From Ohio History Central
During the mid nineteenth century, John Black Johnston was a prominent minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America in Ohio.
Johnston was born on March 13, 1802, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Franklin College in 1829, and he then enrolled in the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1832, Johnston received his license to preach, and in 1834, he was formally ordained as a Reformed Presbyterian minister. Also in 1834, Johnston became the minister of a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Miami, Ohio. He remained at this church until 1845, when he traveled to Haiti as a missionary.
Following his trip to Haiti, Johnston returned to Ohio, where he settled in Northwood, in Logan County. In 1848, Johnston established Geneva College in Northwood. The college was affiliated with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The institution originally sought to train young men and women in the tenets of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Many students were active in the Underground Railroad, assisting runaway slaves to freedom. Geneva College closed during the American Civil War but resumed operations upon the conflict's termination. Due to low enrollment, during the 1870s, college administrators began to search for a more urban location for the institution. In 1879, Geneva College relocated to Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, where it continues to operate today.
Johnston remained at Geneva College until 1859, when he became the minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in St. Clairsville, Ohio. Johnston remained at this church until 1874, when poor health prompted him to retire. Johnston died on October 24, 1882, in St. Clairsville.
- Siebert, Wibur H. The Underground Railroad: From Slavery to Freedom. New York: Russell & Russell, 1898.
- Minutes of the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church. N.p.: n.p., n.d.