North American Scholar

WILLIAMS, William George

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1822-02-25
  • Born City: Chillicothe
  • Born State/Country: OH
  • Parents: Samuel & Margaret Troutner W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1902-01-30
  • Death City: Delaware
  • Death State/Country: OH
  • Married: Mary Ann Davis, 1847; Delia Lathrop, 1877.
  • Education:

    A.B. Woodward Coll. (Cincinnati, OH), 1844; A.M. (hon.) Miami U. (Oxford, OH), 1847; LL.D. Baldwin U. (Berea, OH), 1873.

  • Professional Experience:

    Princ. & tutor prep. dept. Ohio Wesleyan U., 1844-7; adj. prof. anc. langs., 1847-50; prof., 1850-64; John R. Wright prof. Gk., 1864-1901.

  • Publications:

    A Course of Lectures on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion (Cleveland, 1872); Outlines of English Grammar (Delaware, OH, 1887); Fifty Years of History of the Ohio Wesleyan University (Cleveland, 1895); Baptism: A Discussion . . . (Cincinnati, 1901); An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans (Cincinnati, 1901).

  • Notes:

    William George Williams taught Greek and Latin in the same room at Ohio Wesleyan for 57 years. He started service for Ohio Wesleyan as one of the first four instructors (29 students in 1844) for $400 per annum. He served three months in the summer of 1864 as chaplain*for the 145th Ohio Volunteer Infantry near Washington, DC, during the Civil War. He was granted the first John R. Wright chair as professor of Greek. His thousands of students stood so in awe of his linguistic knowledge that it was rumored that he had invented Greek. His affectionate nickname in "the language clinic" was "Old Syntax." His favorite ferocious expression was "Parse." He never sat down in class. He taught Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and German in four successive hours of the day. This popular teacher instructed John Williams White, longtime professor of Greek at Harvard University. Ohio State University, on its founding in 1873, tried but failed to lure him away from Ohio Wesleyan to become its first professor of Greek. He served as university treasurer for 35 years. He taught over 50 years without a sabbatical. His interests included the history of his university from its founding, Thucydides' syntax, English grammar, and New Testament scholarship.

  • Sources:

    Isaac Crook, The Great Five (Cincinnati, 1908); John H. Grove, "Memoir of W.G.W.," Minutes of the Central Ohio Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 47th Session (Cincinnati, 1902) 592-8; H. C. Hubbart, Ohio Wesleyan's First Hundred Years (Delaware, OH, 1943) 81-3; W. S. Whitlock, "Memoir," O.W.U. College Transcript (8 Feb. 1902) 1 & 3, with a tribute by J. W. White.

  • Author: Donald Lateiner