Reverend Leonard Smith Diaries Collection

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Lowe, Blanche Beal
Smith, Leonard Francis, 1838-1874
Reverend Leonard Smith diaries collection
0.5 Cubic feet 1 Volume, Typescript (contained within a Hollinger Box)

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Leonard Smith was born on May 2, 1838, at Fiddler's Green near Ancaster, Ontario, Canada West (C.W.) He began preaching for the Methodist Church on July 5, 1857, with the Gainsborough Circuit in Ontario and was eventually transferred in 1860 to the Jacksonville area in Illinois. He became a United States citizen on March 26, 1866. He married Bridget Ann Lowe on September 10, 1863, and they had six children. He died, probably of tuberculosis, on November 18, 1874.

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Scope and Contents note

This volume contains the typescript of the diaries of Reverend Leonard Smith (1838-1874) dating from 1859 to 1874 (diaries are missing for years 1861, 1864, 1868, 1870-1872). They were transcribed by his nephew's wife, Blanche Beal Lowe, who has also included photographs, legal documents, correspondence, maps, biographical information, genealogical charts, and an index of names.

Reverend Smith's rich and interesting diaries begin with his youthful enthusiasm for the ministry and for life and end nine days before his premature death with his growing preoccupation for his health. The nightly entries trace his life from his early ministry through his courtship, marriage, the rearing of his children, and a brief try at selling wares in a store in his last two years. The entries contain comments on the weather, his health and medical treatments, his expenses, his circuit riding duties, the political situation (Civil War, slavery, Lincoln's election and assassination, female suffrage). They also contain much introspective thought on divers theological and secular questions. Some of the latter ruminations deal with such topics as time, facts, and the depth of the ocean. These diaries are valuable for their ability to bring Leonard Smith to life and for their addition to the social history of the third quarter of the nineteenth century.

Volume Description

•Raw notes by Fay L. Hendry for Reverend Leonard Smith's Diary, February 1977.

•Photo-Leonard Smith, 1856, when on "threshold of his ministry." (ii)

•Forward by Blanche Beal Lowe (v.)

- Smith = Methodist circuit rider

- diary = source of social history and genealogy

- original diary and saddle bags at Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, IL

- biography of L.F. Smith

- Smith placed under Lowe and marry daughter

•Bridget's four sisters (vi)

September 1860, Smith under supervision of Presiding Elder Peter Cartwright, Lowes left Canada, went to Missouri, then Illinois 1862, Smith marry 1863

Smith children

all family members keep diaries

•finished transcription 12-5-1973

1859 Nelson Circuit, 1-1-1859; Ingersoll, 5-19-1859. Began preaching July 5, 1857, Gainsborough Circuit (I) always feel not done enough or nor feel "pure enough," pious enough, etc. $, horse, weather, congregation, sermon topics, people visited, homes stayed in, sell C.C. Advocate, Beauty of Holiness what is life?; Is the soul of Adam immoral? Thamesford, Putnamsville, Ingersoll, Palermo, Bronte, Hamilton, Waterdown •Time (9) •"Fall down and Praise the Lord," "Praise Ye the Lord"; minister throw Bible at sleeping congregation (11) writes letter and receives them # souls come forward; # can't be saved •"Sanctify my soul, quench carnal mind wholly"; list of costs (18) •"Promiscuous" (22) •horse ran away again; visit father in Ancaster (28) •horse ran away again; visit father in Ancaster (32) •horse ran away again; visit father in Ancaster (37) •while eating breakfast "I must die" (33) •church conference (34) •celebrate Queen Victoria's 40th birthday (39) •wanted to go to school - Latin, Greek, Geometry (42) •fall in love? (44) •theological and philosophical problems - "facts" (49) •# people buried in the ground = 128 per (52) Pipers Corners, Sweabord •cultivate secular habits. eg. letter writing and stay at theological studies Rydenham, Burford, Mt. Vernon, Brantford, Cainsville, Hamilton, Princeton, Woodstock, Beachville (54) •Miss Buck loves him! (70) •summarize 1859 (111)

