Horace Wooten Busby
The Life Of Horace W. Busby
Horace Wooten Busby was born February 21, 1884 in Lawrence County, Tennessee, the oldest of five children born to John S. and Frances Wooten Busby. About 1891 or '92 the family moved to
About the time he was teaching that term of school he became acquainted with Miss May Wise, daughter of an elder in the Mt. Peak church of Christ. Her father had forbidden her to keep company with any young man who was not a member of The church, but she and Horace began to develop much interest in each other. Their courtship continued, though with difficulty, until they decided to elope. She went to Ft. Worth to "visit relatives," and he got his father to take him to Midlothian to catch the train for Ft. Worth. My information does not reveal whether or not his father knew what was going on, but he went to Ft. Worth and they were married in North Ft. Worth on August 2, 1904
They immediately went by train to Mangum in "Old" Greer County in Oklahoma where Horace had two uncles, Charlie L. and Tom Busby. Tom was a Christian, along with the rest of his family, except for Charlie. They visited much in the home of "Uncle Tom and Aunt Lizie." Aunt Lizie was a very capable Bible teacher, and they talked much about the Word. I remember hearing Brother Busby speak of these times once in a sermon when he told of attending church services with the family in a rural school house Northwest of Mangum in the community where Henry E. Warlick lived. Brother Warlick was a double cousin of the lamented Joe S. Warlick, and was a very capable preacher and debater. He was born in Arkansas, but had moved with the family to Texas and from there to Oklahoma where he had a claim and was farming it in the community where the Busbys lived. On this particular Sunday, Brother Warlick preached and when he had finished his sermon members of various sects began to ask questions. He was able to answer every question with a "thus saith the Lord," giving chapter and verse. This continued for much of the afternoon, and Brother Busby was deeply impressed by the solid biblical foundation upon which Brother Warlick preached and upon which the Church of Christ stood. It was a time of soulsearching for him and he did much Bible study. In fact, he said when he was preparing the article about himself for the 1952 edition of Preachers of Today that he "read the Bible and made his own decision to leave error." One day Uncle Tom sensed that perhaps he was ready to obey the gospel and offered to get Brother Warlick if he wanted to be baptized. He agreed and Uncle Tom hitched up the team and went for Brother Warlick, telling people along the way about the service to be held, and several attended. The "baptistry" would have been a creek or farm pond. A short service was held and the invitation given. Horace and May, together with a daughter of Uncle Tom responded and were baptized into Christ. The date was November 4, 1904.
May's father was quite upset by the marriage, but their obedience to the gospel helped that, and in due time they returned to Mt. Peak and all was forgiven. We do not know how his own father reacted to this, but can surmise that his mother rejoiced and perhaps saw in it the beginning of the answer to the prayer Horace remembered. They lived on the farm with her parents and Horace farmed for the next few years and began to teach a Bible class in The church at Mt. Peak. Horace did much serious study for this class, often working until midnight, and the class grew and prospered.
His first meeting came about in a rather unusual way. In August of 1908 Walter Witcher, a young preacher came to Mt. Peak for a meeting. Some of the young folk in the Bible class wanted to obey the gospel, but they wanted Horace to baptize them. At Brother Witcher's suggestion, Horace preached one night and thirteen people, including a married man, made the good confession. (Throughout life he was especially adept at reaching men of mature years.) Brother Witcher then suggested that Horace was able to do the preaching and he left it with him. Horace completed the meeting and baptized one more. Following this he was invited to conduct a meeting at a place called "Johnson's Gin" near Venus, Texas. Twenty-seven people obeyed their Lord in this meeting and he began to get many calls for other meetings.
By 1911 his parents had moved to Lockney in West Texas, and in July of that year he went there for a meeting. Twenty-eight people were immersed into Christ, including his father and two sisters, Floy and Edna. Several "wayward" members were restored, including his mother. Thus her prayer of long ago was answered.
Three children were born to Horace and May, and all of them are living. Eldon B., who served as Superintendent of the Ft. Worth schools for many years, Willie Mae, who married Leo McClung, son of Claude McClung, another great gospel preacher. He served the Southside church as an elder for many years. Horace W. Jr. is a Public Relations man and has his own business in Washington, D.C. He was a close friend of Lyndon B. Johnson and served him in that capacity, and as a speech writer. They are all members of The church.
