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Browder, George Richard (11 January 1827–03 September 1886), Methodist preacher and diarist, was born near Olmstead in southern Logan County, Kentucky, the son of Robert Browder and Helen Walker, farmers. His father had migrated to Kentucky from Virginia in 1820 as a part of the westward surge following the War of 1812. Seven months after Browder’s birth, his mother died. In 1828 his father married Sarah L. Gilmer, who, by her godly life and faithful instruction in the catechism, exerted a profound influence on young Browder and prepared the way for his conversion at the nearby Ash Spring camp meeting in 1838. Browder attended neighborhood schools and the Male Academy in Clarksville, Tennessee....

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Brownlow, William Gannaway (29 August 1805–29 April 1877), minister, newspaper editor, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Wytheville, Virginia, the son of Joseph A. Brownlow and Catherine Gannaway, farmers. Born into a moderately comfortable, slaveholding family, Brownlow was taken in by a maternal uncle after both parents died in 1816. From ages eleven through eighteen he worked on his uncle’s farm and attended the local common schools when possible, although most of his education came through his own private reading. In 1823 he moved to Abingdon, Virginia, to learn the carpentry trade from another uncle. His work as a carpenter ended abruptly when he experienced a religious conversion at a Methodist camp meeting in nearby Sulphur Springs in 1825. Following this meeting, he completed his current carpentry jobs and moved back to Wytheville to study for the ministry with William Horne. After a year of training, he was licensed for the ministry by the church’s Holston Conference and began a career as an itinerant preacher....

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Buckley, James Monroe (16 December 1836–08 February 1920), Methodist clergyman and journalist, was born in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of John Buckley, a Methodist clergyman, and Abbie Lonsdale Monroe. When Buckley was five years old his father died, and the family went to live with his maternal grandfather. The boy was plagued with ill health, suffering from the same pulmonary consumption that claimed his father. Aware of this genetic frailty, he took steps to strengthen his physical condition, especially with breathing exercises and long walks in the open air. Slender financial resources did not provide much formal education, but as a teenager Buckley studied for a few years at a New Jersey academy known as the Pennington Seminary. In 1856 he entered Wesleyan University, but college discipline apparently had little attraction for him; he spent much of the year campaigning for ...

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Capers, William (26 January 1790–29 January 1855), Methodist bishop, editor, and missionary, was born at Bull-Head Swamp plantation in St. Thomas Parish, South Carolina, the son of William Capers, a planter and former revolutionary war officer, and Mary Singeltary. William was only two years old when his mother died, and he was reared primarily by his stepmother, Mary Wragg. After being tutored at home, he attended schools in Georgetown, South Carolina, and in the High Hills, Santee. At age sixteen he entered South Carolina College, but he found his preparation in classical studies inadequate. After dropping out to study law with John S. Richardson of Stateburg, South Carolina, Capers soon abandoned that career for the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal (ME) church....

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Cooper, Ezekiel (22 February 1763–21 February 1847), Methodist preacher and publisher, was born in Caroline County, Maryland, the son of Richard Cooper and Ann (maiden name unknown), whom he described as “plain people, in easy and plentiful circumstances of life.” He experienced a religious awakening the year of American independence after hearing a young Methodist preacher, ...

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Corrothers, James David (02 July 1869–12 February 1917), journalist, poet, and clergyman, was born in Chain Lake Settlement, Cass County, Michigan, a colony first settled by fugitive slaves in the 1840s. His parents were James Richard Carruthers (spelling later changed by Corrothers), a black soldier in the Union army, and Maggie Churchman, of French and Madagascan descent, who died when Corrothers was born. Corrothers was legally adopted by his nonblack paternal grandfather, a pious and respected man of Cherokee and Scotch-Irish origins, who raised young Corrothers in relative poverty. They lived in several roughneck towns along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, where Corrothers attended school and became aware of racial hostility. In his boyhood family members introduced him to a rich vein of African-American folk tales that he would later draw upon for a number of his dialect sketches....

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Curry, Daniel (26 November 1809–17 August 1887), Methodist pastor, college president, and editor, was born near Peekskill, New York; the names of his parents are not known. An industrious youth who received a good preparatory education, Curry graduated in 1837 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. He spent the next two years as the principal of the Troy Conference Academy in West Poultney, Vermont. From 1839 to 1845 he labored in Georgia, first as a professor at Georgia Female College in Macon and then, after being received on probation as a Methodist minister in 1841, as the pastor of congregations in Athens, Lexington, Savannah, and Columbus....

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Finley, James Bradley (01 July 1781–06 September 1856), Methodist clergyman and author, was born in western North Carolina, the son of Robert W. Finley, a Presbyterian (later Methodist) minister, and Rebecca Bradley. His father, who had studied for the ministry at Princeton, was restless and preferred the isolation of frontier regions; he engaged in missionary activity in North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky, but he then settled north of the Ohio River near Chillicothe in 1796. Young Finley was educated at a high school run by his father in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Later he studied medicine and was admitted to practice in Ohio in 1800, but his love of farming and hunting proved more powerful. He married Hannah Strane in 1801; they had one daughter. He thought that his wife was well suited to his life as a backwoodsman, and he settled with her in an isolated log cabin in Highland County, Ohio, three miles from the nearest neighbor....

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Haven, Gilbert (19 September 1821–03 January 1880), Methodist bishop, editor, and abolitionist, was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of “Squire” Gilbert Haven, a bookkeeper and clerk, and Hannah Burrill. Young Gilbert attended local schools and then Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, for two terms in 1839. After he worked in Boston in clothing and carpet businesses, he did another term at Wilbraham to prepare for entering Wesleyan University in 1842....

