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Ballou, Hosea, 2d (18 October 1796–27 May 1861), Universalist minister and educator, was born in Guilford, Vermont, the son of Asahel Ballou and Martha Starr, farmers. His parents were hard-working, frugal, intelligent, and affectionate people, and these values shaped his personality.

Ballou’s limited formal education scarcely satisfied his passion for learning, but he mastered Latin with the help of a neighboring minister and also became proficient in Greek, French, German, and Hebrew. At fifteen he worked briefly as a schoolteacher in the nearby town of Marlboro. His parents considered sending him to college but, as Universalists, were suspicious of the New England colleges, which they felt were controlled by Congregationalists and so kept him at home....

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Beardshear, William Miller (07 November 1850–05 August 1902), United Brethren minister and college president, was born on a farm outside of Dayton, Ohio, the son of John Beardshear and Elizabeth Coleman, devout members of the United Brethren church. William enlisted in the 184th Ohio Infantry in 1864 and served in the Civil War until its conclusion in 1865....

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Beaver, Robert Pierce (26 May 1906–20 November 1987), minister and missions scholar, was born in Hamilton, Ohio, the son of Joseph Earl Beaver, an employee of the Game and Fish Commission of Ohio, and Caroline Neusch. He received the B.A. and M.A. in art history at Oberlin College (1928) followed by post graduate studies at Munich (1931–1932), a Ph.D. in history from Cornell University (1933), and postdoctoral study at Yale (1938). He married his high school classmate Wilma Manessier, a kindergarten teacher, in 1927; they had three children....

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Clewell, John Henry (19 September 1855–20 February 1922), Moravian clergyman and educator, was born in Salem, North Carolina, the son of John David Clewell and Dorothea Schultz. Following his primary education in Salem, Clewell entered Moravian College and Theological Seminary in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where he earned an A.B. in 1875 and a B.D. two years later. He pursued postgraduate study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City between 1878 and 1879. Moravian College awarded him a Ph.D. in 1900. In 1882 Clewell married Alice Cornelia Wolle, daughter of a prominent Moravian family in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; they had five children. Alice Clewell took an active role in her husband’s professional life, particularly during his tenure at Salem Female Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The institution recognized her contributions through its construction of the Alice Clewell Memorial Dormitory....

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de Schweinitz, Edmund Alexander (20 March 1825–18 December 1887), leader of the Moravian church in America and first president of Moravian College and Theological Seminary, was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the son of Lewis de Schweinitz, a pastor and amateur botanist, and Louise Amalie Le Doux. De Schweinitz grew up in the Moravian village of Bethlehem during the period when its character as a closed religious community was crumbling. He studied classics and theology at Moravian schools in Nazareth and Bethlehem until 1844, when he spent several months at the University of Berlin. There he attended lectures in church history, a subject that would be the core of his academic writing. He taught briefly in Zeyst, Holland, before returning to the United States in 1847. From 1847 to 1850 he taught classics at his old school, Nazareth Hall. In 1850 he married Lydia de Tschirschky in Herrnhut, Germany; they had two sons and two daughters. Also in 1850 he was ordained and served in a number of short pastorates, including Dover, Ohio, and Lebanon, Philadelphia, and Lititz, Pennsylvania, before settling in Bethlehem. He was regarded as a good preacher with a scholarly and “ornate” style. He was also known to be formal and at times imperious as a pastor. These traits are evident in his published works....

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Finney, Charles Grandison (29 August 1792–16 August 1875), evangelist and president of Oberlin College, was born in Warren, Connecticut, the son of Sylvester Finney and Rebecca Rice, farmers. The family moved to the town of Kirkland, Oneida County, New York, when he was two and in 1808 to Henderson, Jefferson County, near Lake Ontario. Finney attended common school and perhaps Hamilton-Oneida Academy in Clinton, and he taught school as an older teen in Henderson. At age twenty he enrolled at Warren Academy in Connecticut, decided against going on to Yale, and taught in New Jersey from 1814 to 1818, when he returned to Jefferson County to apprentice at law. Practicing in an Adams, New York, law firm and directing the local Presbyterian church choir, he began to study the Bible. Having grown up during the Second Great Awakening, Finney was aware of the strengths and weaknesses of every Protestant denomination’s evangelistic style. During an 1821 revival, at age twenty-nine, he experienced a religious crisis. He promised God, as he recalled in his ...

