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John W. Ray from Madison, Ind., was a graduate of Indiana Asbury in 1848. An attorney and prominent churchman, he became a colonel in the 49th Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, in the Civil War. A treasurer and cashier in several Indianapolis banks until his death in 1906, he served 27 years as the treasurer of both Indiana Asbury and DePauw University from 1867 to 1894. In his memoirs he left a poignant account of his conversion as a student.

Rev. John C. Smith, who my father had taken into the church at Madison, was the preacher in charge at Greencastle and he announced the beginning of a protracted meeting on the Sabbath to begin Monday night, and for want of something to do I went to church to stay from seven to eight, and then go back to my studies. I understood now why I was drawn there. The Devil had me from 10 that morning.

Now into the House of God, sitting in the pew my whole life rushed before me. Father's life, his gift of his Bible to Mother to be given to me as his only legacy. Mother's prayers, her sweet anxiety for me. My own sinfulness, a rebel against my Father's God. And as I sat there hell seemed to open ready to take me in. No greater torture can the damned endure than came to me in that old church.


As a kind of quietus to my conscience I resolved "if Dr. Simpson preaches tonight I'll join the Church." I had not thought that he would be there. To my surprise he came in, in less than 5 minutes. I was caught in my own resolution. After he preached, Bro. Smith called for mourners. I was the first and at the altar before he spoke a minute.... It seemed it was hell if I stayed in my seat and possibly the mourner's bench would lift me out.

John W. Ray, who became a leading Indianapolis
banker, a member of the board of trustees, and
treasurer of the university from 1867 to 1894.

Dr. Simpson at once came down from the pulpit....
The next morning when I went to the Greek lesson at nine o'clock, Prof. Nutt said, "Ray, I want you to tarry after the class is dismissed." ...The class was dismissed and he came from his platform to where I was sitting, took me by the hand, saying, "Ray, were you in earnest in the step you took last night?" Wonderful words to a heart broken sinner.... This second day equal in misery the day before.... Again that night at the mourner's bench.... All the members of the Faculty attended that second night and instead of three at the altar there were more than a dozen.... Miserable night and no pardon. Another day, more sympathy, more earnest words. Another night at the altar.... Dr. Simpson, Larrabee, Nutt, and others took my hand to lead me out of distress, and about 10 o'clock the burden went off.... I know I was then converted. I have not needed that work done since, although I have often fallen short of my duties and often desired more grace and a higher and fuller devotion to God....

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Depauw University e-history | E-mail comments to: archives@depauw.edu


People, Events & Traditions

Cyrus Nutt

The Edifice

Tommy Goodwin

Matthew Simpson

John W. Ray

William C. Larrabee

Rebellion of 1856- 57

Literary Societies

Thomas Bowman

The Civil War

Joseph Tingley

Alexander Martin

The Edifice Fire

Bettie Locke (Hamilton)

East College

Japanese Students