History of the Restoration Movement

John Thomas Smith


Sketch of the Life of J.T. Smith

Gospel preacher, music teacher, and song leader. John T. Smith was born September 19, 1884, in Obion County, Tenn. He obeyed the gospel, at the age of fourteen, during a meeting conducted by John R. Williams, of Hornbeak, Tenn.

It may be said that John T. came of preacher stock. His great-uncle, Matthew Wilson; his uncle, S. W. Smith; his father, G. W. Smith; and three brothers, G. Dallas, Robert D., and Fred D., all preceded him as preachers.

Brother Smith's early life was greatly influenced and his future work largely determined by the encouragement and assistance and the consecrated life of his brother, G. Dallas Smith. By him John T. was taught the rudiments and technique of vocal music, and trained in the work of directing the singing in religious meetings. For seven years he was engaged in protracted-meeting work as song director with his brothers, John R. Williams, R. C. Bell, and others, during the latter part of which he began preaching occasionally.

Brother Smith's first regular work was in Phillips County, Ark., beginning in the fall of 1907, where he divided his time between four congregations. Brother Smith entered Southwestern Christian College, at Denton, Texas, in 1906. At this time A. G. Freed was president of the college, and his chapel lectures and inspirational talks in the classes gave to Brother Smith a greater insight into life's possibilities than he had hitherto realized. Later in 1906 he entered the Nashville Bible School, now David Lipscomb College, where he remained for one season. Beginning with the autumn of 1908, he spent three years in Freed-Hardeman College, at Henderson, Tenn., taking courses in the Bible and related subjects under three of the outstanding Bible teachers—A. G. Freed, N. B. Hardeman, and T. B. Larimore. During two years of this time he taught vocal music in the college. In 1923 he was chosen as the song leader and director of the Hardeman-Smith meeting, the second great tabernacle meeting conducted by the churches of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.

Brother Smith has done general evangelistic work in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas, and has preached some in Washington, D. C., and in Canada. He has spent twenty-seven years in located work, laboring with eight different congregations, the names and order of which are here given: Fullerton, La.; Jackson, Sparta, and Dickson, Tenn.; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich. (Plum Street Church); and Lubbock and San Angelo. Texas. His longest ministry with a congregation was at Lubbock with the Broadway Church, where he spent twelve years, during which time the congregation became one of the largest in the brotherhood. He has just begun his third year with the San Angelo Church, which numbers more than seven hundred.

-H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, Dec. 18, 1941, page 1206. Gospel preacher listed in Preachers of Today, Vol. 1, 1952, 317.


The subject of this sketch is the son of G. W. and Lucy Campbell Smith, both of whom were reared in West Tenneasee. He was born September 19, 1883, six miles east of Union City, Obion County, Tenn. He was the youngest of eleven children. He was reared on a farm in one of the richest agricultural sections of the State.

Until he was about sixteen years of age his time was divided between working on the farm and attending the district school. At this time, encouraged and assisted by his older brother, the lamented G. Dallas Smith, he entered school at Hornbeak, in Obion County, where he remained for only a few months. After this he went to Weatherford, Texas, where his brother, G. Dallas, was living and preaching, and secured a position as salesman in a clothing store. In 1906 he gave up this place in order to enter Southwestern Christian College, Denton, Texas, then under the presidency of A. G. Freed. In the fall of this same year he became a student in David Lipscomb College, Nashville, Tenn., where he remained during one session. In the autumn of 1908, at the opening of Freed-Hardeman College, Henderson, Tenn., he again entered school, and continued in this institution for the next four years. During this time he taught the classes in vocal music and did splendid work in the Bible Department under A. G. Freed, N. B. Hardeman, and T. B. Larimore.

John T. was reared by Christian parents in a home that was distinctly religious. His father and two older brothers, G. Dallas and Robert D., were preachers of the gospel, and the influence of their lives and work made a deep impression on his young mind. Very early in life it was his desire and ambition to become a preacher and thus follow the example of his father and brothers. The fear, however, that he could not succeed and that he might not be able to continue permanently in such a noble calling caused him to hesitate. He continued, therefore, in a state of indecision for several years, relying largely upon time and chance to determine his life work.

He obeyed the gospel in 1897 at the age of fourteen. He was baptized by John R. Williams, of Hornbeak, Tenn., "whom," to use his own words, "he considered then, and still considers, one of the greatest preachers in the church." In his early manhood he spent a great deal of time with Brother Williams, leading the song service in many of his meetings. His association with this godly man and fearless defender of the faith had a great influence for good upon his life. No doubt it was one of the factors in causing him to finally decide to become a preacher of the gospel.

