McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913

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Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.

From the description of Letter, 22 Dec 1887. (Utah Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122552088

Robert Gibson McNiece was born on 10 January 1839, on his family's farm in Topsham, Vermont. His family's humble circumstances and religious devotion would shape his character at an early age. He was raised and educated in the East, eventually becoming a Dartmouth College graduate. Following his education, McNiece answered the call of the West; he was urged by his pastor to invest his religious zeal in the western territory of Utah and the State of California. McNiece arrived in Utah in 1877, and it is unclear if he ever had intentions of moving on to California. He sensed that he belonged in Utah, which at the time had relatively little Presbyterian presence. Through misfortune came fortune. While McNiece was in Salt Lake City meeting with the Presbyterian congregations, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Josiah Welch, died. McNiece rose to the occasion and took Welch's place as minister, becoming the Church's second minister. He would serve in this position for two decades (1877-1897). As a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, McNiece's duties extended into the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. When attempts were made to secure the foundation of a new institute of higher learning (the proposed "Salt Lake College," later "Sheldon Jackson College," and finally "Westminster College"), McNiece again rose to the occasion and was able to secure a large grant from benefactor Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909; Presbyterian minister, missionary, and Alaskan explorer). This gave new life to the efforts of solidifying the foundation of the new college, including the construction of campus buildings. Despite dark economic times, this grant moved the processes forward.

Over the coming years, McNiece would maintain close contact with Jackson and the college's President General John Eaton. A great many obstacles were in their path, some of which would prove to be stumbling blocks that would all but doom the fledgling college. Because of financial problems, Jackson had to rescind his original grant and instead deeded his Washington, D.C. property to the Board of Trustees. Robert Gordon, the college's financial agent and representative, was appointed to handle the Jackson property. Gordon was given all of the rights that his position afforded him, including power of attorney. Gordon spent money recklessly and did not keep accurate records-in the end, his expenses nearly ruined the college. Not surprisingly, Gordon never sold the property. His capabilities were assessed (although it was already too late) through inquiries made by the Board of Trustees, and he was removed from his position. No charges were ever brought against Gordon, for fear that the negative publicity would be the deathblow to the college. Meanwhile, McNiece refused to give up hope. In 1902, Park City resident and retired Union Army Colonel William Montague Ferry was persuaded to step in on behalf of the college. Ferry purchased the property which the campus currently occupies, which allowed for the construction of new campus buildings. This facilitated many important things: prospective donors could now see proof of an institute with great potential, classes could be held once construction was complete on the new college building (Converse Hall), and the founders of the college, McNiece included, could begin to heal the financial wounds of the past.

Alhough in the background during this great financial struggle, McNiece's loyalties and ties to the college never wavered. He served as Dean and Professor until the year Ferry intervened on behalf of the struggling college (1897 - 1913); subjects taught by McNiece included "Greek, Rhetoric, Apologetics and the Bible, Philosophy, Literature and Civics" (Nyman). McNiece also served on the Board of Trustees during these years, working with the board to solidify the future of the college despite his disagreements with the incoming President Stevenson. Over the following decade, McNiece would begin to slow his activities, but would never lose the fiery ambition that gave rise to Westminster College. McNiece died on October 3, 1913, in Salt Lake City.

From the description of Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece scrapbooks, 1879-1903. (Westminster College). WorldCat record id: 728059838

Robert Gibson McNiece was born on 10 January 1839, on his family's farm in Topsham, Vermont. His family's humble circumstances and religious devotion would shape his character at an early age. He was raised and educated in the East, eventually becoming a Dartmouth College graduate. Following his education, McNiece answered the call of the West; he was urged by his pastor to invest his religious zeal in the western territory of Utah and the State of California. McNiece arrived in Utah in 1877, and it is unclear if he ever had intentions of moving on to California. He sensed that he belonged in Utah, which at the time had relatively little Presbyterian presence. Through misfortune came fortune. While McNiece was in Salt Lake City meeting with the Presbyterian congregations, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Josiah Welch, died. McNiece rose to the occasion and took Welch's place as minister, becoming the Church's second minister. He would serve in this position for two decades (1877-1897). As a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, McNiece's duties extended into the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. When attempts were made to secure the foundation of a new institute of higher learning (the proposed "Salt Lake College," later "Sheldon Jackson College," and finally "Westminster College"), McNiece again rose to the occasion and was able to secure a large grant from benefactor Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909; Presbyterian minister, missionary, and Alaskan explorer). This gave new life to the efforts of solidifying the foundation of the new college, including the construction of campus buildings. Despite dark economic times, this grant moved the processes forward.

