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Nathaniel Judson Burton

 Nathaniel Judson Burton
Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Historical Society

   -- from the Dictionary of American Biography

"Nathaniel Judson Burton, born on December 17, 1824, and died on October 13, 1887, was of old Connecticut stock, his family having settled in that state in the 17th century. He was born in Trumbull, Connecticut, the son of the Reverend Henry and Betsy (Porter) Burton. As a boy he shared the fortunes of an itinerant Methodist preacher, and in one of his lectures, 'Parish Inconveniences,' he speaks of the period as one when 'My clothes were not as expensive as I would have liked, and my spending money was limited, and my father had offers from well-to-do childless women to adopt me for their own.'

"He prepared for college at Wilbraham Academy, a Methodist school in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1850. After a year of teaching in Newark, New Jersey, he entered Yale Divinity School, from which he graduated in 1854. On July 10,1853, he was ordained and made pastor of the Second Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut. That same year, on September 14, he married Rachel (Pine) Chase of New York. In October 1857, he became pastor of the Fourth Congregational Church, Hartford, Connecticut, and in March 1870 succeeded Horace Bushnell as pastor of Park Church in Hartford, where he remained until his death.

"During his 30 years of residence in Hartford, Reverend Burton became known as one of the leading preachers of New England. He resembled Bushnell in his originality of thought and his poetic imagination. He was a man of broad culture, fine social qualities, practical common sense and engaging humor and was intimate with members of the literary and clerical coterie of Hartford, which included Charles Dudley Warner, Mark Twain, and Joseph Twichell.

"In 1884 he delivered the Lyman Beecher Lectures at Yale and in the two following years was a special lecturer at Yale Divinity School. From 1882 until his death, he was a member of the Yale Corporation. He never said or did anything in order to attract attention, was careless with respect to perpetuating his influence, and was strongly disinclined to publish. Letters on his travels in Europe were printed in the Hartford Evening Post in 1868 and 1869. Extracts from these, his lectures at Yale, and some of his sermons and addresses were published by his son, Richard E. Burton, D.D., in 1888.

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