|Baxter Franklin “Cyclone Mack” McLendon|
Franklin McLendon was born into a poor tenant farming family in South Carolina
in 1879. He received little formal
education as a child but was introduced to religion through a traveling
evangelist and believed he was destined to become a preacher. However, as a young man, he was also a heavy
drinker, involved in bootlegging, cockfighting, gambling and other illegal
activities. He even shot another man in
1907 an inebriated McLendon attended one of the popular tent revivals of the early
nineteenth century. From this experience
he was converted and attended seminary.
As a traditional preacher McLendon was largely unsuccessful though.
|Advertisement for the upcoming visit of “Cyclone
Mack” to Brevard from the June 10, 1921 issue of
the Brevard News.
not until 1920 when he began holding tent revivals in North Carolina that his reputation
as a fiery evangelist was established. Soon
he would be known as “Cyclone Mack” and traveled widely preaching to thousands.
first visit to Transylvania County was June 20, 1921 when he spoke to a large
crowd from the courthouse band stand.
Families were asked to bring baskets of food for a community picnic prior
to the event. Following McLendon’s hour
long sermon there was a baseball game between Brevard and Asheville, with the
home team winning by a score of 4 to 2.
July 4, 1926 Cyclone Mack preached two services at Brevard High School. He was accompanied by a choir with members
from local churches. He returned to
speak at the Woodmen of the World convention in Brevard on May 5, 1927.
final appearance in Brevard was a month long tent revival beginning on August
7, 1927. McLendon’s team setup a tent
with seating for 3000 on the corner of Broad and Jordan. “The McLendon Evangelistic Party” included
Choir Director, J. H. Jones and his wife, who worked with the ladies and girls
in the choir; B.D. Ackley, Musical Director and pianist; and Business Manager, S.W.
preached two or three times most days, drawing over 5000 people on at least one
occasion. The revival continued through September
5 when he moved to Rosman for two additional weeks. Numerous accounts of Cyclone Mack’s six-week revival meeting in Transylvania County were published in the Brevard
News during August and September 1927 and can be found on DigitalNC.org.
Mack was described in a North Carolina Historical Review article from July 1971
as a “big blustery, self-willed, sometimes bullying person who confined his
belligerency (after his conversion) to evangelism and politics.” In addition to being an evangelical preacher,
McLendon preached Americanism and had a following of Ku Klux Klan members. He died of a heart attack at his home in
Bennettsville, SC on July 22, 1935.
and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina
Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library
hours (Monday-Friday) to learn more about our history and see additional
photographs. For more information, comments, or suggestions contact Marcy at [email protected]