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Josiah Henson. Illustration from Harper's Weekly, 1877. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-31848).

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Henson, Josiah (15 June 1789–05 May 1883), escaped slave and preacher, was born in Charles County, Maryland, on a farm owned by Francis Newman. As a child, Henson frequently saw his parents abused and severely beaten. On one occasion, as a punishment for defending his wife, Henson’s father was sentenced to a physical mutilation that left him permanently scarred. Although he was raised without religion, Henson was immediately converted to Christianity after his first exposure to it at a revivalist camp meeting. As a young boy, he was sold to Isaac Riley....

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Lynch, James (08 January 1839–18 December 1872), minister, editor, and politician, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Benjamin Lynch, a merchant and minister, and Benjamin’s wife, a former slave purchased by her husband. Her name is not known. Lynch attended the elementary school operated by the Reverend ...

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McAnally, David Rice (17 February 1810–11 July 1895), Methodist clergyman and editor, was born in Grainger County, Tennessee, the son of Charles McAnally, a Methodist minister and sheriff, and Elizabeth Moore. David was educated in the county school and in a private academy. In 1828 he was licensed to preach, and the next year he was admitted into the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church. In 1831 McAnally was ordained a deacon, and in 1833 he became an elder. He married Maria Ann Patton Thompson in December 1836 in Abingdon, Virginia; they had three children. After her death in 1861, he married Julia Reeves in 1871; they had no children....

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McFerrin, John Berry (15 June 1807–10 May 1887), editor, administrator, and minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, the son of James McFerrin, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, and Jane Campbell Berry. McFerrin’s formal education was meager. Although he completed only a few years of elementary education, McFerrin had a good mind, was eager to learn, and eventually acquired an education through independent study....

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Nast, William (15 January 1807–16 May 1899), Methodist clergyman and editor, was born in Stuttgart, Württemberg (now Germany), the son of Elizabeth Magdalene Ludovika Böhm and Johann Wilhelm Nast, merchants. He was baptized in the Lutheran church five days after birth, receiving his father’s full name, but most historical references have Anglicized his name to William. Orphaned at the age of seventeen, he lived with his eldest sister, who had married a theologian, and it was assumed that he would pursue a ministerial career. After attending schools in Stuttgart and Baihingen-an-der-Enz, Nast began seminary studies in 1821 in Blaubueren. Up to that point he had been strongly influenced by German Pietists and periodically experienced a deep sense of sin together with strong hopes for salvation. At the seminary, however, influences of a rationalistic, skeptical sort awaited him in the form of his roommate, David Friedrich Strauss. Wrestling with unresolved tensions between faith and reason, Nast turned away from the ministry and for a time (1825–1827) studied at the University of Tübingen. Thereafter, on the advice of his brother-in-law, he sought relief by traveling to the New World for a change of scene....

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Ray, Charles Bennett (25 December 1807–15 August 1886), African-American journalist, educator, and minister, was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, the son of Joseph Aspinwall Ray, a postal worker, and Annis Harrington, a well-read and deeply religious woman. He claimed descent from American Indians, as well as English and Africans. After schooling in Falmouth, Ray went to work for five years on his grandfather’s farm in Rhode Island and then settled on Martha’s Vineyard to learn the bootmaker’s trade....

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Sloan, Harold Paul (12 December 1881–22 May 1961), Methodist minister, editor, and author, was born in Westfield, New Jersey, the son of Theodore Reber Sloan, an artist, and Miriam B. Hickman. He was raised in a pietistic Methodist home by parents who were Sunday school teachers; his mother was the daughter of a Methodist clergyman. At age fourteen he joined the Methodist Episcopal church. He attended the University of Pennsylvania for two years and in 1902 entered Drew Theological Seminary in Madison, New Jersey. In 1904 he was ordained a deacon and continued his studies at Crozier Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, until 1906, when he was ordained an elder. He then returned to Drew, where he received a B.D. in 1908. He married Ethel Beatrice Buckwalter in 1909; they had two children....

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Stevens, Abel (19 January 1815–11 September 1897), Methodist Episcopal minister and editor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel Stevens, printer, and Mary Hochenmeller. Some sources place his birth date as 17 January. Stevens completed undergraduate studies at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, in 1834, the year in which the New England Conference admitted him to the Methodist ministry. He served churches in Boston and Rhode Island, advancing from trial status to deacon in 1836 and to elder in 1838. After a scholarly tour of Europe in 1837, he married Marguerite Otheman in 1838; they had six children. Stevens continued his ministry and received an M.A. from Brown University in 1839....

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Taylor, Edward Thompson (25 December 1793–05 April 1871), Methodist preacher, was born in Richmond, Virginia, to unknown parents. Raised in a foster home, he sought to engage playmates by giving funeral sermons for animals, whipping those children not already weeping from the force of his preaching. At the age of seven he went to sea. In the autumn of 1811, at seventeen, he found himself in the port of Boston and crawled through the window of the Methodist chapel, where the Reverend ...

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Tigert, John James, III (25 November 1856–21 November 1906), clergyman, editor, and bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of John Tigert, a pump maker, and Mary Van Veghten. Raised in a committed Methodist family, he attended schools in Louisville until 1875, when he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend the newly opened theological school of Vanderbilt University. Upon graduating in 1877 he was admitted on trial to the Louisville Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Two years later he was ordained a deacon and received into full connection. In 1881 he was ordained an elder. From 1877 until 1881 he served churches in Louisville and Franklin, Kentucky. In 1878 he married Amelia McTyeire, the daughter of ...