This is the Life and Times of George R. Hand. He was my paternal great-great-great grandfather, through his daughter Mary Louise Hand Vaughn. This essay was written by a Hand cousin, Carol and I thank her for the information and knew you guys would enjoy it too.
Life and Times
Rev. George R. Hand
George R. Hand was an educator and evangelist and worked tirelessly for the organization and advancement of both public school in Cincinnati and its teachers and Christian Church on the western frontier. During the 1830’s and 40’s Cincinnati was rapidly advancing on all fronts and was a gathering place for many of the great minds in the West. Dr. Lyman Beecher opened the Lane seminary during 1838 (?) in the Walnut Hills. Prof. Calvin E. Stowe taught at Lane and married Dr. Beecher’s daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Alexander Campbell visited Cincinnati many times promoting the “restoration of the primitive church.” Dr. Daniel Drake established the Medical College of Ohio in 1820; Dr. Albert Pickett was a teacher and author of Pickett’s Readers (1833) and W. H. McGuffey, author of McGuffey’s Readers (1836). These were the intellectual leaders, the educators, the religious leaders of the West. Alexander Campbell’s Restoration Movement was changing Christianity throughout the West. George R. Hand knew these people; worked with these people. Their discussions and ideas became the “Western Literary Society and Professional Teachers College” which helped create the public school system which now exists in Ohio.
Edward D. Mansfield, editor of the Cincinnati Chronicle and a member of the Western Literary Society and College of Professional Teachers, described it in 1860:
“About the year 1833, was founded what was called the “COLLEGE OF TEACHERS,” which continued ten years, and was an institution of great utility and wide influence. Its object was both professional and popular; to unite and improve teachers, and, at the same time, to commend the cause of education to the public mind. The former object might have been obtained by the meeting of practical teachers only, but the latter required that gentlemen of science and general reputation, who had weight with the community, should also be connected with it. Accordingly, a large array of distinguished persons took part in its proceedings; and I doubt whether in one association, and in an equal space of time, there was ever concentrated in this country, a larger measure of talent, of information, and of zeal. Among those who either spoke or wrote for it, were ALBERT PICKETT, the President, and for half a century an able teacher, Dr. Drake, the Hon. THOMAS SMITH GRIMKE, the Rev. JOSHUA I. WILSON, ALEXANDER KINMONT, JAMES H. PERKINS, Professor STOWE, Dr. BEECHER, Dr. ALEXANDER CAMPBELL, Arch. Bishop PRUCELL, President MCGUFFEY, Dr AYUDELOTTE, Mrs. LYDIA SIGOURNERY, and Mrs. CAROLINE LEE HENTZE…”
The first documented source we have for George R. Hand in Cincinnati is found in the Transactions of the (8TH) Annual Meeting of the Western Literary Institute and College of Professional Teachers for 1838, where at age 24, he is listed as Corresponding Secretary; in 1839, treasurer and in 1840 he was recording secretary. He was an active participant in many reports and discussions. The American Journal of Education lists his participation in the following annual meetings of the College of Teachers:
Hand, G. R. – Reports on Primary Instruction, 1839
Course of Instruction in common schools, 1840
10TH Annual Meeting - Cincinnati – Oct. 5 – 10, 1840
Report on “The definite objects for the action of the College” Prof. Stowe,
G. R. Hand et al
12th Annual Meeting – Louisville – Aug. 15- 20, 1842
Active participant in discussions on:
“The school laws and the proposed organization of a profession of
“Bill concerning public Instruction”
“The various methods of education and Instruction”
The Catalogue for the Union Literary Society of Hanover College in Indiana lists
George Hand as a member in 1834, also as a teacher. Hanover College is a Presbyterian Liberal Arts College formed in 1827. In 1830 two student organizations, the Union Literary Society and the Philosphronian Literary Society were formed at Hanover College, each with their own libraries and reading rooms. The group held discussions and debates, papers were read and guest speakers brought in. In 1834 Hanover Preparatory School had 119 students and 101 students at Hanover College.
George is listed in the City Directories of Cincinnati as a teacher from 1839 to 1851 and from 1847 to 1852 he is listed as principal for the 11th District. In 1841 George R. Hand is listed on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Mechanics Institute which was a trade school that held annual industrial fairs until the civil war.
January 6, 1941, George married Miss Sarah Scudder who was also a school teacher in Cincinnati. Their eldest daughter, Mary Louisa was born Nov. 5, 1841, V. Ella was born about 1843 then came David about 1846, and finally George Pickett was born March 18, 1848.
At some point George became a member of the Christian Church. The followers of Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander were referred to as Campbellites. They sought to restore the primitive church which was independent and based on the Bible alone, discarding the rules and doctrines of the formal denominations. They believed in baptism by immersion. They called themselves Christians, Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ or just Disciples. In the late 1840’s, Alexander Campbell began writing in his journal, Millennium Harbinger, about the need to organize the Disciples in order to spread the message. This led David S. Burnet to organize the America Christian Bible Society.
