Asa Monroe Plyler
"Gospel Preacher 71 Years"
Asa Monroe Plyler was born in Walker County, Alabama on October 4, 1902. He was baptized by David O. Griffith just weeks before his seventeenth birthday, August 18, 1919. He married Cleeta Mae Key on January 25, 1922. Together they had nine children: Selena Plyler Haynes; Sylvia Plyler Manasco; Janie Plyler Thomas; Ivalene Plyler Jones; Amileta Plyler Portzer; Floreda Plyler Smith; Mary Paula Plyler Alexander; Leo Plyler and Brodie Russell Plyler. His sons were named after Henry Leo Boles and Nicholas Brodie Hardeman.
As a young man, Plylar attended Alabama Christian College in Berry, Alabama. After school he returned to the area to work as a farmer, and preached among churches in Walker County. He preached some for the Goodsprings church from 1920-1945; at Carbon Hill from 1950-1955, from 1955 he preached at Zion church of Christ in Parrish for several years. Other work he did through the years to support himself included coal mining and timber work. He preached some on the radio in Jasper, some in Cullman, Anniston, Jackson and other places when engaged in gospel meetings in these areas.
He wrote a book in 1958 called Historic Sketches of the Church of Christ in Alabama. For years the book remained in manuscript form, but has now been printed by Hester Publications, Henderson, Tennessee.
In the 50s and early 60s he was on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery Bible School, later the Alabama Christian College (now Faulkner University) in Montgomery, Alabama. The last years of his life he worked with the Valley View Church of Christ between Parrish and Cordova, Alabama. Since his death, his son Leo has done much of the preaching. In the last thirteen years, leading up to 2012, Leo's son Lonell has been the preacher, but has recently moved to Florence to preach for a congregation there.
Brother Plyler's wife, Cleeta passed away November 18, 1970. He remarried Florence Drew. A.M. Plyler passed away November 12, 1991. Upon his tomb are the words, "Gospel Preacher 71 Years." Florence followed him in death March 28, 2007. The Plylers are buried in the Plyler Cemetery.
-Sources: Preachers of Today, Volume 2, 1959; personal conversations with Levi Sides & Lonell Plyler.
Asa Monroe Plyler 1902-1991
In the mid 1940’s Brother Asa Plyler made an extended tour of Alabama gathering material for a book he intended to write on the history of the Restoration Movement in Alabama. He interviewed many of God’s own who have long since departed. The book was to be entitled Historical Sketches of Churches of Christ in Alabama. For a number of reasons, the book was never published. His family has generously shared a manuscript with the writers of this journal, and the reader will note references to his work in many of our articles. Brother Plyler had a unique and wonderful writing style. His sometimes flowery prose is fascinating and beautiful to read.
I never had the privilege to hear him preach, but I have a tape that he made when in his 87th year. He had a deep, rich voice that was most pleasant to listen to, even at that advanced age. The following are excerpts from two articles written by Brother Sewell Hall and Brother Plyler’s son-in-law, Brother Gilbert Alexander, about this Godly servant. ..LEW 68 Years—Sowing the Seed
Marching through the pages of Restoration history is a long column of farmer-preachers—men who worked their fields by day and preached the gospel by night wherever listeners could be gathered. As a rule, they were not illiterate; some were very well educated. Most read widely and many were writers who sprinkled their articles with knowledgeable references to the Greek and Hebrew texts. Regardless of what else they knew, they knew “the book” from which they quoted lengthy sections to support each proposition stated. That column of men has narrowed almost to a single file of veterans carrying on the tradition. One morning, several years ago, my father and I were visiting brethren in Walker County, Alabama. We stopped in at Asa Plyler’s farmhouse about 11 a.m. He had already spent several hours in the field and had come in for lunch. As I recall, he was reading the Gospel Guardian which had just come in the mail and he was planning to begin writing an article in the afternoon before returning to finish the day’s farm work. We were warmly welcomed, sumptuously fed and thoroughly edified by our discussions concerning God’s word and God’s people. As we left, I recall remarking to Dad: “I feel that I have just experienced a page in the life story of one of the last real pioneer preachers.”
