Hidden Memoirs of a Mountain Preacher

(Photo in book cover is of Henry standing on Trumbull Ave., in Detroit, MI, before a revival service, being held in the old storefront building to the right.  It was 1957 and one of the greatest revivals of his lifetime!)

  "The Man Who Loves Souls" is a collection of unpublished memoirs of a mountain preacher
(Rev. Henry Robertson), in the early 1900's, now published in book form for your reading enjoyment!

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It was at Tylersville Road Church of God (Hamilton, Ohio).   I was only 16, and it was April 18, 1983.   Rev. Henry Robertson was preaching and when the service was ending and others were at the altar praying, he came back to my seat, where I was crying and holding on to the seat.  He asked me, “Are you saved?”  “No,” I said.   He said, “Do you want to go to hell?”   Then I really started to cry.   He said, “Why don't you come up here and give your heart to the Lord?” 


I went up and prayed and gave my heart to the Lord.   My sister, who was already saved, was praying and crying.  He asked her, “What do you need?” She told him, “For my sister to be saved.”  He said, “Look over there.  Your prayer is already answered.”


At that time I did not know it then, but my Grandpa Hornsby, who had passed when I was three, was the one that led Rev. Robertson to the Lord many years before.   I never saw Rev. Robertson again.  I wish I would have and I would have told him whose granddaughter I was.   My family has always told me that everyday around lunch time my Grandpa Hornsby would go close his door and pray and call out all of his children and grandchildren’s names to be saved. 


As for me, even though I was not very old when he went home to be with the Lord, God heard his prayer for me.  I was saved thirteen years after he died through Henry Robertson’s ministry.  Sometimes in this life we may never get to see the answer to our prayers while we are living, but even after we are gone, God still remembers our prayers.  When Grandpa Hornsby felt it was so urgent to get to your Grandpa Henry Robertson with the message of salvation, God knew that one of his own grandchilds’ salvation was at stake.  It is amazing to me still today, what God will do for his children.


I always think about the fact that if my grandfather had not been obedient to the Lord by going to see Bro. Robertson with the message of salvation, there may never have been that special revival meeting that resulted in my own salvation.  I feel truly blessed to be one of the stars in both of our grandfathers’ crowns (she wrote this to me personally).

- Melody Hornsby Creech

(Granddaughter of Rev. Harrison Hornsby who led my papaw to the Lord)

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“I have been privileged to call one of Rev. Henry's churches home for 41 years. I will be forever grateful to him for building Fairfield Church of God.”

- Robin Gibson Helton

(Granddaughter of Clayborn Goins, who helped build Fairfield Church of God)


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“Rev. Henry Robertson had a spirit-filled drive in his bones to build yet another church and then another…I recall working with him to build the Church of God at 2222 Eastern Ave. in Cincinnati, OH, in the early 1950’s.  He would lay concrete blocks in the heat and in the cold, with only a drink of water from a garden hose.  Whenever anyone would stop by to ask him about what he was building, he would eventually ask them if they could spare a couple of dollars to buy a few more blocks, bags of mortar or a ton of sand.  By and by he would glean a little here and there and soon the walls were done and no one could figure out how he did it.  He begged money for the building, but never used a dime for himself.  Many times, he had church money in his pocket, but never used it to buy himself anything to eat.  He raised thousands of dollars, just one dollar at a time.  Amazing!


Whenever he felt the call of God to start another work, he would sometimes just have bus fare out there, but no way home.  One time I drove him out to the Blue Ash area.  We drove up one street and down another.  We didn’t know anyone out there.  Suddenly he would say, “Stop” and would get out and go up to the strangers’ house, knock on the door and tell them who he was and watch them rejoice that someone had been sent.  They had been praying that God would send someone to build a Church of God in Blue Ash.  He was led by the Spirit of God time and again.  Shortly thereafter, he somehow raised enough money to rent a storefront building there and I painted the Church of God emblem on the windows.  We had church!  It wasn’t long after that, that we had a packed house.  He found out that a local church had just built a new building and he worked it out for the church to buy their old building.  The Blue Ash church was born.