On February 7, 1848, the following Act to Incorporate the American Christian Bible Society was ratified by the General Assembly of the House of Representative of the State of Ohio:
Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That David S. Burnet, James Challen, George R. Hand, Thurston Crane, B. S. Lawson, D. L. Talboth, William P. Stratton, George Tait, G. Vandausol, James Hopple and S. S. Clark and their successors, be and they are hereby created a body corporate and politic, with succession for thirty years, who shall be known by the name and style of the American Christian Bible Society; and by that name and their successors shall be capable of contracting and being contracted with, of suing and being sued in all courts of law and equity and elsewhere, with full power and authority to have and use a common seal, to receive donations and legacies, and secure the same, and to acquire, hold and occupy, and the same to sell and convey, all such real estate, not to exceed in value twenty-five thousand dollars, as maybe necessary and convenient for the accommodation of the association and the furtherance of its objects; and shall also have full power and authority to pass such bylaws, and to make and enforce all such rules and regulations for the government of such association, as they may deem for the welfare of the same, not contrary to any law of this or of the United State: Provided, however, that this association shall not engage in the business of banking.
Sec. 2. That the trustees and other officers be personally liable for labor done for said corporation.
JOSEPH S. HAWKINS
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
CHARLES B. GODDARD,
Speaker of the Senate
One year later the, on October 24, 1849 a National Convention of Christian Churches met in Cincinnati, Ohio. The American Christian Missionary Society was formed “as a means to concentrate and dispense the wealth and benevolence of the brethren of the Reformation in an effort to convert the world.” Alexander Campbell was elected president. This organization was to replace the Bible Society.
George was active in the Ohio State Teachers Association, serving on the executive committee. In 1852 he was elected 1st Vice President and appointed to serve on the finance committee.
The January, 1853, issue of “ Ohio Education Monthly: A Journal of Education” reports that:
“Mr. Geo. R. Hand, for more than seventeen years a Teacher in Cincinnati, has resigned his place as Principal of the School in the eleventh District, for the purpose of taking charge of a Female Seminary in Georgetown, KY. We can most heartily commend him and his excellent lady to the people of Kentucky, and feel assured that they will find him worthy of entire confidence.”
Little is known about George & Sarah’s time in Georgetown. By the 1860 Census the family is found in Maryville, Nodaway County, Missouri, with children Mary Louisa age 18, V. Ella age 16, David age 13 and George age 11. Also living with them is Nate Scudder age 11, who is probably related to Sarah but no further information is found about him. George and Sarah are both listed as teachers, Louisa as a student, and Ella as a housekeeper. This is the last time we find George Hand’s occupation listed as teacher. From this time forward he is very active as an evangelist and preacher, holding protracted meetings and organizing churches in northwest Missouri and Nebraska until moving to California in 1872 where he continued this work.
In the book “R. C. Barrow: His Life and Times” Rev. Barrow relates a story about traveling with George Hand which illustrates the difficulties of moving about from church to church. Having been challenged to a debate in Plattsburg, Nebraska, by a self-proclaimed “Cambellite killer,” Leonard Parker. Rev. Barrow accepted the challenge. “Knowing that Bro. Hand would wish to be present and believing that his counsel might be beneficial, I crossed the Missouri river and rode to Sydney [Iowa], intending to return with him to attend the discussion. Bro. Hand closed his meeting and we started back together, but when we reached the river at Kenosha, it was full of floating ice, and the ferryboat, a flat boat propelled by oars, had stopped running. Bro. Hand made the dangerous passage in a skiff, and I rode down the east bank, hoping to be able to cross with my horse by the steam ferry at Nebraska City, twenty miles below. When I reached Nebraska City the steam ferry was not only laid up for the winter, but crossing in a skiff was pronounced impracticable. Through a terrible winter storm I traveled on down the river opposite Brownville, and there in sight of my Nebraska home where the dear ones awaited my coming, sick disappointed, and thoroughly wretched, I was compelled to pass three weary days.”
After successfully overcoming his Methodist challenger, George R. Hand went on to hold a protracted meeting in Plattsburg and received eighteen new members in the church” Rev. Barrow also relates: “in the fall of 1865 Bro. G. R. Hand, of Missouri, came to the territory and was engaged in protracted meetings for some months, and afterwards preached at Nebraska City half a year. The first week in December, Brethren Hand, Dungan, and Judd…began a meeting at Rock Bluff. I came to the meeting after it had been in progress several days, and as Bro. Hand had an urgent invitation to hold a meeting at Sidney, Iowa, and Bro. Dungan desired to visit …Salt Creek, some forty miles west, I was left in charge of the meeting.”
