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Kneeland, Abner (1774-1844), freethinker and Universalist clergyman  

Olive Hoogenboom

Kneeland, Abner (06 April 1774–27 August 1844), freethinker and Universalist clergyman, was born in Gardner, Massachusetts, the son of Timothy Kneeland, a soldier in the revolutionary war, and Moriah Stone. After attending common schools, Kneeland studied for a short time at the Chesterfield Academy in New Hampshire and worked as a carpenter. In 1797 he married Waitstill Ormsbee; three of their four children reached adulthood. Although Kneeland joined the Baptist church, which licensed him to preach in 1801, he became a Universalist two years later and in 1804 was licensed to preach by that denomination. In addition to preaching, Kneeland taught school and published several popular spelling books....