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Campbell, Alexander (1788-1866), religious reformer and principal founder of the Disciples of Christ  

Hiram J. Lester

Campbell, Alexander (12 September 1788–04 March 1866), religious reformer and principal founder of the Disciples of Christ, was born in County Antrim, Ireland, the son of Thomas Campbell, a clergyman in the Antiburgher sect of the Seceder Presbyterian church, and Jane Corneigle. The foundations of Campbell’s lifelong commitment to liberty, religious reformation, and education were laid in his native Ulster. In his formative years, the Irish Rebellion of 1898 was violently suppressed. He came to maturity in one of Ireland’s most violent areas (northeastern County Armagh) at a time when sectarian and political violence was at its peak....


Cover Campbell, Alexander (1788-1866)
Alexander Campbell. Chromolithograph, 1872. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-3367).


Franklin, Benjamin (1812-1878), editor and itinerant preacher  

Allen C. Guelzo

Franklin, Benjamin (01 February 1812–22 October 1878), editor and itinerant preacher, was born in Belmont County, Ohio, the son of Joseph Franklin and Isabella Devold, farmers and millers. Apprenticed as a carpenter, Franklin moved in 1832 to Henry County, Indiana, where he married Mary Personnett in 1833 and built and operated a sawmill. Although baptized and raised by his parents as a Methodist, Franklin had experienced no particular religious convictions until he came under the preaching of Samuel Rogers, the pioneer itinerant preacher of the Disciples of Christ in Indiana, and Elijah Martindale, another noted Disciples itinerant. Rogers later rebaptized Franklin by immersion in 1836....


McGarvey, John William (1829-1911), minister and theological educator  

Anthony L. Dunnavant

McGarvey, John William (01 March 1829–06 October 1911), minister and theological educator, was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the son of John McGarvey, a storekeeper, and Sarah Ann Thomson. McGarvey was four years of age when his father died. His mother married Gurden F. Saltonstall, a physician and hemp farmer. The family migrated to Tremont, Illinois, in 1839 and continued raising hemp for rope. McGarvey attended James K. Kellogg’s private school in Tremont....


McLean, Archibald (1849-1920), minister and missionary administrator for the Disciples of Christ  

Mark G. Toulouse

McLean, Archibald (06 September 1849–15 December 1920), minister and missionary administrator for the Disciples of Christ, was born near Summerside, in Prince Edward Island, Canada, the son of Malcolm McLean, a farmer and stonemason, and Alexandra McKay. After his mother died in 1853, shortly after the birth of her last child, his father married a second time and had nine more children. A tradesman himself, Malcolm McLean apprenticed each of his sons to a master in some skilled occupation. At fourteen Archibald entered an apprenticeship in carriage building. After five years as an apprentice with William Tuplin in his shop in Summerside, McLean departed for Boston, Massachusetts, to work for a year as a journeyman. When he returned home, he built one carriage and decided to attend college to study for the ministry....


Scott, Walter (1796-1861), religious reformer, clergyman, and educator  

David B. Eller

Scott, Walter (31 October 1796–23 April 1861), religious reformer, clergyman, and educator, was born in Moffat, Scotland, the son of John Scott, a music teacher, and Mary Innes. Young Scott’s early training was in music, and he became a skilled flutist. He attended the University of Edinburgh, where he studied music but also considered preparation for the ministry. Following graduation in 1818, however, he accepted an invitation from an uncle, George Innes, to immigrate to America. After tutoring Latin for less than a year in Jamaica, Long Island, New York, the restless Scott traveled on foot to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania....


Cover Scott, Walter (1796-1861)
Walter Scott. Clockwise from far left: Scott, Thomas Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Alexander Campbell. Engraving by John Chester Buttre, from Pioneers in the Great Religious Reformation of the Nineteenth Century, 1885. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (Card no. 98508288).


Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth (1898-1976), minister, publisher, and political crusader  

Glen Jeansonne

Smith, Gerald Lyman Kenneth (27 February 1898–15 April 1976), minister, publisher, and political crusader, was born in Pardeeville, Wisconsin, the son of Lyman Z. Smith, a farmer and traveling salesman, and Sarah Henthorn, a schoolteacher. Raised in poverty in small towns in Wisconsin, Smith graduated from Viroqua High School, where he won prizes for track and oratory....


Wharton, Greene Lawrence (1847-1906), Disciples of Christ clergyman and missionary leader in India  

R. William Franklin

Wharton, Greene Lawrence (17 July 1847–04 November 1906), Disciples of Christ clergyman and missionary leader in India, was born in Bloomington, Indiana, the son of Stanfiel Wharton, an itinerant salesman and small farmer, and Ann Esther Berry. Wharton pursued undergraduate studies first at Southern Illinois College in Carbondale, Illinois, and finally received his undergraduate degree from Bethany College in Illinois in 1876. While still a student, he was ordained a minister of the Disciples of Christ church and from 1876 to 1882 was pastor of the Richmond Avenue Church of the Disciples in Buffalo, New York, one of the leading parishes of his denomination....


Willett, Herbert Lockwood (1864-1944), clergyman, orator, and biblical scholar  

Steven W. Holloway

Willett, Herbert Lockwood (05 May 1864–28 March 1944), clergyman, orator, and biblical scholar, was born near Ionia, Michigan, the son of Gordon Arthur Willett, a farm machinery merchant, and Mary Elizabeth Yates, a schoolteacher serving as a nurse in the Union army. Formative in his choice of vocation were the memberships of both the Willett and Yates families in a Disciples of Christ congregation founded in the 1850s by evangelist Isaac Errett. Willett never attended public school. He studied under his mother’s tutelage, memorizing large portions of the Bible and poetry, an accomplishment that later lent distinction to his public and academic addresses. In 1883 his Disciples heritage prompted him to attend Bethany College in West Virginia, the school founded by the denominational leader ...


Zollars, Ely Vaughn (1847-1916), Disciples of Christ minister, author, and college president  

David Edwin Harrell

Zollars, Ely Vaughn (19 September 1847–16 February 1916), Disciples of Christ minister, author, and college president, was born near Lower Salem, Washington County, Ohio, the son of Abram Zollars, a blacksmith and farmer, and Caroline Vaughn. His paternal grandfather, Frederick Zollars, emigrated from Germany or Holland between 1730 and 1740. Zollars was named for his maternal grandfather, Ely Vaughn (sometimes spelled Vaughan)....