History of the Restoration Movement

David Lipscomb


David Lipscomb was born not far from Davy Crockett's Old Kentuck farm, on Bean's Creek, in the Old Salem Community, Franklin County, Tennessee, January 21, 1831. His parents were Granville and Ann Lipscomb. He, and his older brother William, attended Franklin College in 1846 under the tutelage of Tolbert Fanning, and he graduated in 1849. After graduating he spent a couple years in Georgia, helping with family business. In 1852 he moved back to Franklin County, Tennessee and helped in the building of the railroad between Nashville and Chattanooga. On July 13, 1862 he married Margaret Zellner. One child was born to this union, Zellner, born in September, 1863. He died at nine months of age from severe dehydration from teething. He is buried in the Hughes Cemetery, off Santa Fe Pike in Maury County, Tennessee. In 1866 David Lipscomb began as co-editor of the Gospel Advocate with Tolbert Fanning. In 1891, with the help of J. A. Harding and others, he founded the Nashville Bible School, now Lipscomb University. The university now sits on the old Lipscomb farm, Avalon, on Granny White Pike, Nashville, Tennessee.

He was a very intelligent man who was soft spoken, but greatly convicted in his beliefs. He, by far, had more influence on the churches of the south through his work in the Gospel Advocate than any other preacher of the gospel during his lifetime. He died November 11, 1917 at the age of 86. Brethren, E.G. Sewell, J.C. McQuiddy, E.A. Elam, and C.A. Moore conducted the funeral at the College Street Church. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Mt. Olivet. Through his efforts in the Gospel Advocate and Nashville Bible School, it could be said that he was the most influential man in the Restoration Movement in the Southern United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This brief summary of David Lipscomb's life is just to introduce an amazing man of God. Below you will find chronology of his life. At least two biographies have been produced on the life of David Lipscomb, one by Earl West and the other by Robert Hooper. At this writing they are still in print and can be obtained through the Gospel Advocate Company in Nashville, Tennessee.

-Scott Harp, 02.23.2020

"Avalon" was the family home of Uncle Dave and Aunt Mag Lipscomb. Sixty
acres were given to Nashville Bible School In 1902. It became the permanent home
of Lipscomb University in 1903.

Chronology Of The Life Of David Lipscomb

Birth of Granville Lipscomb, father of David

The Lipscomb family moves from Virginia to Bean’s Creek, Franklin County, Tennessee – shortly after Granville’s wife, Ellen, and father William, dies.

Granville remarries Nancy, an older cousin from Virginia. (“Nancy” according to Earl West, p.26; “Ann,” according to Hooper, p.20)

June 20
William was born in Franklin County, Tennessee, Older brother to David

January 21
David was born in Franklin County, Tennessee

Beginning of the church of Christ at Old Salem, Franklin County, Tennessee

Father, Granville and Ann Lipscomb, moved family to Illinois to free slaves.

Death of Nancy (Ann,) the mother of William and David Lipscomb in Illinois. Also three small children, twin girls and a boy die. David was 5 years old

Moved back to Tennessee. Purchased land deeded Dec. 1, 1836 (Hooper states they returned to Tenn. in the fall of 1835, p.23).

Barton W. Stone dies – Lipscomb never met him

David (14-15) and William “Billy” (15,16) go to Virginia to live with maternal grandfather Lipscomb to be educated. Returned in December, 1845.

Entered Franklin College in Nashville along with brother, William. Greatly influenced by teaching of Tolbert Fanning (the second class since its inception in 1845 – 136 pupils in the school that year – and closed in 1861 with the beginning of the war.)

Tolbert Fanning baptizes David in a watering trough.

William graduates from Franklin College

Wed. October 17
Graduated from Franklin College.

October 23
American Christian Missionary Society begins in Cincinnati, OH

Managed a large plantation in Georgia – still unclear as to his future

Returned to Franklin County, Tennessee

End Of Year
Returned to Nashville – Lived with brother, William

Jesse B. Ferguson’s views on spiritualism shocks the brotherhood, and especially young David Lipscomb

November 16
Granville, father of David, dies at Beans Creek, buried in family cemetery

July 23
Secretary of cooperation meeting in Mountain District of Tennessee.

End of year
Preached first sermon.

