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Nash, John Anson



  • Existence: 1816-1890


John Anson Nash was born on July 11, 1816, near Sherburne, New York. Orphaned at the age of five, he was raised by his aunt and uncle. From 1836 to 1844 he attended the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution (later to become Madison University). A Baptist minister, his first pastorate was in Watertown, New York. In 1851, the American Baptist Home Mission Society sent him to Fort Des Moines, Iowa, where he helped organize the First Baptist Church of Des Moines. Nash retained that pastorate for eighteen years, while helping to establish many other Baptist churches in central Iowa, including ones in Grinnell, Ames, and Newton.

Rev. Nash was deeply interested in promoting education. With his wife's assistance, he opened a private school at his five acre home in Des Moines. It was very successful and eventually grew into the Forest Home Seminary. Not satisfied with this school alone, Nash wanted to establish a still higher institution of learning. In 1865, he founded the Des Moines University, became its first financial agent, and served as its first president.

Politically, Nash was actively sympathetic to the abolitionists and was one of the original members of the Republican Party in Iowa. However, after the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, he turned his energy to the cause of temperance. Nash became a leader in the Prohibition Party, accepting the party's nomination to Congress in 1884. Rev. John Anson Nash died in Des Moines on February 14, 1890 at the age of seventy-three.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

John Anson Nash Papers

Identifier: MsC0223

Baptist clergyman and founder of Des Moines University. Church documents, correspondence, school bonds and contracts, etc.

Dates: 1845-1888