DR. Rev. Ignatius Alphonso Few

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DR. Rev Ignatius Alphonso Few

Birthdate: (56)
Birthplace: Columbia County, Georgia
Death: November 28, 1845 (56)
Athens, Georgia.
Place of Burial: Oxford Historical Cemetery Oxford Newton County Georgia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Ignatius Few and Mary Few
Husband of Selena Angnes (Carr) Few
Brother of Leonidas Few; Ledoiska Few; Alfred Few; Lodiska Few; Camillus Few and 5 others

Occupation: attorney/farmer/preacher
Managed by: Vl Beck
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About DR. Rev. Ignatius Alphonso Few

DR. IGNATIUS ALPHONSO FEW, FOUNDER AND FIRST PRESIDENT OF EMORY COLLEGE (the parent institution of present Emory University, Atlanta)

References and Family Tree Included

Dr. Ignatius A. Few (April 11, 1790-1845) was the son of Captain Ignatius Few (1750-1810) and Mary Candler (1762-1824). Dr. I. A. Few was the nephew of William Few, Jr., a founding father of America from Georgia, the signer of the constitution; James Few the Regulator hung at Alamance, North Carolina, and Col. Benjamin Few, revolutionary war soldier; and was great, great grandson of Quaker shoemaker, Richard Few of Market Lavington, Wiltshire, England, who emigrated to Chester County Pennsylvania before 1682. Dr. Ignatius A. Few’s father, Captain Ignatius Few, had served in the Revolutionary Army under Colonel William Candler, the father of Mary Candler. Capt. Few married Mary Candler before moving to Columbia County, Georgia where Dr. Ignatius Alphonso Few was born.

           Ignatius Alphonso Few was sent as a young teenager to New Jersey to live with an uncle and studied at Princeton University and in New York City before retuning to Georgia to study law in Augusta. 
           On August 29, 1811, at the age of twenty-one years of age Ignatius A. Few married Selina Agnes Carr at Alexandria, her family residence in Columbia County, Georgia.   At this time Ignatius A. Few was the sole owner of Mount Carmel, the family residence he inherited at his father’s death in 1810.  Selina, born September 12, 1794, was the youngest child of Thomas Carr, an Augusta attorney and his wife Francis Bacon Carr.  Thomas Carr was a Revolutionary War soldier who had attained the rank of colonel.  Selina Few outlived her husband by many years, sometime after 1873.  The couple was childless.
           The couple lived a quiet life at Mount Carmel only briefly interrupted by the War of 1812 in which Ignatius A. Few served as a colonel in the Third Regiment (Few’s), Georgia Militia and on October 10, 1814 was encamped in Effingham County just north of Savannah.  The expected British attack did not materialize and he was discharged on March 12, 1815.
           After the war, Ignatius A. Few again settled on his plantation and engrossed himself in the study of subjects which interested him: philosophy, poetry, history, and the sciences.    It was this love of study that has been suggested as the reason for the loss of his plantation.  He was so engrossed in reading and study that he never got around to telling the Negroes what and when to plant.  He lost his plantation in 1822.
           At the age of thirty-three, Dr. Few began the practice of law in Augusta.  He soon built up a clientele and stood at the head of the Augusta Bar.  This only lasted a short time as the next year he suffered a serious medical set back with severe lung hemorrhaging and was forced to retire from the practice of the law.  Dr. I. A. Few had inherited his grandmother Mary Wheeler Few’s supposed tuberculosis.
           Prior to 1826 Dr. Few was an avowed infidel.  About this time a great change took place in his life when he was converted to Christianity under the ministry of the Methodist Reverend Joseph Travis, a famous circuit rider.  Dr. Few was then as ardent in his new faith as he had been antagonistic before that time.  His health temporarily improved and he advanced in his new religion at a great pace.
           Dr. Few joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in Augusta and in 1828 he was admitted on trial as a minister into the South Carolina Conference of that church.  He was a charter member of the Georgia Conference, which was organized on January 5, 1831.  He served the Church in Savannah in 1831, at Columbus in 1832, as presiding elder of the Columbus District in 1833, and as pastor at Macon in 1834.  After 1835 he was given supernumerary relation, and worked as much as his health would permit on his Manual Labor School and college projects. (Bullock, Hist. of Emory University, p. 29)  He received the degree of Doctor of Law from Wesleyan University in 1838 (Rutherford, “Dr. Few Founded Emory”).
