1849: Hiram St. John Van Dake to Silas Parsons

The author of this letter was Hiram St. John Van Dake.

The letter was addressed to Silas Parsons (1807-18xx) of Rochester, New York, who was employed as a “flour merchant” and resided in the city with his wife Laura and two boys, Silas and William. Silas may have been a son of the Rev. Silas Parsons (1761-1839), a Revolutionary War Veteran, who is buried in Lockport, New York.

Note: Someone has written “Iowa” in pencil as the point of origin but I am certain this letter was written in Liberty, Indiana.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter


Addressed to Mr. Silas Parsons, Rochester, Monroe County, New York

Liberty, Union County, [Indiana]
February 13th 1849

Dear Bro. Parsons,

I received your letter of the 25th ult. after some days. It came with tidings of death, but we could not help it, and the Lord’s will is good. We yield to God, whose name be praised even forevermore. Soon, very soon, we shall all go, and it is not to be regretted. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come! Let us be thankful to the Lord our God, that for those who are taken away, we are not without hope. But Oh! how small the faith of men. Oh! how weak our own, in that hope inspiring word, “seek and ye shall find.” and how sadly does _____ check the progress even of such as “by patient  continuance __ will doing seek for glory and immortality!” “The world passeth away, and the fashion thereof, but the word of the Lord endureth forever.” Happy, thrice happy, they who make Jehovah their confidence and the most high their consolation.

It was pleasant to me to hear after so long a time from the living members of our family. The Providence of God has sundered us, in such manner, that it is very difficult for us to see one another, and it is therefore very consoling to me to hear from the rest, and especially of their mutual kindness, and if peradventure it may be, of pious dispositions, and of good will toward mankind.

I would like to know how Charlotte expects to get along, and whether any arrangements have been made, and what, for the home and education of her fatherless children. I am sure that my brothers and sisters who have this world’s goods will not neglect them.

I do not know anything of __. Can you tell me where he is and what he is doing?

I sincerely tender my thanks to Moses for the interest he has taken in the welfare of Alvin. Such acts are among the best in the world. I have often desired to help Moses even as to this world, but I am poor in earthly substance, and devote no time in accumulating goods here, and so I am glad that he is better off than I am in this respect, and able to help those whom I would gladly help also. I am sure from the kindness of heart exhibited in his acts, he must think well of that description of religion by James “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

As for his Universalism, I cannot but think that it is considerably owing to revolting and unwarranted interpretations, so often given of the portion of the wicked hereafter, and that a more correct view of the subject would incline him to let go any hold of so unscriptural a theory, as I believe Universalism to be.

You will remember me as you have opportunity to Br. Franklin, Luke, ___, Mars, the Dr., Charlotte, and all theirs, to Lucy and the children, and to Alvin, and other friends.

My own health is better than it was when I wrote you last.

I will look for a letter from you as soon as you can make it convenient to write. I would be glad to receive letters from any of the other brothers & sisters. I believe they are most of them in some sense in my debt as to writing.

I have just ordered the Reformer to Lucy at Rochester. She may expect it after a time.

Were it so that I could, I would visit you in the coming season but the prospect is by no means flattering. I pray God that your soul, body & spirit be preserved blameless into the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Yours in Hope, — H. St. John Van Dake


2 responses to “1849: Hiram St. John Van Dake to Silas Parsons

  • Phil Schlee

    FYI — I have the original in my collection. It was purchased on eBay a while back. Phil Schlee, Manhattan, Kansas

  • Phil Schlee

    Success! I found Mr Van Dake in the 1850 federal census for Liberty, Union County, Indiana: “H. H. Vandake, age 39, Preacher, born in New York.” However, in checking other records (marriage, findagrave and city directories) his name was apparently: “Hiram St John Van Dake” — son of Luke Van Dake and Elizabeth Baker; born on February 10, 1811; he died before 1885 since his widow (Helen M. Vandake) is listed in the Indianapolis City Directory for 1885 (p. 601). Hope this helps!

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