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J. Charles Jessup, Convicted Preacher with a Triple-neck Mosrite guitar







Charles Jessup was married to a 15 year old girl while still married to his third wife. Rev. Jessup was a border radio fixture for years, sharing time on a mega-powerful station operating just across the Rio Grande (and outside of U. S. regulations) at the same time as Wolfman Jack. Robert Duvall cited him as an influence on his film The Apostle, and others have compared him to Elvis, but then Elvis was never convicted of mail fraud and using ill-gotten contributions from loyal listeners for cock-fighting.
Jessup barnstormed God's airways with mountain music, a squeaky voice and an insatiable sexual appetite. Taking in ten million dollars, he claimed was to help the Mexican people, he instead "llenarse los bolsillos" which is Spanish for "line your own pockets." And there are folks who worry about Mexicans coming here? Cars, Seaplanes, real estate...whatever supposed pleasures awaited his followers in the afterlife, he was taking full advantage of in the present.
Not to be outdone by his own brother's double-neck guitar, shown in a photo here...he ordered a custom made THREE neck guitar from the Mosrite Factory which surfaced a few years ago. I am not sure what he used to play it with, but perhaps his young wife can tell us. Amazingly, he continued to appear on other evangelist's programs after serving his sentence (at least one of which still operates in my home state) and they welcomed him as an inspiration! I include here several photos of Jessup and his posse with a scan of their 78 rpm record (which unfortunately I have not heard as God has not yet provided me with a working turntable, but he will, I believe)



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A double blog post here and on "old time religion"

Photo excerpts from "Heaven and Hell" "My Life's Story" "A Stirring Message on Death" all circa 1945-1950 by J. Charles Jessup, and "Preach the Word/I'll Meet you in the Morning" by Jessup Brothers on Jessup Brothers records, 78 rpm. All Collection Jim Linderman

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Oh my God! Where did you find these photos?

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  3. This is really interesting--thanks for posting. In the early '50s, my mother, who had divorced my dad a couple of years earlier, was engaged to Bob Jessup, the youngest of the Jessup clan. She'd met him at a tent meeting near Smiths Grove or Bowling Green, Kentucky, and they were both immediately smitten. He was in medical school and apparently getting out of the "family business" when we knew him. My uncle and I were hot for her to go ahead and marry him because he'd promised me a pony and my Uncle George a pearl-handled derringer. She abruptly broke off the engagement, and I found out the probable reason from my uncle late last summer when my mother was in hospice. I have a photo that I suspect is the brothers Jessup. I'll enlarge it and see if I can get my uncle to corroborate their ID. If it's the brothers, you're welcome to it. I have some other pretty interesting old photos, including some of Senator Marvel Mills Logan of Kentucky, probably one of the last honest U.S. senators who ever lived. I'll be back in touch, or feel free to get in touch with me. CLH

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  4. This is really interesting--thanks for posting. In the early '50s, my mother, who had divorced my dad a couple of years earlier, was engaged to Bob Jessup, the youngest of the Jessup clan. She'd met him at a tent meeting near Smiths Grove or Bowling Green, Kentucky, and they were both immediately smitten. He was in medical school and apparently getting out of the "family business" when we knew him. My uncle and I were hot for her to go ahead and marry him because he'd promised me a pony and my Uncle George a pearl-handled derringer. She abruptly broke off the engagement, and I found out the probable reason from my uncle late last summer when my mother was in hospice. I have a photo that I suspect is the brothers Jessup. I'll enlarge it and see if I can get my uncle to corroborate their ID. If it's the brothers, you're welcome to it. I have some other pretty interesting old photos, including some of Senator Marvel Mills Logan of Kentucky, probably one of the last honest U.S. senators who ever lived. I'll be back in touch, or feel free to get in touch with me. CLH

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  5. I saw him in the 50s at the old revival center in Dallas Texas . when he sang that song . I was just a kid.

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  6. I first met the "Reverend J. Charles Jessup" when he brought "the world's largest tent" to Lexington, Kentucky, for a revival. Not long after the huge crowd had left one night, a big storm blew it down, and destroyed it. After trying other places, he accepted the offer of Dr. Louis Arnold, Pastor of the Fellowship Baptist Church (where I was a member) to use the "Miracle Auditorium" (so called because it was built during the war in Korea, when it was almost impossible to obtain steel girders, etc)which if memory serves me correctly, was the largest church auditorium in town then. He and his team put on quite a 'show' with their services; and 'healings,' etc. I've seen old folks whose only income was a small Kentucky Old Age Pension, sign their monthly checks, and hand them over to the offering takers, to support the 'revival.' I was never really comfortable in his meetings; and actually was put off somewhat with his, what shall I say, style?! I cannot judge his sincerity, but it didn't seem to ring true to me, even at that young age. (I was born in 1939) After J. Charles went back to Mississippi (where I think the whole family of "preachers" of the Jessup family were from) Byron was called back to Lexington to Pastor a congregation, which he did until his recent death, so I understand. Every now and then I look at J. Charles' autograph in my Bible, and remember those days...but with mixed emotions...because I'm glad, in one way that I met him; but sorry in another that he ever came to hold his meetings in our church house. But I enjoyed the congregational singing of that large and enthusiastic crowd! I didn't so much enjoy the Grand Ole Opry style of special music. I had never experienced those kind of things in the house of the Lord before; and they put me off until this day! Too much 'man'...and not enough Christ to suit me; but that is perhaps just my own picky attitude showing. Only God can know how much I miss so many of those wonderful old Brothers and Sisters of yore! Thanks for posting the photos. Sincerely, in the hope and expectation of God's grace through the "finished" work of Christ for His chosen people...

