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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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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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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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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....

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Daniel A. Payne. Courtesy of the National Afro-American Museum.

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Payne, Daniel Alexander (24 February 1811–02 November 1893), minister and educator, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of London Payne, a free African American, and Martha (maiden name unknown), a Catawba Indian, both of whom died in the early 1820s. For two years he attended the Minor’s Moralist Society School; he then continued his education with a tutor and through extensive independent reading. He joined the Methodist Episcopal church in 1826....

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Hiram Rhoades Revels. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98798)

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Revels, Hiram Rhoades (27 September 1827?–16 January 1901), senator, clergyman, and educator, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of free parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his family or early years. At eight or nine he enrolled in a private school for black children, where he was “fully and successfully instructed by our able teacher in all branches of learning” (Revels, p. 2). About 1842 his family moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina, where Revels became a barber. Two years later he entered Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker institution two miles south of Liberty, Indiana. In 1845 he enrolled at another seminary in Darke County, Ohio, and during this period may also have studied theology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio....