To meet the scholarly needs of Ripley’s young men, the College of Ripley was founded in 1828. The organizers
included John Rankin, Alexander Campbell, and Archibald Liggett, all well-established men of the community.  However, the incorporation as a State recognized college did not occur until two years later on February 9, 1830. Act O.L., XXXVII, 88 read as follows:
" An act to incorporate the College of Ripley in the County of Brown. Allan Trimbell and twenty-one others are created a body politic with full power and authority to confer degrees’ annual income not to exceed twenty thousand dollars;no religious doctrines peculiar to any sect of Christians shall ever be inculcate;vacancies in the trustee to be filled by the General Assembly." 
One year following the College of Ripley’s incorporation, the first black student began his course of study. Benjamin Franklin Templeton was born into slavery in 1809. His owners, Thomas and Ann Williamson owned a cotton plantation in South Carolina. Upon Thomas’s death, he freed all twenty-seven of his slaves, including Templeton and his parents. Ann Williamson along with her freed slaves moved to Adams County, Ohio to be closer to her son, the Reverend William Williamson. Rev. Williamson, a Presbyterian minister advocated for Templeton to further his education at
the College of Ripley. Eventually, racial tensions caused Templeton to transfer to Hanover College in southern Indiana. Templeton eventually became a Presybterian minister who in 1841 established the Sixth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Templeton was requested take over the pastorate of St. Mary Street Church of Philadelphia in 1844 where he remained until his death. 
By 1832, the Board of Trustees announced a new President of the college as well as its curriculum. Nathan Brockway, a Professor of mathematics was unanimously elected as President while the college's student population had risen to almost one hundred students. Unfortunately, Brockway did not last too long as President of the college for six months later he contracted cholera and quickly succumbed. Yet the college continued after Brockway’s death, naming Rev. John Rankin as the new President.
1. “College of Ripley,” Ohio State Journal, November 17, 1832, Columbus, Ohio. www.newsbank.com. (accessed June 7, 2009).
2. Edward Alanson Miller, The History of Educational Legislation in Ohio From 1803 to 1850 (Chicago, IL.: University of Chicago, 1920), 181.
3. Ann Hagedorn, Beyond the River: The Untold Story of the Heroes of the Underground Railroad (New York, Simon & Schuster, 2002), 62-63.
4. Martin R. Delany, “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States,” To Be More Than Equal: The Many Lives of Martin R. Delany. (accessed June, 11,2009).
Borderlander of Light
By: Donna B. Jacobson, University of Connecticut
All rights reserved.