Over the coming years, McNiece would maintain close contact with Jackson and the college's President General John Eaton. A great many obstacles were in their path, some of which would prove to be stumbling blocks that would all but doom the fledgling college. Because of financial problems, Jackson had to rescind his original grant and instead deeded his Washington, D.C. property to the Board of Trustees. Robert Gordon, the college's financial agent and representative, was appointed to handle the Jackson property. Gordon was given all of the rights that his position afforded him, including power of attorney. Gordon spent money recklessly and did not keep accurate records-in the end, his expenses nearly ruined the college. Not surprisingly, Gordon never sold the property. His capabilities were assessed (although it was already too late) through inquiries made by the Board of Trustees, and he was removed from his position. No charges were ever brought against Gordon, for fear that the negative publicity would be the deathblow to the college. Meanwhile, McNiece refused to give up hope. In 1902, Park City resident and retired Union Army Colonel William Montague Ferry was persuaded to step in on behalf of the college. Ferry purchased the property which the campus currently occupies, which allowed for the construction of new campus buildings. This facilitated many important things: prospective donors could now see proof of an institute with great potential, classes could be held once construction was complete on the new college building (Converse Hall), and the founders of the college, McNiece included, could begin to heal the financial wounds of the past.

Alhough in the background during this great financial struggle, McNiece's loyalties and ties to the college never wavered. He served as Dean and Professor until the year Ferry intervened on behalf of the struggling college (1897 - 1913); subjects taught by McNiece included "Greek, Rhetoric, Apologetics and the Bible, Philosophy, Literature and Civics" (Nyman). McNiece also served on the Board of Trustees during these years, working with the board to solidify the future of the college despite his disagreements with the incoming President Stevenson. Over the following decade, McNiece would begin to slow his activities, but would never lose the fiery ambition that gave rise to Westminster College. McNiece died on October 3, 1913, in Salt Lake City.

From the description of Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece correspondence, 1891-1908. (Westminster College). WorldCat record id: 727986885

Robert Gibson McNiece was born on 10 January 1839, on his family's farm in Topsham, Vermont. His family's humble circumstances and religious devotion would shape his character at an early age. He was raised and educated in the East, eventually becoming a Dartmouth College graduate. Following his education, McNiece answered the call of the West; he was urged by his pastor to invest his religious zeal in the western territory of Utah and the State of California. McNiece arrived in Utah in 1877, and it is unclear if he ever had intentions of moving on to California. He sensed that he belonged in Utah, which at the time had relatively little Presbyterian presence. Through misfortune came fortune. While McNiece was in Salt Lake City meeting with the Presbyterian congregations, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Josiah Welch, died. McNiece rose to the occasion and took Welch's place as minister, becoming the Church's second minister. He would serve in this position for two decades (1877-1897). As a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, McNiece's duties extended into the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. When attempts were made to secure the foundation of a new institute of higher learning (the proposed "Salt Lake College," later "Sheldon Jackson College," and finally "Westminster College"), McNiece again rose to the occasion and was able to secure a large grant from benefactor Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909; Presbyterian minister, missionary, and Alaskan explorer). This gave new life to the efforts of solidifying the foundation of the new college, including the construction of campus buildings. Despite dark economic times, this grant moved the processes forward.

Over the coming years, McNiece would maintain close contact with Jackson and the college's President General John Eaton. A great many obstacles were in their path, some of which would prove to be stumbling blocks that would all but doom the fledgling college. Because of financial problems, Jackson had to rescind his original grant and instead deeded his Washington, D.C. property to the Board of Trustees. Robert Gordon, the college's financial agent and representative, was appointed to handle the Jackson property. Gordon was given all of the rights that his position afforded him, including power of attorney. Gordon spent money recklessly and did not keep accurate records-in the end, his expenses nearly ruined the college. Not surprisingly, Gordon never sold the property. His capabilities were assessed (although it was already too late) through inquiries made by the Board of Trustees, and he was removed from his position. No charges were ever brought against Gordon, for fear that the negative publicity would be the deathblow to the college. Meanwhile, McNiece refused to give up hope. In 1902, Park City resident and retired Union Army Colonel William Montague Ferry was persuaded to step in on behalf of the college. Ferry purchased the property which the campus currently occupies, which allowed for the construction of new campus buildings. This facilitated many important things: prospective donors could now see proof of an institute with great potential, classes could be held once construction was complete on the new college building (Converse Hall), and the founders of the college, McNiece included, could begin to heal the financial wounds of the past.