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Jacobson, John Christian (08 April 1795–24 November 1870), Moravian church educator and administrator, was born Christian Jacobsen in Burkal, Denmark, the son of Jens Jacobsen and Anna Maria (maiden name unknown), home missionaries of the Moravian church. Jacobson was educated at the Moravian school in Christiansfeld, Denmark, where he developed musical interests that would remain an avocational pursuit throughout his life. He studied for the ministry at the Moravian school in Niesky, Germany. There he received an education stressing the classical languages and theology. In 1816 he emigrated to the United States. Immigration authorities gave him, upon his arrival in New York City, an additional first name and changed the spelling of his family name....

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Johnson, Theodore Elliott (09 September 1931–20 April 1986), librarian, scholar, and Shaker brother, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Elmer Carl Johnson, a purchasing agent, and Ruth D. Collins Johnson. In 1953 he graduated from Colby College in Waterville, Maine, with a B.A. in Latin. Johnson, who never married, spent the next year studying medieval Latin literature in Strasbourg, France, on a Fulbright fellowship, and in 1955 he received an M.A. in the teaching of classics from Harvard University School of Education. Then, from 1955 to 1957 he studied at Harvard Divinity School. As a member of the Episcopal church, Johnson attended a parish administered by the Cowley Fathers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, and both scholarship and religion remained the central interests of his life....

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Kephart, Ezekiel Boring (06 November 1834–24 January 1906), clergyman and college president, was born in Decatur Township, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Kephart and Sarah Goss, pioneer farmers. Kephart was raised in a log cabin on a mountain farm. His early education consisted of the daily lessons of pioneer living as well as several months each winter in a schoolhouse two miles from his home. When Kephart was fourteen, he and his elder brother began their own lumber business. They cut trees and constructed large timber rafts, which they navigated on adventurous journeys down the Susquehanna River. At the age of seventeen Kephart made a religious commitment to the Christian faith that prompted his ministerial interests....

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Thomas Starr King. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109959).

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King, Thomas Starr (17 December 1824–04 March 1864), Universalist minister and lecturer, was born in New York City, the son of Thomas Farrington King, a Universalist minister, and Susan Starr. Since his father moved from one pastorate to another, young King spent most of his formative years in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Charlestown, Massachusetts. He had little formal schooling and even that was terminated when he was fifteen years old because his father died. Forced to work in support of the family, he was at times a clerk, a bookkeeper in a dry-goods store, an assistant teacher in a grammar school (1840), a principal at another (1842), and in 1843 a bookkeeper at Charlestown Naval Yard. Throughout this time King actively pursued intellectual maturation. A voracious reader, he absorbed information at a remarkable pace and took advantage of lectures offered in Cambridge or Boston. His vigorous mind and thirst for knowledge drew the attention of Unitarian clergy and social reformer ...

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Morgan, Mary Kimball (08 December 1861–13 October 1948), Christian Science educator and college president, was born in Janesville, Wisconsin, the daughter of Freeman Aaron Kimball, a Union officer in the Civil War and later a merchant, and Helen Maria Chapin. Mary was educated in the St. Louis, Missouri, public school system and later tutored at home. Poor health prevented her from attending college. In 1885 she married William Edgar Morgan; they had two children....

