Chaplain Benjamin Franklin Marable II
North Carolina Militia
By Dr. H. Rondel Rumburg
Benjamin Marable (1782-1871) and Susan Boswell Marable (1803-1840) were the parents of George John Boswell, John Richard W., Mary Hartwell, Sarah Ann, Charity Louise, Susan Frances Boswell and William C. Marable. Another of their children is the subject of this sketch, and his name is Benjamin Franklin Marable. He was born at “Walnut Grove” the family plantation in Halifax County, Virginia on October 7, 1831. Also, B.F. had the following half-siblings: Daniel Terry, Edward Livingston, Abner Terry, Eliza Jane and Whitman Tunstall Marable. The Marables were descended from English stock that settled in Virginia in the early formation of the colony.
The Lord was pleased to give B.F. Marable a sense of his personal sinfulness. He was brought to see his need of the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Saviour. B.F. professed his faith in the Saviour publically and became a member of the Missionary Baptist Church that was the home church of his family.
B.F., sometime after his conversion, also received a call from the Lord to become a minister of the gospel. In order to prepare for this calling he entered Richmond College in 1851. In 1852 he transferred to Wake Forest College in North Carolina, and there he graduated on June 21st, 1855. His college graduation day was also the day he married Virginia A. “Jennie” Davidson of Charlotte County, VA. The wedding took place at Wake Forest College, NC. After college he attended Furman University in Greenville, SC where he studied theology (this was the precursor of Southern Theological Seminary) and while he was there he engaged in evangelism. B.F. Marable changed denominations in 1863, and attended Columbia Theological Seminary for a brief time. This Baptist minister then became a Presbyterian in his ecclesiastical connections. Eventually he earned an M.A. from Wake Forest College and was honored with a Doctor of Divinity from Hampden-Sydney College.
Perhaps it would be good to back up and get an overview of his ministry. In the Fall of the year 1857 he settled in Sampson County, NC where he ministered the gospel for the next thirty-five years in different churches. He was the Corresponding Secretary of the Baptist State Convention from 1857 to 1863.
B.F. and Jennie were blessed to have a son born whom they named Walter Virginius Marable. On the morning of April 23, 1857 the young minister of the gospel entered upon a great time of testing. For this was the date that the Lord was pleased to take his young and dear wife Jennie to be with Himself. Her pastor and brother-in-law, Rev. S. G. Mason, under whom Jennie professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ wrote, “The circumstances surrounding this dear sister, during the time of her illness, were unusually trying. A few weeks after she was taken sick we had to resign to the cold embrace of death her little nephew, a lovely boy of 7 months old, son of the writer, and for two weeks she had to witness the severe sufferings of her dear mother, which issued in her death; and last, but not least, she had to part with … an infant of a few months old. While we now write, we are astonished at the Christian fortitude with which she bore up under it all.” She was very composed a few weeks before her death and often spoke with peace that soon she would go into eternity. She was said to be clear, composed and happy to the last moment of life. B.F. was now bereft of his wife and left with a motherless child.
In the providence of God Rev. Marable remarried on December 16, 1858 to Mary Amelia Faison McDugald who was a young widow. To this union were born Sulu and Mary Belle Marable. Through this marriage he came into possession of some wealth.
Lincoln’s War against the South and the U.S. Constitution began in 1861. Desiring to minister to those facing imminent death Rev. Marable became a chaplain. In 1862 according to the North Carolina Confederate Officers Roster Benjamin Marable was listed as chaplain with the rank of Captain. He served in the 6th Brigade, North Carolina Militia of Clinton, NC on William Mann’s staff. Marable must have been an active pastor as well as chaplain.
After the death of his second wife Pastor Marable married Octavia Augusta Faison. Miss Octavia Faison and her two sisters had attended Miss English’s fashionable Episcopal School in Georgetown in the District of Columbia. During their sojourn there, they became intimate friends of Miss Polk (sister of President James K. Polk) and of the family of John Augustine Washington at Mount Vernon. One of Octavia’s friends wrote of her, “Before the blight of war fell on her native country, her home was noted far and wide for its elegant hospitality and the charm of its domestic and social life … her uniform cheerfulness and good nature, her keen intelligence, her ready but harmless wit, her unfailing tact, her musical gifts and her conversational powers, with the nameless charm of her young womanhood, made her ever a cherished member and imparted additional brightness to the joyful gatherings.” To this union were born: Forrest, Maria Moseley, Benjamin Franklin Jr., Octavia Faison, Herbert, and Mamie.
It was in 1863 that Rev. B.F. Marable resigned as pastor of Beulah Baptist Church and joined the Presbyterians. The reasons he gave for his change were ecclesiastical and not related to the gospel he preached. He continued to preach the same message of sovereign grace. This change did not come over night, but he said they were the result of many years of contemplation and study. The Fayetteville Presbytery received him on December 16, 1863. Marable pastored or was stated supply of the following churches: Warsaw Presbyterian Church (1864-1866), the Oak Plane Presbyterian Church and Springvale Presbyterian Church (1865-1868), Clinton Presbyterian Church (1868-1875), Goldsboro Presbyterian Church (1876-1879), Mt. Olive Presbyterian Church and Clinton Presbyterian Church (1880-1892). Dr. Benjamin Franklin Marable II served the Mount Olive Presbyterian Church until his death April 14, 1892.
During the last years of his life Dr. Benjamin Franklin Marable suffered from a pulmonary illness. His departure from this life occurred at the residence of Dr. Daniel McGraham in Wallace. He was buried in the town cemetery of Clinton, NC.