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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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Bascom, Henry Bidleman (27 May 1796–08 September 1850), Methodist bishop and educator, was born in Hancock, New York, the son of Alpheus Bascom and Hannah Bidleman Houk. Poverty kept the family on the move in search of better living conditions, first in western New York, then northern Kentucky, and finally (1813) in southern Ohio. Young Bascom received some formal schooling until he was twelve years old, but penury forestalled further studies. He joined the Methodists at the age of fifteen, and two years later, in 1813, the Ohio Annual conference of the Methodist church licensed him to preach. During that year he was also admitted as preacher on trial and appointed to the Brush Creek Circuit where his newly settled parental home was situated. Bascom’s gifts of imagination and powerful expression were quickly recognized as he filled various preaching circuits in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky over the next decade. His travels to as many as thirty preaching places per month was tiring and often dangerous, but the itinerant evangelist persevered and impressed many with both his zeal and remarkable power of expression....

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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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Coppin, Fanny Jackson (1837–21 January 1913), educator, civic and religious leader, and feminist, was born a slave in Washington, D.C., the daughter of Lucy Jackson. Her father’s name and the details of her early childhood are unknown. However, by the time she was age ten, her aunt Sarah Orr Clark had purchased her freedom, and Jackson went to live with relatives in New Bedford, Massachusetts. By 1851 she and her relatives had moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where Jackson was employed as a domestic by ...

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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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Dorchester, Daniel (11 March 1827–13 March 1907), Methodist clergyman and statistician of American church history, was born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Daniel Dorchester, a Methodist clergyman, and Mary Otis. He attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, for two years; in 1847 he entered the Methodist ministry. In April 1850 he married Mary Payson Davis; they had seven children. Mary died in 1874, and in 1875 Dorchester married Merial A. Whipple....

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Fisk, Wilbur (31 August 1792–22 February 1839), Methodist minister and educator, was born in Brattleboro, Vermont, the son of Isaiah Fisk, a farmer and public official, and Hannah Bacon. He studied both independently and at the common school in Pecham, Vermont. In 1812 he entered the sophomore class of the University of Vermont but graduated from Brown University in 1815. At first he studied law with Isaac Fletcher in Lyndon, Vermont, but partly due to frail health he turned to teaching. Having been raised in a devout Methodist home, he was licensed to preach on 14 March 1818. That June he joined the New England Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church and entered into full connection in 1820. He was ordained elder in 1822. His first appointment was the Craftsbury circuit in Vermont, then the Charlestown charge in Massachusetts, and next the Vermont district as presiding elder (district superintendent). In 1825 he was elected principal of the newly organized Wesleyan Academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. He married Ruth Peck of Providence, Rhode Island, in June 1823....

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Gregg, John Andrew (18 February 1877–17 February 1953), African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) bishop and educator, African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) bishop and educator, was born in Eureka, Kansas, the son of Alexander Gregg and Eliza Frances Allen. Early positive experiences in Sunday Schools and the Epworth League (a Methodist youth organization) encouraged him to develop good study habits and to expect successful results from his efforts. During the Spanish-American War, Gregg signed on for service in the Twenty-third Kansas Volunteers. Within a six-month period he rose from the rank of sergeant to that of lieutenant. This is all the more notable because very few African Americans were commissioned as officers in those days. His capacity for disciplined work blended with his proven ability to coordinate large-scale activities, and these qualities stood him in good stead through the following half century. In 1900 he married Celia Ann Nelson; they adopted one child. In 1945, four years after his first wife’s death, he married Melberta McFarland....

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Haygood, Atticus Greene (19 November 1839–19 January 1896), clergyman and educator, was born in Watkinsville, Georgia, the son of Greene B. Haygood, a lawyer, and Martha Ann Askew, a former teacher. In 1852 his family moved to Atlanta. He entered Emory College in nearby Oxford, Georgia, in September 1856, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1859. In the summer of 1858 Haygood was licensed as a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church, South, and served in several small churches in Georgia after his graduation from college. He married Mary Yarbrough in June 1859; they had eight children, four of whom survived to adulthood....

