My sincere thanks to Wes Neel, a recent graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, who has been digging into his own family’s history and along the way has turned up some information on the early ministry of Dr. J. Oliver Buswell. During World War I, Buswell served as a Chaplain with the 140th Infantry during World War I and was cited in orders for distinguished bravery. Wes found mention of his own great-grandfather and of Chaplain Buswell in the book From Doniphan to Verdun: The Official History of the 140th Infantry, by Evan A. Edwards (Lawrence, KS: The World Company, 1920).
On page 46 of the book, there is this glowing description of Chaplain Buswell and his ministry:
“Two Chaplains joined us in the Vosges. Chaplain Oliver P. Buswell, Jr. [sic], a Presbyterian who was assigned tot he second Battalion. Chaplain Buswell, a young man of twenty-three, was gifted with a magnificent physique, a splendid musical voice, brains and common sense. He won the hearts of the men at once, and his work was of the greatest value to the regiment. There was no more popular chaplain in the A.E.F. He was wounded in the Argonne, and cited in orders for bravery. He did not know the meaning of fear, and thought only of his men. From the 17th of August, when he joined the regiment, his presence and influence was of the greatest value. His genuine and simple Christian spirit won the respect and admiration of all who knew him. Always cheerful, never discouraging, he deserves with Chaplain Hart the credit for making real religion respected in the regiment.”
After the war, Chaplain Buswell went on to become Dr. Buswell, serving as pastor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Brooklyn, NY, and then appointed to serve as the third president of Wheaton College in 1926. He served there for fourteen years before taking over the presidency of the National Bible Institute in New York City. In 1956 he was called to be the Dean of Covenant Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, and he remained in this post until retirement in 1970.
For more about Dr. Buswell, see the information on his manuscript collection preserved at the PCA Historical Center. This collection comprises seventeen cubic feet of correspondence and both published and unpublished writings by Dr. Buswell.