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Title: Craig, Rev. John to , 1734-70
CollectionIrish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan. Letters and memoirs from colonial and revolutionary America (1675-1815) [K.A. Miller et al.]
SenderCraig, Rev. John
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationreverend
Sender Religionunknown
Recipient Genderunknown
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count5300
TranscriptRev. John Craig Memoir, 1734– 1769/70
America was then Much in my mind accompany’d with this Argument, that Service would be most pleasing and acceptible, where most Needful & wanting, which rais’d in me a Strong Desire to See that part of the world But I had Resolved Never to be Rash in determining affair<s> of weight<y> importance any more, and began to think of that affair deliberatly. to Leave my Dear and most affectionate Parents Now very old, my Relations acquaintances & sweet Companions Some of them very Dear to me with all my prospects of a way of Living and thousands of Dangers & Difficulties appearing in y e way which appear’d hard to Get over, but for these things, my mind was Determined believing it to be my Duty to venture thro all opposition I Consulted my parents & friends who Did not much hinder my Design but grieved at my thoughts of Leaving them but above all I Earnestly Cry’d to God for his Direction that he would Restrain or Encourage me as he saw would tend to his Glory & my happiness Still my mind was steady at that time I had a Dream or vision Representing to me, as it were in Minature the whole that has happened to me of any importance these thirty five years yea the very place I have been Settled in these thirty years, I knew it at first Sight & have Done here what was Represented to me there— But <I> thought little of it then, tho often of it since.—My mind being fully Settled & Determined; I prepared for my long voyage.... Having taken farewell of my friends & Country (no Easie task) we went on board at Learn June: 10: 1734 and in y e kind providence of God Landed all Safe at new Castle on Delaware the 17th of August following being born in the old World and landed in the new the very same Day of y e year and hour of the Day which I then observed. in the Passage I was sore afflicted with Sea Sickness which brought me very Low; but Recovered both health & strength before I Came aShore. I Escaped a very Eminent danger of being Lost in a Manner almost miraculous without any mean<s> but y e Dark & tempestuous night, kind hand of providence <I> lay as on a bed of down on my back, on the Raging being accidently Cast over board in a Wave which tossed me back on y none aboard knew of it nor Did I Speak of e Ship’s Side where I found holds & sprung aboard & <it> to any while at Sea.—this Evidence of Divine Care I ought Ever to Remember with a Gratefull & thankfull heart to his praise & Glory who made the proud wave a bed but not a Grave to Swallow me up without Remedy when I Came ashore I mett with an old acquaintence the Rev Benjamin Campbell then Minister of New-Castle he had been in the Country Some years, and was very kind & friendly to me in Every Respect; he was a very Judicious Gentleman, Gave me a just account of the Country, and with Care advised me to Seek aliving in a healthy place of the Country tho poor; gave me an account of the Ministry and of men of parts among them which turn’d out Greatly to my advanta<ge> he was then Agueish, & died about two Months after Greatly to my Grief The Synod of Philadelphia Mett in September 1734 where I attended having Several Letters of Recomme<n>dation from Ministers in Ireland to their Correspondent ministers here and then had an opportunity to Deliver them they were of service to me for the ministers used me as well as a Stranger Could Expect, on that account— It Gave me both Grief & Joy to see that Synod, Grief to See their Small Number & mean appearance, Joy to See their mutal Love & good order; & men of Solid Sense among them & Steady to ye Presbyterian Principles & against all innovations which began to appear at this Synod from an overture Read publickly by the Revd : Gilbert Tennent Concerning the Receiving of Candidates into the Ministry & Communicants to the Lords table & which he imbibed from one Mr. Freelinghouse a Low Dutch minister which Notions was then openly Rejected, but afterwards prevail’d so far as to Divid the Synod & put y e Church of God here into y e utmost Confusion not yet rooted out tho Endeavoured I now wanted a fixed Residence, finding it uneasy unprofitable & Expensive to wander about. But to find a place healthy where I Could gain my Bread and be under y e care of a minister able to help me was at that time very Difficult.