Cora Wright Lawhead, wife of James Lawhead, 1880s.

Photo courtesy of Center for Adventist Research.

Loughhead (Lawhead) (1860–1937), James White and Cora Maria (Wright) (1860–1912)

By Sabrina Riley


Sabrina Riley was born in Auburn, New York and raised in Dowagiac, Michigan. She received a B.A. in history from Andrews University and an M.A. in information and libraries studies from the University of Michigan. Riley was a member of Andrews University’s library staff from 1998 to 2003, library director and college archivist at Union College from 2003 to 2016, and is presently a freelance researcher, author, and information professional.


First Published: January 29, 2020

James White Loughhead (Lawhead) was an Adventist educator and administrator in the United States of America.

James White Loughhead (Lawhead after 1904) was born in Elmira, New York, United States of America, on May 28, 1860, to John A. (1827–after 1910) and Mary M. (Truesdell; 1834–1887) Loughhead. The middle of three children, James had one older brother, Samuel H. (1858–1879), and a younger brother, Norman T. (1872–1951), who followed his brother’s footsteps to Battle Creek College, Union College (where he graduated), Mount Vernon Academy, and Washington Training College. At the latter two institutions, Norman Loughhead served as a printer. Their paternal grandmother, Jane Loughhead (1804–1872), was born in Ireland. As a young widow, she joined the Adventist movement around 1850.1

Mary Loughhead joined the Adventist Church about 1852.2 John A. Loughhead was a regular supporter of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald beginning in 1852.3 Thus, the Loughhead children were raised in an Adventist home.

Education and Marriage

James Loughhead attended church school in Battle Creek, Michigan. He later enrolled at Battle Creek College as a student for a time before he was promoted to teacher. He also met his first wife here, a fellow student and teacher. Loughhead married Cora Maria Wright (May 9, 1860–August 5, 1912), daughter of John D. and Mattie Wright of Hillsdale, Michigan, on June 27, 1886, in Battle Creek. Their marriage was witnessed by William C. Sisley and his wife. Sisley and Loughhead would become close associates at Union College.4

Cora Wright was baptized in 1872 and became a member of the Battle Creek church. She attended Battle Creek College and graduated from the Michigan State normal school in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1879. She taught in Battle Creek’s public schools for several years and then joined the faculty of Battle Creek College in the fall of 1885, where she continued to teach English after her marriage in 1886. She accompanied her husband to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, and later Mount Vernon Academy in Mount Vernon, Ohio. At both institutions, she assisted with administrative duties and teaching. She suffered a severe illness in 1906 from which she appeared to recover, but she was diagnosed with cancer in 1911 and died on August 5, 1912, comforted by her mother’s care in Hillsdale, Michigan.5 James and Cora Loughhead had two sons, Cecil W. (June 12, 1894–May 20, 1917) and James Harold (July 26, 1899–October 9, 1990).


As a student at Battle Creek College, Loughhead excelled and was made an instructor of history and geography after he completed his studies.6 When his mother died in 1886, Loughhead’s 14-year-old brother, Norman, came to live with him and attended Battle Creek College as well. In 1890, Loughhead’s friend Sisley went to Lincoln, Nebraska, to construct buildings for the new Union College. The following year, Loughhead also moved to Nebraska, serving as the principal of Union College from 1891 to 1893, when he was made president. Union College’s first president, W. W. Prescott, was simultaneously president of Battle Creek College in Michigan and Healdsburg College in Angwin, California; thus, for the first two years of the school’s operation, Loughhead was in charge of its daily operation.

In 1896, Loughhead was called to Mount Vernon Academy, where he was principal, treasurer, and business manager. Under his leadership, the student industries of broom making and printing were introduced in 1899.

While public records use a variety of spellings for the name Loughhead throughout his lifetime, after James White Loughhead moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, and became the first president of Washington Training College (now Washington Adventist University) in 1904, he consistently spelled his own surname “Lawhead.” He remained at Washington Training College until 1907. Under his leadership, in 1906, the college offered a special missionary training course in response to the Missionary Education Movement and started a nurses’ training course.7

Later Life

Lawhead retired in 1907 due to ill health. He settled first in Falls Church, Virginia, and attempted farming. On March 29, 1915, in Van Wert, Ohio, he also remarried. His second wife, Edna Cockrell (August 14, 1880–December 30, 1945), was a literature evangelist and Bible worker in Washington, D.C. Her parents, Samuel and Abigail (Abbott) Cockrell, joined the Adventist Church when she was a young child.8 Edna Cockrell was baptized about 1901.9

Lawhead’s farming effort was short-lived, and the family moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where his son Cecil drowned in an alleged suicide in 1917. Sometime after 1920, James and Edna Lawhead moved to New York, living in locations in and around Elmira. Later, they moved to Ohio, where James White Lawhead died on January 30, 1937, in Elgin. Edna Lawhead also died in Elgin on December 30, 1945.


Battle Creek, Michigan. Marriage Records, 1867–1952. Record number 6283. James W. Loughhead and Cora Maria Wright. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan. Accessed June 24, 2019.

“Edna Cockrell Lawhead obituary.” ARH, July 18, 1946.

“For Printing Materials.” ARH, July 8, 1852.

Lawhead, J. H. [sic]. “Washington Training College: Close of First Session.” ARH, May 11, 1905.

Lawhead, J. W. “Special Course for Workers and Others.” West Michigan Herald, September 5, 1906.

———. “Mary M. Loughhead obituary.” ARH, February 8, 1887.

Loughhead, Jefferson. “Jane Loughhead obituary.” ARH, May 14, 1872.

“Nurses’ Course.” West Michigan Herald, December 12, 1906.

Prescott, W. W. “Cora W. Lawhead obituary.” ARH, September 5, 1912.

“Receipts.” ARH, July 8, 1852.

“Samuel R. Cockrell obituary.” ARH, August 13, 1931.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1907.


  1. Jefferson Loughhead, “Jane Loughhead obituary,” ARH, May 14, 1872, 175.

  2. J. W. Loughhead, “Mary M. Loughhead obituary,” ARH, February 8, 1887, 15.

  3. See “For Printing Materials,” ARH, July 8, 1852, 40; “Receipts,” ARH, July 8, 1852, 40.

  4. Battle Creek, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952, record number 6283, James W. Loughhead and Cora Maria Wright, Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan,, accessed June 24, 2019,

  5. W. W. Prescott, “Cora W. Lawhead obituary,” ARH, September 5, 1912, 23.

  6. Battle Creek, Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867–1952, Record Number 6283, James W. Loughhead and Cora Maria Wright.

  7. J. H. Lawhead [sic], “Washington Training College: Close of First Session,” ARH, May 11, 1905, 18; “Washington Training College,” Year Book of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1907), 109; J. W. Lawhead, “Special Course for Workers and Others,” West Michigan Herald, September 5, 1906, 4;“Nurses’ Course,” West Michigan Herald, December 12, 1906, 1–2.

  8. “Samuel R. Cockrell obituary,” ARH, August 13, 1931, 22.

  9. “Edna Cockrell Lawhead obituary,” ARH, July 18, 1946, 20.


Riley, Sabrina. "Loughhead (Lawhead) (1860–1937), James White and Cora Maria (Wright) (1860–1912)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed December 01, 2022.

Riley, Sabrina. "Loughhead (Lawhead) (1860–1937), James White and Cora Maria (Wright) (1860–1912)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access December 01, 2022,

Riley, Sabrina (2020, January 29). Loughhead (Lawhead) (1860–1937), James White and Cora Maria (Wright) (1860–1912). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 01, 2022,