Emigration records show a 25 year-old named Samuel Topping — a native of Ireland — arriving in New York in May 1834 aboard the ship Oneida out of Liverpool. Samuel’s occupation is given as accountant. Samuel became a Prebyterian minister and served in Burlington, Otsego County, New York from 1840-1844. Following that, he served the pulpit in Seneca, Ontario County, New York, where he lived until his death in 1855. He married Cynthia E. Read.
Samuel wrote the letter to Rev. George Mairs, Jr. (1799-1882), the son of George Mairs, Sr. (1760-1841) and Sarah McFaddin (1773-1818), of Argyle, New York.
Addressed to Rev’d George Mairs, Junior, Argyle, Washington County, New York State
Middletown Point [New Jersey]
27 September 1834
You may think it something singular that a stranger such as I am presumes to address you but owing to my kindly correspondence with Mr. Little — a friend of yours — and the vast importance of the subject that I am about to speak on led me to write to you and I hope will fully justify me in thus proceeding. I have come from the Old Country in April last and am now settled in New Jersey, Monmouth County. I got a school there through the kindly interference of Mr. Little who has acted like a father to me since I came here and seem to get good encouragement but, however, I do not intend to continue it on this ground. Before I came here I had a strong inclination in pursuing my studies for the ministry. My means being limited, I was often times at a stand how to proceed.
I found since I came here that there are boards of education established in most of all the churches for the purpose of aiding and assisting young men with a view to the ministry, but being a stranger I did not know to apply. I was therefore glad to find from Mr. Little that you would be glad to give every direction and encouragement in this case to pious young men. In order that you can give me full information on this subject I would state to you what I have read. I have taken a course of English, Geography, Arithmetic, Geometry, Algebra as far as the diophantine problems. In latin — Ovid, Virgil, Horace, Sallust, Livy. In Greek — the testament and part of Homer with a part of Lucian. I am now continuing my studies and improving myself the vacant hours that I have in reading over what I have read. I would therefore hope that you would get me in under a board that belongs to the seceding body for this is what I want. In this section of the church I want to live and in this to die.
I still think God has something for me to do in this way for I am led to believe this from his kindness in opening up for me facilities in pursuing my studies. I was much disappointed in not knowing you were at Mr. Little’s for I could have had a verbal account of these matters from you but I hope you will tell me now whether my prospects can be realized or no in this point of view — giving me an account of the extent of the aid of the board and the time required from a young man in finishing a course for the ministry. I would like it to be as short as the rules of the board can admit.
I am now about 25 years of age and am pretty well versed in the leading doctrines and principles of our church. I intend to cast myself upon the care of the members of our body and am willing to be directed by them. I have often heard my Aunts and Uncles speak of you and father for I lived within a very short space off Mr. McAuley’s and have with me letters of recommendation from Rev’s Mr. Rankin Monagher, Rev’d. Mr. McAuley Cahaus who is successor to Mr. McHelvie, Rev’d Messrs. McAlister Clerksbridge, Jorden Heady, Harpin Castleblaney, Blakely Monaghab with one from the Frankfort congregations to which I belonged and in which I acted as elder.
I have now given you a view of my limited circumstances. My progress in literature and my ardent and sincere wish for the ministry. Therfore, I hope you will do what you can for me. I presume you will. Please to write to Mr. Little as soon as convenient and let me know the whole matter. I now conclude sincerely praying that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in your hands and hope you will excuse the roughness and incorrectness of those few lines as they have been written in a hurry.
Subscribing myself, your most obedient and humble servant, — Samuel Topping
Annexed you have a letter from the young man of whom I mentioned to you when you were here last. From my short acquaintance with him, he appears to be a very fine young man and I believe he has come well recommended. He is much esteemed in the dutch neighborhood where he now teaches a school of 30 scholars and the pay ___ to him $2 per quarter.
I have nothing new to communicate since you was here. We are in usual health.
Give my respects with Mrs. Little to Mrs. Mairs, your father & family, and also on the hill — Mr. Donaldson.
I remain your humble servant, — William Little [postmaster of Middletown Point, New Jersey]