Most everyone who was close to him sometimes sort of feared him because he seemed as though he could read your mind.  If someone was not living right, he would in a very loving way, make them face their circumstances and repent.  At church, he would grab his old guitar and start playing it, even if it had only 4 strings left on it and walk the aisles singing, “If I were you, I’d make a change.”  While his music and singing wouldn’t have won a prize, most sinners and backsliders couldn’t sit under this for long and would have to hit the altar.  He had a real understanding of people.  He would first make us laugh and then make us cry.  By the time service was over, we were all a wreck, but loved every minute of it.  Interesting was the fact that in these services you couldn’t tell when service started, because folks would come early to pray, then someone would play some music and the singing would start.  It was go from then on.  The same was true about when service ended.  Nobody knew.  Some stayed at the altar past midnight and the rule was, whoever was last out, turn out the lights and lock the door.  It was so blessed that we didn’t object to any of it.  God was saving souls, filling with the Holy Ghost and that was all that mattered.


We that knew him well, were aware that he put the work of God first.  Many times he would go a long time without eating anything.  So, when he did get a chance to eat, he made the most of it.  When I drove him around visiting, he would eat something at every house we went to.  He would go to the refrigerator of strangers and open it up and ask if they had anything to eat.  They always found something for him.”


Author’s note:  Papaw did this all the time!  He would make himself at home anywhere he went. 


“I don’t know where he put it all!  I can’t eat a big meal every half hour.  If you happened to go out to eat at a restaurant with him, you had better watch your plate, as he would just reach out and take your bacon or your toast and grin his toothless grin and say, “You didn’t want that, did you?”  He would do this even at an all-you-can-eat buffet!  We all chuckle at this to this very day.


On the lighter said, I had stopped over to their house for a minute and he was in a hurry to walk his dogs (go coon hunting) before it got dark.  Like most men, he had left his boots in the middle of the floor for Lottie to pick up, and now he couldn’t’ find them.  He said, “Wife, where’s my boots?”  Lottie was snapping green beans in her lap, but never said a word.  He shortly again said, “Wife, where’s my boots?”  And still no response.  Finally, he raised his voice a little bit for emphasis, “WIFE!  WHERE’S MY BOOTS?”  Lottie replied softly and said, “Say please.”  He just dropped his head and muttered, “Please.”  Lottie waited a bit and then said, “With sugar on top.”  He grinned and mumbled, “With sugar on top.”  I spoke up and said to him, “And I thought you were the boss of this house?”  All I got was that toothless grin.  I saw who was really the ‘boss’.”

- Johnny Myers

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“My husband, Johnny Myers and I were in our late teens when we were married.  Johnny got saved in 1950 before I did.  He went to a small storefront church in the Cincinnati area.  I did not like it because he wasn’t fun anymore.  He stopped smoking, but I kept it up because I liked it.  He praised God all the time and hung around Christians.  I made fun of him.  The church people felt sorry for Bro. Myers’ poor little wife and prayed that she would get saved.  After a while, I got tired of hearing what a terrible sinner I was, because I did not believe that I was a sinner.


One day I decided that I would get even.  I was going to church and let these people KNOW how I could fight!  When I walked into the church, I was really mad.  Folks were playing music, singing and praying around the altar.  I sat by the back door so I could run out quickly if I had to.  It was then that I noticed those women with long hair, no make up, dresses down to their knees and long sleeves.  How old fashioned!  Some of them looked at me and I could tell that they were praying for me.  That made me angrier still!  I picked up a song book because I didn’t know what to do with my hands.  I opened it to, Are You Washed in the Blood?  I slammed it shut and was thinking about getting up and leaving, but I didn’t.  I looked up to the front of the church and saw what looked to me like an old country farmer.  He wore bibbed overalls, was bald and had no teeth.  He was shaking hands with everyone.  Even though it was noisy in there, I could hear him praying.  He was saying, “Glory to God!”  He was looking at me and saying softly, “I plead the blood of Jesus.”  Every time he said that, I could feel myself jerk.  He was coming closer to me and was praying the whole time.  I never used bad language, but the closer he got to me, the more hateful words came into my mind.  I said to myself, “Keep coming and if you touch me, I’ll kill you!”  As he reached for my hand and took it, I opened my mouth to curse him.  Imagine how shocked I was when instead, I said, “Bro. Robertson, I want to get saved tonight.  Will you pray for me?”  Bro. Robertson went straight to the front and told everyone what I had said.  I panicked!  I tried to get up, but my body was glued to the seat.  I struggled to get up and get out of there but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t move.  As he preached fire and brimstone to me, conviction tore at my heart.  I went forward and knelt by a chair.  God mercifully saved my soul that night.  Praise His name forever!”

- Margaret Myers

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“I held my first revival with Rev. Robertson at Pearl St. Church, in Cincinnati.  I didn't think women should preach, even though I felt the call to the mission field.  Bro. Robertson convinced me to hold a revival for him and I went on from there to a lifetime of ministry. 


