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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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Baker, Osmon Cleander (30 July 1812–20 December 1871), Methodist educator and bishop, was born in Marlow, New Hampshire, the son of Isaac Baker and Abigail Kidder. At the age of fifteen he began his studies at Wilbraham Academy in Massachusetts. Wilbur Fisk, the first major Methodist theologian to receive notice outside of the denomination, was the principal of the school, which Methodists had founded a decade earlier. While a student there in 1828, Baker was converted, joined the church, and was licensed to exhort. In 1830 he entered the first class at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut, where Fisk, the first president, continued to have a profound effect on the young student. After Baker had spent three years at Wesleyan, ill health forced him to withdraw from the university....

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Bowne, Borden Parker (14 January 1847–01 April 1910), philosopher, theologian, and educator, was born in Atlantic Highlands (formerly Leonardville), New Jersey, the son of Joseph Bowne and Margaret Parker. His father, a farmer and justice of the peace, served also as a local Methodist preacher. His father was a staunch abolitionist, and his mother, a descendent of Quaker stock, despised sham and vanity. Traits of both parents ran deep in their son....

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Candler, Warren Akin (23 August 1857–25 September 1941), educator and clergyman, was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, the son of Samuel Charles Candler, a farmer, real estate speculator, merchant, and politician, and Martha Bernetta Beall. Samuel Candler was a slaveholder and Union Democrat who supported the South during the Civil War. While the war and Reconstruction brought temporary hardship, Warren enrolled in Emory College in 1873 with advanced standing and graduated three years later. Although intending to study for the bar, he felt a “calling” in his senior year and entered the ministry. Candler married Sarah Antoinette Curtright in 1877, a year after he graduated and began his career in the church. They had five children....

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Coker, Daniel (1780?–1835?), a founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, author, and educator, was born a slave in Frederick County, Maryland, the son of Susan Coker, a white indentured servant, and Edward Wright, a black slave belonging to the same plantation owner whose name is unknown. Daniel Coker was educated with his master’s son, who refused to go to school without his slave. When Coker was in his early teens he escaped to New York City where he joined the Methodist Church and was ordained as a lay minister....

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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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McClintock, John (27 October 1814–04 March 1870), clergyman and educator, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John McClintock, a retail dry goods merchant, and Martha McMackin. Although McClintock showed much promise in classical languages during six years at the University of Pennsylvania’s grammar school, he was removed at age fourteen to work in his father’s store. In 1830 he began two years as a bookkeeper for the Methodist Book Concern in New York City....

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Meyer, Lucy Jane Rider (09 September 1849–16 March 1922), educator and Methodist deaconess, was born in New Haven, Vermont, the daughter of Richard Dunning Rider and his second wife, Jane Child, farmers. After a happy childhood in a loving and supportive family, she obtained her secondary education by alternately teaching and attending school. At the age of sixteen she held a teaching position in a high school in Brandon, Vermont. She spent another year with a French family in Canada and one teaching in a Quaker school for freedmen in Greensboro, North Carolina. Entering Oberlin College in September 1870 at age twenty-one, she was granted junior standing in recognition of her experience and knowledge. She graduated with an A.B. degree in 1872. While at Oberlin she met and became engaged to a young man who had dedicated himself to service as a medical missionary. In support of him and his vocation, after graduation she entered the Woman’s Medical School of Philadelphia to become a doctor. During the winter of her second year, however, her fiancé died, and she left school, returning home to recover from the shock and to be with aging parents who needed her care....

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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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Sledd, Andrew (07 November 1870–16 March 1939), educator and clergyman, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, the son of Robert Newton Sledd and Frances Carey. In his home and early schooling Sledd was grounded in the post–Civil War nostalgia for the Old South and in the hard-line orthodoxy of Jim Crowism. His father, a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, who held appointments in larger urban parishes in Virginia, was known for his rigid views on race....

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Steward, Theophilus Gould (17 April 1843–11 January 1924), author, clergyman, and educator, was born in Gouldtown, New Jersey, the son of James Steward, a mechanic who had fled to Gouldtown as an indentured child servant, and Rebecca Gould, a descendant of the seventeenth-century proprietor of West Jersey, ...

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Vincent, John Heyl (23 February 1832–09 May 1920), bishop and educator, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the son of John Himrod Vincent and Mary Raser, farmers. In 1837 the family moved to the area near Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where the father served as Sunday school superintendent of the Methodist church. There, young Vincent taught school for a few years, later writing in his autobiography that his teaching experience “made me think that I had hidden away in me somewhere a measure of pedagogic ability.” Feeling a call to the ministry, Vincent was licensed as an exhorter and preacher in 1850 and traveled as a junior preacher along the Luzerne Circuit in rural Pennsylvania. In 1852 he studied at the Wesleyan Institute in Newark, New Jersey, then was ordained deacon by the New Jersey Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1855....