Leonard Lee Brigance
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of L.L. Brigance
Leonard Lee Brigance was born in 1879 at Scotts Hill, Henderson County, Tennessee. He was the son of W. Sanders and Mary Frances Brigance. He obeyed the gospel early in life under the preaching of R. P. Meeks. He finished high school at Scotts Hill and continued his studies at Georgia Robertson Christian College in Henderson. He completed the course there in 1905 and obtained the M.A. degree from that school. He became a member of the faculty of the college, then known as National Teachers Normal and Business College, in the year of 1909, the second session of its operation. He was instructor in Latin, Greek, Literature and the Bible. His philosophy was the saying of Emerson, "Hitch your wagon to a star." With the exception of a few years, he was a member of the Freed-Hardeman College faculty from its earliest years until he passed away.
In 1899, Brigance married Mintie Turner of Scotts Hill. She lived only one year after that date and, in the year of 1904, he married Maude Hardeman who remained his loyal, devoted companion until his passing in 1950. Maude outlived Brigance by seven years. To this union, three children were born: Dorothy, Mary Frances, and Fred. All of the children graduated from Freed-Hardeman College and were firmly established in Christian homes in honorable professions, and they were influential in their home congregations before the passing of their father.
Brigance began preaching in 1902 and continued active until a few months before his death. In the early 1930's, he developed diabetes. Though handicapped by it, he did not allow it to stop him either from his teaching or his preaching.
As a part of the 1960 Homecoming activities at Freed-Hardeman College, H. A. Dixon led in erecting a memorial to Brigance, who for many years instructed young preachers in Bible, Church History, and other subjects, and whose good influence still lives in those who he instructed.
From the plaque which hangs beneath the picture of Brigance in the auditorium at Freed-Hardeman College, W. C. Hall, one of his co-laborers, penned the following words: "It will not be an underestimate to say that he contacted at least 10,000 students and made them appreciate the principles of the New Testament as no other could have done. He is held in the very highest esteem by all who knew him."
As a part of the Homecoming program in 1961, a building was acquired, the residence of Mrs. C. M. Purdy, and dedicated to the honor of Brigance. The residence is known as *Brigance Hall.
Brigance passed away on February 4, 1950, at the age of 71. Funeral service was held Sunday afternoon, February 5, 1950, at the church building in Henderson. The service was conducted by brethren W. Claude Hall and C.P. Roland. All who knew him could say with deep conviction, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."
-Gussie Lambert, In Memoriam, pages. 35,36
*Webmaster Note: As a student at Freed-Hardeman, I lived in the Brigance Hall Dormitory, 1976, 1977
L.L. Brigance: Humble Teacher
Leadership, Service, and Philanthropy Honors Section
Brother George Dehoff, in his Preface to Brigance's Outlines, wrote: "L.L. Brigance was a great man. He was free from hobbies and hurtful extremes. He could be depended upon to take a same and reasonable view of any matter that came up. Above all he was loyal to the word of God. He frequently admonished young preachers and others to do all the good they possibly could regardless of any unfavorable circumstances which confronted them" (Outlines 4). Considered a good and extremely humble man, L.L. Brigance contributed greatly to the cause of Christ, and earned the recognition he rightfully deserved through the naming of Brigance Hall at Freed-Hardeman University.
Leonard Lee Brigance was born at Scotts Hill, in Decatur County, Tennessee, on May 11, 1879. His proud parents were W. Sanders Brigance and Mary Frances Brigance.
His mother was a Christian, baptized by R. P. Meeks (the same man who baptized N. B. Hardeman). His father answered the gospel call under the fiery preaching of J. L. Haddock in the early 1890's. Elmer D. Brigance, L.L.'s only brother, taught at Freed Hardeman College, served many years as an elder at Henderson, and wrote a great deal of articles for the Gospel Advocate. Leonard also had two sisters: Minnie and Mittie. Mittie and Elmer were baptized by "Roaring Tom" Smith (Hester 1).
The Brigance family owned a farm at Scotts Hill. Leonard grew up here (Outlines 3), and would later refer to himself as a "dirt farmer" (Hester 1). At the age of 18, Leonard answered the call of God and was immersed for the forgiveness of his sins by R. P. Meeks (Outlines 3). His sister Minnie obeyed the gospel at the same time (Hester 1).
In 1897, Leonard entered "Scotts Hill College", one of the best preparatory (high) schools in the entire state (Outlines 3). B. A. Tucker served as principal during Brigance's stay (Hester 2). After graduation, Brigance's set his mind on other matters.
On July 2, 1899, he married his hometown love, Mintie Turner. Unfortunately, she passed away just one year later, on September 25, 1900 (Hester 1).
However, Brigance was determined to "preach the word," even in the face of hardship (Outlines 3). In the fall of 1901, he entered Georgie Robertson Christian College under the presidency of A. G. Freed. His teachers included A. G. Freed, N. B. Hardeman, E. C. McDougle, C. B. Ijams, and others. He studied Bible under A. G. Freed and N. B. Hardeman, and the Greek NT under E. C. McDougle. He received his B. A. degree as valedictorian of his class. He was awarded the prized oratory medal, and returned the following year to earn his M. A. (graduate) degree (Outlines 3).
Brigance married Maude Hardeman in the summer of 1904. A. G. Freed conducted the ceremony. After the wedding, Brigance and his wife left on a train in order for Leonard to conduct a gospel meeting (Hester 2). Leonard and his wife bore three children: Dorthy, Mary Francis, and Fred. Each attended and graduated from Freed-Hardeman College (Hester 2). When Brigance died in 1950, he left behind six grandchildren.