Spent much of the year preaching around McMinnville, Tenn. Preaching – then moved to Davidson County and purchased a farm with William

Preached mostly in central Tennessee and closer to Nashville

1859, 1860
The instrument added at Midway, Ky, marking the beginning of digression in worship practices

Outbreak of Civil War. Urged southern Christians not to participate.

Closing down of Gospel Advocate due to cancellation of mail service and paper products.

July 23
Married Margaret Zellner, One child, it died in infancy.

Taught School near Lawrenceburg

February 16
Opened school at Eagle Mills with eight students including William Zellner, brother of Margaret

Early in year
Moved to farm in Nashville

June 26
A son is born, Zellner (West, p.82); Hooper says he was born September 23, 1863 and died on June 26, 1864) p.83,84 – buried in Hughes Cemetery, Maury County, in the Zellner plot.

Early Spring
Zellner dies – No other children were born to the David and Margaret

April 9
General Lee surrenders at Appomattox, signaling the end of the Civil War

Revived Gospel Advocate, which had been forced to suspend publication during the Civil War, and became its editor. Published long series of articles on the Christian's relation to civil government. Continued as editor of Gospel Advocate for more than forty-five years.

March 4
Alexander Campbell dies in Bethany, W.V. – No info available saying his path ever crossed with David Lipscomb

David was ill much of the time – stomach troubles

Raised over $100,000 for destitute southern Christians.

Added Philip S. Fall as a contributing editor to Gospel Advocate

Attended Kentucky State Meeting – met W.T. Moore and Thomas Munnell the first time. Later a visit to Ohio where he met Isaac Errett, editor of Christian Standard in Cleveland. Also sought help for his continuous stomach illness.

Written debate with Thomas Munnell on missionary societies.

Made a preaching tour in Georgia

GA adds the prospectus of a new Kentucky paper, the Apostolic Times – not very excited about having the competition, but acknowledged its presence. In the 4 years of its publication, GA saw American Christian Review in Anderson, Indiana and Christian Standard in Columbia, later Cincinnati, OH as its major competitors

September 20
E. G. Sewell (1830-1924) announced as associate editor of Gospel Advocate. Co-worker with Lipscomb for next forty years – effective January 1, 1970

End of year
After a 1½ years of good health, stomach problems return

Lipscombs move from Bell’s Bend to Edgefield to be nearer the offices of Gospel Advocate. Started a congregation that met at Odd Fellows Hall.

Preaching trip to West Tennessee and Western Kentucky

Preaching trip to Hopkinsville, Ky

January 15
Debate at Gallatin with Baptist: G.W. Griffin – Dr. T.W. Brents & E.G. Sewell assisted Lipscomb

Moved back to farm at Bell’s Bend

May 27
Departs for 3 ½ month tour of Texas. Visited Galveston, Bryan, Houston, Fort Worth, Waco, Dallas, Quitman.

Due to Cholera outbreak in the summer, ‘73, Lipscomb helped relieve the poor in the city. As a result he comes down with the disease, and takes much of the spring of ‘74 to overcome it – much hemorrhaging in the lungs etc – a very sick man

May 3
Tolbert Fanning dies after being gored by a bull some weeks earlier. Franklin College/Hope Institute closed after the end of the term, and remained closed for 10 years. Then in Sept. 1884, Fanning Orphan School opened, with DL on the board of trustees. That school continued for 60 years, ending in 1943. (TLWOCF, p.10)

Met Benjamin Franklin, ed. Of American Christian Review, for the first time when Franklin visited Franklin, Tn in a meeting. – Represented the meeting of two giant influences in the brotherhood. Franklin’s paper was often referred to as the Gospel Advocate of the north.

Death of Anna Lipscomb, wife of William. Their children came to live in the David Lipscomb home at Bell’s Bend except son, David, who had moved in with his Uncle Dave and Aunt Mag five years earlier

Moved back to Nashville

Moved back to Bell’s Bend for harvest time.

October 22
Death of Benjamin Franklin, a blow to Lipscomb as he considered it a loss of a great ally in the battle against organized societies.

Writes extensive article on re-baptism in GA —pages 678,679

Struck with a nearly fatal illness – a cold that turned to a constant cough for two months. He thought his days were numbered. Well into summer of ’79 before he began feeling well. Most work of year was writing. Only began preaching again in August with visit back to Salem, August 31

Republican Convention, James A Garfield nominated president, much to the disappointment of Lipscomb, due to his anti-involvement of Christians in Civil matters; wrote editorials in GA against it, bringing strong condemnation of Garfield supporters

September 19
Death of President James A. Garfield, the object of much difficulty to Lipscomb due to his ongoing stand against Christian involvement in civil matters.

