"In 1858 the trustees of Iowa Wesleyan elected as president the Rev. Charles Elliott D.D., LL.L. who had joined the faculty earlier as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Biblical Literature. Previous presidents had been young men, beginning th ir careers, whereas Dr. Elliott was sixty-six years old and had achieved national Methodist distinction as a religious journalist and church historian.
Charles Elliott was born May 16(or May 12), 1792 in Glenconway, Donegal County, Ireland, was converted to the Irish Wesleyan Society in 1811 and was licensed to preach in 1813. Since his religious affiliation prevented matriculation in the University of Dublin, he pursued a collegiate program of study independently. He came to the United States in 1814 and settled in Ohio where he was admitted to the Ohio Annual Conference of the M.E. Church in 1818 and assigned to the Zanesville Circuit.
In 1822 he spent a year as a missionary to the Wyandotte Indian Nation at Upper Sandusky, which he described in his book Indian Missionary Reminiscences (1850), and in 1823 became Presiding Elder of the Ohio District. Turning to educational work, he served as Professor of Languages at Madison College, Uniontown, Pennsylvania from 1827-1831.
In 1828 and 1829, under Charles Elliot(t), there was a great revival, which lasted through the summer and winter, and there were about one hundred and fifty accessions to the church. This revival, under the same preacher, swept all Uniontown and Madison College, and hundreds were converted. This was said to have been the most remarkable revival of religion ever known in Uniontown, PA. (Ellis, Frank, History of Fayette Co., Vol 1-3, 688-689, 1882.) This institution of the Pittsburgh Annual Conference later merged with Allegheny College and existed until 1872. From 1831-1833, Dr. Elliott was Presiding Elder of the Pittsburgh District. Here he began a long career in religious journalism as editor of the Pittsburgh Conference Journal 1833-1834 and the Western Christian Advocate 1836-1848. He was noted for his vigorous handling of controversial topics of church and national life.
He held churches in Springfield and Xenia, Ohio from 1848-1852 but returned to the editorial chair of the Western Christian Advocate 1852-1856. During these years he published the first of his many books, The life of the Rev. Robert R. Roberts 1844, Delineation of Roman Catholicism 1841 and A History of the Great Secession From the Methodist Episcopal Church in the year 1855. . . "the Methodist Episcopal Church, South" 1855. The book on Romanism was for many decades a widely used polemic in American Protestant circles. The history of the formation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, although marked by Elliott's anti-slavery bias, is still a useful work of reference. His anti-slavery feelings were strongly expressed in the booklets, Slavery Contrary to the Spirit of Christianity and Sinfulness of American Slavery 1850.
In 1857 Dr. Elliott was invited by President Lucien W. Berry to join the faculty of Iowa Wesleyan University and founded the Biblical Department. From this position he became president in 1858, a position which he held until 1861 when he moved to St. Louis, Missouri as editor of the Central Christian Advocate, although he retained his professorship. Here he had a somewhat stormy career since Missouri was the dividing line of the two division of the Methodist Episcopal Church and of the slavery and anti-slavery regions. These years have been recounted by Frank C. Tucker in The Methodist Church in Missouri 1789-1939, published in 1966.
In 1863 Elliott returned to the Iowa Wesleyan presidency which he held
until 1866 when ill health and age forced him to retire. He lived
in Mount Pleasant until his death on January 6, 1869 and was buried in
Forest Home Cemetery.
Charles Elliott's presidency was marked by the struggles to find funds for annual operations, the mortgage payment on Old Main and necessary building repairs. The Civil War caused a great fall off in student enrollments and, he took up the presidency again in 1863, he had to combine professorships to enable the school to survive. But Elliott did live to see a new influx of students in 1865 and the re-birth of college life and activity.
