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Faces Behind the Places of DePauw University

This guide includes historical information about the people behind DePauw University's building names.

Matthew Simpson

                                                                                Matthew Simpson
                                                                     June 21, 1811 – June 18, 1884

Matthew SimpsonBorn and raised in Cadiz, Ohio, Matthew Simpson was baptized by Bishop Francis Asbury himself. Simpson was largely self-educated, studying medicine and ministry. He acquired licenses in both fields, ultimately focusing his career on ministry.  Simpson was ordained as a Methodist minister by Bishop Robert R. Roberts, his colleague and fellow Indiana Asbury advocate. By the age of 23, Simpson was a respected pastor in Pittsburgh. Upon deciding to enroll in Allegheny College in 1837, Simpson instead found himself the recipient of an honorary A.M. degree from the institution and was invited to join the faculty rather than the student body. He then taught mathematics and natural science there for two years.

Simpson left his position with Allegheny College to become the first President of Indiana Asbury University at the age of 28. He held this title from 1839 to 1848. In this position, he taught classes in every subject, except Greek and Latin, while also holding the chair of mathematics. He later transferred to the professorship of mental and moral philosophy.

After his time as university president, Simpson became editor of the Western Christian Advocate. At this post, Simpson wrote many articles against the practice of slavery. He was a strong supporter and confidant of President Abraham Lincoln, even giving one of the funeral addresses at the fallen president’s funeral.

An extremely influential Methodist leader, Simpson was appointed as a bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1852. Simpson documented the denomination in several books, including A Hundred Years of Methodism (1876) and Cyclopedia of Methodism (1878).

Simpson Street is located south of the Emison building and Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, connecting to the Emison building’s grand stairs. It was named sometime after 1871, acknowledging Simpson’s impact on the DePauw and Greencastle communities. The western half of the street was closed as part of the creation of the College Avenue pedestrian walkways.