Following the Lockney meeting he returned to Mt. Peak and began to preach once each month for The church in Marlin. The brethren there had been locked out of their house by the "digressives" (instrumental music people) and had no place to meet. An old Baptist meeting house that was no longer in use, was there and owned by an individual. Arrangements were made to use it. Horace held a ten day meeting and had sixty additions. At Lott, about twelve miles South of Marlin, he held another meeting and baptized about seventy-five. Such success brought many requests for his services, and soon he was going throughout the state and finally into all parts of the nation. By the end he had preached in almost every one of the forty-eight states.
The only local work he ever did was with the Glenwood church in Ft. Worth, later known as the Vickery Boulevard church. He began work there in September of 1913 and continued until 1920, during which time it became one of the largest congregations in the city. From that church numerous churches have sprung across the years, and Brother Busby had a personal part in the establishment of many of the great churches now in Ft. Worth and surrounding areas. He conducted at least sixty meetings in Ft. Worth itself, and many, many more in adjacent areas.
After leaving local work in 1920 he spent the rest of his life in gospel meeting work, conducting about twenty-four each year. (Meetings were from ten days to two weeks duration in those years.) He usually preached twice daily in the meetings, and often three times on Sunday. He often expressed the view that the day services were worth more to the church than the evening services, because he usually preached about daily Christian living at the morning hour. Across the years he literally preached thousands and thousands of sermons, establishing and strengthening churches across the land. He was often called back for another meeting, and he conducted eight meetings for the Poly Technic church in Ft. Worth; twenty for the College Church in Abilene; and twenty-nine consecutive meetings for The Church in Ozona. In the January 7, 1930 issue of the Firm Foundation Brother W.W. McMillan wrote: "Brother Busby has just been with the College Church in one of the best meetings we have ever had. Simplicity, enthusiasm, loyalty, confidence - these are the few words which characterize his preaching. His simplicity makes his sermons understood; his enthusiasm makes them interesting; his loyalty unto Biblical teaching makes them right; his confidence in God and the power of his word is contagious over the hearts of others. These four things led us in Abilene through one of the best meetings it has been my pleasure to attend. I thank the Lord for Brother Busby coming among us and pray heavens blessings upon his life and labors." In some of these Abilene meetings as many as a hundred would be baptized.
He did considerable writing, often publishing in the Gospel Advocate and Firm Foundation in which he did an extended series called, "Think On These Things." He also published a book of sermons called Practical Sermons of Persuasive Power. He served as Associate Editor of the Way of Truth, with U.R. Forrest as Editor. In the 1952 edition of Preachers Of Today, he said that he had held more than a thousand meetings since beginning that work in 1911, and had lost only one because of illness. (He was a big, handsome man that fairly radiated good health and happiness.) He also said that he had baptized approximately eighteen thousand people, with many more thousands restored.
There is almost no end to this story for so many interesting and important things could be told about him, along with many amusing incidents. But we have to bring it to an end somewhere. We understand that Brother Larry Calvin, of the College Hill church in Ft. Worth is preparing a story of his life for a thesis in some work at Abilene Christian University. He can be reached at 6200 College Circle, Ft. Worth. I do not know his plans, but if you are interested in seeing his work, contact him. It might be possible to get it, at least, we hope so.
In 1952, while in the pulpit at Port Lavaca, Texas where he was in a meeting, he suffered a stroke. It took three or four years for him to recover, and though he did do some preaching after that, other health problems kept him from resuming the old pace. He, naturally, found it very difficult to accept the fact that his work as a gospel preacher was over, and no doubt his great courage and determination contributed to the lengthening of his life and what he was able to do. On December 10, 1965 The Lord called him home. Funeral services were conducted by George Stephenson and Willard Morrow in the Southside meeting house. A group of faithful Christians, under the direction of Olin Huff, sang. Of course "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood," the great invitation song he had used for so many years, was one of the selections. In February of 1967 his beloved companion joined him in the better world. Their bodies sleep in the Laurel Land cemetery in Ft. Worth. Because he lived thousands will enjoy eternity in heaven. Thank The Lord he came our way!
-Loyd L. Smith,
Gospel Preachers Of Yesteryear, c.1986, pages 82-86, First Published in
the Christian Worker, June,
The Passing of
Three Great Men
The past few weeks have brought the sad news of the death of three great preachers who have profoundly influenced my life and the life of my family as they have countless others during their long ministries. All of them lived beyond the limit of the four-score years mentioned in the Bible. Two had given a large part of their lives to Christian education. All of them were very dear to my heart as true men of God.
