IN the summer of 1812, Messrs. John F. Schermerhorn and Samuel J. Mills commenced a tour through the western and southern parts of the United States, under the patronage of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, and the Missionary Society of Connecticut. They were instructed not only to perform missionary services, but to enquire particularly into the religious and moral state of that part of the country. They completed the tour in about one year. The result of their enquiries, as communicated to the Trustees of the Missionary Society of Connecticut, is now submitted to the public, by direction of said Trustees.
Mr. Schermerhorn's Statement.
To the Trustees of the Missionary Society of Connecticut.
THE report which I have at this time the pleasure of transmitting to you, will probably be found to differ from the ordinary mode on such occasions. I have omitted to give you the transactions of each day in detail, because the information I have to communicate, thus presented, it would be impossible for any other person so to arrange, as to give the Society a just conception of the state of the churches, religion, and morals in the States and Territories west of the Allegany Mountains.
A correct view of the state of religious affairs, in that region, is of the utmost importance; for the knowledge which this part of the country at present possesses, on this subject, is very limited and partial. Unless a proper representation of the case be made, we have no reason to expect that Christians will feel the necessity of contributing with that liberality, which will enable Missionary Societies to support missionaries in the western country; nor ministers of the Gospel feel it their duty, personally to engage in them. These reasons are my apology for departing from the ordinary mode of communication. As it respects my labors as a missionary, besides the services of the Sabbath, I preached dining the week, as frequently as the people could be convened, and other circumstances would admit. Some weeks three times, other weeks not more than once or twice; and it has happened also, that I have had no service except on the Sabbath.
Every State has its natural as well as civil divisions. The situation of the civil, such as counties and townships, it is not expected will be known by persons residing out of the State; while its natural divisions are known by all who are conversant with Geography. It is proposed, therefore, to take natural divisions
4of the country, and show in Statistical Tables, the counties they comprehend, and the inhabitants, ministers, churches, and vacancies, among the different denominations in the same; accompanied with such remarks as may occur.
The denominations generally noticed in the Tables are Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists. The Congregationalists, Associate Reformed Church, Associate Synod, Covenanters, and those churches in connection with the "General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States," are all classed under the title of Presbyterians; for those minor considerations, concerning the externals of religion, which now separate them, and which originated in causes generally not existing in this country, do not appear of sufficient consequence, in a missionary point of view, to merit separate notice.
Pennsylvania West of the Allegany Mountains.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Preac.||Mem.|
The land is very broken and mountainous, with a light and comparatively poor soil, and will not probably settle with any great degree of rapidity. In the ten counties, which this district comprises, is a population of only 21,255 souls, which must, necessarily, be very scattered. There are only 3 Ministers, 6 churches supplied with preaching part of the time, and 3 vacant societies of the Presbyterian order. Of the Baptists in Pennsylvania, I was not able to procure any particular account. The Methodists have one entire circuit in this district, and probably parts of others.
Eight of these counties, it will be perceived, are entirely destitute of preachers, unless they are occasionally visited by an itinerant Methodist. I apprehend that nothing can be done here
5towards forming societies, because the people generally are indigent. The General Assembly have sent missionaries into this part of the country, occasionally, for a few weeks. But it is to be feared that such transient missions, among the rude and ignorant, are of very little utility. They need constant instruction, and to the regular routine of the Methodists' visits monthly must be attributed their success, in the western country, while our missions frequently end without building up one Society.
|Min.||Ch. sup.||Vac. Soc.||Itinerants.||Members.|
It appears that these six counties have a population of 136,540, 36 ministers, 63 churches supplied by them with preaching, and 21 vacant societies, all of the Presbyterian order. It is evident from this, that most of the preachers have to supply two or three societies. This district is not in very pressing need of missionary assistance, compared with other parts of the country, except it be the counties of Somerset and Greene, which have a population of nearly 24,000 inhabitants, and not one church supplied with preaching.
There are a few German societies in Somerset, Fayette, and Westmoreland. The Methodists have seven itinerants in this district, and 2280 members belonging to their society. In Alleghany county, at Pittsburg, there is an Episcopalian church, the only one in the west part of the State. There are also a few Halcyons on ten mile river, in Washington county, but in general there are fewer sectaries
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
|Total W. of Allegany in Penn.||195,522||57||101||48||12||3787|
These five counties, it appears have 37,727 inhabitants; of the Presbyterian order, there are 18 preachers, 32 churches supplied by them, and 24 vacant societies. Some of these preachers are infirm and have no particular charge; others, though they live in this district, preach in Ohio. Some also are engaged in other business, and serve only as occasional supplies. This statement of the number of churches may not be perfectly accurate, because the different counties have many places of the same name. The Methodists have two circuits through this region, three itinerants in them, and 1,021 members in their communion. There is in the county of Butler or Beaver a society of Germans, who have all things common, and are remarkable for their industry, sobriety, and order. They have a preacher of their connection with them, a man advanced in life, and very zealous in directing their attention to divine things, for which purpose they meet daily. What is the name, or what are the peculiar sentiments of this society, I know not. The Methodists, for a time were very successful, and broke up some Presbyterian societies. Of late they have not been so successful in this region.
This part of the country is a proper field for missionary labor. At least two profitable circuits for a mission might be established in the western part of Pennsylvania. The first, through the counties on the Allegany River, beginning with Armstrong, Venango, and Warren, and returning through the parts of Erie, Crawford, Mercer, and Butler, by which the destitute places in those counties might be visited. The other through the counties of Cambria, Indiana, Clearfield, and Tyoga, and return through parts of Lycoming, Centre, and Huntington. The three last counties are East of the Allegany Ridge, contain 36,000 inhabitants, and have not one Presbyterian minister among them.
The people in the western parts of Pennsylvania are a medley of Scotch, Irish, English, and Germans. The Germans are few. The majority are of Scotch-Irish descent, many of them rude in their manners, but desirous to instruct their children. Schools
7however, in the districts first and last mentioned, are not numerous. There are some good schools in Pittsburg, which is the most flourishing place in the western country. In Washington county are two Colleges, within ten miles of each other, both of which have proved great blessings, by the facilities they afford to acquire the rudiments of an education. The teachers of these Colleges are pious men, and a great object with them ever has been, to prepare young men for the gospel ministry. In this they have been very successful, for most of the young men in the ministry, in these parts, have been educated in these Seminaries.
In September 1812, the Synod of Pittsburg held their annual meeting. From the Reports to the Synod, it appeared that it was composed of the following Presbyteries:
|Ohio, consisting of||23 Ministers,||38 Congregations,||1 Licentiate.|
The two last Presbyteries, and part of Ohio, are in the State of Ohio. Nothing particularly interesting was brought before the Synod. The subject of atonement, as to its nature and extent, has agitated the members of this Body some; a majority of whom, I think, embrace the opinions of Scott and Fuller. They are uniform in administering the ordinance of Baptism to none but professed believers and their households, and in requiring fruits meet for repentance, as necessary to admission into their communion. From the Report of Synod it appears, that the profanation of the Sabbath, by travelling, visiting, hunting, fishing, &c. is very common, and that profanity and intemperance have become crying sins; that altho' there was no special attention to religion, still many were brought into the kingdom of Christ; and that those who were admitted formerly remained stedfast, adorning their profession. In no part of the western country are the Presbyterian Churches in a more prosperous state, or have been more remarkably blessed by the effusions of the Spirit, than within the bounds of this Synod. It is now almost thirty-four years since John Mc. Millan, D. D. the father of the churches in these parts, first passed over the mountains. As we were crossing the Allegany river, he expressed himself very feelingly in the language of Jacob: With my staff passed I ever this Jordan, and now I have become, many bands, alluding to the number of Presbyteries in union with this Synod. This Synod is a Missionary Body and expends annually about $1,000. This has however, been chiefly expended among the Wayandot Indians. They send missionaries for a few weeks or months into different parts within the bounds of their Synod.
THE Blue Ridge, which divides the waters of James River and the others which fall into the Atlantic, from those of the Shenandoah, which empties into the Potowmac, separates Old, from New Virginia.
The land of this district, situated west of the Allegany Mountains, which divide the waters flowing into the Atlantic, from those which fall into the Ohio, is very broken and mountainous though the vallies are fertile, and make excellent plantations. Between the Blue Ridge and the Allegany Mountains is an extensive, fertile, and highly cultivated body of land, and some parts of it, bordering on the Potowmac, are called the garden of America. Many of the inhabitants of New Virginia, are from the old settlements in that State. But a great part of them from Pennsylvania and Maryland, of the German and Scotch-Irish descent. The settlements west of the Allegany Mountains are very scattering, being confined chiefly to the water-courses and valleys. Those between the north and south mountains, that is, in the valley just described, are numerous and flourishing, and the state of society is better and more improved, than in Old Virginia.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Va. So.||Ch.||Mem.||Itin.||Mem.|
It appears from this Table that these counties contain 114,454 inhabitants, and only 3 Presbyterian ministers, 7 churches supplied with preaching, and 5 vacant societies. Two of these
9ministers are really worn out in the service, and it is doubtful whether any after them will be settled over their societies, from a prevailing unwillingness to support ministers. Here are at least 100,000 inhabitants without one solitary Presbyterian preacher among them. The Baptists have 43 churches in this region, and 1816 members in their communion. The Methodists have 12 itinerants, and 3,852 members in their society.
This certainly must be considered a field for missionary labor, though I think the prospect small indeed, as it respects the formation of societies and churches. The people are willing to hear, however, and we should hope great good might be done among them eventually by proper exertions. If the circuits hereafter proposed in the State of Ohio were adopted, the five first counties in the Table, which are situated on the River Ohio, would be principally supplied. Another good circuit might be formed through the counties on the Monongahela River, and one more still on the Kanahawa in Greenbriar. The Presbyterian settlers are few in comparison with the Baptists and Methodists, which constitute the great mass of the community.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
In these counties is a population of 134,269 inhabitants. There are 21 ministers, 26 churches supplied by them, and 9 vacant societies of the Presbyterians. The Methodists have 10 itinerants, and 3,710 members in their society. The Baptists are few, and in several of the counties are some German churches both of the Lutherans and Calvinists. The Presbyterian churches here are evidently in a more flourishing condition than in any other part of the Southern States. They are increasing, and are in little need of missionary aid. The counties of Jefferson, Berkley, Pendleton, Shenandoah, and Rockingham, may however be
10considered missionary ground. I was not able to obtain accurate information respecting the number of Baptist churches in this district. They are however few.
In Old Virginia, are 16 ministers, and 23 churches supplied by Presbyterian preachers. These are in the counties of London, Stafford, Spottsylvania, Amherst, Albemarle, Hanover, Gouchland, Norfolk, Dinwiddie, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Charlotte, Campbell, and Bedford. In all the other counties there are none.
