This letter was written by Rev. Abraham Jenkins, Jr. (1811-1861), an 1838 graduate of Amherst College. He was the son of Abraham Jenkins (1773-1855) — a carpenter in Barre, Massachusetts — and Mary Lord (1776-1844). After graduation, he assisted Dr. Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) in his chemical lectures, and in his geological survey of the State until the summer of 1839 when he taught school for more than two years at Troy and Keene, New Hampshire. Following that he entered into the study of theology with Rev. Dr. Jacob Ide but a bronchial infection kept him from occupying the pulpit. He labored occasionally in New York, Vermont, and Maine before supplying the pulpit of the Congregationalist Church in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, for four months when he was called by the church and society to serve as its pastor in February 1848. He continued at the church for six years and then resigned or health reasons.
Rev. Jenkins was married twice. First to Helen Maria Farrar (1820-1851) in 1848, who he mentions in this letter. He married second to Eliza Whittemore (b. 1830) in 1852. He wrote this letter to his sister, Minerva Jenkins (1806-1869). Abraham mentions his sister Mary Jenkins (1804-1890) as well.
Addressed to Miss Minerva Jenkins, Barre, Massachusetts
Fitzwilliam [New Hampshire]
August 18, 1849
Dear Sister M.
I have just received your last letter (the other received yesterday) and write just to say that it will not be practicable for me to be at Barre, as I should be very happy to be in other circumstances.
I am invited to be on the Council at Winchendon and to give the Right Hand of Fellowship or to preach the sermon in case Mr. [Lewis] Sabin of Templeton should fail. So you may think of me about noon, as engaged in placing another watchman on the walls of Zion where but recently a faithful standard bearer has fallen — fallen in victory.
I am too busy to write much. I have just begun a sermon (10 o’clock) to be preached tomorrow. I have been expecting help from a minister from Cuba — Seaman’s Chaplain — but he can’t come & I must be ready. I have my exercise for Wednesday to prepare also. Thursday — conference. Saturday go a journey with wife – one or two hundred miles — shall return the week after.
I do hope you will come & see us in September and if sister Mary comes to Barre she must come here too. We are both pretty well. It is generally very healthy here, but at Swansey 10 miles distant there is a dreadful sickness & mortality — 5 or 6 lay dead a week ago today. The skill of physicians is entirely buffeted by it.
In much haste, with much love to all. As ever yours, — A. Jenkins, Jr.
We have just had an agent for the Puritan Recorder here (Mr. Lunt) who has obtained nearly 30 new subscribers — and those most dissatisfied with my preaching 6 months ago have subscribed for it. I hope it will do them good. There has been a general change in religious belief here within 6 or 8 months & I am feeling more encouraged for the future.
Helen, who occupies my study within as her sitting room, says give my love to sister M. She is just taking up my Literary & Theological Journal to study the figurative language of Isaiah. I have not heard of any frost this week but I expected some. Everything looks beautiful now & I wish you could run up & see it.