is well with his soul.
The Cartersville News
Memorial Service to Rev. R.B. Headden
Since time immemorial the deeds and lives of great men have been honored in story, and in song, by triumphal processions, and by lofty monuments.
So it was eminently fitting that a goodly company gathered at the First Baptist church on Sunday Sept. 28, to pay tribute to the life of Dr. R.H. Headden, to whom this church owes so much as pastor and friend.
Better than any lofty monument are the lives of those who rose to speak of him, for we realize that they have built into their lives the noble principles to which he, as their pastor, incited them.
When we think of the many lives, here and elsewhere, influenced for good, both by his precept and example, we come to know something of his real greatness.
If his influence had gone no farther than the leading of the saintly Miss Lottie Moon into the missionary field he would need no greater monument to his memory.
Judge A.M. Foute, whose article is printed elsewhere by request spoke fittingly of Dr. Headden’s life and his work as pastor.
Mr. J.H. Gilreath, as one of the deacons who called Dr. Headden to this pastorate, gave a touching account of the relationship between the church and their much loved pastor.
Resolutions from the Womans Missionary Society were read by Mrs. J.W. Vaughan in the absence of Mrs. Eliza Conyers, chairman of the committee and an interesting paper on the organization and fostering care of this society by Dr.. R.B. Headden was given by Mrs. W.J. Neel.
A letter from Mrs. Montgomery, full of tender memories, was read by Mrs. J.H. Gilreath.
Mr. Walter White told of Dr. Headden as the friend of the children of the Sunday school, and of the lasting influence that the Doctor’s sympathetic kindly notice had upon his life.
Messrs. L.F. Shaw and A.B. Cunyus presented the splendid work done by Dr. Headden among the neighboring churches. Mrs. Guyton spoke of his influence over her life as a young Christian, and his characteristic manner of welcoming strangers into his church.
His usefulness as connector and guide to the young ministers was mentioned by Bro. Adams.
All who heard these inspiring talks were led to feel a desire to live more nobly, more unselfishly, that perchance, our lives may in a small degree mean to the world what this consecrated, unselfish life has meant.
--Mrs. H.L. Pittman, Press Com. W.M.S.
Judge Foute’s Tribute.
Brothers, sisters, friends: Love for [line obscured] or join my command. Dr. Headden said go and he went to the front.
My information is he accepted Christ as his saviour and entered upon the King’s business in 1855.
Preaching first to country churches came here 1870 and left for Rome in 1883, and was there when the end came and the feeling evinced by our people toward Brother Headden has its parallel, thirty years later toward another man.
Two pastorates, lasting forty-three years is unusual, and speaks louder than words for him as a man and as a preacher.
He was kind, gentle, modest, almost without a fault, but bold and aggressive when occasion demanded.
Did you ever hear him speak unkindly of anyone?
He appreciated the couplet—
The world, in a sense, owes him much. I heard him preach the sermon that sent a young woman as missionary to China. What her impress upon those people, eternity alone may reveal.
What more can I say? Robert Benjamin Headden, was a man, and in the language of another was made of finest material, common in nothing, noble in all.
What faults he had were better than the virtues of some men.
He fell to sleep on Aug. 14, 1913, full of years and good works.
Finally a lesson for us—
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Last modified: February 18, 2008