The Letters of Hiram Wilson

Brother Whipple, October 1 1850

Boston October 1st 1850

Dear Brother Whipple

I wrote you during the summer from Dawn & promised to write again but have not done so. I am now prepared to communicate but fear that what I shall have briefly to say may not be very interesting. I started for Dawn on the 3rd of Sept, my wife and her sisters accompanying & we made a missionary town of Canada via London, Hamilton Toronto, Kingston & Montreal & thence to Burlington & down from there by Railroad. Having sister work near my route from whom I had long [unclear], I made them a visit & reached Boston on the 19th. We arrived home in health but were not long in B[oston] till my wife was taken with fever & again which she must have brought in her sister from Canada where she had it. The forepart of the season she was ailing every other day for a few days but by taking [unclear] she is now rid of it & in good health as usual. We left our children in Canada in the hand of Mr. Frances & family who had charge of them a year or more after their mother died.

My wife is engaging a season of visiting with her sister & other relatives but we expect to return

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to Canada West about a fortnight hence but not to remain there. We are not settled in mind as to where the Lord would have us labour but think of going west into Wes. or Northern Illinois. If I could locate my family where my wife would be likely to have her health somewhere near the Western frontier of Canada, I would give myself in some capacity to the cause of the fugitive till spring are the conditions that I can have bread for my family (buttered or not buttered), especially as the present is with the cause of the fugitive an awful crisis & thousands of the free enslaved people are but in manifest jeopardy by infamous laws lately passed by Congress & hundreds or perhaps thousands will be flanking to Canada for Refuge.

I know not how others feel with regard to these superlatively wicked black laws but as for myself I owe no respect to them & shall treat them as a nullity & abide the issue. May God blast the nefarious designs of avaricious man thieves. Having spent the summer in @ [Boston] I had to encounter some sickness in my family. I am minus by the amount of about $150, that is it would

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require that amount to enable me to [unclear] up & quit with comfort to myself and family. I ask nothing more than what is reasonable & can sustain unreasonable burdens without having quite crushed or killed but in view of my necessities I have seen Rev. J.W. Grass of W[estern] Boston & he has cheerfully consented to have the money raised assuming he’s me. [a member] of the Miss. Asso. [Missionary Association] designated for me.

The same may be done in one or two other places. As I am now in a transition still I feel at liberty to ask aid of only a very few persons & those only who well know me & know how to appreciate my services of 14 years in Canada. I am stopping at No. 38 Marcau Street Boston & would be happy to hear from you. I hope to learn that you have had a glorious Missionary Meeting at Syracuse & that the good cause of Anti-Slavery Missions is awarded.

Affectionately & truly yours,

Hiram Wilson

Oct 1 1850 3

PAID Rev George Whipple No. 61 John Street New York

Oct 1/50 [unclear]

Oct 3 [unclear]

   Oct 1 1850 4

Unknown, November 22 1850

St. Catherines Nov 22nd 1850

Dear Brother:

Having returned to Canada and removed my family to St Catherines I take this opportunity to inform of the fact. We reached Dawn the next Saturday evening after leaving New York making the journey in about 3 days. We had the pleasure of finding our children in comfortable health & greatly overjoyed at our return. We arranged matters in the West as soon as we could and came away with some degree of sadness having labored there a long time and formed strong attachments but feel assured that the change would be for the best.

Tho’ the season was late and navigation rather dangerous we thought best to come down by Steam Boats and were favored with a safe passage though we had to encounter rough weather and a heavy sea. We left Detroit at 12 o clock on Monday last by steamer Mayflower and were in Buffalo by 7 o clock the next morning.

We arrived at St Catherines on the 19th [unclear]. My family are here with me boarding for a few days till our effects come which were to be forwarded to us by the Lake & the Welland canal.

We shall necessarily be subject to heavy expenses till we can get a home of our own which I trust will not be long.

Nov 22 1850 1

With regard to our prospects for doing good in this section of Canada I can say but little at present as we have so recently arrived and have not yet had time to ascertain the condition of the numbers and necessities of the colored population. They are quite numerous in and around St Catherines. Those who have been here for several years have many of them succeeded in acquiring some property and making themselves & their families comfortable but there has lately been a large influx of newcomers who are here as the effect of the atrocious “Fugitive Slave law.” Many of these are necessarily in a destitute and even harassed condition. At this most fearful crisis with the colored people of the United States where so many are driven by oppression from comfortable homes and compelled to seek refuge upon these shores it appears obviously to be my duty, first to investigate and ascertain who are most in need of sympathy and assistance and then if possible devise prompt and effectual means of relief.

