Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens
Lawrence County Pennsylvania 1897


[p. 534] New Wilmington, the site of Westminster College, is located on the Sharpsville railroad, which connects with the W. N. Y. & P. at Wilmington junction, and with both the Erie & Pittsburg and the N. Y. P. & O. at Sharpsville. This excellent connection with the leading railroads of Western Pennsylvania makes it easily accessible from all points.

The College is incorporated by the State of Pennsylvania, and has full University powers entrusted to it. Its management is in the hands of a board of trustees, composed of forty members, of whom three are elected every year by the First Synod of the West, and three by the Synod of Pittsburg, which Synods are under the immediate control of the general assembly of the United Presbyterian Church. The alumni have a voice in the management of college affairs, in that two members of the board of trustees are chosen by them at each annual commencement. Although the first class graduated in 1854, it appears from the records that the charter of the College was issued in 1852. Commencing with one graduate, the College has so steadily increased in the number of its student-body, that in its forty odd years of existence over 1,000 young men and women have received a collegiate education, and have been graduated from its halls. From the summary given in the 1895 catalogue, it appears that there was a total of 148 students in regular college classes, and this aggregate number was very nearly equalled by the aggregate in the preparatory, music and art departments.

The officers of the board of trustees are: Rev. E. N. McElree, D.D., president; Rev. J. W. Witherspoon, D.D., secretary; Joseph McNaugher, Esq., treasurer. The faculty consists of the following: Rev. R. G. Ferguson, D.D., president and professor of mental and moral science; S. R. Thompson, A. M., professor of physics; Margaret McLaughry, A. M., professor of the English language and literature; John J. McElree, A. M., professor of the Latin language and literature; C. C. Freeman, A. M., professor of mathematics and chemistry; Ina M. Hanna, B. S., professor of botany; Morgan Barnes, A. M., professor of the Greek language and literature; Hanna E. Peebles, A. B., instructor in English; Alice Elliot, assistant in German; Daniel Hahn, director in music; Mary Cotton Kimball, assistant in music; Linnie Hodgen, instructor in art; W. J. Holmes, physical director; Rev. J. H. Veazey, financial agent; Margaret McLaughry, A. M., librarian and secretary.

The classical course is a prominent feature in the College, from the conviction that it best secures such culture as meets the demands of a liberal education. The facilities for scientific instruction have been greatly increased by the erection of a new building, planned on the most approved modern lines, in which are housed all the scientific departments of the College. In the literary course, exceptional advantages are afforded to gain an extended acquaintance with the most noted authors. Examinations for admissions are held in June and at the opening of the College year in September. The work of the College Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A., together with the thorough Bible study required in each of the courses, provides that Christianizing and refining influence, which will be always the best feature of colleges that are managed by the governing bodies of various Christian sects.

Robert Gracey Ferguson, D.D. Dr. Ferguson is sprung from the Scotch-Irish race which has done so much for the advancement of education and religion in Pennsylvania, and has contributed so heartily to the growth and development of the natural resources of this part of the State. His grandfather, David Ferguson, was born in the north of Ireland, and came to America and settled in Pennsylvania when a young man. His father was James Ferguson. Dr. Ferguson was born at Dry Run, Franklin Co., Pa., Feb. 16, 1842, and after preparing himself for a collegiate education he became a student at Jefferson College, graduating from that institution in 1862. His theological studies were pursued at Allegheny Seminary, and he was licensed to preach on the 12th of April, 1865, by the Monongahela Presbytery. He was formally ordained Oct. 17, 1866, by Big Spring Presbytery, and entered upon the duties of a pastor in the same year. During the period from 1866 to 1874, in which be faithfully labored at Mercerburg and the Cove, he made a reputation of being an able pulpit orator, and a thinker of high logical powers. In July, 1874, he went to Butler, Pa., and remained there as the pastor of the United Presbyterian Church until the 8th of July, 1884, when he assumed the duties of his present position of responsibility. Dr. Ferguson is a quiet, rather reserved man. One, however, who knows Westminster of a few years ago and Westminster of the present day, cannot help giving Dr. Ferguson great honor for what he has done in his unassuming but effective way for the College. He is a master of both the science of teaching, and of the practical administration of college affairs.

Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens Lawrence County Pennsylvania
Biographical Publishing Company, Buffalo, N.Y., 1897

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