Hunter Corbett

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Hunter Corbett
Hunter Corbett.jpg
Hunter Corbett
Born(1835-12-08)December 8, 1835
Clarion County, Pennsylvania, United States
DiedJanuary 7, 1920(1920-01-07) (aged 84)
Chefoo (Zhifu芝罘区, now Yantai), China
Occupation Missionary
Years active56 Years
Known forEducational Mission in China
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Culbertson
Mary Campbell Nixon
Harriet Robina Sutherland
ChildrenFanny Culbertson (Corbett) Hays
Jane Lea (Corbett) Goheen
Grace (Corbett) Wells
Parent(s)Ross Mitchell Corbett
Fannie Culbertson Orr

Hunter Corbett D.D. (Chinese : ; pinyin : Guō Xiǎn ; December 8, 1835 – January 7, 1920) was a pioneer [1] American missionary to Chefoo (Zhifu芝罘区, now Yantai), Shandong China, he served with the American Presbyterian Mission. [2] [3] He was a fervent advocate of the missionary enterprise.


He founded the Yi Wen School at Tengchow (also known as Boy's Academy / Hunter Corbett Academy Tengchow) [1] afterward converted into an institution of higher education as Cheeloo University in 1928. It was the first university in China. [4]

Early life

Hunter Corbett was born to Ross Mitchell Corbett and Fannie Culbertson (Orr) Corbett on December 8, 1835 in Clarion County, Pennsylvania, USA. He graduated from Jefferson College in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania (now Washington & Jefferson College) in 1860. [5] and from Princeton Theological Seminary. With his first wife, Elizabeth "Lizzie" Culbertson, he sailed for China in 1863.

China Mission

After a six-month voyage around the Cape of Good Hope and shipwreck off the China coast, they finally arrived at Chefoo (Yantai) in the middle of winter, 1863. After several years in Dengzhou (P'eng-lai, or Tengchow), they established a permanent residence at Chefoo and began evangelistic work. Along with colleagues Calvin Wilson Mateer and John Nevius, Corbett developed the methodology that would plant the gospel in the soil of northern China and make Shandong the strongest Presbyterian mission in China. Wide itineration throughout the countryside, rather than concentrated efforts in the cities, was the main feature of the Shandong plan. Corbett was described as an "Indefatigable Itinerator," and he traveled over the whole province by horse, mule cart, and foot. Added to his travel difficulties were incidents in which he was reviled and stoned. In 1886 Washington and Jefferson College awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. [6]

Corbett believed in using unconventional methods. He rented a theater and converted the back rooms into a museum stocked with objects of interest from around the world. After a service, the museum doors would be opened. In 1900, about 72,000 people listened to his preaching and visited the museum. A crowning achievement was the organization and development of Shandong Presbytery. By the year of Corbett's death, there were 343 organized churches and chapels throughout the province, with more than 15,000 communicant members. In 1906 he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly, [7] the central governing body of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America or reformed church. [8]

Hunter Corbett ministered in China for 56 years. He died in Chefoo (now Yantai), China on 7 January 1920.


His 3rd wife and widow, Harriet Robina (Sutherland) Corbett, died in 1936. [9]

In 1907 his daughter, Grace Corbett married Ralph C. Wells (1877–1955). [10] In 1908 his daughter, Jane Lea Corbett married John Lawrence Goheen.


Author: Hunter Corbett


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  1. 1 2 Byrnes, Paul A. "Hunter Corbett & Harold F. Smith Papers, 1862–1948" (PDF). Paul A. Byrnes, Spring 1977; Revised with additions by Ruth Tonkiss Cameron, January 2006. The Burke Library Union Theological Seminary 3041 Broadway New York, NY 10027: Columbia University. p. 17. Retrieved 6 October 2010.CS1 maint: location (link)
  2. XIAOXIN WU (2007). CHRISTIANITY IN CHINA: A SCHOLARS GUIDE TO RESOURCES IN THE LIBRARIES. M.E. Sharpe. ISBN   978-1-56324-337-0 . Retrieved October 4, 2010.
  3. Anderson, Gerald H (1999). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. pp. Page # 152 of 845. ISBN   0-8028-4680-7.
  4. "Wing newspaper ( online magazine)" . Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  5. Eaton, Samuel John Mills; Woods, Henry (1902). Biographical and Historical Catalogue of Washington and Jefferson College. Philadelphia: G.H. Buchanan and Company. p. 240. OCLC   2379959 . Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  6. Eaton, Samuel John Mills; Woods, Henry (1902). Biographical and Historical Catalogue of Washington and Jefferson College. Philadelphia: G.H. Buchanan and Company. p. 570. OCLC   2379959 . Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  7. Craighead, James R. E.; Princeton University (1921). Hunter Corbett: fifty-six years missionary in China. Revell Press. p. 224.
  8. Brown, G. Thompson. "Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Christianity" . Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  9. "Presbyterian Worker in China Was Widow of Ex. Moderator of Church in United States". New York Times . January 30, 1936. Retrieved 2010-10-04. Mrs. Helen Sutherland Corbett, Presbyterian missionary in China and widow of the Rev. Dr. Hunter Corbett, a pioneer Presbyterian missionary in that country ...
  10. "Dr. Ralph C. Wells, Missionary, Was 78". New York Times . July 6, 1955. Retrieved 2010-10-04. In 1907 he married Grace Corbett, a fellow missionary, daughter of Rev. Dr. Hunter Corbett, a leader in the field. Airs. Wells died in 1952.
Religious titles
Preceded by
The Rev. James D. Moffat
Moderator of the 118th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
Succeeded by
The Rev. William H. Roberts