Reverend Samuel Witherspoon Doak was born March 24, 1785. His father, Reverend Samuel Doak, was the first Presbyterian minister to settle in the frontier region that would later be known as Tennessee.
Rev. Doak also founded the Salem Presbyterian Church in 1780 and, by 1783, he received a charter for the first school in Tennessee, Martin Academy, later known as Washington College. Rev. Samuel W. Doak graduated from his father’s college in 1806 and was licensed to preach by Abingdon Presbytery in 1807.
In 1808, he married Sarah Houston McEwen and they became the parents of 13 children between the years of 1809 and 1838. By 1830, the Doak family moved to the museum’s current location at Frank Creek, where the Rev. Samuel W. Doak built his impressive brick home, erected a log structure for Tusculum Academy, and served as preacher to Mount Bethel and Providence Presbyterian Churches.
When he started Tusculum Academy, Rev. Samuel W. Doak had only four students, but as local population increased, his enrollment soon grew to thirty-five.
So, in 1841, he began soliciting funds for a new, larger school building. During this time, he received a $20 donation from Andrew Johnson for the project.
In 1844, Tusculum Academy became Tusculum College. Rev. S. W. Doak’s new building, now called “Old College”, currently houses the Pres. Andrew Johnson Museum and Library. Besides teaching and preaching, Samuel W. Doak also served as President of Washington College from 1838-1840 and President of Tusculum College from 1842 until his death in 1864.
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