This letter was written by Rev. Robert Hett Chapman, Jr. (1806-1865), the son of Rev. Robert Hett Chapman (1771-1833) and Hannah Arnet (1778-1845). In March 1833, Rev. Chapman, Jr. married Clarissa Evalina Chunn (1812-1858). The history of the First Presbyterian Society in Talladega says that in 1834 Robert Holman “bought at public auction a lot” and in 1835 had erected a frame building, about 30 x 40 feet,” as the first Presbyterian Church in Talladega.
The identity of the recipient of this letter is conjectured to be Rev. Richard Bohun Cater (1791-1850) of South Carolina, as he was the minister who took over the church late in 1835 and supplied the pulpit there for three years. He was succeeded by Rev. Chapman.
November 7th 1835
My very dear sir,
Under pressing avocations, I have only time to give you a hurried line — so much is this the case that I have hesitated & thereby lost almost time enough to have written you a lengthy letter. Blessed with the protection of Almighty God, we travelled safely & comfortably & arrived at our humble dwelling in good time (i.e.) in time to assume the discharge of my professional duties. We found our little church in a most disastrous state — (you will recollect the circumstances I mentioned to you). Mr. Lacy, the gentleman invited, has declined pitching his tent here. Our former supply has by a regard to his own character & well by the force of public opinion been constrained to withdraw his services & we thus are left to silent sabbaths and a deserted sanctuary. This has produced the most disastrous consequences, so much so that unless we can speedily unite on some devoted minister, we must or a church be scattered to the four winds of heaven. God save us from such an unhappy destiny!
Now, my dear sir, as you have some leaning towards our state & as there here is an opening in which should the people unite on you, inasmuch more good must result from your labors, is there not an opportunity presented by which the will of Heaven can be ascertained? We can hold out no great inducements forthwith — the brightness of the view & the richness of the field lay altogether in the prospective but with the blessings of Heaven, these will surely follow the fact of the people of Talladega united on you.
As regards the prospect of our uniting on some worthy individual, I am at fault. Were you here now before us, I should be very sanguine as regards the result. But whether you could have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with our people, in our present distracted state, some other individual might not present himself, & thus impose a difficulty that does not now exist. I can only say this much. That if at leisure yourself & your family [are] in a situation to leave, a visit to us from you might be attended with great normal results to our little church, & consequences desirable to you & yours. I would by all means advise your looking at any place in our state & judging for yourself before you remove. Anxious as I am for your removal to this state, I would be unwilling to take the responsibility of advising it separate from your personal observation. Were you here & could I have the pleasure of chatting face to face, I could no doubt aid you in coming to a conclusion — and I should regard it as a privilege to do so. I desire more on this Earth than to have the satisfaction of attending to your ministrations. May God guide you & bless you & yours!
We are yet unsullied with teachers for our school — either male or female. These _____ of _______ ____ prize are still open. Let me hear from you forthwith & if you conclude to visit us, do it speedily. It will afford you at any rate an opportunity of seeing our state & I have no doubt that there are points in Alabama where you could be immensely useful & at the same time be receiving _______ as Earth can give it your reward. Excuse the hurried note. Mrs. Chapman desires to to be affectionately remembered to yourself & unites with me in expressions of the warmest regard towards Mrs. C., Mrs. P. & Miss Mary A___n. Write soon.
I am your friend most truly, — Robert Hett Chapman