James Quinter (1816-1888) President
James Quinter was born on February 1, 1816 in Philadelphia to John and Mary Smith Quinter.He remained in Philadelphia until the age of eight, when his familymoved to nearby Phoenixville where his father worked in the ironmills. The Quinter family of John, Mary, James and two daughters,was poor. John Quinter, the sole supporter of the family,died in1829, which forced thirteen-year-old James to take on the role. Though unable to concentrate onhis schoolwork, James enjoyed learning and took every opportunity he had to educate himself.When James was seventeen,he was baptized into the German Baptist Brethren Churchand he remained a devout Dunker throughout his life, later becoming an Elder in 1856.From1833to1842, Quinter taught at Hobson’s schoolhouse in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,while remaining devoted to his religion, having joined the ministry of theGerman BaptistBrethren Churchin 1838.
From 1842 through 1856, Quinter began teaching and doing ministrywork at the George’s Creek church in Fayette County. During this time, James married MaryAnn Moser in September 1850. Mary gave birth to their daughter, Lydia Isabella in 1854.However, his wife died only a short time later, in 1857.Quinter moved to Ohio in 1856withBrethren Elder Henry Kurtzto become Assistant Editor ofhis publication,Gospel Visitor,which is known for being the first periodical to beassociated with the Brethren. While in Ohio, Quinter founded the New ViennaAcademy and leditas principal from 1861untilits closure in 1864.Also, inApril 1861, Quinter married hissecond wife, Fanny Studebaker, with whom he had two daughters, Mary N., in 1863, and Gracein 1870.
In 1866, Quinter became co-editor and co-owner of the Gospel Visitor. He moved hisfamily to Meyersville, Pennsylvania in 1874 and bought sole ownership of theGospel Visitor, which he combinedwith another publicationhe bought, Christian Family Companion. The combined publication was renamed Primitive Christianin 1876 and it merged with the Pilgrim a year later. That year, in 1877, Quinter and his family moved to Huntingdon,where he continued editing and started publishing with the A.B. and H.B. Brumbaugh. After he moved to Huntingdon, the local congregation voted him as their first ruling Elder. Later, in 1883, James Quinter became the first Senior Editor of the Gospel Messenger, which was the name given to the Primitive Christian when it united with the Brethren at Work. Quinter held his position as Senior Editor of the Gospel Messenger for the remainder of his life. Aside from his professional achievements as a Brethren, publisher, and editor, JamesQuinter is also known for his contributions to the Brethren Normal College, later Juniata College.
Throughout most of his life, Quinter believed in the importance of Brethren education, adedication that is evident by his religious and educational accomplishments. For this reason, hewas asked to assist the school early in its development in the mid-1870s, along with Elder Henry Kurtz. Quinter and Kurtz were essential contributors to the Brethren School Movement, in whichcontributors discussed and debated matters concerning Brethren education. Later Quinter and the Brumbaughs also discussed matters pertaining to the founding of the Brethren Normal College.
Though Quinter involved himself with the Brethren Normal College, which opened in1876, he fully dedicated himself to the school when its founder, principal, and first teacher, Jacob Zuck, died in May 1879. The death of Zuck led to Quinter’s role as the first president ofthe Brethren Normal College, a role he maintained until his own death in 1888. While Quinter served as president, Jacob Brumbaugh assumed the role of principal and, accordingly, took care of matters regarding curriculum, faculty, and enrollment. Thus, during Quinter’s presidency, the faculty and curriculum expanded. The Normal College Library was established in 1885, and theyformed a science museum in the mid-1880s as well. Technology, such as steam heating, atelephone, hot and cold running water, and a fence,were new additions to the campus in the1880s. A bell was placed in the campus tower to signal classes, meals and other dailyoccurrences.There were sixty-five men and women who became alumni of the college duringQuinter’s presidency; over half of whombecame educators, with others continuing intomedicine, business, ministry, and other professions. He considered his work at Juniata to beamong his greatest achievements because it allowed him to instill in his students an academic education as well as lessons that would “lead them in the way of life.” As a deeply religious man, Quinter felt that being president of the Brethren Normal College enabled him to serve hispurpose by sharing God’s teachings with his students.
James Quinter died of a heart attack on May 19, 1888 while delivering a prayer at an Annual Meeting in North Manchester, Indiana. He left his wife and three daughters behind and is now buried in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Kaylor, Earl C.Juniata College
Uncommon Vision, Uncommon Loyalty: The History of anIndependent College in Pennsylvania Founded by the Brethren 1876-2001. Huntingdon:Juniata College Press, 2001.Kaylor, Earl C.Martin Grove Brumbaugh: A Pennsylvanian's Odyssey from Sainted Schoolmanto Bedeviled World WarI Governor, 1862-1930.Madison:Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press,1996.“Quinter Family Papers, 1843-1930.”Brethren Historical Library and Archives.AccessedFebruary 2, 2016.<http://www.brethren.org/bhla/ag/q_quinter_family.html>.