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Alger, William Rounseville (28 December 1822–07 February 1905), author and religious leader, was born in Freetown, Massachusetts, the son of Catherine Sampson Rounseville and Nahum Alger, a teacher. Apprenticed at seven to a New Hampshire farmer, Alger worked at a variety of menial jobs during his hardscrabble boyhood. He earned a ministerial diploma from the Harvard Divinity School in 1847 and became pastor of All Souls’ Unitarian Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The same year, he married Ann Langdon Lodge; they had seven children. In 1855 Alger moved to the Bulfinch Street Church in Boston, where he gained a reputation as an orator. The next year, he published ...

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Allen, Young John William (03 January 1836–30 May 1907), missionary, educator, and journalist in China, was born in Burke County, Georgia, the son of Andrew Young John Allen and Jane Wooten. Because of the early death of both parents, Allen was raised by an aunt and uncle, Wiley and Nancy (Wooten) Hutchins, who lived in Meriwether County, Georgia. He received a sizable inheritance from his father, which financed his education at several small private schools near his home in Starrsville, Georgia, including the Baptist-run Brownwood Institute in LaGrange, Georgia, and the Morgan H. Looney schools in Palmetto, Georgia. His inheritance also allowed him to collect a personal library, which made him the envy of his classmates as early as 1850, when he was only fourteen years old. He began college work at Emory and Henry College in Virginia in 1853 but transferred to Emory College in Oxford, Georgia, in the spring of 1854. At Emory, Allen acquired the secular learning of the European tradition as well as knowledge of Christianity. His extracurricular activities included membership in a debating society and religious study groups, both of which prepared him for his subsequent careers in China....

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Antin, Mary (13 June 1881–15 May 1949), author, was born in Polotzk, Russia, the daughter of Israel Antin, a scholar and unsuccessful shopkeeper, and Esther Weltman. The assassination of Czar Alexander II three months before her birth unleashed a series of brutal pogroms and increased restrictions on the employment, residency, and education of Jews. These events formed the background of Antin’s childhood, a world she recalled as divided in two, between Polotzk and Russia, Jews and Gentiles, with the constant presence of anti-Semitism....

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Ashbridge, Elizabeth (1713–16 May 1755), Quaker minister and autobiographer, was born Elizabeth Sampson in Middlewich, Cheshire, England, the daughter of Thomas Sampson, a ship’s surgeon, and Mary (maiden name unknown). What little is known about Ashbridge’s life is elicited almost entirely from her brief but compelling autobiography, ...

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Barrett, Benjamin Fiske (24 June 1808–06 August 1892), pastor, writer, and publisher, was born in Dresden, Maine, the son of Oliver Barrett, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Carlton. Young Benjamin was anxious to obtain an education and took delight in mastering his preparatory studies. Through his own labor he was able to attend Bowdoin College, graduating with a B.A. in 1832. Although not raised in any Christian denomination, Barrett became attracted to Unitarianism while in college. He subsequently attended Harvard Divinity School, graduating in 1838. He was ordained in the Unitarian church that same year and assigned to a parish at Syracuse, New York....

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Barrows, Samuel June (26 May 1845–21 April 1909), minister, reformer, and editor, was born in New York City, the son of Richard Barrows, a printer, and Jane Weekes. He was four when his father died and nine when his mother asked her husband’s cousin, printing-press innovator ...

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Bates, Elisha (10 July 1781–05 October 1861), Quaker controversialist and publisher, was born near Scimino, York County, Virginia, the son of Benjamin Bates and Hannah (maiden name unknown), farmers. Largely self-educated, Bates studied medicine for a time, learned printing, worked as a surveyor, and operated a Quaker school. Marrying Sarah Jordan Harrison in 1803, Bates fathered six children. From 1813 to 1816 he served as clerk of the Virginia Yearly Meeting. Circumstances, even for a farmer, surveyor, and schoolmaster, proved trying for an antislavery Quaker in eastern Virginia, particularly after Bates attracted public attention with his pamphlet ...

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Bennet, Sanford Fillmore (21 June 1836–11 June 1898), physician and writer of popular verses and hymn texts, was born in Eden, New York, the son of Robert Bennet and Sally Kent. After spending his early years in New York, Bennet moved with his family to Lake County, Illinois. By the age of eighteen Bennet was teaching school in Wauconda, Illinois. In 1858 he entered the University of Michigan but did not complete a degree there, deciding instead to accept a position as the head of the Richmond, Illinois school district. After his marriage to Gertrude Crosby Johonnatt, Bennet moved to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, where he became co-owner and editor of the ...

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Bentley, William (22 June 1759–29 December 1819), clergyman, scholar, and journalist, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Joshua Bentley, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Paine, the daughter of a merchant. Bentley was raised in the home of William Paine, the prosperous grandfather for whom he was named, and he was educated at the Boston Latin School before entering Harvard College in 1773. After graduation in 1777, Bentley taught school. He returned to Harvard in 1780 as a tutor in Latin and Greek and prepared for the ministry. Ordained at the Second (East) Congregational parish in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1783, Bentley served in its pulpit until his death thirty-six years later....

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Bowers, Bathsheba (1672–1718), spiritual autobiographer and Quaker preacher, was born in Massachusetts, the daughter of Benanuel Bowers and Elizabeth Dunster, English Quakers who had resettled in Boston at the end of the seventeenth century to escape the Anglican faith of her father’s father. Because Bowers’s adolescent years were disrupted by the ruling Puritans’ persecution of Quakers, she and at least two of her eleven siblings were removed to Quaker Philadelphia, were Bowers spent most of her adult life....

