Simonton, Ashbel Green

Simonton, Ashbel Green, a missionary of the Presbyterian Church, was born at West Hanover, Dauphin Co., Pa., Jan. 20, 1833. He pursued his preparatory studies in the academy at Harrisburg, Pa., graduated at the College of New Jersey in 1852, studied law in 1854, and was admitted to the privileges of the Church in May, 1855. He entered the Theological Seminary at Princeton in September of the same year, and at an early stage of his course was led to consider his duty in relation to the foreign missionary work. He was licensed by Carlisle Presbytery, April 14, 1858, and his formal application to the board for appointment as a foreign missionary was sent to New York Oct. 25, 1858. The executive committee decided to send him to Brazil, as the pioneer of a numerous company of laborers. The time fixed upon for his departure was May, 1859. Meanwhile he spent two months in New York, taking lessons in the Portuguese language, and lecturing, as opportunity was afforded, upon Brazil. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Carlisle, April 14, 1859. His sermon on this occasion was upon the words, "Come over into Macedonia and help us," and it was all able presentation of the claims of the unevangelized upon the Church, and was afterwards published in Dr. Van Rensselaer's Presbyterian Magazine. He arrived at Rio Janeiro Aug. 12, 1859, and, after two years of study and explorations of the field, began a Bible class, May 19, 1861, at which two were present; but the audiences soon increased to such dimensions that larger accommodations were demanded. In 1863 it was deemed best to enlarge the operations of the mission by taking in the province of Sao Paulo. In November, 1864, appeared the first number of the Imprensa Evangelica, a semi-monthly paper established for the diffusion of religious intelligence among the more cultivated class of minds. The greater part of the labor of writing for its columns and superintending its publication devolved upon him until September, 1866, when he had an assistant. The unanimous impression of those who read his leading editorials in the Imprensa was that they were characterized by great ability, clearness, and comprehension of the subjects treated. The paper continued to increase in circulation, and during the three years of his connection with it much good was effected through its instrumentality. In March, 1865, Mr. Simonton made a missionary tour into the province of Sao Paulo, and while there the Presbytery of Rio Janeiro was organized. He died Dec. 9, 1867. Mr. Simonton possessed a clear, penetrating intellect, well disciplined by diligent study. He excelled as a preacher, and had few superiors as a sermonizer. He greatly loved the missionary work, for which he was eminently fitted by nature, culture, and grace, and labored from first to last with unabated zeal and energy. See Wilson, Presb. Hist. Almanac, 1868, p. 135. (J.L.S.)

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