Vassar, John E
Vassar, John E.
a missionary colporteur of the American Tract Society, commonly called "Uncle John Vassar." Vassar was born Jan. 13, 1813, and for many years was foreman in the great brewery of his cousin, Matthew Vassar, the founder of the college at Poughkeepsie. John was converted about the year 1843, when he rejected an offer of large wealth from his cousin and entered vigorously into the temperance reform movement. He was among the first colporteurs the Tract Society sent to the then Far West. He began his labors about 1848 in the wilderness of Illinois, and he continued in that capacity, with slight interruption, until his death. He had a peculiar fitness for his work. Thoroughly armed with Gospel texts, and full of earliestness and unselfish love, he pressed the truth upon all; and he was almost invariably received with kindness by all. He was equally at home among cultured families, from Boston to San Francisco, as among other classes farmers, mechanics, lumbermen, miners, soldiers, and freedmen. He was specially useful in the late war; among whole brigades of soldiers in the army he was "Uncle John," loved and honored by all. He not only held religious meetings, but he did hospital duty, dug graves for the dead, and then performed religious services and communicated with the relatives of the deceased. Once he was taken a prisoner of war; but, to escape his ceaseless religious importunity, he was soon set at liberty. His labors were instrumental in the conversion of multitudes. Vassar College is a monument worthy of the memory of its founder; but more enduring is the monument of the noble Christian deeds that marked the life of this honored and successful missionary. He died at his home in Poughkeepsie, Dec. 6, 1878. (W. P.S.)