1841: Rev. John Hillman Sanford to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

An Issue of the Primitive Expounder in 1849

This letter was written by Rev. John H. Sanford (1806-1896), a Universalist minister and newspaper publisher, and sometimes called the father of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, Michigan. In 1847, six years after this letter was written, he came to Lansing from Ann Arbor and formed a Universalist society. He was also the publisher of Lansing’s first newspaper, The Primitive Expounder. During the Civil War, he served with the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics.

Rev. Nathaniel Stacy

Rev. Sanford wrote the letter to Rev. Nathaniel Stacy (1778-1868), a pioneer Universalist preacher in central New York State and western Pennsylvania, who served as pastor in Ann Arbor, Michigan from 1835-40 and helped organize the first Universalist association in that state.

After a return call to Columbus, Pennsylvania in 1841, he helped direct the building of a new church and continued to further the cause of Universalism in western Pennsylvania.

Stampless Cover

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Addressed to Rev. N. Stacy, Coffee Creek, Crawford County, Pennsylvania

Deerfield, Liv. County, Michigan
February 19, 1841

Dear Father Stacy,

With a heart overflowing with gratitude to our Common Father for the inestimable blessings conferred upon us by his paternal care and immutable love, I sit down to compose a hasty epistle to inform you of our good health &c. I enjoy a great degree of good health than I have before in 10 years. My family also enjoy good health except Mrs. Sanford has a hard cold.

Our good cause is not as prosperous as I could wish on account of the pressure of the times, although I do not think it is on the retrograde for you know that when the spirit of inquiry for truth rises as high as it has been in this country, it is hard to put it down.

In Ann Arbor they tell me the cause goes on, although they are not as well satisfied with the exchange as they supposed they should be. It is said they do not intend to keep Br. Adam only one year.

We all feel lonesome when we think of Father Stacy’s absence and that is very often, I assure you. I was called upon to pronounce the funeral oration of Br. Person’s babe a few days before the conference was to have been holden in Ann Arbor, which deprived me of the privilege of going there. But I learn that there was some misunderstanding among them and the conference was not holden. Dr. Person’s babe died of inflammation of the lungs.

Our youngest which was born while the Association was in session last June departed this life on the 25th of November.

Father Stacy, you probably recollect that you and Br. Billings had a few of the books which were sent to me in one of your packages and I expected you or he would send all the amount of what you retained in your hands directly to them. I sold all that I had and sent them to the pay in due season and supposed all was right for I had returns from each of my letters & felt satisfied that they had received all that was their due. But I have just received a letter from them calling upon me for $10.83 cents balance on that bill and interest on that balance 10 months. Can you give any information concerning it? In whose hands must it be? Yours or Br. Biling’s? I am anxious to know for they say they are desperately in want of it.

Yours as ever in brotherly love & good will, — J. H. Sanford

I am about to suspend my ministerial labors in the spring and follow farming for a year or two for want of a sufficient support. I am tolerably well prepared for farming. I have 2 yoke of oxen and tools to work with & if I attend to them they will bring one a living. Mrs. Sanford sends her compliments to you & family. O how we do want to see you! If you ever come to this country again, do call at my shanty. I will shake our hand if nothing more. Yours, — J. H. S.

Gravemarker of John H. Sanford


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