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(MINNESOTA.) Breck, James Lloyd. Missionary letter describing the birth of the pioneering Ojibwe church at St. Columba. Autograph Letter Signed as "Lloyd" to sister Lucy Breck in Bristol, PA. 7 pages, 7 1/2 x 5 3/4 inches, on 2 folding sheets; minimal wear. With original envelope bearing the frank "Ft Ripley" and a stamp with a Philadelphia postmark. Kah-Gee-Ash-Koon-Si-Kage, Minnesota Territory, 18 November 1852
James Lloyd Breck (1818-1876) was an Episcopalian missionary known as the "Apostle of the Wilderness"; he holds a place on the denomination's calendar of saints. This letter was written from the St. Columba mission in Ojibwe territory, where he was attempting to establish what has been described as the first American Indian Christian church west of the Mississippi. Breck describes his location as 150 miles from St. Paul "into the woods," noting that "we have to walk 20 miles to go to the post office." He adds that he will leave soon when a replacement arrives: "My duty as a pioneer of the gospel will be to penetrate yet farther amongst the Indians, or go to the most distant settlements of the whites & preach to them." He discusses at length his only white colleague, the mission's matron Mrs. Eliza R. Wells, "truly an admirable woman, full of energy, well determined & acquainted with the Indian character. . . . She does not know what it is to be afraid of an Indian." He adds that "we have just laid the corner stone of the Indian cch, in which the Indians largely participated and are intending to participate yet more largely in cutting & preparring all the logs required for it."
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