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Book Honors Civil War Reverend, OWU Professor, Church Founder

April 14, 2005

Meet the Authors Stephanie Grant Duke will make a presentation "Circuit Riding Through History: The Search for Louis Miller Albright" at Asbury United Methodist Church on October 23 at 2 p.m. Stanley Graham, Elizabeth Menges Ramirez-Graham and Paul Duke will also attend.
[ Louis Miller Albright ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- On August 6, Reverend Louis Miller Albright will have been dead for a century, but his granddaughter is doing her part to keep his memory alive.
It is a memory that focuses on Albright's service as a member of the United States Christian Commission during the closing weeks of the Civil War. Albright also served as a professor at the Ohio Wesleyan Female College, President of DePauw Women's College and Lewis College, and Superintendent for the Upper Sandusky School system.
But it was his diary from a five-week commitment to the United States Christian Commission that led to his granddaughter Elizabeth Menges Ramirez-Graham joining forces with her husband Stanley Graham, and friends Paul Duke and Stephanie Grant Duke to publish Civil War Diary of Louis Miller Albright: United States Christian Commission Field Volunteer in Tennessee February Through April.
The two couples became friends near their home in Medina and after an invitation to lunch, found a mutual interest in history and a shared interest in uncovering the life of Albright. They began referring to themselves as "the history detectives" as they searched for clues as to the life and times of Rev. Albright from Medina to Delaware.
"We spent about five months researching his life," said Ramirez-Graham. "It started about 20 years ago when I attended a conference at Ohio Wesleyan and was able to spend some time in the Beeghly Library and the Methodist Archives."
"There were a lot of parts to it that just took time," said Graham. "For example, we had different dates for his birthday. So that took time ­ and we eventually found it on the cemetery records ­ but we had to check everything out."
[ Civil War Diary ]As the only living member of her immediate family, Ramirez-Graham came into possession of a couple key documents. The first was Albright's diary that began the entire project rolling and the second was a family Bible that contained family birth dates and locations, which provided a timeline for the family as it traveled through Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.
Born in Eastern Tennessee, one of 16 children, Albright's family moved to Arcanum, Ohio, a small town located in Darke County about 30 miles northwest of Dayton. Albright earned an A.B. and M.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University before becoming a circuit rider for the Methodist Episcopal Church. He covered hundreds of Northwest Ohio miles from Toledo to Lima and from the state line to Delaware. He also spent five years as a professor of natural science and mathematics at Ohio Wesleyan Female College in Delaware from 1865-1870.
His service in 1865 to the United States Christian Commission was not unique as an estimated 5,000 delegates served a five-week term with the organization during the war. The United States Christian Commission provided each member a book that was to be their guide as they preached to the Union troops, and it included the following:
"Addresses should always be brief, kind, tender, breathing of home, earnest and affectionate for the men, and fervent of Christ. No men in the world listen with deeper interest than our brave soldiers, to living words of truth; none are move more powerfully by generous and noble sentiments; none more hopeful for the power of the gospel and the labor of the servant of Christ. But they cannot be impressed or moved by abstractions or dry and dull discussions. Like power they are easily fired by the living spark, yet they cannot be moved by all the dead ashes and coals that can be heaped upon."
Albright took this lesson to heart. He often preached multiple times in a single day and his diary points out that he preached five times on March 19. "This was one of my busiest days. I preached five times-once in Refugee Prison, once in Post Chapel, once in Guard Prison, once in Blockhouse across the river, and tonight in Hospital No. 1. I came home at night scarcely at all tired. Why is this? I never preached so often in one day before."
Albright would for a short-time lead the Untied States Christian Commission's operations in Chattanooga, but he was much more at home working as a delegate in the field.
Albright returned to Delaware in 1886 to found the Asbury United Methodist Church. Within three years, Albright had grown the congregation more than tree-fold to 300 members and raised $30,000 for the church's construction.
Albright also established a legacy at Ohio Wesleyan University. Two daughters, Cornelia Colton Albright and Evelyn May Albright would teach at the University, while a son Edgar would die shortly after graduating from the University in 1892. He would also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Ohio Wesleyan in 1894, also receiving the same degree Taylor University.
Jim Freed, professor emeritus of zoology from Ohio Wesleyan and president of the Delaware County Genealogical Society, has arranged a presentation by Stephanie Duke along with her three co-writers and/or editors on October 23 at 2 p.m. at Asbury United Methodist Church. Duke will present "Circuit Riding Through History: The Search for Louis Miller Albright."
For more information on Civil War Diary of Louis Miller Albright, contact Belding Publishing at www.beldingpublishing.com.