History of the Restoration Movement

Charles Ready Nichol


The Life Of C. R. Nichol
G.A. Obituary Of Mrs. C. R. "Hattie" Nichol
G.A. Obituary Of C. R. Nichol
C. R. Nichol, by Noble Patterson
The Call Comes To Sister Nichol, Wallace
Directions To The Grave Of C. R. Nichol

The Life Of C. R. Nichol

Charles Ready Nichol, the fourth child and the first son of the eleven children of Captain and Mrs. Jonathan Nichol, was born at Readyville, Tennessee, on March 26, 1876. When he was a small boy, he moved, with his family, to Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

He attended the Readyville and Murfreesboro public schools. He also attended the Nashville Bible School in Nashville, Tennessee. To further his education, he attended Southwest Kentucky College at Winchester, Kentucky; Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky.

In 1892, Nichol came to Texas and served as minister of the church at Corsicana, for two years. From Corsicana, he moved to Clifton, Texas, where he was minister of the church for another two-year period.

In 1948 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Abilene Christian College in Abilene, Texas.

Most of the remaining years of his lifetime, and until his health became impaired, Dr. Nichol engaged in evangelistic endeavors among churches of Christ throughout the United States and in many sections of Canada. He was one of the principles in more than 300 religious debates and preached in nearly every State in the union. Dr. Nichol was widely recognized as a Biblical scholar.

From 1934 to 1944, while on doctor's orders to stop traveling, he was minister of the church at Seminole, Oklahoma, and, from 1944 to 1946, he taught advanced Bible classes at George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles, California. While at George Pepperdine, he preached regularly for the Vermont Avenue church located adjacent to the campus.

In his earlier years in Texas, he was president for two years of Thorp Springs Christian College. He has also served as guest teacher at Abilene Christian College.

Dr. Nichol wrote 21 books during his lifetime, 15 of which are still in print. They were widely circulated through the Nichol Publishing Company, which is not in operation any more. They received orders from throughout the United States and from all over the world for his books. His booklet, "Nichol's Pocket Bible Encyclopedia," has sold well over a million copies and his publication, "Sound Doctrine," has been reprinted by request in Japanese, German, and Spanish languages. "Sound Doctrine," Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4 are used as textbooks for graduate class work in all Christian colleges in the United States and can be found in most all colleges and university libraries regardless of denomination.

For some time, Dr. Nichol's fine library, which was composed of more than 7,000 books, was sought by several educational institutions. Almost one whole case was filled with rare books more than 100 years old.

On December 31, 1896, Dr. Nichol married Miss Harriet Thompson, a daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. George B. Helm of Clifton, Texas. To this marriage one daughter was born, Hazel Ready (Mrs. E. A. Priddy). Dr. and Mrs. Nichol celebrated their golden wedding anniversary on December 31, 1946, less than two years prior to her death on April 1, 1948.

Dr. Nichol always took an active interest in civic affairs, both in Clifton, and wherever he resided. He was a member of the Lions Club and Rotary Club. He was an ardent lover of flowers and served often, during the years, as a flower judge.

Dr. Nichol liked sports of all kinds, and his hobby was golf, which he continued to play until he was past 80 years of age. He helped organize the Clifton Golf Club and, while living in Los Angeles, California, played with the then World Champion, Byron Nelson, whom he beat one hole.

He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1926. Those who read his works and knew of his great knowledge of the Bible, came to his home from everywhere for his advice and counsel. Dr. Nichol was 85 years of age when he died.

Left to survive Dr. Nichol at the time of his death were one daughter, Mrs. E. A. Priddy of Clifton, Texas; two brothers, minister David Nichol of Conroe, Texas, and W. P. Nichol of Pleasanton, Kansas; and one sister, Mrs. C. L. Moore (Hart) of Blytheville, Arkansas.

Funeral service was held at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, July 8, 1961, at the Clifton Funeral Home Chapel. The service was conducted by Reuel Lemmons of Austin, Texas, Cled Wallace of Austin, Texas, and Hulen Jackson of Dallas, Texas.

During the service, a quartet composed of Mrs. Eldon Zimmerman, Mrs. Chris Strand, Harlan Hoel, and Hulen C. Aars, sang "Have Thine Own Way, Lord" and "In the Garden." Pallbearers were Charles Woodridge of Dallas, Sanford Pool of Valley Mills, and Jack C. Tucker, Clarence Carpenter, W. B. Oswald, L. E. Tennison, Robert Baldridge, Jr., and J. C. Kincheloe all of Clifton.

