At one time, many years ago, I had the dream to create either a calendar, or full-blown almanac, of some of the significant events within the history of what is commonly known today as the Restoration Heritage here in the United States. The Restoration Heritage (or Restoration Movement) came to be what is known today as the Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Independent Christian Church and my desire in researching such information was to (1) simultaneously learn more of the roots of my faith and these expressions of Christian faith and (2) to capture the same for the benefit of others.
However, not terribly long after starting that project, I started moving it further and further back on the stove. The demands of life and ministry simply spoke of greater priorities.
And yet, in recent weeks, not wanting to see what research I had done in years past simply remain in rarely-visited sectors of my computer’s hard drive, I recently decided to start publishing – in a new post roughly every Saturday – what little I have squirrelled away through the years and, to a relatively small degree, augmenting the same with some current gleanings from my reading.
I am painfully aware that the info that will appear here in these posts barely scratches the surface and, further, I have made no effort whatsoever toward anything like some resemblance of connectivity, balance, or flow of thought. I leave that for you and others. Likewise, I leave it to you to discover the significance of the personalities, institutions, publications, and events that are named. I offer what I post here as simply a place to start, and I hope, for you to enjoy learning more.
And so, among the things that happened on these days in American Restoration Heritage history we find the following:
* 1832 – The formal merger of the Stone/Campbell movement is accomplished in Lexington, Kentucky.
* 1845 – The first session of school for Franklin College takes place. Tolbert Fanning serves as college president.
* 1856 – The first issue of the American Christian Review (ACR) rolls off the press. It is a monthly publication at the start.
* 1866 – The first issue of the Gospel Advocate (GA) to be published following the Civil War is dated today. Tolbert Fanning and David Lipscomb are the editors.
* 1820 – Issac Errett is born in New York City.
* 1832 – The first issue of The Evangelist (TE), a monthly paper edited by Walter Scott, is published. Length? 24 pages. Subscription cost? $1.00 per year (if paid in advance).
* 1832 – Alexander Campbell writes: “The christian religion has been for ages interred in the rubbish of human invention and tradition.” (Millenial Harbinger [MH], “Introductory Remarks”)
* 1835 – Alexander Campbell pens the preface to the first edition of his book entitled The Christian System.
* 1862 – Thomas Munnell writes a letter to David Oliphant regarding what he considers to be the necessary attitude for brethren to take in order to stay united during the Civil War. This letter was published in the Banner of Faith (BF) one month later (Feb. 1862). Munnell says: “Were we to become loud, outspoken partizans, and denounce either party in our pulpits, we would destroy half the churches in Kentucky in a month. For the sake of the kingdom of God we therefore take no more part in these discussions while in the pulpit, than if we were to totally ignorant of all governmental matters. … By such a course of mutual forbearance we hope, when the war is all over, to stand a united people. We hope not to divide into North and South churches as other large religious bodies have, but to show a new thing under the sun.”
* 1941 – Joseph Sale (J.S.) Warlick dies. He dies at his home in Dallas, Texas (911 West Tenth St.).
* 1823 – Walter Scott married Sarah Whitsett, his first wife. Their marriage would last 26 years, ending with Sarah’s death in 1849. Upon her death, Walter wrote: “Best of wives, tenderest of mothers, the most faithful of friends, a Christian in faith, works and charity.” She is buried in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County), Pennsylvania.
* 1894 – In Sherman, Texas, T.B. Larimore begins preaching his longest “protracted meeting” (Jan. 3 thru June 7, 1894). During this time he preaches three sermons on Sundays and two sermons every other day of the week (333 sermons total). Larimore’s close friend, F. D. Srygley, wrote Larimore and asked him how he was making it. Larimore responded: “Nothing can be better for me than to preach twice every day and three times on Sunday, unless it is to preach three times every day and Sunday, too.” Reports vary from 200 to well over 300 people who were reckoned as “additions to the church” in Sherman between Jan. 3 and June 7.
* 1830 – The Millenial Harbinger (MH) begins publication with Alexander Campbell as editor. Campbell simultaneously continued publication of The Christian Baptist (CB) for another six months.
* 1854 – Thomas Campbell dies at the age of 89. He is buried in the Campbell Cemetery in Bethany (Brooke County), West Virginia.
* 1858 – The subscription base of Benjamin Franklin’s two-year old monthly paper known as the American Christian Review (ACR), based in Cincinnati, Ohio, has now grown to such an extent that it becomes a weekly publication with the issue on this date. The ACR continues to grow and comes to wield a very large influence within the Restoration Heritage, although with the approach and arrival of the Civil War, the pacifist perspective of its editor does limit its influence in those years. Still, the ACR serves as the darling of the most conservative-minded within the Restoration Heritage, ultimately tagged by its supporters as “The Old Reliable.” After Franklin’s death in 1878, the ACR ultimately comes under the editorship of Daniel Sommer, who gives it an even harder “right turn,” and it remains in publication under various titles through the years (Octographic Review, Apostolic Review, then back to American Christian Review) until it ceases publication in 1965, a close to 110 year run without interruption. And yes, the Benjamin Franklin that is this paper’s founder is related to the better-known Benjamin Franklin of American history, being a great-nephew of his.
* 1881 – John O’Kane dies. His body is interred in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis (Saint Louis County), Missouri. O’Kane’s influence was great in Indiana and Missouri.
* 1819 – In New Antioch, Ohio, Samuel & Elizabeth Irvine Rogers welcome the birth of their oldest son, John I. Rogers. It can be difficult to keep in order the men named “Rogers” who made some of the earliest leadership in the American Restoration Heritage. John I’s father was an important figure, and John I. would grow up to be something like a Timothy to John T. Johnson. John’s I’s uncle, John Rogers, was a close associate of “Racoon” John Smith. John I. was especially known for his compassion. On more than one occasion he bought “negroes to save them from the slaves going South.”
