The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 508
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Born on April 8, 1843, John Brown, the son of a tenant farmer in
Western Scotland, studied for the ministry at the University of Glasgow,
his Arts curriculum including Latin, Greek, logic, ethics, physics and sci-
ence, mathematics, and English language and literature. Young Brown
scarcely saw himself as a social reformer; however, he couldn't have
avoided the stimulation for change rippling around the world. In fo-
menting an evangelistic revival, the Church of Scotland recruited gospel
preachers, and Brown met their leaders at Glasgow and was influenced
by their Universalist view of Christianity. Although he often spelled pho-
netically, he was articulate and persuasive in his writings and oratory, us-
ing his Scottish persistency when participating in controversy or debate.
In summary, he was smart and well educated with strong beliefs, but in
his own words, he "would surely turn the world upside down if I got a
good chance at it."1
Without financial support, the slender, wavy-haired ministerial student
set sail for America because, "The struggle was more than I could en-
dure," he wrote, "and I came across the ocean ... believing that, after the
terrible number of people killed, there would be room ... for a fellow like
me." Barely eight years had passed since the abolitionist who shared his
name had been hanged and sent to moulder in his grave. Brown found
work on a farm in New Jersey and in 1867, with a letter of recommenda-
tion from his church in Montclair, entered the Union Theological Semi-
nary in New York City and graduated two years later. With money from the
sale of his textbooks, he hired a tailor to make clerical garments and
'Joined a mixed multitude of passengers" heading west via the Isthmus of
Panama. Ordained a Presbyterian minister on October io, 1869, in San
Francisco, he took the new Central Pacific Railroad to Elko, Nevada,
where he built a church. His superiors thought his work outstanding as he
wandered around the new state on a mule evangelizing in saloons or min-
http://www.nps.gov/clba/chron .html (accessed Nov. 8, 2oo2); Life Stories of Civil War Heroes,
"The Biography of Clara Barton," http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/6732/files/
cbi.html (accessed 11/o6/2002); American Red Cross-Blood Donor Services in World War II,
"Organizations of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, "http://www.redcross.org/muse-
um/organizations.html (accessed Nov. 8, 2002); John Brown to editor of the Fort Worth Gazette,
Nov. 7, 1886.
s The Evangelical School and Victorian Orthodoxy, http://www.freechurch.org/st/st9.html
(accessed July 11, 2002); Donald Kim, Westmznster Dzctionary of Theological Terms (Louisville, Ky.:
John Knox Press, 1996), 293; Alister McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introductzon (Cambridge,
Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 417, 418; Peter Hodgson and Robert King (eds.), Christian
Theology (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 1994), 350; Dallas Morning News, Nov 29, 1886;
Alumni Catalogue, Union Theological Seminary (New York: n.p., 1926), 179 (copy at Presbyter-
ian Historical Foundation, Philadelphia); Brown, Twenty-Five Years a Parson in the Wild West, 18
(quotation); Brown's transcript from Glasgow University in Scotland.
' Brown, Twenty-Five Years a Parson in the Wild West, 15-16 (1st quotation), 18 (2nd quotation),
West Bloomfield Presbyterian Church to Union Theological Semmary, Sept. 18, 1867 (original in
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/586/: accessed May 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.