Traveling fundraiser for the University at Lewisburg,
and long-time missionary in Burma
Eugenio Kincaid was born in 1797 in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the eldest son of eight children born to Presbyterian parents, Dr. Noah Kincaid, a physician, and Lydia Hough Kincaid. Gravitating toward the Baptist faith, he was baptized in 1813 at the DeKalb Baptist Church in New York, and was then accepted at the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution (later Madison, then Colgate, University) where he became one of the five students who formed the first graduating class in 1822. Following graduation, he assumed the pastorate of the Baptist parish of Galway, New York.
In 1826, after four years at Galway, Kincaid moved to Milton, Pennsylvania, and founded the First Baptist Church. He was also named editor of the Literary and Evangelical Register which was printed in Milton. He married a Miss Almy, born in Mount Zion, Pennsylvania, in 1805. They had two sons, Eugenio Wade Kincaid, born in June 1827, and Judson Kincaid, born in June 1829.
Kincaid then entered foreign mission work. He and the Reverend Francis Mason were posted to Burma by the Executive Committee of the Baptist Mission Union. They were sent to continue the pioneering work of Dr. Adoniram Judson who had begun his endeavors in Rangoon on July 14, 1813. The Kincaids sailed from Boston the same month that Judson Kincaid died. Leaving on May 24, 1830, the family reached Burma on November 27. A year later, Mrs. Kincaid gave birth to another son who died, unnamed, of a fever. She died soon after, on December 19, 1831. Despite these tragedies, Kincaid persevered, and began to build a new life in Burma.
The early years at Kincaid's post were difficult ones. He was plagued by both the language barrier and an unreceptive government. First based at Moulmein, the solitary outpost established by Dr. Adoniram Judson, one of the few areas where the Baptists had made progress, Kincaid soon became known as the "hero missionary." He traveled into areas previously unknown to Western man, visiting over three hundred towns and villages. Accounts tell of his many courageous feats in surveying the country, learning various dialects, and preaching the Baptist word to Burma's native tribes.
Eugenio Kincaid, the "Hero Missionary"
By 1832 Kincaid was located in Rangoon. A year later, he married Barbara McBain, born in Madras Presidency, South India. She has been described as an Englishwoman whose father was employed with the East India Company. They had two daughters. Eugenio Wade died before Kincaid was forced to return to the United States in 1842 for a eight-year period to recover from persistent health problems.
During this leave of absence, Kincaid worked strenuously to help found the University at Lewisburg (renamed Bucknell University in 1886), through his ties to the Northumberland Baptist Association, the organization initiating the planning and fund-raising for the new university. He worked diligently to rally support for the fledgling institution. In 1845, working with the Reverend Joel E. Bradley (later Secretary of the Trustees from 1846-1848), Kincaid helped convince Professor Stephen Taylor, who had recently resigned from the faculty of Madison University, to join the new venture in Lewisburg. Taylor was an experienced educator with practical expertise in the organizational and curricular structuring of an academic institution. Eugenio Kincaid became a charter member of the Board of Trustees from 1846 through 1850, and was appointed Soliciting Agent. He canvassed extensively throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey between 1847 and the closing of the subscription period on January 9, 1849.
When Kincaid returned to his mission work in 1850, he presented himself to the new King who was interested in developing trade between the United States and Burma. The King invited Kincaid to visit the royal court, and allowed him to preach under government sanction. Kincaid's command of the language and knowledge of Burmese customs enabled him to serve as an ambassador of good will between the two countries. He traveled back to the United States in 1857 as official messenger and translator for the King of Burma, and President of the United States, James Buchanan (member of the university's Board of Curators, 1846-1861). Kincaid was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity by the university in 1858 before his return to Burma.
Kincaid retired from missionary work in 1865, settling in Girard, Kansas, until his death on April 3, 1883. His second wife died soon after, on April 27. The remarkable career of Eugenio Kincaid formed the university's first international links. His dedication and strength of character became symbols of the University at Lewisburg throughout Burma. He encouraged the university's first international student, Burmese native Maung Shaw Loo, Class of 1864, to come to Lewisburg.