A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

History - Edward Payson Terhune (1830-1907)

St Paul's American Church, Rome, Italy, was built in 1873. (Terminartors)
The 27 Jan 1877 edition of The Matawan Journal contains this blurb on the front page.

Rev E P Terhune, the husband of Marion Harland, the novelist, and the brother of Wm L Terhune, Esq, of Matawan, has been offered the Chaplaincy of the American Chapel at Rome for two years, with a comfortable salary and three months' vacation in the summer.

Edward Payson Terhune (22 Nov 1830 - 25 May 1907) was the brother of the prominent Matawan lawyer William L Terhune. In the 1850 Federal Census for New Jersey, Edward P Terhune, age 19, was a student living with his parents, John and Etty Terhune, 57 and 58 years old, respectively. Edward's father was a publisher and bookseller worth $7,000 at the time. They lived in North Brunswick. 

Edward attended Rutgers College. (1850) (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 102)  He graduated from the Dutch Reformed seminary at New Brunswick, NJ. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 102) (Wikipedia)

Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond, VA (VCU)
Edward served as pulpit supply at the Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Va. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 102)

Village Church in Charlotte Court House, VA (VA-GENWEB)
Edward served at the Village Church at Charlotte Court House in what is now Smithville, Va (1854-1859). During his 5-year tenure, William Wirt Henry, an elder at the church, a Richmond lawyer, and the grandson of the great American orator Patrick Henry, was a close and faithful friend. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 102)  (Wikipedia)

Edward married Mary Virginia Hawes (21 Dec 1830 - 3 Jun 1922) in 1856.  (Wikipedia)

Soon after his installation he married a Richmond girl, already known to the public by her nom de plume Marion Harland. They took possession of the cozy village parsonage in 1856. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 102)

Mary V Terhune (abt 1903) (Wikimedia)
The 1850 Federal Census for Virginia shows Mary V Hawes, age 18, living with Samuel P and Judith A Hawes, ages 50 and 44, resp. Samuel was a merchant born in Massachusetts. Judith, Mary and Mary's 7 siblings (ages 21 to 4) were all natives of Virginia.

More information about Mary V Terhune, aka Marion Harland, can be found at Essortment. (Surely better than her Wikipedia page, which has errors. For example, the page suggests Mary was born in Newark when she was clearly from Virginia. Her husband's entry at Wikipedia has several errors as well.)

Edward did quite a bit to bring Reformed faith to the slaves in his area. Below is an excerpt from a Virginia piece on his ministry in Charlotte Court House. The writing, while striving to be liberal, is affected by the time and place.

One marked feature of his ministry in Charlotte was the influence he acquired over the colored people of the region. The Village Church had but one negro communicant when he became the pastor. Colored Presbyterians were very rare throughout the state. Baptism by immersion was a popular rite with them, and the camp-meetings of the "shouting Methodists" appealed powerfully to their emotional natures. The Presbyterian and Episcopal churches were shunned as cold, formal, "only fit for educated white folks." In winter, the body of the Village Church was given up to the blacks on Sunday afternoons, their masters and mistresses occupying the galleries in which their servants had sat in the forenoon. Prayers were offered, hymns given out and sung by the congregation on the floor of the house, the pastor preaching from the chancel, and without notes.With the beginning of the warm weather, the Sunday afternoon gatherings took on a more picturesque aspect. The planters of the outlying country offered their homes in town for the use of Dr Terhune and his hearers. Scores of whites and hundreds of negroes flocked together on these occasions. The scene, as described by an eye-witness to the writer, was one the like of which will never be beheld again in this country.

In the background was the mansion house, usually of dark-red brick mellowed by age, embowered by trees, one or two centuries old. At the open windows, and thronging the broad piazzas were seated the ladies and gentlemen of the family, and friends who had driven over to enjoy the service. On the shaded lawn were close tiers of "forms," or backless benches, for the servants, who were never styled "slaves" by their owners or themselves.There were usually accommodations for about five hundred, but there were more present, sitting on the grass and porch-steps, or leaning, motionless and decorous, against the tree-trunks. Beyond the lawn were the carriages of the guests, and tied to the "racks" with which every hospitable plantation was abundantly furnished, from twenty to thirty saddled hunters belonging to the gallant cavaliers of the neighborhood.

