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SIMONTON, Rev. ASHBEL GREEN, youngest son of Dr. William and Martha (Snodgrass) Simonton, was born January 20, 1833. His classical education began in the Harrisburg Academy, under the tuition of Rcv. Mahlon Long. After two years' preparatory study he entered the College of New Jersey, from which he graduated in 1852, his scholarship and acquirements being of the first rank. In the autumn of the same year he went to the South with his brother James and took charge of an academy for boys at Starkville, Miss., where he taught with much success for eighteen months. In July, 1854, he returned to Harrisburg and entered upon the study of law. In the spring of 1855 he decided upon a theological course, and for this purpose prepared himself for entering the theological seminary at Princeton, which he did in September of that year. He was licensed to preach by the Carlisle Presbytery, which met at Greencastle on the 14th of April, 1858. He had decided upon a missionary life, and after consultation and application to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions was ordered to Brazil. He was ordained by the Presbytery of Carlisle, at Harrisburg, April 14, 1859, and on June 19, following, he sailed from Baltimore in the merchant ship "Banshee" for Rio Janeiro. He arrived at the latter place August 12, and at once entered upon his field of labor. In November, 1864, he took the lead in the establishment of the Impresna Evangelica, a semi-monthly newspaper for the dissemination of religious information among the people of Brazil. Educated Brazilians acknowledged their surprise at the elegance and force with which he wrote in their native language and his leading articles in the Impresna were characterized by great ability, clearness and comprehension of the subjects treated. In the spring of 1862 he returned to the United States and married Helen Murdock, daughter of William Murdock, of Baltimore, Md., March 19, 1863, and sailed for Brazil May 23, 1863, reaching the harbor of Rio, July 16. His wife died after a short illness. July 28, 1864, which to a missionary in a foreign land was an incalculable loss. But there was a duty to perform and he labored zealously for the Master. Toward the close of March, 1865, he made a missionary tour into the Province of Sao Paulo, returning to his post in Rio early in May. The news of Lee's surrender, the suppression of the great Rebellion and the assassination of President Lincoln reached that city in quick succession. When there was no longer any doubt that the last-mentioned event had occurred, he was requested to preach a sermon to the American residents on the occasion, which was delivered at a special service, May 21, 1865, to the largest assembly of his countrymen ever convened at Rio. Near the close of 1865 the Presbytery of Rio Janeiro was organized at Sao Paulo, that being the mission station of his brother-in-law, A. L. Blackford. It was soon perceived that his overtaxed energies had begun to give way under the gradual approaches of the disease which forever ended his earthly activities. Unable to continue his labors, he left Rio for the home of his sister, at Sao Paulo, the last week of November, 1867, where after a brief illness, he died December 9, following. He was buried on the same day from the little church of Sao Paulo, two Englishmen and two Americans officiating as pall-bearers, addresses being made in Portugese by Rev. Mr. Blackford and Rev. Emanuel Pires, singing the hymn, "We Speak of the Land ever Blest." The Rev. Mr. Simonton possessed a clear, penetrating intellect, a sound and discriminating judgment. His manner in public was quiet, unaffected, dignified and self-possessed. In relations of private life he was frank, genial, social, (affectionate and noble-hearted.



Historical Review of Dauphin County

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

Date of Transcription: 18 June 2001

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