1850: Rev. Barton Hall Cartwright to James N. Stark

Rev. Barton H. Cartwright

This letter was written by Rev. Barton Hall Cartwright (1810-1895), the son of Rev. James Cartwright (1772-1822) and Catherine Gray Tryon (1775-1852). See Cartwright’s biography in Footnotes below.

Rev. Cartwright wrote the letter to James N. Stark (1823-1899), a son of James Stark (1779-1859) and Elizabeth Wilcox (1784-1852), of Olive Green, Delaware County, Ohio.

Stampless Cover



Addressed to Mr. James N. Stark, Olive Green, Delaware County, Ohio

27 April 1850

Mr. J. Stark.

I received yours of April 9 in good time and resend my regards for your kindness and in trust token. When the arrangement was made for you to send, I lived in Macomb, McDonough County [Illinois]. Since, we have moved to Fulton County. You may send it to me. Direct to Lewistown, Fulton County, Illinois. Don’t put in the 15 cts.

We want to be remembered to all the friends there. I shall never forget the friendship manifest to me there, the fireside chat, and apples at your house. Tell Benjamin Benedict and wife I remember them and children and tell that little pet he may come here and wake up all my boys to pay me for what I done, and don’t forget my friends Crawford’s family and Grunderson ___ in the round and not fail.

I was at Mt. Morris. Late Henry Clark and son Henry have both gone to the Land of Gold [California]. Cordelia [Eloise Clark] is married [4 April 1850] to Mr. [Christopher] Misner. Harriett is with us. All the friends are well.

May I indulge in the belief that you are providing for the next as well as this life. Yours as ever. — Barton H. Cartwright


Barton H. Cartwright was born near Auburn, N.Y., March 9, 1810, and is the son of James and Catherine (Gray) Cartwright. His father was a Baptist Minister of New York and died in 1822. Thrown upon his own resources at the age of 12 years, Barton H. began in this world for himself, working for his board and clothing. He was promised schooling also, but was disappointed and obliged to make his way without educational advantages. After he was 14 years of age he earned wages ranging from $4 to $10 per month. In 1829, he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church and became impressed with the desire to become a preacher. He exhorted and made his maiden effort in his holy calling in his native State. In March, 1833, he determined to seek his fortune in the West. With a limited purse, his knapsack and staff, he walked from Syracuse, N.Y., to Olean Point, on the Alleghany River. From there he took a flat boat to Pittsburgh, and from thence down the Ohio River by steamboat. He met the Indian Chief Black Hawk at Cincinnati who was a prisoner of War and on his way to Washington. He shook hands with the old warrior and met him on many subsequent occasions. He partly worked his passage as a deck hand on a Mississippi steamer and left the boat at the Flint Hills, now Burlington. He had a brother living at the Flint Hills, on a claim which he had made the year previous, and his object in stopping at this point was to visit him. He passed the first night beside a pile of logs near the river and the following morning made his way to his brother’s cabin. As the land on the Iowa side of the river, then called the “New Purchase” would not be open for settlement until the following June, he determined to go to Warren County, this State. Having reached his destination he started out the following Sunday to walk several miles to attend a meeting at a cabin near Monmouth. He found the preacher who was to have officiated lying sick in a loft above the room where service was to be held. Showing his Church letter he was warmly welcomed and requested to conduct the services, which he did. He thus began his ministerial career in Illinois, on the first Sunday in May, 1833. Mr. C. soon bought four pairs of oxen and a breaking plow and broke prairie week days and preached Sundays, frequently traveling 50 miles on that day. In the spring of 1834, he was appointed a Missionary by Peter Cartwright to go to Iowa and establish Church Societies. Starting in the early spring with four yoke of cattle, a breaking plow, and a wagon load of “provender” he crossed into Iowa, a very practical sort of Missionary. As no Mission fund or other means of compensation existed, he went prepared to sustain himself by his own efforts, which he did, arriving at the “Flint Hills” early in the spring of 1834. He there organized the first Protestant Christian Society in the Territory of Iowa. He came to Rock Island and in the log cabin of Judge Spencer, he preached the first sermon ever heard at Rock Island. In the fall of that year, 1834, he was admitted to the Methodist Episcopal Illinois Conference, which at that time embraced all of Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa. He was assigned to the Knoxville Mission, this State, which embraced what is know Henderson, Warren, Knox, and Mercer Counties, and entered upon his duties in the fall of 1834. In 1836 he was on the circuit embracing Pike and Calhoun Counties of this State. In December of the same year he constructed a rude sleigh called a “pung” or “jumper” which was formed by cutting two saplings and bending them for runner and thills. Having no harness he fastened the rig to the sides of the saddle on his horse and with this unique conveyance he traveled 1,200 miles, starting from near Peoria, Ill., and traversed Illinois, Michigan, Canada, and New York. He sold his horse in New York in the spring of 1837, made his way on foot again to Olean Point, ran the river on a raft to Pittsburgh and thence returned to Illinois. In the conference of 1837-38 he was assigned to the Buffalo Grove Circuit which included in its territory the towns of Oregon, Dixon, Sterling, Fulton, Mt. Morris, and many other settlements. He organized the first religious society at Sterling, and at other points in Northern Illinois and Iowa. His compensation was $ 50 the first year and for a number of years it did not exceed $ 75, while his duties were arduous. In 1840, he was assigned to Iowa as a Mission Preacher. He crossed the Mississippi by swimming his horse by the side of a skiff and subsequently was obliged to swim across many of the Iowa streams, going from cabin to cabin holding meetings among the settlers. He spent four years in Iowa. His field of laboe extended along the river to Iowa and as far Westward as he could find settler’s cabin, embracing Dubuque, Davenport, Rockingham, Muscatine, Maquoketa and Iowa City. He preached the first sermon at the last named place, which then consisted of a few board shanties. In 1844, Mr. Cartwright returned to Illinois, where he continued to labor, stopping first at Prophetstown, next going to Knox County, filling various charges, and in 1850 returned to Buffalo Grove. He continued in active service in filling various appointments until the spring of 1863, when he was commissioned Chaplain of the 92nd Regiment Ill., Vol. Mounted Infantry and served with that Regiment until the close of the war. He was with Sherman and Kilpatrick in the famous march to the sea. He was a universal favorite of the Regiment, having won his way to the hearts of his comrades by his genial good nature and warm interest in their temporal as well as spiritual welfare. On his return from the war, he again took up the burden of his calling in the paths of peace and resumed the ministry in the Rock River Conference, where he was in active service until 1883, when having reached the age of 73 years, at his request his name was placed upon the list of Superannuates. Being in vigorous health, in full possession of his name of his faculties he has however continued in active service as opportunity offered, and is now in his 76th year. Mr. Cartwright married Miss Chloe J. Benedict, daughter of Stephen Benedict, the ceremony being performed on the 10th day of April, 1839, in Ogle County. Mrs. Cartwright lost her father in childhood, and came to Lafayette Grove with her mother and step-father James Clark in 1835. She was the first school teacher in what is now Ogle County, having taught her first school in the spring of 1836, at Lafayette Grove, then a part of Jo Daviess County. Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright have had eight children, four sons, and four daughters, only six of whom are living.

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