Presbyterians of the Past

The lives, places, writings, and events of Reformed history



Joseph Ruggles Wilson opened his committee report about beneficiary education with the paragraph that follows. Note that beneficiary is used to describe what would currently be called scholarships or charitable stipends to help “poor and pious youth” obtain a divinity education. There never has been a time, in the history of the Presbyterian Church, when […]

In the summer of 1843, seminary professor Archibald Alexander made a lengthy trip by train from his residence on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary to his place of birth in Lexington, Virginia. Alexander was a son of the Shenandoah Valley who spent many years of his life in Philadelphia and Princeton, New Jersey. His journey was […]

John was born in Lexington, Virginia, April 25, 1814, to John and Jane McDowell Leyburn. The infant’s paternal grandparents were George and Abigail Leyburn who were descended from English ancestors that had relocated to Ireland. He began his professional studies in Washington College in his hometown but completed his program in Princeton College with the […]

The first line of the Westminster Confession of Faith mentions the insufficiency of the light of nature for teaching the necessity of salvation through Christ as it begins its summary of the doctrine of Scripture. Although the light of Nature, and the works of Creation and Providence do so far manifest the Goodness, Wisdom, and […]

Cyrus H. McCormick, 1809-1884

September 10th, 2018, at 1:00 pm

This biography is not about a minister but instead tells the story of a Presbyterian layman who was an inventor and industrialist. His life began on the farm as did so many of the lives of antebellum entrepreneurs. Cyrus’s father, Robert, was born at Walnut Grove, Rockbridge County, Virginia, June 4, 1780, into the household of a […]

The surnames of Alexander, Miller, Hodge, and Warfield represent familiar  faculty from the history of Princeton Theological Seminary, but despite his having taught in the seminary for nearly thirty years, Alexander Taggart McGill is not very well known. He was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, February 24, 1807, to his Scots-Irish parents, John, who was a weaver, […]

If you have not read the previous articles of this series you may want to do so by visiting the first part,  “J. Gresham Machen, France 1918, and then continue through the series by using the link at the end of each article. Having relocated to Paris following his escape from the advancing Germans at the […]

The recent release from Log College Press of Meditations on Preaching by Francis James Grimké (1850-1937) provides a collection of nearly two-hundred thoughts on the practice of pulpit ministry. Entries collected in the blazer-pocket-size book vary in length from as short as a few lines to about three pages, but most selections are two or […]

James Isaac Vance was born September 25, 1862 in Arcadia, Tennessee to Charles Robertson and Margaret (Newland) Vance. Charles and Margaret had been married in the fall of 1860 by Rev. Daniel Rogan of Kingsport. At the time of his birth, his father was serving in the Confederate Army. His mother lived in Arcadia with […]