History of the Restoration Movement

Charles Elias Webb Dorris

(April 7, 1871 - October 3, 1964)

Biographical Sketch On The Life Of C. E. W. Dorris

C. E. W. Dorris was born in Portland, Tennessee April 7, 1871. He was married to Lula Kerr. They had one child. He was baptized by J. W. Grant in 1889. He began preaching near Portland, Tennessee in 1890. He attended Nashville Bible School. He wrote for the Gospel Advocate. He did radio work on WLAC, Nashville, Tennessee and in Gallatin, Tennessee. A report in Preachers Of Today said that he spent thirty-five years evangelizing under many and varied conditions in eighteen states. Support in early years for a two weeks meeting was usually $25.00 or less. Has preached for one congregation monthly for the past fifty-four years, except when in meetings. The first person whom he baptized was his mother. He held a number of debates, some of which were printed. After his first sermon, a Cumberland Presbyterian challenged him for a debate. He accepted, went home with the man, debated, and the man refused to continue his side of the debate. He wrote commentaries on Matthew and Mark. He had up to 3,500 volumes in his library, among which was a complete set of the Gospel Advocate, which he valued above everything else except the Bible. David Lipscomb and James A Harding were his Bible teachers." He said, “Lipscomb had the best insight of the principles of Christianity of any man I have ever known.”

—From Preachers of Today, Ed. B.B. Baxter & M. Norvel Young, The Christian Press, Nashville, TN, c.1952 page 102

Our Little Darling
Obituary of Carrie Louise Dorris

The Bible Student
Vol. 2, No. 13, September 1900


On Friday, May 19, 1899, our home was made brighter and happier by the birth of our little darling, Carrie Louis Dorris (It appears that Louis is a misprint; her middle name was probably Louise, after her mother Mary Louise Merritt Dorris. Mary Louise Dorris died April 21, 1904. See E. A. Elam, “Mary Louise Merritt Dorris,” Gospel Advocate, 1904:250 and a handwritten note in the front endpaper of C. E. W. Dorris’ copy of The Bible Student.), but on Monday, Aug. 13, 1900 at 12:45 P.M. the angel of death brought much darkness and gloom into this home by entering into and claiming our darling daughter as his victim. She was permitted to live with us only 14 months and 24 days. During this time she threw much happiness and sunshine in our home. Her stay with us was short, and we may not be able, during this life, to understand the motives and purposes of God in making our hearts sad by sending his divine sickle into our home and plucking this young and tender bud, but we believe that she stayed with us long enough to accomplish the purpose for which God placed her in out home. Her accomplishment her on earth will be revealed “over on the other shore.” During her short stay here, she suffered many pains. Her health was never good, and consequently was a little sufferer all her life. During the latter part of Spring and the first part of Summer her health began to fail more rapidly and she became nervous and could not occupy one position long at a time before expressing to us, by her sign, that she was tired and wished a new position. God, not willing that she should occupy temporal positions, provided better things for her and removed all pains and scorching fevers, and placed her little sinless body in a place of final rest and took her little spirit and transplanted it among the angels of God in the beautiful city above. She is now quiet and sleeping a sweet sleep in a silent tomb in the family burying place. She and grandmother are sleeping side by side only a short distance from their temporal home.(Mary Dorris’ mother died when she was six years old. The family cemetery was six miles south of Franklin, Tennessee.) Yes, sleeping where papa and mamma, can, with sad hearts, visit the little mound during the cool of the evening and water it with their tears.

