Hosea Holcombe

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Hosea Lott Holcombe (born Lott Holcombe July 20, 1780 near Cross Keys, Union District, South Carolina; died July 31, 1841 at Fort Jonesboro) was the founder and first pastor of several early Baptist churches and an influential religious leader and historian in the early years of the Birmingham District.

Holcombe was the son of Hosea and Phoebe Smith Holcombe of South Carolina. He assumed his father's name at his death in 1789. On June 7, 1801 he married his cousin, Cassandra "Cassey" Jackson and on August 17, 1805 was ordained as a minister by his home church in Padgett's Creek. In 1812 he was pastor of Hebron Baptist Church in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

While there he was influenced by Reverend Luther Rice to dedicate his life toward evangelism and church leadership. Holcombe became known as a forceful opponent to those who opposed the church's mission activities afield. He published several pamphlets to make his case for missions, and also published a hymnal.

In 1818 Holcombe travelled to the Alabama territory and joined the Canaan Baptist Church in Jonesboro, which had been founded earlier that year.

In fulfillment of his mission to plant new churches, he soon organized the Ruhama Baptist Church in the Ruhama settlement along the Huntsville Road, now part of East Lake in Birmingham. While continuing to lead Ruhama he helped established other churches in the area, including Enon Baptist Church (1819), and Hebron Baptist Church near Leeds (1819).

He also helped to found the Rock Creek Baptist Church west of Bessemer in 1822, Roupes Valley Baptist Church (1827), and Union Baptist Church in Shelby County in 1833. Holcombe also helped organized the first Alabama Baptist State Convention in Greensboro in 1823 and served as its president from 1833 to 1838. In 1835 the convention tapped him to write a history of the Baptist church in Alabama, for which he travelled all over the state.

Holcombe and his wife had 11 children, of whom 3 became ministers. Hosea died at the age of 61 in his home near Jonesboro. He is buried at the Sadler Cemetery near Bessemer. A historical marker on Alabama Highway 150 between Bessemer and I-65 at Muscoda was erected by the Alabama Historical Association to recognize his contributions as a church historian.


  • Holcombe, Hosea Lott (1840) A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in Alabama. Philadelphia: King and Baird.


  • Woolley, Davis C. (January 1961) "Hosea Holcombe: Pioneer Alabama Baptist Historian". The Alabama Review Vol. XIV, pp. 6-8
  • Walker, James (March 17, 1999) "Hosea Holcombe" The Western Star