Thomas Obadiah Chisholm was born in Franklin, Kentucky, on July 29, 1866, in a log cabin. His father was James Washington Chisholm and was about 39, and had been born in Tennessee. His mother, Lucy J. (Meguiar), was 36, and had been born in Kentucky. Thomas had a brother that was 8 years older, named Joseph.
In 1870, James Chisholm (Thomas’ dad), had only about $1000 worth of farm real estate and about $800 in personal assets. Both parents had family relatives as neighbors. Thomas was 3.
In 1880, James, and his two boys were working on the farm. His father, James, was 51, and his mother, Lucy was 49. His older brother, Joseph, was 21 and Thomas was 15. Thomas was not attending school. They also had a black servant boy, William Dawson, age 11, with them. The boy had some kind of physical disability.
In 1882, he became a teacher at the age of sixteen, in the school where he had received his own education.
In 1887, when he was 21, he was the associate editor of the town newspaper, The Franklin Favorite.
In 1890, his mother, Lucy Jane Mequire Chisholm, passed away.
In 1893, he was converted at the age of 27, at a revival meeting in Franklin by Dr. H.C. Morrison, receiving Christ as his personal savior.
He was invited and accepted the offer to go to Louisville by Dr. Morrison to be the office editor and business manager of Morrison’s publication, the Pentecostal Herald. Dr. Morrison was the founder of Asbury College.
In 1897, his father passed away.
In 1900, Thomas was living with his brother’s family, who had three boys. He and his brother were both employed as travelling salesmen. They were still living in Franklin, Kentucky.
In 1903, Mr. Chisholm was ordained as the pastor at a Methodist church in Scottsville, Kentucky, and he was married to Catherine Hambright Vandervere who had been born in Pennsylvania. He was 37 years old and she was 28 years old.
On May 30, 1905, Thomas and Catherine had their first daughter, named Ruth Elizabeth Chisholm. She was born in Kentucky.
On May 6, 1907, Thomas and Catherine had their second daughter, and last child: Dorothy L. Chisholm. She was born in Indiana.
In 1909, his health began to fail, and he was forced to leave the pastorate. He moved his family to Winona Lake, Indiana, and became an insurance salesman.
In 1910, Thomas was 43 and Catherine was 35. They had been married for seven years, and neither had been married previously. They had two daughters, and both were still living: Ruth was four and Dortha was two. They owned a farm and house free of a mortgage, and Thomas was employed in truck farming. Their house was in Etna, Indiana.
In 1916, he moved with his child to Vineland, New Jersey.
In 1920, Thomas was 53 and Kate was 45. They owned a farmhouse with a mortgage on Magnolia Road in Vineland, New Jersey. Thomas was employed as a special agent selling life insurance. Ruth was 14 and Dorothy was 12.
In 1930, Thomas was 63 and Katie was 55. They owned a house on West Avenue in Vineland, New Jersey that was worth about $10,000. They also had a radio. Thomas was working as a collector for an insurance company. Their daughters were living with them: Ruth was 25 and Dorothy was 23. Ruth was not employed and Ruth was employed as a hospital nurse.
He always loved writing, and wrote over 1,200 poems, of which 800 got published in periodicals like: The Sunday School Times, Moody Monthly, and the Alliance Weekly. Regarding his poems he wrote:
I have sought to be true to the Word, and to avoid flippant and catchy titles and treatment. I have greatly desired that each hymn or poem might have some definite message to the hearts for whom it was written.
Here is a list of a few poems that became hymns:
Mr. Chisholm retired in 1953, at the age of 87, and lived in a Methodist Home for the Aged in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. He continued writing poems till his death.
Mr. Chisholm died February 29, 1960, in Ocean Grove, New Jersey at the age of 94.
Credit belongs to articles written by Gideon Macomber and Darren Glenewinkel, on two hymns Mr. Chisholm wrote. These formed the basis for the present presentation.
Robert J. Morgan, From This Verse: 365 Scriptures That Changed the World, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), May 28.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), p. 257, 348.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982), pp. 84, 85.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 More Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1985), pp. 178, 179.
Forrest M. McCann, Hymns and History, ACU Press, Abilene, TX, copyright 1997 pp. 127 &128.
Paul Davis, Inspirational Hymn & Song Stories, Ambassador Publications, Belfast Ireland, copyright 2001, pp. 84-86
Ancestry.com (Provo, Utah: Ancestry.com Operations Inc.) www.ancestry.com
Photo was colored by Pastor Clinton Macomber
Errata: Special thanks belongs to Doug Durham for emailing the incorrect ages on the 1930 census mention, on 6/29/2012. Correction made 7/21/2012.