He preached his first sermon at Poolville, Texas, in the summer of 1904 on the subject of Paul's charge to Timothy, "Preach the word." He has been preaching regularly from that time to the present without any interruption. He has done general evangelistic work in most of the Southern States, having held many successful meetings and baptized a great number of people. He has also labored with the churches at Marvell, Ark.; Fullerton, La.; Jackson, Tenn.; Sparta, Tenn:; Dickson, Tenn.; Lubbock, Texas. He is now back at Dickson, Tenn., for the second time, preaching the word.

Brother Smith was married to Wilma Sue Warren, of Dyer, Tenn., June 14, 1911, N. B. Hardeman officiating. Two children-Warren Clayton and Annie Rose have come to bless their home and brighten their lives.

He is one of the sweetest singers in all Israel. He thoroughly understands the technique of vocal music, and he has a marvelously sweet and melodious voice. When he was a student and teacher in Freed-Hardeman College, he would sometimes sing a religious or popular song on public occasions to the great delight of the audience, which would call him back again and again as long as he would respond. His taste and judgment in selecting suitable songs for religious services is unexcelled. As a leader and director of congregational singing he has few superiors. His tall figure and graceful movements, added to the charm of his voice, give him a commanding influence over an audience and enable him to get a hearty response in the way of singing. It was these outstanding qualities that caused his selection as the song leader and director of the Hardeman-Smith meeting-the second great Tabernacle meeting conducted by the churches of Christ in Nashville.

It is not, however, as a song leader, but as a preacher, that John T. Smith has done and is doing his greatest work. He ranks as one of the best preachers among us. He came of preacher stock. As has already been mentioned, his father and two of his brothers were preachers, and another brother is a fine song leader and great church worker. He was greatly assisted and encouraged by all of them, and especially by his oldest brother, G. Dallas, who was his ideal as a man and preacher. He is a close student of the Bible, is thoroughly acquainted with the great scheme of redemption, and can present it in an attractive and forcible manner. He has been especially successful in building up and strengthening churches for which he has labored. He is deeply interested in the cause of Christ and the extension of his reign in the hearts of men. He follows the advice of Paul to Timothy and gives himself wholly to the things that pertain to the preaching of the gospel and the work of the church. He has no other aims, purposes, or ambitions in life but to preach the gospel, convert sinners, and build up the saints.

His social qualities are of the very highest order. He makes himself pleasant and agreeable with all classes and conditions of men. Without affectation or insincerity, he makes every one feel like he is his special friend. Wherever he goes or lives, he counts his friends by the number of his acquaintances. He is refined and cultured in his tastes, and has a fine sense of the fitness of things. He is almost a Lord Chesterfield in the politeness of his manners and the elegance of his dress.

Altogether, he is an earnest, sincere, lovable character, who believes that "woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."

-L. L. Brigance, Hardeman Tabernacle Sermons, Volume 2, pages 26-28

Gospel Advocate Obituary

On Wednesday morning, October 31, 1962, at 9:00 oclock, John T. Smith, husband, father, friend and gospel preacher, died. While yet in love with life and raptured with Gods wonderful nature, he laid down his armor and fell into that repose that only the faithful in Christ enjoys. He had passed on lifes highway the stone that marks the highest point. He fought a good fight, he finished his course, he kept the faith. This brave and tender man in every storm of life was oak and rock, but in sunshine he was vine and flower. He was a rare individualkind, considerate, compassionate and understanding, yet he never compromised the truth. He climbed the heights and left the little petty things below. Thousands have rejoiced to hear him proclaim the glad tidings during his fifty-six years ministry. Countless others quit sin when they heard this man of God. He added to the sum of Christian joy for others. It was my pleasure to be a co-laborer with Brother Smith in Waco, Texas, several years ago. This was an invaluable experience. He was one of the best friends I have ever had. Now he rests from his labors, but his good works will follow him. (Picture included)

-Archie L. Waldrum.

-Gospel Advocate, November 22, 1962, page 751.

Directions To The Grave of John T. Smith

John T. Smith is entombed in the mausoleums at the Resthaven Memorial Park in Lubbock, Texas. Take the 19th Street exit off the Hwy. 289 bypass. and head east. Lubbock Christian Univerisity will be on your right, and the cemetery will be on the left. Go to the main office at the front of the cemetery to get the proper location in the mausoleum.

Resthaven Memorial Park
5740 West 19th Street, Lubbock 
(806) 791-6200
33°34'51.0"N 101°56'12.8"W
or D.d. 33.580840,-101.936895

John T. Smith - 1884-1962
Wilma Sue Smith - 1892-1979
Photo Courtesy of Find-A-Grave Contributor, David Sifford

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