Category Archives: Biographies

Rev. Samuel Wylie (1790)

Bethel Reformed Presbyterian Church, Sparta, IL

The history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Randolph County goes back to the year 1818. To the Rev. Samuel Wylie belongs the credit of the planting of the church.

He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, February 19, 1790; came to the United States in 1807; entered the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the class of 1811; prepared for the ministry in the Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, under the care of his uncle, Dr. S.B. Wylie, and was licensed to preach in May, 1815, at Philadelphia, by the Middle Presbytery.

In the summer of 1817 he visited various places in the West, passing through Illinois and continuing his travels as far as Boonville, Missouri. On his return he again passed through Illinois and spent the winter in supplying the vacancies in Tennessee and South Carolina.

At the meeting of the Synod in Pittsburgh in the latter part of May, 1818, he reported his travels and the prospect for church extension in the West. Synod ordered the Middle Presbytery to take him on trial for ordination, and he was accordingly ordained in Pittsburgh, PA, on the 2nd of June, 1818, and sent as a missionary to Southern Illinois. Mr. Wylie reached Kaskaskia the last day of July following and immediately entered upon his work.


  • University of Pennsylvania Archives.
  • PCA Historical Center: Bethel’s Early History, by Rev. W.J. Smiley.

Joseph Patterson Engles

Joseph Patterson Engles (1793-1861)

He was the son of Silas and Annie (Patterson) Engles, and was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 3d, 1793, and graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1811. In 1813 he was appointed co-master of the Grammar school of that institution. In 1817 he was associated with Samuel B. Wylie, D.D., in conduction an academy, and, after Dr. Wylie’s withdrawal from it, it was under his sole charge for twenty-eight years. In February, 1845, Mr. Engles was elected by the Board of Publication as its Publishing Agent, and in this position realized the expectations of the friends of the Board. He was an elder in the Scots Presbyterian Church until the time of his death, April 14th, 1861.

Source: Alfred Nevin, 1884, Enclyclopedia of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America: Including the Northern and Southern Assemblies Presbyterian Encyclopedia Publishing Co. Philadelphia, PA.

Samuel Brown Wylie

SBWylie1773WYLIE, Samuel Brown, clergyman, son of Adam and Margaret (Brown) Wylie, born in Moylarg, County Antrim, Ireland, May 21, 1773; died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 October, 1852. He was graduated at the University of Glasgow in 1797, and taught for a short time in Ballymena, Ireland, but was compelled to leave the country in consequence of his efforts in favor of Irish independence. He arrived in the United States in October, 1797. taught in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, and in 1798 became a tutor in the University of Pennsylvania, subsequently establishing a private academy in Philadelphia, which he successfully conducted for many years. Soon after his arrival in this country he studied theology under the care of the Reformed Presbyterian church, and was licensed to preach in 1799.

He was a delegate to the convention of the Reformed Presbyterian church in Ireland and Scotland in 1802, and on his return was called to the pastorate of the 1st Reformed Presbyterian church of Philadelphia, which he held until his death, a period of fifty-one years. When the theological seminary of his church was organized in 1809, he became a professor there, and held office till 1851. In 1828-’45 he occupied the chair of languages in the University of Pennsylvania, of which he was vice-provost in 1838-’45. Dickinson gave him the degree of D. D. in 1816. Dr. Wylie was an eminent classical and Oriental scholar, a contributor to the American philosophical society, an assistant editor of the “Presbyterian ” in 1821-‘2, and the author of “The Faithful Ministry of Magistracy and Ministry upon a Scriptural Basis” (Philadelphia, 1804), and ” Life of Alexander McLeod” (1855). He also compiled a Greek grammar (1838). See memoirs of him by Reverend John D. McLeod (New York, 1852), and Reverend Gilbert McMaster (Philadelphia, 1852). He married Margaret,daughter of Andrew Watson of Pittsburg, originally from Scotland.

–His son, Theophilus Adam [Wylie], educator, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 8 October, 1810, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1830, and became an assistant in the academic department of that institution. In 1837 he accepted the chair of natural philosophy and chemistry in Indiana university, and in 1852 he became professor of mathematics in Miami University, but three years later he returned to his former post. He was transferred to the chair of ancient languages in 1864, and during 1859 was acting president of the university. In 1886 he withdrew from active work and was made professor emeritus. Professor Wylie was ordained as a clergyman in the Reformed Presbyterian church in 1838, and was pastor of that church in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1838-’52 and 1855-’69. He has in preparation a ” History of the University of Indiana,” with sketches of the faculty and graduates.

–Another son, Theodore William John [Wylie], clergyman, born in Philadelphia., 3 October, 1818, was graduated at the University of Pennsylvania in 1836, studied theology, was ordained to the ministry of the Reformed Presbyterian church, mid in 1838 became associate pastor with his father of the 1st church in Philadelphia. When the latter (died in 1852, the son succeeded him as pastor. He was corresponding secretary of the board of missions of his church in 1843-‘9, professor in the Reformed Presbyterian theological seminary in 1847-’51, 1854-‘7, and 1859-’69, and edited the “Missionary Advocate” in 1838-’41 and the “Banner of the Covenant” in 1845-’55. The University of New York gave him the degree of D. D. In 1859. Dr. Wylie is the author of an “English, Latin, and Greek Vocabulary” (Philadelphia, 1839); “The God of our Fathers” (1854); and “Washington as a Christian” (1862). Dr. Wylie died in Philadelphia, October 13, 1852.


  • University of Pennsylvania Archives.
  • Wilson, James Grant & John Fiske, eds. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, D. Appleton. NEW YORK 1888-1889.
  • WYLIE, THEOPHILUS A. Diaries of Theophilus A. Wylie, 1832-92. Transcribed by Elizabeth M. Greene. Bloomington, IN: Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, 1987.

Theophilus Adam Wylie


Theophilus Adam Wylie, October 8, 1810 - Unknown
Theophilus Adam Wylie, October 8, 1810 – Unknown

Theophilus Adam Wylie was born October 8, 1810, in Philadelphia, Pa. He was the son of Rev. Samuel Brown Wylie, D.D., and Margaret Watson Wylie. He received his early education at the English Academy of Rev. Dr. S.W. Crawford and commenced his classical education at the school of Wylie and JPEngles1793 Engles, Philadelphia….

In the same year [1836], after some correspondence with the Board of Trustees of Indiana College and its president, Dr. Andrew Wylie, he was offered a professorship in Indiana University, and at his own request was elected pro tem professor of natural philosophy and chemistry. In the spring of 1837 he left Philadelphia and after ten days journey reached the University in April and commenced work at the opening of the second term, May 1…..

Professor T.A. Wylie married Rebecca Dennis, of Germantown, now in the city of Philadelphia, Pa, November 5, 1838….

On the death of Andrew Wylie on November 11, 1851, Daniel Read and Theophilus Wylie carried on the duties of the president until a new president, Alfred Ryors, was appointed, June 3, 1852…..

Source: Excerpt from Myers, Burton D. Officers of Indiana University, 1820-1950. p.486.

Related Articles:

  • Samuel Brown Wylie
  • Andrew Wylie – Theophilus Wylie was a younger cousin of Andrew Wylie (same grandfather, different grandmothers).
    Source: WYLIE, THEOPHILUS A.  Diaries of Theophilus A. Wylie, 1832-92. Transcribed by Elizabeth M. Greene. Bloomington, IN: Department of Chemistry, Indiana University, 1987.

Related Link:
The Wylie House Museum


Andrew Wylie (1789-1851)

Andrew Wylie, clergyman and educator, was born April 12, 1789 in Washington, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Adam Wylie, a native of County Antrim, in the north of Ireland, who emigrated to this country about the year 1776, and settled in Fayette County, PA.

Andrew Wylie, clergyman and educator,  1789-1851
Andrew Wylie, clergyman and educator, 1789-1851

He graduated from Jefferson College, Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1810, was tutor in the college for a year, studied theology, and was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Ohio on October 21, 1812. He was installed as pastor at Miller’s Run on June 23, 1813. He was president of Jefferson College in 1812-1816, and of Washington College in 1817-1828. He was elected president of Indiana College and removed to Bloomington, Indiana and took charge of the institution in 1829.

