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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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Ashmun, Jehudi (21 April 1794–25 August 1828), colonial agent and missionary in West Africa, was born in Champlain, New York, the son of Samuel Ashmun, a justice of the peace, and Parthenia (maiden name unknown). An intensely devout Christian from the age of sixteen, Ashmun studied theology and classics at Vermont’s Middlebury College and the University of Vermont in Burlington. Following his graduation from the latter in 1816, he was appointed principal and instructor at the Maine Charity School, a Congregationalist college in Hampden, Maine. In 1818 he married Catherine Gray; it is not known if they had any children....

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Auchmuty, Samuel (16 January 1722–04 March 1777), Episcopal minister and Loyalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Scottish-born Robert Auchmuty, a judge of admiralty in Massachusetts, and Mary Julianna. He would have been a graduate in the Harvard class of 1742 but dropped out during his junior year. At the encouragement of his uncle, James Auchmuty, dean of Armagh, Samuel prepared for holy orders by reading under the direction of the Reverend Alexander Malcolm of St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead and the Reverend Benjamin Bradstreet of Gloucester. Based on the recommendation of these two ministers as to Samuel’s character and learning, Harvard awarded him his B.A. in 1745 and his M.A. in 1746....

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Bacon, John (09 April 1738–25 October 1820), Presbyterian clergyman and public official, was born in Canterbury, Connecticut, the son of John Bacon and Ruth Spaulding. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1765 in preparation for the ministry. During his stay at the college, Princeton had become noteworthy for the curriculum innovations of its president, ...

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Bailey, Jacob (1731–26 July 1808), Anglican missionary and Loyalist, was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, the son of David Bailey and Mary Hodgkins, farmers. The details of Bailey’s early education are unknown, but by the age of ten he was able to read and write. Frustrated by the ignorance of the townspeople and a lack of books, he began to devote his leisure time to “scribbling” essays on various topics. One inadvertently came to the attention of the Reverend Jedediah Jewett, pastor of the First Congregational Society, who then offered to tutor Jacob gratis. Bailey matriculated at Harvard in 1751. He depended primarily upon charity for his fees and expenses but successfully graduated in 1755. Bailey then undertook a series of positions as a schoolmaster while preparing for the A.M. degree, which he received in 1758. In June of that year he was approved as a Congregational preacher. He failed to find a permanent parish and continued his precarious career as itinerant teacher and preacher until the end of 1759....

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Ballard, Edna Anne Wheeler (25 June 1886–10 February 1971), and Guy Warren Ballard (28 July 1878–29 December 1939), controversial founders of the "I Am" movement, controversial founders of the “I Am” movement, were born, respectively, in Burlington, Iowa, and Newton, Kansas. Edna was the daughter of Edward G. Wheeler, reportedly a railway clerk, and Anna Hewitt Pearce; Guy the son of a farmer, Josephus Ballard, and Phebe Jane Leigh. “I Am” was a religious movement that grew at a phenomenal rate in the 1930s, became the subject of a celebrated fraud case and a landmark freedom of religion decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1940s, and has since held a modest but continuing place in American spiritual life....

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See Ballard, Edna Anne Wheeler

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Ballou, Adin (23 April 1803–05 August 1890), Universalist clergyman, reformer, and founder of Hopedale Community, was born in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the son of Ariel Ballou and Edilda Tower, farmers. A largely self-educated preacher, Ballou’s earliest religious experience was Calvinist in nature, and he later recalled the “very solemnizing effect” of the preaching he heard as a youth. At about age eleven, however, Ballou experienced a religious conversion, and a year later he was baptized into a Christian Connection church that emphasized a more enthusiastic and fundamentalist religiosity. Ballou developed a deep interest in religious matters over the next several years and eventually became a self-proclaimed preacher. At age eighteen, in the autumn of 1821, he was received into the fellowship of the Connecticut Christian Conference, a Christian Connection body. In 1822 he married Abigail Sayles; they had two children before Abigail died in 1829....

