Baptists and the American Civil War: September 10, 1865

iowa_mapBorn in 1816 near Sherburne, New York and orphaned at the age of five, as an adult John Anson Nash became a Baptist minister.

First pastoring in New York, the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1851 sent him to Fort Des Moines, Iowa. There he helped organize the First Baptist Church of Des Moines. He also began a private school on his own land. The school eventually became Forest Home Seminary, a school for youth.

This year, in the midst of a post-war wave of new educational endeavors, Nash fulfills a yet-larger dream: the creation of a higher institution of learning. Establishing what eventually becomes Des Moines University, Nash serves as the institution’s first president. Initially housed in a former Lutheran church, the school for now is essentially an academy.

Nash’s school becomes Des Moines College in 1889, growing to seven departments: bible, education, music, business, oratory, fine arts and preparatory. In 1918 the name is changed to Des Moines University.

Unfortunately, the school shuts down in 1929. Today, another institution bears the name “DesĀ  Moines University.”

Sources: John Anson Nash Papers, University of Iowa (link); “Des Moines University,” America’s Lost Colleges (link)