Historical Marker #2132 in Franklin remembers the birthplace of noted church hymnist Thomas Obadiah Chisholm.
T.O. Chisholm was born into a turbulent world on July 29, 1866. The Civil War had ended the year before, but yet random acts of violence continued to plague both Kentucky and the United States as the issues of emancipation and reunification were slowly worked out.
During trying times, people often look to their spirituality to see them through. The comfort of sharing one’s faith with family and friends is sometimes all one has to count on. Some people grow up in a church environment while others discover religion later in life. T.O. Chisholm was one of the later.
Chisholm grew up on a Simpson County farm. Being a bright child, he began teaching other young people at Lake Spring School when he was only sixteen. At about age twenty-one Chisholm transitioned from educator to associate editor for the local newspaper, the “Franklin Favorite.” It was during his time with the newspaper that he attended a community revival for a news story and was won over by the preaching of noted evangelist Henry Clay Morrison.
Soon after his conversion, Chisholm went to work with Morrison for the “Pentecostal Herald” in Louisville. After serving in that capacity he pastured a small congregation in Scottsville, Kentucky. Health issues and different business ventures necessitated Chisholm to move first to Indiana and then New Jersey over the next several years.
However, one constant in Chisholm’s life was his writing of religious poems and songs. At age fifty-seven he penned “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” which was eventually set to music and immediately became a popular church hymn. Others, such as “Living for Jesus,” “O to Be Like Thee,” became standard songs sung in many different denominations on Sundays across the United States. In all Chisholm wrote over 1,200 poems and songs during his lifetime.
Chisholm died at age ninety-four at the Methodist Home in Ocean Side, New Jersey, on February 29, 1960.