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DEWITT, William Radcliff, the son of John DeWitt and Katharine Van Vliet, was born at Paulding's Manor, Dutchess county, N. Y., on the 25th of February, 1792. His ancestors were among the first immigrants from Holland to New Nethelands [sic], in 1623. His early years were spent in commercial pursuits, but about 1810 he turned his attention to the sacred ministry. He studied with Dr. Alexander Proudfit, of Salem, N. Y., and entered Washington Academy. The war of 1812 interrupting his studies, he volunteered in the regiment of Colonel Rice, and was in service at Lake Champlain at the time of McDonough’s victory, September 11, 1814. After the close of the war, in 1815, he entered Nassau Hall, Princeton, as a sophomore, but subsequently entered the senior class of Union College, Schenectady, where he graduated with distinction, completing his theological studies under Rev. Dr. John M. Mason, of New York. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New York April 23, 1818. In the fall of that year he came to Harrisburg by invitation, and was called to the pastorate of the Presbyterian church October 5, 1818. He was received by the Presbytery of Carlisle April 13, 1819, but not ordained until the 26th of October, that year. Dr. DeWitt received the degree of A. M. in course from Union College, and in 1838 the University of Pennsylvania conferred on him the title of Doctor of Divinity. From 1854 to 1860 he held the office of State librarian, appointed by Governors Bigler and Pollock. In 1854 felt the necessity of taking a colleague, Rev. T. H. Robinson, D. D.. He died at Harrisburg, December 23, 1867, in his seventy-sixth year. Dr. DeWitt was twice married, his first wife being Julia Woodhull, daughter of Rev. Nathan Woodhull, of Newton, L. I. His second wife was Mary Elizabeth Wallace, daughter of William Wallace, of Harrisburg, who survived her husband. During a ministry of nearly fifty years in Harrisburg, Dr. DeWitt enjoyed the confidence of all his ministerial brethren. In the community he was greatly appreciated and respected by all classes. As a theologian he had few equals in the ministry, and although firm and decided in his views, he was liberal and catholic in spirit. His published writings were limited to twelve or thirteen pamphlets, the most popular of which was small volume entitled "Her Price above Rubies." He preached many powerful discourses, a volume of which should certainly be preserved in permanent form.



Historical Review of Dauphin County

Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project -

Date of Transcription: 24 February 2001

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