Autumn brought an intriguing email out of the blue from a young man named Joshua Daniel Few. A native of Montana, Josh is part of the extensive family that includes a signer of the United States Constitution (William Few Jr. of Georgia), a controversial pre-Revolutionary rebel against British taxation (James Few, hanged by the British after the Battle of Alamance, in North Carolina), a president of Duke University (William Preston Few, buried in Duke Chapel), and someone well known to Emory–Ignatius Alphonso Few, the founding president of the college.
Josh now lives in South Dakota with his wife, Crista (a newly minted physician about to begin her practice), and their 13-month-old son, William James Few–the latest in a long and venerable lineage of William Fews.
As I understand the family tree, Josh is the direct descendant of William Few Sr.’s brother, James Sr., not to be confused with William Sr.’s son James, the one who was hanged. William Sr. was the grandfather of Ignatius Alphonso Few. That makes William Sr. Josh’s great-uncle times eight, and I.A. Few Josh’s first cousin nine times removed. If I have it right.
As the family genealogist, Josh had planned a week-long pilgrimage to Few family sites all along the East Coast. The capstone would come with a visit to Oxford. Josh kept a blog of their journey, and you can read it here.
Thus, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in November, my wife, Sara-Haigh, journeyed with me to Oxford to meet up with them. Joe Moon, the Oxford College dean of campus life, joined us on the Oxford Quad for a tour of Few shrines.
First up was Few Hall, one of the two oldest buildings owned by Emory University. Originally the home of one of the two debate societies organized by Emory College students in 1837, Few Hall was constructed in 1851 with funds raised by the society’s members and honors President Few. Renovated and expanded in 2001, the building now includes the Tarbutton Performing Arts Center.
A short stroll across the Oxford Quadrangle brought us to the Few Monument, in front of Seney Hall. Dedicated in 1849, ten years after ill health forced President Few to resign, and four years after his death from tuberculosis, the monument was the inspiration of Few’s fellow Freemasons — some 600 of whom showed up for the dedication.
After a tour of the Quad, including a stop into the library and Candler Hall, we drove down Wesley Street to the house that Ignatius Alphonso Few built in 1836. Since 1889, it has been home to the presidents of Emory College and, after the move of the college to Atlanta in 1919, home to Oxford College deans.
At the opposite end of town from the college campus spreads the old town cemetery. There, among generations of Oxford families, lies the grave of Ignatius Alphonso Few, who spent his last years in Athens, Georgia, before succumbing to tuberculosis. An inscription on his grave marker says that it was “erected by the Few Society of Emory College.”
Besides the pleasure of meeting this young family on a beautiful autumn afternoon, it’s no stretch to say that the occasion offered the first opportunity to begin recruiting little William James Few to the Class of 2038. That year will mark the bicentennial of the first classes taught on the Oxford campus.
Many will apply for admission, but let’s assume Few will be chosen.