I'm still working on the box of deferred small collections. In this week's processing I read a letter from one minister to another dated 1864 — the same year in which Dickens wrote Our Mutual Friend and General Sherman razed Savannah. In it, Horace Pratt writes to an old school friend, William Mandell. Both men attended Westminster Academy and then Amherst College before separating to attend different theological schools (Union for Mandell and Bangor for Pratt). Rev. Pratt asks his classmate if he knows of any possible leads for a new pastorship. He details some failed leads and talks of working as a supply minister to make ends meet, but he is anxious for a more permanent situation. He says, "To be nearer Boston would be more favorable in respect to Sabbath opportunities. But so it is." He goes on to the more mundane conversation: "We are pretty well save that I have a cold upon me and our little daughter Mary Emma (3 yrs.) is not fully restored from an illness of three weeks past."
Pratt and Mandell's obituary notices from 1902 help give some context to the letter's contents and the two men's service. Pratt mentions a previous placement in Deighton, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Pratt's obiturary did not give details on any dates of service for any of his pastorships. But knowing his full curriculum vitae means we know Pratt eventually worked at the church in Orfordville, New Hampshire. He refers to his classmate living in Lunenberg, Massachusetts, which Mandell's obituary notes is his last church before retiring at age 55 in 1866.
This is just the sort of communication that happens today: old school friends contacting each other, asking if they have any leads on a job, worrying about finding something that fits their needs and will last a while before talking about how their families are faring. Unfortunately, our collection cannot give further clues to Pratt or Mandell's life or works; this is the only document we have where they are explicitly mentioned.