Books of F.L. Rowe, Publisher
The most enduring legacy of Fred Rowe may have been his book publishing business. In a tribute to Rowe following his death, John Klingman stated that Rowe “has given to the world more than fifty valuable books.” (CL 8-12-1947: 2). Klingman’s estimate was low, especially if hymnals are included. Rowe published more than 100 books and a comparable amount of tracts. The enduring nature of some of these works, like J. W. Shepherd’s The Church, the Falling Away, and the Restoration, are demonstrated in that they continue to be printed today through the Gospel Advocate. However, these works never would have come to light, if it had not been for the dedication of Fred Rowe in originally making these printed materials available to his readers.
It is interesting to observe the subject matter of the books published by Rowe. He published the first five years of the Abilene Christian College lectures in three volumes. Rowe was one of the featured speakers in the first year of 1919, speaking on the topic, “The Religion for Today.” These books are the full manuscripts of the lectures.
Debating was popular in the first half of the 20th century, and, accordingly, Rowe published 13 books of debates. One of the most printed was the Russell-White Debate between L.S. White, a young preacher from Sherman, Texas, and Charles Taze Russell, one of the founders of the Millennial Dawn Students which later became known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Other debates were one-time printings and now are very rare books.
Since most congregations did not have located preachers in the first half of the 20th century, sermon books and doctrinal studies were also in high demand. Rowe published 12 books of sermon collections, some in outline form while others are full manuscripts. The sermon outline books were small in size, designed to fit into a coat pocket for ease of carry along with a pocket New Testament.
Rowe also published 17 books of doctrinal studies. Among these was The Bible in Questions and Answers, which Rowe co-authored with John A. Klingman in 1916. This 600 page book was a compilation drawn from the various works of McGarvey, Lipscomb, Milligan, and other conservative commentators. It contained over 30,000 questions and answers covering all 66 books of the Bible as well as questions on Bible subjects and Bible geography. It was designed to be used in Bible class settings. I would like to have a book like that when it comes time for Bible bowl preparation.
Rowe also believed it was important for him to re-issue Restoration writings. He declared that “valuable literature had been lost to the service of a growing but careless brotherhood.” (Rowe, preface). Rowe aimed to offset that carelessness but lamented his lack of funds for reprinting needs. (Rowe, Writers, 7). Among the three reprints that Rowe managed to publish was Pioneer Sermons, a 300-page book preserving sermons by Stone, the Campbells, Walter Scott, J. M. Mathes, and others.
In addition to reprinting Restoration materials, Rowe published four biographies and seven histories of individuals and congregations whose stories he believed were important for preserving.
Rowe did not limit himself solely to doctrinal matters. He published five books of Christian fiction and six books of prose and poetry. The Christian fiction books were designed to teach the gospel through the experiences of the main characters. Among these is Eunice Lloyd by R. N. Moody, first published in 1909 and which continues to be published today by the Gospel Advocate.
Fred Rowe’s printing equipment was sold long ago, and his office on Elm Street in Cincinnati has been torn down and replaced, but his legacy lives on as his materials are opened and read. -1003 Clairmont Avenue, Cambridge, OH 43725. (740) 432 7486.
J. A. Klingman, “Biographical Sketch of Fred L. Rowe,” Christian Leader (8-12-47): 2.
F. L. Rowe, “Preface to the Present Edition,” in J. W. Monser, Types and Metaphors of the Bible, (Cincinnati: F. L. Rowe, publisher, 1936 reprint).
________“More New Writers,” Christian Leader (12-29-31): 7.
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