J.W. Higbee of Madisonville, Ky begins editing a column called, “Church, Field and Home” – The following year he steps down due to articles in Gospel Advocate denouncing the Missionary Societies, of which he was a proponent

Controversy over more than one loaf in the Lord’s Supper arose – discussed in GA, page 280 (1902-p.233 discusses more than one cup)

Fanning Orphan School is chartered. DL initiates the effort admonishing Charlotte Fanning to give the buildings of the Hope Institute with 160 acres to its founding. Though another year before starting, DL served as Chairman of the Board, not intially, but within a few years, for the remander of his life. (The school opened in Sept. 1884 and closed its doors in 1943) (TLWOCF, p.20; CITW, pps. 264,265)

Gospel Advocate begins inserting articles pro and con on the Temperance Movement

Helps raise $10,000 for Fanning Orphan School. He and twelve others constituted the Board of Trustees.

Purchase of 110 acre farm “Avalon” on the edge of Davidson County on Granny White Pike – Dairy farm – Moved there the following year – Lipscombs spend the rest of their lives there.

33% increase in circulation of Gospel Advocate

Parting of the ways of relationship between Gospel Advocate and Isaac Errett’s Christian Standard after editors publish letters of dispute over distribution of church hymnals.

Fanning Orphan School established. DL, President of Trustees for rest of life.

August, Sept.
Gospel Meeting at Winchester, Ky, home of James A. Harding, preached 17 sermons – also visited McGarvey and Grubb in Lexington and a trip to Louisville

Beginning of Texas paper, Firm Foundation by Austin McGary - beginning with a long-running discussion on rebaptism, embroiling both it and Gospel Advocate as mediums exposing the divergent views.

Added J.C. McQuiddy to GA as managing editor – officially beginning his work with January, 1885 issue.

December 23
Departs for rest and preaching tour of Texas

Struggle among Texas churches over missionary society question. Lipscomb wrote extensively on the questions of congregational cooperation and missionary organizations.

J.C. McQuiddy joins editorial staff of Gospel Advocate as office and managing editor / E.A. Elam began contributing articles—becoming front page editor / Granville, younger half-brother of Lipscomb, was hired to edit International Bible School Lessons

After return from Texas announced that GA was taking over Texas Christian, a paper edited by C.M. Wilmeth, bringing total of GA subscriptions to 6700

December 14
2nd debate with Elder J.B. Moody (Missionary Baptist) at Watertown, Wilson County, TN. J.M. Kidwell moderated for Lipscomb. On Calvinism & Baptism – Lipscomb’s last debate

Granville Lipscomb writes Sunday School material entitled Little Jewels – beginning the years of GA produced Sunday School material

November 13
South Nashville church established. Lipscomb an elder for many years.

GA announced 10,000 subscriptions; three times the amount since 1880

January 1
Lipscombs place membership at South Nashville. Lipscomb served as an elder here for many years.

Gospel Advocate articles on the Christian's relation to government published in book form: Civil Government.

F.D. Srygley finishes his manuscript on Larimore and His Boys and later printed by Gospel Advocate

Dr. D.M. Lipscomb, David’s uncle dies in Grapevine, TX

Gospel Advocate releases their first Christian Hymns volume

May 27
Served as moderator for James A. Harding in famous Nashville debate between Harding and J.B. Moody (Baptist) – 16 nights – Over 100 people baptized in Nashville area in following weeks

Beginning discussions with Harding about opening a school in Nashville

September 7
Jane Breeden Lipscomb dies – David’s step-mother

Fall of the year
F. D. Srygley became an editor of the Gospel Advocate. Next ten years (1890-1900) were "golden era" for the GA.

June 29
Jesse L. Sewell died in Viola, TN and within one year David produced a biography on his life.

F.D. Srygley produces Seventy Years In Dixie mostly on the life of T.W. Caskey

Tennessee Christian Missionary Society organized by A. I. Myhr in Chattanooga. Meeting meets in Nashville in 1891, 1892 – much to the discouragement of Lipscomb

Lipscomb produced a 64 page tract on Christian Unity, How Promoted And How Destroyed, Faith And Opinion

Editorial debate with Austin McGary on the question of "rebaptism."

