Reverend Eugenio Kincaid, often called the “Hero Missionary,” was an important figure in the early history of Bucknell University. A Baptist minister and missionary, Reverend Eugenio Kincaid was a trustee of the University at Lewisburg (former name of Bucknell University) from the time the University was chartered in 1846 until 1850. As a trustee and friend of the University, Reverend Kincaid volunteered his time to lead the effort to raise the $100,000 required by the State of Pennsylvania to establish the University as an institution of higher education. Reverend Kincaid was also a fundamental influence with encouraging Maung Shaw Loo from Burma, to enroll in the University at Lewisburg as its first international student.
Kincaid was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut in 1797. In 1822, he was one of five students who graduated from the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, later known as Colgate University, located in Hamilton, New York. Upon graduation, Reverend Kincaid devoted his life to Baptist missionary work and founded the First Baptist Church in Milton, PA. Reverend Kincaid eventually took his missionary work abroad, and in the spring of 1830, he sailed from Boston to Moulmein, Burma. Reverend Kincaid studied the native language of the Burmese, and preached for the English soldiers stationed in Burmese ports. After a year of preparation and a year of travel among the Burmese people, he moved to Ava, the capital city of Burma. Pushing through many hardships, Reverend Kincaid eventually baptized eleven converts to the Baptist religion and organized them into a church.
Reverend Kincaid returned to the Susquehanna Valley in 1843 on missionary leave. It was during this time that he assisted in the commission of the Baptist Literary Association of Pennsylvania, which was critical to the founding of the University at Lewisburg. Appointed as a University trustee in 1846, Reverend Kincaid suggested Stephen W. Taylor be recruited to lead the establishment of the new university in the Susquehanna Valley. Professor Taylor was essential in acquiring the proper paperwork to found the new university, but it was Reverend Kincaid who was central to obtaining the $100,000 financial commitments required by the State of Pennsylvania to charter the University at Lewisburg. He spoke of the hardships of his travels when soliciting for financial commitments: “The roads in Pennsylvania have been nearly impassable since the middle of November. Ten churches more are to be visited, and then all the work is done south and west of Pittsburgh.” Despite this, Reverend Kincaid’s efforts yielded, in subscriptions, around $101,236.50.
In the mid-1850’s, Reverend Kincaid returned to missionary work in Burma. As a connection between the University at Lewisburg and Burma, Reverend Kincaid opened the door for a young Burmese student named Maung Shaw Loo to attend the University at Lewisburg. In 1858, Maung Shaw Loo became the first international student to enter the University, graduating in 1864. He went on to earn a degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Charity Medical College in Cleveland, Ohio, and later became a physician for the King of Burma. Reverend Kincaid developed connections with the King of Burma and was viewed as an ambassador of goodwill between the King and President James Buchanan of the United States. Reverend Kincaid returned to the United States in 1866, and settled in Giard, Kansas until his death on April 3, 1883.
Special Collection/University Archives has in its collection a lacquered box once belonging to Reverend Eugenio Kincaid, which he brought to the United States from Burma in 1843. The box was donated to Bucknell University in 1954 by Mrs. Leigh Shields and Miss Anna Judd. This special artifact is a reminder of Reverend Kincaid’s missionary work in Burma as well as his dedication and commitment to establishing an institution of higher education in the Susquehanna Valley. If you are interested in viewing Reverend Kincaid’s lacquered box or want to find out more about him and the important role he played in Bucknell University’s early history, please contact Special Collection/University Archives at email@example.com or 570-577-3101.