Ross, Frederick A.

Born: 1796-12-25 Virginia

Died: 1883-04-13 Huntsville, Alabama

Frederick A. Ross was a Presbyterian clergyman, publisher, editor, and pro-slavery author. Born in the family home on the James River in Cumberland County, Virginia, Ross received his early education in local schools. At the age of sixteen, he entered Nazareth Hall, a noted Moravian school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Ross subsequently matriculated to Dickinson College, where he completed his collegiate studies. In 1817, he inherited a large landed estate in Sullivan and Hawkins counties, Tennessee, and in 1818, Ross built Rotherwood, a large house on the north bank of the Holston River. In 1823, Ross had a conversion experience at a revival in Kingsport, Tennessee, and in December 1823, he married Theodocia Vance. Two years later, Ross received ordination in the Presbyterian Church, and he became the pastor the First Presbyterian Church of Kingsport, where he remained until 1851. In 1827, Ross entered into partnership with James Gallaher and David Nelson to edit and publish The Calvinistic Magazine, which continued until 1832. In 1828, Ross did evangelistic work in Kentucky and Ohio. When the Presbyterians split into Old School and New School factions in 1837-38, Ross gravitated to the New School branch. In 1846, he revived The Calvinistic Magazine, using it as a platform to wage an editorial war with William G. Brownlow and other Methodists in East Tennessee. In 1850, Ross was pastoring in Kingsport and owned twelve enslaved people. In 1852, he lost Rotherwood, and moved to Chattanooga, where he pastored the Presbyterian Church. In November 1853, Theodocia Ross died, and soon thereafter, Ross moved to Huntsville, Alabama to become pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. In January 1859, he married Frances Robinson. In 1860, Ross was living in Huntsville and had a personal estate of $1,000. He remained pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Huntsville until 1875 and served as pastor emeritus until his death. A strong proponent of slavery, Ross delivered numerous addresses espousing the biblical argument for slavery, which he grouped together in 1857 and published under the title, Slavery Ordained of God.

"Ross, Frederick Augustus," Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography, ed. by James Grant Wilson and John Fiske (New York: D. Appleton, 1888), 5:328; The Story of Rotherwood: From The Autobiography of Rev. Frederick A. Ross, D.D. (Knoxville: Bean, Warters, 1923), 5-6; Tennessee, U.S., Marriage Records, 1780-2002, 16 December 1823, Washington County (Lehi, UT: Operations, 2008), 36; Alabama, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1805-1967, 27 January 1859, Madison County (Lehi, UT: Operations, 2016), 319; E. Merton Coulter, William G. Brownlow: Fighting Parson of the Southern Highlands (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1999), 9, 28, 58, 404-5; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Hawkins County, TN, 334; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Slave Schedule, Hawkins County, TN, 1; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Huntsville, Madison County, AL, 29; Gravestone, Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, AL.