Sketches of Students of First
REV. WILLIAM E. KNOX, D.D. The subject of this sketch is the second son of General John J. Knox, of Knoxborough, Oneida County, New York. He was born in Augusta, New York, October 16, 1820. Of the family of General Knox, consisting of five sons and five daughters, four have been alumni of the Seminary. This is the more noticeable because of the Presbyterian affinities and relations of the family. Dr. Knox pursued his education in the Bartlett High School, Utica, Cazenovia Seminary, Vernon and Augusta Academies, Hamilton College, and Auburn Theological Seminary, graduating at college in 1840, and at the theological seminary in 1843. He was, immediately invited to the Second Presbyterian (now Stone street) Church of Watertown, where he officiated as pastor from November, 1843, to January, 1848, when ill health compelled his resignation. There are some living in Watertown who remember the sensation produced by the course of sermons preached by the youthful controversialist (of twenty-four years) on Romanism, which drew crowded houses for many nights, the Roman Catholic priest and many of his people among the number; the priest often rising in the audience to question the young theological student, and always receiving a good-tempered reply. Those who have known the doctor's shrewd, facetious, and even humorous style of colloquial address, will readily appreciate the character of his replies to the priest.
Mr. Knox married, while in Watertown, New York, Miss Mary Ann Chandler, of Avon, (an alumna of the Seminary,) June 4, 1844, but losing her in sudden illness, June 22, 1845. Recovering his health, he was called to the Presbyterian Church
in Rome in July, 1848, where he remained until December, 1869, a period of twenty-one years. The long pastorate was the more noticeable for being over a congregation formed of two Churches recently united, and at first with little promise of homogeneity. His health failing in 1869, he went abroad for seven months, and while absent received a call to the First Presbyterian Church of Elmira, which on his return he accepted, and commenced his labors there December 5, 1869.
Dr. Knox is eccentric, but very genial and catholic. He is a strong advocate of Christian union, and values, as among his pleasant remembrances, that he was the chairman of the first committee of conference sent by the New School Presbyterian Assembly in St. Louis, in 1866, to the Old School Assembly, sitting in the same city; and that he acted as chairman of the joint conference of the committees, which then and there initiated the movement that led to the final union of the two bodies in 1870. He is a believer in the speedy, visible, and organic union of all evangelical Churches, and that its consummation, within thirty years hereafter, will be no more remarkable than the progress made toward that end in the past thirty years, as illustrated in part in the reunion of the two branches of the Presbyterian Church.
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