1845: Rev. Joseph Anthony Roof to Rev. Charles Spielman

This letter was written by Rev. Joseph Anthony Roof (1807-1894), a native of Switzerland. He married first Christina Kreglo (1807-1843), second Mary Caroline Sharp (1810-1852), and third Caroline Switzer (1830-1910). He had as many as 14 children by all three wives. It appears that he emigrated to the United States in 1828 when he was 21.

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[Addressed to Rev. Charles Spielman, in care of Rev. B. Pope, Delaware, Ohio]

Lewisburg [Ohio]
August 13th 1845

Dear Brother Spielman,

Yours was received on Monday the 11th inst. And by request, I haste to send you another epistle relative to my agency.

I have since I wrote last left the Miami Egypt and wound my way to Goshen to Jacob and his family and spiritual children; this is not the Land of Corn, nor are its inhabitants Egyptians, but the descendants of Jacob, Herdsmen. And the result has been favourable to my mission. My good Jacob knew Joseph, and received him cautiously and acquainted al his Isralites with the object of my mission.

He first raised the cry loud and strong, and urged them to come over and help us, and set forth in glowing colors our deplorable situation and urged them in no ordinary eloquence to come over to our side. I was then respectfully introduced to his people, and also raised the Macedonian Cry; urging them by all that was dear; appealing to their sense of honor, to their Christianity &c.

On Monday following, Father Jacob accompanied me from house to house and from field to field, and the good people encouraged me generally with their subscriptions. Only a few of Pharaoh’s subjects who had been crowed out of the Plains of Miami Egypt, they knew not Joseph and like their kindred, hardened their hearts and stiffened their necks, and refused to aid us to any extent. We obtained in the Lewisburg Congregation upward of 600 and will by tomorrow evening have 700 – more than I got in all Br. Kineck’s [Kinnick?] charge 5 congregations. Would to God that all our brethren felt like Jacob and all exhirt their power like him in favour of our cause. The church would soon be raised out of her unhappy condition; and we would soon see better days in Zion.

We also visited the other Congregations and preached for them, and presented our claims upon them, but here I am sorry to say that our labours were not crowned with such success. Notwithstanding, his district will subscribe about 1300, double that of Bro. Kinecks. In Br. [Jacob] Gruber’s charge, I found this difference – that where he has people under his immediate care and can give them the necessary attention, they are warm and awake, willing to do all they can. But his charge is too large and the more remote congregations upon whom he cannot bestow that attention which he would like, and consequently they are more indifferent.

Thomas Winters is labouring in his district and he snows and Jacob in Greenland stile. He has also taught some of his people to do likewise. He has nearly destroyed a part of his Gruber’s Congregations. But Br. Gruber releases none of his efforts. He aided me in calling the attention of his people to the education cause, and also in seeking young men to prepare for the ministry. Something commendable will be done here by our good brothers. I think some young men will be sent from this section of the country to our Seminary this fall. I have my eye on at least two who are proper subjects and who can be had. I have yet about two days work here and then I will go to Germantown where I will preach on Sunday next and at Elk. I have preached twice in Germantown and tried to awake an interest among the people but I fear that there is too much Egyptian there. “Their heart is not rite with the Lord.”

On Sunday the 24, I will preach in 3 of the congregations in Butler County, formerly under the pastoral charge of [Rev. Saul] Henkel. I will do all that I can, no labour or time shall be spared to effect all that can be done. Although Pharoah’s Widows may all combine to drive me out of their houses, two of them have done in Egypt. “They know not Joseph.” I have not had an hour to myself since I commenced labour.

I have seen the filthy communications alluded to in your letter; but it is just what I have looked for. Dr. Boestler I always regarded as an Infidel and I so told Wagen__ but he got offended. But it is so.

Do the best you can, good Brother, for the Seminary. But be careful of your health for you may soon increase your disease and buy death. Spare yourself, good Brother! It is a painful reflection that the church is rent and bleeding at every pore, and yet so many members indifferent, and so few of the clergy willing to come to her aid or to be spent for her.

You may direct your letter to Germantown, Ohio next week, or if not written until the following week, to Hamilton, Butler Co., Ohio. I am well but very tired. God Bless you.  – Joseph A. Roof

Br. Gruber’s respects to yourself and family. Remember me and Br. Gruber to Br. Pope. Tell the Pope to put on the whole armor and come out with his Ecclesiastical Power against all drones in the Church, calling them to arms. And let him thunder his anathams against all enemies and Heritics.


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