John Frederic Oberlin (1740-1826)

Jean Frederic Oberlin
(Oberlin College Archives)

Jean Frederic Oberlin was "an Alsatian clergyman and philanthropist [Alsace is an historic region of northeastern France]: b. Strasbourg, Aug. 31, 1740; d. Ban-de-la-Roche, June 1, 1826. He was educated at Strasbourg {France], and in 1767 became pastor at Ban-de-la-Roche. There he spent the rest of his long life in labor for the material and spiritual improvement of his impoverished parishioners. He practiced medicine among them, founded a loan and savings bank, introduced cotton manufacture, helped the people build better roads, and brought in modern agricultural methods. His orphan asylums were the beginning of the many 'Oberlinvereine" for the protection of children. He was a man of rare spirituality, being frequently styled 'a saint of the Protestant Church', who preached each month three sermons in French and one in German. Oberlin College was named in his honor."

(The Encyclopedia Americana -- International Edition Vol. 20. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Incorporated, 1995. 590)