Tolbert Fanning

Tolbert Fanning

Birth
Cannon County, Tennessee, USA
Death 3 May 1874 (aged 63)
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Burial Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA
Plot Section 25 - Lot #56
Memorial ID 41783976 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Gospel preacher, educator, and co-founder of the Gospel Advocate. He is listed in Ligon's Portraiture of preachers.

TOLBERT FANNING
By GEORGE GOWEN
Tolbert Fanning was born in Cannon County, Tennessee, May 10, 1810. When he was eight years of age, his parents moved to Lauderdale county, Alabama, and he remained in that state until he was nineteen. His father was a planter on a small scale, and young Tolbert was brought up mainly in the cotton field. He was allowed to attend school from three to six months in the year, and it was his good fortune to be placed under the care of excellent teachers. He soon became fond of study and made considerable progress in acquiring the rudiments of an education. At this time his father, though highly respected in his county as an honorable gentleman, was not a member of any church, but his mother was an old Virginia Baptist, and a woman of fine intellect and great purity of life. From her, and from Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian preachers, whom he occasionally heard, he received his early religious instruction. At times his young heart was deeply impressed with the necessity of a religious life; but he was taught that "all men are in a state of total darkness, and must remain so till illuminated by special communications of the Spirit." From the time he was ten years old he had read the Bible, but supposed he could not understand a word in it without a special illumination from above. Seven years of his life was spent in this gloomy and hopeless condition. When sixteen years of age, he began to pay attention to the preaching of Ephraim D. Moore and James E. Mathews, who called themselves Christian preachers, and were great and good men. From their teaching he was encouraged to read the New Testament, with the view of really acquiring spiritual light. Soon all was plain, and his gloomy doubts gave place to an intelligent faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. About the first of October, 1827, he attended a meeting on Cypress, seven miles north of Florence, Alabama, and heard James E. Mathews preach a masterly discourse on the gospel and its conditions, and, at the conclusion of the discourse, he walked forward, and with a perfect understanding of the truth, made the confession, and was immediately immersed into Christ. The next two years were spent chiefly in studying the Scriptures, attending school and visiting the brethren in Alabama and Tennessee. On the first day of October, by the advice of the church at Republican, where he made the confession, he bade adieu to his family, for the purpose of preaching the gospel. Though young and inexperienced, such was his earnestness and zeal, and such the power of the truth which he preached, that everywhere thousands attended his meetings, and large numbers were brought into the kingdom. In November 1831, he entered the Nashville University, and graduated in 1835. During his college course, he preached considerable at different points in Tennessee, and made a tour with Brother A. Campbell to Ohio and Kentucky. While at Perryville, Ky., he held a successful debate with a Methodist preacher by the name of Rice. In 1836 he spent the spring and summer in a preaching tour, with Bro. A. Campbell, through Ohio, New York, Canada, New England and the Eastern cities. In 1837 he was married to Charlotte Fall, and in the same year opened a female seminary in Franklin, Tennessee. On the first day of January he moved to his place, five miles from Nashville, and conducted a female school till 1842, when he spent most of the year in a successful preaching tour through Alabama and Mississippi. In 1843 he began to build Franklin College, and, in October 1844, the buildings were completed, and Tolbert Fanning was elected the first president of the college. In 1861 he resigned the presidency to W. D. Carnes, President of the East Tennessee University, with the view of raising money to greatly enlarge the institution, but the war defeated all his calculations, and, in 1865, the college was destroyed by fire. "Hope Institute," for the education of young ladies, was erected on its ruins, and is now known and run as the Fanning Orphan School for Girls. Bro. Fanning's life was one of great activity. He was an editor for twenty years, taught school for nearly the same length of time, and traveled and preached in fifteen states, where he was instrumental in establishing many churches and scattering the good seed of the kingdom generally. As a speaker he was remarkably self-possessed, and presented points in a logical and forcible manner. Tolbert Fanning did a great and lasting work in Tennessee and the whole South as educator and preacher. He was a man of massive brain, iron will and granite character. He was by long odds the most towering form in the Restoration Movement in the South, and through his work in Franklin College gave direction to the lives and shaped the destinies of hundreds of young men. The extraordinary vigor of his intellect, the robustness of his faith, the genuineness of his religion, his freedom from cant, sham and hypocrisy, and the dauntless courage with which he maintained his convictions concerning primitive Christianity, made a profound impression upon all who came within the radius of his influence. He died at his old Franklin College home near Nashville, Tenn., May 3, 1874, survived by his life-long helper and co-worker, Charlotte Fall Fanning, sister of the sainted Philip S. Fall. --- John T. Brown, Church of Christ, 451-452.


Family Members

Spouse

Advertisement

Planning a visit to Mount Olivet Cemetery?

Advertisement

Advertisement

  • Created by: Tom Childers
  • Added: 9 Sep 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 41783976
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Tolbert Fanning (10 May 1810–3 May 1874), Find A Grave Memorial no. 41783976, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee, USA ; Maintained by Tom Childers (contributor 46515204) .