History of the Restoration Movement

William A. Sewell


Preacher And Father Of Jesse P. Sewell

by G.C. Brewer

For more than a century the name of Sewell has been a household word with simple Christians everywhere, and' especially in Tennessee. The man who first made this name renowned was Jesse L. Sewell. He found his way out of the fog of superstition and of denominational error in the early days of the Restoration Movement and then devoted his life to the proclamation of the glorious gospel, and consequently to a condemnation of denominationalism and all the errors that grow out of it. Other members of the Sewell family came to a knowledge of the truth and became worthy and honored exponents of the ancient order of things religious.

E. G. Sewell, a younger brother of Jesse L. Sewell, was for fifty years one of the editors of the Gospel Advocate. No young preacher should be without these two books: "The Life of Jesse L. Sewell," by David Lipscomb, and "Gospel Lessons and Life History," by E. G. Sewell. But Jesse L. Sewell gave to the world three or four sons, who also preached the gospel over a long period of years. The last one of these sons, William A. Sewell, went to join his fathers and to be with Christ from San Antonio, Texas, April 12, 1944. He was born January 6, 1845. He was, therefore, in the one hundredth year of his life when he was released to go and be with his loved and own. Even at that extremely ripe age, however, Brother Sewell left loved ones here. His wife, who had been with him for nearly three-quarters of a century and who is now ninety-seven, survives him. His son, Jesse P. Sewell, and a grandson, Jesse Mack Sewell, also survive him. Jesse P. Sewell is the preacher for the Grove Avenue Church, in San Antonio, and Jesse Mack is an elder in the church at El Paso. He also preaches when the occasion demands it.

William A. Sewell was born in Overton County, Tenn. It would be difficult even to think of all the changes that have come in that country, as well as in all the rest of the nation, since he came. into the world. There were no railroads in that country then, no telephones, no mail deliveries, no electric lights, not even kerosene lamps. The people used tallow candles and made them at home. They took tallow from the beef produced and killed at home and poured it into the molds and made the candles. Matches were unknown, and the people twisted paper into "lamplighters" and got the light at the open log fire by which they heated their houses and over which they cooked their meals. Coal oil was not then in use and gasoline was unheard of. Of course, then, the gasoline motor which enables us to have our automobiles and airplanes had never come into the mind of man. Wool was carded by hand, spun into thread, and woven into cloth, all at home by hand-operated machines-if they can be called machines. This cloth was cut and sewed into garments by hand. Marvelous and almost countless were the changes that took place in the world during the life of Brother Sewell. When he was born, Texas was not a state and there were only about twenty-four states in the Union.

But some things did not change. Human nature and human needs remained the same. Suffering and sin were here when he came and were here when he departed. Principles of truth, honesty, kindness, sympathy, righteousness, and salvation did not change in that centurylong life, and they will never change, regardless of how many centuries roll by.

Will Sewell began preaching the gospel when he was in his twenties and continued as long as his strength of mind and body lasted. He preached his last sermon in the Grove Avenue Church, at San Antonio, when he was ninety years old. For at least seventy-five years, therefore, he served his Lord as a pro claimer of his word. He had been faithful to his one wife through all those years, loyal to the truth in his preaching, consistent in his practice, and holy in his living. His son said he never in all his life heard his father say an unkind word to anybody or about anybody. Brother Larimore did not excel that record.

Brother Sewell preached in the upper Cumberland country of Tennessee and Kentucky, in the hills and mountains and rugged country before the present writers and readers of the Gospel Advocate were born, with few exceptions. He also preached in North Alabama, which was then also in a primitive and undeveloped condition. He held meetings at Russellville, Haleyville, Phil Campbell, and Bear Creek. He also went down into Winston and Walker Counties in the long ago. There may be some elderly people in those regions who will remember William A. Sewell.

This writer has in his own preaching experiences, which go back now over a period of forty years, had people to tell him about the time when Jesse L. Sewell preached in the various places he has visited. Others have talked about some Sewell who preached here many years ago, but they could not recall the. given name or the initials. Rice, Caleb, and Will were all preachers and were sons of the revered Jesse L. Sewell. This writer is now sure that the Sewell inquired about in the Alabama communities where he first preached was William A. Sewell, in whose funeral service he but recently had a part.

Jesse P. Sewell has expressed a desire to visit some of those Alabama churches where his father preached so long ago. Take notice, brethren of Russellville, Haleyville, etc.

Brother Sewell had lived in Texas for many years. He was the first preacher ever to do "local work" in Texas. He preached for the church at Corsicana and was paid $600 a year-or $50 a month.

The funeral service for Brother Sewell was conducted in the Grove Avenue Church, of San Antonio. Hatton B. Gist and this writer made talks, but all the preachers of that city had a part in one way or another. The body was then taken to Abilene, where another service was conducted and where the interment took place.

Our aged Sister Sewell ("Mother Sewell," as she is affectionately called) is at 112 West Woodlawn, in San Antonio, Texas. Jesse P. Sewell has had his aged parents tenderly cared for for many years. No great work of his life of service and of accomplishments is nobler or more Christian than this. Jesse P. Sewell and his worthy wife have their home at 536 Hammond Avenue, San Antonio, Texas.

This writer has had quite an unusual experience in his last three meetings. The day he began the meeting at Beacon Hill, in San Antonio, Brother Dickey, the preacher at that church, had gone to the funeral of his father. From there the writer went to Sherman for a meeting, and the day that meeting began he was called to Alabama for his own mother's funeral. Then his next meeting was at Grove Avenue, and the day that meeting closed Brother Sewell's father went home. The hymn that Brother Larimore used to love to quote is certainly apropos:

Friends who have loved me are slipping away;
Silently onward they glide;
Still are their voices as backward they stray.
Calling me over the tide.

Special Thanks To: Tom L. Childers for providing this eulogy by G. C. Brewer, October, 2011- From Gospel Advocate, May 4, 1944, p.299

Ligon Portraiture Picture

Directions To The Grave Of William A. Sewell

W. A. Sewell is buried in Abilene, Texas in the City Cemetery. The Abilene Municipal Cemetery is located in Abilene, Texas. In Abilene, take I-20 to Exit 290, Hwy. 332. As you head south from the exit you will need immediately to turn right, heading west on E. North 10th Street. Head out about a mile and you will see cemeteries on your left and right after the Railroad crossing. Enter the main entrance to your right and go to "T" and turn right. Go to the dead end and turn left. Go as far as you can toward the back of the cemetery, and just before turning left at the end, look to your left. The Sewell Plot will be on the corner. Sewell is buried in the plot next to his son's family Jesse P. Sewell. Cemetery Map Here

GPS Coordinates
Acc. to 14ft.
N32° 27.726' x WO99° 43.354'
or D.d 32.462116,-99.722543
Grave Faces East
Section Cedar Hill Block 117 Lot 1 Space 3

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Nancy T. Sewell

William A. Sewell

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