* 1845 – In Overton County, Tennessee, William A. Sewell is born. In years to come, William will become the first preacher ever to do “local work” in Texas, preaching for the church at Corsicana, Texas. His salary? $50 per month. He will become the father of Jesse P. Sewell.
* 1815 – At age 30, John Smith suffers the death of two of his children (Elvira, age 5, and Eli, age 7) in a house fire. Shortly thereafter, his wife of eight years, Anne, also dies. John will come to be commonly referred to as ‘Raccoon’ John Smith in August of this same year.
* 1828 – Alexander Campbell, Sr., in an article entitled “Ancient Gospel – No. I,” writes in his paper The Christian Baptist (vol. 5, p.128) regarding baptism and when exactly it was that he came to be fully convinced of the connection between baptism and the forgiveness of sin:
“Immersion in water into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the fruit of faith in the subject, is the most singular institution that ever appeared in the world. … In my debate with Mr. Maccalla in Kentucky, 1823, on this topic, I contended that it was a divine institution designed for putting the legitimate subject of it in actual possession of the remission of sins – that to every believing subject it did formally, and in fact, convey to him the forgiveness of sins. It was with much hesitation I presented this view of the subject at that time, because of its perfect novelty. I was then assured of its truth, and, I think, presented sufficient evidence of its certainty.”
* 1893 – J.W. McGarvey begins writing a regular column in the Christian Standard concerning ‘Biblical Criticism.’ These columns, in later years, will be collected and published as a book. Later this same year, McGarvey’s Class Notes are published in book form.
* 1951 – The body of Robert Lafayette (R.L.) Whiteside, a former president of Abilene Christian College (1908-1909), staff writer for the Gospel Advocate, and editor of the Gospel Advocate‘s Annual Lesson Commentary (1937-1944) is interred in the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Denton, Texas. He had passed away at the age of 80. Aside from a multi-volume series of books he co-authored with C.R. Nichol entitled Sound Doctrine, Whiteside is perhaps best known today for his 1945 commentary on Romans (New Commentary On Paul‘s Letter to The Saints At Rome). This commentary was a direct response to K.C. Moser’s ground-breaking work entitled The Way of Salvation (1932). Moser, in response to Whiteside, would later pen a commentary on Romans (The Gist of Romans, 1957), which was essentially a condensed, reflective adaptation of his earlier work (The Way of Salvation). The contrast in reading Whiteside’s commentary and Moser’s commentary side-by-side is exceedingly strong and instructive as to how matters of grace and faith have, and have not, been well understood and emphasized in the Restoration Heritage to this very day.
* 1886 – Jacob Creath, Jr. dies at age 85 at his long-time home in Palmyra (Marion County), Missouri. His body is buried in the Greenwood Cemetery in Palmyra. Creath, like a number of the earliest leading figures in the American Restoration heritage, will become an ardent pacifist and unhesitatingly spoke and wrote against Christians having a part in military service, violence, and/or war. Palmyra, his home since 1846, was by no means exempt from the terrors of the Civil War (being the site of the Palmyra Massacre on 10/10/1862) and the events and passions of war served only to confirm Creath’s convictions against any involvement by Christians in such. Creath summed up his values thus:
“I … could not be induced by honors nor money to go to war. … I hold it to be the greatest of crimes … hatred of war is an essential feature of practical Christianity.”
* 1862 – Today the Battle of Middle Creek takes place in eastern Kentucky (Floyd County). Union troops led by Col. James Abram Garfield succeed in driving off Confederate forces under the command of Brig. Gen. Humphrey Marshall. As a result, Col. Garfield will be commissioned a brigadier-general tomorrow, making him the youngest general in the Union Army.
Five months earlier (Sept. 1861), President Abraham Lincoln, a native of Kentucky, had said: “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole ball game.” It’s easy to appreciate then how Garfield’s victory at Middle Creek, and resulting commission, rocketed Garfield’s potential in the political realm. As Jerry Rushford noted in his outstanding work entitled Political Disciple:
“The ‘Battle of Middle Creek,’ the only one in which Garfield was destined to command, was essentially a day-long skirmish in which neither side demonstrated any convincing superiority. However, Garfield’s command accomplished its mission, and Marshall’s forces were sent streaming out of Kentucky and back to Virginia. Although the campaign had little or no bearing on the outcome of the war, the victory-starved North hailed it as a smashing triumph. Garfield’s leadership was lauded by newspapers across the North, and detailed accounts of the campaign were given generous space in the Ohio press.”
The brigade Garfield leads at Middle Creek, the 18th Brigade, includes his own regiment, the U.S., 42nd Ohio Infantry. Garfield had become its colonel by personally recruiting and organizing the ten companies that made up the 42nd. Most of his successful recruiting for the 42nd came through his many personal connections with the churches in the Restoration Heritage with which he was familiar, and had served with, prior to the war. He appealed from church pulpits for recruits on a number of occasions and a great many who had responded in time past to his preaching of the good news of Christ responded now to his plea for military service.
Through the course of the Civil War, the 42nd would be no stranger to suffering and combat, being present, and/or engaged, in a number of larger, more significant battles in the South (e.g. – Arkansas Post [aka: Fort Hindman], Port Gibson, Champion Hill, the siege of Vicksburg, the Red River campaign, etc.). The Official Record states that over the course of the war the 42nd Ohio suffered the loss of 240 men (181 dying of disease and 59 more being killed or mortally wounded).
On a personal note, it’s of special interest to me that Garfield organized the 42nd Ohio at Camp Chase in Columbus, OH. Camp Chase is where my great-grandfather, William Anderson Smith, was initially imprisoned for six months following his capture by Union troops in Aug. 1863.