SOME GREAT LEADERS OF THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT
19. T. B. LARIMORE (1843-1929). Theophilus Brown Larimore was born July 10, 1843 in Jefferson County, TN. Little is known of his father. When he was some eight or nine years old, Larimore, his mother, and two sisters moved to the Sequatchie Valley near Dunlap, TN. When he was little more than a child, Theophilus hired himself out to a farmer for $4.00 a month to do the work of a man as a plow hand. When he was sixteen years old, he entered Mossy Creek Baptist College near his birthplace in Jefferson County. While there he tried to “get religion” according to the Calvinistic views of the day (the “mourner’s bench”), but failed to do so. When he returned home from school his mother, who had heard a gospel preacher from North Alabama by the name of Madison Love, informed him that she and a sister had been baptized, and told him some things he had never heard about the gospel plan of salvation. In 1861 young Larimore joined the Confederate Army and was at the Battle of Shiloh. Near the end of the war he moved his mother and two sisters by wagon to Hopkinsville, KY where on his 21st birthday—July 10, 1864—he confessed his faith in Christ and was baptized by E. H. Hopper, one of the elders of the church in Hopkinsville. Soon after he was baptized he began preaching. From the beginning he attracted attention as a persuasive preacher and consecrated Christian. In the fall of 1866 he entered Franklin College near Nashville where he remained for about two years and where he was greatly influenced by the school’s founder and president, Tolbert Fanning. After graduating from Franklin College as valedictorian of the class, he traveled on horseback with R. B. Trimble through much of Middle Tennessee evangelizing. Later he went to Northwest Alabama to evangelize and teach school. He preached in school houses, under brush arbors, and in the log cabin homes of the people. On August 30, 1868 he married Esther Gresham of Florence, AL. In 1871, near Florence, he established Mars Hill Academy (later changed to Mars Hill College) as a school to educate young people and to assist in the training of young men to be preachers of the gospel. The school continued until 1887, when the call to preach in evangelistic meetings became more urgent than Larimore could resist. From then until his death, he preached in meetings “from Maine to Mexico and from the Carolinas to California,” and all the way from Canada to Cuba. His schedule called for two sermons each weekday and three on Sunday. His meetings met with great success, often with 100 or more people obeying the gospel. With reference to his sermon preparation he said, “What books do I consult? The Bible, Webster’s Dictionary and the Bible—these three and no more” (Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore, Vol. II, as cited by J. M. Powell, The Man From Mars Hill, p. 83). For some forty years he conducted an annual meeting with the Mars Hill church near Florence, AL, baptizing large numbers of people every year. His longest meeting was in Sherman, TX. It began on January 4, 1894, and ran for twenty-two weeks and one day, ending on June 7. During the meeting he preached 333 sermons and almost 300 people were baptized. Following the death of Esther Larimore in 1907, Larimore married Emma Page on January 1, 1911. He spent the last several years of his life in California and died on March 18, 1929. He is buried in Santa Ana, CA.
20. F. D. SRYGLEY (1856-1900). Born on December 22, 1856 in Rock Creek, in what is now Colbert County, AL, Fletcher Douglas Srygley was one of five boys and several girls born to James H. and Sarah Jane Coats Srygley. All five of the boys had names which began with the letter “F”—F. G., F. W., F. D., F. B., and F. L.—with two of them—F. D. and F. B.—becoming preachers. F. D. was baptized into Christ by T. B. Larimore (see preceding sketch) in August of 1874 when he was 17 years old, though another account indicates he was baptized a year later by J. H. Halbrook. Be that as it may, T. B. Larimore had a great influence on the entire Srygley family, especially F. D. and F. B. And though thirteen years separated them in age, no man ever had a closer friend than Larimore had in F. D. Srygley. Srygley attended Larimore’s school, Mars Hill Academy, in Florence, AL and spent the summer months traveling with an old preacher, John Taylor, preaching throughout northern Alabama. On December 15, 1878, he married Ella Parkhill of Mars Hill, with Larimore performing the ceremony. Their oldest child (a little girl) died in infancy, and within a few months Ella herself died, apparently of overwhelming grief for the death of her child. On December 26, 1888 Fletcher married Jennie Scobey. Though now ill with heart trouble, Jennie was aware of his illness, but