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John Provines McCorkle
Circuit-riding California Preacher
By Charles Dailey - February 20, 2010

John McCorkle at a Glance:
Wife:Eliza Jane
Settled: Santa Maria
Died: 1887
Buried: Santa Maria

Young John P. McCorkle came to California and first located in Napa County. He was full of fire and zeal. A red-haired man, he was dressed in home-spun, Kentucky blue jeans and a hickory shirt. He preached often and his audience came from every walk of life including ranchers, cowboys, gamblers, and horse racers.

John P. McCorkle
John Provines McCorkle
At one of his first sermons, a man stepped forward and passed his hat through the audience to take up a gift for some clothing. The contents of the hat totaled $175. This also measures what his listeners thought of McCorkle.

Soon he became acquainted with preacher Thomas Thompson and their twosome team worked together preaching in California for several years. McCorkle was the mover of men and Thompson was the missionary, the organizer and the financier. Thompson saw that new Christians were taught and grounded in the Faith.

John McCorkle knew little about the rules of grammar, but he used the language accurately. He seldom used the wrong word or made a slip in his grammar. He was eloquent. He no doubt baptized more people than any other man in the state, before or since.

His method of preaching was to put up a strong, convincing argument interspersed with passionate appeal. He would then close with a powerful exhortation and with deep emotion would exhort people to flee from the wrath to come.

John appears to have settled at Santa Rosa for the decade of 1854 - 1864. He is listed as the minister of the Santa Rosa Christian Church for those years. In Santa Rosa's church history book we read:

Pastor John McCorkle was probably the best known and most popular preacher in California during the early days of the church.
John is listed as one of the founders of the Gilroy Christian Church in 1855. He appears to have been located there for a time also. This is during the time he is listed at Santa Rosa.

In 1866, John is in Ellensburg, Washington planting a church. In 1879, preacher McCorkle was holding a meeting at Brownsville, Oregon where there were 24 responses to the gospel message. He may have stayed on for a while as the regular preacher.

At the age of 58, he and Eliza Jane settled in Santa Maria. The website of the First Christian Church of Santa Maria reads:
In 1882, nearly 119 years ago, the Reverend J.P. McCorkle along with about 30 residents of the sparsely populated Central City formed the Christian church. Formerly called Grangefield, our beautiful Santa Maria Valley then had 600 residents and the First Christian Church was one of three churches.
Both McCorkles are buried in the Santa Maria Cemetery.

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