History of the Restoration Movement

William Halliday Trice


William Halliday Trice
Originally Published May, 1982

Since the beginning of these articles I have wanted to write some stories about some of the great gospel preachers we have had on the West Coast. It has been, generally, very difficult to get the material for them, and I am grateful to Bingham Trice, of San Francisco, for getting the material together for this story about his father.

Brother Trice was born of George W. and Mary Ward Trice at Rough and Ready, Stewart County, Tennessee on May 3, 1880. His father was a member of the Roman Catholic church but he died when W.H. was only eight months old, and though W.H. had been christened, he seems not to have been reared under that influence. Though the family now knows but little about the religious views of his mother, they think she was a member of the New Testament church. It is thought that the Trice family came from England about a hundred years before the American Revolution, living in Virginia and North Carolina before moving to Tennessee about 1806. When he was three years old he went to live with an aunt, Mrs. Fanny Jeffries, his father's sister. Following her death he lived with Mrs. J.P. Nance, her sister. He continued in this home until he was nearly seventeen years old, when he hired out as a farm laborer. The first year at this work he was paid room and board and eight dollars per month. The following two years he was paid room and board and ten dollars per month, which was a "man's pay." His family was poor and he had but little opportunity to attend the schools that were available, and he said that in the first twenty years of his life the attended school only twenty months.

At the age of twenty he left Stewart County and went to Nashville. His mother and three sisters (he had no brothers) were living near Nashville, but he did not live with them. He had an opportunity to work and attend a private school in West Nashville, so for three years he worked in a suspender factory owned and operated by Brother W.H. Dodd. J.W. Grant taught the school, but later Brother J.E. Acuff became the teacher, and he baptized Brother Trice into Christ in April, 1902. In July of that year he preached his first sermon at Compton's Chapel near Nashville. Sister David Lipscomb was in the audience. From the West Nashville school he went to the Nashville Bible School, now David Lipscomb College, where he continued for three years and had what he considered "the good fortune to study the Bible under David Lipscomb."

In Nashville he met Miss Margaret Hamilton, daughter of Henry Clay and Elizabeth Stockett Hamilton who lived near Nashville. Her father, along with his people before him, was a faithful Christian. It is thought that she obeyed the gospel at an early age. They were married on May 30, 1906 at the home of R.C. Baker whose wife was a sister of Margaret. They lived near Winchester, Tennessee. In writing of this event, Brother J.N. Gardner, in writing of Brother Trice's death, wrote: "Not long after this time Brother Trice was married to Margaret Hamilton, a young woman of great personal beauty and superb Christian character." (Brother Gardner had known them both in the Nashville Bible School.) Five sons were born to them, all of whom are still living. It was my privilege to know Bingham personally, first in the very first Yosemite Camp meetings, and later in the Berkeley California church, where I once preached. Bingham was largely responsible for the beginning of the Yosemite Camp meeting, and under the direction of his father was able to get it started in a scriptural way. The other sons have been active in several of the congregations in Northern California.

Immediately after their marriage they moved to Ripley, Tennessee where they established their home, but apparently did not stay there long, for soon he was in West Tennessee where he attended the National Teacher's Normal and Business College, now Freed-Hardeman College. Teachers here who influenced him much for good were A.G. Freed and N.B. Hardeman. In 1910 he received the Bachelor of Science degree from this school, being valedictorian of his class. From Henderson they moved to Union City, Tennessee, where they remained for about four years. The next move was to Memphis where he worked with the Harbert Avenue church (now Union Avenue). He worked with this church for three years. Evidently, this was the first of what would now be called "full-time work," but he had been busy in preaching since he began. Many reports of his work can be found in the Gospel Advocate relating many meetings, and the large numbers of people who obeyed the gospel under his preaching. In addition to the meetings, "regular appointments" in the winter seasons, he held quite a number of debates, at least eleven. His first debate was with James Adams, a Primitive Baptist at Trinity, Tennessee in September 1903. (This was slightly more than a year after he began to preach.) J.W. Brents heard him in a debate in Senath, Missouri with A.G. Canada, a Holiness preacher, and in reporting it through the Advocate spoke highly of Brother Trice and his work in that debate. T.B. Thompson heard him debate W.T. Denington, Baptist, near Mayfield, Kentucky, and spoke very highly of his work and ability. Ira Douthitt served him in this debate as moderator. After moving to Memphis to work with the Harbert Avenue church, he continued to conduct many evangelistic meetings, both in Memphis and throughout the area. Many churches in the cities were using tents to a good advantage in those years, and Memphis was no exception. Later, in writing of these years he said. ". . .I gave my entire time to religious work and was very active. I held many meetings, engaged in a number of debates, conducted a good many funerals, gave special addresses and performed marriage ceremonies." All of this is the usual work of a preacher.

