Felix C. Sowell
Biographical Sketch On The Life Of F.C. Sowell Sr.
Seventy-five years of service for the Master! Such was the life of this beloved soldier of the cross, who passed away August 1, 1951, leaving many good works through which he still speaks and going to receive the true riches laid up in heaven.
F. C. Sowell, Sr., was born in Maury County, Tenn., near (he always objected to saying "on") Duck River, November 20, 1859. He was baptized into Christ when sixteen years old. Soon afterward, Brother Smithson, a blind preacher, held a meeting at Antioch in Maury County. J. C. McQuiddy made the confession, and having brought no change of clothing, borrowed a suit from Brother Sowell in which he was baptized. The two were close friends from that time, occasionally preaching together.
In order to make better preparation for the lifework he had chosen, Brother Sowell spent three years as one of "Larimore's :boys" at Mars Hill, Ala. He loved to tell of those happy days. One anecdote often repeated was in connection with the daily meetings for "criticisms." It seemed that all the boys assembled each day when Brother Larimore would make suggestions for better conduct. On one such occasion, Brother Larimore held up a pencil, requesting that the owner step forward to claim it. As the boy arose, Brother Larimore said: "Come get it, Lee. Dedie (his daughter) found it in the hen's nest." The boys had been stealing eggs from the henhouse and cooking them on the stoves in their rooms!
Brother Larimore deeply impressed simplicity in things material. The upstanding collar by which Brother Sowell was recognized wherever he went was in imitation of his beloved teacher's simple style. Brother Larimore laid upon the boys the necessity of memorizing their "proof texts," and they spent hours in the woods alone memorizing and repeating aloud the proof texts for sermons.
In 1884, Brother Sowell married Mary Z. Evans of Hickman County, Tenn. They settled in Maury County where his home remained throughout his life. The horse and buggy doctor has received his well-deserved praise, but perhaps the horse and buggy preacher has failed to get the honor due him. By horseback, wagon, buggy and finally automobile, Brother Sowell preached all over Maury and surrounding counties, building up the churches, baptizing hundreds, marrying them, burying them, comforting them in their sorrows and helping them in their problems. Such work does not usually bring great prominence, but often contributes more to the stability of the churches than any other. He never liked the idea of preaching for a "stipulated salary." It sounded too much like "making merchandise of the gospel." Rather, he went out on faith. Sometimes he received nothing, sometimes a little, but never much. When necessity demanded, he "made tents," working diligently on his little Maury County farm to support his family of eight children:
Early in his preaching career, Brother Sowell went to the South Harpeth congregation, near Linton in Davidson County, to assist William Anderson in a meeting. On one Sunday of the meeting there was a birthday anniversary for some member of the congregation. During the festivities of the occasion a suggestion was made that it be made an annual affair, with Brother Sowell to return next year for preaching and "dinner on the ground." He returned the next year, and for fifty-nine other "second Sundays in May." His last talk was made in 1946, the sixtieth anniversary of that first meeting.
Meeting work took F. C. Sowell into many states outside of Tennessee. He made nineteen trips to Texas. He held the first meeting ever conducted in Denver, Colo. The work in Denver began largely through the efforts of John D. Evans (Mrs. Sowell's brother) and in 1911 the first meeting was held in a tent.
Local work did not appeal to him. However at the insistence of good friends, he moved to Grandview, Texas and worked two years. While in Grandview, he performed the marriage ceremony for J. D. Tant and Miss Nanny Yater.
Brother Sowell loved children. One of his greatest pleasures was to visit the Tennessee Orphan Home (then in Columbia) and tell Bible stories to the children. Perhaps his most outstanding characteristics were love, kindness and gentleness. Typical of these attributes was an article contributed to the Gospel Advocate in May, 1911, proposing that all gospel preachers make a united effort in May by preaching on "love" each Sunday. Most of his articles in the Advocate contained appeals to brethren to love each other more.
His eighty-fifth year was the last year of every-Sunday preaching. During the remaining years, his greatest joy was to meet old friends and talk of times spent together. Again and again, he would go through Boles' "Biographical Sketches of Gospel Preachers," most of the pictures bringing to mind old friends and stirring a recollection of some interesting experience or peculiar personal characteristic.
Though blessed with a long life as counted by men, F. C. Sowell appreciated the brevity of life in God's view and fully realized its uncertainty for even the most favored. He frequently prayed: "We realize that we are nearer the grave, nearer the judgment, nearer eternity than we have ever been before, and we trust that it finds us a better people. He earnestly desired, above all things else to live as Christ lived and to be in heaven. Just a few days before passing on, F. C. Sowell quoted his last proof text: "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord . . ." feeling that thus the Holy Spirit was witnessing with his spirit for his comfort and strength.
We cannot help but have this confidence, that, after seventy-five years as a faithful Christian, after seventy years as a soldier of the cross, with thousands of persons by his own hands immersed, many of whom remain to this day as living epistles of his work, he has departed to be with Jesus which is far better. -EARLE I. WEST.
(Editor's Note: If Brother Sowell was not the last of "Larimore's boys," he must have been next to the last. Does any reader know of another of "Larimore's boys" still living?)
-Gospel Advocate - Vol. XCIII, No. 40, page 626,627, October 4, 1951
F.C. Sowell is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery In Columbia, Tennessee
Take I-65 exit 46 and go west on highway 412. In Columbia, turn south on highway 31. Turn left on 14th street to Cemetery drive. Turn left at Rose Hill sign; Enter gate; grave is in the Lot on the left just past the building. In the middle of the lot are steps leading down to a walk way through the lot. The grave is about 12 rows to the right and is almost covered by a tall crape myrtle tree.