Asa Drury

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Asa Drury
Asa Drury ca. 1865
Born (1801-07-26)July 26, 1801
Athol, Massachusetts
Died March 18, 1870(1870-03-18) (aged 68)
St. Anthony, Minnesota, United States
Residence Covington, Kentucky; Granville, Ohio; Waterville, Maine
Nationality American
Alma mater Yale University A.B. 1829
Brown University A.M. 1832
Brown University D.D. 1834
Known for establishment of public schools in Covington, Kentucky; antebellum abolitionist; Denison University professor
Spouse(s) Hannah Perry Drury (m. 1832)
Elizabeth Drury (m. ca1840)
Children Alexander Greer Drury (1844–1929)
Marshall P. Drury (b. 1846)

Asa Drury (1801–1870) was an American Baptist minister and educator primarily teaching at Granville Literary and Theological Institution (today's Denison University) in Granville, Ohio and the Western Baptist Theological Institute in Covington, Kentucky, and establishing the public schools in Covington. He is best known for his antebellum abolitionist views and his role in establishing the Underground Railroad in Ohio.

Early life, education, and family[edit]

Asa Drury was born July 26, 1801 in Athol, Massachusetts as the fifth of eleven children of Joel Drury and Ruth (Hill) Drury.[1][2] Drury studied at Yale University, earning his A.B. degree in 1829. Upon graduation, he served as rector of the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, Connecticut from 1829 to 1831. He earned his A.M. degree at Brown University in 1832, followed by his D.D. from the same institution in 1834. He was ordained as a Baptist minister in Providence, Rhode Island on September 14, 1834.[3] Drury married Hannah Perry of Brookfield, Massachusetts on January 17, 1832, and they had no children.[2] During the 1839–1840 academic year, Drury was teaching in Waterville, Maine, and he was married a second time to Elizabeth. He and Elizabeth had two sons. Alexander G. Drury (b. 1844) and Marshall P. Drury (b. 1846).[4]

Academic and ministerial career[edit]

Shortly after ordination in 1834, Drury was recruited by fellow Brown University alumnus and President of Granville Literary and Theological Institution, John Pratt, to teach Latin and Greek. Drury taught there for two years, but he was best known for his abolitionist activism and establishing a station of the Underground Railroad on the Granville campus and working to organize the 1836 Ohio Abolitionist Convention to be held in Granville.[5][6] In 1836 possibly as fallout from the Granville Riot,[7] Drury accepted a position as a professor of Greek at Cincinnati College where he remained until 1845, except for a year of teaching Latin and Greek at Waterville College in Waterville, Maine during the 1839–1840 academic year.[3]

Beginning in 1845, Drury accepted the first of a series of positions in Covington, Kentucky. Drury was among the first faculty members at the Western Baptist Theological Institute in Covington, where he taught theology. He was also responsible for the classical school attached to the seminary. Drury left the Western Baptist Theological Institute in 1853 to teach and serve as principal at the Covington Public High School that first opened its doors on January 8, 1853. On January 26, 1856, he was named the first Superintendent of the Covington Public School System. Drury's work as superintendent was exemplary, and he was given several raises by the board. These raises, however, violated the charter of the school system (his salary had increased beyond the legal limit imposed by the school charter). In 1859, the members of the board reduced his salary so it would be in compliance with the charter. Drury resigned on the spot. That same year, Drury and a partner opened the Judsonia Female Seminary in the old Western Baptist Theological Institute building (the institute having closed several years earlier in 1855).[8] The Judsonia Seminary did not survive beyond 1861 when the seminary building was used as a hospital during the American Civil War.[9]

Beginning with his commissioning as an officer on February 8, 1862, Drury served as chaplain for the 18th Regiment Kentucky Volunteer Infantry in the Union Army during the Civil War.[10] He was captured at the Battle of Richmond in Kentucky on August 30, 1862 and sent home on parole, officially mustering out of the service on October 4, 1863.[11] In 1864 he moved to Minnesota and taught private school for a year. In 1865, he accepted a position as the pastor of the First Baptist Church in St. Anthony, Minnesota. He died there on March 18, 1870.[3] Drury was buried at Linden Grove Cemetery in Covington, Kentucky on March 26, 1870.[8]

Genealogy and family relations[edit]

Asa Drury's son Alexander Greer Drury (February 3, 1844 – January 17, 1929) was a noted physician and medical historian with a practice in Cincinnati and a teaching appointment in dermatology at the Laura Memorial Woman's Medical College in Cincinnati (1890–1900), followed by a faculty appointment in hygiene at the Cincinnati College of Medicine (1901–1910). He was the author of Legends of the Apple (1904), and Dante, Physician (1908), and he served as president of the Ohio State Medical Association.[12] Drury's second son, Marshall, was an insurance broker in St. Louis, Missouri.[13] Asa Drury was a direct descendant of Hugh Drury and Lydia (Rice) Drury, the daughter of Edmund Rice, an English immigrant to Massachusetts Bay Colony, as follows:[2][14]

  • Asa Drury, son of
    • Joel Drury (1768 – ?), son of
    • John Drury (1742–1831), son of
    • John Drury (ca 1692 – 1754), son of
    • Thomas Drury (1668–1723), son of
    • John Drury (1646–1678), son of
    • Hugh Drury (1616–1689) and Lydia (Rice) Drury (1627–1675), daughter of


  1. ^ Note: although most of his professional and biographical references give 1802 as his birth year, the Vital Records of Athol, MA state that Asa Drury was born July 26, 1801. Source: New England Historic Genealogical Society. Massachusetts Town Birth Records [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.
  2. ^ a b c Edmund Rice (1638) Association, 2010. Descendants of Edmund Rice: The First Nine Generations.
  3. ^ a b c p. 187 In: Denison University. 1907. Memorial volume of Denison University, 1831–1906: Part I. The development of the college. Part II. Seventh general catalogue
  4. ^ U.S. Census. Year: 1850; Census Place: Covington Ward 6, Kenton, Kentucky; Roll: M432_208; Page: 312B; Image: 631.
  5. ^ Chessman, G. Wallace (1957). Denison: The Story of an Ohio College. Granville: Denison University. pp. 84–85. 
  6. ^ "Bancroft House". Denison University. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  7. ^ The Granville Riot: Granville's Reaction to the 1836 Abolitionist Convention Held at the Bancroft Barn on North Street The Historical Times: Newsletter of the Granville, Ohio, Historical Society Vol. 12 No. 3 (Summer 1998) Download PDF Archived October 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on July 17, 2011
  8. ^ a b "Asa Drury Biography". Kenton County Kentucky Public Library. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  9. ^ "History of Western Baptist Theological Seminary". Kenton County Kentucky Public Library. Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  10. ^ Kentucky. Adjutant General. Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Kentucky 1861–65. 2 vols. Frankfort: State Journal, 1866
  11. ^ p. 184. In: Juetner, Otto. 1909. Daniel Drake and His Followers: Historical and Biographical Sketches 1785–1909. Harvey Publishing Company, Cincinnati.
  12. ^ Alexander Greer Drury Obituary, Journal of the American Medical Association 92:490 (1929).
  13. ^ U.S. Federal Census 1910; Census Place: St Louis Ward 27, Saint Louis City, Missouri; Roll: T624_819; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0428; Image: 233; FHL Number: 1374832.
  14. ^ "Edmund Rice descendants: First six generations.". Edmund Rice (1638) Association, Inc. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.