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Levi Lindsay Rowland
Pioneer Oregon Preacher and Educator
By Charles Dailey - Revision 2 in December 2000
|L. L. Rowland at a Glance: |
|Born: ||1831 near Nashville, TN |
|Emigrated:|| 1844 |
|Education:|| W. L. Adams and the Bethel Institute |
|Bethany College, Bethany, WV,
Willamette University, Salem, OR
|LL.D., M.A., F.R.S., M.D. |
|Married:|| Emma J. Saunders in 1859 |
|Children: ||Four died in infancy; only
daughter Levia survived to adulthood
|President:|| Bethel College at Bethel, Oregon |
|President: ||Christian College at Monmouth, OR |
|Dean: ||Willamette University Medical
School at Salem, Oregon
|Died: ||1908 |
|Buried:|| City View Cemetery, Salem, Oregon |
The story of Levi Lindsay Rowland is truly a sampling of early Oregon at its best. L. L. Rowland was the youngest of three brothers who came west with their father Jeremiah in 1844. Jeremiah was known locally as "Judge Rowland" for some work he had done for Yamhill County.
Stephenie Flora lists the pioneers of 1844 and the Rowlands are among them.
|L. L. Rowland
Brothers Green and John lived in the Carlton area all of their lives and are buried there. But Levi was different.
His earliest education was from Will Adams at "Yamhill University," the name given in jest to the one-room school that produced so many Oregon leaders. Following this, he transferred to the Bethel Institute a few miles south, living in that area when school was in session. No one dreamed than that he would one day head a college at that location.
When news of the gold rush of 1849 struck Oregon, Levi accompanied his father to the gold fields of California. He did well, as did most Oregonians. His father had an agreement that he was to receive one-half of Levi's earnings and these were paid as promised. Something of Levi's outlook on life can be learned from this incident.
God blessed his work abundantly. Instead of returning with his portion of gold however, Levi used the money to purchase a herd of Mexican cattle and drove them back to Oregon and eventually sold them, creating an even larger profit.
Early one Sunday morning, Glen O. Burnett came to the school house where church was held, to start the fire in the stove. Levi had arrived before him. Years later he wrote of the encounter. We quote from his Reminiscence of a Rainy Sunday in the Pacific Christian Messenger of September 6, 1877:
It was a cold rainy day away back in the history of Oregon, numbering some twenty-six years, when the writer left his humble log cabin to walk a distance of three miles to a school house where a few disciples were wont to meet to worship God according to his word.
We still remember the rambling pathway as it stole along, winding its way to suit the projections of the hills as they reached out into the beautiful valley. On our left about midway and some half mile from our path lived an old disciple converted from Quakerism to the Gospel of Christ, whose hospitality and sympathy for the poor will never be fully realized until we all meet again "over there," still the memory of Amos Harvey will always be green and yield a sweet fragrance to the early settlers of Polk and Yamhill counties.
Onward as we walked, we passed in sight of Dr. Hudson's quiet little dwelling situated on a small eminence backed by hills of higher altitude. The Dr. at that time was a Presbyterian and rather a devotee to that faith, still a very affable gentleman and noted for his hospitality, and with all, one of the most thorough scholars I ever had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with.
With him, at that time sojourned a young man from Yamhill county, just developed into manhood. This young man was taking lessons from the Dr. in Greek and Latin, working for him on suitable occasions, and by fire light would pour over the conjugation of the Greek and Latin verbs. And at this writing is well known as an accomplished Christian gentleman, L. L. Rowland, A. M., M. D.
As we walked along on our pathway with our Oregon overcoat hung about the shoulders, consisting of a blanket with a slit in the middle just large enough to run our head in, our thoughts looked forward to a time when brighter days would span our Oregon sky, and men true, able and faithful would be raised up to help us in the grand and glorious work of preaching Christ. That day came at last.
The school house stood on a small ridge and could be seen some distance off, but not a sign of any person could be seen that day. Oregon, on that day seemed to have put on her most gloomy appearance, but as we approached this day, we discovered someone else had entered before us.
We recognized Levi, as we all called him, bending over the stove trying to kindle a fire, quite a difficult task on account of the excessive dampness. Upon our entrance he arose to speak to us. The lineaments of his youthful countenance are fresh still in my memory.
I see how he looked then. I can still trace in that youthful face on the page of memory, a strong desire for knowledge, and over against that desire a settled determination to acquire it. He was a stranger to duplicity of every type, a child of honest parentage, and loved the truth, whose generous heart had yielded to the claims of the dear Savior, and was a child of God. As we looked at him we loved him, and as the years rolled round we love him still.