Interment followed in the Clifton Cemetery.

In the passing of C. R. Nichol the churches of Christ lost a powerful preacher, an able defender of the faith, a great example of faithfulness to the end. May our memory of him dwell long with us.

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G.A. Obituary For Harriet "Hattie" Thompson Helm Nichol

Sister Nichol's Passing Sudden

The passing of Sister C. R. Nichol, Clifton, Texas, early in the morning of March 31 was rather sudden. She had been ill for a few days, and her physician prescribed a week of rest. She was taking this rest in the home of her daughter, Mrs. E. A. Priddy, of Valley Mills, Texas, which is near Clifton. On Tuesday afternoon she began feeling worse, and suffered for several hours; but she was seemingly better shortly before the end came. Death was reportedly caused either by a stroke of paralysis or a blood clot.

She was born the eldest child of the late George B. and Betty McLennan. Helm, highly-respected early citizens of Clifton. She was born Harriet Thompson Helm on December 31, 1879 at the farm home. of her parents, a few miles south of Clifton, on the Valley Mills Road. She was married to Charles Ready Nichol on December 31, 1896, by the late Joe S. Warlick. To this union one child was born-Miss Ready Nichol, now Mrs. E.A. Priddy, of Valley Mills. On December 31, 1946, Brother and Sister Nichol celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a lovely reception at the home of Mrs. Nichol's sister, Mrs. N. W., Willett, Jr., at Clifton.

At about the age. of thirteen years she was baptized by the late-A. J. McCarty. She was throughout her subsequent life an active worker in the church. She finished the Clifton schools before her marriage, and graduated from Texas State College for Women, Denton, Texas, in 1917. She taught home economics in Rule and Hubbard, and was a home demonstration agent in Corsicana.

Clifton was always her home, and with the above exceptions, she also lived with her husband for a few years at Seminole, Okla., and Los Angeles, Calif. She served as publisher for the literature of which Brother Nichol was author. From the Clifton Record of April 2, 1948, the following facts are gleaned:

"She also had a well-developed social and civic consciousness. A charter member of both the Clifton Magazine Club and Civic Improvement Society, Mrs. Nichol believed in improving both the mind and the city. Her name is among those inscribed on the cornerstone of the Clifton City Hall, and she was a member of the Civic Society committee which is actively engaged at this time in beautifying the south highway approach to Clifton. Her hobby was growing flowers, and she grew them beautifully.

"Mrs. Nichol did not just advocate; she did. She was an active worker toward bringing natural gas and all of it advantages to Clifton, even though, at the time, the company did not think the city lines would extend to her home here. "With her keen mind, which was none the less keen when' she died, and her natural ability was mixed a wonderful sense of humor which made it a joy to be in her company.

"Mrs. Nichol will be sorely missed, because she was greatly loved-and-respected, and also because her place as a selfless civic worker certainly will be hard to fill. The large and exceptionally beautiful floral tribute within itself showed the esteem in which she was held."
She is survived by Brother Nichol, the daughter (Mrs. Priddy, of Valley Mills), one brother and two sisters (Dr. Lee W. Helm and Mrs. Johnnie Behrens, Waco, Texas; and Mrs. N. W. Willett, Jr., Clifton). Cled E. Wallace, Weatherford, Texas, conducted the funeral services. Interment was in the Clifton Cemetery.
-Gospel Advocate, Obituary, Vol. XC, No. 17, April 22, 1948, page 405.

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G. A. Obituary For C. R. Nichol
End of An Era
L. D. Harless

Only a few days ago announcement was made of the passing of C. R. Nichol. On July 18 he was followed in death by S. H. Hall. These men wielded a powerful influence for good during their long careers. Their passing calls to mind the fact that the end of an era is near. They were one generation removed from such giants as David Lipscomb, James A. Harding and E. G. Sewell.

Both Brother Hall and Brother Nichol were rugged debaters. Their method, it seems, was to learn all the truth possible on a given subject and then attack relentlessly. Many a would-be defender of error felt the sting of their barbs and the weight of their logic.

