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Rev. Ransom Dunn, D.D.

Dunn, Rev. Ransom, D.D., the third son of John and Abigail (Reed) Dunn, was born in Bakersfield, Vt. July 7, 1818. On Sunday, Nov. 21, 1831, at the age of thirteen, he gave himself to God; his conversion was clear and the assurance of forgiveness positive. Three years later, not satisfied with his spiritual state, he renewed his consecration, was baptized by the Rev. Perley Hall, and united with the Freewill Baptist church. Brother Dunn’s first real conviction that it was his duty to preach the gospel came to him a few days later, while reading an urgent appeal to young men to enter the Western mission field. The first Saturday in September, 1836, he received his license. After settling his father’s estate, he took the part lef him – thirteen dollars – and turned at once to his life-work. On June 5, 1837, he started west, stopping at Conneaut, O., where the Ohio and Pennsylvania YM was to convene three days later. On Saturday morning he was invited to preach, and his conquest of the people was complete. He went from church to church, studying in the daytime and preaching in the evening and on the Sabbath. The third Sabbath in August, 1837, Ransom Dunn, at the request of the Lenox church, was ordained to the gospel ministry, the ordaining council being Rev’s Samuel Wire, Josiah Fowler, Dan H. Miller, and Amos Perry. The next winter he held a wonderful series of revival services at La Fayette, Westfield, and Seville. In the fall and winter of 1838 also occurred extensive revivals at Trumbull, Williamsfield, and Wayne, where over one hundred professed conversion and Cherry Valley, where every fourth worshiper became a convert. In the following spring he returned to New England, and during the summer attended the Baptist Seminary at New Hampton, studying moral philosophy, evidences of Christianity, and natural theology. A more extended academic course was prevented by a weakness of the eyes, which made study impossible. The last of August he returned to Ohio, and was married to Miss Eliza Allen, of Williamsfield. In a revival the following winter, two young men, since prominent in the denomination, were converted – George H. Ball and J.S. Manning. In 1841 Mr. Dunn, with Hon. Samuel Philbrick and Rev. A.K. Moulton, was appointed a committee to establish a Free Baptist academy at Chester, O. – Geauga Seminary. Brother Dunn’s most important pastorates in the East were Dover, NH, one year during which time the First church was built, paid for, and dedicated; Great Falls, NH, where in six months 100 were added to the church; New York City, and Boston, Mass. While at Great Falls, Mrs. Dunn’s health began to fail, and the family returned to their old home in Ohio, where she died Aug. 4, 1848. His first service in Boston, June, 1849, was held in a third-story hall, and he had fifty-one hearers. By the next spring sixty or seventy were added to the church, and the North Bennet Street church was bought and held with a mortgage of only $6,000. His second pastorate in Boston continued a year and a half, and was highly successful. From Boston he went to Vermont, thence to Wisconsin, where a call to raise funds for the Michigan Central College (Hillsdale College) came to him. He accepted, and reached Spring Arbor in 1852. During 1853 and the two following years he traveled with horse and carriage over ten thousand miles in the interest of Hillsdale College, also aiding the churches at Racine, Evansville, and Waupun, Wis., and Warren, Ill. In 1852 he was elected to the professorship of moral philosophy, and in the years that have followed he has been closely identified with the work and success of the college. In 1863 he became the Burr professor of Christian Theology, and has since that time devoted his time and strength chiefly to the theological department, though for a time he also served as president of the college. His clear and ready mind, his good judgment, and his great activity, and his peculiar oratorical powers have given him a very extended influence in the whole denomination, in which he has been a recognized leader for a long period. Only eternity can make manifest the extent of his usefulness. In the fall of 1849 Dr. Dunn married Miss Cyrena Emery, of Sanford, Me. They have three daughters living. Mrs. S. Abbie Dunn Slayton, of Salem, Neb.; Mrs. Nellie Dunn Gates of Scranton, Pa., and Miss Nettie Dunn, general secretary of the National YWCA.

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