Tennessee State Missionary Society organized. National Society held convention in Nashville in 1892. Lipscomb opposed both.

Attended Missouri Christian Lectures at Huntsville. Delivered lecture on civil government.

October 5
Nashville Bible School established on Fillmore St. with 9 students. Faculty consisted of Lipscomb, Wm. Lipscomb, and James A. Harding. Lipscomb later wrote, "I have found more satisfaction in teaching the Bible to the young men and women at school than in any work of my life."

James A. Harding serves as superintendent for the next ten years (never referred to as President, but is generally consider the 1st President)

Began being concerned at teaching of R. Lin Cave, son-in-law of W.H. Hopson. His views on the Godhead led to parting of relationship with Lipscomb by 1896

April 11, Sunday
Suffered an accident when his horse drawn buggy was overturned as a result if the horse being spooked as they were crossing a railroad track. Lipscomb was severely hurt, being thrown from the buggy – His recovery is slow.

J.W. Grant teaching math and Dr. J.S. Ward teaching Chemistry were added to the faculty at NBS – third session of the school

Began authoring Gospel Advocate’s teachers comments in International Sunday School Lessons

Nashville Bible School has its first permanent location at cnr. Of South Spruce and Olympic Streets. Continued through Spring 1903 when campus moved to “Avalon,” present location of Lipscomb University

Gospel Advocate merges with Christian Messenger

Gospel Advocate merges with Arkansas paper, The Gospel Echo,

Wrote numerous articles in Gospel Advocate on Instrumental Music

August 15
Charlotte Fall Fanning dies after being stricken some time with a paralysis that kept her from speaking

J. N. Armstrong added to the teaching staff at NBS

Division in Nashville churches was complete. GA reports that the Woodland St. church is most digressive in Tennessee. It and Vine St. churches aligned themselves with society support, also adding the instrument to their worship

Father-in-law Henry Zellner dies

August 2
F. D. Srygley passed away

E. A. Elam appointed Front-page editor of Gospel Advocate

Nashville Bible School is incorporated. David serves as its first Chairman of the Board of Trustees—Never serves as president of the college.


At the end of the 1900-1901 school year at Nashville Bible School, James A. Harding announces his departure for Bowling Green, Ky to begin Potter Bible College. William Anderson becomes 2nd Superintendent/President of NBS.

Alfred Ellmore merges his Gospel Echo with Gospel Advocate

Jesse P. Sewell added to the editorial staff of Gospel Advocate

60 acres of Avalon is given to the building of a permanent campus for DLC

Gospel Advocate Publishing Company reorganized by forming the McQuiddy Printing Company

Speaks to the last class of NBS at Spruce Street Campus

Three buildings complete on Granny White Campus

For the next eighteen months DL appeared regularly on the witness stand for court case over the ownership of the Newbern, TN church building that had split over the instrument. Finally settled in favor of the instrument and society group in April, 1905.


William Anderson, Superintendent/President of Nashville Bible School dies suddenly. Dr. J. S. Ward becomes 3rd President in the interim.

Census recognized reality of division between churches of Christ and Disciples. J. W. Shepherd and Gospel Advocate collected statistics.

Franklin College And His Influences, edited by James Scobey is published

Offices of Gospel Advocate move to 317-19 Fifth Ave.


E.A. Elam becomes 4th President of Nashville Bible School - serves for six years

DL's brother, William Lipscomb dies

Death of Aunt Fannie Van Zandt. Lipscomb called her, “the mother of the church at Fort Worth.”

Robert H. Boll appointed front-page editor of Gospel Advocate

D. L.'s half-brother, Granville dies

D. L. & E. G. Sewell sold interest in Gospel Advocate to E. A. Elam, M. C. Kurfees and A. B. Lipscomb.


J. S. Ward becomes 5th President, only for interrim purposes

H. Leo Boles succeeds E. A. Elam as 6th President of NBS - serves until 1920, later serves from 1923-1932

Boll begins writing articles on Premillennialism in Gospel Advocate

R. H. Boll replaced by J.C. McQuiddy as Front Page editor due to his premillennial views, but was temporarily reinstated later in the year

Gospel Advocate releases its 50th anniversary issue

November 5
Suffered a paralytic stroke

November 11
Died at age eighty-six.

