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McCorkle, Samuel Eusebius

Samuel Eusebius McCorkle (1746-1811), son of Irish immigrants Alexander and Nancy Montgomery McCorkle, was born in Lancaster County, PA, and moved with his family to a large farm near Salisbury, NC, in 1756. The oldest of ten children, young Samuel taught his brothers and sisters before beginning his own classical studies with Presbyterian ministers Joseph Alexander and David Caldwell. McCorkle graduated from the College of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1772 and married Margaret Gillespie in 1776. The couple had ten children. Ordained a minister in the Presbyterian church in 1777, McCorkle became pastor of Thyatira Church in Rowan County, NC. He also was a trustee of Liberty Hall Academy in Charlotte, NC, which was closed after the Revolutionary War but relocated to Salisbury, where it was chartered as the Salisbury Academy in 1784. McCorkle served as the Academy's president and teacher until it closed in 1791; then he and his congregation founded Zion-Parnassus Academy, which continued to operate until about 1798, when a second Salisbury Academy was established. Though McCorkle had drafted the first proposal for a university in 1784, had designed a curriculum and regulations for its operation in 1792, and remained a prominent educator most of his life, he declined to support the University in about 1800 because he believed that the institution had abandoned Christian principles for the "false thinking" of French deism. In 1792 he received an honorary doctorate from Dickinson College. He retired from the pulpit in 1806 and died in 1811 at the age of sixty-four (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 4:128-30).