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Beissel, Johann Conrad (01 March 1692–06 July 1768), religious leader, was born in Eberbach, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, the son of Matthias Beissel, a baker, and Anna (maiden name unknown). He was baptized George Konrad Beissel. His alcoholic father died two months before his birth; his mother died when he was eight or nine. Conrad Beissel was raised by his older brothers and sisters. Possibly because of recent French depredation of the area where they lived, his family was very poor. Conrad was undernourished and remained comparatively small. According to tradition, he performed remarkably well during his brief attendance at his parish school. Nevertheless, he was largely self-educated. While still a youth, Beissel was apprenticed to a master baker, who also was a capable fiddler who taught Beissel to play the violin. Beissel became a popular performer and played at weddings, country dances, and other joyful occasions. He enjoyed the notoriety and attention, especially from women....

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Blackstone, William E. (06 October 1841–1935), Christian Zionist and author, was born in Adams, New York, the son of Andrew Blackstone, a tinsmith, and Sally (maiden name unknown). Born into a devout Methodist family, he had an evangelical conversion experience at the age of ten while attending a local Methodist revival meeting. He remained a Methodist for the rest of his life, although he criticized the denomination for the liberal or “modernist” direction it had taken by the turn of the twentieth century. Though he became a leading spokesperson for American fundamentalism and Zionism, Blackstone received no formal education or training. Rejected by the Union army on account of frailness, Blackstone spent the Civil War working for the Christian Commission, a missionary agency designed to provide spiritual counsel and medical aid to northern soldiers. He married Sarah Louis Smith in 1866; they had three children....

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Cadbury, Henry Joel (01 December 1883–07 October 1974), New Testament scholar and pacifist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Joel Cadbury, Jr., a partner in a successful plumbing business, and Anna Kaighn Lowry. The Cadburys were members of a large transatlantic Quaker family, and Henry Cadbury grew up attending Quaker schools. In 1899 he graduated from Penn Charter, in 1903 from Haverford College, and 1904 from Harvard University with a master’s degree in Greek....

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Coe, George Albert (26 March 1862–09 November 1951), psychologist of religion, religious educator, and political activist, was born in Mendon, New York, the son of the Reverend George W. Coe, a Methodist minister, and Harriet Van Voorhis. He completed the A.B. at the University of Rochester in 1884 and then enrolled in the Boston University School of Theology, where he received the S.T.B. in 1887 and the A.M. in philosophy and world religions in 1888. In 1891, after a year of study at the University of Berlin, he completed a Ph.D. at the Boston University School of All Sciences....

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Montgomery, Helen Barrett (31 July 1861–19 October 1934), Baptist church leader, civic reformer, and educator, was born in Kingsville, Ohio, the daughter of A. Judson Barrett and Emily Barrows, teachers. Her school years were spent in upstate New York, first in Lowville, then in Rochester. Her father, who she later said was a dominant influence in her life, left his teaching career to attend Rochester Theological Seminary, later assuming the pastorate of the Lake Avenue Baptist Church in Rochester....

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Niebuhr, Reinhold (21 June 1892–01 June 1971), theologian and political journalist, was born Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr in Wright City, Missouri, the son of Gustav Niebuhr, a German immigrant preacher, and Lydia Hosto, his parish assistant and organist. Reinhold grew up in Missouri and Illinois, where his father, a minister of the German Evangelical Synod of North America, had a series of parishes. From age ten he lived in Lincoln, Illinois, a heavily first- and second-generation German-American town, where his family lived, he later recalled, in “genteel poverty.” One of four children (and three sons), he was the apple of his father’s eye and decided as a boy to follow his father into the ministry. At age fifteen, having finished the ninth grade at Lincoln High School, he left for three years of boarding school at the Synod’s proseminary, Elmhurst College, outside of Chicago. In later years he much regretted having missed a solid high school education. Neither did he ever attend an undergraduate college. His lack of a B.A. degree, and his poor schooling in English, modern history, and the sciences, led him to condemn his church for giving only lip service to education. At age eighteen he enrolled at the Synod’s Eden Theological Seminary, outside of St. Louis, where he starred in debate and worked hard on his English writing skills. In 1913 he received the bachelor of divinity degree and was ordained a minister....

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Niles, Nathaniel (03 April 1741–31 October 1828), politician, theologian, and inventor, was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, the son of Samuel Niles and Sarah Niles (occupations unknown). Plagued by poor health as a youth, Nathaniel spent one year at Harvard before illness forced him to drop out of school. When his health returned, he entered the College of New Jersey and graduated in 1766. Following graduation Niles made a start at several careers, teaching school in New York City, studying medicine and law, and finally taking up theology under the tutelage of ...