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Brady, Cyrus Townsend (20 December 1861–24 January 1920), Episcopal clergyman and author, was born in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, the son of Jasper Ewing Brady, Jr., a banker and accountant, and Harriet Cora Townsend. He grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1883. Brady married Clarissa Sidney Guthrie in 1884; they had three children. After three years of naval service, he became a railroad worker for the Missouri Pacific and Union Pacific railroads. Under the influence of Bishop Worthington of Nebraska, he abandoned his native Presbyterianism and began to read for the Episcopal ministry in whatever hours he could snatch from his regular employment. He was ordained deacon in 1889 and priest in 1890, working mostly as an itinerant missionary in five western states. Brady estimated that in just three years he logged more than 90,000 miles “preaching or delivering addresses … marrying, baptizing, and doing all the other endless work of an itinerant missionary” ( ...

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Brawley, Edward McKnight (18 March 1851–13 January 1923), Baptist minister, educator, and editor, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of free African-American parents, Ann L. (maiden name unknown) and James M. Brawley. Brawley’s parents took a keen interest in the education and professional development of their son, providing him private schooling in Charleston, sending him at the age of ten to Philadelphia to attend grammar school and the Institute for Colored Youth, and having him apprenticed to a shoemaker in Charleston from 1866 to 1869. He enrolled as the first theological student at Howard University for a few months in 1870; he transferred to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania in January 1871. The first African-American student at Bucknell, Brawley completed his education with the encouragement and financial support of a white couple named Griffith and his own work teaching vocal music and preaching during school vacations. The white Baptist church in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, with which he had affiliated, ordained him to the ministry the day after his graduation, 1 July 1875; he was examined by a board composed largely of professors and other learned individuals. In 1878 he received the A.M. from Bucknell and, in 1885, an honorary doctor of divinity degree from the State University in Louisville, Kentucky....

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Breckinridge, John (04 July 1797–04 August 1841), Presbyterian clergyman and editor, was born at “Cabell’s Dale,” near Lexington, Kentucky, the son of John Breckinridge, the U.S. attorney general under President Thomas Jefferson, and Mary Hopkins Cabell. He entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1815 and graduated with distinction in 1819....

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Brooks, Walter Henderson (30 August 1851–06 July 1945), clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks’s father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia’s wealthiest citizens, including his wife’s owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife’s freedom in 1862 for $800. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working in hotels, boardinghouses, and restaurants. In his youth he acquired the doctrines that served as the foundation for his life’s work. He learned temperance from his pastor, the Reverend ...

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Browder, George Richard (11 January 1827–03 September 1886), Methodist preacher and diarist, was born near Olmstead in southern Logan County, Kentucky, the son of Robert Browder and Helen Walker, farmers. His father had migrated to Kentucky from Virginia in 1820 as a part of the westward surge following the War of 1812. Seven months after Browder’s birth, his mother died. In 1828 his father married Sarah L. Gilmer, who, by her godly life and faithful instruction in the catechism, exerted a profound influence on young Browder and prepared the way for his conversion at the nearby Ash Spring camp meeting in 1838. Browder attended neighborhood schools and the Male Academy in Clarksville, Tennessee....

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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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Brownson, Orestes Augustus (16 September 1803–17 April 1876), educator and philosopher, was born in Stockbridge, Vermont, the son of Sylvester Augustus Brownson and Relief Metcalf, farmers. His father died when Brownson was two, and he was placed with a nearby family. The couple reared him in strict Calvinist Congregationalism. At fourteen he rejoined his mother and twin sister in Ballston Spa in upstate New York, where he studied briefly in an academy before going to work in a printer’s office. He had no more formal education. In 1827 he married Sally Healy of Elbridge, New York; they had eight children....

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Buckley, James Monroe (16 December 1836–08 February 1920), Methodist clergyman and journalist, was born in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of John Buckley, a Methodist clergyman, and Abbie Lonsdale Monroe. When Buckley was five years old his father died, and the family went to live with his maternal grandfather. The boy was plagued with ill health, suffering from the same pulmonary consumption that claimed his father. Aware of this genetic frailty, he took steps to strengthen his physical condition, especially with breathing exercises and long walks in the open air. Slender financial resources did not provide much formal education, but as a teenager Buckley studied for a few years at a New Jersey academy known as the Pennington Seminary. In 1856 he entered Wesleyan University, but college discipline apparently had little attraction for him; he spent much of the year campaigning for ...

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Callimachos, Panos Demetrios (04 December 1879–13 October 1963), Greek Orthodox priest and journalist, was born in Madytos, Dardanelles, Turkey, the son of Panagiotis Paximadas and Grammatiki (maiden name unknown). Following studies in Constantinople and Smyrna, Callimachos received his doctorate in theology from the University of Athens in 1902, only four years after Greece was defeated in its war with Turkey....

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Capers, William (26 January 1790–29 January 1855), Methodist bishop, editor, and missionary, was born at Bull-Head Swamp plantation in St. Thomas Parish, South Carolina, the son of William Capers, a planter and former revolutionary war officer, and Mary Singeltary. William was only two years old when his mother died, and he was reared primarily by his stepmother, Mary Wragg. After being tutored at home, he attended schools in Georgetown, South Carolina, and in the High Hills, Santee. At age sixteen he entered South Carolina College, but he found his preparation in classical studies inadequate. After dropping out to study law with John S. Richardson of Stateburg, South Carolina, Capers soon abandoned that career for the ministry in the Methodist Episcopal (ME) church....