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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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Blum, Virgil Clarence (27 March 1913–05 April 1993), educator, author, activist, and clergyman, was born in Defiance, Iowa, one of twelve children of John Peter and Elizabeth (Rushenberg) Blum, both farmers. His grade school and high school years were spent at St. Peter's school in Defiance. In 1932 he began college at Dowling College, Des Moines, Iowa, and the next year transferred to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. On 31 Aug. 1934 he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary at Florissant, Missouri, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Latin and English in 1938. (A brother, Victor Joseph, also became a Jesuit and became a professor of geophysics and seismology at St. Louis University). Virgil studied philosophy at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, continuing studies in the summer until he earned a master's degree in history and political science in 1945....

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Brown, Olympia (05 January 1835–23 October 1926), Universalist minister and suffragist, was born in Prairie Ronde, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, the daughter of Asa B. Brown and Lephia Olympia, farmers. Her parents were Universalists with a strong commitment to education for their children. She first attended school with her two younger sisters and brother in a building on her family’s farm and later in Schoolcraft, Michigan. In 1854 she went to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in Massachusetts. She disliked the stultifying rules and religious orthodoxy there and transferred in 1856 to the newly organized coeducational Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio....

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Brownlow, William Gannaway (29 August 1805–29 April 1877), minister, newspaper editor, and governor of Tennessee, was born in Wytheville, Virginia, the son of Joseph A. Brownlow and Catherine Gannaway, farmers. Born into a moderately comfortable, slaveholding family, Brownlow was taken in by a maternal uncle after both parents died in 1816. From ages eleven through eighteen he worked on his uncle’s farm and attended the local common schools when possible, although most of his education came through his own private reading. In 1823 he moved to Abingdon, Virginia, to learn the carpentry trade from another uncle. His work as a carpenter ended abruptly when he experienced a religious conversion at a Methodist camp meeting in nearby Sulphur Springs in 1825. Following this meeting, he completed his current carpentry jobs and moved back to Wytheville to study for the ministry with William Horne. After a year of training, he was licensed for the ministry by the church’s Holston Conference and began a career as an itinerant preacher....

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Bryan, Hugh (1699–31 December 1753), planter, assemblyman, and evangelical Christian, was born near Beaufort in South Carolina, the son of Joseph Bryan, an Indian trader and farmer, and Janet Cochran. Bryan’s father was an early settler on South Carolina’s southern frontier, and it was there that Hugh Bryan spent most of his life. As a boy he was taken prisoner by Indians during the Yamasee War (1715) and was carried to St. Augustine, where he was eventually released. According to tradition, Bryan “met with a Bible among the ...

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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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Cain, Richard Harvey (12 April 1825–18 January 1887), clergyman and politician, was born to free parents in Greenbriar County, Virginia (now West Virginia). In 1831 his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio. Cain was educated at local schools and worked on an Ohio River steamboat before being licensed to preach in the Methodist Episcopal church in 1844. Complaining of racial discrimination in the church, he resigned and joined the African Methodist Episcopal church. Assigned a pulpit in Muscatine, Iowa, he was ordained a deacon in 1859. He returned to Ohio and in 1860 attended Wilberforce University. From 1861 to 1865 he served as pastor at Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York, and was elevated to elder in 1862. He participated in the 1864 national black convention in Syracuse, New York, that advocated abolition, equality before the law, and universal manhood suffrage. He married Laura (maiden name unknown), and they adopted a daughter....

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J. Reuben Clark. Being sworn in as undersecretary of state by William McNeir. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98312).

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Clark, Joshua Reuben, Jr. (01 September 1871–06 October 1961), diplomat and church leader, was born near Grantsville, Utah, the eldest of the ten children of Joshua Reuben Clark, Sr., and Mary Louisa Woolley, Mormon farmers. Although the family was poor, Clark showed great promise early on and was encouraged to pursue an education. He graduated from the University of Utah in 1898 and went on to Columbia University Law School in 1903. While there he came to the attention of both ...

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Clarke, John (08 October 1609–20 April 1676), Baptist preacher and colonial agent, was born in Westhorpe, Suffolk, the son of Thomas Clarke, a man of unknown occupation and middling rank, and Rose Keridge. John Clarke had some college education (possibly at Cambridge) and some medical training (possibly at Leyden). He studied Hebrew. While still in England he married Elizabeth Harges, daughter of John Harges, lord of the manor of Wreslingworth, Bedfordshire. They had no children....