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Eugene C. Sanderson
Pioneer Preacher and Educator
in Oregon and Washington
By Charles Dailey - Revised 7/05

Eugene C. Sanderson at a Glance:
Born: 1859 in Greenville, Ohio
Education: Oskaloosa College, A.B. & A. M., 1883
Yale Divinity School, 1884
Drake University, B. D. & L.L.D., 1893
University of Chicago, B.S.T., 1894
Married: Prudence Putnam in 1885.
Washington: Overland in 1886
Ministries:          -- Marcus, Iowa
1886 -- Palouse, WA
1886 -- Colfax, WA
1889 -- Washington State Evangelist.
1890 -- Ellensburg, WA
         -- Sumner, WA
1890 -- Vancouver, WA
1891 -- Olympia, WA
1894 -- 1st Christian, Portland

Founder &
Eugene Divinity School
(now Northwest Christian College)
at Eugene, Oregon 1895 - 1929
President: Minneapolis Bible College
(now Crossroads College)
at Minneapolis, Minnesota 1924 - 1932
Founder &
Christian Workers University
(now Manhattan Christian College)
at Manhattan, Kansas 1927
Founder &
Evangel Bible University
San Jose, California 1935- 1936
Died:1940 in Los Angeles, CA
Buried: Eugene, Oregon

Eugene Claremont Sanderson was among the best formally educated men coming to the Northwest prior to 1900.

E. C. was converted to Christ in 1878 and married Prudence Putnam of Princeton, Illinois in 1885. The Oskaloosa College Catalog of 1882-1883 lists Eugene C. Sanderson as a senior from Savannah, Iowa with emphasis on a Classical education. It also lists his wife-to-be, Prudence Putnam, as being from Prairie City, Iowa and in a Senior Preparatory program. Perhaps their parents had migrated westward from Ohio and Illinois after Iowa became a state.

Eugene C. Sanderson at 35
E. C. Sanderson at about 35
Oskaloosa College
The old Oskaloosa College building
is now used as a nursing home.

-- Oskaloosa Public Library

Oskaloosa College had been incorporated in 1857 and continued until the 1890's. It had been founded by Aaron Chatterson. B. W. Johnson was the school's second president. However, all but one of the faculty members and 47 of its 300 students transfered to the new Drake University in Des Moine, Iowa when it opened in 1881. Sanderson remained with the original institution until he graduated. Some years later he returned to Iowa and took classes at Drake.

Mr. Sanderson moved his family west and began evangelizing in eastern Washington. During 1888, Mr. Sanderson was based in Palouse, but preached twice each month for the new congregation in Colfax, WA. The Colfax Christian Church counted its beginning in the years that E. C. Sanderson was able to be with them.

It was also during 1888 that daughter Vera entered the world.

Seeing the need for a better-trained ministry, he returned to Iowa and attended Drake University, receiving his L.L.D. Then he returned to the great Northwest.

Mr. Sanderson was focused on training men for the ministry. He established what has become Northwest Christian College. While there, he launched a satellite school across from the Washington State University at Pullman, WA. NCC professor Elmer M. Patterson was in charge of the program. That was 1909. (See later quotation from Addleman where a different date is given.)

Mr. Sanderson also published a book in 1912: Our English Bible. It is still available at times in the used book trade.

During these years, Mr. Sanderson may have been involved in the starting years of Spokane University. Faculty members Benjamin and Cora Utz of Northwest Christian College eventually moved to Spokane. Utz founded Spokane Bible College and then Spokane University and Cora Utz was the librarian for many years. Mr. Sanderson's shadow was over the new school.

Even more of Mr. Sandersons leadership can be seen in this quotation from historian Clarence Swander:

Eugene C. Sanderson
E. C. Sanderson
President Sanderson has been a man of far vision. He has not been content to build a one idea institution. . . . An extension department of the Bible University was established in Seattle, Washington, on April 24, 1919.