—this I Endeavoured to find at Several places and times for three months, but Still fail’d, which Greatly Distress’d my Mind as if God seem’d to frown upon me and bring me to Misery in a Strange Country among Strangers and vexed me with thoughts of Returning home, as if God had no Service for me here, but Such was the Love of God to me a poor Stranger that he would not Suffer me to Settle, but where I had all the things Desired to answer the Good End Ihad in view; I Saw here that a Steady : Dependence on God far Exceeds humane Wisdom he at Last brought me to a healthy place, an home, a maintainance, a faithfull & able friend a Sincere Christian y Rev d John Thompson of Chesnut level whose praise is Deservedly in y e Church, as e being y ins<t>rument in the hand of God of forming her into an organized Body here, & Defending her while he Lived Now I began to foreget my Sorrow having my home with a poor but akind Stranger, and y e Sweet and improving Conversation of So Good & kind afriend here I Liv’d in Love & peace till ye year 1739 and then Remove<d> to augusta County in y Colony of virginia I taught School one year, and Read two years more Being Still affraid to Engage in So weighty awork & offices But being invited by y e Presbytery I entered on trials & was Licenced by y e Presbytery of Donegal in Pensilvania in y e year but was still more affraid to undertake y e Charge of a Congregation tho Ihad Several Calls Given me, till I was Sent to a new Settlement in Virginia of our own Country people near 300 Miles Distant. they were Encouraged to Settle there by y e honorable S r William Gooch then Governour of virginia a Good man & a father to the frontiers in the Colony who allow<ed> them the Benefit of the act of tolleration. —No Presbyterians being Settled as an organized body in the Colony Since it was first Settled that I heard of. from ye Dream I had before I left Ireland when I came to ye Settlement <I> knew it to be the plot in Christs vineyard where I was to Labour (I must Say I thought but Little of it which perhaps was my Sin) from them I had a Call & Durst Not Refuse it altho I well Saw that it wo[uld] Be attended with many & Great Difficulties; , but Seing this So Clearly to be yt Call of providence and yt I Should not Despise ye Day of Small things, & that He could perfect His strength in my weakness, granting every necessary qualification gift and grace, for Carrying on his own work and Support y e agent Called by him to Do y e work, under Every Difficulty & Danger falling in the way while faith full thus with aSteady Dependence on God for Light and Direction, aid and assistance, prudence & understanding I accepted their Call pass’d ordination trials & was ordain’d as their Pastor & was Received by their Commissioners in ... Dunegal the last of August 1740
This is ye Last Scene of my Life to the End of my 60th year to which all ye preceding part was but as a preparative as to Labour, trials, temptations, Griefs, Dangers, Losses, Crosses &c When I Came to the people of my Charge they Received me in the Most friendly manner, whose friendship (Except a very few) Continued Steady these thirty years to our Mutual Comfort. In this I have been Most happy, but Destitute of all Conversation Direction or Advice of Fathers or Brethren for more than ten years being about 200 Miles from ye Nearest Presbyterian Minister the place was a New Settlement, without place of worship, or any Church order; A wilderness in a proper Sense and a few Christians Settled in it, with Numbers of the Heathen traveling among us, but Generally Civil tho Some people were Murdered by them about that time. they March in Small Companies from twenty to fifty Sometimes more or Less. they must be Supply’d at any house they Call at with victuals or they become their own Stuarts & Cooks Spairing Nothing they Chuse to Eat or Drink in the house and Carries with them bread and Meat as they please which was trouble Some times Expensive & Some times dangerous for they Go all Arm’d for war in their way.