I remember my friend Sis. Myers first went to church and was angry and planned on hitting the preacher (Rev. Henry) but instead she got saved! 


I had a baby that died in utero and I had to carry it, but couldn't go into labor to deliver.  Bro. Robertson came to the hospital and prayed and sat with me until my labor began and I gave birth to my little stillborn baby girl, who I named Violet Rose.  


I remember going to the hospital in Hamilton, Ohio to visit and pray with the Robertson family when Evelene, his daughter passed away from Lupus.  I remember everyone was devastated.  It’s safe to say that we became good friends through the years (our families have known each other for 70 years).  He was a humorous man and played practical jokes a lot.” 

- Rev. Margie Nessler
(Fellow minister and friend for over 65 years)

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“I truly believe as the Bible says, ‘our footsteps are ordered by God’. My Father met Rev. Robertson and the Lord told my dad to go help him.  Bro. Robertson, as well as the men who proceeded him, inspired my dad to be a Pastor, who inspired me to become a Pastor. 


(To the author) We have such a great heritage.  Our relatives blazed a trail and opened doors so that we could be the people that we are today.


I thank God for people like Henry Robertson who was not afraid to go out by faith and see something that was not there, but believed that if God would take you to it, that he would bring you through it.”

- Rev. David (Gary) Dearing
(Pastor of Finneytown Church of God)


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“I remember going with my mom, Rev. Margie Nessler, to the hospital in Hamilton to visit and pray with the Robertson family when Evelene passed away from Lupus.  It was a devastating time for the family. 


Mom told me stories of Bro. Henry’s humor and how he ate my sister’s ice cream cone once and played practical jokes and more of the humorous, funny side of him.

I do remember when I was very small, mom was holding a revival for Bro. Robertson and I was very ill with hepatitis.  It was in Chillicothe (Portsmouth), Ohio and a long, five or six week revival, which was so common then.  I was on a cot and I was well taken care of, just very young and probably scared.  They had me in a back room in the church and every little bit Bro. Robertson, my mom or some other saint would come in and pray for me and then go back to the service.  I wondered how they could do this, because I felt so sick and didn’t understand why they didn’t get me a doctor or let me go home to my own bed.  Later when I was old enough to understand, I realized the extent of their faith was such that they "knew" I would be fine and I was in the best possible hands.   I felt only love and security from them.  I remember my mom saying, “When you are sick or feel bad, what better place to be than in God’s house, surrounded by saints of God praying for you.”   I learned early on that when you got ill or hurt, you prayed and the Lord's will be done.  I don't recall taking so much as an aspirin growing up.  People like Bro. Henry and my mom knew that if God didn't take care of the problem, it wasn't meant to be done.  I came to understand it was their faith that brought me through it and nothing less.


I remember how my mother wept when she got the call that Bro. Robertson had passed away.   My family loved Bro. Robertson so very much.  My grandmother, Cordie Ball was also very close to him, as were a couple of my uncles.  It’s been close to 70 years ago since my mother met Bro. Robertson and he encouraged her to start her ministry (she is now 92).”

- Darlene Nessler Curtis
(Daugher of Rev. Margie Nessler and Family friend)


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“I had a small part in starting several of the churches with Dad Robertson, starting with Youngstown, Ohio.  He was always busy doing the Lord's work. There was no waiting around until tomorrow.  He always had something for us to do. It was prayer first, then knocking on doors.  To the highways and the hedges, down the hollers and on the main streets, it didn't matter to him.  He wasn't a bit intimidated.  I know, because I was there.  I'll Be Somewhere Working for My Lord was his song.”

- Brenda Cook Dillon

(Mother of author)

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“Papaw Henry Robertson was such an inspiration to us all.  I am so proud of him and what he accomplished in his lifetime for the Kingdom of God.  His legacy still lives on and he is still touching lives today.  I am so excited about this book and what it represents for all of us.”

- Kelly W. Robertson

(Grandson of Rev. Henry Robertson and brother of author)

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“Henry Robertson, ‘Bro. Henry’, as our family called him, was an awesome preacher, church builder, soul-winner, father, grandfather, mentor and teacher.

His influence in the lives of my family was very significant.  My mother, who passed away in 1994, returned to the Lord under his ministry in the early to mid 1960’s. Subsequently, she introduced her brothers and sisters (my aunts and uncles) to the Robertson Family and we all began attending church, also pastored by his son, Rev. Wayne Robertson.  This began a great move of God in our family.  Many came to know Jesus as a result.

