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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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Banvard, Joseph (09 May 1810–28 September 1887), Baptist clergyman and author, was born in New York City, the son of Daniel Banvard, a businessman. His mother’s name is unknown. When Banvard was in his early twenties, his father lost his savings in a failed business venture and died shortly after, leaving the family in financial difficulties. His younger brother, the painter ...

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Callender, John (1706–26 January 1748), Baptist clergyman and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of John Callender, a shopkeeper, and Priscilla Man. His grandfather, Ellis Callender, was lay preacher at the First Baptist Church from 1708 to 1726. At the age of thirteen, Callender entered Harvard College. As a scholarship student, he was supported with the income from the benefactions of Thomas Hollis and later with funds supplied by ...

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Caulkins, Frances Manwaring (26 April 1795–03 February 1869), author, was born in New London, Connecticut, the daughter of Joshua Caulkins, a seagoing trader who died in Haiti before her birth, and Fanny Manwaring. Her mother married Philemon Haven in 1807. Caulkins attended schools in Norwichtown and Norwich, Connecticut. She was a voracious reader and began early in life to collect information about history and genealogies. She lived with a maternal uncle in New London, where she began to publish essays in local newspapers about people and events of regional interest....

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Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier de (24 October 1682–01 February 1761), Jesuit priest and historian, was born at Saint-Quentin, France, the son of François de Charlevoix, a member of the old nobility and deputy king’s attorney, and Antoinette Forestier. He studied at the Collège des Bons-Enfants in Saint-Quentin and moved to Paris when he began (15 Sept. 1698) his two-year novitiate with the Society of Jesus. He then moved to the Collège Louis-le-Grand, where he studied rhetoric and philosophy....

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Ellis, George Edward (08 August 1814–20 December 1894), minister and historian, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of David Ellis, a merchant and shipowner, and Sarah Rogers. At age fifteen Ellis entered Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1833. Continuing at Harvard for theological studies, he graduated from the Divinity School in 1836, and while there edited the Unitarian Journal ...

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Frei, Hans Wilhelm (29 April 1922–12 September 1988), theologian and intellectual historian, was born in Breslau, Germany, the son of Wilhelm Sigmund Frei, a venereologist, and Magda Frankfurther, a pediatrician. The family had become nominally Lutheran, and Frei was baptized in infancy, but they were Jewish by ancestry and thus fled to the United States in 1938....

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Griffis, William Elliot (17 September 1843–05 February 1928), educator, clergyman, and author, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Captain John Limeburner Griffis, a coal dealer, and Anna Maria Hess, a pious young woman who for many years taught at an infant’s nursery school and at a Bible school for young women at the First Independent Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia....

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Hewat, Alexander (1740?–03 March 1824), historian and minister, was born in Scotland. Nothing is known of Hewat’s parentage and birth. He attended the 1755–1756 session at the University of Edinburgh where he studied logic and metaphysics. In November 1763 he was called to Charleston, South Carolina, to minister to one of the leading, dissenting Scottish First Presbyterian congregations in South Carolina....

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Jones, John William (25 September 1836–17 March 1909), minister and author, was born at Louisa Court House, Virginia, the son of Colonel Francis William Jones and Ann Pendleton Ashby. As a young man Jones underwent a conversion experience that led to his decision to enter the Baptist ministry. After attending preparatory academies in Louisa and Orange counties, he enrolled at the University of Virginia, where he was active in a number of religious activities, including serving as treasurer of the Young Men’s Christian Association and teaching Sunday school. After graduation in 1859, he became a member of the first class at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Greenville, South Carolina. Jones graduated from the seminary and was ordained in 1860. Although he was approved by his denomination for missionary work in China, the political turmoil in the United States delayed his departure, and he returned to Louisa County, Virginia, to become the pastor of the Little River Baptist Church. He married Judith Page Helm in December 1860; they had five children....

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Judd, Laura Fish (02 April 1804–02 October 1872), missionary and historian, was born in Plainfield, New York, the daughter of Elias Fish, a carpenter and sailor, and Sybil Williams. After her mother’s death in 1806, she and her six older brothers were raised by an elder sister. Laura was educated at a boarding school from the age of four and lived for a time in the home of her maternal grandfather. After her elder sister married, she lived with the couple in Watertown, New York. At the age of fourteen she accepted a position in the home of her schoolmaster, exchanging domestic service for her education. In 1819 she accepted a teaching position in Mexico, Oswego County, New York, where she lived with a brother....

