To James and Julia (Finney) Monroe

17 August 1869


[MS in James Monroe Papers, Oberlin College Archives, 30/22]


James Monroe (1821-1898) was United States Consul in Rio de Janeiro. Interrupting a successful career as a teacher in Oberlin and an Ohio senator, he had gone to Brazil in 1863 after the death of his first wife. But, during a brief visit back in Oberlin in 1865, he married Finney's daughter, Julia. See Catherine M. Rokicky, "Christian Statesman and Reformer: James Monroe of Oberlin, 1821-1898." Ph.D. dissertation, Kent State University, 1996).


Oberlin Ohio, U.S.A.

17th. Aug. 1869.

Dear Children,

We did not write you last

month because we hoped you

were on your way home.

Our commencement is past & as

usual I am made sick.

I have been confined to my

bed mostly for two weeks.

I am now just out of bed

to write you a few lines.

It will not do for me to be here

at commencement. We expected

you this year, & Helen & her

family were all here & I

could not get away.

The theological department

is not given up. I have resigned

& the new professors are elected,

both of them unknown to

either of you. My health has

been quite good until a

[page 2]

few weeks since, when I began to

experience a severe soreness of

the skin & flesh of my right side

& back. This has been much aggra

vated by the excitement connected

with commencement. I do not know

what it is, nor whether it is con

nected with internal inflam

ation. The side & back are very

sore & the soreness is felt inside

but whether from sympathy or

from internal inflamation

I can not say. Helen & her family

are gone. Willy has graduated

& gone. He is going to study law.

Dolson Jr. is engaged as bookkeeper

& weighing master &c. in an

iron foundry in Cleveland.

Helen & family are on Staten

Island with Mother Cox.

The children will proba[b]ly write

you. Norton may be too busy.

We have heard from him yesterday.

[page 3]

They have made him full super

intendent of the R.R. & raised

his salary to $3500 per year.

They hastened to do this because

he was offered the superintenden

cy of the Eastern division of

the Union Pacific. It was so

far away that with his pre[s]ent

salary he prefered remaining where

he is. Mother has been more

nearly overdone of late than

I have known her. She is

getting rested I hope as she

appears better to day. Jenny

Finney is with us at present &

will remain until her Pa. & Ma

return from a visit to Charly

in Oshkosh. Charles & Ange are

expecting to meet you here

in Oberlin & to leave Sarah

with us. But I am writing

too much. God bless you all.

Mother joins in much love to you all

C. G. Finney



[page 4, in the handwriting of Rebecca Finney]


Dear Ones, I see your dear

Father has told you all, & more

than I know. My own ill health

I am thoroughly unconscious of. I

confess to having been low-spirited

since your dear Father has been sick, but

I think that is easily accounted for.

I am glad your visit was not begun

at Commencement time. I think it

the most horrid time that Oberlin

knows. October I hope will be a

pleasant time, and Ange & Charles

would enjoy coming then, very much

better than they would have done at

Com. Your Emma graduated with honor,

and is now visiting at her uncle Norton's.

Miss Rawson still nurses her sore hand

with very little prospect of having

it restored to use. The whole place seems

so quiet and forsaken, as if it

had been deserted forever. Mary Das-

comb is just on the wing for Rio again.

Only waiting a Telegram that the vessel

has arrived, in which she expects to

sail. Good bye. 'Twill not be long now, till we see

you. Much love to your husband & family




At the meeting of the Board of Trustees on August 2, Rev. Hiram Mead of Nashua, New Hampshire, was appointed "to the chair of Homiletics and Sacred Rhetoric"; and President Merriman of Ripon College was appointed "to a chair of instruction in the Theological Department, the more precise designation to be determined upon consultation with himself."

It was further voted that "in case we fail to secure President Merriman the Prudential Committee in concurrence with the Faculty be requested to make another nomination and call a special meeting of the Board as soon as may be to take action thereupon."