My memories of Bro. Henry are of wonderful times of revival and forming close relationships with his family, specifically his granddaughters Wanette and Beverly.  His family became my family, as my sister Cindy married one of his sons.

Henry Robertson was one of the most compassionate, generous and loving men that I had the privilege of knowing.  His heart was for lost souls to come to know Jesus.  That was his passion, along with building churches for people to worship God in.

I remember sitting under the great anointing of his teaching and preaching and it will forever be an impact on me and my family. We have great admiration for him and can’t wait to see him again!”

- Teri (Browne) Smith

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 “What can you say about Rev. Henry Robertson?  He was a humble and sincere man of God.   He literally poured blood, sweat and tears into countless church buildings; humble ones and grand ones.  It seemed he was only interested in building up the Kingdom of God.   His single thought was to get souls into God’s Kingdom.  There was no ‘big I’ and ‘little you’ with Bro. Henry. He used no faux words, grand words, or pretentious manner.  Most of all, he had faith.  He strived and succeeded in getting it into every thick head and heart he came across.

“What can you say about Rev. Henry Robertson?He was a humble and sincere man of God.He literally poured blood, sweat and tears into countless church buildings; humble ones and grand ones.It seemed he was only interested in building up the .His single thought was to get souls into God’s Kingdom.There was no ‘big I’ and ‘little you’ with Bro. Henry. He used no faux words, grand words, or pretentious manner.Most of all, he had faith.He strived and succeeded in getting it into every thick head and heart he came across.


He believed implicitly that God's Word was truth and lived accordingly.  If he had some material goods that you needed, he would give it to you.  He knew without a shadow of a doubt that God would supply his need. 


Our family, the Jackson’s, Browne’s, Gleason’s, and extended families, owe Rev. Henry Robertson our deepest gratitude and thanks for being there to put us on the right road to Christ and His way of faith.  We shall never forget this man of God who became our friend, as well as pastor, and instilled faith into our lives.


Though he was highly esteemed in the Church of God and though he was well-known and praised by so many who came in contact with him, he remained a humble man.  I wish every soul could have known this mountain preacher, who touched so many with his great faith in God and personable manner. 


Whenever he was in the pulpit, you could rely on him to let the Holy Spirit move in the service, if it was to pick up his old guitar and sing a simple song, or if it was to warn us of hell to shun, or if he simply brought Jesus to our hearts.  How many times have I seen him just start singing that old song, "Farther on, oh how much farther..." and saw people run up to the altar
to be prayed for?  He was such an anointed man of God.  He and his precious wife Lottie are the first people I want to see when I make my way to Heaven.  I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”

- Olafay Jackson

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“Rev. Henry Robertson gtave me my first revival meeting after receiving the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  It was a privilege to meet the most AWESOME Man of Faith ever known.

I only know two men that loved God and that cared for souls in the way that Rev. Henry Robertson did.  That was in 1978 and I still preach about him and the impact that he had on my life today.  He was one of God's great General’s in the army of the Living God.  He is missed in the battle for lost souls today and many thanks to Wanette for the privilege to share a word for a Mentor and Friend.”

- Rev. Bruce D. Kirby


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“We worked with Rev. Henry Robertson in the Mount Healthy, Ohio church.  We were going to a large church down the road at the time, but felt called to come and help Bro. Robertson build this new work and left our cushy pews and comfortable environment for hard work in the ministry.  Bro. Robertson believed that everyone should have a job and work at building a church.   So he gave us all something to do.  He believed in hard work. 


One great thing that came out of knowing Bro. Henry is that he was instrumental in my healing.  The Lord led him to introduce me to a lady who had gone through some of the things I was going through and God used her to help me gain my healing.  We are still to this day, life long friends, thanks to Bro. Robertson. 


Rev. Henry Robertson treated everyone the same.  It didn’t matter if they were wealthy or the poorest of the poor.  We would go visit very poor families with him.  He would sit down in their humble homes and sometimes in uncomfortable, smelly situations and visit with them.  He would eat with them, pray with them and believe God for them.  This is how he built congregations, by being led of God to them and loving them into the Kingdom.     He was a peacemaker and always had a joyful heart. 


What an amazing church was established at Mount Healthy.  The building leaked a lot, so we would hold services sometimes and get wet.  Rain, mud, snow, it didn’t matter to us.  The anointing of God was in that place and we weren’t going to miss it.


