This letter was written by Rev. Asa Brooks (1790-1834), the son of Deacon Asa Brooks (1761-1826) and Rebecca Sawyer (1767-1842). He was described as a “man of great power, and had intense love for the church.”
Rev. Asa Brooks was commissioned by the American Home Missionary Society to serve as a Presbyterian minister among the people of Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia) beginning in 1828. He undertook the building of a Presbyterian church in 1829 in Clarksburg, which stood on the Southeast corner of Second and Main Streets. The following declaration captures that intention:
WHEREAS, The Rev. Asa Brooks, of the congregation of French Creek, and of the Presbyterian church within the bounds of the Redstone Presbytery, duly authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances, and establish churches within said bounds together with David Phillips, Roswell Knowlton and Pascal Young ruling Elders of the French Creek church on the 10th day of October, 1829, at the Methodist meeting house in Clarksburg did proceed to establish a Presbyterian church in the said town of Clarksburg. The session having been opened with prayer, the following persons appeared as candidates for admission to the fellowship of the church, who after having been examined as to their faith and experimental knowledge of the truth of the gospel were received by unanimous vote, viz: John Wilson, Jr., and Margaret, his wife, John Hursey, Nancy G. Chapin, wife of Phineas Chapin, William Shields and John Lindsay.
Rev. Asa Brooks died December 23, 1834, of a bilious fever before the Presbyterian Church could be finished, however. He left a wife, Mary Everett (Sumner) Brooks (1791-1842) and four children.
Addressed to Rev. Absalom Peters, Corresponding Secretary of the American Home Missionary Society (A.H.M.S.), New York
Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia [now West Virginia]
May 12, 1831
Rev. A. Peters, Sir,
A commission the present year for this place was received about the middle of March.
The petitioners having waited with great solicitude appeared much encouraged on learning that their request was granted.
I moved my family to this place on here second week in January. Nothing of special importance has occurred either to encourage or discourage me in my labors. My congregations on the Sabbath & on other religious occasions are larger than I had expected would be, when I came to this place. My family visits are received in a friendly manner, & to myself are frequently interesting.
Five have been received on a profession of their faith to the communion. Some others, it is expected, will soon come forward. On the whole, I consider my prospects of doing good encouraging. I have a Bible Class of about 30 members from the age of ten to forty. Some who do not take a part in the exercises attend as spectators. It is a new thing in this place, & is not without opposition. Many of its opposers acknowledge its ability in furnishing a knowledge of the scriptures.
The monthly concert has been instituted since I came to this place. This also is a new thing. Owing to my having been absent on the day of the concert, & to other meetings that have happened on this day, it has been observed but once.
Our Sabbath School is without a library, owing to its patrons not being united — some wishing to obtain books from the Methodist Episcopal Union, & some from the A. S. Union. By request the committee of the A. S. U. have granted us a small depository of $100. We expect the books on in a few days. They being in place, & people having an opportunity to examine for themselves, it is hoped it will be seen they are well adapted to the object for which they are designed. The depository was granted for the purpose of supplying Sabbath Schools with libraries in this & neighboring counties.
I have received a ‘Gratuitous Commission” from the A. S. U. to act as agent in forming Sabbath Schools in the vicinity of this place. I hope to succeed in doing something. Opposition must be expected in every enterprise which has for its object the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom.
A County Temperance Society was organized in this place upon principles of total abstinence, on the fourth Monday in March of about forty members. It has since increased to near seventy. The society is taking measures to encourage the formation of auxiliaries in the different settlements in the County — especially in this town, which until of late was noted for its dissipation.
My commission makes it my duty to visit French Creek several times during the year. This I purpose doing. As yet I have not found it convenient to go there but once. I found the congregation had continued to assemble on the Sabbath for worship since I left them. They also observed the Monthly Concert & had raised money to replenish the Sabbath School library.
I expect soon to give a draft in favor of Phineas Chapin, Esqr., Merchant of this place, of $56.54 which is the balance due me for last year’s services & one quarter on the present year as appears in the following amount.
May a blessing from the Great Head of the church crown all your labors in His cause.
Your servant & brother in the Lord, — Asa Brooks