The Blair-Stifler Family Papers contain materials relating primarily to William Henry Stifler (1840-1895), Sarah Brown Stifler (1845-1948), Roy Blair (1886-1971), and Lucy Stifler Blair (1887-1978). Smaller amounts of material relate to Rebecca Stifler, Warren Leverett (1805-1872), Washington Leverett (1805-1889), Mary Ann Leverett (1812-1901), Mary Leverett Greene (1839-1918), William Warren Leverett (1841-1872), Lucy Leverett Greene (1867-1919), Mary Atherton Stifler (1875-1889), Juliet Leverett Stifler (1877-1953), and William Warren Stifler (1883-1954).
William Henry Stifler was born in Hollidaysburg, Penn., on March 25, 1841, the son of John H. and Rebecca (Kinsel) Stifler. At the age of 16 he moved to Alton, Ill., where he worked for H. Spalding, a farmer. In 1858 Stifler entered Shurtleff College, graduating from the college course in 1866 and from the theological course in 1869. During the Civil War he enlisted in Co. D of the 133rd Illinois Infantry, serving several months as a clerk at the Rock Island Prison Barracks. In 1869 he was ordained as a Baptist minister at Pana, Ill., and worked as a pastor there for several years.
On September 27, 1870, Stifler married Sarah Brown "Brownie" Leverett, the daughter of Warren Leverett, a former professor of Shurtleff College.
After leaving Pana in 1872, Stifler spent the remainder of the 1870s and a portion of the 1880s as a pastor in Iowa, serving in Cedar Falls from 1872-76, in Cedar Rapids from 1876-79, and in Davenport from 1879-1885.
In 1885 the American Baptist Home Missionary Society appointed Stifler to be president of Roger Williams University, an African-American school in Nashville, Tenn. Stifler's tenure as the head of Roger Williams University proved to be a stormy one. In 1887 the Board of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society forced Stifler out as president after a student protest that attracted national headlines.
From 1887-1892 Stifler was the pastor of the Eighteenth Street Church in Detroit. While here he became associated with W. J. H. Traynor, publisher of "The Patriotic American" newspaper and a member of the American Protective Association. Stifler denounced Catholicism in addresses delivered at the Eighteenth Street Church and at an A.P.A. meeting held in Saginaw, Mich.
Stifler's last pastorate was at the First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, S.D., and lasted from 1892 until 1895. He died on August 8, 1895.
Boxes 3-19 of the Blair-Stifler Family Papers contain materials relating to William Henry Stifler. The collection provides especially good coverage of William Henry Stifler's career as a Baptist minister and include many of his sermons from 1862 until 1895. Stifler's two years as president of Roger Williams University also are well documented in his correspondence. Diaries and correspondence with his mother offer insight into Stifler's years at Shurtleff College.
The collection also contains a large amount of material relating to Sarah Brown "Brownie" Stifler--in Boxes 19-32. She died at the age of 103 in 1948, outliving her husband by 53 years. She was active in Baptist causes and this aspect of her life is well covered in the collection as are family matters.
Boxes 35-41 contain materials relating to Lucy Stifler Blair, a daughter of William Henry and Sarah Brown Stifler, and her husband Roy Blair, an insurance agent from Upper Alton, Ill. Family matters are well documented in these boxes.