Just this past week it was my privilege to hear Jesse P. Sewell. Brother Sewell is eighty-five years of age. His sermon was delivered with warmth and conviction. One could sense the unbounded faith of this wonderful man. But the ranks are thinning. H. Leo Boles, Batsell Baxter, G. C. Brewer-these men and others like them were great. The world is better because of them. And now they have been joined by Brother Hall and Brother Nichol and together they await the great day of our Lord.

Thanks be to God for the hope which they held and preached steadfast to the end.
-Gospel Advocate Vol. CIII, No. 30, July 27, 1961 page 468

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C. R. Nichol
by Noble Patterson

One of the most important and influential figures in the growth of New Testament Christianity of the past 125 years was C. R. Nichol. Actually, Charles Ready Nichol needs no introduction to students of church history and the Restoration Movement. Through his righteousness of life and his extensive and highly effective ministry as a gospel preacher and defender of the faith, his fame spread abroad in all the land. . .recognized and proclaimed by faithful brethren throughout the nation. He died July 7, 1961 in Clifton, Texas.

"Never was there an individual who manifested greater reverence for the word of God or a truer desire to see it faithfully obeyed."

These words were written by Robert Richardson upon the death of Thomas Campbell. The same thought could be affirmed by the thousands who knew C. R. Nichol. He was truly a great spiritual giant.

Charles Ready Nichol was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, in the little hamlet of Readyville, twelve miles from Murfreesboro, March 26, 1876. Not much is known of his paternal ancestors. His father was of Irish-English descent and was orphaned early in life.

Through his maternal descent comes a distinguished lineage. He was the great grandson of Colonel Charles Ready, an attorney, for whom Readyville, Tennessee was named. Colonel Ready went from Maryland to Tennessee, in 1801 and built a beautiful three-story brick home of Colonial design. Many distinguished and prominent visitors were entertained there, including Presidents Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, and James K. Polk.

Charles's father, Captain Nichol, served in the War Between the States. Having gathered the men under him from the community in which he lived, Rutherford County, his company was part of General Bedford Forrest's regiment. Four times he was seriously wounded. At Shiloh he was carried from the battlefield with the dead, but was soon back in action. An enemy bullet remained in his right shoulder until death.

Charles's mother, as a young girl, distinguished herself during the War Between the States as a Southerner of the deepest loyalty. She often talked herself through the Northern lines to carry messages to the Southern army. Her full name was Mary Palmer Holmes. After her marriage to Captain Nichol she had no ambition other than to be a helpful, loving wife and mother, who devoted herself to the rearing of six girls and five boys. Charles was the fourth child and eldest son.

In high school Charles was the top student in all classroom work. For class recitation Charles read history lessons only once. He read carefully using a map and full description of places studied. Problems in mathematics were usually solved before a mark was put on his slate. When he completed the studies of algebra and trigonometry he could solve any problem in math. This strong intellectual analysis of any subject was characteristic of Charles throughout his life.

He began making talks in religious gatherings and was soon approached by a group in which was a man whom he highly respected. The man said, "We have decided that you wish to become a minister. If you will go to a (certain) college where the Bible is taught and become a preacher we will pay all expenses until you have completed school," Charles declined the offer, saying, "It is my intention to become a preacher of the gospel. However, something might change my determination, my life's course. I would not have you invest money in me and my efforts be expended differently from what you had expected, thank you, I will make my own way. . .I prefer it that way." He worked his way through college.

Since preparation for the ministry was Charles's ultimate goal, Nashville Bible School was his choice. Charles entered college with as rich prospects as any student could possibly aspire youth, lighthearted, handsome and a keen and eager intellect, ever anxious to learn.

As a student his schedule was full, working one-half day and attending classes one-half day. He worked in the Gospel Advocate office where he learned first to be a typesetter, then a proofreader. Later he worked on some of the large daily papers.

At the time of his enrollment at Nashville Bible School, he was assigned to room with A. D. Rogers. They became confidential friends. Then after two years with college days ending, partings must come. With Nichol and Rogers, after so close a friendship the separations were sad. The two men are noticeable contrasts. They had the same goal in view to be ministers of the gospel. They studied the same Bible. Both sat at the feet of David Lipscomb and James A. Harding. Upon graduation, Rogers cast his lot with the Christian Church. Nichol remained faithful to the word, which he had so capably learned under Lipscomb and Harding.

From Nashville Bible School Nichol went to Texas to visit a classmate, Eugene Houston. Reaching Corsicana, Texas in 1892, he found that a life of opportunities lay before him.

