REV A B IRWIN
In no field of human endeavor is there given to the world a clearer assurance of a man and a man's appreciation of the higher ethics of life, than when cognizance is taken of the efforts of one who has consecrated his life to the work of the Christian ministry and who has labored to goodly ends. There is, then, an eminent degree of satisfaction in directing attention at this point to the pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Highland, Kansas, and to reviewing his career succinctly and with due regard to the innate modesty of the man who has ever endeavored to follow the divine behest and not allow his left hand to know what his right hand is doing. The church has been advanced materially and spiritually and in its various functions the pastor maintains a lively and well-informed interest, according due value to every phase of church work and by precept and example vitalizing each element. His is that practical appreciation of the affairs of life that lends greater potency to his ministerial labors, while as a pulpit orator he is logical, convincing and eloquent, appealing not only to the emotional side of human nature, but also to the most mature judgment and most critical wisdom. His strength as an organizer and practical worker is evidenced sufficiently in his accomplishments, and the Christian religion has an able and devoted supporter and advocate in the honored subject of this sketch.
Rev. Albert Barnes Irwin was born near Titusville, Pennsylvania, October 2, 1851, and is a son of John and Emily (Newton) Irwin. The father, a farmer by occupation, was also a native of the Keystone state, and a son of Samuel Irwin, who was born in Pennsylvania. Richard Irwin, the great-grandfather of our subject, was born in Armagh, Ireland, in 1740, and, braving. the dangers incident to ocean voyages at that time, he crossed the Atlantic to seek a home in America and located in Chester county, Pennsylvania. His wife bore the maiden name of Ann Steele. The maternal grandfather of our subject was Richard Newton, and he married a Miss Van Doren, who was a descendant of a Holland family.
Rev. Mr. Irwin spent the greater part of his boyhood in and near Peoria, Illinois, to which city his parents removed when he was only three years of age. After pursuing his education in the public schools there he entered Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois, and was graduated in the class of 1871, at which time he was honored by being chosen to deliver the salutatory oration and the Latin oration. When his literary course was completed he went to Wethersfield, Illinois, where he accepted the position of principal of the village schools. A year later he matriculated in the Northwestern Seminary. now McCormick Theological Seminary, of Chicago, where he pursued his studies two years, afterward completing his theological course in Yale College as a member of the class of 1875. Subsequently he spent two years in Mobile, Alabama, where he was the principal of the Emerson Institute under the direction of the American Missionary Association. In the fall of 1877 he went to Palmyra, Nebraska, where he engaged in home missionary work, preaching at Palmyra, Hopewell, Helena and Sterling, and during that time also organized a church at Adams. On the 6th of May, 1878, he was ordained at Palmyra, Nebraska, by the presbytery of Nebraska, where he remained until the spring of 1880, when he was called to the pastoral charge of the First Presbyterian church, at Beatrice, Nebraska, which he served till December 31, 1886. In January, 1887, he came to Highland, Kansas, and has since been pastor of the First Presbyterian church in this city. In addition to his pastoral duties he has also been closely associated with the Highland University in different relations. For three years he was the president of the school, and during most of the time has been a teacher of one or more of the branches of learning. At present he occupies the chair of political and Biblical history, and is secretary, trustee and correspondent of the institution. His church has also done very creditable work under his guidance, and during his pastorate has erected a fine house of worship, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. The parishioners have also erected a manse which is well finished and furnished. The church has a membership of two hundred, is well organized and is doing good work in its various departments. The members are very liberal in their contributions and donations for various benevolences, paying out annually to the church four thousand dollars. At the time of the building of the new church J. P. Johnson contributed one thousand dollars to the work, and other members also gave liberally in proportion to their means.
In 1877 Mr. Irwin was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Miss Loretta E. Hart, of Rockford, Illinois, a daughter of A. Hart. They have four living children: Ruth, a graduate of Highland University; Fanny T., a student in Rockford College, in Rockford, Illinois; Ralph Alexis and Loretta E.
Rev. Mr. Irwin was elected moderator of the synod of Kansas in 1885 and was for some time a member of the state executive committee of the Young Men's Christian Association, of Kansas. In 1898 he was one of six selected to deliver an address before the state synod at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Westminster standards in the Presbyterian church. The degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon him by Knox College, of Galesburg, Illinois, in 1875. Mr. Irwin is a man of high intellectuality, broad human sympathies and tolerance and imbued with fine sensibilities and clearly defined principles. He enjoys the respect, confidence and high regard, not only of the people of his own denomination, but also of all with whom he has come in contact.