Mary A. Tennent (1890-1971) was a descendant of William Tennent, Sr., founder of the original Log College in Neshaminy, Pennsylvania. In the introduction to her valuable work Light in Darkness: The Story of William Tennent, Sr. and the Log College (1971), she speaks of reading Elias Boudinot IV’s biography of William Tennent, Jr., and how his words impacted her.
Boudinot began his memoir with these words: “Among the duties every generation owes to those whose example deserves and may invite imitation…and when such men have been remarkably favored of God with an unusual degree of light and knowledge…it becomes the duty of more than ordinary obligation to hand down to posterity the principal events of their lives which if known might edify and benefit the world.” While his words referred to William Tennent, Jr., they were even more applicable to his father William Tennent, Sr., for he not only possessed an unusual degree of light and knowledge but faithfully handed it on to his sons and students in the small but significant school he founded and presided over for nineteen years.
On re-reading Boudinot’s memoir of William Tennent, Jr., I was struck with these words: “A neglect of this duty (that of handing down to posterity the events of the lives of those deserving commemoration) even by persons who may be conscious of the want of abilities necessary for the complete biographer, is greatly culpable and no excuse for burying in oblivion that conduct which if known might edify and benefit the world.” Thus encouraged, this work was begun not with any idea of edifying the world, but with the small hope that one or more of his descendants may be inspired to emulate him.
The story of America’s first Log College involves remarkable people who did remarkable things. Many writers at our site and elsewhere have undertaken to tell that story. One such writer was Archibald Alexander, who authored Biographical Sketches of the Founder, and Principal Alumni of the Log College (1845), in which he stated:
If I were fond of projects, I would propose that a monument be erected to the founder of the Log College on the very site where the building stood, if the land could be purchased; but at any rate a stone with an inscription might be permanently fixed on or near the ground. The tradition respecting this humble institution of learning exists, not only in the neighbourhood, but has been extended far to the south and west.
A bicentennial stone monument was indeed established at the appropriate site in Warminster, Pennsylvania in 1927, which tells of the legacy of the Log College. The Log College story is not just about the Tennent family, or even the College of New Jersey (Princeton) - the original Log College is the birthplace of something and represents, in the words of Thomas Murphy, “the cradle of the Presbyterian Church in America.” Now here in 2019, by republishing early American Presbyterian literature, and by making known the stories of early America’s Presbyterian leaders in the digital age, Log College Press is working to ensure that a new generation can learn about the hand of God at work in the history of his church. The Log College story has extended far and wide, beyond boundaries imagined by Archibald Alexander, and we are pleased to be a part of those who make it known today.
Read our authors and our biographies and autobigraphies, study church history, and peruse our other topical pages, as well as the new Log College Review. And be sure to explore our bookstore and secondary sources page for many more resources. The story of the cradle of the American Presbyterian Church is a story for the ages, including our own.