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Abbot, Francis Ellingwood (06 November 1836–23 October 1903), Unitarian clergyman and philosopher, was born in Boston, the son of Joseph Hale Abbot and Fanny Ellingwood Larcom. The senior Abbot was a schoolmaster and amateur scientist who reflected the strict moralism of early nineteenth-century Unitarianism, while his wife displayed a strong poetical bent, and Abbot’s life and career were influenced by both. After being educated at the Boston Latin School he entered Harvard College and graduated in 1859. While there he underwent a strong religious conversion, at least partly through the influence of his college friend ...

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Acrelius, Israel (04 December 1714–25 April 1800), Lutheran clergyman and author, was born in Öster-Âker, Sweden, the son of Johan Acrelius, a pastor, and Sara Gahm. At the age of twelve he entered the University of Uppsala, where he trained for the ministry and received his ordination in 1743. Acrelius then served as a domestic chaplain until 1745, when he became the pastor of Riala, Kulla, and Norra Ljusterö....

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Adams, William (25 January 1807–31 August 1880), minister and seminary president, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of John Adams, an educator, and Elizabeth Ripley. Adams grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father was the principal of Phillips Academy. He entered Yale College in 1824, where he received his A.B. in 1827. After college he returned home to study at Andover Theological Seminary and to assist his father in teaching. He completed his seminary training in 1830 and was ordained a Congregational minister. He began service as the pastor of a church in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1831. He married Susan P. Magoun in July 1831. His wife’s illness forced him to resign from the Brighton pastorate in early 1834, but following her death in May, he accepted a ministerial call to the Broome Street (later Central) Presbyterian Church in New York City. Since the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations then enjoyed a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, Adams switched denominations and was installed as pastor in November 1834. In August 1835 he married Martha B. Magoun, the sister of his first wife....

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Adamski, George (17 April 1891–23 April 1965), lecturer and writer on occult subjects and on UFOs during the 1950s' flying saucer enthusiasm, lecturer and writer on occult subjects and on UFOs during the 1950s’ flying saucer enthusiasm, was born in Poland. His parents (names unknown) brought him to the United States when he was one or two. The family settled in Dunkirk, New York; their life was hard, and Adamski received little formal education. He joined the Thirteenth U.S. Cavalry Regiment in 1913 as an enlisted man, serving on the Mexican border, and was honorably discharged in 1916. On 25 December 1917 he married Mary A. Shimbersky (d. 1954). After leaving the army, Adamski worked as a painter in Yellowstone National Park, in a flour mill in Portland, Oregon, and by 1921 was working in a cement factory in California. He continued to live in California, reportedly supporting himself and his wife through a variety of jobs, including by the 1930s teaching and lecturing on occult subjects....

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Adler, Cyrus (13 September 1863–07 April 1940), academic administrator and Jewish communal leader, was born in Van Buren, Arkansas, to Samuel Adler, a merchant and planter, and Sarah Sulzberger. At an early age Adler’s family moved to Philadelphia and then to New York, where his father died in 1867. The family returned to Philadelphia, where his mother’s brother, David Sulzberger, became head of the household and was a great influence on Adler’s upbringing. As a boy, Adler received an intensive education in Judaic subjects from a consortium of Philadelphia rabbis, headed by ...

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A. Bronson Alcott. At age fifty-three. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-54729).

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Alcott, A. Bronson (29 November 1799–04 March 1888), Transcendentalist and reformer, was born Amos Bronson Alcox in Wolcott, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Chatfield Alcox and Anna Bronson, farmers. Farming the rocky Connecticut soil was not lucrative, and Alcott worked hard with his parents to help support seven younger siblings, thereby limiting his opportunities for a formal education. He attended the local district school until age ten, but thereafter his intellectual growth largely depended on his own reading and discussions with friends of a similar scholarly bent, the first being his cousin William Andrus Alcott. William later attended Yale College and established a career as a physician and popular author of health manuals, but continuing poverty prevented Bronson from obtaining a college education. At age fifteen he, like many of his young Connecticut contemporaries, began peddling small manufactured goods, first in Massachusetts and New York, then in Virginia and the Carolinas....

