Jun. 6, 1860 Mecklenburg County North Carolina, USA
Mar. 6, 1902 Charlotte Mecklenburg County North Carolina, USA
Rev. John Thomas Chalmers, D. D., the son of Rev. James Clark Chalmers and Mary Letitia Strong, was born in the bounds of Steele Creeke in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina June 6th 1860.
Rev. Chalmers is a descendant, on his mother's side, of John Harris and Elenor Reynolds, who were married in 1754, in the Monaghan jail in Ireland, by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Clark. Dr. Clark at that time had been imprisoned for refusing to take the State Oath and to kiss the book. These young people of his congregation came to him in the jail, and were married by him. They soon afterwards came to America, and from this historic pair has sprung a numerous progeny who have occupied useful and influential places in the A. R. P. and other churches in this country. In a sketch of the Harris family, published by his mother, Mrs. Mary Chalmers a few years ago, it is stated that at that time there were forty-nine ministers descended from this pious and worthy pair, and one of these is Dr. Chalmers, the subject of this sketch.
In 1875, at the age of fifteen, Mr. Chalmers entered Erskine College, and graduated in 1878. Soon after he graduated he commenced the study of theology under his father, and afterwards attended Erskine Seminary at Due West, South Carolina and completed his course at Union Seminary, New York City. He was licensed by the First Presbytery at Steele Creek, North Carolina April 6th 1880. Before leaving the Seminary he received calls from New York in the United Presbyterian Church, and also from North and South Carolina. He accepted the call from Winnsboro, South Carolina and was ordained and installed at Winnsboro, April 28th 1881. For nearly eleven years he was pastor there, and under his ministry the church prospered greatly, and his influence was great in the Presbytery and the Synod. In the fall of 1891 he resigned his charge at Winnsboro, and in October of the same year, he became pastor of the Fourth United Presbyterian, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and continued there for four years. This is one of the largest churches of the U. P. Assembly, and under his pastorate it maintained its high standard of excellence. While he was pastor there, he started a Sabbath School in 1892 with eleven pupils. In three years' this enterprise developed into a church with fifty members and a Sabbath School of two hundred and seventy-five members. Today it is the Wharton Square Church, with several hundred members, and is one of the leading U. P. Churches of Philadelphia. Dr. Chalmers was attaining an eminent position in the U. P. Church, but he could not stand the severe climate, and he had to return to the South in 1895.
On April 22nd 1896, he was installed pastor of the A. R. P. Church at Charlotte, North Carolina and so continued until his death on March 6th 1902. While he was pastor in Charlotte he opened a mission school, which soon grew into a congregation. He canvassed the Synod for funds to build a church, and erected it, and it is now the East Avenue Church, with a pastor, a membership of two hundred and fifty and a Sabbath school of over three hundred pupils.
While he was pastor in Winnsboro, he was for five years Associate Editor of the A. R. Presbyterian, and contributed more than six hundred articles to its columns. In 1900 he published a pamphlet entitled "Ten Reasons why the A. R. P. Church Adheres to an Inspired Psalter," which is said, by competent judges, to be one of the ablest papers on that subject.
He was a popular lecturer of high order, and his efforts on the platform always met with the highest encomiums from the people and the press.
During the year 1884, he spent three months as a special agent of Erskine Theological Seminary, traveling over the Synod and raising an additional endowment of $25,000. At the meeting of Synod in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1899, he was elected President of Erskine College to succeed the late Dr. W. M. Grier, but he declined to accept it, preferring to remain in the pastorate. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred on him by the trustees of Monmouth College, in Illinois.
Rev. Chalmers was twice married, first to Miss Johnnie Caroline Brice, of New Hope, Fairfield County, South Carolina on Oct. 26th 1882. She was the daughter of John Brice and Agnes Caroline Strong and was born Oct. 18th. 1863. Six children were the fruit of this marriage, four of whom survive. Mrs. Chalmers died January 15th 1893. His second marriage occurred Aug. 18th 1897, to Miss Bessie Mitchell, a half-sister of his first wife. She is the daughter of Thomas P. and Agnes C. [Strong] Mitchell and was born Aug. 28th 1870. Two children were born to her, who with their mother survive. About two years before his death, Rev. Chalmers developed pulmonary disease, and it was a sore battle with him until the end peacefully came.
In December 1900, accompanied by his wife and child he went to Mexico, and spent eight months in seeking to overcome his disease, but all that climate or medical skill could do, did not stay the destroyer. Surrounded by his sorrowing family, in the manse hard by the church of his love in Charlotte, North Carolina he passed away March 6th 1902. His remains were taken to Winnsboro, South Carolina and he now rests beside his father and mother, his first wife and two children, in the A. R. P. Cemetery at that place.
Rev. Chalmers was a man of very remarkable gifts and endowments, and his death so early in life was a great loss to the Church.
He was a finished scholar, a learned theologian, a polished and eloquent orator in the pulpit or on the platform, a man of clear judgment, wonderful executive ability, indomitable energy, and a natural leader of men. To sit under his ministry was to feed on the deep as well as the practical things of the word, and to be his parishioner was to be a worker in the vineyard of the Master. Had he belonged to one of the large denominations of our country, he would have had a national fame.
We shall not soon see his like again, and there was mourning all over the Church on the day that he received his crown.
Inscription: ≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈ JOHN THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D. SON OF REV. J.C.& M.L. CHALMERS JUNE 6, 1860 MARCH 6, 1902 PASTOR WINNSBORO,S.C. 1881―1891. PASTOR 4TH U.P.CHURCH PHILAD'A P.A. 1891―1896. PASTOR CHARLOTTE N.C 1896―1902. "A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED." "HE BEING DEAD YET SPEAKETH." ════════ CHALMERS ════════