Rev. Hand was possibly based in Maryville, Missouri, during this period or moved to Nebraska. In 1860 he attended the Franklin-Rush debate in Chillicothe, Missouri. Northwestern Missouri was not a safe place to live during the Civil War, besides the Union and Confederate armies; we find the guerilla bands of “Bloody” Bill Anderson, Quantrell, Jesse James and the Youngers terrorizing the country side. During the winter of 1864-65 Elder Hand held a protracted meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. He held occasional meetings at Bethany Church in Clinton County, Missouri, until 1867. After this we find him in Ray County, Missouri.
Elder G. R. Hand was preacher at the Elkhorn Christian Church in Richmond, MO. In August, 1867, a “protracted meeting” was conducted by Elder Hand and others to raise money and appoint a building committee for Pleasant View Christian Union Chapel in Ray County. After its completion the church was “duly Dedicated by Elder G. R. Hand, to divine service.” In 1870 he was pastor of the Gallatin Christian Church in Daviess County, MO.
On June 23, 1867, George and Sarah’s daughter Mary Louisa married Joseph Thomas Vaughn in Richmond, Missouri, by the end of the year Joseph T. had died of tuberculosis. They had a son, Joseph George Vaughn, born Mar. 22, 1968 in Richmond, Mo. The 1870 Census shows Louisa and son Joseph age 3, living with Cornelius and Mary Vaughn her husband’s grandparents in Richmond. The following is from the November 11, 1871 issue of the Richmond Conservatory:
“Sunday last, Rev. Waller preached the funeral sermon of Mrs. M. Louise Vaughn, daughter of Elder G. R. Hand of this city, at the Christian Church, and after religious services her remains were consigned to Richmond Cemetery to await the final resurrection. Mrs. Vaughn had resided here for nearly five years, and was beloved by all who knew her, for her Christian deportment and many virtues. But consumption had marked her for its victim, and after a long and painful illness, she sank quietly to rest on the night of the 3rd inst.”
During 1872, George R. removed to California; it is unknown whether he and his son, George Pickett Hand, went to California at the same time. In 1874, the Christian Church in Downey, CA, “succeeded in calling George R. Hand as pastor. Hand, a veteran preacher of the Ohio Valley had been associated with the great pioneer stock of the Restoration Movement…Hand remained with the church for more than two years. He was regarded by his ministerial colleagues as scholarly and thoroughly committed to a definite fundamental theological position. Hand used Downey as the center of his evangelistic efforts, and only as he saw another struggling congregation would he consider leaving the Downey pulpit. Accordingly, he went to Ventura, California to aid work there.”
February 28, 1875, the first Disciples of Christ Church in Los Angeles was organized and preacher G. R. Hand, minister of Downey Christian Church officiated at the organizational meeting [presently the Wilshire Christian Church]. Also in 1875, Rev. Hand oversaw the organization of the Christian church at San Luis Rey (Oceanside).
“In October, 1876, Elder G. R. Hand came to Ventura and engaged to preach for one year. The church then reorganized with thirty members. Rev. Hand preached until May, when he left and went East.” He also held occasional services at Yuba Christian Church in northern California.
Thus, in 1877 George Hand returned to Missouri to write his first book, “D. B. Ray’s Textbook of Campbellism Exposed” which was published by Christian Pub. Company of St. Louis in 1880. Rev. Ray, a Baptist minister, wrote the “Text Book on Campbellism” in 1867 in order to “expose the errors” of Alexander Campbell’s movement to restore the primitive church and teach by the Holy Bible alone. Rev. Hand wrote in defense of the Campbellites. Many well attended debates were held on the issue of Campbellism during this time.
On October 27, 1878 spoke at the Christian Church at Pleasant Hill, Cass County, Missouri. This sermon, “The Name ‘Christian’,“ was included in Rev. Hand’s second book “Gospel delineator and survey: a volume of sermons, addresses and essays on revelation and science, and the science of Christianity” which was published by News Publishing, Sacramento, CA, in 1886.
Prof. Hand was contributing articles to “Wilford’s Microcosm” during the 1880’s. “The Microcosm: The Organ of the Substantial Philosophy” was a monthly journal “devoted to the discoveries, theories, and investigations of modern science, and their bearings upon the religious thought of the age” edited by A. Wilford Hall, Ph.D., LL. D. In Volume III, 1883, the list of Special Contributors has Prof. G. R. Hand from Richmond, Mo. during months August 1883 through Nov. 1883, then from Sacramento, Cal. during December 1883 and January 1884. March 1884 until June 1884 finds Prof. Hand in Red Bluff, Cal., and July 1884 finds him located in Sycamore, Cal.
According to historian, Ben F. Dixon, Rev. Hand returned to Northern California during 1885. October 31, 1886 he established the Covenant at Central Christian Church, San Diego, California. “Rev. R. G. Hand was the first minister…Mr. Hand remained only a few months.”
Reverend George R. Hand, teacher, preacher, and evangelist, died in Santa Ana, California during 1888.
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