The Episcopal church is in a deplorable condition. The number of clergy small, perhaps between 20 and 30 and their churches about 100. The inhabitants of Old Virginia are nominally Episcopalian, among the higher class of society. The Baptists and Methodists are far the most numerous, but chiefly among the lower class.
There appears to be a great opening for the Presbyterians at present. The better informed are displeased with the Baptists and Methodists, and though educated Episcopalians, seeing no prospect of supply from that denomination, would cheerfully contribute to the support of a Presbyterian minister. There are a number of applications to Presbytery for supply, but they have no one to send.
Many young men have lately been stationed at some of the principal places in the State, and meet with great respect, and the attention of many appears to be called to divine things. They want missionaries of talents, good address, fluency of speech, and easy manners, as well as fervent piety. In this State, a missionary body, who collect $1,000 annually, have to place a great part of it to interest or let it lie dormant, for the want of missionaries of proper character to engage in their service.
This district is situated between the 41° N. L. and Lake Erie, and extends west from Pennsylvania State line, to a line drawn from the 41° N. L. due North till it intersects Sandusky Bay, about the centre, from East to West. The settlements at present however do not extend west of Cayahoga River.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
This portion of country in 1810 had 16,042 inhabitants, but will admit of a very extensive population, and in all probability, should peace be soon restored, will fill up with unexampled rapidity. This is not the case with this district only, but with the State generally, as also Indiana and Illinois Territories. For the war has brought into those parts hundreds and thousands from other States, where the soil is inferior and laud so high, that it is impossible for poor people to purchase. These circumstances will render the country which they behold very desirable, and induce them to immigrate to it.
In New Connecticut are 10 preachers and 17 churches supplied with preaching, at least part of the time, and 10 vacant congregations. The Presbyterians are by far the most numerous. The Baptists are very few, and the Methodists have only one circuit and two preachers in the whole of the district. They are not encouraged by the better informed and most influential class of community. Many if not most of the inhabitants are from Connecticut and Massachusetts. They are well informed and, with some exceptions, their manners are less vicious than in the new countries generally. Missionaries are treated with respect, and heard with attention. The people are very desirous in many places, not only to have occasional preaching but to have Gospel Ministers settled among them. The Missionary Society of Connecticut have turned their particular attention to this district. They have 11 missionaries there who labor a part of the time in their service, and the residue they are supported by the people. The Lord has been pleased to pour out his Spirit here, and a revival of religion has taken place in some counties from which the happiest effects are likely to result. Some of the most influential characters, who were Infidels before, have been brought to acknowledge Christ. Many churches have already been formed, and many more might be organized; two or three of which uniting could afford an adequate support to a minister.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
The population, except in counties bordering oil the Ohio, is small and scattered. The soil is inferior in general, except the bottoms on the rivers, to the other portions of this State, and probably will not settle very rapidly. The settlements at present are chiefly confined to the water courses. The inhabitants of this district are 61,556; the Presbyterian ministers 13, and those chiefly in the villages; the churches supplied with preaching 16, and the vacant congregations 14. The Methodists have 5 circuit preachers, and 2,670 members in society. There are also a few Baptists here, but as to the number of their churches and ministers, I have no information. In the county of Jefferson there is a large settlement of Quakers. There are also several Halcyons in this part of the country, particularly at Marietta; and it is probable that the other denominations are far more numerous in this district than the Presbyterians. The better informed and influential men, however, even among the irreligious, prefer the Presbyterian order. The Synod of Pittsburg generally send one or two missionaries to labor in this district of country, two or three months in the year. The Missionary Society of Connecticut, also employ one or two missionaries for a few weeks. This district of country is in great want of missionary labor, for from Steubenville to Marietta along the Ohio, there is no Presbyterian preacher, and the settlements are numerous. So also after you leave Marietta up the Muskingum to Zanesville, there are none; and from thence to the head of the river through Tuscarawies and Steuben there are none. Through these places however, the Methodists have their circuits. In Tuscarawies county the Moravians have a mission among a few Indians, and others of their connection settled near them. The Indians are very dissipated and greatly degenerated since the time that Loskiel gives an account of them.
There are some Deists in almost every part of the country, many however are very silent and say little. I found some of these on the Muskingum, one of whom has lately been brought to see and acknowledge the error of his ways.
I cannot ascertain that there has been any revival of religion lately in any part of this district. The people are loose in morals; the profanation of the Lord's day, swearing and drunkenness, together with horse-racing and gambling, are very common, Two missionary circuits might be profitably established in this region. The first from Wheeling on both sides of the Ohio to Marietta, and for a short distance up Captine Creek and Muskingam River. The other on Wilt's Creek in Guernsey county, which is wholly destitute, and up the Muskingum above Zanesville, through Tuscaraweis and Stark counties, in which there are some places that have applied to Presbytery for supply. It is very probable that a number of churches might be organized in different parts of this district, was there particular attention paid to the subject. The ministers who are already in the country, it will
13hereafter appear, have no leisure to attend to it. It can be done therefore by missionaries only.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
A great part of this district is very fertile; immigration to it has been rapid, and it will soon contain an extensive population. The number of inhabitants 62,850, the Presbyterian preachers 14, churches supplied with preaching are 25, and the vacant congregations 13. The Methodists have 7 circuits in whole or in part, in this district, 10 circuit riders, and 3,324 members of their society. They are probably the most numerous of any denomination. In Fairfield county are several German societies of different denominations. In Gallia county is a society of Baptists, and also in Knox county.
This is a proper field for missionary labor. Many places in Madison, Fayette, and Sciota counties have made particular request to Presbytery for supply, and intimated a desire to settle a minister.
In Gallia county, there is a place where a preacher, who would take the charge of an Academy, would have a good support, and the prospect of usefulness is great. This place is settled by many French people, ignorant of all religion, and without a Bible. They are very dissipated and spend the Sabbath in dancing and other amusements, which argue that they hold it in sovereign contempt. A pious man, who sometime since removed there, opened a meeting on the Sabbath, at which he prayed and read a sermon, and
14has been the means, at least externally, of a great reformation in manners among them. There is also an opening for settlement in Sciota county, at Alexandria and Portsmouth. In Delaware county, at Bixbie settlement and Worthington, the inhabitants are from New-England. Several other places are anxious to have stated preaching; and by particular attention to the subject, many societies in different parts might be formed.
There has been of late considerable attention to religion on Leading Creek, in Gallia county, also in Knox county, under the preaching of Mr. Scott. There has also been a pleasing attention, particularly among the young people, on Bush Creek, and Mount-Pleasant in Pichaway county, under Mr. Robinson; and also in Licking county, under Mr. Harris.
This part of the country is but little visited by missionaries. Those that have been employed here, were supported by the Missionary Society of Connecticut. This district may be divided into two circuits. First, on both sides of the Muskingum to Sciota River, and up the same to the Salt creek, in Ross county, and from thence through the country to Galliopolis by the Salt Works. The second, through the counties of Coshocton, Wayne, Richmond, Knox, part of Delaware, and Licking.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
This is a very valuable tract of land, and is chiefly in what is called the Virginia military lands. The immigration to it before the war was rapid, and it will admit from the nature and situation of the country, a very extensive population. The inhabitants are 49,937. The Presbyterian ministers 7, churches supplied with preaching 13, and the vacant congregations 7. The Methodists are by far the most numerous, they have 5 circuit preachers, and 2,408 members of society. On the Sciota River, and west of it to the State line, is the principal seat of the Methodists in this State. There are also several New Lights in this part of the country, there is one preacher of theirs in Highland, three in Madison,
15and one in Champaign county. In the last named county there are 3 Baptist societies and one church. In this district are some other Sectaries headed by raving enthusiasts, which must expire with them, and are therefore unworthy of notice. There is a large settlement of Quakers in Highland county, and in Warren at Lebanon a settlement of 4, or 500 Shakers, headed by two or three that were formerly Presbyterian ministers. In Champaign county, on Kings creek, and Harmony, there is a number of Universalists. In this county formerly the New Eights were numerous, at present they are nearly extinct, being blended with the Methodists or Baptists. There are some still at Springfield.
Drunkenness and profane swearing are very prevalent in this district, and the Sabbath is greatly polluted, by visiting, hunting, fishing, and neglecting public worship even where they can enjoy it. This is a good field for missionary labor. In many parts there are settlements of Presbyterians that are anxious to have preaching, and although there are many of other denominations they will go to hear a missionary, and generally behave themselves with propriety, except that there is some occasional interruption from their groanings and crying, which the preacher may soon stop by adverting in prayer or address to some of the distinguishing doctrines which they reject. Preachers are no longer subject to interruption from them in their sermons, as was formerly the case when they first began to spread through the country. This part of the country is but little visited by missionaries. Those who have been here have generally been employed by the Synod of Pittsburg or by the General Assembly. There are neighborhoods which might soon be organized into societies, though they might not be able immediately to support preaching, owing to the divisions among the people. As society improves, these divisions, which arise perhaps from having emigrated from different parts will be done away.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
|Total in Ohio.||231,766||49||78||46||26||9,258|
This district, with the counties of Warren, Green, and Champaign in the district last mentioned, is far the best part of Ohio, both in soil and situation. Cincinnati, in particular, is the pleasantest situated town in the western country, — has considerable trade and a large population, nearly 2,000. The country has settled rapidly, and in a few years of peace and prosperity would be very populous.
The inhabitants of this district are 41,375; the Presbyterian preachers 5, churches supplied 7, and vacancies 8. The Methodists have a part of several circuits through it, about 4 itinerants, that ride circuit, and 1,034 members in their society. The Baptists have perhaps as many as 10 societies; of them however I am not correctly advertised. This was formerly the seat of the New Lights. They are now dwindling away. Many of the better part of the preachers, as well as people, have seen and acknowledged their errors, and have returned to the Presbyterian church. Some have joined the Methodists, and ere long, probably, the name alone will remain. There are some Infidels, and their brethren the Universalists, all scattered in different places. There are also a few Halcyons and Swedenburgers, and one New Light in Butler county. In Preble, are two New Light preachers, and one in Miami county.
This is a district which stands in great need of missionary labors. Here might be many societies soon organized, and some of them, if the people would unite, could support a minister. The counties of Preble, Dark, and Miami are wholly destitute of preaching, excepting by a few New Lights, and some Methodists. Butler and Montgomery have only three preachers; and many of these places have had but little attention from missionary societies. The wild enthusiasm, which raged through these parts a few years ago, was a discouragement to missions among them; for no regular preacher could pass by without reproving many things, which would bring on him immediate persecution. Here is a great variety of religious opinions, a number of Arminians and Socinians; for the New Lights are all Socinians, as will hereafter appear.
This with the former district will afford two good circuits. One down the Ohio, on both sides, as low as Big Miami; the other through the counties of Champaign, Miami, Dark, Preble, Montgomery, and Greene. This last circuit, Mr. James Hughes, who has lately removed to Urbana, Champaign county, would be willing to undertake.
