Rev. Samuel DOAK

Male 1749 - 1830  (81 years)

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  • Name Samuel DOAK 
    Prefix Rev. 
    Born 1 Aug 1749  Augusta Co. VA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    _UID 7D28A17FDAA04D1181F747C3ACBCDC399C33 
    Died 12 Dec 1830  Bethel, Green Co. TN Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography", Volume 7, pub. 1897

      DOAK, Samuel, founder and first president of Washington College, Tennessee (1795-1818), was born in Augusta County, Va., Aug. 1, 1749, son of Samuel and Jane (Mitchel) Doak. His parents, natives of Ireland, and of Scotch extraction, emigrated to America early in the last century, settling in Chester county, Pa., and later removing to Augusta county, Va. His father was a farmer, and the son's early life was hampered by poverty, although with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge he struggled manfully for an education.

      At the age of sixteen he began the study of Latin under a Mr. Alexander, probably, Archibald, grandfather of the famous Rev. Dr. Archibald Alexander, who was at that time teaching school in this neighborhood, and in 1773 he entered Princeton College, where he was graduated in 1775. He at once began the study of theology, and was licensed to preach by the Hanover (Va.) presbytery, Oct. 31, 1777. He began his work among the frontier settlements of southwestern Virginia, in Washington county, and later at the Holston settlement, now part of Sullivan county, Tenn., where he remained two years.

      While in search of a more promising field of usefulness, early in 1780, he met some settlers in the neighborhood of Salem, Tenn., who crowded about him and requested a sermon. Using his horse as a pulpit, he delivered so pleasing and helpful a discourse that they forthwith importuned him to remain among them. Here he remained and purchased a farm, lie immediately gathered the pioneer families under his ministry and their children under his tuition, forming the Salem Congregation. He built a log schoolhouse, and in 1783 obtained a charter from the legislature of North Carolina, which then embraced that portion of Tennessee; and again in 1785 he obtained another charter from the legislature of the stale of Franklin, in session at Jonesborough (now in Washington countv, Tenn.), on both occasions giving it the name "Martin Academy" in honor of Gov. Alexander Martin of North Carolina. Although there remains no record of his work in the school during the first twelve years of its existence, many young men educated by him subsequently became useful and eminent. One of them. Dr. J. G. M. Ramsey, in his "Annals of Tennessee" says that it was not only it the " first literary institution ever established in the Mississippi valley west of the Alleghanies," but also "for many years the only, and for still more the principal seat of learning in the western country."

      During this period, however, Dr. Doak had continued as pastor of the Salem Church, which was one of the first in this region, and had also organized a number of other churches among the settlers. By an act of the legislature of the "Territory of the United Slates of America, South of the River Ohio," dated July 8, 1795, the school was chartered as a college, empowered to grant academic degrees; and in honor of George Washington, then for the second time president of the United States, it was called Washington College. From the minutes of the first meeting of the board of trustees, held July 23, 1795, it appears that the academy had received 420 acres of land on the Doe river from Col. Waightstill Avery, besides numerous contributions of money, and later Alexander Mathes donated a valuable tract of fifty acres ad joining the property of Dr. Doak, where the college building then stood, which is the site of the modern institution. In 1798 while in the East as commissioner of the general assembly, Dr. Doak collected the nucleus of a library, which he transported 500 miles across the mountains on pack horses; and in the same year the Avery lands were sold and the proceeds expended in globes, maps and other equipments. Dr. Doak resigned in 1818 after presiding over the institution for thirty five years, and soon after removed to Green county, Tenn., within the bounds of Mt. Bethel Church, where he aided his second son, Rev. Samuel Witherspoon Doak, in conducting Tuscirtum Academy, chartered as Tusculum College in 1844.

      In character, Dr. Doak was possessed of rare firmness, dignity and decision', a natural leader of men and a great organizer. Through all the perils and hardships of pioneer life, he remained true to his noble purpose, and justly merits the title "apostle of learning and religion in the West." As a preacher he was original, bold, forcible, even entertaining; and as a teacher he was thoroughly well qualified, a good disciplinarian and a master in Latin, Greek and metaphysics. His creed was thoroughly Calvinistlc, and he taught and propounded it with an earnestness and lucidity calculated to fix its great truths upon the minds of the many young men trained by him for the ministry.

      He was on several occasions delegate and commissioner of his synod, and in 1784 was a member of the constitutional convention of the proposed state of Franklin. He at that time furnished a clause providing for a university to be established by legislative enactment before 1787, and "to be endowed liberally." The degree of D.D. was conferred on him by both Washington and Greenville colleges in 1818. Dr. Doak was married in 1776 or '77 to Esther, daughter of Rev. John Montgomery of Virginia, and had two sons and four daughters. He died in Greene County, Tenn., Dec. 12, 1829.
    Person ID I5736  Master File
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2011 

    Father Samuel DOAK,   b. ca 1716, Antrim, Ulster, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 May 1772, Augusta Co. VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 56 years) 
    Mother Jane Mitchell,   b. ca 1711, Ulster, Ireland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 1772, Augusta Co. VA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 62 years) 
    Married ca 1737  Chester Co. PA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F4336  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart