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RUSIAN HOLMES MCKOY


Few states on the eastern side of America have a more varied population than West Virginia. In case of the colored population, much of it has come in from the South, next after Virginia, North Carolina, has perhaps the largest representation, and it is gratifying to observe that many of these have succeeded in their chosen lines of work. Among these must be mentioned Rev. Rusian Holmes McKoy, D.D., of Bramwell.

He was born near White Hall in Bladen County, N. C., on December 18, 1861, in the midst of the war. His father, Samuel McKoy, was a preacher and a farmer, and was the son of Louisa McKoy. Dr. McKoy's mother was Sarah Ann McKoy. Speaking of his early schooling he says, "I attended rural school three weeks, then went to work for J. M. Register & Sons (J. M. Register was a Baptist preacher) and studied at night.

It was in 1885, after he had grown to manhood, that he was converted and joined the New Hope Baptist Church, of Bladen County. Almost immediately after his conversion, he felt called to preach the Gospel, but it was six years later, in 1891, while at Shaw University, Raleigh, N. C., that he was licensed. He attended that well known institution for four years, combining his theological work with his literary work. Prior to the time he went to Shaw he had worked at saw milling and on rail road sections, and spent two years of the time in Georgia. His education was retarded by the fact that he had to help support his mother and the younger children.

He began his professional work as teacher and preacher in Johnson County, N. C, in the little town of Clayton. He left North Carolina in 1893, and on May 1, 1895, was ordained to the full work of the ministry by the Crozen Temple Baptist Church.

His first regular pastorate was the Little Zion Church, Goodwill, W. Va., which he served six years. He preached at Coaldale seven years and erected a new house of worship. He built and served the church at Upland Elkhorn, W. Va., for nineteen years and has been with the Bluestone Baptist Church at Bramwell for more than twenty years, during which time numerous repairs and improvements have been made on the church building. He has preached at Eckman five years. The churches at Bramwell and Eckman now take his whole time. For twenty-three years he has been Secretary of the Flat Top Baptist Association.

Dr. McKoy has been married twice. His first marriage was May 1894, to Miss R. A. McNair, of Robeson County, N. C. She bore him two children, one of whom, Joe Ella is now taking a course in the National Training School, Washington, D. C. Mrs. McKoy passed away November 20, 1899, and on June 3, 1903, Dr. McKoy contracted a second union with Miss Mary Garris, daughter of James and Fanny Garris, a native of Bertie County, N. C., but then residing in West Virginia. In 1904 Dr. McKoy organized and secured charter for a new benevolent order, known as the Golden Rule, Beneficial and Endowment, of which he has since been the President. His popularity combined with his executive ability have contributed to the success of the order. There are now (1921) about ten thousand members enrolled in seventy-eight local lodges. He is also Grand Master of Exchequer of the Grand Lodge of Pythians of West Virginia.

In his reading, Dr. McKoy, of course, give the Bible and theological literature the right of way. After that he finds the literature of the Negro race most interesting. Looking back over his career he concludes that whatever success he has won is due to his belief in God, his belief in himself, and his belief in his race. He believes that the essentials to progress are education, organization and co-operation.

Dr. McKoy served as first vice-president of the West Virginia Baptist State Convention for 16 years and resigned in 1920. He is now vice-president of the Board of Trustees of the West Virginia Seminary and College at Hill Top, and is connected with most of the religious and fraternal organizations of his people in the state. He owns an attractive home in the pretty little town of Bramwell, and is highly regarded by the best people of both races wherever he is known.


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