He lived in the home of Dr. B. F Houston, father of his friend, Eugene. Immediately upon his arrival he began working for the church. Thus, at the age of twenty-one he began his public ministry. A few members were found in Corsicana who had discontinued meeting for regular worship due to small numbers and lack of leadership. He began working to assemble them and soon they were meeting each Lord's Day with Nichol preaching. A spirit of cooperation and unity was prevalent among the brethren. At the same time he worked through the week as a printer on the Corsicana Daily and Weekly Light.

After more than two years in Corsicana, Nichol accepted an invitation to work with the church in Clifton, Texas. During the two years he was in Clifton, brethren across the country had become conscious of his outstanding preaching. Calls for his services were so numerous he resigned and went into full-time evangelistic work. But while in Clifton, he made the acquaintance of Miss Harriet Helm who later became his wife.

These were the days of digression that was sweeping the brotherhood as a giant wave. It was in these pioneer days in the section of the country where he labored that opposition to the church of Christ was at its greatest. Public squares, meetings halls, and churches across the country resounded with the most bitter and heated orating in our history. The primary purpose of these religious antagonists was to crush and destroy the New Testament church. Especially was this true of the Christian Church following the division of the church which culminated in August 1886 at the State Meeting in Austin, Texas. The Christian Church had its organized beginning at that time. Soon it grew into an archenemy of the church of Christ, capturing virtually all of the congregations and educated preachers in the state. One writer, in reporting the situation at the time said that every congregation of consequence in Texas, except the church in Dallas and in Sherman, went with the Christian Church. It looked as if the denominations, with the aid of the Christian Church, would find complete destruction an easy matter. Consequently, they pressed the conflict from every side. The outlook for the church was at a low ebb. Repeated challenges for debate were showered upon the weak congregations. Defenders of sectarianism were imported from other states to sound the death knell.

The Christian Church was very aggressive and persistent. By means fair or foul, they took possession of the best church houses, forcing out all those who would not go along with "the majority." Thus, forced out of buildings, faithful brethren used county school houses which in practically all instances were inadequate to meet the needs. They built brush arbors for summer time use in holding protracted meetings. Brethren were disheartened, they were discouraged. It was a gloomy picture indeed.

It was in these crucial and turbulent controversies with the foes of the church that young C. R. Nichol acquired fame as a debater. He was thrust into the front ranks of the fight against the sweeping tide of digression that was engulfing the church. Time and again he was called upon to walk out on the polemic platform and defend the church against these teachers of false doctrine. He gave brethren new hope. They stood together. They fought together and they won. The struggle was immense.

In the course of his extensive service to the church in defense of truth, Nichol was involved in 300 debates. Apart from the struggle with the First Christian Church over the issues of mechanical music and missionary societies, most of these debates were with the leading denominational preachers of the day. He had 7 debates with the champion Baptist debater, Ben Bogard. Bogard indicated his great respect for C. R. Nichol when he stated, "I have never taken Mr. Nichol by surprise in an argument; nor have I ever seen him at a loss as how to proceed. He is always prepared."

As an educator Nichol became President of Thorp Spring Christian College in 1916. His goal was to try to bring the scholastic standing to State recognition within two years. In this he was successful. The school was given Junior College recognition by the College Association of Texas. Leaving Thorp Spring, he again devoted full time to evangelistic work and writing.

A review of the files of the Firm Foundation and Gospel Advocate discloses that he was an associate with each publication. For a number of years he was front page editor for the Firm Foundation, and in charge of the Texas Department for the Gospel Advocate.

In his extensive work as a gospel preacher for 62 years, he was called for work from coast to coast and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. He baptized more than 30,000 people; the largest number in one series of meetings was 102 in Madisonville, Texas.

During the winter of 1932 no meetings were scheduled and plans were made to devote the time to study and writings. The church in Seminole, Oklahoma, learned of his decision and asked that he come to them and assist in the work there. If he would preach at services on Sunday and also on Wednesday nights, the remainder of time would be his for study. He went there for three months and remained ten years. He did an outstanding work as the local minister and was held in the highest esteem by the citizens of Seminole.

In 1944 Nichol went from Seminole, Oklahoma, to Los Angeles, California, where he taught Senior Bible classes in George Pepperdine College. During this time he also preached for the Vermont Avenue church of Christ, the congregation where many of the students and faculty attended worship.

