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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Totten, William Theophilus

by Ralph Hardee Rives, 1996

13 Feb. 1862–26 Nov. 1936

See also: Totten, Henry Roland, from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography

William Theophilus Totten, minister, educator, and president of Yadkin Collegiate Institute (later Yadkin College) for twenty-six years, was born in Rockingham County, the eldest son of the Reverend John Henry and Margaret Frances Smith Totten. Both his father and an uncle, the Reverend Felix M. Totten, were members of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church, and a brother, the Reverend J. Felix Totten, joined the North Carolina Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

William T. Totten attended local schools and Oak Ridge Institute, from which he was graduated in 1881. Afterwards he was graduated from Yadkin College and taught at Pilot Mountain, Yadkin College, and other places in North Carolina. He was the last Methodist Protestant minister to obtain a degree from Yadkin College. He was admitted to the conference of his denomination in 1885 and was ordained in 1888. He served charges in Albemarle, Halifax, LaGrange, Mecklenburg County, Greenville, Shiloh, Catawba, Mocksville, Union Grove, and Draper. In 1898 he personally assumed responsibility for the indebtedness of Yadkin College and for the next twenty-six years conducted the school as Yadkin Collegiate Institute. After the institute closed in 1924, when it was consolidated with High Point College, Totten was again given ministerial assignments in the Methodist Protestant Conference.

He married Mrs. Jeannette Barham Daniel of Pleasant Hill in 1891, and they had three children: Henry Roland, John T., and Lucy Battle. After his wife's death in July 1923, he married Callie Tarkington of Chowan County in 1925. She died in 1929, and in 1931 he married Mrs. Ella Norman Cobb, of Halifax, Va., who died in 1936. Totten died at Yadkin College and was buried there.


Virginia G. Fick, Country College on the Yadkin (1984).

Greensboro, Methodist Protestant Herald, 4 Feb. 1937.

Nolan B. Harmon, ed., Encyclopedia of World Methodism (1974).

Journal of the North Carolina Annual Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church .

Olin B. Michael, Yadkin College, 1846–1924: A Historic Sketch (1939).

Additional Resources:

"Gone But Not Forgotten, North Carolina's Educational Past." North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed January 16, 2014).

Parker, Ellen Owen. "Yadkin College Was Once A Center Of Intellectual, Social Activity." The Dispatch [Lexington, N.C.]. November 16, 1977. 9. (accessed January 16, 2014).

Michael, Olin Bain. 1939. Yadkin College, 1856-1924 a historic sketch. Salisbury, N.C.: Rowan Print. Co.