A Company passing kill’d Some Cattle & horses, Some neighbours Mett went & Enquired Why they Did So? ye Indians Gave them No answer, but fir’d upon ym the English Returned ye fire made ye Indians give way; in that Skirmish Eight men of ye English were kill’d & Severals wounded, & fifteen of y e Indians was kill’d, ye Rest fled. ye unExpected News Ran Swiftly thro ye Settlement which Greatly alarmed all the Inhabitants alarm Came of 500 Indians at ye Lower End of ye Settlement murdering all they Could Next Day a more dreadfull find about ten miles off the people gathered together & all yt Could Carry arms went to meet them & happily found ye report false but ye Cries of women & Children Left without any Defence to Depend on was very Shocking to me thes times was Distressing, as we were far from Zidon, few of our Selves & fewer to Espouse our Cause heartily For these Difficulties I was obliged to bear a part— Another thing that gave me Great Concern, was how to Act So as to maintain Presbyterian order & Rules of Goverment in our Church, So as not to Give offence to y e Establish<ed> Church, and Goverment, with whom I had to Do, and in this Case, providence ordered Matters So that I obtain’d their approbation and Esteem when we were Erected into a County & parish, and had ministers inducted, of which we had two they both in their turns wrote to me Making high Demands, I gave no Answer but Still observed our own Rules where there was No positive Law against them.— Another Distressing affair to me being alone was the Division of our Church, having Seen y e Conduct of ministers and People when I was in Pensyilvania, that Maintain’d these New Doctrines Examined y e Controversie, had free Conversation with both parties & apply’d to God for Light and Direction in yt important Concern, which was Done with time & Deliberation, Not Instantly; I attain’d Clearness of Mind to join in ye protest against these New and uncharitable opinions & ye Ruin of Church Goverment This Gave offence to Some two or three families in my Congregation; who then Look’d upon me as an opposer of y e work of God, as they Call’d it an Enemy to Religion &c. And apply’d with all keenness to their holy & Spiritual teachers, to Come & preach & Convert the people of my Charge & free them from Sin & Satan and from me a Carnal wretch, upon whom they unhappily Depended for instruction to <I> their Souls utter Destruction— they flying Speedily Came and thunder’d their New Gospel thro Every Corner of my Congregation & Some of them had y assurance to Come to my house & Demand a Dismission for Some of my Subscribers who had invited them being tented with these Notions formerly; but Providence So ordered that affair y they Gain’d None of my people more that I know of, my moral Character Stood Clear & Good Even among them but they freely Loaded me with these and ye like —poor, blind, Carnal, hypocritical Damn’d wretch— this Given to my face by Some of their Ministers and when I administered y Lords Supper to my people they mockingly Said to their Neighbours going to it, what are you Going to Craig’s frolick?—I though’t then that God had given me a Difficult plot to Labour in alone, among Strangers, not knowing how to trust any, in danger by the heathen, Reproached by Some of my own people & Nation, our Religion from our own Conduct our Enthusiastick & uncharitable Notions became the Jest of y e wicked & profane, and had not God in his Great Goodness Directed Supported & Encouraged me I would fled from ye place as from an Enemy but I Ever Call’d upon him in trouble, & he Never fail’d to help To Chuse a Session to please ye people & my Self and to unite their affections when ordain’d Cost me much thought and Labour and God Granted that Blessing also which was the Strength & Stay of ye Congregation. it was Large by Computation about thirty miles in Lenth & Near twenty in breath The people agreed to have two Meeting houses Expecting they would become two Congregations which is Now Come to pass (this prior to my Relation to them) That part Now Called Tinkling-Spring was most in Number & Richer than the other and forward & had y e publick managment of y e affairs of y e whole Settlement, their Leaders proud Self interested Contentious & ungovernable all of them Closehanded about providing Necessary things for pious or Religious uses, and Could Not agree for Several Years upon y e place or Manner where & how to build their meeting house, which Gave me very Great trouble to hold them together their Disputes Rose so high Difference happened between Coll John Lewis & Col l James Patton both Living in that Congregation which Continued while they Liv’d Which of them Should be highest in Commission & power which was hurtfull to y but Especially to me; they were Jealous of my interest with the people to Such a Degree that I Could Neither Bring them to friendship with Each other Nor obtain both their friendshipes at once Ever after; they both had Good interest with ye people of their own party; and one of them always by turns bitter Enemies to me which was very hurtfull both