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Alexander, Joseph Addison (24 April 1809–28 January 1860), Presbyterian scholar and minister, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Janetta Waddel and Archibald Alexander, a Presbyterian minister. Alexander, who was always called Addison, grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, where in 1812 his father was called to be the first professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. At an early age, Alexander displayed the ability in languages that would make him a marvel throughout his life. By the time he began formal instruction with local tutors, his father had taught him the rudiments of Latin and Greek and also introduced him to Semitic languages. By the time he graduated from the College of New Jersey as a seventeen-year old in 1826, he had read the Koran in Arabic, made considerable progress in Persian and Syriac, and begun the wide-ranging study of contemporary European languages that he never stopped. It was his habit, begun before entering college and continuing to the week of his death, to read the Bible daily in at least six languages. Alexander’s nephew and biographer, Henry Carrington Alexander, concluded that he read, wrote, and spoke Latin, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese; that he read without helps and wrote Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Greek, Romaic, and Chaldean; that he could read Ethiopic, Dutch, Sanskrit, Syriac, Coptic, Danish, Flemish, and Norwegian; and that he knew enough Polish, Swedish, Malay, Hindustani, and Chinese to peruse works in these languages. The linguistic marvel was also a social recluse who never married and who, despite great interest in travel and world affairs, lived contentedly in Princeton as a student and professor his whole life. ...

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Alison, Francis (1705–28 November 1779), Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in the parish of Leck, County Donegal, in the province of Ulster in Ireland, the son of Robert Alison, a weaver. His mother’s name is not known. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he was educated at one of the clandestine Presbyterian academies, probably that of Francis Hutcheson in Dublin. He received the bulk of his collegiate instruction before attending the University of Edinburgh, where he was awarded an M.A. in January 1733. He then studied divinity for two years, probably at the University of Glasgow, which awarded him a doctor of divinity degree in 1756, an honor that was usually extended only to an alumnus. Alison returned to Ireland and was licensed by the presbytery of Letterkenny in June 1735. He immediately sailed to Pennsylvania....

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Allen, Alexander Viets Griswold (04 May 1841–01 July 1908), Episcopal priest, theologian, and educator, was born in Otis, Massachusetts, the son of Ethan Allen, a teacher and Episcopal priest, and Lydia Child Burr. His father served churches in Massachusetts and Vermont. Both parents were strongly evangelical in the Episcopal manner of the time, emphasizing biblical authority and teaching more than sacramental theology—a conviction that produced conflict in several of the churches that Allen’s father served. Their piety shaped Allen’s early views, leading him to enroll at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1859. Kenyon was an Episcopal institution then of an evangelical stamp. An excellent student, Allen delivered the valedictory address upon graduating in 1862 and immediately entered Bexley Hall, a theological seminary in Gambier....

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Allen, Young John William (03 January 1836–30 May 1907), missionary, educator, and journalist in China, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten. Because of the early death of both parents, Allen was raised by an aunt and uncle, Wiley and Nancy (Wooten) Hutchins, who lived in Meriwether County, Georgia. He received a sizable inheritance from his father, which financed his education at several small private schools near his home in Starrsville, Georgia, including the Baptist-run Brownwood Institute in LaGrange, Georgia, and the Morgan H. Looney schools in Palmetto, Georgia. His inheritance also allowed him to collect a personal library, which made him the envy of his classmates as early as 1850, when he was only fourteen years old. He began college work at Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1853 but transferred to Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, in the spring of 1854. At Emory, Allen acquired the secular learning of the European tradition as well as knowledge of Christianity. His extracurricular activities included membership in a debating society and religious study groups, both of which prepared him for his subsequent careers in China....

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Anderson, David Lawrence (04 February 1850–16 March 1911), China missionary and first president of Suzhou University, was born in Summerhill, South Carolina, the son of James Harkins Anderson and Mary Margaret Adams. For two years he attended Washington and Lee University, at that time under the presidency of ...

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Anderson, Matthew (25 January 1845–11 January 1928), Presbyterian pastor, educator, and social reformer, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Timothy Anderson and Mary Croog. One of fourteen children, he was raised in the comforts of a rural, middle-class home, less than thirty miles from historic Gettysburg. On a typical day of his youth, he faced the physical demands of farm life and experienced the movement back and forth between two cultures. One, dominated by commerce and materialism, was uncharacteristically open to the Andersons, who owned lumber mills and real estate at a time when most black Americans were dehumanized and disenfranchised by chattel slavery. The other was a culture defined by close family ties and Presbyterian piety. At home Matthew heard Bible stories and dramatic tales of runaway slaves; indeed, religious piety and the pursuit of racial freedom were dominant themes in his life. These early experiences inspired Anderson so deeply that, by the time he left Greencastle in 1863, he had decided on the ministry as his vocation. Study at Oberlin College was the first step toward serving his religious faith, his racial group, and his vision of social justice....

