Reading Room: Missionary Work of the 1800's

Beginning in the late 1820's Foundry's Missionary Society held at least one meeting, and sometimes more, each year. In January 1838 the parent society in New York City was notified that Charles W. Botelar, the treasurer at Foundry, was sending $250.00 for missions. The Society at Foundry wanted this used in seven ways. First, $102.00 was to be used to support a missionary in Texas. Second, Edward Gunter, a Cherokee Indian Chief, was to be made a life member of the Methodist Missionary Society. This would cost $20.00. Third, $56.00 was to be used to educate a boy of the Choctaw tribe. He was to be named after Bishop John Emory. Fourth, Rev. William Hamilton, pastor at Foundry, was to be made a life member for $20.00. Fifth, another $20.00 was to be used to make his wife, Mary Jane, a life member. The money was to be applied to the Methodist mission in Liberia. Sixth, Mrs. Margaret S. Tippett, wife of the associate pastor at Foundry, was also to be made a life member and the money applied to the Oregon mission. The balance of $12.00 was to be used however the parent society desired.

The 10th anniversary meeting was held on December 19, 1838. Rev. James E. Welch of the Baptist Church addressed the meeting first. Rev. Jason Lee, Methodist missionary to Oregon, followed him. Lee described his journey from the civilized part of the United States to the Oregon Territory, told of his operations in that area and discussed the present state of missions in Oregon. The large congregation listened to him with "much attention" and "with general satisfaction and pleasure." Then a Flathead Indian sang a hymn in his native tongue and made a "modest and simple" talk. In his speech, which Lee translated, he dwelt upon the degraded and forlorn character of his friends in Oregon. He urged the white man to go and teach them.

When the collection was taken, more than $400.00 was given or pledged. The largest donor was Mrs. Catherine Foxall, the widow of Henry Foxall, who gave $20.00. The choir also contributed $20.00. The person who reported the meeting added this comment, "By the way, they sang well that evening." $70.00 of the money was contributed to educate a Shawnee Indian to be named Henry Foxall.

During the summer of 1838 the Foundry congregation had raised $109.00 for the mission to the Shawnee Indians. Thus, a total of more than $500.00 for missions was raised by Foundry during 1838. This was about $1.00 per member, white and colored.


This article, originally titled "Early Missionary Meetings" is provided and used with permission from Papers of Homer Calkin, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.