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Kohler, Max James (22 May 1871–24 July 1934), jurist, historian, and Jewish communal worker, was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Kaufmann Kohler and Johanna Einhorn. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, and both his father and grandfather, David Einhorn, were leading rabbis of the Reform Movement in American Judaism. Upon the death of Kohler’s grandfather in 1879, his father assumed Einhorn’s pulpit at New York’s Congregation Beth El, and the family moved to that city. There he grew up in an atmosphere infused with a devotion to both religious values and scholarly pursuits. After completing high school, Kohler attended the College of the City of New York, where he won several important literary prizes. Following his graduation in 1890, he entered Columbia University, from which he received both M.A. (1891) and LL.B. (1893) degrees. He was admitted to the New York State bar in 1893 and became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, resigning after four years to start a private law practice. In 1906 he married Winifred Lichtenauer, who died in 1922. No children resulted from the marriage....

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Peel, Robert (06 May 1909–08 January 1992), educator, journalist, historian, and religious scholar, was born in London, the son of Arthur James Peel and Anne Susannah Monk. His mother, a Christian Science practitioner for many years, was a decisive influence. He was also close to his sister Doris Peel (1907-1990), a poet whose writing on spiritual themes attracted a devoted following. He never married....

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Sparks, Jared (10 May 1789–14 March 1866), historian, editor, and clergyman, was born in Willington, Connecticut, the son of Eleanor Orcutt, who nine months later married Joseph Sparks, a farmer. His early life was somewhat unstable. In the mid-1790s he was sent to live with an aunt and uncle to relieve the burdens of the many children in the family, and with his adoptive family, he settled in 1800 in Camden, New York. In 1805 he moved home for a brief time and then went to live with another uncle in Tolland, Connecticut. There he apprenticed as carpenter and taught in local schools. Early on he displayed interests in literary and historical pursuits along with the more common interest in theology. While in Arlington, Vermont, he organized the Arlington Philosophical Society in 1808. He studied at the Philips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, beginning in September 1809, the result of Sparks’s early interests in the ministry and his receipt of a scholarship. There he met and became lifelong friends with another future New England historian, ...

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Stokes, Anson Phelps (13 April 1874–13 August 1958), clergyman, educator, and historian, was born in New Brighton, Staten Island, New York, the son of Anson Phelps Stokes, a banker, and Helen Louisa Phelps. He graduated from Yale with a B.A. degree in 1896 and, having inherited a large fortune from his maternal grandfather, Isaac Newton Phelps, spent the following year traveling abroad, mostly in East Asia. Upon his return, he enrolled in the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study for the Episcopal ministry. Before his graduation, however, ...

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Upham, Charles Wentworth (04 May 1802–15 June 1875), historian, minister, and politician, was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, the son of Joshua Upham, a lawyer and entrepreneur, and Mary Chandler. Joshua Upham’s Royalist politics and service in the British military led to the confiscation of his property by the state of Massachusetts in 1778. He fled with his wife to the British province of New Brunswick and in 1784 was appointed an assistant justice to its first Supreme Court. The position, however, was more prestigious than profitable, and his death in 1808 left Mary Upham and her son with little means of support. At age ten Charles worked in an apothecary shop, mixing medicines and teaching himself the trade by reading a pharmacology text. At age twelve he was a day laborer on a farm in Annapolis, Nova Scotia....

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George Washington Williams. Courtesy of the Ohio Historical Society.

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Williams, George Washington (16 October 1849–02 August 1891), soldier, clergyman, legislator, and historian, was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Williams, a free black laborer, and Ellen Rouse. His father became a boatman and, eventually, a minister and barber, and the younger Williams drifted with his family from town to town in western Pennsylvania until the beginning of the Civil War. With no formal education, he lied about his age, adopted the name of an uncle, and enlisted in the United States Colored Troops in 1864. He served in operations against Petersburg and Richmond, sustaining multiple wounds during several battles. After the war’s end, Williams was stationed in Texas, but crossed the border to fight with the Mexican republican forces that overthrew the emperor Maximilian. He returned to the U.S. Army in 1867, serving with the Tenth Cavalry, an all-black unit, at Fort Arbuckle, Indian Territory. Williams was discharged for disability the following year after being shot through the left lung under circumstances that were never fully explained....