1840: Rev. Job Guest to John Price Durbin, D. D.

John Price Durbin, D. D.

This letter was written by Rev. Job Guest (1785-1857), son of Richard Guest (1758-1839) and Dorothy Wood, of Annapolis, Maryland.

Rev. Guest wrote the letter to John Price Durbin (1800-1876), a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky. Shortly after his father died, he was apprenticed to a cabinet maker at the age of 13; he worked for several years until his religious conversion at age 18. Through tutors and self-education, he began to study English grammar, and later Latin and Greek. Durbin soon became a licensed preacher and in 1819 traveled to Ohio to enter the ministry. In 1821 he began to minister in Hamilton, Ohio, and at the same time took up studies at nearby Miami University. The following year he moved again and was forced to continue his studies independently. Durbin resumed formal studies at Cincinnati College and received both a bachelor’s degree and a master of arts degree in 1825. Immediately following his graduation, he became a professor of languages at Augusta College in Kentucky. He married Frances B. Cook of Philadelphia on September 6, 1827, and in 1831 was selected to be Chaplain of the United States Senate. This appointment was followed in 1832 with a position as editor of the Christian Advocate.

In 1833 Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania came under the management of the Baltimore Conference of the Methodist Church. As a result, a new faculty of Methodist instructors was assembled, and Durbin was chosen to be president. Under Durbin, Dickinson College increased its enrollment and increased its size with the addition of a new building for student housing, recitation, and housing for the president. In 1842 Durbin began a tour of Europe and the Middle East; upon his return home, he authored two books about these travels. Within two years of resuming his duties at the college, Durbin tendered his resignation to the Board of Trustees, explaining that he wished to return to the ministry. Around this same time, Durbin married Mary Cook, the sister of his deceased first wife.

After retiring from the college, Durbin began preaching in Philadelphia, and in 1849 he was elected presiding elder of the North Philadelphia area. In 1850 he was elected as the secretary of the Missionary Society, a position he held until 1872, when he was forced to retire for health reasons. On October 18, 1876, John Price Durbin died in New York; he was buried in Philadelphia.

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Addressed to John P. Durbin, D. D., Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Annapolis [Maryland]
May 25, 1840

Dear Brother,

Yours of the 17th has been received & Col. [Thomas Emory] Sudler consulted on the subjects of his transfer to Dickinson College. He has authorized me to say that if elected to a Professorship there, he will accept. From the situation of his family he would prefer coming about the middle of summer, but as the Board will meet in July, he thinks that if elected he could get information in time to suit his purposes in moving. At all events, he would expect to be there by the time of opening the college in September next. I think he will consent to take either of the two chairs proposed but perhaps in view of the whole he might prefer the one he holds in this institution — Professor of Mathematics. The Catalogue you refer to has not yet come to hand — at least I have not seen it. I should be pleased to receive at any time any of the two pamphlets published in relation to the college & to make the best use of them in any ______.

Yours truly & sincerely, — Job Guest


Thomas Emory Sudler (1800-1860) was a Professor of Mathematics at St. Johns College, Annapolis, Maryland, a Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 1851-1852, and a Professor at the Wesleyan Female Collegiate Institute, in Wilmington, Delaware.

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