History of the Restoration Movement

Thomas D. Garvin


T.D. Garvin - Obituary

Thomas D. Garvinwas born in Pittsburg, Penn., Aug. 13, 1829. And after a life of almost 50 years of indefatigable study and work—preaching the pure gospel of Christ and thereby leading men and women to Christ by the hundreds and thousands; holding pastorates, doing" evangelistic work, purchasing lots, repairing houses, building new ones in the country, towns, cities, in 24 states and territories, Canada and Islands of the sea, he fell asleep in Jesus at his late home in Los Angeles. California, Aug. 11,1903,aged 73 years, 11 months and 28 days. His grandparents James Hanan and wife were immersed the same time that the Campbells were. Later Bro. Garvin attended college at Bethany; having graduated at Bethany he then entered the Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, from which institution he also graduated. He was president of the Franklin College at Wilmington, Ohio for some years and taught in the Oxford University. During his educational work he was also actively engaged in the work of the ministry.

He was married to Kate C. Craig, April 2, 1856, and to them were born four children: Samuel T., Harry B., Charles L and Mary Alma; two of whom, Harry B. and Dr. Charles L. survive him.

From 1856 to within a few days of his death he devoted his time exclusively to the work of the ministry. In 1869 he was called to the Sixth Street Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he preached for three years. In 1871 he began his work in Columbus. Ohio, organized a church. Built a house and preached for the congregation for ten years, leaving the church strong in every way. In 1881 he entered upon his work at Elyria, Ohio, organized a church, built a house and preached for the congregation three years. During all this time, in addition to his regular pastoral duties, he was preaching, conducting courses in Bible study, holding revival services here, there and everywhere as opportunity offered.

September 17, 1883 he lost his wife in Ohio, and in 1884 he came to California and was eminently successful in every work that he attempted. Such a thought asfailseems to have never entered his mind. He was determined to preach a pure gospel and he believed that he was sustained by Him who possessed all power in heaven and earth. He was married in San Francisco, Dec. 31, 1885 to Mrs. Sarah E. Price, who survives him. She is a sister to Bro. B. F. Coulter, of Los Angeles, California, and no wiser, better, more faithful, devoted and consecrated workers ever entered the vineyard of the Lord than Brother and Sister Garvin. Both being very strong" mentally, socially and spiritually, their very presence was a benediction and an inspiration to all.

Bro. Garvin preached for the churches at Santa Ana and Orange, and when he went to Pasadena they had an old house that could not have been sold for enough to pay the debt on it and it finally blew down. He rallied the members, built a beautiful house of worship, preached for the congregation three years, and left them in fine spirits. While at Pasadena, he held two successful meetings in East Los Angeles. He went to San Francisco, soon organized a church built a house and preached for the congregation for three years. His work here was not only a success, but an astonishment to all who knew anything about the conditions. At Santa Barbara he preached with great acceptance for two years.

In addition to the above, he held successful meetings all over Southern California and spent one year exclusively in evangelistic work, in which he was marvelously successful. He never failed in a single meeting.

In 1894 he went as an independent missionary to Honolulu, and, as was his custom, he organized a church, secured land and built a churchhouse, which property is now worth ten thousand dollars. And the work begun by him in the islands, now has missions for the Japanese, Chinese and natives. Bro. Garvin himself baptized more than a hundred Japanese while there. When he left Honolulu, he went to Clarksville, Tenn., where he remained one year, when, on account of the climate and failing health, he came to Los Angeles and preached for the East Los Angeles church for several months, and, notwithstanding his great age and his manly form tottering beneath the burden of years, his work there was so successful that the people were just as loth to give him up as he was to give the work up, He then received a call to do missionary work in Honolulu, which call he was considering, but decided to take the Vernon work, this city, a mission of the Broadway Church. He accepted this work and prosecuted the same with as much zeal and enjoyment as if it had been some great central church. The membership increased, they had a good Sunday-school, young peoples' society, and best of all, as perfect peace and harmony as was ever seen in any congregation. And now, with every pulsation of Sister Garvin's heavy heart, there comes a responsive beat from every heart in that entire congregation. Those who knew Bro. Garvin best say that he was one of the most perfect characters they ever saw.

He was a most devoted husband and father, a good citizen, a brother in Christ, a father in spiritual Israel. He was a scholar, student, worker, and as aggressive as a man could well be, never fearing or failing to declare the whole counsel of God, yet in such a way and manifesting so much of the spirit of Christ, that even those whom he opposed loved and honored him. If there ever was a ripe sheaf, a full corn In the ear; one who could look back over a life which had been well spent in the service of Christ; one who could say, I have fought the fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course and henceforth there is a crown laid up for me, it was Brother T. D. Garvin.

The funeral services were held in the Broadway Church. Friday afternoon. Aug. 14, Brethren Utter, Dowling, Dr. F. M. Kirkham, John C. Hay and the writer participating. Because of Bro. Garvin's having been so intimate with Brothers Dowling and Utter's fathers, they were requested to do the speaking, which they did. Sister Princess Long sang. There were at least a thousand people present and the most appropriate and impressive service that it has ever been our privilege to attend.

-The Christian-Evangelist, September 10, 1903, page 344

Directions To The Grave of T.D. Garvin

T.D. Garvin is buried in the eastern part, near central Los Angeles, California in Evergreen Cemetery. It is in the Boyle Heights area. From America's longest Interstate I-10 in downtown take Exit 19a onto the I-5 south. Go to the 4th Street Exit. Then turn left. Head about ten blocks and turn left on N. Evergreen Ave. Head about five blocks to the cemetery on the right side. The address is 204 North Evergreen Avenue, Los Angeles, California. The office phone is #323-268-6714.
Enter the cemetery and pass the offices (on left). Take the first right and follow the road around until you see an old chapel and crematory. Pull to the left of it and stop just even with the steps at the entrance of the building. At the corner of the section look for the large monument to COULTER. The Garvin monument is smaller, but is locate behind it, almost in the same plot as B.F. Coulter. Also buried at Evergreen Cemetery is Carroll Kendrick and Michael Sanders.
NOTE: Evergreen Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Los Angeles, having been started in 1877. It is a beautiful old cemetery that is still interring people. The location is in somewhat of a rougher part of L.A. however. Some of the earliest of settlers of Los Angeles are buried there including some of the Van Nuyes family. Other notable individuals include Eddie "Rochester" Anderson (on the Jack Benny Program), and Matthew "Stymie" Beard, Jr., (of Little Rascals fame), are buried there.

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B.F. Coulter
Carroll Kendrick
Michael Sanders

He Kept The Faith
Thomas D. Garvin
Sarah E. Garvin


Photos Taken June 25, 2012
Page produced November 1, 2012
Courtesy of Scott Harp

Special Thanks: To Jerry Rushford. I was able to visit in the home of Jerry and Lori Rushford in late June, 2012. I was just returning from a mission trip to the Fiji Islands, and had about a 30 hour layover in Los Angeles. The Rushfords were wonderful hosts, and Jerry was a great resource in assisting me in the finding of the grave of Thomas D. Garvin. If visiting in the Los Angeles area, be sure to visit Pepperdine University in Malibu. Besides having a beautiful campus, be sure to visit the Church of Christ Historical Room, upstairs in the university library. Jerry Rushford has put much work through the years into preserving the history of the churches of Christ on the western coast of the United States of America.

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