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Jotham Meeker to Rev. Lucius Bolles

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Meeker_1833_11_29
Shawnee Mission, Nov. 29, 1833.
Rev. & Dear Sir

You have doubtless expected to hear from me before this time. The only reason I can give for not writing, is the great uncertainty under which I have labored relative to the place, modes &c. of my labors here. Previous to our entering the Missouri river I had supposed that there were several hundred Ottawas here but was much surprised to learn from a passenger that there were only between 70 & 80 including women and children west of the Missippi river. I find since my arrival their exact number to be 71. Of that number six call themselves chiefs. After making 5 or 6 ineffectual attempts to find them all at home, or in a fit situation to meet in Council, I related to one of the Chiefs my wishes relative to laboring among them as a missionary; to which he replied, that our religion, the bible &c were given to the Whites that we had better attend to, and keep them ourselves that the Inds. had a religion of their own, and they wished to keep peaceable possession of it. The U.S. Interpreter, Mr. Shane, (who is a half Ottawa, and is quite anxious that we get a school among them) then remarked that he would endeavor soon to see all of them together, and speak to them fully of the importance of having a school among them he wished me to say nothing more to them on the subject until after he should have seen them he thinks the other Chiefs are not so much opposed. since which time the Interpreter has been sick, but is now recovering. The Ottawas live on the Shawnee's land about 15 miles west of us, but expect to remove on to their own land before spring. The Board I suppose are aware that in order to get a footing here, the consent of the Inds. is first to be obtained, the Certificate of the Agent is then to be transmitted to Mr. Lee. of Was. and an answer to be received through the Agent; so that after the Inds. give their consent, it will be some two or three months before the buildings could be commenced

On my arrival at Cleaveland from Boston, I found Mrs. M. and Miss Brown enjoying tolerable health, but received the heart rending intelligence that our infant son had been buried about 18 hours previous. After staying two or three days at Cleveland, we set out on our journey, were detained some in waiting for boats, tarried in Cincinnati eight days, came all the way very slow, owing to low water and arrived at our landing on the 2nd ultimo. We were

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heartily welcomed by all of our missionary brethren. We did not commence housekeeping until Br. Merrill & family started up to the Oto country, at which time we removed into the room he had occupied in the Mission house, where we shall probably remain until Spring.

My present intentions are first to ascertain whether or not the Ottawas will consent to our laboring among them as missionaries, then so soon as their exact location shall be decided, to put up a small rough log cabin to dwell in, and perhaps another for a school house, and labor among those few until a door shall open for more extensive usefulness, unless the Board shall direct otherwise; or some other unforeseen occurrence shall prevent. I learn from a late paper that the Chippewas, Ottawas, and Potawatomies, have just concluded a treaty at Chicago that they have ceded to the U.S. all their lands in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois; for which they are to receive in part pay millions of acres on the N.E. side of the Missouri river. Said Inds. are all to remove to this country within three years from the date of the treaty. The little band of Ottawas that are now here own a tract of land six or seven miles square about 50 miles South of the Missouri river, and probably 15 or 20 west of the state. They will I think doubtless remove north of the river before or soon after the others shall arrive. It would I think therefore be best to put as little expense as possible on the buildings now

There are a few Potawatomies also in this country, but they are all united with the Kickapoo Prophets band. I made an ineffectual attempt to secure a place among them for either myself or Br. French, who has a considerable knowledge of their language but was too late. The Methodists are about opening a school among them. I very much regret that we are compelled to sit down here without being able to do any thing among the Inds. while so many are destitute of a knowledge of the Saviour. I have the Press, types, Ink & paper with me, but shall not probably open them this winter. Br. Simerwell & family arrived on the 14th inst. They were detained by sickness. They have rented a house about two miles east of the state line five miles from us. He is now just recovering from an attack of the Billious fever. Br. Blanchard has just returned from Br. Merrells. They all arrived at the Oto Agency without any loss of property, health or other accident. As ever I am dear brethren your obedient servant,
Jotham Meeker.

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