Columbia City Historical Marker, Main & North Streets:

Dr. Lloyd C. Douglas 1877-1951

Lloyd Cassel Douglas, minister and author, was born on this site, August 27, 1877. His father, A.J. Douglas, was pastor of Grace Lutheran Church at that time.

Lloyd Douglas became a minister and served a number of Lutheran and Congregational churches. To reach the unchurched, Dr. Douglas wrote novels with an ethical, spiritual, or Biblical history theme. Best known are Magnificent Obsession, The Robe, and The Big Fisherman. Douglas died February 13, 1951, in California.

Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 1988

August 27, 1877 – February 13, 1951

Article Submitted by Shirley Rogers; taken from Indiana Authors and Their Books 1917-1966 (1974)

Lloyd Cassel Douglas, American novelist, was born in Columbia City, Indiana, the son of the Rev. Alexander Jackson Douglas (later a physician) and Sarah Jane (Cassel) Douglas. He was educated at Wittenberg College, Springfield, Ohio (B.A., 1900; M.A. 1903), then went to Hamma Divinity School (B.D. 1903). He was ordained as a Lutheran minister and became pastor of the Zion Lutheran Church, North Manchester, Indiana, from 1903-1905. In 1904 he was married to Bessie Io Porch; they had two daughters.

The next year he moved to the First Church, Lancaster, Ohio, and in 1908 to the Lutheran Memorial Church, Washington, D.C. While there he was chaplain of the First Infantry, District of Columbia. From 1911 to 1915 he was director of religious work at the University of Illinois, then became minister of the First Congregational Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he stayed till 1921. From 1921 to 1926 he was at the First Church in Akron, Ohio, from 1926 to 1929 at the First Church in Los Angeles, from 1929 to 1933 at St. James United Church, Montreal. He then retired from the ministry and devoted all his time to writing.

Mr. Douglas’ first books were entirely of a religious or inspirational nature. He was in the midst of a series of lectures on ‘personality expansion’ when, at over fifty, he suddenly wrote his first novel, Magnificent Obsession. No one was more surprised than he at its immense success, or at that of his next novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses. He said modestly: “Most reviewers are agreed that the author has done a clumsy piece of work, and wonder that the thing is read….They are a pair of old-fashioned novels in which the characters are tiresomely decent and everything turns out happily in the end.”

Soon, more novels were added to the list. All are of the same nature and all are enormously popular, both as books and, in most cases, as screen plays later on.

Looking back over the novels of the past half century that have contrived to outlive the decade in which they were published, one is impressed by the very considerable number of stories which have endured because of their moral purpose rather than their literary workmanship.

To the editors of Indiana Authors and Their Books, from which this article was taken, he wrote: “If my novels are entertaining I am glad, but they were not written so much for the purpose of entertainment as of inspiration. There are many people who realize their great need of ethical and spiritual counsel, but are unwilling to look for it in a serious homily or didactic essay. It has been my belief that many such persons can be successfully approached by a novel, offering in a form palatable to them the inspiration they seek.

There will always be room for the ‘purpose novel,’ and aspiring young writers will do well to consider the importance of the school of fiction that is more concerned with healing bruised spirits than winning the applause of critics.”

Mr. Douglas’ principal works were: Wanted – A Congregation, 1920; The Minister’s Everyday Life, 1924; These Sayings of Mine, 1926; Those Disturbing Miracles, 1927; Magnificent Obsession, 1929; Forgive Us Our Trespasses, 1932; Precious Jeopardy, 1933; Green Light, 1935; White Banners, 1936; Home for Christmas, 1937; Disputed Passage, 1939; Invitation to Live, 1940; The Robe, 1942; The Big Fisherman, 1948; Time to Remember, 1951; and The Living Faith, 1955.

Other articles written about him include: Cosmopolitan Magazine, November 1938; Newsweek, January 16, 1939; Rotarian, December 1940; Time, January 16, 1939; Wilson Library Bulletin, December 1932.

Source: North Manchester Journal, May 11, 1905

A Class in English

Rev. L.C. Douglas is arranging to tutor a class in constructive English during the coming summer, and asks all interested in this study to meet him at his home of Friday evening between six and nine o'clock. In speaking of his plan Mr. Douglas says he will not include grammar, but will take up the principles of rhetoric most needed for short story writing, including the arrangement of conversation, and general plot conception. It would certainly seem that there is a need in many places for such instruction for it is a lamentable fact that English is much abused and has come to be a badly neglected study.

Source: North Manchester Journal, July 27, 1905


On Sunday Rev. L.C. Douglas resigned the pastorate of the Zion Lutheran church, and the first of the week he accepted the pastorate of the First Lutheran church of Lancaster, Ohio. They will move to that place at once, and he will take charge of the congregation August 6. Lancaster is quite a flourishing town of nearly ten thousand inhabitants, and is located 32 miles southeast of Columbus. Rev. Douglas has been the pastor of the church here for about two years, and during that time has filled the position very acceptably. He has made many friends here during his work, who regret very much to see him leave the town, but he sees better things ahead than North Manchester has offer and he carries with him the best wishes of all.

By his work here, Rev. Douglas has proven himself an able minister, being at once profound and practical in thought, and entertaining but not sensational in the presentation of his ideas. The Journal wishes for Rev. and Mrs. Douglas a happy home in the Buckeye state.

As yet the local congregation has made no definite arrangements to fill the vacancy.