This letter was written by Rev. James Patterson Smart (1813-1861), an 1833 graduate of Jefferson College, and pastor of a congregation on Massies Creek in Xenia, Ohio. He wrote the letter to his brother, Rev. John Gardner Smart (1804-1862), who was in the Presbytery at Baltimore, Maryland. John was married to Anna Maria Stevenson (1809-1851); the newborn son mentioned in the letter (yet un-named) was James Smart (b. 1844).
Addressed to Rev. John G. Smart, No. 21 Lexington Street, Baltimore, Maryland
Massies Creek [Xenia, Ohio]
September 17th 1844
Your last came to hand in due course of mail and was gratefully received and should have been answered before this but for the simple reason I had nothing to write about unless it was just to inform you of our good health. We were much gratified to hear of the general health of your family and also of the increased security against the extinction of our name. We were happy to hear especially of the health of the mother and sympathize with her in the loss she has sustained in the removal of her kind Father. She has, however, the comfort that she mourns not as those who have no hope, but that her loss is his unspeakable gain.
We have had many changes since I lost saw you. The health of the family has been good as also that of James Lytle except a bad spell of colic James himself had a few weeks ago. There have been two deaths in or congregation this summer — one a young lady, the other a head of a family who left a wife & four children to mourn his loss. I think, however, we have reason to hope favorably of both s they gave the most clear expression of the resignation to the will of Providence and of the dependence solely upon the atonement of Jesus Christ. I have not much to say about our congregational affairs by removal & deaths ___ rather dealing and I fear are not going much in point of practical piety. The conduct of many is not pleasing and some are calling for the exercise of discipline. These things are for a lamentation.
We have abundance of the necessities of life and yet at the same time we are considerably [ink smudged]. Could we have foreseen the change that was coming on, I believe we would have done much better not to have purchased a property at all but so it is and we must __tter along just as well as we can. We have no cause of repining for we have much more than we deserve.
The weather has been very dry for some weeks and the farmers are all at a stand whether to sow their seed or not. I spoke to Col. Morrow about some Nos. of the Minutes of Synod. He told me he had some old ones and would examine, but I believe I have forgotten the particular nos. you wanted. The next time you write, let me know what you want. I have had no news from Huntingdon except through John Lytle and what you stated in your letter. I have just written to Mother and one object was to warn her against staying all winter at Mercer. From what you say about Cleland and what I have heard from difference sources about Ho______ I rather think the President of Albany is defunct and how soon the President of Cambridge will follow no one knows. Strange are the ways of Providence, but they are all right. Rev. J. M. Henderson of Indiana is about to mount his saddlebags again, I believe, for want of support. I rather think from what he says about the direction he intends to pursue that the manse belonging to a certain little congregation near Salem has attracted his eye. Henderson — is he would guard against some little things — is a first rate fellow. And from what I have seen of him, I think I would like him for a neighbor.
There are some rumors about disaffection in the ranks of the Heronites but I cannot say anything certain about it. We have had a son of Dr. John Walker’s in our bounds for a short time and we do not care how soon he walks off to his daddy’s. I heard him preach in Xenia on a sacramental occasion and of all the attempts at preaching, his beat it. For a sample of some of his doctrines, none are called to come to Christ but those who thirst for Christ alone. We must repent and then come to Christ. Such is the joy of the believer in this life that if he had no prospect of an hereafter, it is sufficient for his following Christ. Many such things might be noticed.
I received a newspaper from some time ago containing Mr. Clayton’s speech. I saw in a proposal of some money to loan. If they will alter their terms and take country instead of city property as security, I will take some but that I suppose they will not do. We are living in the anxious expectation of a visit and a sight of that nameless child of yours. We have had quite a fine crop of peaches but I am afraid an invitation to you to come and postal would be rather too late. Write soon. Eliza and Mr. Lytle’s people join in love to you and Anna Maria. Remember me to all enquiring friends. I remain your affectionate brother, – James P. Smart
P. S. If you wish to make any of your boys farmers, you had better buy a farm that joins us that is to be sold this fall. James Lytle could very conveniently take care of it in the mean time and perhaps pay you for suppose you should never want to occupy it.