He changed his ecclesiastial relations in 1841, and was ordained deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church in New Albany in December, 1841, by Bishop Kemper, and priest in Vincennes, Indiana, in May, 1842, by the same bishop. He received the degree of D. D. from Union college in 1825. Dr. Wylie published several sermons on special occasions (1816-’51); “English Grammar” (1822), “Eulogy on General Lafayette” (1834), “Sectarianism is Heresy, with its Nature, Evils, and Remedy” (3 parts, 1840). He contributed freely to reviews and magazines, and left at, his death ready for publication works on ” Rhetoric” and “Advice to the Young.”

His death took place November 11, 1851.


Wilson, James Grant & John Fiske, eds. Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography, D. Appleton. NEW YORK 1888-1889

Myers, Burton D. Officers of Indiana University, 1820-1950. p. 447.

James W. Wiley, Fayette County, PA

JAMES W WILEY, a good businessman, a successful coke operator of Fayette county, is a son of Sampson Wiley and Sarah Todd Wiley and was born in Sewickley township, Westmoreland county, Penna, October 17, 1845.

Sampson Wiley Sr, grandfather, was a native of County Tyrone, Ireland, where he owned a farm of forty five acres whose title made it his while “grass grew and water ran…” He emigrated to Westmoreland county in 1790 where he died in 1825 at fifty six years of age.

He married Miss Jane McGrew, a member of the old and well respected McGrew family of Westmoreland county.

Sampson Wiley, father, was born in Westmoreland county in 1805, died January 3, 1888, was a farmer until 1840 when he engaged in merchandising and continued successfully in the merchandising business till 1870 when he retired from active life. He was a democrat, was several times elected to local offices in a strong republican township, but always declined to accept them. He married Miss Jane Todd, daughter of Henry Todd, a native of Ireland, and a farmer of Westmoreland county early as 1812. they had ten children. One of their sons, Sampson M Wiley, enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Fifty fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, was in the battle of Gettysburg, and died soon afterward with typhoid fever. Mrs Wiley was born in 1809 and lives at Everson.

James W Wiley was reared in Westmoreland county, attended the common schools until twenty years of age when he engaged as bookkeeper of the Youghiogheny Coal Company and remained with them till 1873. Three years of this time he served as United States gauger at their distillery. From 1873 to 1877 he was engaged in general mercantile business in the firm of S Wiley & Son. In 1877 he became a member of the mercantile firm of Wiley & Sherrick and also engaged in the coke business.

In 1881 Mr Wiley withdrew from the mercantile firm, buying out Mr Sherrick’s interest in the coke works and forming a partnership with J R Staufer in the same business. The firm Staufer & Wiley are successfully engaged in the coke business.

In 1868 he was married to Miss Jennie Gallagher, daughter of William Gallagher of Latrobe, Penna. They have seven children: Sadie T Wiley; Carrie M Wiley; Margaret O Wiley; Minnie Wiley; Charles S Wiley; Sampson M Wiley and James W Wiley Jr.

James W Wiley is a democrat and has served continuously as a justice of the peace for ten years. He is a member of the Masonic Order, a stockholder in several banks, and is a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal church. He is a well known and intelligent citizen of Upper Tyrone and has been remarkably successful in all his business ventures.

Gresham and Wiley, 1889: Biographical & Portrait Cyclopedia, Fayette Co, PA p404

Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Fayette County, Pennsylvania
editorially managed by John M. Gresham
assisted in the compilation by Samuel T. Wiley A Citizen of the County
Compiled and Published by John M. Gresham & Co.
407-425 Dearborn Street
Chicago, 1889

Submitted May 23, 2003

Jenny Wiley

Jenny Wiley, a young American pioneer woman, was captured by Indians in the fall 1789 and witnessed the murder of her brother and five children. She escaped after several months of captivity and, while pursued by her captors, made her way through many miles of wilderness to safety.

Jean “Jenny” Sellards, the daughter of Hezekiah Sellards, was born in Pennsylvania about 1760. She met and married an Irish immigrant, Thomas Wiley, in Walkers Creek, Tazwell (now Bland ) County, Virginia in 1778 or 1779. Thomas built a small log cabin in the Upper Clinch River valley and the couple set about raising a family.