to my peace & Interests, they by turns Narrowly watched Every Step of my Conduct— marred my support to y e utmost of their power— usd their interest with y e people to Drive me from the place or Starve me out for want of Support, but to no purpose; for the people always intertain’d a Good opinion of me. My Character alway Stood Clear, tho they hurt my Estate very much this continued for or years till Col l Patton was murdered by the Indians, at that time he was at peace with me after his Death Col l Lewis was friendly to me till he Died here God maintain’d my Cause & Supported me under base & Cruel usage but their wicked Devices Did not Die with them my Estate Still Suffers by it and y e Congregation Continues a vacancy, the old Contentious Spirit Still Remaining amongst them To give one of many instances how basely I was us’d Col l Patton, being a Magistrate, Sent his precept to the Common Constable on £100 penalty to bring me immediately before his worship designedly to fall out on the Sabbath day ye Constable as Soon as Divine Service was <over> Carried me off (I knowing No Cause or Reason for it) as the vilest Criminal when I appear’d before him he asked me Some questions about a Runaway Servant and what he had Reported I had Neither Seen y e man nor knew any thing of y e matter but his Design was to terrify & affront me, and provoke me to Speak Something in passion where of he Might accuse me & drive me from my Charge and all this because I would Not become his Creature to Serve his interest But a Just God, after he had born with him & prospered his Designs for a while Sent a Summons for him unexpectedly suddently by merciless & Cruel officers, to answer more important questions & before a more awfull & Just Judge than he ask’d of me. as to ye other part of the Congregation Now Called Augusta the people Were fewer in Number & much Lower as to their worldly Circumstances; But a Good Natur’d prudent Governable people and Librally bestowed apart of what God gave them for Religious & pious uses, & Now Enjoy y e benefit in a Decent & becoming Manner, to their Great Satisfaction, Always unanimous among themselves Loving & kind to me these thirty years, with whom I Enjoy’d y Greatest Satisfaction & Serve them with pleasure. they Support me under the persecution (for it Deserves No better Name) of these ambitious men of the other part of the Congregation I had no trouble with these about their Meetinghouse but to moderate & Direct them when Mett; they Readily fixed on the place, & Agreed on y e plan for building it and Contributed Cheerfully Mony & Labour to Accomplish the work; all in y e voluntary way, what Every man pleased These hints will Serve to bring to Remembrance the whole Scenes of toil Labour & Suffering; and Satisfaction Comfort & pleasure Enjoy’d till the war brok out when Col l Washington was Defeated at Broad Meadows
What made the times distressing and unhappy to all the frontiers, was the French and Indian war, which lay heavy on us, in which I suffered a part as well as others.
When General Braddock was defeated and killed, our country was laid open to the enemy, our people were in dreadful confusion and discouraged to the highest degree. Some of the richer sort that could take some money with them to live upon, were for flying to a safer place of the country. My advice was then called for, which I gave, opposing that scheme as a scandal to our nation, falling below our brave ancestors, making ourselves a reproach among Virginians, a dishonor to our friends at home, an evidence of cowardice, want of faith, and a noble Christian dependence on God, as able to save and deliver from the heathen; it would be a lasting blot to our posterity. ... They required me to go before them in the work which I did cheerfully, though it cost me one-third of my estate. The people very readily followed, and my congregation in less than two months was well fortified. As to my private or Domestick State of Life, when fix’d in ye Congregation I found ye unseasonable Calls, to visit the Sick, & baptize Sick Children and y e Like; prov’d trouble Some to ye place where I Lodg’d, and Not willing to trouble others I gave the More to my Self; which wearied me of that State of Life. I then purchased a plantation & began to improve upon it, and June 11: 1774 married a young Gentle woman of a Good family & character Born & brought up in y where I was born Daughter to Mr. Same Neighbourhood George Russell by whom I had nine Children Six Now alive and three Dead, & have been both happy in y e Relation hetherto, tho Not without our troubles trials and afflictions our fortunes being Small we Endeavoured to increase it by our Labour Care and frugal Managment which we Cheerfully Comply’d with as our Necessity Required: but God was pleased to try us with many Sharp and Sore afflictions heavy to be born in our persons family & Estate.
Having prepared a little house we Sett up housekeeping having Neither Servant Nor Slave to help us, only Employing hirelings when we Could find them; the toil of Serving our Selves we Esteem’d No Burden.
