William Howard Doane


Artist Birtday : 03/02/1832 (Age 83)
Born In : Preston, Connecticut
Occupation(s) : Manufacturer, Inventor, Hymn Writer, Choral Director, Church Leader and Philanthropist.

Doane was born in Preston, Connecticut on February 3, 1832. His parents were Joseph Howes Doane (1797-1854) and Frances Treat Doane (1799-1881). He was the fifth of eight children. His father was the head of Doane and Treat, cotton manufacturers. At a young age, Doane showed impressive musical talent. By early adolescence, he was playing the flute, violin and double bass fiddle.

Doane attended the Woodstock Academy, a private secondary school affiliated with the Congregational church and located in Woodstock, Connecticut. His musical talents enabled him to serve as the school’s choir director. Upon graduation in 1848, Doane went to work in the accounting section of his father’s company. From there he moved to J. A. Fay & Company, a woodworking machinery company, for a long career leading to the company’s presidency. On November 2, 1857, Doane married Mary Frances Treat, the daughter of his father’s partner in their cotton manufacturing business.

Doane assumed increasing responsibility with J. A. Fay & Company, as he travelled to assignments in Chicago, Illinois and Cincinnati, Ohio. By the age of thirty-four, Doane had risen to the position of president at the company’s new headquarters in Cincinnati.

During his leadership, the company successfully filed many patents for woodmaking machinery. More than seventy patents were registered in Doane’s name, giving him credit for the inventions. Doane guided the company through its most successful years.

His business skills extended beyond manufacturing. He was the president of the Central Trust and Safe Deposit Company, as well as a director of the Barney and Smith Car Company of Dayton, Ohio. His achievements earned him ‘fellow’ status in several professional organizations, including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Mining Engineers, the American Geographical Society and the American Society for the Advancement of Science. Doane emerged as a prominent figure in Cincinnati’s business and cultural life. By 1879 his accumulated wealth allowed him to purchase the impressive “Sunny Side” mansion as his family’s residence in the city’s Mt. Auburn neighborhood. “Sunny Side” is located in the Mount Auburn Historic District at 2223 Mt. Auburn Avenue.

Although raised in a Presbyterian household, Doane converted to his mother’s Baptist faith, while a young student at Woodstock Academy. This conversion began a lifelong commitment to service in that church, through his musical compositions, choir direction, denominational leadership and philanthropy.

Doane was a prolific composer of Christian hymn tunes. He edited forty-three collections of hymns and composed an estimated 2,300 works, including hundreds of original hymns and hymn settings. He is best known as a longtime collaborator of Fanny Crosby, having written music for an estimated 1,500 of Crosby’s poems.  As well as hymns, Doane composed secular instrumental, vocal, and choral works, including two cantatas on the legend of Santa Claus.

At Mt. Auburn Baptist Church in Cincinnati’s Mt. Auburn neighborhood, Doane served long tenures as superintendent of the Sunday school program and director of the choir. As a denominational leader, he headed the Ohio Baptist Convention Ministers Aid Society. The church is located on Mt. Auburn Avenue, a short distance from the Doane family’s “Sunny Side” residence.

Doane generously supported Baptist churches and institutions. He was an important contributor to the Granville Academy, a school for boys preparing to enter Denison University, a school with a strong Baptist heritage. In recognition of his significant support for the academy, including funds to construct conservatory buildings for music and art and a gymnasium, the academy was renamed the ‘Doane Academy’ in 1895.