He was called “the man with the twenty hands.”
December 01, 1817 – John Mason Peck arrived with his family in St. Louis, Missouri after a 129 day journey by wagon, by boat, and on foot. They had to carry him, sick with a fever off on a stretcher. He had surrendered to the mission field under Luther Rice. He began by gathering children for a school and doing evangelistic work among the black population and made excursions into the surrounding areas to preach. He planted the earliest Baptist churches west of the Mississippi River. Limited in his own education, he founded the first College in the West. So great was his energy, he was called “the man with the twenty hands.” The following entry from his 1925 journal gives an example: He said that he had been gone from home for 53 days, had traveled through 18 counties in Ill. and 9 in Ind., rode 926 miles, preached 31 regular sermons, besides several speeches, addresses and lectures. He revived three Bible societies, and established seven new ones, aided in forming three Sabbath-school soc’s., and in opening several societies where none existed. The family had to live frugally on $5 per month from the Mass. Baptist Missions Soc. Peck eked out a living through other means including manual labor. When the interest in the Baptist Mission Societies in the East waned Peck and Jonathan Going doubled their efforts and laid the foundation for a new Missions Society in a period of strong anti-mission sentiment. We owe much to this man who built the first Baptist church in the city of St. Louis.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 501-02.