Asa Plyler has lived all of his life within two or three miles of his present home except for time spent as a student in the old Alabama Christian College, established in 1912 and operated for several years by Hal P. McDonald and Gus Dunn in Berry, Alabama. Returning from school, young Plyler resumed his farming but spent many summer nights preaching in farmhouses, in school buildings, in tents or brush arbors in communities near his home where the Lord’s church did not exist. His home county and two adjoining ones together now claim a total of almost 100 churches of Christ, several of them in communities where he first preached. Preachers were scarce and for years he filled monthly appointments on Sundays. As churches multiplied, he held meetings for them. He was widely enough known to be selected a board member of Montgomery Bible School (later Alabama Christian College) in Montgomery, but his preaching continued to be done mainly in those three counties nearest his home.
The Plyler home itself became something of a school. Early in the 1930s he began conducting classes for young men in the area who were interested in preaching. Several able preachers, including his brother, Woodrow, received their first training there.
Such a man will not be appreciated by everyone. Worldly people sometimes cursed “Old Asa” as he drove by or as his booming voice rang out through his hollows preaching and singing the gospel. But when they needed him for comfort in time of bereavement or for material help in time of need, he suddenly became “Brother Plyler” and they did not hesitate to call on him; nor did they call in vain…Sewell Hall
A Memorable Character
Passing his old weathered white farmhouse which he and his sons built, one may see him sitting on the front porch in his overalls, reading a book; or perhaps one might see him wearing an old, battered felt hat full of holes, hoeing his garden in the early morning hours. One would hardly picture him to be a preacher, writer, music teacher, and former college board member.
He is truly a man of honor, integrity, and dignity. He has devoted his life to a cause for which he has made great sacrifices, willing to suffer loss of popularity rather than compromise that which he believes to be true. His strength of belief has undoubtedly led to the simplicity and humble station of his life. Asa Monroe Plyler is a one—model, rough—cut, hill country southern gentleman, independent, one of a rare, diminishing breed.
-Gilbert Alexander, Alabama Restoration Journal, Volume 1, No. 3, July 1, 2006, p.23
Search The Scriptures - Obituary
ASA MONROE PLYLER (1902-1991) On November 12, 1991 the spirit of AM. Plyler left the body in a peaceful way. After 89 years he fulfilled the appointment of Hebrews 9:27. Dad had preached the gospel in central and north Alabama for 71 years. Though he lived near Jasper on the farm, he traveled over several counties preaching for the most part to the small churches in rural areas. His early travel in preaching was by walking, horseback or train. However, in time he used and wore out the Model T and Model A Ford and several other cars in the work. Good health and a clear mind continued until within two months of his death. At the hospital in Birmingham it was determined that he had a brain tumor. Though surgery was a possibility, Dad judged it unwise and chose not to have it. Brother Sewell Hall spoke at the funeral services and pointed out that we had gathered to celebrate the passing of this one. Brother Hall preached the word - challenging the audience to follow Jesus as Dad had tried to do. The body was returned to the earth in the family cemetery on the farm adjoining the Valley View Church, where he worshipped when he was not away preaching. We are grateful to the many who encouraged and comforted him in the last days of his life.
-Leo B. Plyler 2245 Forestdale Blvd. Birmingham, AL 35214, Search The Scriptures, February, 1992
Directions To The Grave of A.M. Plyler
In the state of Alabama, take the I-22 Corridor north from Birmingham toward Jasper. Take Exit 70/Hwy. 269. Head west on Hwy. 20/Mt. Pisgah Rd. Go three or four miles and turn right on Old-Parrish-Cordova Rd. Turn left on Hay Valley Rd., then turn right on Manual Hill Rd. The church building is on the left. Behind the building is the cemetery. The cemetery is very small, and the grave plot of A.M. Plyer will be easily located.
or D.d. 33.761599, -87.238714
Photos Taken October, 2011
Courtesy of Scott Harp
Special Thanks: To Levi Sides, minister for Sixth Avenue Church of Christ in Jasper, Alabama for spending the day with your web editor in October, 2011. He took me to various places where work among churches of Christ have taken place in Walker County, Alabama. He was with me when I took the photos that appear on this page.