Michael Simpson Culbertson
Michael Simpson Culbertson (January 18, 1819 – August 25, 1862) was an American Presbyterian clergyman, missionary to China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, academic and author.

Early life

Michael Simpson Culbertson was born in 1819 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
Chambersburg is a borough in the South Central region of Pennsylvania, United States. It is miles north of Maryland and the Mason-Dixon line and southwest of Harrisburg in the Cumberland Valley, which is part of the Great Appalachian Valley. Chambersburg is the county seat of Franklin County...

. He entered United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point, New York, on 1 July 1835. United States Military Academy graduated him 6th of 31 in the class of 1839, and he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the First Artillery on 1 July 1839. Second Lieutenant Culbertson served at Rouses Point, New York
Rouses Point, New York
Rouses Point is a village in Clinton County, New York, United States, along the 45th parallel. The population was 2,209 at the 2010 census. The village is named after Jacques Rouse, an early settler....

, during the Aroostook War
Aroostook War
The Aroostook War was an undeclared nonviolent confrontation in 1838/1839 between the United States and Great Britain over the international boundary between British North America and Maine. The compromise resolution win a mutually accepted border between the state of Maine and the provinces of...

. He served briefly as assistant professor of mathematics at United States Military Academy 1 January to 1 February 1840. Second Lieutenant Culbertson then served with the First Artillery at Fort Preble
Fort Preble
Fort Preble is a military fort in South Portland, Maine, United States. It is now on the campus of Southern Maine Community College.Henry A. S. Dearborn built this second-system fortification as an "embargo fort" in 1808 and named it in honor of Commodore Edward Preble...

 in Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine
Portland is the largest city in Maine and is the county seat of Cumberland County. The 2010 city population was 66,194, growing 3 percent since the census of 2000...

, and Hancock Barracks in Houlton, Maine
Houlton, Maine
Houlton is a town in Aroostook County, Maine, on the United States – Canada border, located at . As of the 2010 census, the town population was 6,123. It is perhaps best known as being at the northern terminus of Interstate 95 and for being the birthplace of Samantha Smith...


On 15 April 1841, Second Lieutenant Clubertson resigned his commission to study theology at Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary is a theological seminary of the Presbyterian Church located in the Borough of Princeton, New Jersey in the United States...



Upon his graduation in 1844, Culbertson was ordained by the Presbyterian Church and was sent as a missionary to China by the American Presbyterian Mission
American Presbyterian Mission
American Presbyterian Mission was an American Presbyterian missionary society, operated by the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, that was involved in sending workers to countries such as China during the late Qing Dynasty and to India in nineteenth century...

. He was stationed in Ningbo
Ningbo is a seaport city of northeastern Zhejiang province, Eastern China. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, the municipality has a population of 7,605,700 inhabitants at the 2010 census whom 3,089,180 in the built up area made of 6 urban districts. It lies south of the Hangzhou Bay,...

 from 1845 to 1851 and in Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

 from 1851 to 1862, where he acted as member of the Committee of Delegates on the revision of the Old Testament . Culbertson later withdrew from the Committee of Delegates and co-published a variant of the "Delegate's Version" with Rev. Elijah Coleman Bridgman
Elijah Coleman Bridgman
Elijah Coleman Bridgman was the first American Protestant Christian missionary appointed to China. He served with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions...

 in 1855, with the help of Episcopal Bishop William Jones Boone
William Jones Boone
William Jones Boone was the first Anglican missionary bishop of Shanghai.-Life:Boone was born in Walterborough, South Carolina, graduated from the College of South Carolina in 1829 and was admitted to the bar in 1833. He then attended Virginia Theological Seminary and was ordained deacon on 18...

. He died of cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 in Shanghai in 1862.


Michael Simpson Culbertson was of Irish descent, his paternal great-grandfather having emigrated from County Antrim
County Antrim
County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 2,844 km², with a population of approximately 616,000...

, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, to Franklin County, Pennsylvania
Franklin County, Pennsylvania
As of the census of 2000, there were 129,313 people, 50,633 households, and 36,405 families residing in the county. The population density was 168 people per square mile . There were 53,803 housing units at an average density of 70 per square mile...

, around the mid-18th century. His father Joseph (1779–1858) was a banker. Michael was the first born of his father's second wife, Frances (1785–1867) whom he married in 1818. He had five older brothers, and one sister
from his father's previous union to Mary (died 1817). Michael had two brothers noteworthy in American History: Alexander (1809–1879), a fur trader and pathfinder for whom the town of Culbertson Montana is named; and Thaddeus Ainsworth (1823–1850), a Yale graduate, who explored with brother Alexander and authored, Journal of an expedition to the Mauvaises Terres and the Upper Missouri in 1850 Another brother, Cyrus (1812–1869) was an Officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.. Michael Simpson Culbertson and his wife had two daughters, who returned to New York with their mother upon his death. Josephine (1852–1939), born in China; studied art in New York, settled in Carmel, California becoming a noted artist. She co-founded the Carmel Art Association in 1927.

Published works

  • Papers relating to the Shanghai revision of the Chinese scriptures (Shanghai, 1851)
  • Reply to the Strictures on the remarks made on the translation of Genesis and Exodus in the revision of the Chinese scriptures (Canton, 1852)
  • Essay on the bearing of the publications of the Tai-ping dynasty insurgents on the controversy respecting the proper term for translating the words Elohim and Theos in the Chinese version of the Scriptures (1853)
  • The Old Testament (translated by Rev. E. C. Bridgman and Rev. M. S. Culbertson, 1855)
  • The Religious Condition of the Chinese, and Their Claims on the Church: A Sermon Preached for the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church (1857)
  • Darkness in the Flowery Land; or Religious Notions and Popular Superstitions in North China (New York: Scribner, 1857)
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