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Hopkins, Isaac Stiles (20 June 1841–03 February 1914), clergyman and educator, was born in Augusta, Georgia, the son of Thomas Hopkins and Rebecca Lambert. Hopkins entered Emory College at Oxford, Georgia, in 1856 and received his A.B. in 1859. He then enrolled in the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where he received an M.D. in 1861. He never practiced medicine but, feeling a spiritual call, entered the ministry. In 1861 he joined the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and served as pastor of a succession of churches. In 1861 he married Emily Gibson. After Emily’s death, he married Mary Hunter in 1874. He had a total of five children....

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Little, Charles Joseph (21 September 1840–11 March 1911), Methodist minister and seminary president, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Rowell and Ann Zimmermann. Raised in a bilingual family (German and English), Little developed an excellent facility for languages and eventually became proficient in Greek, Latin, Italian, and French. Following his graduation with a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1861, he joined the Philadelphia Conference of the Methodist church the next year. Prevented from serving in the Union army during the Civil War because of poor health, he served as pastor of Methodist congregations in Newark, Delaware (1862–1863), and Philadelphia (1863–1865); he also visited thousands of wounded and dying soldiers on battlefields and comforted many who lost loved ones in the war. In 1864 he completed an M.A. at the University of Pennsylvania. After serving Methodist parishes in Springfield, Pennsylvania (1865–1866), and Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia (1866–1867), he accepted a position as a professor of mathematics at Dickinson Seminary (later Lycoming College) in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a decision prompted in part by his fear that he did not have the physical stamina the ministry required. While doing graduate study in Europe from 1869 to 1872 he met Anna Marina Schultze, whom he married in Berlin, Germany, in 1872; they had four children....

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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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Newman, Angelia French (04 December 1837–15 April 1910), church worker, reformer, and lecturer, was born Angelia Louise French Thurston in Montpelier, Vermont, the daughter of Daniel Sylvester Thurston, a farmer and tanner, and Matilda Benjamin. When “Angie,” as she was commonly known, was about age seven, her mother died. Her father remarried shortly thereafter. Angie attended the local academy and later briefly taught school until around 1852, when her family moved to Wisconsin. In 1856, soon after her eighteenth birthday, she married Frank Kilgore, the son of a Methodist minister from Madison. The marriage was childless, and he died within a year. She subsequently worked as a teacher at Central Public School in Madison and spent one term (1857–1858) at Lawrence University in Appleton. In 1859 she married David Newman, a dry goods merchant; they would have two children....

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Olin, Stephen (02 March 1797–16 August 1851), college president and Methodist Episcopal minister, was born in Leicester, Vermont, the fifth child of Lois Richardson and Henry Olin, a state legislator and eventually lieutenant governor. Although exposed to Methodist instruction as a child, he showed no particular inclination toward the ministry while at Middlebury College, instead preparing himself for the law and studying philosophy. He graduated in 1820, but too ill to deliver the valedictory, Olin went south for his health and in January 1821 took up a teaching position at Tabernacle Academy, a Methodist institution in the Abbeville district of South Carolina. Health concerns would continue to haunt him. Boarded with a Methodist family and expected to exercise religious leadership, Olin devoted himself to studying the Bible and religious books and to prayer. A conversion experience followed, as did the decision to become a preacher, both detailed in his sustained correspondence with three classmates from Middlebury who also were pursuing the ministry....

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Oxnam, Garfield Bromley (14 August 1891–12 March 1963), Methodist bishop, ecumenical leader, and social reformer, was born in Sonora, California, the son of Thomas Henry Oxnam, a Cornish immigrant mining engineer, and Mary Ann “Mamie” Jobe. His father’s religious enthusiasm found expression as a Methodist lay minister and his mother’s intense piety suffused the Oxnam home in Los Angeles, assuredly influencing his teenage decision to pledge his life to Christ. Forced to leave high school because of his father’s ill health and financial reverses, Oxnam both clerked and attended a business school before entering the University of Southern California, then a Methodist institution. At USC he earned solid grades, athletic renown, and repute as a campus leader....