History of the Restoration Movement

John Knox McCleskey


Source: The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama
Wednesday, October 22, 1955, p.34

The Life of John K. McCleskey

John Knox McCleskey was born April 12, 1896 in Walker County, Alabama. He was the son of William Parker McCleskey (1858-1906) and Frances Elizabeth Burton (1856-1940). He was married to Bessie Townley (1900-1969) also from Walker County. They had six children: Evelyn Irene McCleskey (1917-1994); Frances Earline McClusky (1920-1999); Zora Mae McCleskey Herndon Hogan (1923-2005); Edna Louise McCleskey Danis (1925-1991); Lois Mildred McCleskey Ward (1931-2005); and John McCleskey (born in 1933).

Early in his Christian life, John determined he wanted to preach. With a name such as his, how could he determine to do anything else? Coming under the influence of another young preacher, Gus Nichols, he was encouraged to go to Henderson, Tennessee to study at Freed-Hardeman College.

In 1938 he went to Parrish in Walker County, Alabama to preach. Then, after six years, in 1944 the family moved to Winfield, Alabama where he preached for the church there. By 1948 the family had moved to Pensacola, Florida to work with the West Hill church of Christ. While there John preached on WCOA radio station. In 1953, the McCluskey’s moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work with the Radnor church of Christ. In the spring of 1955, they moved to work with the small church of Christ in Clanton, Alabama. By October 1st of that year the family moved to Montgomery to work with the West End church of Christ. In late 1957, he returned to Walker County to preach for the church in Cordova. After five years, in 1962 he moved to Munford, Alabama to preach for the church there. This became his last located work. Through the years, John preached in Gospel Meeting efforts with great success, many of which were reported in the pages of the Gospel Advocate.

John K. McCleskey passed from this life March 31, 1968, just a few days short of his 72nd birthday. Bessie survived him for about a year when she died November 13, 1969.

-Scott Harp, 10.30.2021
Sources: Gospel Advocate, Newspapers.com, Ancestry.com, and other sources


Daily Mountain Eagle, Jasper, Alabama
Wednesday, May 30, 1928, p.6

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama
Wednesday, October 8, 1955, p.2

The Montgomery Advertiser, Montgomery, Alabama
Wednesday, October 22, 1955, p.34

Daily Mountain Eagle, Jasper, Alabama
Saturday, June 10, 1961, p.4

Daily Mountain Eagle, Jasper, Alabama
Friday, October 5, 1962, page 1

Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary of Brother and Sister John McCluskey

By Gus Nichols

On this your golden wedding day,
I’d like to have a word to say.
Today you’ve been married fifty years,
Years of joys and sorrow, tears and fears.

Of course, the joys outweighed the rest,
The sorrows and tears were but a test.
But you’ve come through with flying colors,
Excelling millions of others.

Fifty years you’ve climbed the hill of life,
Climbed together as husband and wife.
The way was often rugged and steep,
But you climbed up while others were asleep.

The odds were often against you,
When you started up hill, just you two,
You had nothing, and no rich brothers,
But you had enough – you had each other.

But you took Christ to be your guide,
And he ever walked by your side.
He has never led you astray,
But brought you on top where you are today.

Today you stand on the mountain of faith,
Resting all on what the scripture saith.
You climbed safely near dangerous falls,
Now you see “God’s hand was in it all.”

You are two great lovers of the Lord,
Who strove together in one accord,
T’was love that made you preach the word,
The sweetest story ever heard.

T’was your love for divine knowledge,
That put you in Hardeman College,
Away from home, children and wife,
All working together for a great life.

Now on top of the mountain you stand,
Daily viewing the promised land.
Fifty years that once lay out before,
Are now behind and are days of yore.

Whatever may life out before you now,
You have the faith, strength, and know-how,
To overcome through Jesus Christ,
Who made for us all the great sacrifice.

Like David you can say with abated breath,
“Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me.”
And his conquering hand you still can see.

God’s grace hath brought you safe thus far,
Grace like a guiding and glorious star,
That grace will lead you on, and on,
Till you are rewarded at his throne.

You not only have an inheritance above,
But you have hundreds and thousands who love,
Who hold you dear in bonds of affection,
But ready to show love in your afflictions.

Now in honor of two great friends,
In a Cause which will never, never end,
To a great preacher and Bible scholar,
We present this money tree with – dollars.

Directions To Grave

John and Bessie McClesky are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Jasper, Alabama. The cemetery is located north of the city on Hwy. 195. Just where Hwy. 5 splits to the left, note to the right is the cemetery. Enter through the gate and go to the fifth drive to the left and turn into this drive. Then take the first right off of it, and head to a wagon-wheel section. Head to the opposite side of the "sprocket" and continue down the hill. Begin looking to your left. You should see the McKlesky section back slightly up the hill. While here look for the grave of another preachers, Avery Fike and Daniel J. Ottinger. And, as a side note, be sure and seek out the grave of George "Goober" Lindsey. Though not connected to the Restoration Movement to our knowledge, most knew him as "Goober" on the Andy Griffith Show. He is buried here as well.

GPS Location
33°51'21.0"N 87°17'09.2"W
or D.d. 33.855827, -87.285882

John B. McCleskey
November 27, 1932

Barbara H. McCleskey
July 3, 1937
July 9, 2014

Bessie T. McCleskey
August 5, 1900
November 13, 1969

John K. McCleskey
April 12, 1896
March 31, 1968

Photos Taken 03.14.2015
Webpage produced 10.30.2021
Courtesy Of Scott Harp


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