Earl West Remembers C.E.W. Dorris

Earl I. West twice remembers CEW Dorris in his memoirs, Searcher for the Ancient Order: The Golden Odyssey of Earl I. West. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 2004.

pp. 67-68:

In my quest for information on the restoration, I went in many directions, one of which was the home of C. E. W. Dorris on Caldwell Lane in Nashville.  He had preserved two sets of the Gospel Advocate and was interested in what I was trying to do.  I spent time researching in his home and spent several nights with him.  He talked a lot about things he knew because he had entered the old Nashville Bible School in 1892 when it was young.  He sat at the feet of David Lipscomb and James A. Harding.  He knew then well and loved them intensely.  He also knew a lot of scandal about various leading members of the church out of the past in the Nashville area.  I learned that the church was really not any more perfect then than it was in my day.

Brother Dorris was a good friend for several years, but when the days came that a new kind of ultra-conservatism began coming out of Tampa, Fla., I felt the Florida brethren were extremists and dogmatic.  Brother Dorris was totally with them.  The last conversation I had with him was while I was staying in a hotel in downtown Nashville and called him on the phone.  He was rough on me, so that brought our friendship to an end.  But at one time, he was gentle, kind and extremely helpful.…When I began my research into the Restoration Movement, I wanted to uncover material not generally known.  I never imagined I would write more than one book, but that changed as time went on.  Just before my first volume was due, I was in the Gospel Advocate office with brother Goodpasture.  We talked about a name for the book.  I had chosen The Cause at the Crossroads.  Brother Goodpasture did not like that and suggested using the words “the ancient order.” Brother Dorris was in the office at the same time, and he totally agreed with brother Goodpasture, thus the title The Search for the Ancient Order.  I was pleased, so was he, and so have been many other people. 

and again on p. 73:  

Although I did not regard him as a scholar particularly, C. E. W. Dorris, who lived down the street from Goodpasture on Caldwell Lane, proved to be a great friend.  He had a good private library.  He was 75 years old, and I was 25.  He possessed a good sense of humor, and for the most part we got along well. 

I remember so pleasantly the train ride we took from Nashville to Indianapolis on the Southwind, as they called that train.  It was crowded, and we sat opposite two teachers who had gotten on in Miami, Fla., where it originated, bound for their home in Chicago.   On the way to Indianapolis, brother Dorris was in a good mood.  He laughed a lot and so did I and so did the teachers.  Later, brother Dorris slapped me on the knee and laughingly said, “Doc, I wish I had known you 50 years ago.”  I told him that would be hard since I was only 25.



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