from Sketches of Tennessee's Pioneer Baptist Preachers by J. J. Burnett
I find in the [Cherokee Creek] cemetery a stone erected to the member of "Rev. Rees Bayless; born August 22, 1787; died October 29, 1864; more than fifty years a Baptist preacher"; and another erected to the memory of his grandfather, "Daniel Bayless who died in the year 1800." He also sleeps the dust of Elder John Bayless, father of Rees, and once a minister of the Cherokee Church. In its long list of member the church record shows seven generations of the Baylesses, among them three generations of Baptist preachers.
The subject of our sketch [Rees Bayless] was born on Cherokee Creek, Washington County, Tennessee, four miles south of Jonesboro. On the paternal side he was of sturdy English stock, his grandfather, Daniel [Bayless], having emigrated from England more than a century and a half ago, settling first in Pennsylvania, afterwards locating in Washington County, Tennessee, with his three sons, Samuel, John and Reuben. In the large family connection are a number of interesting land "grants," made to the older Baylesses before Tennessee became a State.
Elder Bayless was converted in his youth, and uniting with the Cherokee Church, was baptized, most likely, by Jonathan Mulkey, a preacher of pioneer fame. He was married May 17, 1804, to Margaret Young, who became the mother of his six children, five daughters and one son. In August of 1828 he was married a second time, to the widow Elizabeth McPherin. In 1810 the Cherokee Church licensed him to preach, and in 1820 ordained him. He became pastor of this, his home church, in June, 1827, and continued pastor for more than a quarter of a century. He was also pastor of Buffalo Ridge, Sinking Creek, Indian Creek (now Erwin), Limestone, and other church of the Holston Association. For many year he was a leader in this, the oldest association in the State, and was its Moderator for twenty-two years.
He was a prominent figure among East Tennessee Baptists and influential in the councils of his brethren. His judgment was deferred to and his advice had weight with the churches. At a meeting of "representatives" of the Holston, Tennessee, Nolachucky and East Tennessee associations, held August 25-26, 1843, at Pleasant Grove Church, Cocke County, for the purpose of adjusting doctrinal differences in regard to "election," "free salvation," etc., and to secure, if possible, a basis of union and co-operation in mission work, Elder Rees Bayless was chosen Moderator of the convention, and to his wise counsel and conservative being was due, largely, the substantial adoption of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith and a resolution to co-operate in the work of missions...