There has been some attention to religion in these parts, particularly at Buck creek, Champaign county, where there is a small Presbyterian society. It originated from a meeting which some pious people conducted, for they had no preacher. The manner of conducting these meetings was by reading the scriptures, a sermon, and singing and prayer. There has also been some attention in Butler county. The Methodists say there has been a very
17great revival of religion among them, as also do the Baptists, and that their numbers have doubled within the last year in Miami district. From the best information that could be obtained from eye witnesses of this work, there is great reason to believe, that it was principally terror and fear which induced numbers to join those societies; for this work began and ended with the earthquakes, in those countries; and the whole strain of preaching by the Baptists and Methodists was, that the end all things was at hand, and if the people were not baptized, or did not join society, there was no hope for them. This may be deemed uncharitable by some, but not when it is considered, that the Methodists in that region require no evidence of holiness of heart to become members of their society, and that the religious experiences of many consist only in dreams and visions, or the remarkable suggestion of some alarming texts of Scripture, and after that some which afford great comfort. It is also a fact that many, who joined their societies during the earthquakes, have already left them. Some have been excluded from their communion, and others are under censure. It must not however be understood that there were not among the number some subjects of real conversion. But the work as a whole is not entitled to be called a great revival of religion.
The inhabitants of the State of Ohio are emigrants from the different States in the Union, and cannot be said, as yet, to hive formed a distinct character. Those from New England, have carried with them the habits, and a love for the institutions, of their native States. We find them indulging the same independence in thought and actions, cherishing the same love of order, civil and religious, and expressing the same anxiety for the improvement of society, by the establishment of schools, and the ordinances of the gospel. Those from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, particularly of the Scotch and Irish descent, are very ready to unite in promoting the establishment of schools, and in supporting the gospel. Whilst those of German extraction, together with emigrants from Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky, are too frequently regardless of both, and too fondly cherish that high toned and licentious spirit, which will suffer neither contradiction nor opposition, and which is equally inconsistent with civil and religious order.
Schools are not generally established throughout the State, though they are introducing in many parts as rapidly as the scattered situation of the settlements will admit. They are generally found in the villages; and it must be confessed that the instructors, at least many of them, need to be instructed themselves, not only in knowledge, but also in manners and morals. In many places good and able teachers are much wanted, and would be well paid for their services. In this State, places have been designated for three Colleges; one in New Conecticut, one
18in Athens county, and one in Ereble. The building which was erected for the purpose of a College in New Connecticut has been destroyed by fire. The one in Athens is in operation under the charge of the Rev. Jacob Lindsley. This is endowed with a large tract of land, which is leased out, and would bring in considerable rent if punctually paid, which unhappily is not the case. It is feared, by the friends of this Institution, that while the present state of things continues, it will be so cramped as to destroy its usefulness: The Trustees of the College in Treble have not yet erected their building, nor have they funds to proceed, the income from their lands being of small account. The late Rev. John W. Brown, in a tour through the Northern and Eastern States, collected for the Trustees about $1,000 in money, and between 1, and 2,000 dollars in books.
The great body of inhabitants in this State, who are not professors of religion, are not fixed in their religious sentiments. The most intelligent generally give preference to the Presbyterian order, but multitudes probably would be Presbyterians, Baptists, or Methodists, according to the denomination of the preacher under whose instruction they received their first religious impressions.
In October, 1812, was formed the Ohio Bible Society, which has received the support of the pious of different denominations. During the last year, they have distributed upwards of seven hundred Bibles, two hundred of which were sent to them by the Connecticut Bible Society; and at their last meeting they appointed three ministers, to ride through the State to preach on this subject, showing the importance and necessity of such an institution, and to solicit subscriptions and donations for the same.
Mr. Mills and myself entered this State 28th November, and left it on the 26th December, 1812.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Va. So.||Min.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.|
This is a very broken, mountainous country. The river bottoms, such as those on rivers in general, are of the first quality. The upland also is very fertile and rich. Its population, however, will not probably greatly increase from immigration to it. The inhabitants are 38,606. The Presbyterian preachers only 2, and churches supplied with preaching 3. Of the Baptists in this district I have no particular account, not having been able to procure the Minutes of their Association. From the best information, the estimate in the Statistical Table is probably correct, which is 11 preachers, and 24 churches. The Methodists have 4 circuit riders in their bounds, and 1,494 members belonging to their society. There are also two New Light preachers and a few people of their denomination.
This region is seldom visited by Missionaries, nor is there any great prospect of forming Presbyterian churches, the greatest part of the people being Baptists or Methodists, and extremely bigoted. The circuit proposed through the two last districts in Ohio, would also embrace the settlements on the river in this district, and which in fact are the most important.
|M.||C. S.||V. S.||Pre.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.||M.||Ch.|
This a tract of land which has rendered Kentucky so celebrated for the excellency of its soil; and the abundance of its crops is not exceeded, if equalled, by any portion of upland in our country. The population is already great, but will admit of a very great increase: It amounts at present to 127,049. There are 3 Presbyterian ministers, 17 churches are supplied, and there are 11 vacant congregations, which are able to support gospel ministers. The Baptists are very numerous, they have 50 preachers, and 101 churches. The Methodists have 5 circuit riders through this
20district, and 2,084 belonging to their communion. The New Lights have 5 preachers and 6 churches. The Episcopalians have 2 preachers and 2 societies, which are the only Episcopalian societies in this State. The Romanists have a chapel at Lexington, and another in Scott county.
This portion of the Vineyard is in great want of laborers, though it is visited every year for a few weeks by some of the missionaries under the direction of the General Assembly. The ministers that are settled have not leisure to devote that time to the attention of vacant congregations, and the formation of new societies, which is desirable, owing to their being obliged to spend a great part of their time in some worldly business, to support their families.
There is a prospect of forming churches, particularly at the county seats, which generally make application to Presbytery for supplies, if there were persons who would turn their attention to this subject. The generality of men of information prefer the Presbyterian order. It is however to be lamented, that there is a disposition to give up their opinions on this subject, and act against their better judgment, in order to secure popularity, and promote their interest.
The morals of the people are loose, and many of the inhabitants are extremely ignorant, as well as very vicious. The vices most prevalent are those which have been already mentioned, profanity, gambling, horse-racing, fighting, drunkenness and violation of the Sabbath. They generally treat missionaries with respect; still there is not that regard for the clerical order among them, which is desirable. This arises from the principle of the Methodists and Baptists in selecting their preachers, and from the manners of the preachers themselves. Some short time since, the preaching of one of the missionaries of the General Assembly was greatly blessed among the Baptists in Boone county, and was the commencement of a considerable attention among them. There has also been a great stir among the Baptists and Methodists lately through this State generally.
In this part of the country are many Infidels. They are not so open and bold as formerly, and appear to carry on a more covert attack. In 1812, no less than three Infidel publications issued from the press at Lexington; and some of them published by persons unknown. Of one of these publications some were elegantly bound, and presented to the Legislature. A gentleman, a professed Infidel, was about to establish a school on Neil's system, where youth are to stay from eight to twenty-one years, and thus be initiated into all the illusions of infidelity from their earliest infancy.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Prea.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.|
The soil of this district, for the space of 40 miles from the Ohio, is similar to that of the former district, mentioned as situated on the same river, and the land on the waters which fall into the Kentucky, resembles the soil opposite to it, on the east side of the river. The land on the waters which fall into Green River is a grade inferior to that just described. Still it will admit of a great increase of population.
The number of inhabitants is 120,971. The Presbyterian Ministers are 10; the churches supplied by them 18, and the vacant congregations 4. The Baptists have 43 preachers, and 74 churches. The Methodists have 7 circuit riders, and 3,017 members belonging to their society. The Roman Catholics are also numerous in parts of this district. In Bairdstown, Nelson County, resides a Roman Catholic Bishop, Joseph Flaggett. He has with him four priests. Fenwick, Buden, Nericks, and Wilson. They have a College near Springfield, at which are about twelve young persons preparing to be priests. They are also erecting a Nunnery on Harden's Creek, Mercer county, about ten miles from Springfield. They have four Chapels in Nelson, four in Washington, one in Mercer, and one in Jefferson. It is said they are increasing. There are two societies of Shakers, one in Mercer, the other in Lincoln county, each consisting of about five hundred people. This district is visited seldom by misionaries, though it would appear by representation, that they are much needed. There are neighborhoods of Presbyterians in many counties anxious to have preaching. Some Presbyterian societies could also be formed, particularly in the county towns, for wherever you find men well informed there is a decided preference to that denomination, and rather than hear the Baptists and Methodists,
22generally, they attend no where, and the consequence is a gradual and total neglect of the Sabbath day. The vices before enumerated are also very prevalent in this district. The Baptists and Methodists say they have had a great revival among them. The remarks already made on the revival in Ohio, are applicable to this, as far as the earthquakes reached.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Prea.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.|
This is a very mountainous and broken country; the soil not more than middling; and the chief employment of the inhabitants is the manufacture of salt-petre, of which immense quantities are made in this and the next district, and also in Tennessee. This is not a very desirable part of the country to live in, and the population, which is now very small and scattered, in all probability, will not greatly or rapidly increase.
There are 41,656 inhabitants. The Presbyterian ministers are 3; one church is supplied, and 3 are vacant. It appears strange, that there should be 3 preachers, and but one church supplied. It needs an explanation. They only reside here, but supply churches in other counties. The Baptists have 15 preachers, and 35 churches. In this district, and in two or three adjoining counties, is also what is called the South Kentucky Association of Baptists. These are entirely Arians or Socinians in sentiment. They have 10 preachers, 28 churches, and 1,300 members in their connection. There are here also a few New Lights.
There is no prospect of forming churches here, owing to the divisions and dissensions which exist among the people on religious matters, and a disposition, which is very common where Baptists and Methodists are prevalent, an unwillingness to support the Gospel. The great mass of the people are very rude, ignorant, and vicious. It is possible, if a good missionary were sent among them, that he would be heard with attention.
|Min.||C. S.||V. S.||Pre.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.||M.||Ch.|
This part of Kentucky is denominated Barrens. Formerly there was scarcely any kind of timber on it, except in small spots. At present a great part of it is covered with shrub oak; the soil is very light and poor, otherwise the land, is pleasantly situated, being very rolling. The population is scattered, being chiefly confined to spots, where there are timber and water, for, it is very difficult to procure water by digging. The population will probably not greatly increase. Below Green River on the Ohio, the land is not broken, as on the upper part of the river.
There are 80,539 inhabitants. The Presbyterian ministers are 8, the churches supplied by them 13, the vacant societies 12. The Baptist preachers 30, and their churches 59. The Methodists have 4 circuit riders in this district, and 1,570 members of society. The Cumberland Presbytery have 4 or 6 preachers, and about 10 churches, besides several places of preaching. There are some New Lights here. There is also a society or two of Dunkers, who hold to the doctrine of the Universalists.
