Document 11A: Lucy Woodcock to Harry E. Woodcock, 20 December 1859, Series 1, Subseries 2, Incoming 1859-1909, (transcription in Series IV, Box 5), Harry E. Woodcock Papers, Record Group 30/81, Oberlin College Archives.

Introduction

       Lucy Angela Woodcock, an 1852 graduate of the Ladies' Department at Oberlin College, spent twenty-two years in Jamaica working for the American Missionary Association. Teaching and living with the newly emancipated slaves, she "loved the work of gathering in the children from 'the bush' and training them for usefulness."[18] Like many female Oberlin alumnae, Woodcock combined her commitment to racial equality and her religious orientation in her work as an educator of freed people. Although she wrote little about issues of gender, her sense of empowerment and autonomy comes across clearly in the letters she sent home to her brother, the Reverend Henry E. Woodcock. When he compiled his memoirs in a typescript entitled "My Autobiography," Henry Woodcock included over 90 pages of transcriptions of her letters to him, and donated to her alma mater the originals of thirteen of these letters. Three of them are reproduced in this project (see also Document 11B and Document 11C).

Eliot Station Dec 20th 1859

Dear Brother,

        As I have an opportunity of sending to town in the morning so letters will be in time for the Eng[lish] Packet for St. Thomas and from there to Havana Cuba and then to New York. It will cost little more but we are all in hope that friends will get their letters sooner. I will try this one. The English Packet comes in tomorrow and goes out the 27th next week Tuesday.

        I am here at Eliot[A] just closing my school for the Christmas holy days. I do not expect to stay here much longer. I am to go up to Chesterfield [Jamaica] and teach school for Bro Venning the coming term which will be three months, commencing the first of January, or on the eighth. I have been turning the question over in my mind quite seriously about coming home in the spring for a visit. If I should consult my own feelings and wishes I should say go for a ninth month. But when I see what a breach will be made in the Mission by so many leaving [I] have about given up the idea of coming in the Spring.

        And an other thing. I am wanted again at Sea View[B] as that school has been shut up most of the time since I left almost three years ago.

       If the mission is to do anything at that place they are to take hold of it soon, and I am the only one that can go there in the mission. The great question with me is pleasure to come before duty. I am not sick and if I should go home it would not be after health but to see friends and rest a little, and to beg a good deal for any enterprize at Sea View. It is place where a great deal good can be done, and if I go there to live I shall need a comfortable house to live in. One that will protect me from the rain, so my health need not be exposed to much.

        I suppose some of you have made up your minds that I am coming in the Spring, I know it would be very pleasant to greet dear absent ones again in the flesh. That I leave for the Lord to direct. Say to all friends that if we never meet here in this world I want them to meet me in the world to come--where we shall be united for ever.

        Dear Brother it is six years today since I first caught sight of this sunny isle. I was charmed then by its beautiful mountains and by six years closer contact with them has strengthen the love of them rather than diminished.

        Now Harry I have one serious question to ask you; will you come to Jamaica to labor among this once oppresed people. Mr Hall leaves Brainard in the Spring to go home and not to return again and there is needed a man there of some experience. It is one of our best and largest churches and congregation in the mission. The ministers salary is about 600, per year and a house and several acres of land free - and most of our mission houses are partly furnished by the Station, and various other things included. We have a great many comforts and one of the most delightful winters. You need not be alarmed if you may have a call from the brethren here and the committee in New York to come. Now if you do, do not say no to hastly by way the question well. This thing has been strongly before my mind but for weeks and there is something whispers within that says the thing will be so. That I shall get to see you in Jamaica and we shall labor together for the salavation and elevation of this sunken people.

        If God calls by his providence for you to come here--you must not with hold your self. You are the Lords and it makes not much difference where you labor--I know you would love to labor for this people. I am not sorry that I ever came to this sunny isle of the Sea.

        I wish you all a Merry Christmas in your winter home and love to all and kisses for the children. When I get settled at Chester I will write you a good long letter. I am deep in debt in letter writings. I am well and so are most of the mission. Mrs Douglas has been very sick with the bleeding at the lungs and was in a critical state for a week or more but is much better now.

From your loving absent sister Lucy

 

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A. Lucy Woodcock worked at Eliot, Jamaica with Reverend Loren Thompson and his wife.
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B. Another mission in Jamaica where Lucy later worked.
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