Erastus Wentworth (Dickinson Chronicles)

John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., "Erastus Wentworth," Dickinson Chronicles,
Erastus Wentworth was born in Stonington, Connecticut on August 5, 1813. He was educated at local and Congregationalist schools till at eighteen he converted to Methodism at a revival. He attended the Cazenovia Seminary beginning in 1832 and by 1837 had earned an undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University.

He embarked on his teaching career at Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary in 1838, serving under the young Jesse Truesdell Peck. He followed Peck to his new post as head of the Troy Conference Academy in Poultney, Vermont in 1841. In 1846 Wentworth himself was named to the presidency of McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. In 1850 he was unanimously elected to the chair of Natural Philosophy and Chemistry at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, replacing Spencer Fullerton Baird who had resigned to accept a position as Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. His old mentor Peck was again involved in this appointment as he was currently serving as the tenth president of Dickinson. Allegheny College had awarded him a doctorate in 1850, and Doctor Wentworth's combination of preaching skills and a witty but gentle sarcasm made him a extremely popular professor among students at the College over the next four years. But in 1854, he resigned his position to lead a Methodist Mission to Foochow in China, taking with him some of the Dickinson graduating class, notably Otis Gibson.

He served in China until 1862 when the declining health of his wife forced the couple's return to the Troy Conference as a pastor. In 1872, he was named as editor of the Ladies Repository which was then published in Cincinnati, Ohio. He left this post four years later and entered a semi-retirement mostly spent writing and serving on committees for the Methodist Church. On May 26, 1886, Erastus Wentworth died at his home in Sandy Hill, New York. He was seventy-three years old.
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