The General Assembly sends a missionary into this part of the country, to labor a few weeks annually. The people are very desirous to be visited by regular ministers, and treat such missionaries with respect and attention. There has been a great number of applications from this district to Mughlenberg Presbytery for supply. There is scarcely a county seat, which has not applied, and some of them are able and also anxious to settle a Presbyterian minister. The sentiments of many of the people are Arminian; the greater part, however, have no fixed opinions or principles; and it is a lamentable case, that many of them are regardless of religion, while others are blown about "by every wind of doctrine." The Baptists and Methodists have had a great increase of numbers to their respective societies. There
24has been no particular attention among the Presbyterians. The morals of the people are very lax. They appear totally regardless of the Sabbath.
The short time I spent in this State renders it impossible to point out any missionary circuit. It is recommended to Missionary Societies, to direct their missionaries to consult the Presbyteries in whose bounds they propose to labor, for information, as to the places which promise most success.
The inhabitants of Kentucky are chiefly from Virginia, though there are emigrants from almost every State in the Union, and every Kingdom in Europe; these however bear but a small proportion to the whole population. Many of the earlier, as well as later settlers, were men of great respectability and weight of character, and their influence has had a good effect on the circle around them. The great mass of the people, however, were ignorant, poor, and vicious, and have handed to their descendants their feelings and habits. Before a regular government is established in a new country, a certain class of society is too much in the habit of doing that which is right in their own eyes, without regard to the actions, feelings, or interests of others.
Except in the villages, which are sinks of iniquity, there are very few schools established, throughout the State. The Legislature have endeavored to make some provision for the establishment of Academies, in the different counties, and for this purpose have granted 6,000 acres of land west of Green River, to each county. This land is worth from fifty cents, to one dollar per acre, but very little benefit has yet been realized from it. At Lexington is a College established, which has perhaps fifty students. It is not in a flourishing condition. Its funds are nearly $ 3,000 annually.
This State is divided by the Cumberland Mountains into East and West Tennessee. Half, if not five eights, of the land in this State is claimed by the Cherokee and Chickesaw Indians. The inhabitants are from the Carolinas and Kentucky chiefly, a few are from Virginia and Georgia.
The soil of this part of the State is light and poor in comparison with what is denominated good land in the western country. The timber is chiefly oak, and great portions of it only shrub oak. The settlements are chiefly confined to the Holstein, Clinch, and French Broad Rivers, with their waters. The state of society is generally much more improved here than is West Tennessee, or Kentucky.
|Min.||Ch. Sup.||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
It appears from the above Table, that the population of this district is 98,107. The Presbyterian ministers, are 10; the churches supplied by them 15, and the vacant societies 11. The Methodist itinerants are 9, and the members of their society 3,456. In the first seven counties there are 14 Baptist preachers and 30 churches, and in the other counties 12 preachers and 35 churches; the particular number in each county I could not ascertain. The Baptists are the most numerous, and probably the Presbyterians next. The Presbyterians probably are loosing ground, for some of their most active and zealous preachers have removed to West Tennessee. Here are ten Counties containing upwards of 50,000 inhabitants, without one Presbyterian preacher, and scarcely a church. The General Assembly sends a missionary here occasionally, to labor a few weeks, but as a great portion of his time is necessarily consumed in going and returning, very little benefit can result from such missions. It must be confessed that missionaries are much needed here; many churches might be organized, and societies formed, were there only persons who could devote themselves to this object. The ministers that have already settled here, have so scanty a support, that they have to resort to some other occupation than preaching to maintain their families.
Within a year a Missionary, Tract, and Bible Society, uniting all these objects, has been formed in this district. It is the first and only Missionary Body, except the Synod of Pittsburg, west
26of the Allegany, and promises to be a blessing to this part of the country. The Constitution is similar to that of the "Massachusetts Missionary Society." The following is an extract of a letter, received since my return, from Charles Coffin, D. D. President of Green College, East Tennessee.
"Having read Brother Emerson's ‘Evangelical Primer,’ I am anxious it may be distributed extensively throughout the bounds of East Tennessee Missionary Society. More especially, I wish the children of my congregation may all have them. You must know all the Bible and Tract Societies in the middle and northern States. It must therefore be in your power to help us materially, by procuring a number of these Catechisms, Bibles and Tracts on the most important subjects, for distribution: Family religion, the Sabbath and its duties, the baptismal covenant, the advantages of early piety, &c. &c. are such as I should choose. My wish is that you would see what can be done for us, and communicate the result. I should anticipate great good, were the Massachusetts Missionary Society to turn their attention to this State. I was one who assisted to organize it, and greatly rejoice in its increase.
"For our Society we expect more members than means. We have more ground than our missionaries can occupy, and we have reason to hope, that other Societies will aid us, and work with us, to the extent of their power. Dr. Morse, says, in his Geography, ‘Tennessee does not yet seem to have developed its character.’ Missionary means and exertions may have great influence in forming it."
The soil of West Tennessee is very excellent, particularly between the Cumberland and Duck Rivers, and west of Cumberland Mountains. Many portions of this district are equal to the best lands in Kentucky, and as a whole, it is not inferior to the land in that State. The settlements are chiefly confined to the east of Tennessee and north of Duck Rivers. There are however a few settlements on the south waters of the Duck, and the branches of Elk Rivers. This portion of country has increased rapidly in population within a few years, and in all probability will continue to increase,
|Min.||C. S.||V. S.||Prea.||Ch.||Itin.||Mem.|
From this Table it appears that the inhabitants of West Tennessee are 160,360; Presbyterian ministers 11, Churches supplied by them 20, and the vacant societies 33. The Baptists have 48 preachers and 71 churches, including, besides those mentioned in the above Table, an Association in the four counties last named which consists of 14 preachers and 25 churches; the number in each county I could not ascertain. The Methodists have 10 itinerants, and 4,458 members in their society. There are also seven speakers belonging to the Cumberland Presbytery and a few New Lights. It further appears, that there are fifteen counties containing nearly 100,000 inhabitants, without a single Presbyterian minister among them. It must be observed, however, that the Presbyterian church is increasing very rapidly in members and ministers, and were there preachers, many more churches might be formed. There is a pressing call to the Presbytery from the villages and towns, in every county for supply, and it is greatly to be regretted that they cannot be supplied with proper missionaries or ministers. Mr. Blackburne is of opinion that a great number of churches might be organized, if there were a proper person employed in the business; and regrets that his time is so much occupied with his school, that he has no leisure to devote to this object. It would greatly promote religion if some
28Missionary Body would employ this man in their service, permitting him at the same time to supply his own societies. The more intelligent and enlightened people are decidedly in favor of Presbyterianism, and missionaries are treated with respect and heard with attention. These men too, will rather spend the Sabbath at the tavern, or riding and visiting for their amusement, than attend the preaching of Baptists or Methodists.
The state of society in this country is poor, and has made little advancement, as is the case in all new countries, for the lower class of people, who are very rude, ignorant, and vicious, constitute the mass of population. There are, however, in almost every county, some very respectable families from the Atlantic States. The vices most prevalent are intemperance, profanity, and violation of the Sabbath, gambling, duelling, and horse-racing.
Schools are established in the villages about the country, but few in the country settlements, and perhaps the great body of the people do not encourage them. There are two Colleges, one in East Tennessee, at Knoxville, and one in West Tennessee, at Nashville, endowed by the United States with 50,000 acres of land, which has been sold at one dollar per acre. The one in West Tennessee is in operation, and has between forty and fifty students. The College at Knoxville is not yet erected. In East Tennessee are two other Colleges, one in Washington county, of which the Rev. Mr. Daak is President; and one in Green county, at the head of which is the Rev. Charles Coffin, D. D. These two Colleges have been great blessings to the State, and at them many of the physicians, lawyers, and ministers in that part of the country were educated. At the College in Green are five young men preparing for the ministry. Congress has also appropriated 100,000 acres of land for the purpose of establishing Academies in each county. Many of these are already in operation, and have more students than their Colleges, and as good instructors.
The soil of this Territory is various, from the very best to the very poorest. The upper part of the Territory, as low as Yazoo River, is much of it very good. From the Yazoo to the line of demarkation, the good land extends only a few miles from the Mississippi, until it is interrupted by broken land, which extends twenty or thirty miles in breadth, and beyond that is a poor light soil. The timber is long leaf pine, which extends to Tombigby and Mobile Rivers, and south through West Florida to the Gulph, in which tract there is no good land except on the water courses. It is estimated that not more than three eighths of this large tract of country will answer for cultivation, either from the barren, swampy, or broken state of the country.
Three-fourths of this Territory are still claimed by the Chocktaws, Chickesaws, Cherokee, and Creek Indians. The settlements are few, and many of them very scattering. On the Mississippi, they begin at the mouth of the Yazoo, and extend for a few miles from the River to the line of demarkation, and along this line east to Mobile, and up Mobile and Tombigby, in the forks of Alabama, a few miles above St. Stephens. There is also one county, viz. Madison, north of Tennessee River.
|Min.||Ch. Sup||Vac. So.||Itin.||Mem.|
From the preceding Table it appears that the population of this Territory is 57,440; Presbyterian churches 6, the ministers 4, the Methodists itinerants 9, members of society 1,051. Of the Baptists, there are in Madison county 3 preachers, and 5 churches. In the other counties there is an Association consisting of 11 preachers and 15 churches, and 494 members in their communion. The number of preachers and churches in each county I did not learn. It will also be seen that there are six counties, containing upwards of 14,000 inhabitants without one Presbyterian preacher. Of the four Presbyterian ministers, one is superannuated and without a charge; the other three are obliged to teach schools to support their families; so that the whole work of their ministry consists merely in preaching on the Sabbath. It must be confessed that every part of this Territory is a field for missionary labor, and it is thought that a few societies and churches might be organized, and that a zealous, faithful preacher, of engaging address, would obtain a handsome support.
The state of society in this Territory is truly deplorable. Most of the emigrants to this country came here for the purpose of amassing wealth, and that object seems to have absorbed their souls.
The schools are few and indifferent. At Washington is a College endowed with a large tract of land, but its income is small. One of the Presbyterian ministers has the charge of it.
A Bible Society has lately been organised at Natchez, is patronized by the influential men in the Territory, and promises utility.
The soil of this territory is, in general, very excellent, particularly on the waters of the Big Miami, and White Rivers, the Wabash and its tributary streams. The poorest land, in this Teritory, is between the falls of Ohio and Anderson Rivers, being chiefly a hard gravelly soil, timbered with oak of small growth. The land between Anderson and Saline Rivers is chiefly good, but its situation, in general, is unhealthy. The best lands in this territory are still claimed by the Indians.
The settlements are on the Whitewater, and other branches of the Big Miami, and or, the Ohio; between the falls of Ohio and Vincennes, there are a few houses. There are very flourishing settlements about Vincennes.
