Collection on W. B. Godbey
A Guide to the Collection
William Baxter Godbey was born in rural Pulaski County, Kentucky, on June 3, 1833. He was raised in a pious Methodist home where, as Godbey states in his autobiography, he came to faith and received a call to preach at the age of three. At sixteen, while attending a Baptist revival meeting in November of 1849, Godbey experienced an outpouring of supernatural power that he considered his moment of conversion.
In 1853 the Kentucky Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South licensed William Godbey to preach. For the next several years, Godbey taught in the public schools, preached to slave congregations, and studied at Georgetown (Kentucky) College, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1859. He served as President of Harmonia College in Perryville, Kentucky from 1859 to 1869 while also ministering to the Perryville Circuit. The Kentucky Conference admitted Godbey on trial in 1866 and as a full member in 1868. While leading a revival in December of 1868, Godbey felt that his conversion was finally completed with a moving experience of entire sanctification.
Rev. Godbey served pastoral appointments and as a presiding elder in Kentucky from the late 1860s to the early 1880s. In 1883 and 1884 he expanded his holiness and revival preaching ministry to Missouri and Texas. For the rest of his career he was in demand across the United States as a respected Bible teacher and evangelist. This development took him outside of the bounds of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South both geographically and structurally. However, in 1918 Godbey asked to be re-admitted to the Kentucky Conference. The Conference agreed, and he died on September 12, 1920 a prized member of that body.
W. B. Godbey married America Emma Durham (1839-1915) in 1860. They had eight children. The only child to survive into adulthood was daughter Effie Orpha (1873-1906), who married Rev. F. M. Hill (1864-1908), a minister in the Kentucky Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Godbey, W. B. Autobiography of Rev. W.B. Godbey. Cincinnati: God's Revivalist Office, 1909.
Hamilton, Barry W. William Baxter Godbey – Itinerant Apostle of the Holiness Movement. Lewiston, New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2000.
Hamilton, Barry W. “Godbey, William Baxter.” In Historical Dictionary of the Holiness Movement, edited by William Kostlevy. Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press, 2009.
W. B. Godbey wrote many periodical articles and more than 230 books and booklets. This collection includes forty-six pamphlets written by Godbey between 1891 and 1919, the second half of his ministry. These pamphlets convey Godbey’s thoughts on numerous topics including sin, justification, sanctification, vital spirituality, baptism, temperance, various denominations, and Christ’s Second Coming. Three items of special note are Woman Preacher, an impassioned endorsement of the preaching gifts of sanctified women, and two autobiographical pieces: The Happy Octogenarian and Our Glorified Children.
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[Identification of item], Collection on W. B. Godbey, Bridwell Library, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
Purchased from William Snyder, Homestead, Florida, 2012.
This collection was arranged and described in 2012 by Timothy Binkley.
Timothy Binkley, 2012
Ada Negraru, 2012
Detailed Description of the Collection