Born: Oc­to­ber 2, 1833, Apol­lo, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Died: De­cem­ber 2, 1919, Phi­la­del­phia, Penn­syl­van­ia.

Buried: 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 fa­mous flood oc­curred three dec­ades lat­er).

During the Am­er­i­can civ­il war, he was 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.