To the Board of the Oberlin Education Society

23 September 1840


[In Oberlin College Archives, 7/1/3]


On 11 February 1840, James Harris Fairchild, a young professor in the College, wrote to his fiancée concerning Finney:

I wish you could have heard the prayer he made in our faculty meeting one night this week. Let me give you a sketch. He was fatigued with the labors of the day & spoke very gently in a simple hearted manner as a child would talk with its father. He commenced by making a consecration of himself & family to God, & then says, "Lord thou hast lent a few things to thy servant to use. I do not call them mine / [torn] if thou hast need of them for any other purpose, I will not keep them a day. I can do better without them. There are poor students here that are trying to get an education to labor in thy cause, & now Lord I have just given to the Board of Education the sofa in the parlor & the chairs / shall they have the carpet too? -- We can do very well without these, & is there anything else of which thou hast need? There is the cloak that thy servant wears. Lord, thou knowest I have always been ashamed of it. I have carried it to meeting & brought it back under my arm many a time, because it was too good for me. Thou knowest Lord I got it to wear in N. York, & my wife & friends tell me it is just what I need, but Lord what can I do with it?" In this style he went on to mention all his property. The next day his fine cloak & splendid wrapper & his wife's gold watch went into the treasury of the Education Board. He does not seem fanatical, but perfectly rational & simple hearted.


The following notice appeared in The Oberlin Evangelist, 20 May 1840. p. 88, over the signature of "L. Burnell, Act'g Treas." under the heading "RECEIPTS OF THE OBERLIN BOARD OF EDUCATION --Since 1st January, 1840."


Oberlin, Rec C. G. Finney--1 Spring Cushion Mahogany

Sofa; 6 Cane-Seat Curled Maple Parlor Chairs

Broad Cloth Cloak; 1 Goat's Hair Camblet Wrapper*


*These articles are yet on hand for sale.


Finney's wrote to the Board as follows:


To the Board of the Oberlin Education Society.

Dear Brethren.

I gave some time since to your

Society the following articles which have not

been disposed of, & as they are not likely to be

I will must keep them. But in their stead I

will give the following sums, per Draft upon

the Treasurer of the O.C. Institute.

The sofa several years since cost $40. worth now. 30.

The Cloak - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - worth - - 20

Wrapper - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - worth - - 10

6, Chairs - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - worth, 10



Treasurer of the O.C. Institute. Pay the

Treasurer of T Oberlin Education society

seventy Sixty Six dollars & charge the same to my acct.

Oberlin 23d Sept. 1840. C. G. Finney.



P.S. I gave still more recently to your

society two pairs of fine Boots, or rather

sent them to the shoe store to be sold for

the benefit of your society. Whether they

have been sold may be learned by

inquiring of Br. Scrantum.

C. G. F.


The following notice appeared in The Oberlin Evangelist, 7 October 1840, p. 168, under the heading "RECEIPTS OF THE OBERLIN BOARD OF EDUCATION --Since August 12, 1840."


Oberlin, Prof Finney--instead of Cloak, Wrapper

Sofa and Chairs presented by him some

time since, but not disposed of $70.00


Oberlin, Prof Finney, 2 pr new boots.



Fairchild to Mary F. Kellogg, February 11, 1840, in Fairchild-Kellogg Letters 1838-1841, Oberlin College Archives, microfilm. Extract published, with minor alterations, in "Professor Finney gives his coat" Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 2 (November 1923), p. 10.