History of the Restoration Movement

Milton Tolbert "Tolly" Phemister


Tom Childers, Find-A-Grave

A Prophet With Honor

The Lord said in the long ago that a prophet would not be without honor save in his own country. Brother M. T. Phemister has lived long enough that for the brethren and many of the people of Monroe County he has become an exception to the rule. This last summer while I was in a meeting with the church in Tompkinsville with Brother Ross Spears about 150 brethren gathered at the tree-shaded home of Brother "Tolly" to help him and his daughter Mary celebrate his 80th birthday. The story of his life reads like a page from the grand old pioneers who now sleep the sleep of the blessed. Born in 1881, Brother Phemister was named after Tolbert Fanning and lived in Texas until he was 24 years old. He came back to Kentucky on a thirty-day ticket and now there are thirty churches in the county. Not all of them are the result of his work, but all of them have come under his influence. Brother Tolly estimates that he has baptized about 4000 people in the almost 60 years he has preached the gospel. Years ago he baptized 78 in a meeting at Cedar Grove and this is the "biggest" meeting he has ever had although it was no uncommon for him to immerse 30 or 40 in meeting after meeting.

The real story however is in the love and concern that the brethren in the county have shown to Brother Phemister in the later years of his life. At one time they bought him a car, and not long ago when he was faced with hospital bills from a long and serious illness, they supplied his every need. Our aged brother is no stranger to hardship. He drove a team of mules for three years for which he was paid a dollar a day. Walking and riding a horse to his appointments many times, the pay was just the thanks of the common people that came to hear him.

It is the wish of all the readers of SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES that know and love him that he may live long in the little home outside town and, as health will permit, fill appointments over the county. It was my privilege to hear him preach his first sermon on the radio while I was in the Tompkinsville meeting. This was on his 80th birthday and his comment was, "If I had known it was that easy I would have been doing more of it all these years." May God bless Brother Phemister and the Christians of Monroe County, Kentucky.

-James P. Miller, Search The Scriptures, December 1961, Vol. 2, #12, page 11.

Gospel Advocate Obituary

Henry Ward Beecher once said, “When the sun goes below the horizon, he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure.  And when a great and good man dies, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight.  Such a man cannot die out of this world.  When he goes, he leaves behind him much of himself.  Being dead, he speaks.”  Such is true of one of Monroe County’s most beloved sons, M. L. (“Tolly”) Phemister.  Brother Phemister has entered into the rest prepared for those who love the Lord.  However, Brother Tolly has left too much of himself behind to ever be forgotten in this area.  For the past fifty years, or more the people of Monroe County, Ky., were privileged to hear Brother Phemister relate he sweet old story of Jesus and his love.  He baptized more people, preached more funerals, and performed more wedding ceremonies than any other person in the history of the county.  Funeral services were conducted at the Mt. Gilead church building, near Tompkinsville.  Charles Petett preached a brief but beautiful sermon.  Brother Phemister walked with God, he liked God’s company, he was going in the direction of heaven when last seen.  By the ear of faith we can hear God say, “Well done, Tolly, and now it’s time to go home.”
Herbert G. Ledford.
-Gospel Advocate, March 14, 1963, page 174.

Directions To Grave

The Phemister family burial site is in the Mt. Gilead church of Christ Cemetery, just north of Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Kentucky. Tompkinsville is located in very rural South Central Kentucky. From I-65 take Hwy 100 east. It is a very crooked road, so be forwarned and take your time for about 50 miles. Mt. Gilead church of Christ is located north of Tompkinsville. Head north on Hwy. 163, and turn left on Edmonton Rd. Go about a half mile and turn left on Mt. Gilead Rd. The church will be on the right, and the cemetery will be behind the church building on the hill. See GPS below for exact location of grave in the cemetery. The Phemister plots will be easy to find as they are some of the only rose colored marble monuments.

Also, while in the are an absolute must visit should be made to the Mulkey Meetinghouse, just south of Tompkinsville.

GPS Location
36°44'50.4"N 85°41'57.4"W
or D.d. 36.747333, -85.699263

Mary Ann
September 25, 1908
April 21, 1962

Lyda J.
May 14, 1888
February 12, 1953
Asleep in Jesus Blessed thought

Milton Tolbert Phemister
July 31, 1880
February 8, 1963

Photos Taken 06.07.2022
Webpage produced 06.07.2022
Courtesy Of Scott Harp


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