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Andrews, Elisha Benjamin (10 January 1844–30 October 1917), clergyman and college president, was born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, the son of Erastus Andrews, a Baptist minister and politician, and Almira Bartlett, a schoolteacher. When Benjamin (as he was always known) was six months old, his father accepted a new pastorate in Sanderland, Massachusetts, and relocated the family to Montague, Massachusetts, where Andrews attended local schools and was occasionally tutored by his mother before the family moved yet again in 1858 to Suffield, Connecticut. In Suffield his father presided over the First Baptist Church and took advantage of the nearby Connecticut Literary Institute, also a Baptist institution, for the education of his children. Shortly after their move to Suffield, Andrews seriously injured his left foot; after a slow and painful recovery that prevented his attendance at school until 1860, he resumed his education at the Literary Institute....

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Andrews, Lorrin (29 April 1795–29 September 1868), missionary and educator, was born in East Windsor (now Vernon), Connecticut, the son of Samuel Andrews and his wife, whose name is unknown. Andrews grew up on the frontier in Kentucky and Ohio and later attended Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. After graduation he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he graduated in 1825. He worked as a mechanic and printer while in school, and later as a teacher. On 26 April 1827 he volunteered his services to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) and was accepted for work in the Sandwich Islands, as Hawaii was then called. His various job experiences and his life in rough pioneer country where hard work was valued prepared him well for his missionary tasks....

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Angela, Mother (21 February 1824–04 March 1887), educator and religious sister, was born Eliza Marie Gillespie in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the daughter of John Purcell Gillespie, an attorney, and Mary Madeleine Miers. After the death of her father the family moved to Lancaster, Ohio, in 1838. Eliza was educated by Dominican nuns in Somerset and later attended the Ladies’ Academy of the Visitation in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C....

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Benjamin W. Arnett. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

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Arnett, Benjamin William (06 March 1838–09 October 1906), African-American religious, educational, and political leader, was born in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the son of Samuel G. Arnett and Mary Louisa (maiden name unknown). Arnett was a man of “mixed Irish, Indian, Scots, and African ancestry” (Wright, p. 79). He was educated in a one-room schoolhouse in Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. Arnett worked as a longshoreman along the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and briefly as a hotel waiter. His career as a longshoreman and waiter ended abruptly when a cancerous tumor necessitated amputation of his left leg in 1858. He turned to teaching and was granted a teaching certificate on 19 December 1863. At that time, he was the only African-American schoolteacher licensed in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. For ten months during the academic year 1884–1885, Arnett served as a school principal in Washington, D.C. He returned to Brownsville in 1885, teaching there until 1887. Although largely self-educated, he attended classes at Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati. A man of many interests, he was an occasional lecturer in ethics and psychology at the Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University, served as a historian of the AME church, was a trustee of the Archaeological and Historical Society of Ohio, served as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Sociological Society, and was statistical secretary of the Ecumenical Conference of Methodism for the western section from 1891 to 1901....

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Avery, Martha Gallison Moore (06 April 1851–08 August 1929), lecturer and lay Catholic preacher, was born in Steuben, Maine, the daughter of Albion King Paris Moore, a house builder, and Katharine Leighton. She was educated in the village public school and then in a private dame school. When Martha was thirteen years old her mother died and she went to live with her grandfather, Samuel Moore, who was active in local and state politics. This atmosphere may have contributed to Martha’s future political interest. As a young woman she carried on a millinery business in Ellsworth, Maine, where she joined a Unitarian congregation. It was there that she met Millard Avery, a fellow church member. They were married in March 1880; they had one daughter. In 1888 Avery and her daughter moved to Boston to be closer to her husband, who was working as a traveling salesman. That year she joined the newly organized First Nationalist Club of Boston and wrote articles for its publication, ...

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Bacon, Benjamin Wisner (15 January 1860–01 February 1932), clergyman and theological professor, was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the son of Susan (née Bacon) and Leonard Woolsey Bacon, a clergyman. Bacon grew up surrounded by the traditions, habits and the learning of a family of distinguished New England clerics. His paternal grandfather, ...