I recently stumbled upon a reference to Noah Murray and Moses Park in an 1830 issue of the Evangelical Magazine and Gospel Advocate. The Magazine and Advocate was a weekly Universalist newspaper published in Utica, N. Y. Murray and his convert Park were the first Universalist preachers in Bradford County.
A “J. T. Parker” of Clarendon, Vermont, had placed the following notice in the paper:
“As the writer of this is now engaged in collecting an account of the lives of deceased Universalist Preachers, he respectfully requests of Universalists in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, to transmit to him at his residence in Clarendon, Vt., any information they may have or obtain, relative to the following individuals, viz. Eld. Noah Murray, Murraysville; Moses Parks [sic], Sheshequin; … [and several others]
“The lives of these, and of others… who publicly advocated and adorned the doctrine of the restitution, the public and their relatives are requested to forward to the subscriber, with such information as they are possessed of relative to the time and place of their birth, the situation of their parents, the cause of their embracing the doctrine, the time of their commencing, and the manner of their preaching, what were their moral characters, where they died, whether they left any writings in defence of the doctrine they advocated (published or unpublished) and such other particulars as may be thought to be interesting.”
Excited about the prospect of learning more about these two important figures in the early history of our congregation, I began “Googling” J. T. Parker. Did he publish his proposed volume? If so, is it available somewhere?
I found him in the Gospel Anchor in 1831. The Gospel Anchor was another Universalist weekly, published in Troy, N. Y., and edited by the Rev. I. D. Williamson. There were dozens of Universalist newspaper in the 1830’s and 1840’s, most of which lasted only a few years. The established newspapers regularly printed announcements about new publications, usually with some editorial comments. In this case, the comments were rather harsh:
“Genius of Christianity and Harbinger of Peace. – We have received the first number of a paper bearing the above title, and published at Castleton, Vt., J. T. Parker editor and proprietor. In the number before us, the editor murders English with a sleight of hand which we have rarely seen surpassed. We have been able to find but few sentences, in which some of the most simple rules of grammar are not violated. We know not but this mistaken youth may mean well enough, but we seriously think he would be better employed in studying [John?] Murray than in publishing a religious periodical. We have no hostile feelings to gratify against this J. T. Parker, but we feel a deep and lively interest in the honor and prosperity of that holy cause in which we are engaged, and we are certain that a paper of such a character as the one before us, would be worse than useless. As this paper is professedly Universalist, we deem it our duty to inform the public that this Parker is not and, so far as our knowledge extends, never has been in fellowship with any association of body of Universalists, and very serious doubts are entertained, whether he could gain admittance to any association, the members of which are acquainted with him. We wish to be distinctly understood that the labors of this man, are not sanctioned or approved by the denomination of Universalists…
“We wish the editor no harm. A few years study, a careful attention to his life, considerable more humility, and much less vanity, may at some future time, ensure him the confidence and fellowship of Universalists. – W.” [The Rev. I. D. Williamson]
I’ll look some more, but I suspect that Mr. Parker’s career in publishing was very brief and that his proposed collection of preacher biographies never materialized.