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Newton, Joseph Fort (21 July 1876–24 January 1950), Baptist, Universalist, and Episcopal minister, lecturer, and author, was born in Decatur, Texas, the son of Lee Newton, a Baptist minister and lawyer, and Sue Green Battle. Raised according to the rigid doctrinal standards and strict moral code in place among Texas Baptists at the turn of this century, much of Newton’s life was a pilgrimage in search of gentler, more open-ended religious insight. Largely self-educated, he learned classical languages and literature with his mother’s help, and in 1895 he was ordained a Baptist minister. Later that year he entered Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where his predilection for a liberalized religious perspective became more intensified. He read widely, learning more from poets and critical essayists than from the formal syllabus prescribed for divinity students. Newton searched for a faith that could satisfy the mind while it sanctified the heart. He grew increasingly dissatisfied with theological tenets that separated churches, and in 1897 he left both the seminary and the denomination because he found sectarian exclusiveness to be absurd and reactionary dogmas embarrassing....

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Osborn, Sarah Haggar Wheaten (22 February 1714–02 August 1796), revival leader and educator, was born in London, England, the daughter of Benjamin Haggar, a brazier, and Susanna Guyse. She came to New England in 1722 and by 1729 was settled in Newport, Rhode Island, where she lived for the rest of her life. In 1731, before she was eighteen, Sarah went against her parents’ wishes and married Samuel Wheaten, a sailor, who died at sea two years later. Left with an infant son to support, Sarah took over the direction of a small school and, despite chronic ill health, ran a school almost continuously until she reached her sixties....

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Reichel, William Cornelius (09 May 1824–25 October 1876), Moravian educator and historian, was born in Salem, North Carolina, the son of Gotthold Benjamin Reichel, a principal of Salem Female Academy, and Henriette Friederike Vierling, a housemother. Belonging to a family of high standing in the Moravian church ( ...

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Skinner, Clarence Russell (23 March 1881–27 August 1949), Universalist minister and theological professor, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Charles Montgomery Skinner, editor of the Brooklyn Eagle, and Ada Blanchard. He went to St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, graduating in 1904. There he became a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Although he had not trained for the ministry, he became an assistant that same year to the Reverend Dr. Frank Oliver Hall, minister of the Church of the Divine Paternity (Universalist) in New York City. The next year he was ordained, and later he took graduate work at Columbia, Harvard, and the Boston School of Social Workers. Meadville Theological School gave him a D.D. in 1926. His alma mater gave him an M.A. in 1910 and a D.D. in 1933....

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Barton W. Stone. Clockwise from far right: Stone, Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, and Thomas Campbell. Engraving by John Chester Buttre, from Pioneers in the Great Religious Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, 1885. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (Card no. 98508288).

Article

Stone, Barton Warren (24 December 1772–09 November 1844), evangelist, educator, and speculative theologian, was born near Port Tobacco, Maryland, the son of John Stone and Mary Warren, farmers. Reared in Pittsylvania County, Virginia, he moved in 1790 to North Carolina to study law at Guilford Academy. His career plans changed when he was converted to an aggressive form of evangelical Protestantism under the influence of ...

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Willett, Herbert Lockwood (05 May 1864–28 March 1944), clergyman, orator, and biblical scholar, was born near Ionia, Michigan, the son of Gordon Arthur Willett, a farm machinery merchant, and Mary Elizabeth Yates, a schoolteacher serving as a nurse in the Union army. Formative in his choice of vocation were the memberships of both the Willett and Yates families in a Disciples of Christ congregation founded in the 1850s by evangelist Isaac Errett. Willett never attended public school. He studied under his mother’s tutelage, memorizing large portions of the Bible and poetry, an accomplishment that later lent distinction to his public and academic addresses. In 1883 his Disciples heritage prompted him to attend Bethany College in West Virginia, the school founded by the denominational leader ...

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Zollars, Ely Vaughn (19 September 1847–16 February 1916), Disciples of Christ minister, author, and college president, was born near Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio, the son of Abram Zollars, a blacksmith and farmer, and Caroline Vaughn. His paternal grandfather, Frederick Zollars, emigrated from Germany or Holland between 1730 and 1740. Zollars was named for his maternal grandfather, Ely Vaughn (sometimes spelled Vaughan)....