Nashville Bible School officially recognized as David Lipscomb College


H. Leo Boles resigns for NBH. A. B. Lipscomb appointed 7th President. His brother, Horace Swift Lipscomb is appointed Dean of Academics


A. B. Lipscomb resigns and trustees appoint brother, H. S. Lipscomb as 8th President.


H. S. Lipscomb resigns as President. H. Leo Boles enters his second term as 9th President - serves until 1932

March 5
Margaret “Aunt Mag” dies


H. Leo Boles resigns Presidency of DLC. Batsell Baxter is appointed 10th President.


Batsell Baxter resigns Presidency. Trustees appoint E. H. Ijams as 11th President of DLC


Burritt College, Spencer, Tennessee, closes after 91 years of existence (1848-1939)


E.H. Ijams resigns over premillennial views. Batsell Baxter begins serving his second term as 12th President of DLC

Fanning Orphan School Closes after 61 years.


At DLC, Batsell Baxter resigns Presidency — Athens Clay Pullias becomes 13th President.

June 29
Earl West completes his introduction to the Life And Times Of David Lipscomb


At DLC - Athens Clay Pullias resigns Presidency — Willard Collins becomes 14th President

Crying In The Wilderness: A Biography of David Lipscomb, by Robert E. Hooper is released


Willard Collins resigns as President of DLC; Harold Hazelip appointed 15th President.

DLC gets university status - A new name of the institution is Lipscomb University


Harold Hazelip resigns from Lipscomb University Presidency; Steve Flatt appointed 16th President


Steve Flatt resigns Presidency of Lipscomb University; L. Randolph Lowry III appointed 17th President


Dr. Candace McQueen becomes first woman and 18th President of Lipscomb University


CITW = Crying In The Wilderness: A Biography of David Lipscomb, by Robert E. Hooper
TLATODL=The Life And Times of David Lipscomb, Earl West
TLWOCF=The Life Work Of Charlotte Fanning, Emma Page

Sources Bibliography: Earl West, The Life and Times of David Lipscomb (1954), Robert E. Hooper, Crying in the Wilderness: A Biography of David Lipscomb (1979). https://www.lipscomb.edu/about/lipscombs-story/our-history; Books by Lipscomb: Civil Government, Commentary on Acts, Commentary on John, Commentary on the New Testament Epistles, Queries and Answers. by Bill Humble, with additions by Scott Harp - last updated 12.13.2022

Obituary for Margaret Zellner Lipscomb

The Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee
Saturday, March 6, 1926, page 1
(click on article to zoom in)

Obituary For David Lipscomb

The Albany-Decatur Daily, Albany, Alabama
Monday, November 12, 1917, page 4
(click on article to zoom in)

Obituary For David Lipscomb

Nashville Banner, Nashville, Tennessee
Monday, November 12, 1917, page 16
(click on article to zoom in)

Directions To Lipscomb Graves

The David Lipscomb family plot is located in one of Nashville, Tennessee's oldest and most famous cemeteries, Mount Olivet. Many famous and wealthy Tennesseans such as, Thomas G. Ryman and others are buried there. To those in Churches of Christ, what makes this cemetery so famous are the numerous men and women of the Restoration Movement who are interred there. Lipscomb is buried in Section 14. The cemetery is located on Lebanon Pike in Nashville. From the city take I-40/24 to Exit 212/Fessler's Lane and turn left. Go down to the bottom of the hill and turn right on Lebanon Pike. The cemetery will not be far up on the right. If you are heading into town, take Exit 212 and turn right on Green, and it will run in to Lebanon Pike. Turn right on Lebanon Pike, and the cemetery will be up on the right. Nearly 40 Restoration Movement preachers are buried in this cemetery. Have a look at the map of where they are buried below.

Mount Olivet Cemetery Map

GPS Coordinates to the Lipscomb Plot
36°08'49.0"N 86°44'03.4"W
or D.d. 36.146936, -86.734278

Margaret Lipscomb

William Lipscomb
"A Christian Gentleman"

David Lipscomb

Some Links

Travel Map To Gospel Preachers Buried In Mt. Olivet Cemetery

David Lipscomb's Early Home Life And Parents

Biographical Sketch By H. Leo Boles

David Lipscomb at Find-A-Grave

Margaret "Aunt Mag" Lipscomb at Find-A-Grave

Zellner Lipscomb at Find-A-Grave

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