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Captain John Augustus Ansley

     Captain John Augustus Ansley was born on a plantation in Abbeville District, South Carolina in 1841. Since his family intended for him to enter the Presbyterian Ministry, he was sent. away to school at only eight years of age. Later he attended Due West College in Ericson County, South Carolina; then he graduated with honors from the University of Virginia. He was educated in the classics and fine arts, and spoke eight languages.

      Upon his graduation from college, he joined the Confederate Army and served for two years as a Captain. It was characteristic of him when cited to promotion to Major that he refused the advance in rank, telling his General that he chose to remain a Captain; that it was the quality of work that counted and not the rank that mattered.

Like so many young men at the close of the War between the States, Captain Ansley went to Texas to make his life anew, while there he married Miss Elizabeth McKelvey, of Temple, Texas. He bought land, and engaged in farming in that section of Texas for a few years, then decided to come to Prescott, Arkansas, where his father had settled after moving from South Carolina. Upon arrival in Prescott, Captain Ansley saw the great need of a school, and built the Ansley, or Prescott Academy. He enrolled the more advanced young people of the community and taught history, English, high mathematics and the languages. He was conscientious and able teacher, inspiring his students to a real love of knowledge.

     While Captain Ansley did not decide upon the Ministry as his Life work, he was deeply devoted to the Presbyterian Church, His own family was growing up in Prescott, and along with other leading citizens, he felt the need of a Presbyterian church. These men set to work to raise funds to build a church, and were successful in their attempts, establishing the Cumberland Presbyterian, Prescott’s first house of worship on April 12, 1874. Captain Ansley was a staunch supporter in its organization and gave freely of his time and means.  Captain Ansley also taught the Men’s Bible Class. His educational back ground and his deeply consecrated life admirably fitted him for this service. His class was always well attended and his teaching was deeply appreciated.

     Some years later, Captain and Mrs. Ansley and their family moved to Portland Oregon where he engaged in newspaper business. While editing the paper, he received a call to assume the presidency of Sweetwater College in Texas. He accepted this position and was preparing to move again when a severe cold developed into pneumonia and he died at the age of fifty-three.

This sketch given me in 1946 by Margaret Ansley White (Mrs. Sam T.) half-sister of the Subject.

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