In view of the general state of the recent refugees in this country I would simply suggest to your Committee the propriety of putting forth an appeal to the public through the Anti-Slavery papers or if you please the religious press of the country which might be generously responded to on the approaching Thanksgiving days of the Free states. Nothing could be more pleasing to the Parent of all good & Giver of every perfect gift

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than for Christians on a Thanksgiving day, to present their free will offerings for the sacred purpose of relieving the destitute and forlorn victims of the slave poor who have been driven to foreign shores. With such a thanksoffering doubtless God will be well pleased. An earnest appeal as above suggested would come with great propriety before the public from your Com[mittee]. I shall spare no pains in making known promptly the true condition of the refugees in this part of Canada.

While in the Western District but recently I saw at Dawn several fugitives who were lately from Boston and one family who had been aided in their flight from the prison house some time ago by WW L. Chaplin. Chatham was thronged with newcomers and vast numbers had crossed over at & near Detroit. On last Sabbath I visited the old Military Barracks at Windsor opposite Detroit which were filled ripe with refugees. I learned that many of the people there & also in Sandwich which a little below Windsor they were in a destitute and perplexed state – Some for want of employment & others for want of comfortable shelters. I trust the good people of the West will see that they are relieved in that part of the Province. I would like to hear from you & receive such instructions as the wisdom of the Committee may furnish. I shall hope to learn Brother Whipple has recovered his health.

Affectionately and truly yours

Hiram Wilson

Nov 22 1850 3

Brother Whipple, May 9 1851

St. Catherine’s May 9th 1851

Dear Bro[ther] Whipple,

I read your last of the 5th [unclear] containing a shipping bill respecting a Box & bill of goods by the last mail. When they arrive at Buffalo I will order them on from there as soon as practicable. I am glad to know that the Fugitives who are frequently reaching Canada in a destitute state are remembered. Since my last a family of 8 persons arrived who spent some time in Mercer Co Pa but were disturbed & driven from there by the “Fugitive Law.” We have attended promptly to their necessities.

Your precious letter containing a Draft for $100 reached me safely on the 27th [unclear] and I answered it on the 1st day of May. It may have failed of reaching you on account of the recent change though I directed it to No 48 Beckman Str. [Street]

If that has failed this will put the matter right.

I shall hope erelong to learn that you have had a peculiarly interesting Missionary season & especially that the Anti-Slavery cause as represented in New York has received a fresh & powerful impulse. Please let me hear from you as soon as convenient.

Affectionately & truly yours

Hiram Wilson

May 9 1851 1

P.S. I hope you have got well over the rough and tumble business of removing to Beckman St. & shall direct this letter accordingly.


May 9 1851 2

Brother Whipple, August 30 1851

St. Cath’s [Catherine’s] Aug 30th 1851

Dear Br. [Brother] Whipple

I have filled a sheet which you are at liberty to make use of in any way you may think proper. I wish to say a few words more familiarly and confidentially with respect to our extremely perplexed condition. I wrote you the first part of July requesting a remittance of $100 my 3rd percentage you had left or was about leaving for the west. The letter fell into the hands of the treasurer who gave my application a very abrupt negative & suggested that it was expected of me that I would raise 1/2 of my salary. I very soon wrote again stating my necessities & suggesting that if the treasury was in an embarrassed state I would not object to going out and raising more towards the support of myself & family but suggested the property of my having a line from the Committee approving of that course that my position might not be an awkward one before the public. It is a thankless business to come before the public to beg for one’s own support in any cause but it occurred to me that as I was under the support & direction of the American Missionary Association my request to have a certificate of approval from the Committee was a reasonable one in case the necessity of solicitation was forced upon me by the withholding of the society funds. I have not been disposed to ask again for help from N. Yor [New York] & have waited patiently for your committee to [unclear]

Aug 30 1851 1

own cause either to send me help or send as requested a line of authority with which to solicit help or if it pleased to repudiate me altogether & thus I have lived along upon credit & borrowing & running in debt till I am almost ashamed to look men in the face. What to do I don’t know. My aggrievances are sore. I feel so discouraged and disheartened I am almost upon the hand of giving up.