Though he was well and favorably known in Tennessee, perhaps his greatest work was in California. He held but few meetings and no debates in California, but preachers were very scarce. The tide of digression was running strong, along with much other opposition. He did stand faithfully against all this error, and was a source of strength and encouragement to the brethren from the San Joaquin Valley to the San Francisco Bay area. In August of 1916 he made a vacation trip to California. He visited the Exposition in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. He did not visit Fresno on this trip, but entered correspondence with them soon after his return home. In January of 1917 (Jan. 6) he went to Fresno to work with The Church. His family followed him to Fresno in April, and Fresno was "home" from Jan. 6, 1917 to June 18, 1924 when he moved to San Francisco. While in Fresno he preached for the Nevada Avenue church (now Palm Avenue), and for the churches in Madera, Patterson, Dinuba, Hanford, San Francisco and Santa Rosa. These churches were small and their resources very limited. By this time they had five children and he and his wife decided it would be best for him to support the family by secular work and preach all he could. In September, 1917 he became an agent for the New York Life Insurance Company, which he continued for the rest of his life. He also preached, finding time always for weak places, time for funerals and other things where his services were needed. Through all these years he seldom missed preaching each Sunday, and kept himself available wherever there was a need. The Church in San Francisco had started in 1892, and in 1924 they invited him to preach for them, which he did. The work grew, and on May 8, 1927 they had the "formal opening" of the first new building our brethren ever had in that great city. It was located in the Ingleside section of the city. When he went to San Francisco, he said that he planned to remain there the rest of his life, but that he did not expect to preach for the congregation there all that time. In line with this plan he did spend the rest of his life there, contributing much to the establishment of The Cause throughout Northern California. One of the first places where he helped establish The Church was in Berkeley, where he preached each Sunday for about a year and a half, beginning in December, 1929. During the Depression years there was a general slackening in all the work, no doubt due to the very difficult financial conditions, but he continued to preach. He often preached for the Ingleside church prior to the coming of their first full-time evangelist in 1936. For more than two years he filled monthly appointments at Healdsburg, and at Knight and Lathrop for four years or longer. He was often in Berkeley, Redwood City, Lathrop, Stockton, Healdsburg, Graton, Forestville, Martinez, East Oakland, Richmond and other places in the state. The war years brought increased opportunity, and in the years 1942 through 1953 he preached an average of 104 sermons per year. He was the first "every Sunday preacher" for the San Leandro church, where he worked for more than two and a half years. Other work took him to Modesto, Alameda, and Golden Gate in San Francisco. The church was growing throughout the area, due largely to the large influx of people who went there for work in the war-related industries. They not only swelled the churches already there, but many new ones sprang up. Brother Trice was an important figure in many of these.

In 1950 he took a trip to Tennessee for a month, visiting relatives and friends in churches where he had worked before moving to California. He wrote a rather lengthy report of this trip which was published in the Gospel Advocate of November 16, 1950. He enjoyed the trip very much. On April 18, 1954 his companion died following a stroke and three weeks in the hospital. That fall he took another trip East, visiting the Home Office of the New York Life Insurance Company with which he had been associated all the years, Washington, Nashville, Memphis and other Tennessee points and Joiner in Arkansas. He kept a record of the places visited, the preachers he heard, and the sermons he preached along the way. His work was slowing down, for he had now passed the "three score and ten" mark. He listed only eighty sermons preached in 1954. In 1955 his heart began to bother (he had had a thrombosis in 1940) and this caused other complications, including some speech problems. He was in the hospital several times in the next few years. In 1958 he lived in a Senior Citizen's Hotel in downtown San Francisco, where they had an elevator and which was close to the places he needed to go. He tried to ignore the heart condition, and when he was in the hospital the first time the Doctor advised him to quit preaching. He got another Doctor! He remained fairly active right up to the end, which came rather suddenly on December 28, 1958. Funeral services were conducted by Brother Will M. (Bill) Green, of Berkeley at the Golden Gate meeting house on December 31, 1958. He had almost attained the eighty year mark. What is mortal sleeps by the side of his companion in the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in San Francisco.

Brother Trice was a man of great ability and accomplishments. In the years before he moved to California he was recognized as one of the best of the "younger preachers" in Tennessee. Many think it a mark of weakness for a man to engage in secular work while he preaches, but that depends entirely upon the situation. When Brother Trice went to California he knew that he could not be supported as well as he had been and would be in Tennessee, yet he deliberately made this choice because of what he knew to be the need for preachers in California. It would be very hard for one to more forcefully demonstrate his love for The Cause than one who does as did Brother Trice. Surely the redeemed will meet him again.

