John Washburn, D. D., president of Ewing College, was born in November, 1830, in Smith County, Tenn., the seventh of thirteen children (seven deceased) of Lewis and Nancy (Moore) Washburn, the former of Welsh and German stock, and born in East Tennessee in 1796, and the latter of English-Irish origin, born in 1794 in northwestern South Carolina, The mother's parents settled in Wilson County, then in Smith County, Tenn. The father, when a young man, after his father's death, also went to Smith County, where he enlisted in the war of 1812, under Gen. Coffee, and was in the battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. The parents were married in 1817, and the father was engaged in farming and wagon manufacturing until his death in Smith County December 30, 1872. The mother died in April, 1874. Our subject was educated in Burritt College, Van Buren County, after twenty one, through his own efforts. He entered the school in February, 1858, during the subsequent term was converted a Christian, and in the fall was baptized, joining the Primitive Baptist Church October 15, 1853. He returned to college in the spring of 1854, and graduated as A. B. in 1856. During a part of his junior and senior years he was compelled to teach to aid himself. Rev. W. D. Carns, a leading educator of his time had charge of the college throughout his course. On July 7, three days after receiving his diploma, he married Irene S., daughter of George and Mary (Sims) Ely, of Overton County, Tenn. Two weeks later he began teaching at an academic school at Gainsboro, Tenn., for five months, then at Flynn's Lick five months, when he took the chair of languages in his alma mater. A year later he
accompanied Rev. W. D. Carns to Knoxville, and, under the lattar's presidency in the University there, he served one year as principal of the academy. He then resigned and took charge of Mount Olivet Academy, Overton County, and, cherishing strong Union sentiments, concluded at the outbreak of the war to go North, but on his way was delayed at his father's, in Smith County, three months, because of the army intervening. During this time, while on a visit to Gainsboro, he was held in custody by the rebels four days, and on the 5th of November, 1862, started in a wagon overland to Illinois, reaching St. Clair County, on the 20th. The next August he came to Marion. The family remained there three months, but our subject taught at Crawford's Prairie until the summer of 1864. He now began to be well known as a teacher, and in the fall commenced a three years career as principal of the Benton public schools. In April, 1867, he began a select school in the Frizzell's Prairie Baptist Church, during which term steps were taken by the citizens to organize what became, December 25, following, the Ewing High School, which, in the holidays of 1870, was removed from the church to what is now the east building of Ewing College. In 1874 the institution became a college, and the west building was completed. The graduates of that spring-five young men-are now as follows: One a professor of Greek, in Shurtleff College; one, principal of the State School for the Blind, Nashville, Tenn.; one a successful druggist, of Marion, Ill.; one a successful attorney at Benton, Ill, and one a successful physician, of Hampton, Ky. Since that he has been president of Ewing College excepting four years, during one of which (1875-76) he was principal of Marion High School, and pastor of the Baptist Church at Carbondale, and during the other three years, from 1877 to 1880, he was in southwest Texas, where he was a missionary of the San Antonio Baptist Association one year, during which he prospected for a good location for an institution of learning, and chose Floresville,
Wilson County,and pursuaded the citizens to found what is now known as Floresville Academy, of which he was principal for two years, when, on the earnest solicitation of the supporters of Ewing College, he returned and assumed charge of the same. He was pastor also of three churches from 1870 to 1874, and likewise of the same number while teaching in Texas. He still preaches occasionally. In 1859 Rev. John Powell, president of his old alma mater, conferred the degree of M. A. upon him, and the degree of D. D. was conferred by the Ewing College trustees, under the presidency of William Shelton, D. D., at the suggestion of Rev. John Hawkins, pastor of the Carbondale Presbyterian Church. His wife was born May 6, 1831, in Overton County, Tenn. Their children are Mary E. (deceased), S. E., Lula G. (wife of W. H. Campbell, M. D.), Fannie E. (wife of John C. Neal), Lillian L. (wife of C. T. Yost), Aurelia and Walter. Formerly a Whig, during the war a Union man, until 1884 a Democrat, first voting for Scott in 1852, he is now a radical Prohibitionist. He is a Royal Templar. He, his wife and four children are members of the Missionary Baptist Church. He began preaching in 1867, and was ordained in 1858. The cause of his Texas sojourn, it should be stated, was his wife's feeble health which needed a change of climate.