(b. Anderson County, S. C., Aug. 21, 1841; d. Dallas, Tex., June 10, 1921). Editor, seminary professor, Texas Baptist leader. Son of Joel Bruton and Jane (Williams) Gambrell, he moved with his parents to northeast Mississippi when he was four years old. A scout for General Robert E. Lee in the Confederate Army, Gambrell fought at Gettysburg, was commissioned a captain, and was ordered to the Memphis territory. Before the close of the war he married Mary T. Corbell of Nansemond County, Va., on Jan. 13, 1864. After the war Gambrell enrolled in the University of Mississippi and served five years as pastor of Oxford Baptist Church. In 1877 he became editor of the Baptist Record, and in 1893 was elected president of Mercer University, Macon, Ga., where he served three years.
Gambrell became superintendent of missions in Texas in Dec., 1896, where he served until Feb. 10, 1910, when he resigned to become editor of the Baptist Standard, then owned by a group of representative Baptists. In 1912 Gambrell was elected a member of the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary but continued his duties as editor-in-chief of the Baptist Standard until Dec. 1914, when he was elected executive secretary of the Consolidated Board (missions and education) of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, at which time he resigned his positions with both the Standard and Southwestern Seminary. Gambrell served six years as secretary of the convention. In 1917 he was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention and served in that position four terms. His death occurred only six months after he returned with Edgar Young Mullins from a visit to European Baptists.
Routh, E. C. Life story of Dr. J. B. Gambrell, 1929.
Price, J. M. Southwestern men and their message, 1948.