The Sunday and Adult School Union was established in Philadelphia in 1817 and in 1824 changed its name to the American Sunday-School Union. The society published educational pamphlets and established Sunday schools throughout the United States in an effort to encourage religious education.
William S. Sedwick (1836-1866), the son of a Baptist minister, worked at New York City's Howard Mission before moving to Kentucky as a missionary for the American Sunday-School Union. He became the Sunday school agent for Kentucky in 1865 and was particularly successful in his work with children. That same year, Sedwick left the organization to open a home for war orphans, and he also founded the Children's Aid Society. His replacement, Otis Patten (1821-1893), had previously co-founded the Kentucky School for the Blind and resumed this work after his brief tenure with the American Sunday-School Union in Kentucky.
Robert Downey Blair (1821-1897), a native of Shelby County, Kentucky, was ordained in 1848 and in 1852 presided over several churches in Jefferson County, Kentucky. He resigned in 1868 and began to work with the American Sunday-School Union, primarily in Kentucky. In 1893, he moved to Missouri, where he led congregations in Blue Springs and Bates City. He and his wife, Lucinda Holloway, had nine children.