1830: Roswell Waters to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

This letter was written by Roswell Waters (Abt. 1780-1834) of Barre, Washington County, Vermont. He was probably the son of Capt. Timothy Waters (1755-1806) and Molly Hall (1759-1851) whose graves are near his in Barre.

Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

Waters wrote the letter to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy (1778-1868), a pioneer Universalist preacher in central New York State and western Pennsylvania. “In 1808 Stacy accepted a call to the church in Hamilton, New York. He remained there twenty-two years. The Hamilton society gave Stacy and his family land upon which to settle. They supplemented their income by farming and Susan [Clark, his wife] helped to support the family with sewing, spinning, and weaving…His tenure in Hamilton ended unhappily. An anti-Masonic group had created tensions within the congregation. Stacy decided it would be better to move on. From 1830-40 he traveled through Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He organized the church in Columbus, Pennsylvania and was its first minister. From 1835-40 he was pastor in Ann Arbor, Michigan and helped organize the first Universalist association in that state. After a return call to Columbus in 1841, he helped direct the building of a new church and continued to further the cause of Universalism in western Pennsylvania.” [Source: Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography]

In the letter, Waters pleas for Brother Stacy to relocate from New York to serve as minister of their society. He says that the services of Brother Palmer — apparently their present minister — will not do for his wife has taken to wearing high heels and the brethren feel certain it will “destroy the man.”

Image 6

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy, Hamilton, State of New York

Barre, [Vermont]
1st May, 1830

Brother Stacy,

We have received your friendly epistle of the 13th of April 1830 and have perused the contents with all attention, but have not found them quite so favorable to our wishes as we finely anticipated and finally expected — from your conversation with me at my Brother’s which was as I understand (and others that heard it) nearly the following according to the best recollection. After some conversation had passed, I asked you what you should ask a year to come and preach with us. You replied you lived too great a distance for to come for one year. Five years would be short time enough for to remove for. I then answered five years would be longer time than we could raise a subscription for. Your reply was three years would be the shortest time you could think of engaging for at so great a distance.

I then asked you what you could think of coming for. You replied you was in the habit if receiving $400 a year where you then lived, from which I inferred that would would be what you should expect if you came here. I then told you we should not be able to employ you not more than one half of the time. I then asked if you should expect this society to be responsible for the whole sum. You said not but wished this society to ascertain as much as possible whether you could get employ the remainder of the time for which we have almost to a certainty for we have been applied to from Williamstown Society since our last letter to you a part of the time should you come.

There is some things in your last letter which we cannot reconcile with your first and with your conversation with me (R. Waters) at my brothers. In your first letter, you seem to have an entire aversion to a set salary but in your last you stick the stake at $500 a year, and this society to be bound for the whole sum for three years, which is some different from your conversation with me, if my memory serves. Sir, we hope you will (if you have not already) consider that our societies are in an infant state at this present time. Many have been rid by other societies till they are all worn down. Some their love has waned cold (we read of such times) and some are firm as a rock — this is the situation of our society.

Since your last letter, some of our brethren seem to almost conclude all is lost. They feel so much dependance on your coming to live with us. Every heart seems to be open to receive you here and all the towns around us are waiting with anxious expectations to welcome your arrival. The harvest seems to be all ready and we hope you will come and thrust in the scythe [?]. I hesitate not to say that our brethren here will do all in their power and we have that charity for you that you will not be so anxious for this world’s goos as to choke the word which I believe is sown on good ground. If this Committees not engaging that the $200 a year should not be made good is any bar against your removal here, it shall be secured as strong as you wish, but we considered by our informing you that we had a subscription in our hands to that amount made it sure in the hands of the society but not to our control as we were not chosen only for one year. There seems to be so universal desire to have you settle with us that we think we can get some more subscribed which you shall have if we should succeed, which we cannot do at this time under existing circumstances till after they have heard you preach, but we give you our word we will do our utmost.

We hope you will consider the subject over again and decide finally in favor of a removal here. In case you should conclude after all to remove, we will pay you $100 as soon as you shall want after your arrival. If you should finally conclude not to come, we know not what to do for the labors of Brother Palmer would not be of any benefit to our society in the present situation. His family is in for his wife trains this spring with high heel shoes on. Our brethren feel afraid it will finally destroy the man.

Brother Stacy, we hope you will discover the star in the East and follow on till you find it. we consider, Sir, you have estimated quite too much expense in removing as you can come a good share of the way by water and $100 in immovable property will buy a good deal here, but we hope we shall be able to help you to some such articles as you cannot bring. Sir, we were not so particular in our last as we should have been in stating the feelings of our brethren had. I (R. Waters) conversed with you at my brothers, not did we state every particular we thought we should be able to do as we relied on that conversation. You wrote in your last that our correspondence was to an end but our brethren feel that _____. They wish us to write again hoping you will see your way clear in favoring them with your presence here. We do think there was never a greater call for a man’s labors than for yours in these parts, but perhaps you can do better somewhere else. But I cannot write you one half in a long letter like this as I could express could I converse with you face to face.

Sir, we hope you will have the goodness to write us an answer to this letter as soon as possible. I remain yours in much friendship.

— Roswell Waters (for the committee)


3 responses to “1830: Roswell Waters to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

  • Cheryl Bough

    How wonderful to see a letter my great great great grandfather wrote in 1830! Thank you for posting his letter — Roswell Waters to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy. To see his handwriting was unbelievable. Thanks so much.

    • Griff

      Cheryl; I’m pleased to hear that the letter was useful to you & possibly other family history researchers. As a descendant, perhaps you could fill in some more details on the genealogy of Roswell Waters where I could not. I notice that I only speculated on the relationship to Capt. Timothy Waters and Molly Hall. — Griff

  • Cheryl Bough

    Sorry Griff in my delay in replying to you. Yes we believe that Roswell was the son of Capt. Timothy Waters and Molly Hall. My brother Brian and I visited Wilson Cemetery in Barre, VT. this past year and saw the markers for both Roswell Waters and Capt. Timothy Waters. Very moving to be there and see these graves.

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