Sketches of Students of First
REV. ERASTUS WENTWORTH, D.D., was born in Stonington, Connecticut, August 5, 1813. He is of New York Dutch and Yankee descent, his maternal grandfather being Adam Staats, while his paternal grandfather was a descendant of the early New Hampshire settlers.
His early years were spent in district and select schools, and under the training of the Congregational Church, until 1831, when, in a revival under Methodist auspices, he was converted and became a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Declining an offered license to exhort, with a view to proposed immediate preaching, he set his mind on acquiring an education as a preparation for such work. Intending at first to go to Wilbraham Academy, a friend directed his attention to Cazenovia. Steaming down through Long Island Sound and up the Hudson to Albany, by the cars (the first season they were in use) to Schenectady, to Utica by canal, and thence to Cazenovia by stage, he found himself at last at the point of his destination, with a keen relish for the object which had drawn him hither. His name first appears in the catalogue of 1832. Graduated at Wesleyan University in 1837. Thinking of nothing but preaching, the providence of God confined him to teaching for the next seventeen years, first at Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary, in connection with Rev. J. T. Peck; then, in 1841, at Poultney, Vermont, with Mr. Peck at its head. In 1846, president of M'Kendree College, Lebanon, Illinois. This was a field of varied and earnest labor. With lectures, recitations; conferences, visitations, quarterly meetings, camp meetings, dedications, and extensive travels to rally students and raise funds for the institution, the new president found himself abundantly employed, while his salary was less than four hundred dollars a year; and yet he never lived better, or laid aside more money a year, than at M'Kendree. When he left he put all those savings out at long interest, in a subscription of two hundred and fifty dollars toward a new building, of which he laid the corner-stone on the eve of his departure for Dickinson College, in 1850, where he held the position of professor of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry. About this time he was honored with the doctorate by Alleghany College. In 1854 a train of most singular providences culminated in sending him from the professor's chair to the Methodist Mission in Foochow, China. His work in the mission was highly honored, the last of which was baptizing some fourteen converts at an out station in the country. In 1862 the health of his wife, who had scarcely walked for a year, and whose only hope of recovery was in a change of climate, impelled him to return to the United States. On his return he took pastoral work in the Troy Conference, in which he continued until 1872, when his election to the editorship of the "Ladies' Repository" took him to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Wentworth is a fluent and spicy writer, possessing enough eccentricity and romance to mark his individuality. In the pulpit he is original, fruitful, eloquent, and spiritual. In all his positions and relations his ministrations have been equal to the occasion. He is modest and unambitious, yet worthy of all honor.
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