When you went forward for prayer, you knew you were going to get an answer.  On the humorous side, when he would lay his hands on you to pray for you, he would put one hand at the back of your neck and then the other on your forehead.  He would be so full of the power of God that his slap was so forceful that you were going to feel something, either the power of God or at the very least, you were going to move. 


Sis. Lottie was a wonderful pastor’s wife.  She was quiet, but she was very involved and always there to support her husband.  She worked hard in the church.  We never ever heard a bad word spoken against the Robertson’s anywhere from anyone.  Only words of love and admiration.  They were precious to us and we love their family.  We don’t know where we would be today had it not been for their ministry.”

-   Rev. Bill & Betty Dearing

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“It was the Fall of 1952 when I met Rev. Henry Robertson.  I was 9 years old at the time.  My mother came into my room one night after she had been in prayer for our church and said, “I have some wonderful news from the Lord!  The Lord is sending us a pastor for the Church.”  The next service he walked in and won the hearts of everyone.  One of my first impressions of him was that he was a man who was very interested in mentoring young people who had been called into the ministry.  At that time, I had already preached my first few sermons.  I remember him coming to our house one day and asking my mother if he could take me to preach a revival meeting in Manchester, Kentucky.  She agreed.


When we got to the church on Littleton Road in East Manchester, there was a new church building, but the pastor had just resigned and moved away.  Bro. Robertson moderated the service and turned it over to me to preach.  There were 35 people there for the first service. 


We had been in some very wet weather.  He and I went downtown Manchester shortly after this and he shook hands with every person in town; who all seemed to know him well. 


I don’t know who she was, but we went to an elderly ladies’ house, who was very ill in bed.  Bro. Robertson talked to her briefly and then said, “Well, let’s have a little dry prayer.”  As he began praying in the Spirit, the power of God hit the little old lady and she jumped up out of the bed and danced in the Spirit all over the room.  From the second night on until the end of that week, every night the church was so full that people were packed around the walls, the windows and while the front door was open, there was over 100 people standing in the church yard watching the service, but couldn’t get inside the building.


It was at this meeting that a young preacher, his wife and baby came every day and visited with us.  It was Ulus and Mary Ruth Patrick and their baby.  I didn’t know in those years so long ago that Rev. Patrick would become my closest friend and that we would preach more than 50 revivals together all across Canada and the United States.  Rev. Henry Robertson and Rev. Ulus Patrick were the two greatest influences of my entire ministry that has to date, covered 57 years.


I rarely had a night that I was not in revival somewhere, but if I had a night off, I always knew I had a place to stay at Bro. Robertson’s house.  He would say, “Let’s go and visit someone and see if we can get them to the Lord today.”  He always wanted me to drive.  He would say, “Turn this way.”  We’d go a little ways and he’d say, “Now turn that way.”  After all the turns he’d say, “Pull over right here at this house.”  I would ask him if he knew these people and he would say, “No, but there’s someone here that needs the Lord.”  He would knock on the door and introduce himself.  They would let us in and within minutes he would have the mother and father and all of their children on the floor crying out to God to have mercy on them and save their souls.  The family would show up for church that night and that’s how all of the churches were started that he planted. 


I could never understand how he did it, but in every church he started, he would have rich people pull up in Cadillac’s and some of the poorest people in town all sitting on the same pew together.  When I was a teenage evangelist, I could be in revival hundreds of miles away and mention Henry Robertson and everyone there knew him well.


In 1976, I felt led to have Bro. Robertson fly to Colorado Springs, Colorado once for a week’s revival.  He said he would love to come but he was reluctant when I mentioned flying because he had never been in a plane before and didn’t seem too excited about getting in one.  He was worried about getting lost on his connecting flight too.  He managed to get there 5 minutes after the service began.  We had a tremendous move of God and the whole church really loved him.  As soon as we got to our house, I told him he should call Sis. Robertson and let her know that he had arrived okay.  Colloquialisms are richer in Eastern Kentucky than anywhere in the United States.  When she answered the phone, he said, “Lottie, it’s me.  I’m here and I never made nary a bobble!”


I can still see him playing an old guitar and singing, “When my Savior calls, I will answer, I’ll be somewhere working for my Lord.”  I’ll never be able to vocalize the impact this man of God has had on my life.  Sometimes when the anointing is real strong and I’m pleading for the lost to come to Christ, I feel the spirit of Bro. Robertson.   I had a good mom and dad, but Henry Robertson was my spiritual father in the Lord.  I told his son Wayne a few years ago, “I have a lot more of Henry Robertson in me than I do Ted Smith.”

-  Dr. Ronald E. Smith

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