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  7. THE REV. J. CHARLES JESSUP, WAS AMERICA'S GREATEST RADIO AND TENT REVIVAL PREACHER!!

    I COULD SPEND WEEKS, RECOUNTING THE MASSES OF PEOPLES LIVE THAT WE'RE BROUGHT TO CHRIST..THROUGH HIS POWER PACKED PREACHING, AND PRAYERS OF FAITH!

    MULTITUDES WE'RE HEALED OF EVERY DISEASE KNOWN TO MEDICAL SCIENCE!

    I KNEW HIM SINCE THE 1940'S TILL HIS PASSING!

    I SPOKE WITH HIM ON THE PHONE,JUST 2 DAYS BEFORE HIS PASSING, AT THE HOSPITAL IN HOUSTON, TEXAS. WE LAUGHED, CRIED, AND PRAYED TOGETHER!

    DID HE MAKE MISTAKES, OF COURSE, ALL PREACERS, ALL PEOPLE DO, EVEN MOST OF THE MEN OF GOD IN THE BIBLE!

    YET HE LOVED GOD...AND SPENT TIME PRAYING AND "MAKING IT RIGHT!"

    GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW MANY MILLIONS CAME TO JESUS..THROUGH HIS MEETINGS..AND INTERNATIONAL RADIO BROADCAST! (ONE STATION, X.E.R.F., WAS 500,000 WATTS,AM...THE WORLDS' LARGEST!) MY DAD WAS ON AT NIGHT, RIGHT BEHIND HIM!

    HE DARED TO SPEND HIS FAITH..WHEN THEIR WAS NO COMPUTERS, TELEVISION, OR SATELLITES, OR INTERNET!

    WHAT A MAN... WHAT A MESSAGE...WHAT A GREAT BIG GOD!

    BUFORDDOWELL@GMAIL.COM

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  8. Wolfman Jack, J Charles Jessop - hell yeah. I've never enjoyed listening to fire and brimstone so much as when Jessop was shooting it from the pulpit. It wasn't so much the message (I'm an atheist) as it was the delivery that moved me. I laughed when he was convicted, but must admit that I miss him on the radio.

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  9. I knew the family---One of the Brothers well, in fact. I felt this Brother was sincere in his faith. He was the one that settled in Ky. I felt the Brothers could have done well with a musical group--less Charles.

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  10. You could probably get more people to read your web page if you did not begin with your ad hominem attack, showing your bias. Let the readers decide if he is a dim bulb. Good writers show their message, they do not write their conclusion in the title . No one said Jessup, or Hitler, are moral, but you don't manipulate as many people as they by being a dim bulb.

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  11. The phrase I used to describe him is accurate. He was convicted, and he owned the guitar. Dim Bulb was a phrase my father used to replace swear words. I use the real ones. And regarding Mr. Jessup, I could have used them there. But thanks for writing. Jim

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  12. Charles Jessup is my Uncle. I believe he is now in heaven.

    I am deeply offended by your web page postings. Yes, my Uncle Charles made some very serious mistakes and he paid greatly for them but that does not entitle you to be his judge.
    When I was eight years old, I had a cluster of warts on my left wrist which were gross and had been burned off by a medical doctor on two different occasions but they continued to grow back, until one summer afternoon, at my mother's request, my uncle came over to our house in Memphis and cursed the warts and asked God to heal and restore my wrist. Within two weeks they were gone and never returned. I am now in my seventies and my left wrist is normal. As far as I am concerned my Uncle had a gift from God's Spirit for healing. "The Miracle Man" in the April 1999 issue of the New Yorker magazine gives a fairer and more balanced description of Charles Jessup that you do but even that article does not do full justice to those who still love a man, who though flawed, was a child of God and loved by many Christians, including his family members.
    Bradley

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  13. When I was a little boy in about 1950, my parents walked my big brother and sister and me up Highway 54 near Eugene, MO to visit an old couple with the last name Brandt. We just called them the "Brands." They were a nice enough but were religious fanatics addicted to radio preachers. Our visit did not interrupt their blaring radio tuned to XERF, Del Rio, Texas. They listened to a preacher by the name of Jessup, with a booming voice, blaring out of a big console Crosley radio. That old couple listened intently to this man as if he was the Messiah! Even as a child, I recall that his distinctive, charismatic voice was always pitching something and endlessly repeating the mailing address to send money: "Box (something or other) Dell---Reee-ooh, Texas!" It had to be repeated over and over or I would not remember it after some 65 years. The Brandts were very poor, perhaps made poorer by sending money to Rev. Jessup. Ironically and appropriately his cemetery marker in Biloxi, Mississippi has "I Shall Not Want" from the 23rd Psalm cast in bronze! Perfect epitaph for this charlatan and fraud. Thanks for helping me to learn the background of this man still stuck in my childhood memory bank. My parents quickly lost interest in the Brandts and listening to this radio preacher on XERF. I don't remember ever going back. Generous to a fault, the dear old woman gave my mother a small coat rack made out of a piece of dried desert cactus. My mother kept it until she died in 2004.

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