Alhough in the background during this great financial struggle, McNiece's loyalties and ties to the college never wavered. He served as Dean and Professor until the year Ferry intervened on behalf of the struggling college (1897 - 1913); subjects taught by McNiece included "Greek, Rhetoric, Apologetics and the Bible, Philosophy, Literature and Civics" (Nyman). McNiece also served on the Board of Trustees during these years, working with the board to solidify the future of the college despite his disagreements with the incoming President Stevenson. Over the following decade, McNiece would begin to slow his activities, but would never lose the fiery ambition that gave rise to Westminster College. McNiece died on October 3, 1913, in Salt Lake City.

From the description of Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece subject files, 1882-1972. (Westminster College). WorldCat record id: 728044487

Robert Gibson McNiece was born on 10 January 1839, on his family's farm in Topsham, Vermont. His family's humble circumstances and religious devotion would shape his character at an early age. He was raised and educated in the East, eventually becoming a Dartmouth College graduate. Following his education, McNiece answered the call of the West; he was urged by his pastor to invest his religious zeal in the western territory of Utah and the State of California. McNiece arrived in Utah in 1877, and it is unclear if he ever had intentions of moving on to California. He sensed that he belonged in Utah, which at the time had relatively little Presbyterian presence. Through misfortune came fortune. While McNiece was in Salt Lake City meeting with the Presbyterian congregations, the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Josiah Welch, died. McNiece rose to the occasion and took Welch's place as minister, becoming the Church's second minister. He would serve in this position for two decades (1877-1897). As a pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, McNiece's duties extended into the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. When attempts were made to secure the foundation of a new institute of higher learning (the proposed "Salt Lake College," later "Sheldon Jackson College," and finally "Westminster College"), McNiece again rose to the occasion and was able to secure a large grant from benefactor Sheldon Jackson (1834-1909; Presbyterian minister, missionary, and Alaskan explorer). This gave new life to the efforts of solidifying the foundation of the new college, including the construction of campus buildings. Despite dark economic times, this grant moved the processes forward.

Over the coming years, McNiece would maintain close contact with Jackson and the college's President General John Eaton. A great many obstacles were in their path, some of which would prove to be stumbling blocks that would all but doom the fledgling college. Because of financial problems, Jackson had to rescind his original grant and instead deeded his Washington, D.C. property to the Board of Trustees. Robert Gordon, the college's financial agent and representative, was appointed to handle the Jackson property. Gordon was given all of the rights that his position afforded him, including power of attorney. Gordon spent money recklessly and did not keep accurate records-in the end, his expenses nearly ruined the college. Not surprisingly, Gordon never sold the property. His capabilities were assessed (although it was already too late) through inquiries made by the Board of Trustees, and he was removed from his position. No charges were ever brought against Gordon, for fear that the negative publicity would be the deathblow to the college. Meanwhile, McNiece refused to give up hope. In 1902, Park City resident and retired Union Army Colonel William Montague Ferry was persuaded to step in on behalf of the college. Ferry purchased the property which the campus currently occupies, which allowed for the construction of new campus buildings. This facilitated many important things: prospective donors could now see proof of an institute with great potential, classes could be held once construction was complete on the new college building (Converse Hall), and the founders of the college, McNiece included, could begin to heal the financial wounds of the past.

Alhough in the background during this great financial struggle, McNiece's loyalties and ties to the college never wavered. He served as Dean and Professor until the year Ferry intervened on behalf of the struggling college (1897 - 1913); subjects taught by McNiece included "Greek, Rhetoric, Apologetics and the Bible, Philosophy, Literature and Civics" (Nyman). McNiece also served on the Board of Trustees during these years, working with the board to solidify the future of the college despite his disagreements with the incoming President Stevenson. Over the following decade, McNiece would begin to slow his activities, but would never lose the fiery ambition that gave rise to Westminster College. McNiece died on October 3, 1913, in Salt Lake City.