Indiana Territory contains the following Counties, &c.
|Counties.||Inhab.||Baptists.||Methodist.||N. Lights.||One Presbyterian in this County.|
In this district, containing a population of 24,250, the Baptists have 14 preachers and 29 churches; the Methodists have 5 itinerants and 1,210 members in their society, and there are 6 preachers of the New Lights. At Bussaron, not far from Vincennes was a Shaker settlement, but it has been lately broken up by the war. There is also a settlement of about 80 souls, of Switzers, from Vevey in the Pays de Vaud, near Geneva Lake, who speak the French language. These people are Calvinists in sentiment, and regret that they have no one to preach to them
31in their own language. By occupation they are vine dressers and have about twenty acres of vineyard. At their vintage in 1811, they made 2,700 gallons of red wine, from the Cape grape, besides some from the Madeira grape. They are sober, industrious, and frugal, and though they have no minister, they meet together on the Sabbath, for the purpose of reading the Scriptures, a sermon, prayer, and singing. John James Dufour, a man of upwards of 80, a vine dresser of Vevey in Switzerland, who has seven children, six of whom are heads of families, in this colony, has sent a long epistle to them and the whole colony, on the different subjects of Theology, as a new-year's gift, and desired that they would read it frequently in their meetings on the Sabbath, but by all means, on every new-year's day, when all of them should assemble for that purpose. There is only one Presbyterian minister in this rapidly settling territory.
One great cause of the number of Baptists and Methodists in the western country is, that they direct their attention to places, which are rapidly settling, while in their infancy; If we wish to introduce correct sentiments, and Presbyterian churches, into Indiana, we must send missionaries there while the settlements are forming, for the people as a body when they immigrate to a place, are not fixed in their sentiments, but are eventually, what the preacher is, who is instrumental in calling their attention to the subject of religion.
The settlements in this territory are very small and are much scattered. Those on the Ohio are few, except the Saline and Shaawnee town, and about fort Massac. On Cash River, is a small settlement, but the principal are about Kaskaskias on the Missisippi, at the American bottom.
This country is delightfully situated, as to climate and is almost a continued prairie, interspersed with copses of wood, from Vincennes to St. Louis. From a survey of a road between these two places, lately made, it appears that this distance of 150 miles, the country is for every half-mile, or mile, alternately prairie and open wood land. The American bottom is said to be the finest body of land to be found in the western country.
This Territory has only two counties at present, — Randolph containing 7,275 inhabitants, embracing the settlements on the Ohio and Kaskaskias; and St. Clair 5,007, embracing the settlements opposite St. Louis and Missouri, on the upper settlements. Of this county, Cahokia is the county town. In this whole Territory is not a solitary Presbyterian minister, though there are several families of this denomination in different settlements. At Kaskaskias they are anxious to obtain a Presbyterian preacher of proper character and talents, who would be willing to take the charge of an Academy. The Baptists have 4 or 5 small
32churches consisting of not more than 120 members. The Methodists have 5 itinerants, besides some local preachers, and perhaps 600 members in their society. This country was rapidly settling before the war, and should peace be restored, will greatly increase in population, and ought to receive early attention from Missionary Bodies.
This Territory is situated West of the Missisippi, and extends from the 33° N. L. North west to the boundaries of Louisania, which are indefinite and unsettled. The jurisdiction, however, of the Territory, does not extend beyond the limits of which the Indian claim is extinguished; that is, from the mouth of the Jaflone on the Missisippi, to Charitous on the Missouri, and east of a line drawn from fort Ossage, 36 miles below the mouth of Kansas River, directly south to Arkansas. This line will also bound the settlements on the west; for west of it commence extensive prairies, on which is no timber, except a small strip on the water courses, until near the heads of the Arkansas, Platte, Kansas, and Missouri Rivers.
The settlements are scattered, and confined almost entirely to the water courses. They extend up the Missouri about 25 miles; up the Merimeck some distance, and on the Missisippi to St. Genevieve. There is also a settlement of Germans on the heads of the St. Francis. There are no settlements of any consequence between the mouth of the Ohio and New Madrid. The other settlements are on Arkansas, about 50 miles from its mouth. There are also a few settlements on White River.
|The Country north of the mouth of the Ohio, comprises the following Districts:||The Country south of the mouth of the Ohio, contains the following|
|Cape Girardien,||3,888||1||76||New Madrid,||2,103||1||50|
|St. Genevieve,||4,620||St. Francis,||0,188|
In the Territory contained in the two preceding Tables, the Baptists have 5 or 6 small churches, consisting of not more than 130 members. There is no Presbyterian minister. Of the population of this Territory, it is estimated that two-fifths are Americans, and the rest French. The Americans are chiefly of the lower class, and the people generally are extremely rude and ignorant, but few of the French can read. In fact they are much
33assimilated to the Indians, in love of indolence and hunting, rather than labor. It is probable that this country will settle very rapidly, for it is scarcely exceeded in America for climate, situation, and fertility of soil; in the latter it is much like Kentucky.
The following is an extract of a letter, received from Stephen Hempsted of St. Louis, formerly from Connecticut: — "Since my residence here, in my excursions through the country, I endeavored to ascertain the religious sentiments of the inhabitants. I find there are more than 100 families who have been brought up Presbyterians, within the circuit of from five to fifteen miles, and who would readily contribute to the support of a Presbyterian preacher, who would occasionally visit them; and many would constantly attend meeting at St. Louis. Many of my acquaintances have joined either the Baptists or Methodists, rather than live any longer without the ordinances and worship of God, and would gladly return to the Presbyterian churches, whenever they shall be organized. I have frequently heard the Baptists and Methodist preachers, and am acquainted with some, whom I have uniformly found without education, and of small talents. It appears to me, if a suitable Presbyterian minister should come here, in the present state of our Territory, that he would have large audiences, and be enabled, by the blessing of God, to plant a branch of the heavenly vine, which will one day extend over the whole of this Territory. I have frequently enquired of those who are possessed of information respecting the state of religion in general, in this and Illinois Territory, and have been informed that the Methodists, in both Territories, have nearly twenty local and itinerant preachers, and that the Baptists have ten small churches, containing not more than two hundred and seventy members; that there are neither Presbyterian preachers nor churches in either Territory, though there are a few Presbyterian families in Illinois. I believe the formation of a Bible and Tract Society would be very useful here, for there are many who have not the means of procuring them if they were desirous to do it. I have distributed a few Tracts of my own that I brought with me, which were received with thankfulness, and I trust have done some good. If any of the Societies in New England will send on some Tracts and Bibles to my charge, I will distribute them among the poor and needy, who are famishing for the word of life.
"In my interviews with the heads of families and officers of government, they expressed a strong desire to have a Presbyterian minister of education, piety, morals, and talents, settled at St. Louis, and said that they would contribute, liberally and continually to his support. They have frequently requested me to write to the Missionary Society of Connecticut to send them one, which I should have done this spring, had I not received your letter."
The Catholic priests are few, not to exceed three that officiate. I know of but one, he is at St. Genevieve and is said to be a very dissolute character.
This State extends east to Pearl River, and from the Gulph, east side of the Missisippi, to the 31° N. L. and on the west side of the River to the 33° N. L. and west to the Sabine, until it crosses the 32° N. L. and from thence with a line due north until it meets the 32° N. L.
The land east of Pearl River to the Perdido, and which formerly was a part of West Florida, is flow comprehended in the Missisippi Territory. The land west of the Sabine, as far as our claims of Louisiania extend, is at present considered neutral territory; between our government and Spain, the question of right concerning it is to be decided in future.
This State can only admit a very limited population, because the settlements must necessarily be confined to the water courses, the banks of which are considerably higher than the intervening country, in the valley of the Missisippi. Beyond this valley, the land is so poor as hardly to be capable of cultivation. This is particularly the case with West Florida, and the high lands on the west of the Missisippi, towards the Gulph, the soil of which. is sandy, and the timber long leaf pine. The settlements, east of Lakes Maurepas and Bonchantrian to Pearl River, are few and scattering, but chiefly Americans. The settlements on the Missisippi are very flourishing, and from point Coupee, to some distance below New Orleans on both sides of the river, present almost a continued village. The inhabitants of the upper part of the settlements are from Canada, the middle, Germans, and in the lower part are French and Spanish from Europe. All speak the same language, and are similar in habits, manners, and religion. In the settlements of Atuckapas and Oppelousas, which are situated on the Gulph west of the Missisippi, are Spanish, French, and Americans. The settlement on Red River is principally French, and in the Washita, American.
The state of society in this country is very deplorable. The people are entirely ignorant of divine things, and have been taught only to attend mass, and count their beads. They are without schools, and of the French inhabitants, not one in ten can read. Their whole business seems to be, to make the most they can of their plantations. They are not intemperate. Continence is with them no value. The Sabbath to them is a high holiday, and on it, is committed, perhaps, more actual sin, than during the whole week besides. Dancing, gambling, parties of pleasure, theatrical amusements, dining parties, &c. &c. are the common business of the day, after mass in the morning. The religion professed in this country is entirely Roman Catholic. The clergy of this order, however, are not numerous, perhaps fifteen. The Bishop and four or five priests reside at New Orleans. Bishop De Burg appears to be a man of piety. He laments the degraded
35state of their church in Louisiania, and mourns over the depravity and wickedness of the place, in which he resides. The Bishop and Father Antonio favored the establishment of the Louisiania Bible Society, which will doubtless prove a long and lasting blessing to the State.
Last winter, perhaps for the first time, was New Orleans visited by Presbyterian missionaries. Our stay, though short, we hope will prove beneficial. Many were anxious to have the ordinances of the Gospel established, and desirous that I should abide with them. I regretted that it could not be so, for I believe the Lord has many people in that city; that it is an ample field for usefulness, and the most important in the western country. When Mr. Mills and myself arrived at New Orleans, we found there a Baptist and a Methodist missionary. The former left it in company with us, the latter would probably soon follow. He met with no encouraging prospects. A Presbyterian church may be established with a prospect of success in this place; and New Orleans ought to receive the attention of Missionary Societies.
This Territory has a population of 76,556 free people, and 34,660 slaves, not more than one-fourth, if one-sixth, are Americans. Among all these, there is not one Protestant church, unless it be a small one of Baptists, about to be organized in Oppelousas. The Methodists have had itinerants up Red River and Washita, but are exceedingly unpopular.
The government of this State is turning its attention to the establishment of Schools and Academies in different parts of the country; and at New Orleans have founded and endowed a College. These were very much needed, for we can expect to accomplish little in a missionary point of view among the French, until they are instructed, both in their own and in the English language. Much good might be anticipated from a protestant French missionary, if one could be sent among this people. We have reason to rejoice that the Lord has put it into the heart of our Bible Societies to send Christ and his apostles, Moses and the prophets to preach to them in their own language.
