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Hunter Corbett

Hunter Corbett
Hunter Corbett
Born (1835-12-08)December 8, 1835
Clarion County, Pennsylvania, United States
Died January 7, 1920(1920-01-07) (aged 84)
Chefoo (NowYantai), China
Occupation missionaries,
Years active 56 Years
Known for Educational Mission in China
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Culbertson, Mary Campbell Nixon, Harriet Robina Sutherland.

Hunter Corbett D.D. (Chinese: 郭显德; pinyin: GuōXiǎndé; December 8, 1835 – January 7, 1920) was a pioneer[1] American missionary to Chefoo (NowYantai), Shandong China, he served with the American Presbyterian Mission.[2][3] He was a controlling 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 1
  • China Mission 2
  • Legacy 3
  • Books 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

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 Neius, 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, Helen 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

  • Twenty-five years of missionary work in the province of Shantung, China : Author: Hunter Corbett,OCLC Number: 21833096
  • A Record of American Presbyterian mission work in Shantung Province, China, 1861-1913 : Author: Hunter Corbett Book-ISBN 0-524-07860-2, ISBN 978-0-524-07860-0
  • 聖會史記 : [2卷] / Sheng hui shi ji : [2 juan] : Book -Chinese, Author- 郭顯徳撰. ; Hunter Corbett


  • Hunter Corbett: fifty-six years missionary in China: Author-James R.E.Craighead, Publisher- Revell Press, 1921
  • A tribute, Hunter Corbett, 1835-1920 : Publisher: Chefoo : McMullan & Co (1920?), OCLC Number: 16876989
  • Hunter Corbett and his family : 'Biography' Author: Harold Frederick Smith, Charles Hodge Corbett. Description:185, [14] p.:ill., geneal. tables, ports. ; 24 cm.
  • Goheen family papers, 1864-1951.
  • Sketch of Dr. Corbett's life : Promotional material for Hunter Corbett Academy building program, issued in conjunction with Dr. Corbett's 80th birthday. Cover title: Hunter Corbett : his 80th birthday: a plan for celebration, a history, an opportunity, an appeal.


  1. ^ a b Byrnes, Paul A; Revised with additions by Ruth Tonkiss Cameron (Spring 1977 and January 2006). "Hunter Corbett & Harold F. Smith Papers, 1862–1948". 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. 
  3. ^ Anderson, Gerald H (1999). Biographical dictionary of Christian missions"&source=gbs_navlinks_s . Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. pp. Page # 152 of 845.  
  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.  
  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.  
  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.".  
  10. ^ "Dr. Ralph C. Wells, Missionary, Was 78".  

External links

  • Corbett Homestead
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
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