DOCTOR WILLIAM A. MATTHEWS. In 1868, the very year in which, by a pleasant coincidence, a little group of the good citizens of Franklin county, Illinois, met together and formulated the plans which resulted in the foundation of Ewing College, an institution which, fostered by their enlightened and upright ideas, was to constitute a fitting place of educational discipline for their children and grandchildren, there was born near the city of Birmingham, England, one William A. Matthews, who was one day to cross the blue Atlantic and take his place as president of
this college. Dr. Matthews is the son of John and Ann (Smart) Matthews, both deceased. He comes from Welsh and English stock, and, as one biographer has said in this connection, "This may account for his passion for Evangelism on the one hand and his persistent determination to succeed on the other." When only a few years of age his parents concluded to come to this country in search of the wider opportunity which they believed America to possess for them and their children. They soon found their way to Illinois and located at Centralia, At the age of fourteen young William was converted and baptised into the Centralia Baptist church and in 1888, when only twenty years of age, he was licensed to preach by the Fourth Baptist church of St. Louis, Missouri.
Doctor Matthews, from his boyhood, was ever zealous for learning and found his greatest satisfaction in books. He received a very thorough training for the ministry, pursuing his studies in the following institutions of learning: Shurtleff, Ewing, Washington Universities, Morgan Park Baptist Seminary and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He took his Bachelor of Arts degree at Ewing in 1895, M. A. in 1898, and in 1904 his alma mater conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. He has held leading pastorates in St. Louis, Missouri, Aurora and Chicago, Illinois, and in 1909 he was summer supply at Dr. James Spurgeon's Tabernacle in London, England. That was followed by a three weeks' campaign of evangelism in Scotland. He came into international prominence in 1909 by reviewing Professor G. B. Foster's Theology before the Baptist Ministers' Conference of Chicago in such manner that the Professor's name was dropped from the roll of the conference. He is widely known in the central west as a lecturer against higher criticism and has made himself a recognized authority on the subject.
Doctor Matthews assumed the presidency of Ewing College in 1910, and his incumbency has proved a material, intellectual and spiritual blessing to school and student, citizen and community. Under his administration a wise and progressive leadership is bringing the school on towards the accomplishment of its purposes and realization of its high mission. It has been said of him, "Perhaps no man could have been elected to the presidency of Ewing who would bring it greater strength or better command the confidence and support of Ewing's constituency than Doctor Matthews."
Dr. Matthews was married to Miss Della M. Burton, of Upper Alton, Illinois, in 1892. They have six children: Stewart, Esther, Ruth, Delight, William A., Jr., and Dorothy.