This I am not prepared to do at present but after the present year closes I shall continue no longer unless I shall have reliable support without being compelled to solicit on my own behalf. This burden seems to be forced upon me just now & I must bear it the best way I can. I have no instinctive dread of asking money for any good cause in a judicious & proper manner but to proclaim the the [sic] words of my own services & ask for my own salary or any part of it is awkward business and I must soon be exempt from it or quit the field. I could go out in God’s great name and raise for the cause of the Anti-Slavery Missions $50 to $75 per week or perhaps more but would of course require to be properly accredited.

Of late I have felt that my services here were not half appreciated by your committee and in fact that there was very little sympathy or interest felt in this direction [with] regard for the honor and success of the Am. Miss. Asso. [American Missionary Association.]

Aug 30 1851 2

has hitherto prevented me from making appeal to the public for the means of support while it is publicly known that I am employed by the society as one of its Missionaries. It would necessarily bring censure upon the Board or excite suspicion that all was not right. You see that my position is an awkward and excessively trying one. If the Committee are determined to furnish me but the $200 for the year which has been received it is not right that a Christian public when appealed to should depend on me for information of that nature. The true state of the case ought to be stated in a document sent me by the committee with an expressed sanction of my making up the balance by solicitation or it should be announced in the Am. Missionary. The friends of the society do not send in their money designated for our support because they naturally assume that we are supported and that it is not necessary. I have economized closely & yet have gone in debt over $100 & am plunging deeper & deeper daily. Credit alone keeps my family from suffering. Br. Whipple these things ought not so to be & can not [sic] be so long but I must wait patiently for developments and submit cheerfully to Divine guidance.

Affectionately yours

Hiram Wilson

P.S. Sep 2nd Just arrived in Buffalo. Am over there for the purpose of effecting a loan or obtaining it in some way. How I shall succeed I know not. Trust I have friends in B. [Boston] & if so I shall not [unclear] utterly empty. I am glad that poor David is safe in Canada.  H.W. N. Yor [New York]

Aug 30 1851 3

Brother Whipple, January 1 1851

Buffalo Jan 1st 1851

Rev[erend] Geo[rge] Whipple,

Dear Brother

Your brief but truly welcome letter of the 27th [unclear] containing a Check for One Hundred dollars was received at St Catherines on Monday evening the 30th. Having other business upon the Niagara frontier & in Buffalo to call me this way, I thought but to bring the check to Buffalo where I can dispose of it more easily than at St Catherines. Am expecting to return home tomorrow making some calls at Drumondsville & Hanford by the way. I have nothing of much importance to communicate at present. The winter in this part of the world is thus far unusually severe. I am not without my fears that some of the poor Refugees in Canada will suffer & if so I am disposed to suffer with them.

I have thought some of attending a great Anti-Slavery Convention, that is to come off Syracuse next week, but am yet undecided. By seeing from & having a hearing, an interest may be awakened on behalf of the mission which would well compensate for the time and expense. I would like to have the Comm. [Committee] of the Am. Miss. Asso. [American Missionary Association] as soon as convenient furnish me with a written document or certificate [unclear…]

Jan 1 1851 1

funds to be applied to the Mission and accounted for or remitted to the treasurer for use of the association without turning aside from my appropriate work. I shall doubtless fall in with many persons who on proper representation would take an interest in promoting the object of the Association & to this end I would like to have 3 or 4 copies of the Am. [American] Missionary sent to my address monthly that I can circulate & have well read in Canada, at St C.[Catherine’s] & vicinity. I wish to make the merit of the Cause well known to Ministers & other leading men.

Affectionately & truly yours

Hiram Wilson

Jan 1 1851 2

Brother Whipple, December 16 1850

St Catherines Dec 16th 1850

Dear Bro[ther] Whipple

I rejoice to learn that you are again at your best, having recovered a better state of health. On removing my family from the west to this place I wrote promptly to Mr. Tappan who has there acting in your stead – his letter in reply was duly received but he advised me on writing again to address you.

I have nothing of very great interest to communicate at present. My conviction is that the change of my location is for the best.

Since we came to St Catherines we have been a good deal perplexed, having to board for a fortnight or more while waiting the arrival of our effects & then we found it difficult to obtain a suitable house to live in as about every place as occupied except houses for small families. The change has reduced us to emptiness so that I am under the necessity of asking for some money If the state of the treasury will allow I would like to have sent immediately the amt of One Hundred Dollars if not we can make out somehow with $50 till more can be furnished. I want if possible to avoid running up bells for the mean of subsistence & moreover it is bad economy to do so. A Draft of Certificate of Deposit will

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answer the purpose.

