October 2, 1833, Apollo, Pennsylvania.

December 2, 1919, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Benjamin was the son of Smith Ag­new and Ma­ria Ster­rett, and husband of An­na Coch­ran.

He graduated from Wash­ing­ton College (now Wash­ing­ton and Jef­fer­son College), Wash­ing­ton, Penn­syl­van­ia, in 1854. He then attended the Western Theological Seminary in Pitt­sburgh, graduating with a Doctorate of Divinity in 1857. In 1858 he became pastor of the First Pres­by­ter­ian Church in Johns­town, Pennsylvania (where the infamous flood occurred three decades later).

During the American civil war, he served as a chaplain in the 6th Penn­syl­van­ia Volunteer Infantry, a unit known as the Key­stone Zou­aves. He left army service in 1862 and returned to Johnstown.

In 1867, he resigned his pastorate and moved to Phil­adel­phia to serve as pastor of the West­min­ster Church at 58th and Ches­ter Avenue (1868–70), and the North Pres­by­ter­i­an Church at 6th and Green Street (1870–82). In 1882, he became pastor of the East Liberty Church in Pitts­burgh, but returned to Phil­a­delphia in 1884 to pastor the Beth­le­hem Church at Broad and Diamond Streets in Phil­a­del­phia, serving until 1896.

He was heavily involved with the Pres­by­terian Church at large, serving on a number of boards and as a trustee to two different Pres­by­ter­i­an colleges before retiring in 1912.

  1. I Am Waiting, Only Waiting
  2. Still Closer to Jesus