This letter was written by Rev. James Eells, Jr. (1778-1856), son of Rev. James Eells (1743-1805) and Mary Johnson (1748-1802) of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Rev. Eells was married twice; first to Lucretia Rose, and second, to Mehitable Parmelee.
Rev. Eells wrote the letter to Rev. Myron Tracy (1798-1855), the son of Joseph Tracy (1763-1829) and Ruth Carter (1772-1845). Rev. Tracy was married to Sarah Allen Weld (1807-1873).
Addressed to Rev. Myron Tracy, Corresponding Secretary W. R. Agency, of the American Home Missionary Society, Hudson, Summit County, Ohio
March 26th 1847
I received a few days since, a commission from the A. H. M. Soc. in New York, to labor as a Missonary of your Society in this place for 12 months from December 12th 1846. The first quarter of the current year had expired before this commission was received. The following is presented as my first quarterly report.
My ministerial labors with this people commenced on the 2d Sabbath in December last. Since that time, I have preached here every Sabbath, with the exception of two Sabbaths when I was confined at home, by means of Mrs. Eell’s sickness. When I commenced my labors here, the church had been without any stated ministerial labors for about 18 months. During this time, they sustained reading meetings on the Sabbath, attended on the preaching of Methodists — once in two weeks, held their own house of worship, & held prayer meetings for a season weekly & afterwards occasionally.
As might reasonably have been expected, difficulties had risen between several members of the church bringing reproach upon the cause of Christ; a number were in the habit of absenting themselves from all religious meetings; some had withdrawn from the church without ceremony; the few prayer meetings that were kept up, occasionally, were attended by very few & were greatly annoyed by the disturbance of rude boys who manifestly that they were beyond the control of Christians; & the soul of piety appeared to be confined to a very few members & these mostly females.
During this dark time, however, there was continued a female prayer-meeting, consisting generally of but 4 individuals almost without interruption on Wednesday P.M. of each week. On commencing my labors here, this class of youngsters went on with their usual disturbances in all our meetings till they found the obstructions in their way rather too formidable to be encountered. They were manifestly encouraged by their ungodly parents & were obtaining an alarming influence among the rising generation. For several weeks, however, we have had no disturbances of this kind, & I believe this evil is effectually suppressed among us.
Special efforts are making to revive the singing in our Congregation by one of our brethren, well qualified for this object, & the most of our young people are taking a deep interest in this concern.
There is no stated meeting in this place or immediate vicinity except that of the Methodists, which is held only once in two weeks in our Meeting House, after our service on the Sabbath. There are a few Campbellites, here, who have preaching occasionally. Mr. Hayden of Euclid is at this time holding a protracted meeting here, to be continued 4 or 5 days. They held several meetings here during the winter, but without success.
The state of my family & my concerns at Amherst has been such that I have not been able to do as much here during the winter, on week days as would have been desirable. Being an entire stranger to all the people when I came here, I tho’t it not expedient to adopt any particular measures of reform ’till I had become well acquainted with the existing state of things in the Church & Congregation. I have visited all the members of the Church & some of them repeatedly, & believe I have now obtained sufficient knowledge respecting the people & their necessities to continue a course of measures for producing a salutary change.
We had a meeting of the Church this week for mutual Christan edification & agreed to have a similar meeting once in two weeks, till the first of June, at which time we expect to agree either to continue them or to adopt some other measures, which the Church may think preferable.
Our congregation on the Sabbath is ell attended, when the weather & traveling is tolerably favorable. The number will average, I should judge, from 50 to 70. Some of the Methodists generally attend with us & frequently a considerable portion of their church are present — especially when they have preaching in the afternoon.
There are no serious divisions in the church about doctrines or measures, so far as my knowledge extends. All appear to be sensible of the great evils resulting from their general coldness, negligence, & backslidings; and many of them anxiously desirous of a general & thorough reformation.
I have usually delivered a 3d discourse on Sabbath evening in the Meeting House, which is the only religious meeting in the place on that evening. I have attended a lecture once in 2 weeks in a school house in the edge of Hinckley called the Howard School House where Howardites, with their leader, have generally held their meetings. It is about 2 1/2 miles from our village & there are some of our members in the district. My purpose is to continue these meetings when the going becomes more favorable as long as they shall be sustained by the attendance of the people.
There is another neighborhood about 2 miles west of us called Hamilton’s Corners where I purpose to hold stated meetings once in 2 weeks. These are the only convenient & suitable places in our vicinity for holding meetings of our denomination. We have had no Bible Class or Sabbath School since I have been here, as it was judged not expedient to continue either during the winter in view of the circumstances of our congregation.
We have a large Sabbath School library & intend to reorganize the Bible Class & Sabbath School as ground becomes settled & children in general can conveniently attend meeting. We have a weekly meeting on Thursday Evening, held at private houses in different parts of the Congregation, tho’ but few persons are in the habit of attending it. The Monthly Concert will be attended on Sabbath Evenings as we can secure a much better attendance at that time than on Monday evenings.
My family will probably remain at Amherst during the summer as Mrs. Eells is too feeble to be about much among strangers & I shall board among the people here, & of course, shall have more time to visit & to attend to the appropriate duties of the ministry than I should be able to do under other circumstances.
I am requested in my instructions to state the amount of which I consider to be due me for the last quarter. The sum of $75 for the year was named in your letter to me as the amount recommended by the Board, but in my commission $70 only is the sum named. My presumption is that the discrepancy arises from an oversight in the Board at New York as I cannot suppose they could have any object in making such an exception to the sum you had named to them.
As I have been long without any pecuniary income for ministerial services, it would be a peculiar convenience if you would pay the whole amount due for the last quarter & deduct the price of the ____s I received of Mrs. Tracy from my next quarterly payment. My donation to the Home Missionary Society for the year will be $5, but this I wish to be deducted from the 3d or last quarterly payment. The amount due for the last quarter on the ground of these considerations will be $18.75. You can make the sum even dollars, either 18, or 19, if it be any convenience, as you may think propoer.
Deriving an interest in your prayers for the Divine devotion & blessing on my labors & on this people, I am yours in the bonds of ministerial friendship.
— James Eells, Missionary in Weymouth, Medina County [Ohio]