This letter was written by Rev. Charles Granger who came to Iowa Territory in 1843 and served the communities of Crawfordsville and Crooked Creek in 1844-46.
Granger’s letter describes his efforts to promote Christianity in Washington County, Iowa Territory. He also relates the wickedness that prevails in some regions of the county and the never-ending battle against intemperance.
Washington County was originally formed on January 18, 1838 as Slaughter County in honor of William B. Slaughter, the secretary of Wisconsin Territory. A short time later it was renamed Washington County, in honor of George Washington. The first settlers arrived in Washington County in 1835. The homesteads did not start until 1836. A town was built in the present day township of Oregon named Astoria and it was here that the Pottsville Post Office was located. It became the first county seat and housed the first court house. In 1839, Washington became the final location of the seat of justice. The first religious society organized by Reverend J.L. Kirkpatrick, a Methodist reverend was created in 1839.
Addressed to Rev. Milton Badger, D. D., Secretary of American Home Missionary Society, 150 Nassau Street, New York
Pottsville, Washington County, Iowa [Territory]
January 23, 1845
Rev. Milton Badger
Soon after the close of the last quarter, the stove belonging to the courthouse in Washington was taken away with the intention not to return it until spring, and as there was no other suitable place for meetings, it was thought best to withdraw my appointments there until warm weather. There has been a complaint made, however, respecting the stove, & it is returned. I have accordingly made arrangements to preach there as heretofore. Although I have not preached in Washington since my last report, I have visited there & distributed tracts. In my visits, I found four pious persons — a man & his wife & two children — who wish to join our church in Washington. It is expected they will unite with us next Sabbath.
Besides preaching in Crawfordsville and Wayne as usual, I have had several Sabbath meetings on Long Creek, four miles north of this place. There are no Congregationalists or Presbyterians there, but there are some Baptists, Free-will Baptists, Methodists, Campbellites, &c., besides Seceders, & some unregenerate persons, old & young. There is some infidelity, intemperance, and much wickedness there. I expect to start a S. School there & to furnish them with a few S.S. books.
Since the above was written, I have taken from the Post Office my new commission — a favor for which I am very thankful.
You suggest the necessity of extending my labors into destitute places. You see by what is written above that I have already commenced. This is what I have desired ever since we came to the territory, but until within a few weeks, I have been obliged to spend considerable time in manual labor or suffer. Henceforth, I hope to be able to spend my time in ministerial labors.
About the 1st of this month, I drafted a constitution & succeeded in attempts to form a Bible Society in Crawfordsville, auxiliary to the County Society.
We have not forgotten the temperance cause. I have lectured on the subject, & distributed temperance tracts. One tract which I had left in Washington was offered to a dealer in ardent spirits by the Post Master of the place in a way that led him to conclude that the tract was sent him from some temperance man in the East. He wondered how the contributor could know that he sold ardent spirits. He read the tract & gave up the traffic. About the same time, another dealer in spirits of the same place died from intemperance. Soon after, Judge W. delivered several temperance addresses which gave to the cause a very valuable impulse. Upon his suggestion, the young ladies of the place resolved not to associate with any young man who should be known to use the critter as a drink. Our rejoicing, however, has been turned to sorrow. Not long since, a spirit grocery was opened which is said to be the worst doggrel that has ever been in the place. Besides this, there are 2 stores where evil spirits are sold. We shall do what we can to stop the traffic.
Thank you heartily for the barrel of clothing which we received in good condition after paying nearly $6 freight. I have sent an acknowledgement.
The “Youth Cabinet” which was sent to Sylvester Smith of Wayne, Henry County, does not come. It should be sent to Mt. Pleasant, Henry County. Will you do Mr. Smith the favor to call at the office of the Cabinet & see, &c.
Pay Ira Smith & Co., 104 Pearl Street, N.Y. to the credit of Edwin Manning, Iowa, seventy-five dollars, the amount due me from the A.H.M.S. & charge to me.
Yours very respectfully, — Charles Granger