The first Distressing Circumstance which happened to us was when My wife was Great with her first Child, Coll. Patton Sends ye Constable with a precept of an £100 penalty to bring me before him None of us knew for what I was to be Carri’d prisoner before him; My wife Never having Seen Ministers used in Such a Manner, Was very much terrify’d, fearing Some Dreadfull Evil She knew Not what, to befall me but Go I must & did (but She took uneasier immediately) he had Some trifling questions to ask me. when I had Resolved them he Let me Go, I had about miles home & found my wife in a very Low Condition in which She Continued for five weeks with Some intervall till She was Delivered; During which time almost Every Night & Sometimes for y e Most part of the Night I had to Sit & hold her in My Arms, often not knowing Whether She was Living or Dead and none in the House but our Selves; our Sufferings we Conceal’d as far as we possibly Could, least we Should be made the Jest of Some that waited for our halting. this was hard to bear, but God permitted Some thing harder to follow which Distressed me Even beyond Expression While my wife was in Labour which was tedious and hard I being alone in alittle house, near where She was; Sometimes Reading, Sometimes Meditating, and offering up my Requests to heaven Suitable to my present Circumstances at that time: About Midnight I was Suddently taken with a Stupid Dulness & pressure of Spirit So that I Could not Connect two Sentences, together, Nor So much as bid God bless me, and y e most bitter hatred arose in my mind against y e wife of my Bosom and object of my tenderest Love and the women all of them that was with her that I Could wish’d house & all of them in it in one flame, but I knew not for what Reason or Cause, only my mind flam’d with Rage & bitter Revenge against them: In broken thoughts I Saw my Conduct was Wrong and fain would I have prayed to God to Deliver me from y e power of Satan but Could Not Express one Sensible Sentence. the feurious agitation of mind So weakened & took away my Natural Strength y t I Could Scarce walk, tho I felt Neither bodily pain nor Sickness: when day appear’d I Resolv’d to Run away but knew Not where, Set out but was Not able to walk forty Rod in an hour, but No words Can Convey Just Ideas of that Dreadfull horror anguish & agony I was In, it Continued about Six hours, & went off as Suddently as it Came, tho I was weak for Some time after: the Case happened So that None knew of it but my Self which I was well Satisfy’d with Ever after.—nor Did I Ever before or Since feal any thing Like it and I pray God may Never Suffer me to fall under Satan’s Buffetings any More for it is merciless and Cruel Indeed.
Surely God permitt<ed> Satan to torment fill & inspire me with Evil thoughts & Designs to involve & Drive me into Some gross Sins & wick<ed>ness to Destroy me, Soul & Body here God Let me See, I had No power to Resist him of my Self; but he Restrained him & kept me from the Evil I might have Done, & Desired to Do— I Should have thought Satan took a wrong time and found me at a very Different Exercise from his purpose, yet at once Carries his Designs as far as permitted, and that without any External Cause or means, and in midst of Love & pity for a dutifull wife in pangs of Child Bearing and a keen Desire to See my first Born Had Ever man a more Convincing proof of his own inability against So powerfull & Cruel an Enemy, and more Reason to Bless God who Lead Captivity Captive I was taken Carried off Shut up, but he opened the Strong prison Doors & Set me free again the world about me knowing nothing of it. this happend May 29: 1745 another trial very Sharp in its Nature, but Not like the former My first born died October,4: 1745 being four months & Six days old which was a very Great Grief to us ye parents being again Left alone.
