Jesse Parker Sewell
Sketch On The Life Of J.P. Sewell
Jesse Parker Sewell was born January 21, 1876, at McMinnville, Tennessee. He was the son of William A. and Nancy (Tennie) Sewell. He attended high school at McMinnville, Tennessee, and later attended Nashville Bible School and Viola Normal College.
It was a well-known axiom that "Sewells must be preachers." There was one young Sewell, however, that planned to break the chain. When young Jesse P. Sewell was asked hundreds of time whether he would "make a preacher too" he replied, "No, sir, I'll show the people that a Sewell can do something else." He grew to 17 years of age in a congregation that had one service a week, Sunday morning. Young people had no part in the service except to recite the Sunday school lesson. He did not get the idea that a boy could do anything in the church until he was compelled by almost total blindness, to go to Nashville for treatment. There he worshipped with a church where he with other boys took part in prayer meetings and other services of the church. He had the idea that to do any good in the church one must be an elder or a preacher. His becoming an elder was far in the future, and as for him being a preacher he said, "I was determined I would not!" However, his experience at the Foster Street Church in Nashville opened to him a new church world. He could do something as a Christian, even as a young Christian, and he was glad.
He entered the work eagerly and moved to Corsicana, Texas. There he found a small group of Christians who were faithful and devoted but needed leadership. They welcomed him and encouraged him to preach. By the end of the year he had decided that he should preach, but he could not get rid of the old determination "to show the people a Sewell could do something else." He decided to practice medicine and preach too. He left for the Nashville Bible School where he made his home with the consecrated servant of the Lord, E. G. Sewell. He had daily contact with such grand men of God as David Lipscomb, James Harding, J. W. Grant, and others. With this daily association he very soon decided to preach.
He prepared four sermons. His father, W. A. Sewell, made an appointment for him to preach at Hayes, Texas, on Saturday night, Sunday morning and night. Two people were baptized on Sunday night. They asked him to preach on Monday night. Five others were baptized. They asked him to preach the next night and six more were baptized. The meeting continued nightly until Sunday night when 17 responded to the invitation making 50 in all during the one week.
With this great beginning Sewell went on to loftier heights. Among his many accomplishments was to serve 12 years as President of Abilene Christian College. He became President in 1912 and served until 1924.
Having been elected as President of the school he began work immediately. He proposed that the Trustees, members of the Church of Christ, raise $25,000 and that the citizens of Abilene raise $20,000 toward a building program.
In 1914 he secured Junior College status for the school which was approved by the University of Texas. In 1917 Sewell secured-through personal lobby among other helps-a bill that allowed Institute Graduates to receive Certificates.
When the school became a four year college on September 23, 1919, there was agitation to change the name. The name was changed from Childers' Classical Institute to Abilene Christian College
In 1920 there were 10 buildings on the campus worth $70,000. Sewell asked the Chamber of Commerce for help it had promised and opened a drive among church members that was partially successful. In 1924 a boys' dormitory was built. In 1925 the gymnasium was completed. The enrollment was up to 441 when Sewell retired in 1924.
On June 1, 1899, Jesse Parker Sewell married Miss Elizabeth Daisy McQuigg. To this union one son was born, named Jesse McQuigg. On May 18, 1944, his first wife died.
On April 1, 1948, Sewell married Maxie McDuffie Runnels.
Sewell began preaching in Tennessee in 1895. Places where he did full time local work were Sherman, Dallas, San Angelo, Fort Worth, Corsicana and San Antonio, all in Texas. States in which he held meetings were Texas, California, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington D. C.
After resigning the presidency of ACC, he became President Emeritus of the institution. He also served in other capacities, such as a teacher of Bible at Harding College.
Sewell died July 4, 1969, in Abilene, Texas. He was survived by his wife, Maxie McDuffie, and by one son, Jesse McQuigg. His body was laid to rest in the cemetery at Abilene, Texas.
- In Memoriam, Gussie Lambert, Pages 252-254
Directions To The Grave Of Jesse P. Sewell
Jesse P. Sewell is buried in Abilene, Texas in the City Cemetery. The Abilene Municipal Cemetery is located in Abilene, Texas. In Abilene, take I-20 to Exit 290, Hwy. 332. As you head south from the exit you will need immediately to turn right, heading west on E. North 10th Street. Head out about a mile and you will see cemeteries on your left and right after the Railroad crossing. Enter the main entrance to your right. Go to the "T" and turn right. Go to the dead end and turn left. Go as far as you can toward the back of the cemetery, and just before turning left at the end, look to your left. The Sewell Plot will be on the corner. See Cemetery Map For Location Here