The signal for the commencement of the exercises was the upraising of a hymn from the heart of the dusky assembly; one of the weird, wondrously-sweet native airs which the jubilee singers are trying to preserve. . . . Or a colored deacon, black as ebony, his massive features showing grim under a hillock of gray hair, stood up in his place and "lined out" from memory:

Show pity, Lord! O Lord, forgive! 
Let a repenting rebel live.

. . .  Within two years, seventy colored members were added to the roll of the Village Church, giving, upon examination, most satisfactory evidence of intelligent appreciation of the solemn truths to which they subscribed, and of vital piety. Prior to the presentation of their names as candidates for admission to the visible church, the pastor organized classes for spiritual instruction, which met on two evenings of the week in his study.

When in 1858 he accepted a unanimous call to the First Reformed Church of Newark, NJ, the grief of these simple hearted neophytes was overwhelming. Among the valuable parting gifts to him from this -- the church of his first love -- was a handsome family Bible, inscribed From the Colored Members of the Village Church, of Charlotte C. H, Virginia. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, pp. 102 - 103)

First Reformed Church, Newark (Old Newark)
Edward was minister at the First Reformed Church (Old Newark, Houses of Worship, First Reformed Church and Reverends) in Newark (Mar 1859 - 1876). (A History of the City of Newark, Vol 2, by Frank John Urquhart, p. 999) (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 103) (Wikipedia erroneously states that he was minister at Old First Presbyterian Church in Newark.)

The 1860 and 1870 Federal Censuses showed Edward and family living in Newark.

Edward earned his Doctor of Divinity degree at Rutgers University (1869). (Wikipedia)

Edward was featured in an article called Pulpit Orators in the Newark (NJ) Evening Gazette in 1873.  (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 103)

Edward left his pulpit in Newark in 1876 to care for his wife, who was ill.

In 1876 this prosperous pastorate was severed -- to the people suddenly and unexpectedly. To him who had for more than a year watched his wife's failing health with grave apprehension, settling into the conviction that her life depended upon a sea-voyage and many months of restful change - the separation was a sadness but not a shock.  . . .

Dr Terhune took abroad his whole family, and the Winter of 1876-7 was passed in Rome for the invalid's benefit. While there he officiated as chaplain in the non-liturgical American Church. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 104) (Wikipedia) (Note: Possibly identical with St Paul's American Church in Rome, which, when built in 1873, was the first non-Catholic church built within the walls of Rome.)

American Church in Paris (Friendly Adventurers)
In the winter 1877-8, Dr Terhune, then resident with his family in Geneva, Switzerland, received a request that he would supply the pulpit of the American Chapel in Rue de Berri, Paris, the chaplain, the Rev Dr Hitchcock, having been summoned to America by the illness of a relative. For four months, Dr Terhune was his substitute, giving great satisfaction to the regular attendants of the handsome and commodious chapel, and to the many travelers who filled the pews throughout the Winter and Spring preceding the great exposition. (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 104)    

Edward served at a Congregational church in Springfield, Mass (1879-1884). (Wikipedia) (Frank Leslie's Sunday Magazine, 1882, p. 104)  The 1880 Federal Census for Massachusetts showed him living with his family in Springfield. He was listed as a Cong Clergyman.

He served at a Reformed church in Brooklyn, NY (1884) (Wikipedia)

He resigned his pastorate in Brooklyn to serve as pulpit supply at the Fullerton Avenue Church in Chicago, Ill. He was expected 6 Oct (Christian Work, an illustrated family newspaper, vol. 59, 1895, p. 531)


  1. This is awesome. I have wanted to see photos of Dr. Terhune's various calls, and this supplies some of the scarcer ones. Please correct the name of his wife: it was Mary Virginia Hawes, not Mary Louise. And her mother was Judith Anna Smith, not Faith. If you are interested in more info re Dr. Terhune and his family, let me know.

    KR MacMurray kathleen.macmurray@saint-gobain.com

  2. Thanks for the nice note and the corrections. I have no idea where the Mary Louise came from. As for Faith, I misread the handwriting. I've corrected them both. I've been doing historical blogging on people, places and events in Matawan and the surrounding area. The Terhunes were quite prominent in town, so this bio was a good addition. I was pleased to find so much information online about him and his wife. Are you a genealogist or a historian? Glad you found the info helpful.