From Ligon Portraiture - 1899
Near The Time Of Little Carrie Louise's Death

The disease that took her from us was Cholera Infantum. On Sunday, August 5, she had some fever, but on Monday (next day) the fearful disease began to show itself. Physician and medical aid were sought, but no relief obtained. She died, seemingly, in perfect ease. She passed slowly away just as a light goes out for the want of oil. She recognized everything to the end. She took her medicines dose by dose as she was called upon without murmuring. After seeing that medical aid could give no relief, and after the last ray of hope was gone, yea, even after she had closed those little beautiful brown eyes never to open them again until the morning of the Resurrection, she knew and recognized the meaning of the touch of a cool spoon upon her parching lips, open her mouth, receive, and swallow cold water. She knew papa, mamma and grandpapa and would turn her little head to keep her eyes upon them until the finger of death’s cold hand bore upon her eyelids so strong that she was compelled to surrender to its wish, close her eyes and pass under the sheltering wings of the good Shepherd. It seemed that she knew that she was going to leave us and that she wanted to tell us about the journey she was going to take but nature forbade. Peace, sweet peace. But oh how hard to give her up. Have you lost a darling babe? Then you understand the grief. Have you not lost one? Then you cannot understand it. Our darling is dead. She is gone never to return. We put away her playthings and things used by and for her in memories drawer where they will be safe. We would not have them broken or lost for worlds like this. Her clothes, we lay away. We shall often look them over. Each of the colors that she wore will remind us of her as she looked when she was here. The little wagon, we place away. It reminds us of the many happy rides that papa, mamma and grandpapa has given here in the beautiful shade of the yard in the cool of the evening, and of those tender little hands that would grasp and hold to the sides of the little wagon bed, of those sweet brown eyes gazing through the tree tops into the heavens, and of those sweet beautiful little smiles which expressed her joy. The old rocking chair is another monument erected to her memory. We will often think of her as she sat in the old chair, watching papa and mamma while they were setting type. The lap-board, that was formerly used by papa for writing purposes, is placed with the other relics. This does not recall any pleasure or sunshine during the life of our darling. It recalls one of the saddest pictures, but we desire to keep it. It causes us to think of the pains and scorching fevers that snatched our darling from us. A pillow was placed upon the board, our darling upon the pillow. Upon this pillow and board the little doll suffered and died. Here she fell asleep in the arms of Jesus while in grandpapa’s lap. Last, but not least, the lock of curls, clipped from the little head of brown hair, when looked upon, will cause our minds to run back to her first existence in this world, to happy hours, beautiful smiles and sunshine, to sufferings and burning fevers, to the sad dark hour in which the angel of death took our darling from us; as well as to the facts that she is dead, that her eye has lost its luster, that her hands are still and cold, that her body is decaying and mouldering in the tomb and that her spirit is in heaven to welcome papa and mamma into the beautiful home of the soul.

The first Lord’s day in August was the last time that a smile was seen upon our darling’s face until breathing the last breath a smile appeared, which she wore upon her face to the grave. Little Carrie was the idol of a loving mother’s heart, and may this idol be a beacon light in the city of God to assist papa and mamma to the home of the soul, and to take comfort in the hope of that country where there is no sorrow and separations. The blossom which withered here upon its stalk, has been transplanted in the sweet paradise of God. “We live in the past by a knowledge of its history; and in the future by hope and anticipation.” God often calls the little ones home. This, viewed from a human standpoint, is the bitter cup God gives us to drink. But we, if children of God, must trust our Father. He chastens for our profit that we may be partakers of his holiness. God’s cup may seem bitter, and we may be long in draining it but at the bottom lies a precious blessing. We realize this as our Father’s cup and we drink it, unhesitatingly, uncomplainingly and with the spirit of Him, who said: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” God allures to brighter worlds, by removing our brightest objects of affection here. He cuts the ties which bind us down, that our affections may be free to aspire upward to things above. Heaven seems nearer when we know that our loved ones have passed in at the beautiful gate and are sleeping upon the bosom of Jesus. The ties which bound our hearts to earth, will henceforth bind them to heaven. Methinks I hear our darling saying: “Dear Parents, the King of kings has sent for your ‘little pet’ to confer a blessing upon her. He has taken her from a dark vale of sin and transplanted here in that land where redeemed spirits serve God, having all tears wiped from their eyes. As well as you love me, I would not be with you again. Weep not for me, but for yourselves, and count not yourselves at home till you come to be, as I am, forever with the Lord.” Darling, we know that you would not thank us, should we wish you degraded to earth again. It would not be the part of a wise parent to call you down from a sphere of such exalted pleasure, to our low lives here upon earth. We hope that we shall shortly leave this world of tears, and be free from all sorrows, pains, temptations and anxieties and dwell with you in the city of our God. Darling, we bid you good night, and say farewell once more, hoping to meet you in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

—Comments From Mac Ice - "This from the pen of Charles Elias Webb Dorris, not yet aged 30 years, upon the death of his daughter Carrie. Published in The Bible Student in September 1900; two years later he would suspend publication of the paper to devote more time to evangelistic preaching and teaching. In another two years, in the spring of 1904, less than four years after young Dorris buried his daughter, he buries his wife. This is a long post; I have added a couple comments. Mac"

—The previous was made available by Ancil Jenkins in an email sent to him by Mac (McGarvey) Ice from Disciples of Christ Historical Society. We extend our thanks to Mac and the good people of DCHS in Nashville, TN for their continued efforts to preserve the past.

