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Osawatomie K. T. [1856]
Free Mission Sewing Society of the First Congregational Church South Brookfield Mass. By invitation of your beloved Pastor, I send you the following communication. Freedom & Home Missions. Many descriptions have been given of Kansas, Explorers, tourists, & common letter writers have in great measure exhausted the theme. In my opinion, many have too highly colored the picture, while others seem not to have had eyes to see the excellencies that actually exist here.

The soil throughout all the Eastern part of the territory is good, better cannot easily be found. The prairies are undulating, giving a beautiful variety from the bald mound & bluff to almost an entire level. Grass on the higher prairies last year (an unusual growth) was from three to five feet high, on the lower prairies & in ravines it was much higher. Limestone is generally found in abundance on the edges of the bluffs. There is a tolerable supply of timber in some regions; but in the main it is scarce. Portions of the country is tolerably well watered; but in many it will chiefly have to obtained by digging. From twenty to forty feet is the usual depth of wells which I have seen in the territory, & not infrequently water is found nearer the surface on the high prairies than on the low.

The warm weather continues longer here than in more northern latitudes; but the heat is ameliorated much by refreshing breezes on the prairies, which during the heat of the day, seldom fail to blow. The past winter has been one of the severest ever known in this region. From Dec. 22nd to Feb 20th it was severely cold. Mercury at different times fell here to 28 degrees below zero. For a number of weeks the average at sunrise was one degree below zero. The suddenness & severity of the cold at first made it very hard on man & beast. Animals, tame & wild, in some instances froze to death. A crow, a blue jay, & some other birds, were found near this, frozen fast on limbs of trees. The snow on Christmas day was about seven inches deep; & it increased from time to time until it was about 18 inches deep in the woods. On the prairies it drifted so that for some weeks our mails, & nearly all travelling was stoped. Ice froze under a deep coat of snow until it was 14 inches thick. Seven ice houses containing from 3 to 28 tons of ice, were built &

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filled in our village and neighborhood during the winter. In consequence of the sickness that prevailed here last fall, few were prepared for the winter as they had hoped to be; or as the ought to have been for such a winter. Hence there was much suffering. Many have frozen hands and feet. Two men & one child, are all that I have heard of in the territory as freezing to death. The men were intoxicated. I know a number of persons who were caught out on the prairies by the storm & lost their way & had to lie out without fire, or any clothing but what they had on. Some of these cases are thrilling, but I cannot relate them now. A few have found their way into the papers. We are satisfied that tight houses & warm clothing will needed in Kansas. But we bless God for the long cold winter with its storms. It was needed, after the severe sickness of the fall, to invigorate the physical system. Again, it has been God’s wall of protection to us against the “border ruffans”.

As to Freedom in Kansas: The territory has been several times invaded, & the rights of the citizens trampled in the dust. Though slavery has boasted of her triumphs, the struggle has not yet ended. When, in 1854, a call was made for emigrants to secure the territory to freedom, I thought it not improbable that war would be the result. But determined to be one of the number to come & toil for freedom & a free gospel, I may not live to see the end of the struggle, but have no doubt as to the result. If fair play is given & the friends of freedom are true to themselves & the cause, they can establish what kind of institutions they please. But if they do not come up to the work in season, God will permit the “border ruffans”, or Pres. Pierce to commit such outrages here as will awaken them to a sense of duty & to action. Much has of late been said about large companies coming from the South. A few small companies have come, & more are said to be on the way. But those who have come manifest much shyness about bringing slaves far into the territory, or into the neighborhood of Abolitionists.

Some are tarrying in Missouri, waiting for certain Indian land to be opened for settlement. These lands are very excellent & [xxx] on Missouri. Some Missourians settled on these lands last year. They were ordered off- U. S. troops were sent to drive them off, but when it was found that by far the larger number of the intruders were pro-slavery, one excuse after another was made for not driving them off, & the matter was delayed until counter orders were given. It is now said that large numbers of Southerns are collecting along the border of Missouri, selecting their locations, & making all ready, so they can pitch their tent in the right spot the very day the land is declared open for settlement.

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The Free State Legislature met on the 4th of March, organized & were in session about three weeks, then, took a recess until the fourth of July in order to give Congress time to act upon our application for admission to the Union. No attempt was made to arrst them, though it had been threatened, & for a time was daily expected. No further outbreaks are anticipated until the fourth of July. But no one can tell; we live on a volcanoe, & at no time is the burning lava far from the surface. A trifle may produce an eruption & set all in a blaze. We will, however, hope for the best.

But you are a Missionary Society, & wish to know something about Kansas as a Missionary field, & what is being for its spiritual welfare.

As a field, wide doors are open & faithful missionaries are much needed. It is estimated that there are about sixty thousand inhabitants in the territory, besides the Indians, & every day increases the number. They are much scattered; by far the greater portion live on claims of one hundred & sixty acres each. And many have means of conveyance for families. Hence large assemblies are not easily collected. This increases the labor of the Missionary. They must be visited at their houses, & meetings held in their neighborhoods. Many free State men from both North & South are much prejudiced against “Abolition” & especially against an Abolition Minister. But this prejudice is dying away. We have Errorists here of allmost all kinds. Some of them are men of talent- men of [xxxx] minds. The Sabbath is much desecrated. Not a few professors of religion attend to worldly business on the Sabbath who were not in the habit of so doing before they came here. I have often been astounded at the excuses they make. Intemperance is entrenching itself deeply in the territory, & preparing to contest every inch of ground. I think a majority of Northern men would be in favor of a Maine law; but many of them & nearly all Southern men are set against it. Something has been done in some localities in the cause of Temperance; but no combined or general effort has been made. We expect a hard battle on this question. Slavery or Freedom, is the all absorbing question now. It is in every bodies mouth, forms a large portion of the daily conversation, is heard from the pulpit, is the burden of prayer, & the nine presses, (six for Freedom, & three for Slavery,) teem with it. We have men here from all the States of the Union, & from nearly all parts of the world- of all grades, though many of the higher order of mind,- confident in their opinions & ready to defend them. Hence we have much discussion, excitement, as well as occasional alarms of murder & war.

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Under these circumstances the missionary of the cross labors in Kansas. Nor is he alone in his labors. In many instances he sees evidence that God is with him. There are some that weep on account of their sins, & ask what they must do to be saved.

Nor would I omit to mention here that I not infrequently meet with some of the most devoted Christians I ever knew. They are the salt of the land. Would that many more such might come!

I cannot give a full list of Ministers of the various denominations here. The American Miss. Ass. has 4 missionaries. Three Congregationalists & one Wesleyan Methodist. One that was here last summer has returned. The Home Miss. Soc. has but three that I know of, all congregationalists. Baptists, (close communion) have sent two missionaries from the East. We have also Presbyterians, Methodists North, Methodist South, Lutherans, United Brethren, Friends, Unitarians & Cambelites and Catholics.

The Methodists- all kinds- are trying to cover the whole field & organizing into classes all whom they can get to shake hands with them. I am aquainted with some classes where drunkeness seems no bar to church membership. Only a few Congregational, Presbyterian, or Baptist churches have yet been organized. We expect in a few weeks to organize a Congregational Church in this place. Our number is only eight. Three congs.- died here last fall, & three others have left whom we had hoped would unite with us. If my communication is long & uninteresting, I beg pardon- so much is said about Kansas I knew not what to write. If I have said anything new or interesting to you, [text ends here]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

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This file was last modified September 12 2013 04:09:26 PM.