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    Rev. John Henry Tomkies Rev. John Henry Tomkies
Rev John Henry Tomkies was the founder and first pastor of Gainesville's First Baptist Church. Born in Virginia in 1839, he began to preach when he was still a teenager. Just prior to the Civil War he moved to Madison, Florida, where he preached and taught school. During the war he was a chaplain in the 7th Florida Regiment and, after the war, he came to Gainesville and preached throughout the area. According to "Every Town Needs a Downtown Church: A History of First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Florida," by C. Douglas Weaver, the picture of Baptist ministry during this frontier era was one of itinerant preachers who were not hired by one church but were responsible for several. Rev. Tomkies was, without question, a prominent figure in early Florida Baptist history.
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