Above: Part of an Advertisement from The New York Times, Saturday, April 13, 1901, Page 29
Accessed via newspapers.com
CHARLES STEDMAN NEWHALL (OCTOBER 4, 1842-APRIL 11, 1935)
U.S. Naturalist, Hymn Writer, and Congregationalist and Presbyterian Minister
The name of Charles Stedman Newhall is not famous in 2016. That is unfortunate, for he was a holy man, a knowledgeable naturalist, and a skilled writer.
Our saint was a native of Boston, Massachusetts. He, born on October 4, 1842, was son of Henry A. Stedman and Sarah Luther Stedman. He studied at Williston Seminary, Easthampton, Massachusetts. During the Civil War Newhall served in Company K of the 45th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers, enlisting on September 30, 1862, and mustering out as a Corporal on July 7, 1863.
Newhall studied at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. He joined the Psi Upsilon fraternity, won the Athene Prize in 1866 and the Minerology Prize in 1869, served as his class president in 1868 and 1869, and spoke at his commencement (with his A.B. degree) in 1869.
Our saint’s first career was in the ordained ministry. He studied at Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, from 1869 to 1872, graduating with his B.D. degree. Ordination followed at Oriskany Falls, New York, on December 11, 1872. There he served as pastor of the Congregational Church until 1874. From 1874 to 1879 Newhall was the pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Oceanic, New Jersey. Our saint traveled in the Middle East in 1879 and 1880. Then he returned to the United States and became pastor of the Congregational Church at Postville, Iowa, serving until 1882. Congregational pastorates at Tipton, Iowa (1882-1884), and Plainfield, New Jersey (1884-1885), followed. From 1885 to 1898 Newhall was a Presbyterian minister, starting at Keeseville, New York.
[Aside: I located Newhall’s ministerial record from December 1872 to March 1888 in The Tenth General Catalogue of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity (1888), available via Google Books. I also found Newhall’s name in records of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. into the early twentieth century. I have not, however, been able to reconstruct his ministerial record from 1888 to 1898.]
From 1898 to 1905 our saint worked for the United States Forestry Service in California. This made sense, for he had, during his time as a pastor, established himself as an expert on plant life in the Northeast. He published works in that area of study were:
- The Trees of Northeastern America (1890);
- The Leaf Collector’s Handbook and Herbarium: An Aid in the Preservation and in the Classification of Specimen Leaves of the Trees of Northeastern America (1891);
- The Shrubs of Northeastern America (1893); and
- The Vines of Northeastern America; Fully Illustrated from Original Sketches (1897).
Newhall retired from the Forestry Service in 1905 and spent his final decades in Berkeley, California, where he died on April 11, 1935, aged 92 years.
Our saint also wrote for young people. Those volumes were:
- Joe and the Howards, Armed with Eyes (1869);
- Boy in Palestine (year unknown);
- Harry’s Trip to the Orient (1885, American Tract Society); and
- Ruthie’s Story (1888, Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.), the story of Jesus told by one child to other children.
Newhall was a family man. In 1881 he married Catherine A. “Kittie” Harvey, about 20 years his junior, of Oceanic, New Jersey. They remained married for about 54 years, until he died. The couple had three children:
- Charles A. (born circa 1882),
- Luther N. (born in 1884 or 1885), and
- Katherine (born in 1886 or 1887).
Newhall came to my attention via a hymn, “O Jesus, Master, When Today,” which he wrote in 1913 and published in the January 3, 1914, issue of The Survey then in Social Hymns of Brotherhood and Aspiration (1914). I found a three-stanza version in The Pilgrim Hymnal (1931/1935), but located the complete four-stanza version in Christian Worship: A Hymnal (1941) and Baptist Hymnal (1956). Collecting old hymnals has proven to be a rewarding hobby.
The text of that hymn, which has, unfortunately fallen out of favor with hymnal committees in recent decades, indicates that Newhall had internalized the Biblical defense of human dependence upon God. It is an ethos societies need to have in greater quantity.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
JANUARY 12, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF SAINT BENEDICT BISCOP, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF WEARMOUTH
THE FEAST OF SAINT AELRED OF HEXHAM, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT OF RIEVAULX
THE FEAST OF HENRY ALFORD, DEAN OF CANTERBURY
THE FEAST OF SAMUEL PREISWERK, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER
God of grace and glory, you create and sustain the universe in majesty and beauty:
we thank you for Charles Stedman Newhall and all in whom you have planted
the desire to know your creation and to explore your work and wisdom.
Lead us, like them, to understand better the wonder and mystery of creation;
through Jesus your eternal Word, through whom all things were created.
2 Corinthians 13:1-6
–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 738