Anthony Johnson Showalter was born on May 1, 1858, in Cherry Grove, Virginia, to John A. Showalter and his wife Susanna Miller Showalter.
In 1860, his father was 27 and a farmer in Rockingham County, Virginia. He was 2 years old and had both an older and younger sister. He had been attending school!
In 1870, his father had expanded his farm holdings, and Anthony was one of six children, and busy with school work, and 12 years old. The family was living near Linville, Virginia.
He was trained in music from the Ruebush-Kieffer School of Music of Dayton, Virginia. He also spent a year in Europe studying music methods.
There was a time in America when very few knew how to sing, or how to read music. To meet that need, people like Anthony Showalter would be sent with hymnbooks into various areas to teach people how to sing and read music. He started as an instructor at the age of 14!
In 1880, he was 22 and working as a music teacher. He was still living on the farm, as one of seven children.
On November 13, 1881, he married Carolyn “Callie” Walser of Giddings, Texas.
Anthony moved to Dalton, Georgia, in 1884.
In 1887, he was in Harstelle, Alabama, leading a singing school in a church, when he began the process that led to the writing of the popular hymn: “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”
In 1890, he started the A.J. Showalter Company in Dalton, Georgia. It was a printer, binder and music publishing company. They printed hymnals, songbooks, schoolbooks, magazines, and newspapers. The company also had offices in Texarkana, Arkansas, and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Anthony loved the hymns as well as his students. He kept up with many of his students for years afterwards, offering letters of counsel and encouragement.
Some of the hymns he is credited with are:
In 1900, Anthony was 42, and his wife, Callie was 40. They had been married for 18 years and had seven children ranging from 18 to 4 years of age, all girls, except for Carl, who was 16. The family was living in Dalton in a house they owned free of a mortgage. Anthony was employed as a publisher; his oldest daughter (Tennie) who was 18 and a music teacher. Carl was working as a clerk.
In 1910, Anthony was 51 and Callie was 50. They had been married for 28 years and in total had seven children. Three girls were living with them, including their eldest daughter (Tenny) who had just lost newborn twins, on top of having lost her other child. Anthony was still working as a publisher. Their house was at 14 S. Thornton Avenue, Dalton, Georgia, which is now a parking lot in the business district of town.
In June 1912, he married Mrs. Eleanor Dorsey of Gillen, Washington.
In 1920, he was 61, married, and a lodger at the Chestnut Northern Hotel of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on 8th Street and Chestnut. He was working as a publisher of music books. Callie was living with her daughter, Essie Patterson, in Dallas, Texas, as a 60 year old widow.
He died on Sep 14, 1924, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His remains were buried in Dalton, Georgia.
The Ambassador Book of Great Hymn Stories (Belfast, North Ireland: Ambassador Publications, 2001), pp. 86-87.
Robert J. Morgan, From This Verse: 365 Scriptures That Changed the World, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), January 29.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), p. 87.
Helen Salem Rizk, Stories of the Christian Hymns (Cincinnati, Ohio: Abingdon Press, 1986), p. 24.
Georgia Division of Archives and History (GALILEO), Office of Secretary of State, Vanishing Georgia (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Libraries), http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/vanga/ accessed Apr. 2, 2011.
Wayland, John Walter, Men of Mark and Representative Citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Virginia: portraits and biographies of men and women (Staunton, Virginia: McClure Co., 1943) p. 428.
Ancestry (Provo: Utah, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. 2011), www.ancestry.com accessed Apr. 2, 2011 to use the many resources for census information and family trees.