Joel Halbert Gambrell, son of Joel Bruton and Jane (Williams) Gambrell, was born on May 7, 1855, in Tippah County, Mississippi. He attended the University of Mississippi from 1872 to 1876, taught in the Granada, Mississippi, schools until 1878, and studied ancient languages at Mississippi College in 1879–80. On December 23, 1883, he married Victoria Pickens of Richland, Mississippi. He was licensed as a Baptist minister in 1879 and ordained in 1890. Gambrel was state prohibition organizer of Mississippi and editor of Sword and Shield at Clinton and Jackson, Mississippi, from 1881 to 1885. He was pastor in Lincoln County, Mississippi, from 1890 to 1894 and subsequently in Greensboro, Georgia, until 1898. He moved to Texas and was pastor at Tyler until 1904, when he became editor of the Baptist Standard at Dallas. From 1908 to 1910 he was pastor of the First Baptist Church at Marlin, where he founded The Christian Patriot in 1909. Gambrel was superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of Texas from 1910 to 1915, a contributing editor of Home and State from 1910 to 1917, and associate editor of The Californian, 1915–16. In 1916 he was appointed general missionary by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. He was a trustee of Rusk College and of Baylor Female College. He was a Mason and a Democrat. He died at El Paso on January 30, 1923, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and five children.