This letter was written by Rev. Charles Granger who came to Iowa Territory in 1843 and served the communities of Crawfordsville and Crooked Creek in 1844-46.
Granger’s letter describes his efforts to promote Christianity in Washington County, Iowa Territory. He also shares his account of a debate he entered into with the minister of the Associate Presbyterians [also known as the Associate Reformed Church] society in Crawfordsville who persuaded his congregation to pass a rule forbidding its members from listening to the preaching of any other denominations. This minister of this church — “the Pisgah Church” — at Crawfordsville was Rev. William Smith who presided there from 1841 to 1849.
Washington County was originally formed on January 18, 1838 as Slaughter County in honor of William B. Slaughter, the secretary of Wisconsin Territory. A short time later it was renamed Washington County, in honor of George Washington. The first settlers arrived in Washington County in 1835. The homesteads did not start until 1836. A town was built in the present day township of Oregon named Astoria and it was here that the Pottsville Post Office was located. It became the first county seat and housed the first court house. In 1839, Washington became the final location of the seat of justice. The first religious society organized by Reverend J. L. Kirkpatrick, a Methodist reverend, was created in 1839.
Addressed to Rev. Charles Hall, Secretary of American Home Mission Society, 150 Nassau Street, New York
Washington, Washington Co., Iowa
April 21, 1844
Rev. Charles Hall
Honored & Dear Sir,
Your favor was joyfully received in due time. I say joyfully not so much on account of the pecuniary aid it afforded me as an account of a single remark of yours. After referring to the difficulties connected with the labors of the missionary, you remind me that as a missionary, I have the prayers of thousands. Now altho’ I had frequently thought of this before & had been encouraged in my work in consequence, still your remark was the occasion of more vivid emotions & more lasting impressions than I had ever before experienced respecting this particular point. The perusal of your remark instantly drew forth the tears of joy & my heart exclaimed — the Lord hears those prayers & he will accompany the labors of the missionary with his blessing.
Several things have served by God’s blessing to make my last quarter much more prosperous than either of the preceding. In the first place, I delivered an address for Crawfordsville in opposition to a rule of the Associate Presbyterians in this place, which forbids their members to hear any preaching from ministers not of their own denomination. After the address, I gave liberty to their minister to reply, which offer he accepted. This reply I followed with a rejoinder in the form of questions, which I requested my opponent to answer. By this course, he was led into difficulties which every man of common capacity could see were unavoidable & insurmountable, while he held the rule in question. This address and debate have gained for me more influence than anything else that had taken place. They have drawn out new hearers & made the older ones more attentive. They have, to all appearance, done much toward cementing the Christian fellowship which commenced between Congregationalists & Methodists in this place soon after I began to labor here. Further, I delivered a discourse on Christian union, which I trust was attended with the Divine blessing. Lastly, God has given to his unworthy servant a degree of solicitude for the prosperity of his people here & for the conversion of souls that has caused him in his public labors to weep over men with feelings, I trust, somewhat like the feelings the benevolent Savior had when he wept over Jerusalem. I have had more of such feelings since I came to Iowa than I ever experienced before in the same length of time. This solicitude is given in part, doubtless, in answer to the prayers of Christians as mentioned above.
Admitted a young man into our church in Crawfordsville yesterday, by profession. I think he will be a profitable member.
You may charge to me, as received from our people here $2.75. Will you take the trouble to procure & send on to my address one copy of the Sabbath School Journal, six copies of the “American Messenger,” & six copies of the “Youth’s Penny Gazette” & pay for one year’s subscription out of my installment now due. Ill health has prevented attending to this subject before. These papers will cost, I think, $2.25.
Please pay to Ira Smith & Co., 104 Pearl Street, New York, to the credit of Edwin Manning, ninety-five dollars — the amount due me from the Home M. Soc. after deducting the price of the papers & charge the same to my account.
N. B. The above name &c were handed me by Br. [Julius A.] Reed, ¹ the missionary at Fairfield, Jefferson County, Iowa Territory, but the name & No. are so written that I am not sure I have written the right given name, or the right No. on Pearl Street, but it is the same Co. for whom Br. Reed has paid money for Edwin Manning.
Yours very respectfully, — Charles Granger
¹ Reverend Julius A. Reed was a pioneer Congregational minister in Iowa and superintendent of the state’s American Home Missionary Society, 1848-1869. He preached the first Congregational sermon in Keokuk in 1837, was minister in Faifield, 1840-1845, then moved to Davenport to serve the Edwards Congregational Church and oversee the AHMS. Reed was a supporter of the Christian academy at Denmark, Iowa and a founder, trustee, and professor at Iowa College (later Grinnell College) when it was in Davenport.