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Sankey, Ira David (28 August 1840–14 August 1908), singing evangelist and gospel songwriter, was born in Edinburg, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, the son of David Sankey and Mary Leeper. Sankey’s father was a Pennsylvania state representative, collector of internal revenue, member of the State Board of Equalization, and newspaper editor. During Sankey’s childhood his father also farmed in West Central Pennsylvania, near the Ohio border. The family attended King’s Chapel near Western Reserve Harbor, where Sankey was converted during revival meetings in 1856. In 1857, when Sankey’s father accepted the presidency of a local bank, the family moved to New Castle, Pennsylvania, where Sankey joined the New Castle Methodist Church. By 1860 he was Sunday school superintendent and choir director....

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Ira D. Sankey. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-108534).

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White, Anna (21 January 1831–16 December 1910), Shaker eldress, author, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Robert White, a businessman and farmer, and Hannah Gibbs, an almoner (a distributor of goods to the needy) for the Quakers. White was educated at Mansion Square Seminary, a Quaker school, in Poughkeepsie, New York. When she was seventeen she learned the tailoring trade and helped her mother distribute alms from the Quakers to the poor of New York City. Her father had become a Shaker and divided his time between living with his natural family and residing with the Shakers. His decision to become a Shaker angered his wife and alienated all his children except Anna who also became interested. Every effort was made to dissuade her from Shakerism, and an uncle even proposed to settle $40,000 on her if she would give up thinking about it....