EMU Historian to Speak on Educator

Samuel L. Horst
Samuel L. Horst

Samuel L. Horst, professor emeritus of history, has been invited to speak on his research of a white educator who taught blacks in Lynchburg, Va., following the Civil War as part of the John D. Owen, Jr. Lynchburg History Series.

Dr. Horst will address the topic, “Learning How: The Odyssey of a Lynchburg Freedmen Educator,” at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12 at the Jones Memorial Library in Lynchburg. Horst, who taught at EMU for 28 years until his retirement in 1984, wrote “The Fire of Liberty in Their Hearts: The Diary of Jacob E. Yoder,” published in 1997 by the Virginia State Library.

Horst edited the diaries of Jacob Eschbach Yoder, an idealistic young Mennonite from the Boyertown, Pa., area who came to Virginia after the Civil War to help educate freed slaves.

Yoder taught freedmen in Lynchburg in 1866 and from 1868 to 1871 supervised black schools over a six-county region as well as in Lynchburg. From 1871 until his death in 1905 he taught blacks in the newly-opened public schools.

Lynchburg’s black population had mushroomed after the war as ex-slaves moved in to take advantage of government rations from the Freedmen’s Bureau and to capitalize on their new freedom.

Jacob E. Yoder at a Freedman's Bureau School in Lynchburg, circa 1876-77.
Jacob E. Yoder (back row, at right) at a Freedman’s Bureau School in Lynchburg, circa 1876-77.

“Yoder eventually became generally well-accepted by both blacks and whites in Lynchburg because of his low-key style and his patient efforts,” Horst noted.

Horst, who earned his Ph.D. degree from the University of Virginia, is also the author of “Conscience in Crisis: Mennonites and Other Peace Churches, 1739-1789 (Herald Press, 1979), “Mennonites in the Confederacy: A Study in Civil War Pacifism (1967), “Education for Manhood: Education of Blacks in Virginia During the Civil War” (University Press of America, 1987) and most recently researched and co-authored with Edsel Burdge, Jr., a former student of Horsts’, “The Mennonites of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and Washington County, Maryland, 1730-1970” (Herald Press, 2004).

The lecture is open to the public free of charge. For more information, call 846-0501.