T. B. Larimore (1843-1929) was born in poverty in east Tennessee. His full name, not often used, was Theophilus Brown Larimore. He did hard farm work. He was always studious and enrolled in a college when he was sixteen.
At the beginning of the War Between the States in 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate army, serving as a scout. While he was looking down on Union troop movements from a high elevation, two Federal soldiers came upon him from behind and captured him. Prisons were already extremely overcrowded. Possibly because of the prison situation, Larimore was paroled upon the condition, of course, that his military career was over. He returned to his mother’s home in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The story is told that, after the war, Larimore located, taught and converted one of the two Union soldiers involved in his capture.
Larimore was baptized into Christ on his twenty-first birthday, July 10, 1864, in Hopkinsville. He began preaching two years later. He entered Franklin College in Nashville the same year, where he graduated with honors. Tolbert Fanning was founder and president of the college. Larimore said Fanning was one of the best teachers he ever had. This was the school where David Lipscomb and his brother William received their college degrees, along with a number of others who were effective preachers and teachers.
Mars Hill College
In 1871 at Florence, Alabama, T.B. Larimore opened the Mars Hill Academy (which he re-named Mars Hill College). Hundreds received an outstanding education including a strong emphasis on Bible knowledge. Among those graduating from the college in 1875 was R. P. Meeks of Stantonville, Tennessee. He married Larimore’s sister. Meeks was the preacher who baptized N. B. Hardeman, the co-founder of Freed-Hardeman University.
After sixteen years, Larimore left the school work in order to devote his full time to evangelism, preaching day and night in many gospel meetings.
From the beginning, his preaching was successful in leading many to obey the gospel. That he preached with kindness was a comment often made by those who heard him preach. His preaching led thousands to obey the gospel.
In one year he received requests from up to five hundred locations to come and preach in evangelistic meetings!
Larimore’s longest series of gospel meetings occurred in 1894 in Sherman, Texas. It continued more than five months, from January to June. Preaching twice each day and three times every Sunday, he preached 333 sermons, resulting in two hundred additions to the church. The next year, in Los Angeles, he preached in his second longest gospel meeting, of three months duration, with 120 baptisms.
Some years after the death of his first wife, in 1911, Larimore married Emma Page in Nashville. Ten years earlier Emma had started taking down his sermons in shorthand, when Larimore was preaching in a series of gospel meetings at the Lindsley Avenue (formerly called South College) church.
This was a congregation David Lipscomb had established in 1855 when he first met with a few ladies for worship in a fire hall on 2nd Ave. S. It was Lipscomb’s home congregation and where his funeral was conducted. Emma continued to take down the sermons Larimore preached in Nashville at the request of the Gospel Advocate Company who published them.
The longest T. B. Larimore worked with any church in one location was in Washington, D. C., where he remained for three years (1922-1925). He was there when he learned the sad news of the death of another noted orator of his time, William Jennings Bryan, at Dayton, Tennessee, just five days after Bryan had successfully defended the Bible teaching on Creation against Clarence Darrow in the 1925 Scopes Evolution Trial.
The Final Years
Upon leaving Washington, D. C., in 1925, Larimore evangelized in California for the remaining few years of his life. He preached his last sermon in Los Angeles at the Sichel Street church of Christ, on December 2, 1928.
Two weeks later, weakened by the flu, he fell and broke his hip. He lived three more months and died on Monday, March 18, 1929. He was 85.