Furman President 1903-1918
Photograph from The Shakespeare Club of the
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1914, found in Folder 9, Box 15
Edwin McNeill Poteat was born on February 6, 1861 in Caswell County, North Carolina, to James and Julia A. McNeill Poteat. He earned degrees from Wake Forest University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY. He was ordained to the Baptist ministry in 1884, and held several pastorates over the next two decades. He married Harriet Hale Gordon on October 24, 1889, and they had eight children: Gordon, Edwin McNeill, Jr., John Robinson, Priscilla, Isabella Graves, James Douglass, Clarissa Hale, and Arthur Barron.
Poteat became President of Furman University in 1903, and he remained in that post until 1918. He continued preaching and teaching until his death and was involved in many Baptist organizations. In 1921, Poteat visited his missionary sons, Gordon and Edwin McNeill, Jr, in Shanghai, and he stayed and taught at the University of Shanghai for the next six years. He continued teaching in universities and preaching upon his return to the United States.
He died on June 25, 1937 in Durham and was buried in the Furman University plot in Springwood Cemetery, Greenville, S.C.
Gordon Poteat was born on April 11, 1891. He was born in New Haven, Connecticut but grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. He graduated from Furman University in 1910, and went on to receive his Masterís degree from Wake Forest College and completed his theological training at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Poteat left for Kaifeng, China in 1915 to be a missionary of the Foreign Missionary Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he remained there for four years. He left Kaifeng in 1921 to become a professor of New Testament and Ethics at the University of Shanghai.
Poteat returned to the United States in 1927 and worked for a year as educational secretary for the Student Volunteer Movement and editor of its monthly magazine. He left for Denver to become pastor of City Park Baptist Church for two years before returning to the University of Shanghai as a representative of the Northern Baptist Convention. In 1937, he left Shanghai for the States, and became a Professor of Social Ethics and Homiletics at Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania. Poteat wrote several books regarding missionary work and China.
Poteat married Helen Anne Carruthers, and they had at least two children: Anne Poteat Rose (1917) and Wallace Bagby (January 28, 1923). He died in November 1986 in Florida.