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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Plyler, Alva Washington

by Louise L. Queen, 1994

14 Sept. 1867–28 June 1956

Alva Washington Plyler, Methodist minister and editor, was born in Iredell County, the son of Robert Conrad and Mary L. Kimball Plyler and the identical twin of Marion Timothy Plyler. He married Grace Davis Barnhardt on 20 July 1911, and they became the parents of three daughters, the eldest of whom died at birth. Mary, the second child, also died at an early age. Helen married Richard Maxwell, Jr.

A. W. Plyler was educated at Trinity College and pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago. Honorary degrees were conferred on him by Asbury College and Duke University. He entered the ministry in 1892 in the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Plyler served pastorates at Hot Springs, Pineville, Winston-Salem, Waxhaw, Asheboro, Weaverville, Charlotte, Lexington, Wadesboro, and Greensboro. He also was presiding elder of the Asheville, Salisbury, and Greensboro districts.

Plyler became editor of the North Carolina Christian Advocate in 1921 and was joined by his brother as coeditor in 1928. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1945. He was a member of the Editorial Council of the Religious Press of America; a member and president of the Southern Methodist Press Association; a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa Associates, and Duke University Varsity Club; a trustee of the Lake Junaluska Methodist Assembly and Brevard College; and a member of the joint board for the sesquicentennial celebration of American Methodism. He represented the Western North Carolina Conference as a delegate at six General Conferences of the church, the Ecumenical Methodist Conference in Atlanta, and the Uniting Conference in 1939.

He was the author of The Iron Duke of the Methodist Itinerancy (1925) and coauthor of four other literary productions.


Nolan B. Harmon, ed., The Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974).

Journal of the Western North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Church (1956).

Additional Resources:

Harmon, Nolan B. (Nolan Bailey). The Encyclopedia of World Methodism, vol. 2. Nashville: United Methodist Pub. House. 1974. (accessed September 22, 2014).

North Carolina Conference Historical Society; Western North Carolina Conference Historical Society. Historical papers of the North Carolina Conference Historical Society and the Western North Carolina Conference Historical Society. [Durham, N.C.] 1925. (accessed September 22, 2014).

Plyler, Alva Washington, and Marion Timothy Plyler. Men of the burning heart, Ivey--Dow--Doub. [North Carolina: s.n.]. 1918. (accessed September 23, 2014).