David Lipscomb's Childhood Home

Albert E. Farley

It was my distinct privilege to travel to Franklin County, Tennessee, last month to speak to the Estill Springs church of Christ on August 6-9 during their Homecoming gospel meeting. Franklin County is a large county with over 20 congregations of the Lord's church in it. While there, our hosts drove us throughout the county, and we were able to see much of it. One of our greatest privileges was to visit some historical landmarks connected with pioneer efforts of the early nineteenth century to restore first century, New Testament Christianity.

Brother J. M. Ballard, of the Estill Springs congregation, took us out into the country to where Granville Lipscomb lived, worked, and worshipped, and where his son, David, was born and raised. Brother Ballard showed us the sites of two houses built by Granville, one of which is very well preserved. He tried to call the present owner, but no one answered. When we visited the residence, no one was at home. It was in this home that David Lipscomb grew to manhood. Brother Ballard also drove us to the Old Salem church of Christ building where Granville Lipscomb and, later, his son, David, preached.

The story of the Lipscomb family is truly inspiring and encouraging. Granville, his brothers Dabney and John, and their families were, at first, members of the local Primitive Baptist Church. In the 1820s they read and were influenced by the writings of Alexander Campbell concerning the nature of the church in the Christian Baptist paper that was sent to them by sister Lipscomb's sister in Kentucky. This led to their exclusion from the Baptist Church and, ultimately, to the establishment of the Old Salem church of Christ. They were determined to be simply members of the church built by Christ.

David Lipscomb was born January 21, 1831, the son of Granville and Ann Lipscomb. When he was about 4 years old, his father moved the family to Illinois in order to set his slaves free. While there, Ann and three of her children died. Granville moved his children back to Tennessee and, in 1837, married Jane Breeden and began another family. David entered Franklin College in 1846, graduating in 1849. He was a successful farmer. After several years of farming, managing a plantation, and working for the railroad, he moved near to Nashville. Although it is recorded that he had a natural shyness and did not intend to be a preacher, he saw the need to give public addresses and speeches on important spiritual matters. He is described in various writings as being very plain in dress and manners, and was simple in speech; yet he was very intelligent and effective as a preacher and teacher. Many congregations were started in and around Nashville as a result of his preaching.

Brother Lipscomb began as co-editor of the Gospel Advocate with Tolbert Fanning in 1866 and continued for 50 years. He helped form the Fanning Orphan School and, in 1891, with J.A. Harding, began the Nashville Bible School that later became David Lipscomb College and, then, University. He died November 11, 1917.

I am humbled in presenting this information to our readers. We owe so much to him and to many, many like him. When I see so many departures from the simplicity of the gospel by so many today even by some in the very school that now bears his name, I pray that God would raise up more men like him. Let us give honor to whom honor is due, and let us hold such in reputation. Romans 13:7; Philippians 2:25-30.


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