The Sewell name is familiar to students of restoration history. But, how did it all start? How did the Sewell name become so well-known?
The Sewell’s were from eastern Tennessee. There were thirteen children. The family, Stephen and Annie Sewell and their children lived in a log cabin. And understand the Sewell’s were Baptists! All of them!
In 1840, the eldest son, William B. Sewell married. He married a member of the church of Christ. She urged him to attend with her. He did and was converted.
William B. Sewell was soon brought before the Wolf River Baptist church. A trial was to be held. William D. Sewell, William B.’s own uncle, presided. It is reported that, “William B. raised his New Testament in one hand and the article of faith of the Baptist church in the other, and asked to know by which he would be tried.” Things heated and William B. was voted out of the Baptist church. His own family was against him in this matter.
One brother, Jesse L., decided to convert William B. from the error of his ways. William B. agreed to turn if it could be showed from the scriptures where he was in error. Jesse searched the scriptures and in the end was himself converted. One by one each family member was won. Earl West writes, “Thus, William B. Sewell, although never himself a gospel preacher, influenced his family, and through them preached the ‘unsearchable riches.'”
Four of the brothers became gospel preachers: Isaac, Caleb, Jesse L., Elisha G. (E.G.). E.G. became well-known for his work with the Gospel Advocate and David Lipscomb. Jesse L. Sewell preached the gospel for many years in Tennessee. He baptized about 8,000. Under his influence twenty-six young men became preachers, four of whom were his own sons: Joseph, William A., L.R., and Caleb W.
There is a Texas connection. Caleb W., and L.R. did work in Corpus Christi. William A. did work in Corsicana. Jesse P. (William A.’s son) labored in Corpus Christi, with the Pearl and Bryan church in Dallas, the church in Sherman, the church in Bonham, and the Grove Ave. church in San Antonio. He also served as president of Abilene Christian College.
All of this started with the influence of one woman, the wife of William B. Sewell (whose name I have been unable to determine. Heaven certainly knows! ). Then, William B., in turn, influenced his family.
Let us labor to bring our friends and family to the Lord and into the right way (John 1:40-42; John 1:43-f). Who knows how much influence we may be having on future generations!
Most of he facts for this writing were gleaned from Earl West’s The Search For The Ancient Order Vol. 2 Chp. 8