La Clair, De Kalb Co., Illinois: June 8, 1854; and Cedar Lake [Lake Co., Indiana]: June 26, 1854. 2 letters in autograph ink of 2 pp. each, together on one bifolium sheet, 9.75 x 7.25 inches, approx. 410 & 630 words. Some light foxing; in very good condition, quite legible. Item #18888
Religious revivals and intimations of Civil War among early Midwestern settlers. Norman Warriner (1794-1870), a Massachusetts native and Baptist clergyman was was then living in Northern Illinois and largely working in Paw Paw, was brother of Lewis Warriner (1792-1869); Norman and Lewis had, with the correspondent Hervey Ball (1794-1868) and a few others, been the first settlers of Cedar Lake (about 20 miles south of Lake Michigan and 40 miles from Chicago) in 1837. The Warriners and Ball, all Massachusetts natives, formed the first Baptist Society in Lake County in 1838. Norman writes to Hervey’s wife in thanks for an invitation to visit them in Lake County and sends news: “We have (that is wife and I) moved to Paw Paw, 13 miles. I have divided my labors between Paw Paw and Harding for several years, during the past winter we have had revivals in each church, adding about one hundred members, over 60 to Paw Paw and over 30 to Harding. Each church now intend to have a regular Pastor all the time, So I have taken Paw Paw for my share. Mirillia [likely his daughter rather than his wife of the same name] is teaching a private school at Harding.” Warriner also notes plans to build a private academy in Paw Paw. His correpondent, if indeed Jane A. H. Ball, was also a Massachusetts native and is noted in an early history of Lake County as “the only woman of the early days who studied the Hebrew language.” Mention is made by Warriner of Elizabeth Ball, who was “bound to the sunny South. There is a field for usefulness.” (The Lake County history notes that Hervey’s daughter Elizabeth settled and taught in Clarke County, Alabama.) Hervey Bell uses the blank leaf to send his own extensive note to an unnamed correspondent who also knows Warriner. Ball writes, “I forward this lately received as you mentioned having written to Mr. Warriner, perhaps you did not direct properly. The post office mark is ‘La Clair, Ill.’ “ This being Indiana, Ball’s letter turns to the prospect of corn: “I am engaged as usual at this season of the year. The bees are swarming, two or more per day & the weather has been wet that no ploughing out corn untill a few days past. It had never been so wet here before in the spring. We have a fine crop of corn, was planted early is now some of 3 feet high, some of it is enveloped in weeds. The land is too rich for slow hands.” More talk of agriculture and land prices (Jane may be selling out to a Chicago buyer) before Ball shows some rather ecumenical meditation on his relationship to a family member: “With regard to my remarks of Uncle Ferry – Now I suppose him to be a most excellent man. There are but few [with] whom I have so highly esteemed &, although but little acquainted, have been exceeding pleased in his company & am very much gratified with his letters. They evince more intellect and thought than almost any other I receive, yet I had formed the impression knowing of that old difficulty with the church with which he was formerly committed that he might indulge in improper prejudices & that it might or was a cause of unhappiness to him, but I might judge wrong. He is a most benevolent and kind hearted man & no doubt he pities the errant & the deluded that don’t see as he does. . . . There are errors & have been since the Devil told a lie to Eve & she took it for the truth. There is imperfection in every thing & I think in every man. At this day there is now and then one that is the standard, but I think that when we see correctly (as I think we shall at some time) we shall learn that those who are perfect here have got too far on the right side.” Mention of the South seems to prompt some meditation on impending sectional differences: “It is nearly astonishing what a ‘fit’ to use the southern phrase, the world is in. There will be ‘worser’ times before better. The time prophesied of that the blood would be to the horse’s bits, has not yet come. Many thought it was fulfilled in Bonaparte’s time. I may be fulfilled in a Bonaparte’s time but horses may yet swim in blood in the Western continent. There are bloody scene conjuring up that you & I may not see but our children’s children may take a hand in.” Ball concludes with an apology for having filled the empty pages and notes, “If you can’t read it, send it back.” For more on the Balls and the Warriners, see William Frederick Howat, A Standard History of Lake County, Indiana and the Calumet Region. Chicago, 1915. With a preliminary typescript.