This Week In History

March 19, 1860

William Jennings BryantOn March 19, 1860, William Jennings Bryan was born in Salem, Illinois. Raised a Methodist and Baptist, Bryan was baptized in 1874 into the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. As an adult, he joined the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. A three-time presidential candidate, he was Wilson's secretary of state. In May 1923, Bryan was a leading and conservative candidate for moderator of the General Assembly. He led on the first two ballots, before being defeated by the Rev. Dr. Charles F. Wishart, president of Wooster College, who advocated tolerance. Wishart said: "I believe an overwhelming majority of Presbyterians are thoroughly loyal to our historical evangelical faith, yet willing to find room for different opinions within reasonable limits."
Bryan would go on to be one of the prosecuting attorney, representing the World Christian Fundamentals Association, at the famous Scopes Trial (1925) in Tennessee.

March 20, 1747

On March 20, 1747, David Brainerd, a Presbyterian missionary to the Native American Indians (1743 - 1747) in New England and the mid-Atlantic regions, quit his ministry among the Delaware Indians in New Jersey because of tuberculosis. He died on October 9, 1747.

March 20, 1928

Fred Rogers and Mister Rogers' Neighborhoood set, c. 1968On March 20, 1928, Frederick McFeely Rogers — later known to millions of TV viewers as Mr. Rogers — was born. An American educator, ordained Presbyterian minister, songwriter and television host, Rogers was the host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," in production from 1968 to 2001.

March 21, 1811

Melinda RankinOn March 21, 1811, Presbyterian missionary and teacher Melinda Rankin was born in Littleton, New Hampshire. In 1840 she moved to Kentucky, where she established schools and taught for two years before moving on to Mississippi to continue in educational work. In 1847 she came to Texas as a missionary to Mexicans. She taught at the Huntsville Male and Female Academy and wrote for religious publications. In 1852, she opened an informal school for Mexican girls in Brownsville, Texas. With Presbyterian support, the Rio Grande Female Institute opened in 1854. With the increase of religious freedom in Mexico, she began distributing Spanish language Bibles and other religious materials, supplied by the American Bible Society, across the border. During the Civil War she was forced from the school between 1862 and the end of the war. In 1866, Rankin returned to Monterrey, Mexico, purchased a building, and opened the first Protestant mission in Mexico. In 1872, poor health forced Rankin to give up mission work. She died at her home in Bloomington, Illinois, on December 6, 1888.