1846: Rev. James Thomson to Rev. Milton Badger

Rev. James Thomson, ca 1870

The letter was written by Rev. James Thomson (1801-1873), the founder of Wabash College. After graduating from the University of Miami in Ohio, Thomson came to Crawfordsville, Indiana, where he became the pastor of the Presbyterian Church in 1827. Thomson left Crawfordsville in 1843 and served various congregations in Wabash County until leaving for Mankato, Minnesota in 1854. In Minnesota, Thomson started Mankato University.

This letter was written from Wabash County in 1846 while Thomson served in the pulpit at Wabash and also the tiny village of Lagro, Indiana. He mentions his prior service at Crawfordsville where he led the “New Light” segment of the Presbyterian Community, as opposed to the “Old School” brethren who clung to old established beliefs and doctrine of the church.

Rev. Milton Badger, the recipient of this letter, was one of the secretaries of the Home Mission Society.

Stampless Cover

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[Addressed to Rev. Milton Badger, D.D., No. 150 Nassau Street, New York, N.Y.]

Postmarked Logansport, Ind., April 2.

Wabash, [Indiana]
April 1st, 1846

Brother Badger,

Since my last quarterly report, I have made some change in my regular Sabbath labours. The Old School brethren have organized a little church in this county. They found one or two families who were so bigotted that they had never united with us, and they persuaded two or three families of associated reformed brethren to unite with them and three families of our church and four families of the little church on the Reserve taking about the half of it.

I found it best to discontinue the organization of the New Providence church, therefore, and let those who chose to remain with us be united with the church in Wabash.

I preach now every Sabbath morning in Wabash and go in the afternoon or evening to Lagro and other points about the same distance. My congregations in Wabash are better than they used to be, pretty generally filling our little house. The Sabbath school is also doing well.

The prospect is better also for accomplishing some thing at Lagro than it has ever been. The Catholics have no priest and are doing nothing, and the Methodist influence is waneing whilst my congregations are better there than formerly.

What we need most of all is an outpouring of God’s spirit. There are a few at least that are “sighing & crying” over the desolations of Zion. I think there is a little evidence at least of a waking up in the church. O that the set time may come speedily.

Center Church (built 1840) in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Thomson served in the pulpit here three years before leaving Crawfordsville.

I will give you the statistical statement on the next page.

I had intended to let my appropriations remain in your hands till I came on this spring if I should go to the assembly, hoping to get an old account collected at Crawfordsville to purchase my family necessaries. In this, I was disappointed. I was under the necessity, therefore, to draw on your Treasury for a part of what is due. I forgot to take the name of the person in New York to where payments is to be made.

Please accept an order in favour of Fowler & Pyke, merchants of Lafayette, for sixty dollars by whomsoever presented,

If you should consider any of the facts stated in the “Sketches of Indiana” over the signature of “Junius” in the Watchman of the Valley as worthy of a place in the Home Missionary, you may depend on the correctness of the statements as I have taken a great deal of pains to collect the facts.

Yours affectionately,  — Jas. Thomson

1.     The name of the church is Wabash.

2.     Hopeful conversions during the year – – 2.

3.     Number added by letter – – 3.

4.     Number of Sabbath scholars &c. – – 60.

5.     Number of Vol. in library – – 100.

6.     Contribution to U. M. Society  $7.50 cts

7.     The post office address is Wabash, Wabash County, Ia.

Yours affectionately, — Jas. Thomson

Congregations better than they have ever before been.


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