This letter was written by Rev. Ebenezer Buckingham (1814-1876), the son of Bradley Buckingham (1784-1850) and Marla Darlington (1790-1831). Ebenezer was married (1837) to Laura Strong Horr (1815-1866) in Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio.
We learn from the letter that Rev. Buckingham was appointed to be the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Coshocton, Ohio, in 1842.
Addressed to Rev’d Milton Badger, Corresponding Secretary American Home Mission Society, 150 Nassau Street, New York, NY
Coshocton, Coshocton County, Ohio
6th December 1842
Dear Brother Badger,
During the past six months I have been able to labor without interruption in this field. I have great reason to be grateful to God for continued health. I have not been prevented by sickness from attending any meeting either — social or public — during the past year.
During the past six months, nothing of very special interest has transpired in my field. Our sabbath congregations have been uniformly good and gradually increasing in numbers. Our social weekly meetings have for the last three months been better attended than ever before. This to me is deeply interesting. I consider the prayer meeting a church thermometer. The state of piety in a church is always indicated by the degree of interest manifested in the prayer meetings.
We have received but one to the church during the last quarter. There are, however, several in the congregation who are at present serious and will, I hope, be prepared to unite with us soon.
Our Sabbath School is well attended and interesting. Within the last month we have formed in the school “A Juvenile Missionary Society.” Any scholar becomes a member by paying one cent a week. The amount raised will be given to the foreign missionary cause. Every sixth sabbath, we will hold a missionary meeting at which the amount contributed by the scholars will be stated and addresses made. I hope we shall be able in this way to awaken in the hearts of the children of our school an interest in behalf of the heathen and perhaps train a Judson or a Newell for the foreign missionary work.
In Temperance, I am sorry to say we have not accomplished much during the past six months. I am met in my efforts to advance this cause by powerful opposing influences. Mine is the only church in the place that takes a decided and active stand in favor of Temperance. The minister of the O. S. [Old School] Church is in sentiment opposed to the Temperance Society as a distance organization. His ground is that the church is the agent which God has appointed to remove most evils from society and that men have lost confidence in the agents God has appointed — organized the Temperance Society. the Society, he says, is based upon a want of confidence in God. With such sentiments, he of course stands away from all our movements in this cause and what is still more melancholy, he never opens his lips in behalf of the cause in his own pulpit and his church are doing nothing to suppress intemperance in this community. He is particularly opposed to the tee-total principle. He loves to follow the example of our Lord and Master and drink wine at weddings. With such influences against the cause, it is a very hard matter for it to prosper. Dram drinking has been increasing here for the last three months.
In September, I was installed pastor of this congregation. The church & congregation were perfectly unanimous in the call. They pledged me in the call $400 and a comfortable house. They confidently believe that the amount can be raised without difficulty after the present year. I felt this step to e important for the following among other reasons. There are some in this community who are not willing to sustain a ministry that it is at present, to secure the cooperation of such with us. I felt my installation to be important. The result is confirming the wisdom of this cause.
I must say a word before I close in relation to the destitutions of this region. There are some three or four places where churches might now be established if a prudent laborer could be found to ____ the effort. He would of course for the first six months or year have to depend upon your society for support. It is impossible for me to do justice to three places. I have enough to employ all my time and thoughts and energies here. Have you no man that you could send out to help gather the harvest in this and other equally destitute counties around us?
I have nothing further of interest as connected with my field to communicate.
I shall be compelled to request you, if convenient, to send me a check for the amount due me for missionary labor. The amount now due is $40. I took the $10 which we raised in our congregation and appropriated it to my own use. I would not now ask for the $40 did I not very much need it. I promised the merchant of whom I purchased my groceries and clothing that he should have his pay by the first or middle of this month. I made this promise in view of what I am to receive from your society. I receive but little cash from my people. Indeed, they cannot get it to give me. If convenient, I hope you will forward me the check soon after the reception of this.
Yours in the Christ, — Ebenezer Buckingham