Having now exhibited the number of ministers and churches of the different denominations in the western States and Territories, together with a view of their population, it appears necessary to notice the character and sentiments of those preachers, and the discipline practised in those churches, to ascertain what attention this portion of our common country merits from Missionary Societies.
THE ministers of this denomination were few of them born in the western country, many of them are from Europe: but generally they are from the Atlantic states. They are men of correct
36morals and deportment; most of them have pursued a course of classical studies at the seminaries in the States, from which they emigrated, or in which they now reside. There is a departure from Presbyterian order in their settlements. Few indeed of them stand in the relation of pastor to the people among whom they labor. In general there is only an annual contract, between the minister and the people, at the expiration of which he may remove to another place, or the people make a contract with another minister to supply them for the year. The congregations are generally small on account of the great diversity of religious opinions, and from this, as from various other causes, are both unwilling, and unable to give a minister an adequate support for his family. The consequence is that ministers are obliged to resort to some other employment for support. Those in villages, where they are generally located, take charge of schools; those in the country manage their farms, and some, thinking it more consistent with the ministerial character, become physicians. The evils resulting from these things are various and deplorable. The neglect of catechising the youth, family visitations, and a due preparation for the services of the sanctuary, is the most prominent. Catechetical instruction has always been the subject of sneer, ridicule, and hatred, among those, and those only, who are desirous of introducing error. It is owing to the neglect of this practice, more perhaps than to any other cause, that Errorists have been so successful in the western States. Christians ought not to be induced, by the sneers, ridicule, or sophisms of men whose great object is to make proselytes, to relinquish a practice, which has proved the most effectual means to establish the young and wavering from being carried "about by every wind of doctrine." Neither ought they tamely to suffer themselves to be seduced to believe, by men who would rob God of his glory, that those doctrines, which holy men of God have professed in view of the stake, and that too when the denial of these would have secured them the smiles and emoluments of the world, are of little consequence. It is by adopting such specious pretences as these, in the first place, that many whom we had reason to believe had tasted the good word of God, have been left to go on, step by step, until they have made shipwreck of their faith, and denied the Lord that bought them. Family visitations are also neglected in the western country for want of proper ministerial support. In conversation on this subject with the clergy, they seemed to insinuate, that it was not their duty, because they were not the pastors of the people. However this business may be managed to ease the conscience, the command of Christ to his ministers is, "feed my sheep....feed my lambs." This command cannot be fulfilled by ministers who know not the condition, views, and feelings of the people, which can be known only by being conversant with them in their families. Errorists make more proselytes by the fire-side, than in their public discourses, and here is
37the place most effectually to answer objections, remove difficulties, give instruction to the weak, and confirm the doubtful.
The method of preaching is extemporaneous, frequently without writing, or meditation, it is rather exhortatory, than doctrinal. This arises from the worldly avocations of ministers during the week. This mode of preaching without writing, in most cases, even with those of good talents, and who once promised fair to rise in their profession, creates a sameness in their discourses. It is impossible for ministers thus situated to give that attention to vacant societies, and to the organization of churches, which is desirable in a new country, where settlements are rapidly increasing. If, however, Presbyterians are desirous of increasing the number of their churches, and disseminating correct sentiments; their attention ought to be directed to settlements in their infancy, before other denominatipns have organized their societies, and become firmly established. The Presbyterian ministers are mostly settled in the villages, of which there is generally, at least one in each county. The whole space of country around them is therefore the field for other sects. From all these considerations, it appears that the country is poorly supplied even where they have the best ministers.
The sentiments of the Presbyterians are conformable to their standards, in which, we believe, is taught the word of God. There is some diversity of opinion on the subject of atonement; some hold to limited atonement, and some believe in a general atonement, receiving it, as a governmental transaction, and not in the light of debt and credit. A majority of the clergy have embraced the former sentiments on this subject. For admission to their communion, they require scriptural evidence of a change of heart, a knowledge of the word of God, of the scheme of salvation through Christ, and a profession of faith in the doctrines of the Gospel, taught in their church. The churches are uniform in the practice of administering the ordinance of baptism to none but professing believers, and their households. The Lord's Supper is administered only twice in the year. On such occasions, it is customary for the neighboring ministers to assemble, and to hold meetings, at least three or four days in succession. This denomination is noted for their strict observance of the Sabbath; and the contrast between them and the sects who esteem all days alike, in this respect, is very great. They are the most intelligent part of community, lovers of order, and promoters of knowledge; the most ready to support schools, the Gospel, and Missionary and Bible Societies.
A Presbytery by this name was constituted, in 1802, by the Synod of Kentucky. During the extraordinary revival of religion in this State, which commenced in 1797, and continued nearly
38ten years, while the people's feelings were made the test of good preaching, sound doctrine, and truth, many believing they had an immediate call to preach the Gospel gave public exhortations, and so much pleased the people, that they thought them divinely inspired. This Presbytery concluded, that education was not necessary in a gospel minister, and therefore licensed several of those young exhorters to preach. The Synod of Kentucky censured their proceedings, and dissolved them as a body. From this disunion of Synod, many of the Presbytery dissented; some had always disapproved of licensing young men; some turned Shakers; and some formed themselves into an independent Presbytery, under the same name as the one dissolved by the Synod, and which is now to be noticed. The present Cumberland Presbytery has adopted the discipline and confession of the Presbyterian Church, with the exception of requiring an education in the candidate, in order to license him to preach, and the doctrine of divine decrees as there taught. From this it might easily be conjectured, what is indeed the fact, that they are illiterate themselves. Their moral character, as far as I could learn, stood perfectly fair. In sentiment, many of them do not materially differ from the Methodists, and it is not uncharitable to suppose that none of them have a consistent system of doctrines. It is probable that the better part of these people will be eventually united to the Presbyterian church, and the remainder join the Methodists. As to their mode of preaching, it is very similar to that of the Baptists and Methodists, which will be presently described. Their mode of itinerating is something similar to that of the Methodists. In Kentucky and Tennessee, they have only 12 preachers and a few licentiates; and have 90 different places of preaching, according to information received from one of their ministers in Tennessee.
The preachers of this denomination are generally illiterate; few are possessed of good common English learning, and there are also some, that can neither read the Scriptures, nor write their names. Learning, with them as a body, is rather ridiculed than desired; and while they pretend to despise all human knowledge, they profess to be led and directed by the Holy Spirit, both in desiring the office of an elder, and in their public performances. The power of licensing lies wholly with the church, of which the person is a member, and the church are the only judges of the necessary qualifications. The common practice on the subject is this, the person makes a statement to the church, that he feels an inward call to preach the Gospel. — on this, the church, for fear lest they should be found fighting against the Spirit, generally permit him to exercise his gifts. If he is approved by them, he is soon ordained by the elders of the church. No specific time is necessary
39to intervene between his church-membership and ordination as a preacher, and it happens in some churches that the time is short indeed, perhaps three, or six months. In their manner of preaching, their object appears to be to excite the passions; to terrify and raise into trasports of joy, rather than to inform the mind, convince the understanding, convict the heart, and open the way of salvation through Jesus Christ. To this end, they dwell much on the torments of hell, while the spirituality and the obligation of obedience to the law, and the justice of its penalty, are seldom touched. The crucifixion of Christ is represented in the most tragical manner, while the design of the sacrifice, viz. the magnifying of the law, the display of God's hatred to sin, his justice, the riches of his grace, the love of Christ, is frequently passed over in silence. They often introduce tender stories, wonderful dreams and visions, with such expressions of countenance, and affecting tones of voice, as are calculated to excite the tender, sympathetic emotions of the heart. There is also a studied singularity in the choice of their texts, and an effort to spiritualize every passage of Scripture. The ordinance of baptism constitutes the greater part of their discourses, or at least a portion of each; and is insisted on in such a manner, as would induce the belief that their peculiar mode of administering it is a necessary qualification for admission into heaven, as well as to their communion. They pretend also to preach wholly by the Spirit, by which they mean, as the Spirit gives them utterance, in the manner the apostles were inspired; and it very often happens, that at the same meeting, many of them who pretend to preach by the Spirit, contradict each other. This people do not distinguish between the word Spirit, as used in different parts of the Scripture. It is frequently used as an agent, as in the texts where the prophets and apostles are said to be inspired to reveal the will of God, and where the renewing of the heart is mentioned. But more commonly it signifies a holy disposition, produced by the agent. In the first sense the Spirit is an infallible guide, but in this manner he is not given to us, as he was to the prophets and apostles. In the second sense, the Spirit is not given for the guide of our actions, nor the rule of our faith, but to incline us to walk in the ways of God's commandments, and to prepare us for his holy presence. It is the mistaken notion of this Spirit that has caused so much ignorance, error, and enthusiasm in the West; for the Spirit within, as they term it, is made the guide of their actions, and rule of their faith. If, for instance, they feel a desire to be preachers, they have a call of the Spirit. If they are greatly impressed that certain practices are right, and others wrong, it amounts to the authority of the Spirit, that the course which the impressions direct, is correct. If they are highly elevated, with agreeable and pleasant feelings, under the preaching of certain doctrines and views of truth, they have the witness of the Spirit within them, that the one is true and the other false.
40These observations on the Spirit are applicable to several denominations. By this it may be perceived, that instead of following the doctrines of Christ, to try the Spirits by the law and testimony; they try the law and testimony by the Spirit within. It was from this delusion that all the fanaticism and enthusiasm sprung which overspread the western country a few years since, and produced a flood of error.
The term of admission into the Baptist church is a relation of their experiences. In these it is thought, too much attention is paid to feelings and impressions of the individuals without examining them by the word of God. Dreams, visions, the unusual suggestion of some text of Scripture, which are very alarming, and others that cause great inward joy and rejoicing, also form a great part of the experience.
In sentiment they are much divided. The better informed are Calvinists; but many are either Antinomians or Arminians. There are many Arians and Socinians, both of which, in some way or other, believe the doctrine of universal salvation. In some points they all agree, such as ministerial support, and the Sabbath. Against the salaries of ministers they are clamorous; and they denominate Presbyterian ministers, fleecers of the flock. As a body, they deny the morality of the Sabbath or Lord's day; and it is said that family worship, and the training up of their children in the ways of religion, are not generally attended to by professors.
