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1859 Oberlin Church - The Town that Started the Civil War! - Letter by H. J. Fuller, Talks of John Browns Raid & College Buildings being Built

This letter, four pages in ink, is written on stationary that has a vignette of Oberlin Church at the top.  It is dated “Oberlin Dec. 4/59”.  If you are interested in the Abolitionist movement and the early days of Oberlin College, this is the first and only letter we have had from this historic little town that author Nat Brandt wrote his book about in 1990: The Town that Started the Civil War.  The letter is in very good condition with minor staining.  Read our transcription, it is quite fascinating! 

H. J. Fuller was writing his friend H. O. Ensign.  We are not sure who Fuller was, but there was a H. J. Fuller who was a famous song writer… you can have fun researching him!

#EL45 - Price $395

 




      Transcription:
                                                                                                                                                              6 Dec. 59
                                                                                                                                                Oberlin Dec. 4/59

Friend Ensign,

            Your letter was received in due time and I was glad to hear from you for I had
began to think that either you had forgotten your promise to me or else you didn’t
intend to fulfill it. 

            Oberlin is still above the mud, that is where it haint below which is but a small
part.  The fact is Ensign there is but very little news to write so if I don’t tell much you
 mustn’t blame me. 

            The new buildings are progressing some.  Whitney has got the walls of his block
 done and has commenced on the inside.  Brokaw & Carpenter have got the walls of
 their block nearly finished.  Jenkins has got the cellar of his block dug and all ready
to commence laying the walls but the ground happened to be covered with snow now
which is rather bad for him.  Fitch has finished his store and has been moved in to it
about one week & Jenkins is also building a house.  It is on Prof. Street opposite Dear
Wright perhaps you have heard that our worthy proprietor V. A. S. Hankland is
building a house, it is on West College Street.  I don’t pretend to know what it is for
perhaps some of the fair maidens of this place could tell better than I. 

            The next in order is the gas, which has been in successful operation for about
two weeks.  They have 6 street lamps in town but only four of them are in working
order yet.

            The winter school opened with a very good number of students.  The place seems
almost deserted this winter.  The college students are most of them away teaching. 
The Messrs. Brown & Steebe have just commenced a musical Union and winter singing
school which is to be assisted by the orchestra and the C. B. Bands. 

            On Friday last the time when old John Brown died, a martyr to the cause of
freedom the Bell on the chapel was tolled for one hour and in the eve there was a meeting
of the citizens at the chapel to express their sympathies in regard to the matter.  Was
there anything of the kind in Madison?  I suppose Shankland told you all the news when
 in Madison.  He says that he was to meet you at Mad. Sem. on lyceum night but he found
out that there was to be no lyceum on that eve and there for was not there.  He says he
hopes you will excuse him for not fulfilling his engagement with you.  What kind of a
 lyceum do they have at the Sem. this term?  How does Williams get along what does he
 say about the Harpers Ferry affair? 

                                        Please give my respects to all enquiring friends

                                                        and except this from your friend,

                                                                H. J. Fuller

                 H. O. Ensign