Nichol was very fond of all kinds of sports, including hunting and fishing. However, he was finally bit hard by the golf bug. He and Byron Nelson, a faithful member of the church, were good friends and were together often on the golf course.

Closing his two-year association with Pepperdine College he returned to his beloved home in Clifton, Texas and once again entered a busy schedule of evangelistic work.

I was privileged to hear C. R. Nichol preach on three separate occasions. One occasion was in Corsicana, another in Fort Worth, and the third at the Abilene Christian College Lectureship. On each occasion I was enthralled by his Bible knowledge and speaking ability.

On July 8, 1961, Eldred Stevens and I drove to Clifton, Texas for the funeral of C. R. Nichol. The memorial service was conducted by Reuel Lemmons, Cled Wallace, and Hulen Jackson.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to C. R. Nichol. He was truly a man among men and a prince among us. Let us never forget!

-By Noble Patterson, Freed-Hardeman University 2004 Lectures: Opening Our Eyes To Jesus From Darkness To Light, c.2004 Freed-Hardeman University, Henderson, Tennessee, pages 341-345
Webmaster's Note: It was my pleasure to attend the session on the life of C. R. Nichol taught by Noble Patterson. He granted permission to use this sketch on our website. Many thanks to him for the many hours of diligent research and effort to give attention to the life of this great man of God.

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Cled E. Wallace

"It is appointed unto men once to die." The circumstances differ widely. To some it Is an immeasurable tragedy. To others it is a triumph, a promotion. When Brother C. R. Nichol was a very young man he married Hattie Helm, a girl of seventeen years. They walked the road of life together for fifty-one years. I knew them and loved them for very many seasons of these years. Devoted to each other and Interested in the same things they shared the richness of their lives. In the very nature of things they could not expect much more. The time of parting is always painful and the ones who are left have to travel a lonesome road. It is the price of happiness. Fitting tribute has been paid Sister Nichol. She was educated, cultured and a refined example of the very best In Christian womanhood. It has been said that when a man makes an outstanding success in worthy accomplishment, the influence of a good woman is a major inspiration. Sister Nichol certainly played a large part in the success of her illustrious husband.

The Nichols' were always influential and leading citizens where they lived and received general recognition as such. The tribute paid her at the last said service at Clifton, Texas, by a host of people both local and from a distance was very touching. We craved to keep her for the remaining years we hoped she would live. Since it had to be as It is, she will continue to live here In the memories that bless even while they burn. Her death leaves Brother Nichol and their daughter, Ready, much that is rich to feed upon in the way of happiness. It has not killed anything in the way of faith and hope and love. It is an elevator that lifts the true and the great such as she to heights or eternal life which only the power and the Jove of God can provide. It is "very far better." Otherwise the Lord would never have said, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord."

-Firm Foundation, May 4, 1948, page 4

Directions To The Grave Of C. R. Nichol

C. R. Nichol is buried in the Clifton Cemetery in the central Texas town of Clifton. Travel south of Fort Worth on I-35W toward Waco. When the highway rejoins E. I-35 take the exit at Hillsboro and head west on Hwy. 22. Cross over the dam at Lake Whitney and travel a few more miles. Then turn left on Hwy. 219. Travel into Clifton until you get to Hwy. 6. Turn Left on Hwy. 6 toward Waco and go .6 miles to the edge of town where the cemetery will be on your right. The cemetery has two entrances. Go to the second entrance, marked as pictured below, Clifton Cemetery. Go into the cemetery and note the small granite section markers as you go through. Pass Section "A" on your left and go to the flagpole. Stop and walk over past the flagpole into Section "C". Go to the second row and count five lots in toward the fence. This will be the Nichol lot. Also buried in the block is daughter, Hazel Ready (Nichol) Priddy (Apr. 16, 1898 - Sept. 16, 1977), and Son-in-law, Edward Alvin Priddy (Mar. 7, 1893 - Jan. 3, 1987)

GPS Coordinates
31°46'17.4"N 97°34'24.1"W
or D.d. 31.771500, -97.573367
Grave Facing NE
Accuracy to 15ft.
Section C, Row 3, Block 5, #1-8

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Clifton Cemetery

The C. R. Nichol Family Plot

Hazel Ready (Nichol) Priddy
April 16, 1898
September 16, 1977

Edwin Alvin Priddy
March 7, 1893
January 3, 1987

Hattie Nelm Nichol

Dr. Charles Ready Nichol

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