Author: Henry E. Woodcock

Recipient: Ellen Woodcock

Date: 14 July 1883

Location: Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Record Group 30/81, Series 1. Correspondence, Oberlin College Archives

Document Type: Autograph Letter, Signed by the Author



In this letter to his daughter Nellie, Henry reminisces on his time doing pastoral work in western New York, connecting the physical labor with the religious and moral work of the pastorate there. Also pay attention to the second paragraph where Henry discusses his role in the domestic affairs of his home and describes the women he hires as help.


8-1Lawrence, Kans.

Dear Nellie July 14 1883

Your letter with Arthurs1 came on time as usual. I am rejoiced that you have had the opportunity to visit my old field of labor & see some of the people over whom I was pastor. I look back to those toils as among the most satisfactory of all. It was a hard field & I dug among the stumps & planted the seed of truth which was not wholly lost. The lot & parsonage2 represent in some degree the moral condition of the people. The lot was covered with pine stumps. The plan of the parsonage was devised & the formulation commenced. I superintended [sic] its arrangement altered it to my notion as far as I could, & did considerable in finishing it. I got help & we pulled up the stumps, & put them into a fence. Set out trees & cultivated the land. Perhaps the material was changed & improved more than the moral. I realize that Elsie,s [sic] situation is not very hopeful. [Farmington?] hills are up in the world.3 Tioga was always pleasant. You must have some peculiar charms for Hattie4 or she would not let you stay so long. I am glad you are able to give a little comfort to Grandma in her affliction. I shall need an overcoat & if Mrs W.5 wishes to confer one on me it will be thankfully received. Mr. Sweetland6 can send it by express & I will pay charges. Arthur thinks you will be at Elmira by today So I will direct there.

8-2The situation of home affairs not much altered. A woman came from St. Joe7 this week expecting to find her mother here. She could not find her. Mr Patter directed here [her] to us. So she is with us doing the work. Has agreed to stay two weeks at least. She is first class help. A Miss. Whirlow,8 sister of the graduate came yesterday from Vinland9 wishing a place to work. She wants $3. per week If she does not get a place where she can get that she has agreed to work for us after two weeks for $2,50 [sic]. I wish we were able to give her her price & secure her. She appears like a fine girl & efficient. With my present income of only about $15. per week I have hard work to meet expenses. So I dare not engage a girl at $3. a week. We expect Mrs. Q10 will be with us till Sept.

Miss Baily11 is now attending the county Institute. How long she will be with us is uncertain. She is pleased with her home here & we are pleased with her.

McCoy the young man in charge is failing.12 No hope that he will recover. The lungs are now affected. HE may linger till fall. His aunt from [Lowd?] was here last week. As she could not take him with her she has left him in my care. HE requires much attention. I ought to have more for the care I give. But he is close. His uncle with whom you & Ella Murdock13 boarded has moved to Desota.14 HE has no friends here. HE has always had his own head & is hard to satisfy.

I saw Myron Proctor this week. His father is able to get about again. Scott15 takes his vacation now. Nothing new in city. Fine rains & a growing time

Farmers will reap abundantly this season We have fine ripe apples & fruit abundantly. Love to all

Your loving father

H. E. Woodcock

Transcribed by Mimi Stern.

1Arthur (b. 1851) is Henry’s son from his first marriage.

2a church house provided for a member of the clergy.

3May be referring to Farmington Hills, New York, and a rising cost of living.

4Pencilled in later: “^ Wells.” This is Hattie Wells, the wife of Rev. E.D. Wells and Lucy Thayer’s adopted mother (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 3. Miscellany).

5Probably referring to Hattie Wells.

6Unclear, probably a friend of the Woodcock family.

7St. Joseph, Kansas, which is about 150 miles away from Lawrence by modern roads.

8Miss Anna Whirlow b. 1862, and the 21 years old (“Marriage Announcement, Miss Anna Whirlow.” Lawrence Weekly Journal, 7 March 1889).

9Most likely Vinland, Kansas, about 20 miles outside of Lawrence.

10Unidentifiable woman who worked in the Woodcock household in Lawrence, Kansas as hired help.

11A school teacher from Boston who was boarding with the Woodcocks. She is mentioned in Henry’s 9 June 1883 letter to Nellie (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Collection, Series 1. Correspondence).

12Though McCoy’s identity is uncertain, he may be a parishioner or student of Henry Woodcock’s. Based on Henry’s 9 June 1883 letter to Nellie, McCoy has been ill for well over a month, and now appears to be dying, though earlier Henry seemed to have hope for his recovery (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 1. Correspondence).

13Most likely a friend of Nellie Woodcock’s.

14Most likely De Soto, Kansas.

15Probably the husband of the Mrs. Scott and son mentioned in Henry’s 9 June 1883 letter to Nellie (Oberlin College Archives, Henry Edwin Woodcock Papers, Series 1. Correspondence).