The sentiments of this sect are well known; they are uniform in their opinions and discipline, throughout America, being all followers of Wesley, who professed himself to be an Arminian. The discipline of the Methodists in America does not materially differ from that of those in England. Their clergy are bishops, elders, and deacons. The bodies which transact the general concerns of the connection, are the general and annual conferences. The field of labor is divided into districts, circuits, and classes. Each circuit has one itinerant or more, whose business it is to visit and preach to the classes in his circuit every two or three weeks. Each district has a presiding elder who is to visit the circuits in the way stated above. The classes meet weekly, for prayer, singing, and relation of their progress in religion; and it is the business of the class leader to examine every one of the class, at this time, and rebuke, comfort, or exhort as the case of each may require. To be admitted a member of the class, all that is necessary is to express their desire, and they are admitted to the privileges of their church, without any appearance of holiness of heart. In order to be admitted as a preacher, a recommendation is required of the character and talents of the person, from the class to which he belongs. He is then admitted by the bishop
41on trial one year. If his conduct is approved at the expiration of the time, he is admitted into full connection; at the end of the second year, to the order of deacon, and the next year if approved, he is ordained an elder. These preachers, on trial, sometimes turn out very vile. In general, they have little learning; though when they begin to preach, they begin to study, and many of them improve considerably. As to their manner of preaching, it very much resembles that of the Baptists, — is very controversial, and most bitter against Calvinists. They rail very much against the practice of the Presbyterians' receiving pay for preaching, calling them hirelings, but most unreasonably; for their salaries are more certain, and, in general, greater than those against whom they speak. According to their discipline, each preacher, who itinerates, besides all his expenses, is to receive $80 for himself, $80 for his wife, and a certain sum for each of his children, according to their ages, and a support when worn out in the service. This denomination has greatly increased within a few years, and this must chiefly be attributed to their complete system of missions, which is by far the best for domestic missions ever yet adopted. They send their laborers into every corner of the country; if they hear, of any particular attention to religion in a place, they double the number of laborers in those circuits, and place their best men there, and endeavor, generally, to adapt the character of their preachers, to the character of the people among whom they are to labor.
This sect arose in Kentucky in Sept. 1803, with five ministers of the Presbyterian church who were deposed by the Synod of Kentucky for teaching error. This people believed that the extraordinary work then existing in the western country was the beginning of the Millennium, and that all those doctrines which were hard to be understood, and that all mystery and obscurity in Scripture, would now be more clearly made known, so as to be understood and comprehended by every body. The first discovery which they pretended to make was, that all confessions of faith and catechims were made by fallible men, erroneous, contrary to Scripture and reason, and calculated to keep believers in bondage. They therefore renounced them all, except the Bible. Next, that all Assemblies, Synods, and Presbyteries were contrary to Scripture, carnal bonds, and stood full in the way of Christ, and the revivals of religion; that the doctrine of divine decrees destroys free agency and makes men mere machines; that men were not justified by faith in Christ; that the doctrine of the Trinity leads to Tritheism; that Christ was not God, but man only, or at most a being of the highest order; that it was his duty to love and serve God with all his power, and he could therefore make no atonement for others; that there was, no merit in his sufferings,
42and no wrath in God which needed to be appeased, and therefore there was neither a necessity nor a possibility of his vicarious sufferings; that the object of Christ's mission was to make atonement, reconciliation, &c. but that propitiation, reconciliation, and atonement mean the same thing, and that atonement being a word compounded of at-one-ment, signifies to make one, for ment is a Gaelic word signifying to make. But as God cannot change, the change must be in man, and atonement, therefore, means the same as repentance, or turning to God. This is a specimen of their criticism. They pretend to make discoveries, and to make plain many mysteries, to mention which, is unnecessary. I would only observe, that some made the discovery, that there would be no resurrection or future judgment. Thus it appears that a wild fanaticism in the West, has thrown nearly the same light on the Scriptures and religion, with which a boasted philosophy has illumined them in the East. This sect is without order, regularity, or any bond of union; each does that which is right in his own eyes. They are as ignorant as any of the sects, and in their manner of preaching are much like those already noticed. — This denomination was once numerous, but they are dwindling away rapidly. Five or more of these preachers have made confessions and recantations, and are re-admitted to the Presbyterian church. Many have joined the Shakers and probably the remainder will soon join the Baptists or Methodists.
The professed object of this sect is to effect a union between the several denominations professing faith in Christ, so as to eradicate all Sectarianism, and every party name out of the family of Jesus. They renounce all manner of creeds, confessions of faith, and catechisms hitherto published. They receive the holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament as a sacred and divine help, handed from heaven to aid their reason in forming just ideas of the divine character and of divine things. But say they, "We receive not even the holy Scriptures as the foundation of our faith or religion, for we conceive that other foundation can never be laid, equal to the foundation stone which was laid before Joshua, (of which the Scriptures dearly speak,) whereon were seven eyes, which we conceive to be the seven communicable attributes of God, — H. Epist. No. 44. and 45. Lex. 1803. They consider Adam as a figure of Christ; that the covenant made with him was a natural covenant, and deny that he could forfeit, even by transgression, the right and title of himself and offspring to eternal life and blessings; in other words, forfeit any thing more than natural life, and natural blessings. The first office of Christ on earth was to explain the eternal laws of religion to man. They perform baptism by immersion or sprinkling, as the subject chooses, in the name of Jesus, by whom, they say, is exhibited in one glorious
43person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They enter not into the state of matrimony, and look upon it as an ordinance of man, but choose spiritual mates. The whole of their scheme seems to be, to fill up the mystery of iniquity. Their leader was a man by all accounts, of vile character, who lately, it is reported, betrayed the confidence reposed in him, by a weak and half witted man, one of his own followers, that sent him to Philadelphia to receive a large sum of money for him, which this leader expended in the purchase of a large tract of land near the Sciota River, where he has invited all his followers to settle. This sect does not increase, and its number at present is small. The Halcyon Luminary published in New York, it is supposed, was conducted by some of this connection.
This report will be closed with a few observations on domestic missions. From the manner in which these are at present conducted, it is evident that but a small portion of the destitute parts of our country are visited by intelligent and correct missionaries; and that many evils result, or at least that the good is not effected which might be, from the want of some regularly digested system, and co-operation of the different Missionary Societies, amongst Presbyterians and Congregationalists. It appears from the reports of the various Missionary Bodies, that the appointments of many of their missions are for a short time; from four to six, eight or ten weeks, seldom for six months or a year. Half of the time of these short appointments is sometimes taken up in going and returning from the field of labor. When they arrive there, they find the field so extensive, and their time so short, that they can stay only a day or two in a place, and then perhaps it is a year, or years before those places are visited again. Little or no good therefore can arise from such missionaries, in places as dissolute as we generally find our new settlements. It frequently happens, that different Missionary Bodies, from the want of understanding each other's appointments, send their missionaries to the same places, and therefore at times, two or three missionaries are found in the same region, while many of the most destitute places are entirely overlooked or neglected. But the great evil is, that the principal object of missions, (at least what the apostle of the Gentiles considered such, and to which he directed his efforts) the planting of churches, cannot receive attention. Some Missionary Societies, particularly the one of which you, Gentlemen, are the Trustees, have seen these difficulties, and have, in some measure, remedied them, by stationing missionaries at certain places, with directions to labor within a circumscribed region. To remedy another evil, there appears to be no provision, and that is, to prevent the good done from being frustrated or destroyed. The conclusion of a mission at the time when it begins to be useful, only opens a door for preachers of different denominations to creep in, and propagate their peculiar sentiments
44On returning to such places after a year's absence, those whose attention was excited to divine things, are found to have joined the Baptists, Methodists, New Lights, or Halcyons.
Permit me to suggest to your Board, the ideas which occurred to me, while passing over the vast field for missions in the western States, respecting a plan of operation for domestic missions. The field of missions should be divided into circuits, and these into societies and places for preaching, so that a missionary by preaching three or four times in a week could visit each society once a month, or more frequently as circumstances should direct. That no missionary should be employed for less than one year; and that however small the number of circuits, there should be an immediate succession of laborers. That the great object should be to organize churches and societies, and thus prevent Sectaries from establishing themselves. That besides preaching, the business of the missionary should be to give catechetical instructions to the children; to distribute Tracts and Bibles; to organize social libraries, and societies for the suppression of vice; to search out young men of piety and talents, and encourage them to prepare for the ministry; and if poor, to urge it upon the people of his circuit, as a duty to contribute to their support, so that the churches which may be organized may raise up ministers for their own supply. The societies at the different places should be so organized as to meet every Sabbath, although they have no preaching, for the purpose of singing, prayer, and reading the Scriptures, sermons, or some religious intelligence. I have known a revival of religion to commence at such a meeting, in Ohio, on Buck Creek, Champaign,county. It would perhaps be highly proper, as most of the missionaries on the circuit will probably be young men, to have as many experienced ministers as can visit annually, semi-annually, or quarterly, the different circuits, receive the reports of the missionaries, and see that every thing be conducted with decency, propriety, and order, and make reports to the Missionary Societies.
How or where to obtain the missionaries, or the means to carry such a plan into effect, is the greatest difficulty. The way to obtain missionaries most readily, would be for ministers and churches strongly to recommend and urge it upon all, who prepare for the ministry, to spend one or two years as a missionary, in the new settlements. It would be beneficial to those who engage in it on account of the opportunity of becoming acquainted with men in the various walks of life, of obtaining a more extensive knowledge of the world, and much experience on many points of great utility, in preparing them for the arduous task of taking charge of a particular people. Many too are so enfeebled by a long course of study, that the active labor of a missionary would greatly improve their health, and invigorate them for future service. That it would be beneficial to the new settlements is self-evident; that it would prove so to the churches in the old
45settlements, I think cannot be doubted, if it is any ad... ministers over them of some experience, vigor, and activity... to the means of supporting such missions, from enquiry I am satisfied, that in the new settlements there would be voluntary contributions, sufficient at least to pay one half of their yearly stipend. All which is respectfully submitted by,
Yours with due consideration,
JOHN F. SCHERMERHORN
Andover, (Mass.) December 10, 1813.
1. THE topographical remarks on the country are introduced to give the Trustees an idea in what parts of the country population, in all probability, will most rapidly increase; and of course where missionary services will be most wanted. When any district of country is called comparatively poor or light soil, is meant when compared with the first rate lands in the western States; though, at the same time, it may be first rate, when compared with the soil of the eastern States.
2. By Vacant Societies, in the Tables, must not always be understood churches already organized; but, in most places, only congregations, or places of preaching.
3. The population in the different Counties is taken from the census of 1810; the number of ministers, churches, and vacant societies of the Presbyterians, from the minutes of different Presbyteries, and from the information of ministers; the number of Baptist preachers, &c. in general, from their printed Association minutes, and where these could not be procured, from the best information that Baptist ministers could give; the number of circuits, itinerants, and members of society of the Methodists, from the printed minutes of their annual Conference in 1812, and from the assistance of a presiding elder of information in Tennessee.
Mr. Mills' Statement.
To the Trustees of the Missionary Society of Connecticut.
IN my last, I gave you an account of my travels and missionary labors, from the time I left Hartford, till I arrived at Marietta.
