Western Reserve (Ohio) collection  1796-1808
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (5 items) consists of letters, poetry, and memoirs that Thomas Davenport of Antwerp, New York, wrote in the mid- to late 1860s, primarily concerning his religious beliefs. Davenport discussed topics such as salvation, the afterlife, and sin.

In 3 Letters to a niece, a nephew, and his sister Nancy (January 4, 1864-September 20, 1867), Davenport discussed his social activities and provided news about his acquaintances, who included a woman named Emeline (or Emoline) and a man named Erastus Kellogg. He mentioned local news, the cultivation of sugar and potatoes and, on one occasion, some of the effects of the Civil War (May 7, 1866). His letters include a narrative poem about courtship (January 4, 1864) and riddles (September 20, 1867).

The standalone Poem is a 47-page meditation on salvation, judgment, and similar topics, particularly related to the Christian view of death. The poem frequently references Biblical stories of Adam and Eve and Jesus Christ.

Thomas Davenport composed a volume of Memoirs (90 pages) focusing on his religious life, including his "vision of the New Jerusalem" and "treatise[s] on various Subjects." Written in or after 1863, the manuscript intertwines Davenport's religious affirmations, biography, and poetry. The first portion of the book is an essay on the Christian view of sin and salvation, as well as a brief note about Davenport's conversion to Christianity. Davenport also described Heaven, which he called "New Jerusalem," as he witnessed it when he was a young man (pp. 12-14). Along with explaining his own religious convictions, he commented on other religions, including Mormonism (p. 24) and Catholicism (pp. 24-25). After page 34, most of the loosely bound volume is comprised of poems on religious topics and dedicated to friends and family members. The poems are frequently interspersed with brief narrative accounts of Davenport's life, including his work as a clothier's apprentice (pp. 49-51).

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