4/17/2012 - Judson Founder, Gen. Edwin D. King, Honored at College
By Michael J. Brooks
Descendants of Gen. Edwin Davis King met on the campus of Judson College on April 4 to witness the unveiling of the college's newly-restored portrait of Gen. King.
King was one of three primary founders of Judson, along with Dr. Milo P. Jewett and Julia Tarrant Barron, according to Frances Dew Hamilton and Elizabeth Crabtree Wells, authors of the 1988 college history, "Daughters of the Dream."
Judy Martin, assistant to the college president, noted that the painting was made by King's daughter, Margaret Eliza, and was finished in 1876, 14 years after King's death.
"The painting had deteriorated over the years," Martin said. "We took it to a restorer in Nashville who immediately saw the value of the work. She told us it was obvious this wasn't Margaret's first work, and that the painting was 'excellent' and 'worthy of restoration.'"
The restoration coincides with the college's 175th anniversary next year.
King, a Georgia native, served in the Georgia Militia and was wounded in a battle with Creek Indians in 1813. He attained the rank of major and fought with Gen. Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. King later received the rank of major general in the Alabama Militia.
King moved to Perry County in Alabama in 1816. He became a Marion businessman, plantation owner, trustee at the University of Alabama and, as a Baptist layman, an early supporter of a Baptist school for women in the city. UA president Basil Manly and Tuscaloosa pastor James H. DeVotie introduced educator Milo Jewett to King and this partnership brought about the founding of the Judson Female Institute in 1838.
King served as trustee chair for the new school. The first class of nine students included two of King's daughters, Margaret and Maria Louisa, his granddaughter and a niece.
King also assisted in the 1841 founding of Howard College in Marion, now known as Samford University and located in Birmingham.
King offered his financial interest in Judson to the Alabama Baptist Convention in 1842 and the college began its long association with Alabama Baptists in 1844.
King also loaned his office for the printing and distribution "The Alabama Baptist" newspaper that was published in Marion from 1843-1852. Jewett served as the first editor. The original office building, adjacent to Marion Presbyterian Church, was moved to the Judson campus in 1997.
King died in 1862. He and his son, Porter who had been a local judge and Judson trustee, are buried in the Marion City Cemetery.
An early Baptist history by B.H. Riley noted, "It is not too much to say that the denomination of the state is more indebted to Gen. E.D. King for the successful establishment and maintenance of its two schools than to any other. It is gravely doubted that they could ever have been successfully organized and maintained, through their shifting fortunes, but for the clear judgment and liberal purse of General King."
Members of the King family who attended the unveiling toured the Judson campus, the King home on Clay Street in Marion and the burial site before having lunch with Judson president Dr. David Potts.
"No single family in the history of the college has had more to do with the founding and keeping of Judson as Gen. King and his descendants," Potts said at the portrait's unveiling.
Photo: Guests included (from left) great-grandson John Wheeler of Anniston; great-grandson Porter Wheeler and his wife Mary of Chevy Chase, Md.; great-great grandson Edwin "Dave" King and his wife Bette of Auburn; great-great grandson Henry King and his wife Patty of Birmingham and great-great grandson George Conners of Washington, D.C. Photo by Bill Mathews.