1860 Bluff Dale Circuit, Green Co., Illinois •summarize first 2 years as minister, resolve to improve self (113) •Lute of Zion ?? ; good and bad sermons (114) •mistress had a son (person board with/not actual mistress) (144) •father, birthplace (153) •wants to marry Bridget Lowe (154) •people struck down as not become Christians (157) •against slavery (160) •baths, water (175) •wants to be successful/Yankee side show $.25 (176) •wants to borrow $ to go West; become circuit rider in Illinois (179) •map of Illinois Circuits (183a) •1860 Presidential Election (181) •hear Lincoln & Hamilton (186) •Lincoln elected (207, 217) •received circuit October 16 - lists places (209) •"Time treads in noiseless slippers." (223) •summarize 1860 (235

1861 Missing, transferred to Springfield Circuit

1862 •$414.17 earned for 1861; summarize 1861 (238) •visited Civil War prisoners (266) •trip to St. Louis, cross Mississippi inserts: receipts, The Maids Prayer, Boots and Shoes, How to Read the Bible (267) •more theology, less general information (301) •return Canada for visit (311) •continue studies (326) •teeth (329) •summarize 1862 (351)

1863 •Lincoln free slaves (354) •engaged (355) •He is "like a sponge." (406) •sleep (408) •married, September 10, 1863 (421) •photos often taken (440)

1863 Lost; 1864 Williamsville Circuit

1865 first child dies •gardening; canning (471) •war end (472) •planting, Grant surrender, $ = root of all evil (473) •"Saturday night & I am yet alive." Lincoln shot (474) •travel Canada: birthday, May 2, = 27 (478) •peculiarities of humans = uniqueness (494) •daughter born (508) •sick again, moved again = "woes of itinerant Methodist preacher." (513) •summary 1865: does not like new Girard Circuit (535)

1866 diary lost but notes re: year state Leonard ill & stay with her parents.” new circuit Buckhart (Grove City) •become U.S. citizen, March 26, 1866 (536a)

1867 •son born 1867 (537) •began 1st Diary January 1858; wants to improve self as always (538) •inventions & discoveries path difficult (554) •fear produced by sin-developed more in female; music, intellect, literature o.k., but not dancing (558) •glad a U.S. citizen so can vote (575) •against female suffrage, caused by excess of females, premature, dethrone her (594) •"talked to a strange congregation under a big oak."; dust wherever you go (600) •63 critical age for male; 47 for female; depth of the ocean; deaths & births (605) •model of a young woman (626)

1868 Diary disappeared; Macron circuit

1869 •another child born (643) •dug a well (645) •green spots = good time in life (650) •hats; penmanship (657) •disappointment (673) •house cleaning, white washing, etc. (680) •wallpaper (681) •fix up house (710) •son born, November 23, 1869, cluster of circumstances (720)

1870 Diary disappeared, Macron circuit

1871 Diary disappeared, Perry, Pike Co.

1872 Diary disappeared, except for few notes from March, Grove City

1873 Edith born, Bridget write in diary; animals give birth, die, get sick, cow freeze nose, (735-739) •wife ill (751) •value of pictures; brief selling stint (821) •value of pictures; brief selling stint (834, 838)

1874 •decided he has TB (889) •cried over his illness on return from Canada to home writing peters out (892) •Reverend Leonard Smith (1838-1874) died November 18, 1874 (901b) Bridget Ann Lowe Smith (1841-1941) Kittie Grace (1865-1932); Jesse Lowe (1869-1934)

Afterword •rest of family, diaries, memoria, documents, letters, reminiscences; lists of children (902) •Kittie drown self; Clarence a merchant (903) •Jesse – teacher (904) •Edith – marry (905) •Lennie, sing, marry (906)

Correspondence from or to Bridget & other family members

Genealogy charts

Index of names

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Revision Description

 updated related archival content March 2013

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Custodial History

Gift of Blanche Beal Lowe, 1974-03-04.

Existence and Location of Originals

Original diaries located at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, 112 N. Sixth Street, Springfield, IL 62701.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials

See also Lowe family papers, 1870-1975 (00136), at the University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Diaries

Personal Name(s)

  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865


  • Frontier and pioneer life -- Illinois
  • Itinerancy (Church polity) -- Methodist Church

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Collection Inventory

Box Volume

Diaries 1859-1874 of The Reverend Leonard Smith - Circuit Rider (LCCN 73-92916) 

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