James M. Dawson was one of the ablest preachers that have lived in the Green River country. It is much regretted that more particulars of his life and labors have not been received. He was a native of Daviess county, Ky., and was born in 1835. His opportunities for acquiring an education were very poor. However, he possessed a strong intellect, and devoted himself to close study, from his boyhood to the close of his life. Without the aid of a teacher, he not only acquired a good English education, but made considerable attainments in the Greek language. He declined the proffered aid of Daviess County Association, to enable him to attend Georgetown College, preferring the slower, but more independent course of acquiring an education by his own energies. He professed religion in his seventeenth year, and united with South Hampton church, in his native county. At the age of about twenty, he was licensed to preach, and was ordained, about 1857. At first, his efforts to preach were dull and prosy; but he improved steadily, and it was only a few years before he exhibited a massive strength, and an acuteness of logic, unequaled in his Association. He preferred to serve the country churches around his birth place, to occupying a city or village pastorate, and hence gave his entire ministry to those of Daviess County Association. He was successful in his pastoral labors, and was esteemed and honored by his brethren, throughout the State. But before he reached the prime of manhood, he was suddenly called to give an account of his stewardship. He died of pneumonia, at his home in Daviess county, April 20, 1873.
Mr. Dawson distinguished himself as a clear and logical writer, and an able controversialist. He published a pamphlet in defense of “the final perseverance of the saints,” and was engaged in various controversies, both oral and written, in defense of the doctrine and polity of his denomination. Among his last writing was a somewhat lengthy controversy with the learned Prof. J. E. Farnham, through the columns of the Western Recorder.
Source: A history of Kentucky Baptists: from 1769 to 1885, Vol. II. John H. Spencer, Cincinnati, 1886