Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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ELDER, William Henry, archbishop, born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1819. He was educated in Mount St. Mary's College, Emmettsburg, and afterward in the College of the Propaganda, Rome. After his ordination, in 1846, he was appointed president and professor of theology in Mount St. Mary's, where his ability attracted notice, and he was elected bishop of Natchez in 1857. When the civil war began he devoted all his energies to the care of the sick and wounded. Having refused to obey an order of the post commandant at Natchez, in 1864, who insisted on his inserting a form of prayer for the president of the United States in his ritual of worship, he was arrested and sent out of his diocese to Vidalia, La., but the order was subsequently revoked. He labored fearlessly in aid of the yellow fever sufferers in the epidemic of 1878, and was himself stricken down by the disease. In 1879 he was named coadjutor archbishop of San Francisco, but declined, giving as his reason that he could not leave his diocese when his people were suffering from yellow fever. In 1880 he was ordered by the pope to proceed as coadjutor archbishop to Cincinnati, which diocese had become involved in great financial difficulties. He did so, still retaining the administration of Natchez. He presided over the fourth provincial council of Cincinnati, held in 1882, and on the death of Archbishop Purcell, in the same year, became archbishop of Cincinnati.
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