           In 1834 the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church established a manual labor-type school on some four hundred acres of Newton County, near the town of Covington.  The trustees elected Dr. Few to lead the school.  When classes began in the fall of 1835, the campus comprised a steward’s hall, two faculty houses, six dormitories, a kitchen, a smokehouse, and a few crude outbuildings.  As a preparatory school, the Georgia Conference Manual Labor School was designed to train boys and young men for eastern colleges, and to that end it offered three curricula, tailored to student’s varying abilities.  The basic course of reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling cost 16 dollars per year.  The course of English grammar, geography, rhetoric, and logic cost twenty dollars per year; and the advanced course, comparable in its reading list to the freshman year at Yale College, included classical languages, mathematics, and moral and natural philosophy for thirty-two dollars a year.  Students devoted three hours a day, five days a week, to cultivating the fields and doing farm chores, earning a few cents an hour.  Wages were graduated, depending not on the amount or kind of work the student performed, but on how large the student was---the bigger the student, the higher the pay. (http://emoryhistory.emory.edu)
           Some 500 potential students were turned away from its first four years.  Families moved to Covington just to be close enough for their sons to enroll.  Nevertheless, the experiment failed, even though there was a great need and interest in this type of education.  The students were too undisciplined and the inexperienced professors had neither the time, will, nor ability to undertake both the work of scholarship and the full-time running of what was a very large farm in its day.  The school’s trustees overestimated the harvest and income from tuition and instead found themselves faced with mounting debts. 
           During the Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held in Washington, Georgia in 1834, the newly elected president of Randolph-Macon College in Virginia appealed to the delegates for funds to support his institution.  “Uncle” Allen Turner, a Methodist preacher, rose and admonished his fellow delegates to establish their own college and not send their money to Virginia.
           Even though the immediate conference supported the monies to Randolph-Macon College in Virginia, within a year plans were in process to  fulfill the petition of a group of Methodists who approached the Georgia legislature to grant a charter to the trustees of the Manual Labor School to establish a college as well.  The Manual Labor School continued to struggle until sometime near the end of 1840, when it closed for good.  It was replaced by a preparatory program within Emory College for subfreshmen.
           The new college was named for the Methodist Bishop John Emory and was identical to the Manual Labor School.  Almost all of the trustees of the school were appointed as trustees of the college with Dr. Few, who had been president of the Manual Labor School, being elected president of the college. In 1837 at the first meeting of the Board of Trustees, the land formerly belonging to the Manual Labor School was accepted on which to place the contemplated college.  Fourteen hundred acres north of Covington were later purchased for fourteen thousand dollars and the plan was set into motion for a town named Oxford with a college as its hub.
           The foundation stone was laid in the spring of 1838.  The construction was begun, but the contractors failed to finish their work.  Nevertheless, fifteen freshmen were welcomed to the college along with sophomores on September 17, 1838.  There was a four-room dwelling that served until the college buildings were finished.  The students came from as far away as Charleston, South Carolina.  Among those first students were a future president of Emory, Osborn L. Smith, and a future member of the faculty, George W. Stone.
           Dr. Few resigned at the close of the first academic year due to his weakened constitution.  He tendered his resignation on July 17, 1839, to become effective the following January.  However, he continued to serve as president of the Board of Trustees until July 1841. He was followed as president by Yale-educated, Dr. Augustus B. Longstreet , lawyer, planter, editor, judge and the author of  Georgia Scenes.  Dr. Longstreet and Dr. George F. Pierce who followed him, weathered the financial difficulties, and Emory College never closed its doors with the exception of a period during the civil war.1 
Drafting the report on the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 which slit the denomination into southern and northern groups over the issue of slavery was Dr. Few’s only remaining public service.  The separation was a blow to his spirit, and the work of drafting the report had drained him physically.  He died peacefully in Athens, Georgia, on November 21, 1845.  He is buried in the town of Oxford, where he had been the first citizen.