On January 25, 1924, the college and church property of the insolvent Christian Missionary and Christian Americanization Movement in Minneapolis, Minnesota, were purchased, and the work was continued there. . . .

An extension department of the school has been opened in Manhattan, Kansas, and one at Fort Collins, Colorado.

In 1924, Mr. Sanderson moved on to Minneapolis and become President of Minneapolis Bible College.

San Jose Bible College
San Jose Bible College in the early 1940s.
The writer attended in these classrooms.

Next, he moved to Kansas and launched Christian Workers University (Manhattan Christian College) and his final launch was Evangel Bible University in San Jose, California when he was 75 years of age. In 1934 he was able to negotiate for two houses and have an auditorium built between them, but he was not able to assemble a faculty or retain a student body.

Manhattan Christian College mentions Dr. Sanderson on their site.

That was left to William Jessup in 1939. The old organization was dissolved and San Jose Bible College was born. The school later changed its name to San Jose Christian College and now has moved to Rocklin, California and is called William Jessup University.

Eugene and Prudence lived for a time in one of the houses while classes were held in the other. In 1936, Prudence died of a coronary occlusion. She is buried in Eugene, Oregon.

This writer attended classes in that first building and has attended countless chapel sessions in the auditorium.

Dr. Eugene Sanderson had a vision of training preachers and other Christian leaders to plant churches in the American west.   Eugene, OR; Pullman, WA; Spokane, WA; Seattle, WA; Minneapolis, MN; Manhattan, KS; Ft. Collins, CO; and finally San Jose, CA. all stand as part of his drive for a trained leadership among the churches.

Historian Charles H. Addleman, definitely not an admirer of Dr. Sanderson, has an even longer list of ventures:

Dr. Sanderson seemed to have a vision of a great empire with Eugene Bible University as the center of it; he began an expansion program. Following is a list of the ventures of expansion: a Bible chair at Pullman, Washington, in connection with Washington State College (this operated for only one year - 1912-1913); a junior college for girls, established at Eugene (more of a benevolent boarding home than a college); Minneapolis Bible College; Seattle Bible College; a Bible College at Ft. Collins, Colorado; Manhattan Bible College in Kansas; Missouri Christian College; the School for Boys, later moved to Turner, Oregon; School for Boys at El Monte, California; a benevolent home for the aged in Eugene; a hospital at Dodge City, Kansas: and in 1923 a hospital in Eugene, now owned by the Roman Catholic Church. This expansion dream was known as the International Bible Mission.
-- Charles Addleman in Oregon Christian Church - a History 1969.
Mr. Addleman evidently did not know about the San Jose venture.

As much as any man, Dr. Sanderson put work into his vision. Eugene and Prudence Sanderson are buried in the cemetery at E. 25th Avenue and University Street in Eugene, Oregon.

Headstone of Eugene Sanderson

We owe a great debt of thanks to Lynn Scates Adams of Nampa, Idaho and Sue Corneilson Rahimian for searching for, locating and cleaning this headstone. Others had planned to locate it, but these two ladies found it. These two former San Jose Bible College students located the grave markers along the eastern boundary of the cemetery.

Under the Sanderson name is Vera Hovis, 1888-1917; Elinor F. 1901-1918; (next line) Eugene C. 1859-1940; Prudence, 1863-1936.

One of Mr. Sanderson's sons, C. F., followed in the work of preaching because he is listed as a minister of the Nampa First Christian Church in the early 1900s.

To DOCHS 2/02

Unknown Sanderson  & UNNAMED 
|    Eugene Sanderson (1859-1940) & Prudence Putnam (1863-1936)
|    |    Vera Sanderson Hovis (1888-1917)
|    |    Elinor Sanderson (1901-1918)
|    |    Mark C. Sanderson (1903-)
|    Frona Sanderson & Allen A. Simmons 
|    A. F. Sanderson 		
|    C. F. Sanderson 

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