Akers, (Rev.) Peter, (deceased), was born in Campbell County, Virginia, September 1, 1790. He received his education at different institutions of learning in Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky. The degree of master of Arts was conferred on him by Transylvania University, Kentucky. The courses of study that he pursued in those institutions included English, Latin, Greek and Hebrew, in which branches he was regarded as eminently proficient, and in which he taught classes in the institutions named. He was also President for some time of a State Institution in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. He studied law with Major W. P. Fleming, and in March, 1817, obtained a license to practice in all the courts of that State. While carrying on his extensive practice, he also edited and published a political Whig paper, called the “Star”. Becoming deeply convinced that it was his duty to preach the Gospel, he quit the practice of law, and in 1821, joining the Methodist Episcopal Church, he entered the ranks of itinerant Methodist preachers. In 1832, at his request, he was transferred to the Illinois Conference, and Jacksonville thereafter became the chief place of his residence, except the intervals when he was President of McKendree college at different times, and during his residence of a few years in Minnesota. In the year 1836 he established the Ebenezer Manual Labor School, four miles northwest of Jacksonville, an account of which is given elsewhere.
Dr. Akers was a man of marked character, of large frame, of giant intellect, of extensive learning, and of wonderful eloquence. He would have been a leader in any department of activity. He stood in the church the peer of the foremost. As a preacher he was rarely equaled, never surpassed. His profound knowledge of the Scriptures, his fidelity to his convictions, his eloquence and humility, combined with his impressive and massive physique, united in making him the most powerful preacher in the West when in the meridian of his years. He was as remarkable for his modesty and humility as for his distinguished abilities. He never sought ecclesiastical preferment. He was sent as a delegate from his conference to eight General Conferences, and usually the first of the delegations. At one of those conferences he came within one vote of being elected a Bishop of the Church. He was one of the committee of nine in the memorable General Conference of 1844, when the slavery agitation in the church reached its culmination in the Plan of Separation presented by that committee was adopted, but which was not carried out by the Southern Conferences which hastened to secede and organize the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. He was the Boanerges of Methodism in his day. Who is able to sketch his grand life, or compass his colossal intellect? When a nonagenarian he still walked our streets; and at times in public address the old time fire and force of fifty years before would illumine his face. In Jacksonville, Illinois, on February 21, 1886, was ended his earthly life, in many respects the most remarkable in the history of Methodism in the great Northwest.