William Edward Merriman (1825-1892) had been minister of the Presbyterian Church at Green Bay before being appointed as President of the newly formed Ripon College in 1863 (see History of the City of Ripon, and its Founder David P. Mapes with his Opinion of Men and Manners of the Day [Milwaukee: Cramer, Aikens & Cramer, 1873], pp. 246, 253). He did not take up the appointment.

Hiram Mead (1827-1881) had been a tutor in Middlebury College before graduating from Andover Theological Seminary in 1857. He was a Congregational pastor for ten years before becoming professor of Sacred Rhetoric in Oberlin Theological Seminary where he remained until his death. After Finney died in 1875, he also took over the instruction in Pastoral Theology. He was largely responsible for organizing the memorial meeting that was held in Oberlin in 1876 for Finney; and he was the author of "Charles Grandison Finney" in The Congregational Quarterly, Vol. 19, no. 1 (January 1877), pp. 1-28. See Catalogue of the Officers and Students of Middlebury College in Middlebury Vermont ... 1800-1900, compiled by Walter E. Howard and Charles E. Prentiss (Middlebury, Vt: Published by the College, 1901), p. 138.

That is William Cox Cochran, Finney's grandson, who had just graduated from the College Department. His graduation oration, delivered on Wednesday 4th August, was on "Truth Born of Sorrow." According to a report in the local paper, it "was almost poetic, and the delivery of the oration was very graceful and effective. The speaker gives promise of a brilliant future." The report went on:

The class of '69 took farewell of each other on Wednesday afternoon. The exercises were of the highest order of interest, consisting of music essays and orations. The valedictory by Mr. Cochran was finely delivered, and the final parting of the class was dimmed with tears.

See The Lorain County News (Oberlin), 11 August 1869, p. 3.

Jacob Dolson Cox (1852-1930). He says in his autobiography:

In the summer of 1869, I went to Oberlin and, paying my tuition in advance, entered the Commercial School there. I had hardly begun my studies when I received a letter from mother saying that through her efforts I had been offered employment by the Cleveland Iron Company, and that I should go right to Cleveland and report for duty there. I tried to get the school principal to refund the money which I had paid, but this he refused to do, so I left Oberlin (August 15) on the early train and arrived in Cleveland at six o'clock in the morning. Immediately I went over to the mill, arriving there before the men were ready to go to work. Mr Joseph Ingersoll, who was superintendent and general manager, found me there when he came down and took me out into the mill yard to show me what I was to do. My duties were to weigh the iron ore as it was taken from the vessels and enter the weight of each barrow full in a book. These weights were added up later, and the ore company was credited with the total as shown by the mill scales.

See Jacob Dolson Cox, Building An American Industry: The Story of The Cleveland Twist Drill Company and Its Founder. An Autobiography by Jacob Dolson Cox Sr. (Cleveland, Ohio: The Cleveland Twist Drill Company, 1951), p. 49.

Thedia Redelia (Kenyon) Cox (b. 1804)

Finney's third wife was not in fact their mother, but they always called her that.

Jennie was the nine-year-old daughter of Norton Finney, and his first wife, Jennie. He was married to his second wife Willianna Wallace Clarke in 1862, through whom he had three further children.

Emma Elizabeth Monroe (1848-1939), James Monroe's eldest daughter by his first wife Elizabeth Maxwell.

Probably Lydia E. Rawson, who was a member of Finney's church and an invalid. She had started the Holiness meetings at Oberlin in her house, and "Mr. Finney considered her one of his most valued co-laborers." (see her obituary in The Oberlin Weekly News [27 April 1883], p. 3.)

Mary Parker Dascomb, daughter of Professor James and Marianne Dascomb, was a missionary teacher in Brazil.

The following notice was published in The Lorain County News of September 1, 1869, p. 4:

Miss Mary Dascomb and Miss Greenman have left Oberlin for their mission field in Rio Janeiro. They expect to take ship at Baltimore.

It is probable that they took this letter for the Monroes with them.

The Monroes left Brazil on the 25th September, arriving back in Oberlin on Thursday, 28th October. See The Lorain County News (Oberlin), 3 November 1869, p. 3.