I am aware that the law. [lawyers] have recently had to get out missionaries for Africa and at considerable expense but hope that by this time the treasury has been replenished. Nothing but the crampings of necessity induces me to call for money at so early a date in my services for the Am. Miss. Asso. [American Missionary Association.]

Since my last to Br[other] Tappan I have had much to do with looking after the necessities of the poor. Having discovered that many families as well as individuals were in distressed circumstances I was in trouble with regard to them not having the means of relief in my power & knew not what to do but was about to write to friends in the state of N.Y. for help when Joseph Macintosh of the Society of Friends in Farmington appeared with three large Boxes of Clothing, Bedding [unclear] valued at over $200. He got here last Thursday and staid [stayed] 2 days. I assisted him in distributing among the poor. One large colored family of 4 persons who had just been burnt out and lost nearly all they had have been well furnished from the Boxes. One poor widow with 3 children who were in such distress as to be driven from their house by the cold at, the hour of midnight & for want of food and covering had to take shelter in the house of one of their neighbors, has been supplied.

Dec 16 1850 2

Some lately from the house of bondage and others recently driven by the Fugitive Law from quiet & comfortable homes are sharing daily in our sympathies & the means of relief as fast as we can ascertain their wants and relieve them if it is to be feared that members will suffer even after we have done all we can to prevent suffering.

I find here as in every part of Canada such a multiplicity of colored preachers all wanting a hearing in their turn tho[ugh] generally ignorant & incapable of teaching & edifying the people that the prospect of doing much good by the preaching of the Gospel is not flattering.

Please let me hear from you soon

Affectionately & truly yours

Hiram Wilson

Dec 16 1850 3

Brother Whipple, December 17th, 1851

Rev [unclear] Whipple                     Syracuse Dec 17th 1851

Dear Brother,

With some degree of solitude I take it upon me to address to you a few lines on behalf of the Refugees in Canada. I have spent 15 years among them in labors of charity and good will seeking to ameliorate their condition as a deeply injured people. In doing this I have not coveted ease or reward for myself nor counted

my life dear to myself, if so I might assuage the sorrows of the suffering and gladden the hearts and cheer the habitations of the afflicted and forlorn. My 16th winters campaign in Canada has commenced – commenced I may say with cheering prospect of at least some mitigation of woe and suffering among the sable exiles but unhappily I find myself in lack of the means, needful for the comfort of my family and fellow laborers and for the relief of the poor. I left home a week ago and this morning in quest of aid – left my home and afflicted flock because a powerful necessity has driven me away. I want to get back again as quick as possible to rejoice with the joyful and to mingle tears of sympathy with those of the suffering

but cannot return with means. Having reached Syracuse I find the state of things here much as I had anticipated. Those noble hearted men who are charged in the rescue of the supposed fugitive slave ”Jerry” are heavily taxed in their pecuniary residences and the true friends of freedom and humanity are heavily taxed on their behalf so that I have no courage to ask for help at present in the quarter. I shall probably go a little further east possibly some aid

[ Last 2 lines are cut off]


From other sources I received a little more than $200 which as I informed you I was not at liberty to apply to the support of my family. A year’s experience at St Catharine’s has effectually taught me that I cannot live on but $400 per year unless I can have more I must abandon the field. I had a triple more than that amount from the Am Antislavery Society 15 years ago and my travelling expenses borne when a single man having no family to support nor mission house to sustain now I have a family – a female teacher to board and my house is the house of a worthy minister not in exile who has been driven to Canada by the Hellish national Slave hunt I allude to Rev J. W. Loguen whose wife and family are here. He is not in Canada as an idler but is in the harness of the gospel laboring faithfully as a missionary and but for the hospitality of my house he would have been dejected wanderer a land of strangers. In conversation with Mr. Seoble of London he gave me

as his conviction that I out to have $600 instead of $400 per [unclear] – that at least $100 ought to be allowed to me to entertain strangers mostly from the prison house of Slavery and the escaped victims of oppression from northern states driven over by the fugitive slave enactments. He is not ignorant of my embarrassed condition.