Through his mother, Mary Candler Few, Ignatius A. Few was a cousin of Dr. Warren A Candler, a later Emory President and bishop of the Methodist Church. Ignatius A. Few was also a distant cousin of Asa Griggs Candler, whose million dollar endowment made possible the Emory University Hospital and the Atlanta Campus. By the death of Asa Griggs Candler his endowments to Emory would reach eight million dollars. Dr. Ignatius Few was also a kinsman of Dr. Madison Dickey, a descendant of Col. Benjamin Few, who also became a president of Emory and a bishop of the Methodist Church.

Some Early Graduates of Emory College

1) 1841 - First Graduates, Henry Bass, Adam C. Potter and Armistead R.. Holcombe.

2) 1845 L. Q. C. Lamar. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as a Senator, as Secretary of the Interior, and as an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court.



1) Fruth, Gladys Knight, Some Descendants of Richard Few of Chester County Pennsylvania and Allied Lines, 1682-1976; pp. 122-130.

2) Gary S. Hauk, PhD; A legacy of Heart and Mind: Emory Since 1836.

3) http://emoryhistory.emory.edu/people

4) http://emoryhistory.emory.edu/timeline

Family Tree of Dr. Ignatius Alphonso Few

1) Richard Few b. abt 1625 married Jane (Joan) Whitfield d. 1664

                 Issue:  Isaac Few b. 6, 4 mo. 1664 

(6 children total: 1) Joan b. 22, 1 mo., 1651, 2) Richard Few , Jr., b. 25, 12 mo, 1653; 3) Walter Few b. 3, 7 mo. 1656; 4) Daniel Few b. 20, 11 mo. 1660; 5) Isaac Few b. 6, 4 mo 1664; 6) Joseph Few b. 21, 2 mo. 1666)

2) Isaac Few b. 6 4 mo, 1664, d. 1734; married Hannah Stanfield, b. 12 Jan 1699

                Issue:  William Few, Sr. b. 16, 5 mo, 1714 

(9 children total: 1) Richard Few b. 26, 2 mo, 1700; 2) Isaac Few , Jr., b. 20, 5 mo, 1701; 3) James Few, Sr. b. 28, 12 mo. 1703; 4) Elizabeth Few b. 2, 12 mo, 1705; 5) Daniel Few b. 25, 1 mo, 1706; 6) Joseph Few b. 20, 6 mo. 1708; 7) William Few, Sr., b. 16, 5mo. 1744; 8) Francis Few b. 13, 6 mo 1719; 9) Samuel Few b. 25, 1 mo 1722)

3) William Few, Sr., b. 16, 5 mo. 1714, d. 27 July 1794, married Mary Wheeler b. 10 Nov 1710, d. 1778

               Issue:  Ignatius Few, b. 1750, d. 1810

( 6 children total: 1) Col. Benjamin Few b. 1744, 2) James Few b. 1746, 3) Capt. William Few, Jr., b. 1748; 4) Capt. Ignatius Few b. 1750; 5) Hannah Few b. 1753; 6) Elizabeth Few b. 1755)

4) Capt. Ignatius Few b. 1750, d. 1810, married (1)Mary Candler (1762-1824) ; lived with (2) Mary Frail Hicks

               Issue:  Ignatius Alphonso Few b. 1790, d. 1845

( 4 children with Mary Candler: 1) Elizabeth Few (Devereux) b. 1779, d. 1799; 2) Mary Few b. 1780, d. 1781; 3) William Few b. 1782, d. 1819 4) Ignatius Alphonso Few b. 1790, d. 1845)

(5 children with Mary Frail Hicks later legally legitimized: 1) Lavinia Few (Rousseau) b. 1794, 2) Leonidas Few b. 1800, d. 1833; 3) Alfred Few b. 1801; 4) Camillus Few b. 1802, d. 1822, 5) Lodiska Few (Brown) b. 1803, d. 1839; 6) Marcus Crassus Few)

5) Dr. Ignatius Alphonso Few b. 11 April 1790, d. 1845, married Selena Angnes Carr on 29 August 1811; b. 12 September 1794, d. after 1873. The couple had no issue. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ignatius Alphonso Few was the first president of Emory University.


Ignatius Alphonso Few was born on April 11, 1789 the son of Captain Ignatius Few and Mary Candler in Columbia County Georgia. A historical oddity exists in the life of Emory University in that Emory's founder (I. A. Few), was Asa Candler's cousin (who later became Emory's greatest benefactor).

Few spent large portions of his early life in New Jersey and Few studied for a time at Princeton University and in New York City before returning to Georgia to study the Law in Augusta. In 1811 he married Salina Carr and became an unsuccessful farmer. He returned to law in 1823 before becoming seriously ill with a form of ‘lung fever' which was perhaps tuberculosis. At this juncture of his life he experienced a spiritual conversion and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1828, Few felt the call to ministry, was admitted to the MEC as a minister. He was a charter member of the Georgia Conference of the MEC in 1831. However, because of his poor health, he left the active ministry shortly before 1835. In 1838, Few received the degree Doctor of Law from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

In 1834, the Georgia Conference of the MEC founded a school for manual labor 30 miles outside of what would become Atlanta, just north of the town of Covington. Few was selected to lead. As this was a manual labor school, the students were expected to work 3 hours a day in the field and doing farming chores. The classwork consisted of reading, writing and arithmetic and was meant to prepare the students for more higher education.

However well meaning this concept was, it was rather idealistic for the time. The founders did not have enough experience to take on this project with any success – remember Few's own failed attempt at farming – and before long the school was overrun with debt. Yet Few persisted and saw a different future for these teenaged students: a regular college which would focus on academics. The Georgia Conference, after considerable debate, asked the Georgia legislature for a charter to establish a college. In 1840, the Manual Labor School closed for good and was replaced by a program for "sub-freshmen" at Emory College. Before the end of the first year at Emory, Few realized that his health, poor to begin with, was failing. He remained at Emory until July 1841. In 1844, he was responsible for writing a report describing the spilt of the MEC in to the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He died, probably as a result of his tuberculosis on November 21, 1845 in Athens, Georgia and was buried in the Oxford City Cemetery in Oxford, Georgia. He is commemorated as both the founder of Emory College and the first citizen of Oxford, Georgia.


Burial: Oxford Historical Cemetery Oxford Newton County Georgia, USA http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=65374775&ref=wvr

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DR. Rev. Ignatius Alphonso Few's Timeline

April 11, 1789
Columbia County, Georgia
November 28, 1845
Age 56
Athens, Georgia.
November 28, 1845
Age 56
Oxford Historical Cemetery Oxford Newton County Georgia, USA