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Delaware County, Iowa


 Biography Directory

Elmer Ellsworth Reed, M. A. D. D.

Lenox College President

South Fork Township



      The church schools of the country are doing a magnificent work which is sometimes not appreciated at its full value and especially is there danger of losing sight of the importance and influence for good of smaller colleges, which often give their students a training that in essentials is superior to the offered by the great universities. Lenox College of Hopkinton is an excellent example of the small school of high standards of scholarship, which also emphasizes especially the need of a stimulating moral atmosphere in the training of the young men and women who are to be the leaders in many phases of life in the years to come. Although it is maintained by the Presbyterian church, its friends are found among people of all denominations and those without religious affiliation, not only in Iowa, but in far distant places as well. Since becoming president of the school in 1906 Rev. Elmer Ellsworth Reed has been a host in himself in the work of building up the school, and much of its present efficiency and high standing in educational circles is due to his unflagging zeal and untiring efforts in its behalf. He is indeed one of the generals of the Presbyterian educational forces of the state and has in all crises proved himself a worthy and inspiring leader.

      Dr. Reed was born at Fairfield, Iowa, January 1, 1862. He is a son of Dr. Charles and Ann (Canfield) Reed, the former born in Deerfield, Portage county, Ohio, June 18, 1812. The father was one of eleven children born to his parents, Charles and Rejoice (Diver) Reed, natives of Ellington, Connecticut, and Branford, Massachusetts, respectively. The mother, who was a woman of much stability and worth of character, lived to an advanced age, honored and esteemed by all who knew her. The father removed to Ohio in 1804, when a young man of twenty one years of age, accompanied by two brothers. He was a man of large physique, possessed of sterling moral qualities and was a most respected and influential citizen. He lived in that state to an advanced age and two of his sons, Silas and Charles, studied medicine in Cincinnati and foe many years practiced their profession successfully in the Buckeye state. In 1856, however, Dr. Charles Reed, father of Dr. E. E. Reed, on account of his health, retired from the practice of medicine, in which he had been most successful, and removed to Iowa, purchasing a large tract of land near Fairfield. He,  like both his parents, was an active church worker. He had married Miss Ann Canfield in New Philadelphia, Ohio, February 3, 1839, and their married life continued for over fifty three years.  Mrs. Reed was of honorable and noted ancestry on both sides of the house and the family is traced back to Maryland. The history of the Reed family goes back to John Reed, who in 1630 came to this country from England with the great fleet and settled in Rehoboth, Massachusetts, where he acquired a large estate, became a public officer and was generally recognized as a man of worth and ability. His descendants have been uniformly people of sterling character and high intelligence, noted  alike for their incorruptible integrity and their intellectual attainments. 

      Rev. E. E. Reed is the youngest of six children born to his parents, five sons and one daughter. He was reared upon his father's father and after attending the common schools of the neighborhood became a student at Parsons College, where he received his academic and collegiate education, graduating there from in 1884. He then was for a year a graduate student at Princeton University, taking at the same time the first year's work in Princeton Seminary and afterward also two years in McCormick Seminary, being graduate from the latter institute in 1888. He was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry and served in three pastorates, all in Iowa -- at Kirkville, where he remained for three years; Griswold, where he spent four years; and at Atlantic, where he was a pastor for five years. In these fields he built two churches and one parsonage and both churches were dedicated free of debt, which is an unusual record. During his pastorates over three hundred and fifty members were taken into the three churches which he served.

       In 1900 he was called to the presidency of Buena Vista College at Storm Lake and served in that position for six years. During his incumbency he secured over one hundred thousand dollars in cash and notes for the college, more than doubled the number on the faculty, added two buildings to the college plant, greatly increased the equipment of the institution and advanced it to full college work, securing for it recognition as an accredited college. In 1906 he accepted a call to the presidency of Lenox College and has since carried through to success two most strenuous campaigns for endowment, each amounting to over one hundred thousand dollars. The first was secured three months ahead of the time limit, a most unheard of thing, and the second was carried eleven thousand dollars ahead of the required amount. In both of these campaigns he was the heart and soul of the work and, although ably assisted by the trustees, alumni and other friends of the institution, the burden of responsibility fell upon him and to him the credit is largely due. The securing of the endowment which is so necessary to the life of the college of today, when expensive laboratory equipments are demanded in science teaching and when other departments need increased appropriations, is however, but one phase of his work and achievements. He has raised the standards of the school by adding another year to the course of study required for the obtaining of a degree, he has increased the membership of the faculty and more than doubled the number of volumes to the college library. Two years after he was elected president of Buena Vista College, his alma mater, Parsons College, confer upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in recognition of his successful work as president of Buena Vista. It was the first degree of the kind ever conferred by that institution upon one of her alumni.

       On the 28th of May, 1890, Dr. Reed married Miss Margaret A. Murray, of Ottumwa, Iowa. Her father was a successful farmer and a prominent man in Wapello county, where he served in prominent positions of public trust for many years. To Dr. and Mrs. Reed have been born five children, Ellery F., Elmer D., Helen, Gertrude and Margaret A. The two sons were graduated from Lenox College in 1914, the two oldest daughters are now students in that institution and the youngest, a child of five years, has just entered public schools.

       Those who are acquainted with Dr. Reed and his work recognize in him a ripe scholar, a man of unusual executive ability and of a thorough understanding of the needs of young men and women and a courageous leader in educational affairs. He is unpretentious in manner, but his poise and wisdom invariably make themselves felt and those who are most intimately associated with him value most highly his counsel and his friendship. His relations with the student body and faculty are especially happy, and under his leadership all cooperate for the welfare of Lenox College.     



~ source: History of Delaware County, Iowa and its People, Illustrated, Volume II. The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1914, Chicago. Page 494-496. Call Number 977.7385 H2m; LDS microfilm #934937.

~transcribed and contributed by Constance Diamond for Delaware County IAGenWeb


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