according to F. B. Srygley, she added ten years to his brother’s life. In 1889, F. D. Srygley became the front page editor of the Gospel Advocate and served in that capacity until his death in 1900. It was said that David Lipscomb’s “heavy artillery” gave the paper depth, E. G. Sewell’s grace gave it elegance, J. C. McQuiddy’s ‘Office Notes’ made it informative, and F. D. Srygley’s wit gave it life. Srygley’s specialty was in writing about the church, and many of his editorials were later compiled by his brother into the book, The New Testament Church. In my judgment this is one of the finest books ever written by a non-divinely inspired man on this theme. F. D. Srygley passed from this life on August 2, 1900 at the age of forty-four. His funeral was conducted by none other than his friend, T. B. Larimore, and he was buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. Writing of him in the Gospel Advocate of August 9, 1900, J. C. McQuiddy said, “While his life was a short one, being hardly forty-four years old, yet he lived much and did much that will ennoble and purify…. His work in showing that what constitutes one a Christian makes him a member of the one body, cannot be in vain” (as cited by Earl West, The Search For The Ancient Order, Vol. 2, p. 331). T. B. Larimore said of him, “F. D. Srygley was a marvelous man. Notwithstanding he lived in this beautiful world scarcely forty-four years, he wrought a wonderful work for the salvation of the sons and daughters of men.”
21. F. B. SRYGLEY (1859-1940). Filo Bunyan Srygley was born on September 10, 1859 at Rock Creek, in what is now Colbert County, AL. He was a little less than three years younger than his brother, F. D. Srygley (see preceding sketch). When he was eight years old, he came under the influence of T. B. Larimore (see first sketch in this installment). Larimore was then 24 years old, and he and the Srygley brothers remained close friends until the death, first of F. D. Srygley, and then of Larimore himself. Filo was baptized into Christ by J. H. Halbrook on August 26, 1876. His early educational advantages were limited, but on January 1, 1880 he entered Larimore’s Mars Hill Academy/College near Florence, AL where he remained for three years. Between sessions at Mars Hill he taught school one summer in Marion County, AL and devoted much time to evangelistic work in Northwest Alabama, traveling on horseback. On January 1, 1883 he moved to Lebanon, TN where he engaged in evangelistic work. As he grew in ability and reputation his services were demanded elsewhere: Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, and North Carolina. He was a controversialist by nature and conducted his first oral debate in 1885 with a Methodist preacher in Gladeville, TN. He held formal debates with Baptists of various doctrinal hues and stripes, Methodists, Presbyterians, Cumberland Presbyterians, and Mormons. According to his brother, “In wit, humor, repartee, and anecdote he was inexhaustible and unanswerable” (Biographies and Sermons, p. 68). On January 26, 1886 he married Mary Hubbard of Bellwood, TN, and in September of 1892 he moved to Donelson, TN where he continued to do evangelistic work and to write for the Gospel Advocate (for which he had written almost from the time that he began to preach). He, and his brother, F. D., along with E. A. Elam, M. C. Kurfees, and F. W. Smith, constituted “A Noble Quintet” of Advocate writers, and with the death of F. B. Srygley on February 11, 1940 it was said that the last of “the old guard” had passed. He had a clear view of the undenominational nature of the church, and, like his brother, wrote frequently on this theme. Sixty-four years after his baptism, Srygley said: “I was baptized in Rock Creek by Joe Halbrook, a little more than sixty-four years ago. I have wobbled along all these years, but I have not turned directly around and started the other way” (as cited by Earl Kimbrough, The Warrior from Rock Creek: Life, Times, and Thoughts of F. B. Srygley 1859-1940, p. 480, a book I would highly recommend to anyone interested in the history of the Restoration Movement, especially in the South, from the latter half of the 19th century through most of the first half of the 20th century). When F. B. Srygley was born Alexander Campbell was still living, and he continued to write for the Advocate into the first year of the editorship of B. C. Goodpasture. A young Taylor Wallace, oldest son of Foy E. Wallace, Jr., editor of the Advocate from 1930 to 1934, often drove the aged Srygley to and from the Advocate office in downtown Nashville. F. B. Srygley passed from this life on February 11, 1940. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. At his death, H. Leo Boles wrote: “It will be a long time before, if ever, there arises among us another such man as F. B. Srygley.”
March 20, 2018