In a few weeks after providence permitted New trials to fall in our way of a Different kind from these mention’d Mares, & Cows y e Best I Could find in y I had purchased a Stock of horses, breeding e Settlement upon which our Little mony was laid out for our us[e] But in two or three weeks they all Died (I mean from the first yt Died to last was Dead) I had Neither Child horse Nor Cow Left me; Now, in Job<s> State Except his personal affliction I must travel a foot for No hor[se] of my property that Came on my plantation Liv’d a bove three or four Days, I had Severals in the wood and brought them home as I had need when y e Rest was dead But all of them Died I Could Not Discover their Distemper tho I Search<ed> with all Diligence their Carcases, Nor Did it Reach farther then my property It was Court time; & we had many Strangers lodged with us taverans being few their horse<s> went & fed with ours when Dying with the Disorder but theirs were all Safe & well: & after Some time when afriend Lent me an horse to Ride it was Safe and well and So of all I had borrowed till Spring but what Convinced me fully, My Brother Liv’d with me on the place and our Cattle pastur’d together a[ll] the Summer, and feed together always Night & Day and Not one of his Die’d tho they Eat that very food that mine had Slobbered upon & Could Not eat when Dying; and they were all fat & Strong would Scarcely Eat fodder ye food in ye woods being then Good, it was in ye Month of December 1745 During that time my wife went & milk’d a fine young Cow that Gave a large quaintity of milk for Supper to our Selves & Some Strangers that was with us we all Supp’d plentifully and by morning light She went out & found that Same Cow Dead Stife and Cold & this put us in Great fear Least ye milk Should have affected us with ye Same Disorder but None of us was ye worse for it, only we feared of it we feared that when the stock were destroyed we might Suffer in our persons Nothing Else being Left us; but our fears was mercifully Disappointed and our wordly loss gave us little trouble when we ourSelves were well. But that winter was Spent by us Melancholy Enough It was then Reported that ye Cattle was kill’d by witch Craft, and indeed for Several Reasons that appeared to me in observing that Scene of affairs I Realy thought then & Now; that God had permitted Satan and his Emissaries to Destroy them to try my patience and Dependence on God: but I Conceal’d my opinion Carefully Guarding my whole Conduct to my power So as Not to give offence to God or man; well knowing the Divel had higher Designs than to kill Brutes.
Another Report was Raised that I used Charms and named Neighbours as the instruments of our loss both these were Directly false; yet more Effectualy answered Satans Designs against me; as it open’d a door for Some of my Adversaries who watched my Steps to alienate y e affection of my friends; who Speedily improved ye opportunity thinking they had now Gain’d their End Immediatly by their authority Call’ed and qualify’d wittnesses to prove these Charges against me Contrary to Justice or Equity as being both the accuser & Judge but Greatly to my advantage, as they Could find Nothing against me themselves being Judges which both Confused & disappointed them Greatly, hoping by that means they Could have Driven me away with Shame & Disgrace, which they Desired to Do. But when my innocence appeared So Clearly the people wondered at my prudence & patience under So many Sharp trials & hard treatment.— [Go]d Continued to Exercise me with trying Dispensations in my family to teach me patience and Resignation to his will, but always mixed mercy & Goodness with Chastisments He took my first Child, & left ye Second with me; took ye third and left ye fourth with me; took ye fifth, and left y Sixth with me: and gave me three More without any farther Breach to this Day. Yet I found ye Lesson not Easy for Nature to Learn: Reason & Religion Could Silence Nature by arguments, But Corrupt Nature Could Yet Sourly whisper in my mind— all I have are his, he may take them all if he pleases— A thought too Sullen to Evidence a free Resignation to y e will of God, which was Real Grief of heart to me, Especially as it might Justly provok even a merciful God to inflict Sharper Corrections to bend my Stuborn mind to obedience, which hitherto (I think) he has most mercifully averted, & Yet brought ye mind to Resignation & Contentment As my family Encreas’ed So Did my Care & Expense to provi[de] for them food & Raiment & what Education I Could afford them as it was both Expensive & Difficult to be had in this Wilderness y e people of my Congregations was all New Settlers, & Generally of Low Circumstances their own Necessities Called for all their Labours, they Could or did Do little for my Support Except a few, and Consequently fell Greatly in arear. Yet to avoid the vile Reproach of Greed Commonly Cast on ye Clergy, & to prevent Reflections of Some who were No friends to my interest, & of the Established Church willing to find any thing to Cast in our teeth of this kind.—I Carefully observed Never to Demand Stipend, or for Marriage, or Supplying vacancies but when, and what they pleased to give, & received thankfully as if it had been a meer Bounty tho I kept a Just & Clear account of what I Received as all my people have freely acknowledg’ed Yet one of my Congregations Refuse<d> to pay their Arear which they acknowledged to be sixty nine pounds after I gave up my Charge of that Congregation Some years I modestly Desired them to pay y Ballance Due this Conduct obliged me & my family to be both industrious & frugal, and God So blessed our Endeavours....