N. B. Hardeman was the preacher in the gospel meeting when my parents obeyed the gospel at Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee. It was the first meeting in the new church building. During the ministry of the late John Allen Hudson the church had moved from a small frame building on Harbert Avenue to the present location. The powerful, plain preaching of the great prince of the pulpit touched their hearts with the New Testament gospel, and they responded to Christ's will and became beacons for their children in serving the Lord. Through the years N. B. Hardeman's picture has hung on the walls of our home, and his books have been read many times. Whenever he was within driving distance of home the family went to hear him preach and welcomed the opportunities when he could preach at Union Avenue. Many remember him as a great classroom teacher; others recall him as a college administrator and President of Freed-Hardeman College for many years. We think of him in our family primarily as a gifted preacher, whose melodious voice, graceful gestures, impeccable personal appearance, and forceful argument made every sermon an experience in listening. His beautiful voice is stilled, but his power for good lives on in many hearts and, in particular, in the Pack family. We thank God for N. B. Hardeman.
Under the preaching of Horace W. Busby of Fort Worth, Texas, the writer of this article responded to Christ's call during another gospel meeting at Union Avenue Church. When recently it was my pleasure to visit in the home of Brother and Sister Busby we recalled those days, and I am happy to be called one of his "boys." Many gospel preachers today first answered Christ's call to obedience under his preaching. Up and down our country he went holding meetings with a schedule that made us marvel at his strength and endurance. He prided himself on keeping busy almost every day in the year, baptizing thousands and seeing countless others reclaimed to faithful service after having been lukewarm. Horace W. Busby was a persuasive preacher, whose simple style, apt illustrations, deep faith and flashing smile made people want to become Christians. When he would make a telling point and say, "Now, isn't that fine?" with a big smile, everyone knew how fine it was to serve God and be true to his word. He had a way of winning people for Christ. His warm personality expressed his interest in everyone including young preachers. He taught me the power of simplicity, and the force of persuasive speech. His one regret in the last years of his life was that he was no longer able to preach as he once had. At my last visit to preach at his home congregation, Southside church in Fort Worth, he led a beautiful prayer, one that touched me with his faith and joy. One of God's greatest evangelists has finished his work here, but what a glorious record he has left behind to impress those following with the power of preaching.
Samuel P. Pittman was my beloved teacher at David Lipscomb College during the presidency of the late Batsell Baxter, along with other great teachers, such as Hall L. Calhoun, E. H. Ijams, H. Leo Boles, R. C. Bell, Charles R. Brewer.
What a galaxy of Bible teachers for a young preacher to study under!
Brother Pittman was the symbol of David Lipscomb College to us all. Among its first students, and a teacher through most of its years of existence until his retirement, his life was a bridge between David Lipscomb and James A. Harding and our generation. He has been an inspiration to so many people who studied in his classes and listened to his preaching. A gifted orator, he used words to paint some of the most impressive pictures I have ever seen. His chapel talks were gems. The unusual approaches he took to Bible subjects made his preaching always original and interesting. He taught me that there were no insignificant words in the Bible. He was a true student of the Word, a lover of the Book who wanted to know what the Word said, not what some of our brethren may have thought it said. How we need that emphasis in every age! It is so easy to substitute the tradition and words of men for God's word. Last summer during a meeting at Grace Avenue church in Nashville I had my last visit with him. His remarkable memory for events and people's names was evident once more as we talked. When our farewells were said he walked away escorting his lovely wife with the able step of one far younger than he. I remarked as I saw him walking toward his car, "What a remarkable man!" I shall remember him as one who thought so little of self and served unselfishly so many. He cared little for material things; human values and the spiritual were the most important for S. P. Pittman's. His high standards of academic work made us strive toward the best. From every visit with him I came away an enriched person. Even his eccentricities endeared him to us. We shall miss his deep resonant voice, his wonderful memory, his expressive face, his powerful lessons that always left us with a new understanding of God's truth, and a greater love for it.
The places of these three great men of God cannot be filled. The world and the church cannot be the same without them. The burden of responsibility seems greater upon us with their passing. We pause to pay them our tribute of praise and appreciation and learn more clearly the meaning of the saying, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
—GOSPEL ADVOCATE Vol. CVIII, No. 2, January 13, 1966 page 18, 22,23
Directions To The Grave Of H.W. Busby
Horace Wooten Busby is buried in the Laureland Cemetery in the southern part of Ft. Worth, Texas. Just south of the 820 Loop on I-35W take the first exit, Altamesa Blvd. and go west. The first major intersection will be Crowley Rd. Turn left (south) and go to the entrance of Laurel Land Cemetery on your right. See Cemetery Map Here! See Section 26 plat Here!
Laurel Land Cemetery