Leonard Lee Brigance preached his first gospel sermon on December 23, 1901 at the Scotts Hill church where he grew up (Outlines 3). The title of his first sermon was "Faith" (Hester 3). He continued preaching as he studied at Georgie Robertson College.
He began teaching at Georgie Robertson Christian College in 1904 (Outlines 3) as a graduate student (Hester 3). He also spent some time teaching school in Venus, Texas.
According to Hester, Brigance "was made president of Burnetta College for 1907-08. This experience in managing this institution prepared him for his life's teaching at Freed-Hardeman College. When FHC was built in 1907-8 and the classical language department needed an able instructor, Brigance was called back to Henderson to become head of this department in 1909" (Hester 3). From 1923-1925, Brigance left Freed-Hardeman in order to preach full time in congregations from Florida to Michigan. He then returned to Freed-Hardeman, where he continued to teach and work until his death.
Upon his return, he was named head of the English Department and manager of advertising (Hester 3). In his own autobiography, Brigance claimed he taught New Testament and Church History, "giving special attention to the history of the 'Restoration Movement"' (Outlines 4). That is a brief description of the work of L.L. Brigance.
Classes he taught included Latin, Greek, Literature, History, Science, and English (Hester 2b). He was known for keeping up with current events. "He commonly had chapel programs once every two weeks in which he always gave some current event of the times" (Hester 5). Brigance also recognized the value of Bible study. He would have his students in class answer the roll call by quoting a verse of Scripture (Hester 5).
Brigance preached twice on Sundays while school was in session. When summer came, Brigance would hit the evangelism trail, holding meetings around the country Guy 4 (Outlines 3). His summer work, however, was not for money. Sometimes he would return home with payment ranging from 50 cents to "canned food, pop-corn, and embroidered pillowcases" (Hester 4). Brigance was known for his strong stand on church matters, including the divisive evil of instrumental music, the strength provided through religious education, and the evil promoted through war.
In 1926, Brigance discovered that he was a diabetic (McMackin). He would regularly need insulin and a snack. At times, students recall, Brigance would have to leave class in order to eat a candy bar. He fainted during a sermon because of this condition (McMackin). His condition was a drawback, but not an immovable obstacle.
Leonard Lee Brigance worked diligently all of his life. He showed by his loving heart and fruitful service the humility of Christ. He passed away at his home on February 4, 1950. A dorm hall, housing students at night and used as classrooms during the day, was built in 1964. It was honorarily named "Brigance Hall" in 1971, based on the beautiful life and passionate service of this simple but wonderful preacher of the Gospel.
Brigance, L.L. "The Attitude of the Church Toward War." Gospel Advocate (Mar 25, 1943) 268.
----- . "Religious Schools." Gospel Advocate (June 29, 1944) 427.
Brigance's Outlines. Ed. by E. Claude Gardner. Murfreesboro, TN: Dehoff Publications, 1951.
Hester, Sam E. "L.L. Brigance: A Man Who Never Sold For His Real Value." Freed-Hardeman University Lectureship. February 9, 1999.
McMackin, Mary Francis. Interview with Jimmy Woods. Old Main, Freed-Hardeman College. April 19, 1985.
Source: F-HU Archives - On File
"Honor To Whom Honor Is Due"
As a part of the 1960 Home-coming activities at Freed-Hardeman College, it was my privilege to lead in erecting a memorial to the late L.L. Brilliance, who for many years instructed young preachers in Bible, Church History, and other subjects, and whose good influence still lives in those whom he instructed.
On a plaque which hangs beneath the picture of Brother Brigance in our auditorium another colaborer, W. C. Hall, has penned the following:
In the fall of 1950 Frank Van Dyke was employed by the college as Chairman of the Bible Department, filling the vacancy that was created by the death of Brother Brigance. Brother Frank spoke words of tribute to the memory of Brother Brigance on this occasion. So did E. Claude Gardner, dean of the college. Both these men sat at the feet of the beloved teacher. Each was inspired by him. A few years ago Brother Gardner, with the consent of the family, published a volume of sermon outlines that Brother Brigance left behind.
As a part of our Home-coming program it was the privilege of the writer to dedicate a recently acquired building-the residence of Mrs. C. M. Purdy. The dedication was done in honor of Brother Brigance. The residence will be known as the Brigance Hall. Presently it houses twenty young men and provides two classrooms throughout the day. In time, we expect to use this residence as a building of Fine Arts. The name Brigance will be carried forward with every use of it. We rededicate ourselves daily to carry forward the ideals and the fundamentals of the faith to which Brother Brigance gave his life.
H.A. Dixon, Gospel Advocate, 12 January 1961, page 22,23.
She was married to L.L. Brigance in 1899
Directions To The Grave Of L.L. Brigance
Leonard Lee Brigance is buried in the City Cemetery at Henderson, Tennessee. From I-40 in West Tennessee, take the Hwy 45 exit south. Go through the city of Jackson, and continue south about 15 miles to Henderson. You will be on the bypass in Henderson. Go to you come to Hwy. 100. Turn left and go to the next stop. Turn left on North Church St. Go about 100 yards and turn into the cemetery on the right. The cemetery will fork close to the entrance. Take the right fork and look to your right. You should see the Brigance plot.
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