Dr. Elliott brought to Iowa Wesleyan a wider, more cosmopolitan touch than any previous president. His national contacts were extremely wide and his name was known. Many details of his administration reveal his endeavor to bring the college into wider repute and sounder academic practice. He arranged for special ceremonies in 1859 when Lucy Webster Killpatrick was the first woman graduate; he designed an elaborate commencement program with a Latin title page in 1860; he opened a department of foreign languages with regular courses in French and German. This was made possible when he appointed to the faculty the Rev. Adam Miller, M.D. who had done pioneer work among German Methodists. Adam Miller's important book Experiences of German Methodist Preachers was published in 1859 with a Mount Pleasant date line and to this Dr. Elliott contributed an Introduction. Elliott likewise attracted to Mount Pleasant the retired Methodist bishop, Leonidas L. Hamline for whom the Hamline Literary Society was named. Dr. Elliott also presented for honorary degrees a number of important figures from the national scene: Benjamin F. Crary, President of Hamline University; Horatio N. Robinson, Professor of Mathematics at the United States Navel Academy; Robinson Scott, later a leading theologian of the Irish Wesleyan Church; Oliver M. Spencer, President of the State University of Iowa. Had Elliott been president at any other time than the Civil War period, his educational abilities would have created more rapid results. But he did exert upon the local scene an influence which was significant at the time. In his last years he published Southwestern Methodism, A History of the M.E. Church in the South-West 1844 to 1864, 1868.
Dr. Elliott's connections continued with the university through his children. One daughter, Phebe Leech Elliott was graduated in 1860; was Professor of English Literature and Preceptors 1864-1865 and served on the Board of Trustees from 1870-1875 while a resident of Mount Pleasant. A second daughter, Fannie, married the Rev. LeRoy Monroe Vernon of the class of 1860 who became superintendent of Methodist work in Italy 1871-1888. Vernon's daughter married an Italian poet, Angelo DeBossis, who son Carlo DeBossis as a member of the Columbia University faculty visited Iowa Wesleyan in 1925. Simon Charles Elliott, his son, married Frances Roads of the Class of 1869, who was one of the Seven Founders of the P.E.O. Sisterhood at Iowa Wesleyan. Frances Roads Elliott had an interesting career in art teaching and community service and biographical accounts appear in The History of the P.E.O. Sisterhood 1903 and in Winona Evans Reeves, The Story of P.E.O. 1869-1923. An memorial marker for her was placed on the Elliott family plot in the Forest Home Cemetery, Mount Pleasant, by the Supreme Chapter of the P.E.O Sisterhood in 1951." (L.S. Haselmayer, The Presidents of Iowa Wesleyan College, 1967) Simon and Frances had a daughter, Dorothy. She became one of the seven sisters of P.E.O., which originated at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. She married twice, became Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Writer of Mystery). The Canfield family owned the Canfield Paper Co. in upstate New York.
Charles Elliott lived in Uniontown prior to the time his mother and siblings came to the new world. He received ordination in the Methodist Church while he was still in Ireland (1813). Charles came to America in 1814 and was appointed Professor of Languages at Madison Academy in 1827. The earliest church organization in the Uniontown community was the Methodist Episcopal (1825). During those few years, he taught courses, recruited students, and ministered to the students in the school and people in the community. In 1828-29, under Charles Elliott, there was a great revival, which lasted through the summer and winter, and there were about one hundred and fifty accessions to the church. The revival swept all Uniontown and Madison College, and hundreds were converted. When Rev. H.B. Bascum resigned as president of Madison college in Spring 1829, Professor J. H. Fielding and Rev. Charles Elliott were placed in charge. Charles Elliott was described as a pure and simple scholar who loved learning for its own sake. He and his family lived in a red frame house near the College taking in several boarders including his younger brother, Simon. In 1832, Madison College changed from support by the Methodist Conference and continued under the Cumberland Presbyterian Church until 1872 when it closed for lack of funds. As the change occurred, Charles moved on to Cincinnati and further success.
Ellis, Frank (ed). History of Fayette County, PA., with Biographical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominant Men. (Vol 1-3), 1882, 315-316
Hadden, James. History of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, 1913. Reproduced by Unigrahic, In.,, 1978, pp. 490-492.
The Uniontown Public Library (1996) was a new building located near
downtown, about a block from Route 40, and the center of town.