From the description of Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece newspaper clippings, 1880-1899. (Westminster College). WorldCat record id: 728060910

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Jackson, Dr. Sheldon. Sheldon Jackson College, Dr. Sheldon Jackson correspondence, 1895-1904, 1951. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf Sweazey, George B. (George Beaty), 1875-1946. George B. Sweazey Salt Lake Collegiate Institute Principal's correspondence, 1903-1913. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913. Robert G. McNiece letter to H.H. Bancroft : Salt Lake City : ALS, 1884 Sept. 18. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Smith, Asa D. (Asa Dodge), 1804-1877. Letter, 1870 June 14, Hanover, to Robert G. McNiece, Fort Wayne, Indiana. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. Letter, 22 Dec 1887. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
creatorOf Knox College (Galesburg, Ill.). [Honorary degrees series] / [Knox College, Galesburg, Ill.]. Knox College, Seymour Library
creatorOf Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. Salt Lake Collegiate Institute subject files, 1884-1906. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913. Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece newspaper clippings, 1880-1899. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913. Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece subject files, 1882-1972. Westminster College, Giovale Library
referencedIn Nyman, Emil. History of Westminster College. Utah Division of State History, Utah Historical Society
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913. Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece correspondence, 1891-1908. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf McNiece, Robert G. (Robert Gibson), 1839-1913. Westminster College Dean Robert G. McNiece scrapbooks, 1879-1903. Westminster College, Giovale Library
referencedIn Caskey, Robert J. (Robert John), 1860-1916. Salt Lake Collegiate Institute Principal Robert J. Caskey correspondence, 1892-1948. Westminster College, Giovale Library
creatorOf Van Zile, Philip Taylor, 1843-1917. Scrapbook, 1879-1883. Harold B. Lee Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Caskey, Robert J. (Robert John), 1860-1916. person
associatedWith Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First Presidency. corporateBody
associatedWith Coyner, John McCutcheon, 1827-1908. person
associatedWith Eaton, John, 1829-1906. person
associatedWith Ferry, Jeannette H. (Jeannette Hollister), 1828-1917. person
associatedWith Ferry, William M. (William Montague), 1824-1905. person
associatedWith Gordon, Thomas, Rev. person
associatedWith Greene, Elijah W. person
associatedWith Gunton Memorial Chapel (Salt Lake City, Utah). corporateBody
associatedWith Gunton, William. person
correspondedWith Jackson, Dr. Sheldon. person
associatedWith Jackson, Sheldon, 1834-1909. person
associatedWith Knox College (Galesburg, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 person
associatedWith McNiece, Renwick Sloan, 1886-1993 person
associatedWith McNiece, Renwick Sloane, 1886-1983. person
associatedWith Nyman, Emil. person
associatedWith Nyman, Emil, 1892-1982. person
associatedWith Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Home Missions. corporateBody
associatedWith Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Presbytery of Utah. corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, B. H. (Brigham Henry), 1857-1933. person
associatedWith Salt Lake Collegiate Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Sheldon Jackson College (Salt Lake City, Utah) corporateBody
associatedWith Smith, Asa D. (Asa Dodge), 1804-1877. person
associatedWith Smith, Joseph, 1805-1844. person
associatedWith Sweazey, George B. (George Beaty), 1875-1946. person
associatedWith Taylor, John, 1808-1887. person
associatedWith Temple, Mary Jane Gunton, 1830-1927 person
associatedWith Thompson, Charles L. (Charles Lemuel), 1839-1924. person
associatedWith Van Zile, Philip Taylor, 1843-1917. person
associatedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983) corporateBody
correspondedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). Board of Trustees corporateBody
associatedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). Dean's Office corporateBody
correspondedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). Dean's Office corporateBody
associatedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). Dean's Office corporateBody
associatedWith Westminster College (Salt Lake City, Utah : 1902-1983). Dean's Office corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Utah--Salt Lake City
Salt Lake County (Utah)
Utah
Utah
Utah
Utah--Sanpete Valley
Salt Lake City (Utah)
Salt Lake City (Utah)
Salt Lake City (Utah)
Utah
Salt Lake City (Utah)
Utah--Salt Lake City
Utah
Nevada--Eureka
Salt Lake City (Utah)
Utah
Utah--American Fork
Utah--Salt Lake City
Utah--Logan
Utah--Springville
Utah--Salt Lake City
Subject
Presbyterian Church--Relations--Mormon Church
Mormons
Chapels
Presbyterian Church--Education
Presbyterian Church--Clergy
Educational fund raising
Presbyterian universities and colleges--History--Sources
Religion and politics--History--19th century--Sources
Temperance and religion
Polygamy
Mormon Church--Relations--Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church
Mormon Church--Controversial literature
Presbyterian Church--Relations--Methodist Church
Deans (Education)--Archives
Presbyterians
College trustees--Archives
Occupation
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Birth 1839

Death 1913

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