Jenny’s sister lived near by with husband John Borders. Several families named Harman also lived in the area.

On October 1, 1789 a small group of Cherokee and Shawnee Indians came into the valley to seek vengeance on Matthias Harman who had shot and killed several Indians sometime past. Uncertain of Matthias’ whereabouts, the raiding party fell upon the Wiley cabin by mistake.

Thomas was away on a trip when the attack came. Jenny, her 4 children and her younger brother were at home alone. John Borders stopped by to warn Jenny that Indians were in the area, and urge her to go to his house for safety. She told him she would finish some chores and then be right over.

Sometime after Borders had left, the Indians rushed the cabin and brutally beat, scalped and murdered her brother and three of her children. Jenny, who was 7 months pregnant, and an infant child were taken captive and led down what was later called Jenny’s Creek, along the Tug and Big Sandy rivers toward the Ohio.

News of the massacre spread fast through the tiny settlement and a party of men, including Lazarus Damron and Matthias Harmon, started pursuit. When the Indians realized they were being followed and that Jenny and the baby were slowing them down they killed the infant by bashing it’s head against a tree. The settlers chased them for several days but were never able to catch up and finally lost the trail.

Jenny became very ill and the Indians were forced into camp until she could travel. Sick and alone, she prematurely gave birth to her son in a primitive rock shelter. The Indians brought food and kept a fire going until she and the baby were well enough to travel.

William Ely tells us “when the child was three weeks old [Addington says three months] they decided to test him, to see whether be would make a brave warrior. Having tied him to a flat piece of wood, they slipped him into the water to see if he would cry. He screamed furiously, and they took him by the heels and dashed his brains out against an oak-tree.”

Luther F. Addington gives us a slightly different account in his unpublished manuscript The Capture of Jenny Wiley: “In desperation Jenny dashed into the stream, recovered the child and returned to the rock house with it. She had no more than arrived when one of the savages came with a tomahawk, killed the baby and scalped it. Then, carrying the scalp, he turned away, not bothering Jenny. And there, alone, the weeping Jenny buried her child at the edge of the rock house.”

The group then moved on to the area of Mud Creek in what is now Johnson County, Kentucky, and set up a permanent camp.

Here Jenny’s life was reduced to the most abject slavery, and was made to carry water, wood, and build fires. For some time they bound her when they were out hunting; but as the weeks passed the Indians relaxed, and at last permitted her to remain untied. One rainy night when the warriors were out of the camp Jenny slipped away from the fire and set out on a perilous journey.

Jenny followed Mud Creek to it’s mouth, then crossed Main Paint Creek, journeyed up a stream (also known later as Jenny’s Creek) for several miles, over a ridge and then down Little Paint Creek to the Levisa Fork of Big Sandy River. As daylight broke Jenny could see and hear men working on the opposite side of the river at Harmons Blockhouse in Floyd (now Johnson) County, Kentucky. She called out, and informed them that she was a captive escaping from the Indians. Not having boats, the men rolled logs into the river and lashed them together with grape vines to form a raft, then crossed over and carried her back to safety just as the pursuing Indians came into sight.

The brave Jenny was reunited with her husband in the summer of 1790. The couple eventually settled near Paintsville in Johnston County, Kentucky and raised 5 more children. In later years, Jenny professed that God had blessed her by replacing the children she had lost. Thomas died in 1810 and Jenny in 1831. Both were buried in Johnson County not far from their last home.

To learn more about this tragic story, please visit the descendants of Thomas and Jenny at the Jenny Wiley Association –


      Arville Wheeler, White Squaw: The True Story of Jennie Wiley (Paintsville, Ky., 1958).
      Henry P. Scalf, Jenny Wiley (Prestonsburg, Ky., 1964).
      Luther F. Addington, The Capture of Jenny Wiley , unpublished.
      William Ely, The Big Sandy Valley: A History of the People and Country From the Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Catlettsburg, Kentucky, 1887; rpt. 1969. p. 450-458.