Chronology of The Life Of C. E. W. Dorris

April 7
Born near Portland, Tennessee

Baptized by J. W. Grant

Began preaching near Portland, Tennessee; preaching at Brown’s School House
First person whom he baptized was his mother

ca. 1892-1896
Attended Nashville Bible School

May 4
Married Mary Louise Merritt of Franklin, Tennessee
Began plans to begins his first paper, The Bible Student

January 2
Moved to Franklin, Tennessee

January 5
First issue of The Bible Student appears

May 19
Carrie Louise Dorris born in Franklin, Tennessee

August 13
Carrie Louise Dorris died in Franklin, Tennessee

Ceased publication of The Bible Student to devote more energy to evangelistic preaching and teaching

April 21
Mary Louise Merritt Dorris died at 5605 Morrow Road, West Nashville

West Nashville

Married Louisa Kerr of Maury County, Tennessee
Published A Discussion Between Two Brothers

Published An Interesting Correspondence

Lived At 5605 Morrow Road, West Nashville, Tenn.

Lived At Rt.5 Clarksville, Tenn. (publication info. uncertain for this edition of LoP)

Lived At 5605 Morrow Road, West Nashville, Tenn.

First issue of The Home Missionary appeared from Clarksville, Tennessee
Lived At R.5 Clarksville, Tenn. (publication info. uncertain)

Final issue of The Home Missionary appeared from Nashville, Tennessee (continued as Tidings of Joy)

First issue of Tidings of Joy appeared from Nashville, Tennessee bearing Volume 3, no 1.
Became an official at Life and Casualty Insurance Company

Lived At 5605 Morrow Road, West Nashville, Tenn. (publication info. uncertain)

Facilities of the Southern Practical Institute opened “for its friends”

Tidings of Joy published by Southern Practical Institute, Nashville, withC. E. W. Dorris as editor of the paper and Superintendent of the school

January 5
First day of classes at Southern Practical Institute with “35 students from five states and the continent of Africa, ages ranging from 7 to 47, of which twenty-five are boarding students…”

February 16
Southern Practical Institute closed due to epidemic influenza (as reported in Tidings of Joy, March 1920).

Tidings of Joy returns to C. E. W. Dorris as sole editor and publisher. The school is closed on account of the “flu” with no definite plans to reopen it.

Final issue of Tidings of Joy appeared from Nashville, Tennessee.

Life and Casualty Building, Nashville, Tenn. (publication info. uncertain)

October 5
First services, Central Church of Christ, Nashville.

Retired from Life and Casualty Insurance Company

Lived At 1101 Caldwell Lane, Nashville

Commentary on Mark published by Gospel Advocate Company

Edits David Lipscomb’s Commentary on John, published by Gospel Advocate Company

November 20
Louisa Kerr Dorris died in Nashville - buried at Woodlawn

October 3
Died in Nashville, Tennessee, age 93; funeral services conducted at Central Church of Christ, Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas C. Whitfield and S. P. Pittman: Interment at Woodlawn next to Louisa

Source Info: The basic structure comes from the various Lists of Preachers of the Churches of Christ, published from 1906 on by McQuiddy, Firm Foundation, Rowe, etc. in which CEW Dorris appears and lists his address.

—Provided by Ancil Jenkins in an email on 12/21/08. From an email sent to him by Mac (McGarvey) Ice from Disciples of Christ Historical Society. We extend our thanks to Mac and the good people of DCHS (now in Bethany, WV) for their continued efforts to preserve the past.

Location Of The Final Resting Place Of C. E. W. & Louisa Kerr Dorris

Directions: Woodlawn Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee, is located behind the 100 Oaks Shopping Center that faces I-65 just south of the I-440 Interchange. From 100 Oaks travel east on Thompson Lane and turn right at the first entrance to Woodlawn's South Side Park (across from main part of cemetery). Continue down the drive. On your left you will pass Resthaven, then Graceland. On the right you will see a special section called Family Heritage Estates. Go directly across the road from the walk, in two rows and to your left (North) six or eight stones, near the edge of Terrace Garden is the grave of C. E. W. and Louisa Dorris. Woodlawn Cemetery Map

GPS Location Of Grave
36°06'33.4"N 86°45'40.7"W
36.109275, -86.761303

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