Gideon Blackburn (1771-1838) was an American Presbyterian minister. His family can be traced back to Scotland. Like many others they spent some time in Northern Ireland before making the journey to America. His father was Robert Blackburn and his mother was "a member of the well-known Scottish family by the name of Richie." Gideon Blackburn was born in Virginia and was an orphan at the age of eleven. He then lived with relatives in eastern Tennessee.
He was ordained at the age of twenty and worked with churches in Tennessee and Kentucky before coming to Illinois. He did a lot of missionary work among the Indians of Tennessee, starting several schools and churches.
He was always interested in education, especially in higher education. In the period of 1830-1840, he was the financial officer of Illinois College at Jacksonville, Illinois. He died in 1838. Two of his sons were also ministers in the Presbyterian church. Place of burial is unknown at the moment.
Thomas C. MacMillian in 1919, presented a paper to the Illinois State Historical Society and he spoke of the Reverend Gideon Blackburn. "Of Dr. Blackburn, it has been said that of all the men who ever lived and labored for the benefit of Macoupin County, he stands in the foreground; also, that he was a man among men, and a man of God. His influence has been widely felt for four-fifths of a century, and will continue while Blackburn University lives and bears his name."
Reverend Blackburn was blessed with the ability to raise funds and in 1833, he was invited to Carlinville, Illinois, to raise funds for a new college. The original name of the college was Blackburn Theological Seminary.
The University is now one of seven in the United States with a particular slant to their educational program and we will write about that tomorrow.
Note: Carlinville, Illinois, is located 60 miles north of St. Louis and 12 miles west of Interstate 55.
Carlinville has the largest number of Sears kit homes in the nation. Standard Oil which was operating a number of coal mines in the area, bought 192 Sears homes. They built 156 for a 12 block area and 152 of them remain and 36 more homes were built in nearby Wood River, IL.