PROSSER, DILLON (2 July 1813-11 Apr. 1897), a Methodist leader and pioneer in social work as founder of the "Ragged School," was born in Otsego County, N.Y., at 17 was licensed to "exhort," and after 2 years at Western Reserve Seminary, received a license to preach in 1833. Prosser worked in churches in Pittsburgh between 1834-36, was ordained a deacon in 1836 and moved to Erie, and at 25 became an elder, the highest office he would achieve.

Prosser came to Cleveland in 1850, in 1853 opening a mission school for poor children. The "Ragged School" was an outreach effort of a young men's prayer group, forerunner of the YMCA; relief work was directed toward "the rescue of destitute children." With the assistance of women volunteers, Prosser visited homes reported to have malnourished, abused, or "idle" children. At school, these children received instruction, clothes, food, and shelter. The school was reorganized in 1856 as the City Industrial School and in later years changed names several times as it was managed by different charities. Prosser was responsible for organizing 9 Methodist Episcopal churches in Cleveland and several others outside the city. He made money from real-estate investments and contributed a considerable part of it, including land, to religious and charitable work. Prosser married 3 times. In 1840 he married Caroline Blakeslee. After her death in 1849, he married May Holloway in 1850. She died a few years later, and he married Cornelia McFarlane of CHAGRIN FALLS in 1856. Prosser was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Article Categories