The Scriptural title of THE ARGUS story this week recalls the Rev, Thomas Jefferson Fisher, the unsurpassed revival orator, who, many years ago, when asked by a lady, "Do not those eulogies on your oratory in the public journals excite your vanity?" replied, "No, when I walk out and behold the starry firmament, there I read my eulogy; 'He that turneth many to righteousness shall shine as the stars in the firmament,' that, my sister, is the only eulogy of which I am proud."
This remarkable preacher, whose grave is in Cave Hill, and whose funeral was preached by Rev, Dr. George C. Lorimer in Walnut Street Baptist Church, Saturday, January 13, 1866, was born, the fourth of thirteen children (eight sons and five daughters), of John Boleyn Fisher and Mary Lettridge Fisher on April 9, 1812, at Mt. Sterling, Ky. As a boy he earned money to pay his way at school. In the afternoons he would bring home an armful of dry sticks to burn and make a light to study by at night.
In 1828, when only sixteen years old, be was converted, joining the Presbyterian church at Paris, Ky.; soon afterwards he began preaching, and a little later he knew the entire New Testament by heart. In 1829 he became satisfied that immersion alone was Christian baptism, accordingly he joined David's Fork Baptist Church, Fayette county, and was baptized by the famous Jeremiah Vardeman, and soon afterwards removed to Middletown, Pa,, to be educated in Mr. Sloan's academy.
In March, 1831, he moved to Pittsburg and became a student under Rev. S. Williams, pastor of the Baptist church in that city.
In 1832, at Pittsburg, he was licensed to preach. While in Pittsburg he was taken with the smallpox; he recovered after a severe attack, but was severely marked. That year he held a debate with Dr. L. L. Pinkerton at Middletown, Pa., on the question, "Does the Holy Spirit operate upon the hearts of men in their conversion?" He affirmed. Dr. Pinkerton denied and was worsted, though Mr, Fisher was only nineteen years old. Upon his recovery he returned to Kentucky, and in 1834 was ordained at the request of Lawrenceburg (Ky.) Baptist Church and became its pastor.
In 1835 he accepted a call to Mill Creek Church, near Bardstown, Nelson county, Ky.
In 1836 he was married, by Rev. John Howe (Presbyterian), to Miss Elizabeth Naylor, daughter of James Naylor, of Greensburg, Ky.
In 1837 he moved to a farm near Greensburg, and a little later entered upon his life-work as a revivalist. During his wonderful career he lived in various parts of Kentucky, his last residence being Bardstown. He held great meetings throughout Kentucky and adjoining States, also in Baltimore, Lynchburg, Mobile, Natchez, Richmond, Vicksburg, Washington and other Southern cities.
In 1839 he debated successfully twice with Elder Wm. Clark, a Reformer, at Elizabethtown and at West Point, Ky.
In June, 1857, he held a great public debate with Elder Benjamin Franklin, editor of the American Christian Review, Cincinnatiati, O.
Oa Saturday morning, December 30, 1865, Mr. Fisher left his home in Bardstown; that night he preached at Bagdad from the text, "This Night Thou Shalt Die."
He continued the Bagdad meeting until January 7, 1866, that night he delivered his farewell sermon from the theme; "The Temptation of Christ," Matthew 4:1-11.
On January 8, at 8:30 he got on the train for Louisville and reached the city at 11:30 a. m. His business was to collect $2,000 due from a friend, with whom be took tea, The friend was not ready to pay and Mr, Fisher agreed to stay over till the next day. After tea he walked out on the street and within a short distance of the house, near West street, he was struck dowa with a slung shot, which badly fractured his head. At 8 p. m. his body was found and taken to Mr. Mayfield's home. Dr. Lewis Rogers was called and all that medical aid could do was done. He was afterwards removed to Mrs. Bibb's residence ou Grayson street. On January 9 bis wife came, he was almost unconscious, but recognized her presence by a pressure of the hand. At noon Thursday, January 11, 1869 , he departed to the Paradise of God. The funeral was conducted by the Masonic fraternity. Thus passed from earth the most powerful preacher of his day, one who had delivered six thousand discourses and led twelve thousand people to follow Christ!
[From The Baptist Argus, November 4, 1897, pp. 10-11. Document from on-line edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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