I left Marietta the 24th of October, 1812, and proceeded down the Ohio River. On the 25th (Sabbath) preached at Belprie, a New England settlement. Thence proceeded through Galliopolis to Chilicothe, where I arrived November 2d, preaching occasionally on the way; and distributing the Constitution of the Ohio Bible Society. The prospect was favorable as it respects the increase of the funds of the Society; at least as much so as could be expected. On the 7th came to Springfield, on the head waters of the Little Miami. Here I tarried two or three days, detained on account of the rain, and waiting for Mr. Schermerhorn, who left Marietta the same day that I did. He went up the Muskingum, and came on by Zanesville and Franklinton to Springfield, where he arrived the 10th. We proceeded on our way to Dayton, and put up with Dr. Welch, the Presbyterian minister residing in that place. From Dayton, I came to Lebanon, near the Little Miami, and thence to Cincinnati. Brother Schermerhorm went down the Big Miami by Franklin to Cincinnati, at which place we both arrived the 17th of November.
South of New Connecticut, few Bibles or religious tracts have been received for distribution among the inhabitants. The Sabbath is greatly profaned; and but few good people can be found in any one place. There are, however, a number of societies which are wishing to obtain ministers for settlement, for a part of the time at least, more commonly for six months in the year. The New Light societies have been numerous in the western part of the State; but are at present fast declining. The Baptists are somewhat numerous in certain parts of the State. But the Methodists,
48according to their own calculation, are far the most numerous religious denomination, in the State of Ohio, south of New Connecticut, which is, in my opinion, far the most desirable part of the State; certainly as respects the moral and religious habits of the people living there. They are far advanced above any portion of country, of equal extent and population, west of the mountains.
From Cincinnati Mr. Schermerhorn and myself went down the river Ohio to Laurenceburgh in the Indiana Territory. Left that place the 24th of November, crossed the Ohio into Kentucky, and came down the river about 50 miles; then again crossed over into Indiana, and came down some miles on that side of the river; then crossed back into Kentucky, and continued our course within 30 miles of the falls of the Ohio, preaching occasionally. We found the inhabitants in a very destitute state; very ignorant of the doctrines of the Gospel; and in many instances without Bibles, or any other religious books. The Methodist preachers pass through this country, in their circuits occasionally; but do very little, I fear, towards aiding the people in obtaining a true knowledge of the doctrines of the Bible. There are a number of good people in the Territory, who are anxious to have Presbyterian ministers amongst them. They likewise wish to be remembered by Bible and Religious Tract Societies.
Leaving the river, we proceeded on our way through Frankfort, an easterly course to Lexington, where we arrived Dec. 5th. We put up with Mr. Blythe, and soon became acquainted with a number of good people. During our stay at Lexington, we assisted in re-organizing the Constitution of the Bible Society, which had been instituted a year or two before; but on too restrictive principles. It had done but little towards advancing the great object for which it was established. The prospect was, when we left, that it would soon become much more extensively useful. Of 500 Bibles, which had been committed to our care, by the New York Bible Society, we directed 100 to be sent to the managers of the Kentucky Society, for distribution.
We left Lexington the 14th of December, and proceeded on our way to Nashvile, in Tennessee, where we arrived the 28th. On the 29th rode to Franklin, 20 miles from Nashville, and put up with Mr. Blackburn. During our stay in this part of Tennessee, we consulted with a number of pious people, with regard to the expediency of forming a Bible Society. They decidedly favored the object. Mr. Blackburn thought there would not be time to collect the people, and form a Constitution during our stay. He engaged that he would exert himself in favor of the object, as did others, men of piety and influence. We left with him a copy of the Constitution of the Bible Society formed in the State of Ohio; and wrote to Mr. Bobbins of Marietta, requesting him to send to Nashville, for the benefit of the Society about to be formed in that neighborhood, 50 of the 500 Bibles which were to be sent to him from Pittsburgh.
We consulted with Mr. Blackburn on the expediency of pursuing our course down the river to New Orleans. He advised us to go, and assisted in making the necessary preparations. It was thought best for us to descend the river. General Jackson was expecting to go in a few days, with about 1500 Volunteers to Natchez. Mr. Blackburn introduced us to the General, who, having become acquainted with our design, invited us to take passage on board his boat. We accepted the invitation; and after providing some necessary stores for the voyage, and making sale of our horses, we embarked the 10th of January, 1813. We came to the mouth of the Ohio the 27th, where we lay by three days on account of the ice. On the 31st we passed New Madrid; and the 16th of February arrived at Natchez.
During our stay at Natchez and the vicinity, we introduced the subject of the formation of a Bible Society, for the benefit of the destitute in the Missisippi Territory. The professedly religious people, of the different denominations, appeared anxious for the establishment of an Institution of this kind. A proposal was drawn up for a meeting of those disposed to aid the object, and the time and place of the meeting agreed upon. At the time appointed, a number assembled, and chose a Committee to prepare a Constitution, to be presented to those disposed to sign it, at a second meeting which was to be held at Natchez, three weeks from the first meeting. We left with the Committee a copy of the Constitution we had with us, to which the one formed for the Missisippi Territory will most likely be similar. The Bible Society for this Territory will be supported by a number of the most influential characters, both civil and religious. We engaged to send them 100 Bibles, and have given directions that they should be forwarded to Natchez. We likewise encouraged them to hope for further donations of Bibles from other Societies; and engaged, upon our return, to represent their state to the Bible Societies of Philadelphia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. As those who engaged in the formation of the Society, entered upon the subject in a very spirited manner, we doubt not the result will be a happy one.
Before we left Natchez, we (with Mr. Blackman, the chaplain who attended the Tennessee Volunteers) obtained a subscription of more than $100 for the benefit of the Tennessee Bible Society. This subscription was made by the officers principally. The prospect was that it would be very considerably increased, before they left that part of the country. We were treated with great attention by the General and Officers; and were more obliged to them for their subscription to the Tennessee Society, than if it had been made to us.
We left Natchez the 12th of March, and went on board a flat bottomed boat, where our accommodations were but indifferent. The weather was generally pleasant, and we arrived at New
50Orleans the 19th. We might have taken passage in the steam boat, and should have done so, had it not been for the extra expense we must have incurred. The usual rate each passenger pays in the steam boat from Natchez to New Orleans is $18; whereas our passage was but little more than $6 for both of us. The distance is 300 miles. For 100 miles above New Orleans, the banks of the river are cleared, and in descending the river you pass many very elegant plantations. The whole of this distance, the banks appear like one continued village. The greater part of the inhabitants are French Catholics, ignorant of almost everything except what relates to the increase of their property; destitute of Schools, Bibles, and religious instruction. In attempting to learn the religious state of these people, we were frequently told, that they had no Bibles, and that the priests did not allow of their distribution among them. An American, who had resided two or three years at a place, which has the appearance of being a flourishing settlement, and which has a Chatholic church, informed me that he had not seen a Bible during his stay at the settlement. He added, that he had heard that a woman from the State of New York had lately brought one into the place.
Upon our arrival at New Orleans, we were soon made acquainted with a few religious people. The number of those possessing this character, in this place, we are constrained to believe is small. We found here a Baptist minister, who has been in the city a few months, but expects to leave the place soon. He is a sensible man, and to appearance a Christian. I doubt not, he has labored faithfully in the service of his Master. There is no Protestant church in the city. Attempts have been made to obtain a subscription for building one, but have failed. There is at present a Methodist preacher in the place. I believe he expects to leave it soon. The Catholic priests will then be the only professedly religious teachers in the city.
Soon after our arrival, we introduced the subject of a Bible Society. It directly met the wishes of the religious people with whom we had become acquainted. As we had letters of introduction to Governor Clairborne, we called upon him in company with a friend. The object of our coming to the place was stated to him, and he approved of it. A proposal for a meeting was readily signed by him, and by 12 of the members of the Legislature who were then in session. About 20 more, principally merchants belonging to the city, added their names to the list. At the time appointed for establishing a Society, the greater part of those who subscribed to the proposal met. Previous to the meeting, a Constitution had been formed; and was presented for their approbation, should it meet the wishes of those present. The Constitution was read and considered, article by article, and adopted. It provided that the number of Managers should not be less than 12, nor more than 24. The Managers were to choose the other officers of the
51Society. After signing the Constitution, the Managers were chosen, about 20, some residing in the country, but the greater part in the city. The Managers proceeded to the choice of officers. General Benjamin Morgan was chosen President, and Dr. Dow, Vice-President. The rate paid by those who become members is fixed at $5, upon signing the paper, and the yearly tax upon each member is $3. All present appeared much gratified with the opening prospect.
We found that, in order to have the Bible circulate freely, especially among the Catholics, the consent of those high in office must be obtained. We were frequently told, that the Catholic priests would by no means favor the object. We were referred to Father Antonio, as he is called, who has greater influence with those of his order than even the Bishop, who has lately arrived from Baltimore. If the consent of the former could be obtained, it was allowed by those with whom we conversed, that much might be done towards distributing the Scriptures among the French Catholics. We took a convenient opportunity to call upon the Reverend Father. The subject was mentioned to him. He said he should be pleased to have the Bible circulate among those of his order; and that he would approve of the translation distributed by the British and Foreign Bible Society. In addition to this, he said he would aid in the circulation of the Scriptures should an opportunity present. We enquired of him, whether the priests in the different parishes would likewise favor the good work? At this enquiry he seemed surprised, and answered, "How can you doubt it? It is for their interest to circulate the Scriptures." Upon this point, our sentiments were hardly in unison. However we felt no disposition to contradict him. We have since called upon the Bishop. He also gave his consent, and said he would contribute in favor of the infant Institution. This disposition in the Catholic priests to favor the circulation of the Scriptures has very much surprised all with whom we have conversed on the subject in the city. The priests acknowledge the nakedness of the land. Father Antonio gave it as his opinion, that we should very rarely find a Bible in any of the French or Spanish Catholic families, in any of the parishes. And the Bishop remarked, that he did not believe there were 10 Bibles in the possession of all the Catholic families in the State; and these families constitute three-fourths of the population of the State, people of color excepted, as is believed by men of information. When we came to this place, we found a number of French Bibles and Testaments had been sent here for distribution, gratis; and had been on hand some time. They are now all disposed of, and repeated enquiries are made for those books by the Catholics. I happened in at Mr. Stackhouse's store a short time since. During my stay, which was short, five or six persons came in, enquiring for the Bible in the French language. The present is certainly
52a new and interesting era in the history of New Orleans. Mr. Stackhouse informs me, that if he had 50 Bibles, he could dispose of them at once to the Catholics.
We expect to leave this place soon, and proceed on our way to Georgia, through the Creek nation. We hope to arrive home early in the month of July.
Yours very respectfully,
SAMUEL J. MILLS.
New Orleans, April 3, 1813.
Those parts of Mr. Mills' letter are omitted which contain a statement of the number of ministers, churches, &c. of various denomination, because that number is particularly detailed in Mr. Schermerhorn's letter, and it was thought unnecessary to publish the same thing twice over.