Rev. Noah Cooke came to Wisconsin in 1842. He preached two years at Mineral Point and one year at places in the vicinity. He left in 1845 and was in Northern Illinois for a time. He formerly labored in northern Ohio [Plymouth, Richland County, Ohio] and Michigan.
Mineral Point is located a few miles northeast of Platteville, Wisconsin, in the mining region of the state.
The following letter is actually a report by Rev. Cooke to the American Home Missionary Society (AHMS) who subsidized his pastorship in the Presbyterian Church at Mineral Springs, Wisconsin Territory. From the letter, we learn that a conflict has arisen between the Presbyterian Society and the Episcopalian Society in the community. Feeling falsely persecuted, Rev. Cooke advises the AHMS that he will most likely leave the territory and return “easterly.”
Addressed to Corresponding Secretary of the American Home Missionary Society, 150 Nassau Street, New York City
Mineral Point [Wisconsin Territory]
April 1, 1844
Though I have not been connected with the Society for the last five months, I suppose justice requires that I should report the transactions of that part of the year covered by my late commission. Since last April, there have been no additions to the Church. During the winter preceding, there were nearly twenty dollars collected for the American Board but as no account of it has been given and as it was not paid over till after your annual report was made out, I see no impropriety in placing it to the account of the present year and if my own contribution should come in with it, it will make the amount thirty dollars. We supposed that we should be able to raise twenty dollars for the Home Missionary Board but in the latter of the year, the contributions did not equal the preceding part of the year. We raised only fifteen dollars for this purpose and of this, I paid five and should have been glad to have paid more had I the means that I could possibly do it.
There have been some few conversions during the year but none of them have united with the Church though it is believed that two if not three have been admitted to the upper sanctuary.
Presbyterian Church, Mineral Point, W.T.
Sabbath School Scholars, 50
Volumes in Library, 200
Scholars in Bible Class, 10
Temperance retrograde, 150 pledges
American Board Foreign Missions, $20.00 & $10.00
American Board Home Missions, $15.00
American Bible Society, $10.00
As its may not be uninteresting to you to know how your missionaries live, I will give you a bill of my expenses and income during the time covered by my commission. And I might add that if others can be found who can live upon less, I am glad of it though I hope they do not fare any harder than I do, but intend not to complain until I fare worse than my master did.
Fire wood, $30.00
Meat and salt, $14.00
Sugar & Molasses, $10.00
Flour & meal, $30.00
Moving expenses in coming to this place, $125.00
House rent, $100.00
To balance this amount, I have received of the A.H. S. $150.00 from the church and Society $180.75 [for a total of ] $330.75, leaving me minus $87.00
The thirty dollars for books was much of it for classical books for my children which cannot occur soon again.
When I wrote to you last, I mentioned that probably an application would be made for aid for my support in this place another year, but the Church have neglected the subject so long that it appears that I may provide for myself and look for another location. But if the question is asked why I leave the place, I must say that I do not know. We had Episcopal preaching here a number of times in which we were fed with “our apostolic church,” “our venerable church,” “our beloved church,” “our primitive church,” till many people began to think that they were the people and the church would die with them. I then felt it my duty to show where the true church is and that the apostolic succession was a mere creature of prelatic policy and had no existence in the bible or history. The Episcopalians became offended and made some noise about it and the church, instead of upholding my hands and standing forth in the defense of the truth, acknowledged the blame should rest on me and as a consequence they are not to be permitted to have only such a minister as the Episcopalians say they may have.
Roman idolatry is trying hard to establish itself here and I have also thought that I ought to lift a warning voice against it and again unpopular and impudent are words heard on every hand. Idolatrous priests may send us all to perdition and it is well enough, but if we open our mouths in vindication, Oh it is horrible presumption! You undertake to speak of Christ and the true Church till we have done and before we have you fast bound! Was there ever such impudence and persecution! And the Church must again yield again. Here is another denomination continually placing the doctrines which we believe in ludicrous and blasphemous caricature and then saying, “Thank God, I don’t believe so I don’t believe that thank God.” And this procedure constitutes more than half of what they call preaching and the moment we undertake to show what we do believe, the same cry of persecution is raised as before and thus it comes to this. No Presbyterian is to be permitted to preach here unless he will submissively take all the opprobrium that Romanist Episcopalians and others choose to heap upon him and unless they will grant permission to the Presbyterian Church to have him. I know that the truth should be handled judiciously and I have endeavored to use all the prudence upon these subjects which the nature of the case will allow, but I have never been so happy to exhibit hated truths without giving offense.
I do not know how much this feeling of alarm has operated on the members of the church so as to cause them to withdraw support and confidence from me but I do know that they have some of them blamed me when I had truth, justice, and reason, and I believe even prudence on my side. And I fear they do know the interests of the Protestant religion and Presbyterianism in particular were suffering before I spoke out upon these subjects and if the Church choose to sacrifice me, my feelings, and their own interests to gratify their enemies, they can do so. Others see the incongruity of their conduct if the Church do not. A Universalist whose connections are Presbyterians and on their account has contributed to my support asks what have Presbyterians to do to ask Episcopalians, Methodists, & Catholics what minister shall be employed by Presbyterians.
I do not leave this place for the want of support for with the same amount granted by the Home Missionary Society this year as last, I could be more comfortably supported than last year though there are $87.00 balance against me for moving expenses and should my influence in the surrounding country increase during the year to come as it has done for six months past, another year would need no further aid from your society. But the Church will not be governed by my reasoning. But still they ought to understand that if they let me go without something more against me than I am aware of and they should treat others in the same way, they will get no minister to stay with them who is determined to declare the whole revealed counsel of God and to lift a warning voice when he sees the wolf coming.
I shall probably continue here till fall and then if there should be no providential opening for me, I shall return eastwardly and leave this emphatically destitute country where the enemy is coming in like the flood, and if a warning voice is raised against him, a feeble Church will drive the watchman off without regarding their own interests or the watchman’s character. Indeed, according to the present practice, the character of ministers is entirely in the keeping of the enemies of religion. I know of more than twenty ministers at this time who have been compelled to change their location every year or two because some enemy of religion has raised an evil report concerning them and the Church had not the moral courage to stand by them till the truth could have time to appear. And these are ministers too who had labored acceptably and profitably at the East. But under this western _____, they are reduced to beggars and their character ruined. But the Churches care not. They can call lustily for more missionaries from the East while they have good ministers before their eyes disheartened and laboring on a farm or teaching school for support. I have a family to provide for and I can stand this process no longer.
Your friend and fellow servant in the best of bonds, — Noah Cooke