Rev. Alexander Donaldson, Founder of Elder's Ridge Academy
Rev. Alexander Donaldson was a Presbyterian minister and
graduate of the Canonsburg Academy in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and of
the Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He was fluent in four languages
and was the author of several books. A biographical sketch of him written at the
time also indicates that "...his moral character, his bearing and kindly
disposition, caused his students to revere him as 'Pater Donaldson'." As the
founder of the Elder's Ridge Academy, his school won a state-wide reputation as
a first-class college preparatory institution. Among its graduates were lawyers,
ministers, doctors, judges, and political officials. The school was named after
John Elder, who was one of the first settlers in the area. Like Donaldson, and
many of the early settlers, Elder was of Scotch-Irish descent.
The Academy was rescued from financial ruin by the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company in 1910. However, in 1914 it ceased and became the Elder's Ridge Vocational School and enjoyed fame throughout Pennsylvania. A third transition for this institution occurred in 1937 when it became a high school.
Photo: courtesy Clarence Stephenson, Indiana County 175th Anniversary History, vols.1, 4
(Indiana, Pennsylvania: Halldin Publishing Company, 1978, 1983), 483, 102.