-Gospel Preachers Of Yesteryear, Loyd L. Smith, c.1986, pages 359.363; Note: This article originally appeared in the pages of The Christian Worker, May, 1982.

Gospel Advocate Obituary For Margaret H. Trice

Very early in the morning, the first day of the week, April 18, 1954, the day the world calls Easter, my dear mother, Margaret H. Trice, passed peacefully away in San Francisco. She was a loving mother, a devoted wife and for more than fifty years a faithful and active Christian. All who knew her loved her and many messages have been received by my father from those who have been encouraged and helped by her noble life. We miss her greatly, but as she was willing and prepared to go we sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. William Green delivered an appropriate and comforting address before a large crowd of friends and loves ones. Jerry Scoggin and George Dickson assisted in scripture reading and prayer; and a group from the Seventeenth Street congregation in San Francisco sang three beautiful hymns. The floral pieces were numerous and beautiful. She was laid to rest in lovely Cypress Lawn Cemetery. Margaret Hamilton was married to William Halliday Trice May 30, 1906, and to this union the following sons were born: Bingham H., George H., James H., Andrew H., and David H., all of whom survive her. She is also survived by a brother, J. W. Hamilton, two sisters, Mrs. May Baker and Miss Catherine Hamilton, and ten grandchildren. Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works follow with them.

George H. Trice, Gospel Advocate, May 27, 1954, page 422.

Gospel Advocate Obituary For W.H. Trice

W. H. Trice has gone. He died suddenly of a heart attack at his apartment in San Francisco December 28, 1958. He was seventy-eight, and had preached the gospel for fifty-six years. He was born May 3, 1880, in Rough and Ready, a mining town in Stewart County, Tenn. He lost his father when eight months old, and while brought up by relatives, found little opportunity for schooling. He has said that in twenty years he had about twenty months of school. Then he went to Nashville and worked his way in school, first in a West Nashville school taught by J. W. Grant and later by J. E. Acuff. He was baptized by Brother Acuff in April, 1902, and began preaching in July of the same year. For three years he was a student in the Nashville Bible College under David Lipscomb. In 1906 he was married to Margaret Hamilton. To this union five sons were born Bingham, George, James, Andrew and Davidall of whom survive. There are ten grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Sister Trice passed away in April, 1954. For two years, 1908-1910, Brother Trice studied under Brother Freed and Brother Hardeman in Henderson, Tenn., graduating as valedictorian. Then followed four years of preaching in Union City and three in Memphis, with many protracted meetings, debates, weddings and funerals. In 1917 Brother Trice moved to California, living in Fresno until 1924, and since that time in San Francisco. The churches in California then were few and small, and support was meager. To maintain his household Brother Trice became an agent of the New York Life Insurance Company. But he found time for preaching on Sundays and frequently in meetings. He generally worked with new or small congregation. From 1924 till 1930 he preached regularly for the one church in San Francisco. In 1927 they built in the Ingleside district the first building to be owned by our brethren in the bay area. Since 1930 he has worked with churches in Berkeley, San Leandro, Alameda, San Rafael, Livermore, and Golden Gate in San Francisco. For the last forty years Brother Trice has been widely known and loved by the churches of Northern California. The many churches which he has established, or helped through their early period of growth, remain as a permanent witness to the effectiveness of his life.

-William M. Green, Gospel Advocate, January 22, 1959, page 63.

Directions To The Grave of William H. Trice

From the I-280 (U.S. Hwy.1) take exit 511, John Daly Blvd. and head east on John Daly Blvd. Then turn right on Mission St. (Hwy. 82) Mission St. will become El Camino Real. There will be several cemeteries in the area, but pass them all until you see Cypress Lawn Memorial Park on your right. Go to the office of information, or see the GPS coodinates below for specific location.

GPS Location

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The Trice Family Plot Lies In The New Section Of Cypress Lawn On The South Side Of El Camino Real

The Beautiful Grounds Of The Old Part Of Cypress Lawn - Truly Impressive Architecture All Through The Hillside

The Trice Grave: Pink Stone In Foreground

William H 1880-1958
Margaret H. 1877-1954

Photos Taken 05.27.2013
Site Produced on 08.11.2013
Courtesy of Scott Harp

This site was produced after a trip through San Francisco in May, 2013. My wife, Jenny and I were on our way to New Zealand to be involved in a mission effort there. We had a long layover in San Francisco, affording us to get out and about for the better part of the day. We were able to visit a couple of graves of gospel preachers of yesteryear. While there we visited brother Trice's grave, as well as Col. Edward D. Baker at the National Cemetery.

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