I would like to hear from you at [unclear] 4 or 5 days hence And if the [unclear] please furnish me the $100 due on the last years services it will save me a hand tug at solicitation and will enable me to return sooner and moreover I am willing to continue in the service of the [unclear] but not to be limited to $400

[Lines are cut-off]


With $400 remitted quarterly I would be content with the understanding that I am at liberty to solicit the balance of friends in the state and England. If in the judgment of the Committee these conditions of continued service cannot be acceded to then

I must struggle though the ensuing winter the best way I can and in the spring relinquish Canada forever. If I have reported to you satisfactorily I would like to know it and if not I would like to know it. Please let me hear from you soon. In the cause of suffering here

Faithfully and truly yours

Hiram Wilson


Brother Harned, July 30th, 1852

St. Catharine’s July 30th 1852

Dear Brother Harned (?)

I write to inform you that the box of Bibles Testaments [unclear] came safely

last Saturday. They are highly valued by us, and will not fail to be eminently useful to the mission. We are very glad of Unkle Tom’s Cabin and Jack in the doldrums. The Diploma also of Life Membership is very acceptable. I wrote you I think on the morning of the day of the Box came and would have written again sooner but for want of time. I may have noticed in my last the Dicken Family of Emancipated Slaves from N. Carolina. The two youngest have died and been buried the present week. One about 3 years old the other a babe of 2 months. They have been sick ever since they first came; the rest are all in good health. With regard to the arrival of the Steamer Cherokee in N. York if such an event takes place please in form and see to it that there fair play in respect to the destination of the 32 that were to come on her

from New Orleans. If the colonizers can induce them to go to Liberia they will hold Jubilee over a successful feat of inequity.


Mary Elizabeth informs me that they were all asked in New Orleans, one by one on a [unclear] evening if they would not go to Liberia in Africa in preference to the state of New York and they all answered in the negative that they preferred Going to New York. Don’t fail to keep your eye on them for good if they came.

We are to celebrate the first of August here on

Monday afternoon.   Faithfully and truly yours

Hiram Wilson


Brother Whipple, July 5th, 1852

St. Catharine’s July 5th 1852

Dear Brother Whipple

Yours of the 29th [unclear] with a letter from Milford N.H enclosing $10 came daily to hand. The money is very acceptable and will be applied according to the wish of the Donors. We have exciting times here last week. The colored people were [unclear] by mob violence from ruffianly whites, and many houses were

badly injured. Windows broken and property destroyed to a considerable amount. Several persons were wounded and one colored man nearly killed but there is some hope of his recovery. I have no time to give you particulars. We are all in usual health endeavoring to do our duty. On Friday Morning last an interesting colored girl arrived not quite 14 years of age direct from New Orleans. A southerner brought

her to the North to wait on his daughter and sister and at Buffalo harbor she soon found her way to A British Boat and came down to Chippawa. She has now the prospect of being educated for usefulness in the land of freedom instead of living

only to subserve the base purposes of speculation and lust in the great Southern Brothel.


Young as she is she has been sold 4 times. Her master came down to Chippawa and

Brought a Lawyer with him from Buffalo to try and recover her; pretending that she

was a free girl or that he was going to free her in New York. Such palaver would

not do and he was completely failed in his attempts. His presence in Canada on such business caused great excitement. It is said he offered a thousand Dollars for her delivery on the American Side of the Niagara River. Hail Brittania Happy land!

I send you her with, by request of Bro. WM E. Holbrook, a slip of paper containing  an acknowledgment of money which he would like to have inserted in the [unclear].

Br H. spent last winter in Norwich and has done much good there. He has been to the East and but recently returned with his family consisting of a wife and one child. They spend nearly  a week with us on their way to Norwich

Faithfully and truly yours

Hiram Wilson


Canada Mission, May 19th, 1852

Canada Mission

Finances for 19th of May 1852 to the present time

To mission debt [unclear] forward ———$18:00:00

To Boarding and furnishing on Exile Minister

Seven Months ———– $25:00:00

To Board of Female teacher and other Exile of School 6 Months – 18:10:00

To Paid Teacher to defray travelling expenses — 4:10:00

To Travelling Expenses of self and wife in Canada — 5:15:03

To Travelling and other expenses in the United States – 15:10:00

To exp. Of Freightage, Postage and appropriation —– 15:19:041/2



By personal [unclear] at the East                            68:14:031/2