Whilst we spend a part of that rainy Sunday in that lonely house with open cracks on all sides, we proposed to him to go to Bethany College, and promised to give him a letter of introduction to Bro. Campbell, if he would consent to go. He seemed almost enraptured with the idea of going to college, but said he, my father will not be willing, and I can't go against his will. It was agreed that I was to loan him a horse, and he was to visit his father, and leave an appointment at a school house near his father's for me to preach in ten weeks from that day.
Monday morning found Levi at my house to get the horse; that obtained, he left for home. I expected him back in a few days, and punctual to the time he returned. As soon as I saw him he told me that he had mentioned it to his father himself, and to his great delight his father was very willing and anxious for him to go, and had agreed to take his cattle and sell them and forward the means to pay his way, "and in two weeks I am to start."
He went, and well did he improve the time. Years rolled round; mean-while a college was built close by the school house, and Levi returned from his long stay, a ripe scholar and a polished teacher, and it was the pleasure of the writer of these reminiscences to install him as president of the college.
Levi, do you remember that rainy Sunday? Many years, my honored brother, have passed since that little episode in your history took place. Your life has been given to God and humanity. I am satisfied.
G. O. B.
Rowland left for Bethany early in 1853, traveling comfortably by way of the Panama isthmus. He graduated with B. W. Johnson in the class of 1856. Then he spent another two years teaching in the east before returning to his beloved Oregon with his beloved new wife Emma.
While attending college at Bethany, Mr. Rowland wrote back to his friend and teacher, W. L. Adams:
I left myself under many obligations to you for many favors, together with the profitable instructions you gave me in days past. The relation I once held to you as your pupil will never be forgotten.
-- Oregon Argus, July 12, 1855
L. L. Rowland graduated from Bethany College in 1856 with an A. B. degree. B. W. Johnson was a member of the same graduating class.
Following his return west, he first taught at Bethel College, then became its President in 1860. Later, when it was necessary to combine Bethel with Monmouth, he was selected to head the Monmouth school, becoming its first president as well. He was also selected to be Polk County Superintendent of School and then Oregon State Superintendent of Schools.
It should be noted that both Bethel College and Monmouth University were in operation earlier. Rowland was the first person to wear the academic title of president.
A writer in the Millennial Harbinger described a debate between Mr. Rowland and J. B. Calloway, a presiding elder of the M. E. Church. It was held "near Dallas City, Oregon, June 13-16th, 1870 . . ."
Prof. Rowland wielded the sword of truth with veteran skill. His characteristic suavity of address, fairness in debate, earnestness of manner, well-timed repartee and irresistible logic, won and controlled the audience through the entire debate.
After the close of the debate, three intelligent and prominent persons (one a member of the Methodist Church) were immersed, and, from the most reliable indications, many more will soon follow.
Millennial Harbinger of 1870, page 455.
After three years at Monmouth, he resigned and entered Willamette University's new School of Medicine. He not only completed the course, but in 1877 became dean of the School of Medicine. (The Medical School was merged with the University of Oregon in 1913 and then transferred to Portland where it became Oregon Health Sciences University. ) All of this while, he was also busy preaching, teaching, baptizing, marrying and burying. He continued as a trustee of Christian College at Monmouth, as well.
During an Old World tour in 1879, Dr. Rowland attended the convention of the International Medical Association at Amsterdam as representative of the School of Medicine of Willamette University. He traveled in Egypt and the Orient and is listed in The Physicians and Surgeons of the United States, published in 1878. (Page 688.)
From 1891 to 1895 he was the superintendent of the Oregon Hospital for the Insane at Salem. He was described as ". . . kindhearted and agreeable."
Doctor L. L. Rowland had a long and varied ministry. In addition to preaching, running schools and medical work, he bred horses on an 800-acre ranch at The Dalles, winning many first premiums at fairs and horse shows. He also organized the State Medical Society and served as vice-president of the State Agricultural Society and as President of the State Insurance Company, which he founded.
In their retirement years, the Rowlands moved about three miles south of Scotts Mills, Oregon on Crooked Finger Road. They donated land for the Noble School. It was opened about 1890 and closed as late as 1949.
Levi and Emma share a headstone in the City View Cemetery in Salem. There is a lifetime of valuable service packed into the dash that separates 1831 from 1908 on that headstone.
L. L. ROWLAND
1831 - 1908
EMMA J. ROWLAND
1839 - 1922
Jeremiah Rowland (1805-1879) & Lucy Butler
| John B. Rowland (1824-1854)
| Green Loyd Rowland (1827-1910) & Sophronia Fouts (1835-1900)
| | James F. Rowland
| | | Lloyd Rowland
| | | | Rowland & John Gray
| Levi Lindsay Rowland (1831-1908) & Emma J. Saunders (1839-1922)
| | Levia Rowland & Jay C. Smith
| Wanda Emma Smith & Allan Parker Bellinger
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