1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.
1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.
1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.
1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.
1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.
1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.

1892 JOSEPH H. LAMB [b.1815]. Diary of An Aging Pioneer New York Methodist Camp-Meeting Preacher.

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Wonderful journal and diary of Rev. Joseph H. Lamb [1815-1900]. The Black River and Northern Conference Memorial [1923] contains a wonderful sketch of his life; excerpts are as follows:

Our Boanerges is gone. For 85 years he stood like an ancient tree, a faithful guide to his generation. His personality was so unique that it will continue the center of delightful recollections. The records of his ancestry need not be repeated here. However, his grandparents were born in England, married in Halifax, Vermont, and died in Mexico, N.Y. Brother Lamb was the eldest of five children, and was born in Mexico, N. Y., January 1, 1815.

During a wonderful revival of religion in Colosse, N. Y., in 1830-31, still treasured in the traditions of that town, Joseph H. Lamb, with many of the substantial members of the church at Mexico, was converted. That glorious event became the basis of his uniform piety and success as a preacher of righteousness. Enthusiastic as he was, experimental religion was more than mere enthusiasm to him.

His ministerial record appears in the following order:  His license to exhort bears date, July 17, 1837, given by Jesse Penfield; renewed July 16, 1838 and May 18, 1839, Isaac Stone, presiding elder. His license to preach was issued September 7, 1839; renewed July 17, 1840, and again July 21, 1841, Gardner Baker; presiding elder. At the sixth session of the old Black River Conference, held in Rome, N. Y., 1841, Bishop Soule, presiding, J. H. Lamb appeared, with six others, with his recommendation for reception into the "traveling connection" of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Of his six associates all preceded him to their reward.

Brother Lamb's entrance upon the Christian ministry forms an interesting epoch in his history. Results clearly demonstrate the genuineness of his call.  His ardent fidelity and holy solicitude did not pass away with the ardor of young manhood, but gave character to the labors of half a century, and were conspicuous in the closing years of his long and useful career. Heroic incidents attended the ministry of this pre-eminently gospel preacher.  His clear personal experience, his persuasive, convincing power, his remarkable expectancy of success, made him one of the most evangelical preachers of our Conference. To trace his ministry from Liverpool, N. Y., in 1841, to Whitestown in 1887, would be a record of ability, devotedness and success.

He was unobtrusive, but prompt, modest and self-respecting.  The virtues of a noble Christian man were well assembled in him, and well expressed. Ruggedness of thought and speech was qualified by sentiment, sympathy and spirituality.

Through his long ministry of more than half a century, the intellectual, the accurate, the aged, the young, the careless, the solemn, felt the stimulus of his presence. His sermons were clear, logical, unique in form and attractive in delivery. He preached as if by a recent commission from God which impelled him with a sacred boldness. Expository preaching had for him all the force of a habit. He had a rare voice - esonant, musical, effective and persuasive. In his palmy days his strong body shook with emotion when swayed with the intensity of his feelings as he spoke in quarterly and camp meetings. There was a sense in which Brother Lamb was a popular preacher, though he detested those artifices by which some would attract the idolatry of their congregations.

During his term as presiding elder in Ogdensburg District, in 1859-62, he was justly credited with administrative skill, shrewdness in management, sagacity, judicious treatment of preachers and churches, breadth of vision and self-reliance. Though he had astute leaders as his associates, Brother Lamb upheld the dignity, prestige and intelligence of his office and its functions.

But superannuation came; not, however, to find Joseph H. Lamb a cynic. The entries in his journal concerning the present, show that he took a very hopeful view of society. With recollections of the heroic days of Methodism flashing before him, he had the largest sympathy with the young people's movement of the times and gave it his fullest endorsement. He had cheer for every reformer. He did not sit in sackcloth amid the ashes of the past.  He hailed every advance, and prophesied better things. In the interest of Christian education he gave practical and substantial proof.

Age made him benign and noble, serene and beautiful. Indeed, he never grew old. He was an incarnated sunbeam. In every manly soul he found a congenial comrade. Who can forget his Conference love feast testimony, given Sunday, April 22, 1900, at Rome. It was itself a psalm of life. His last public testimony given in his home church at Mexico was especially edifying and stimulating. In it he declared his abiding and adequate trust in God, in the nobility of the Christian ministry, and the outlook of the church of Jesus.

Brother Lamb was twice married. First, February 27, 1838, to Miss Laura Barnes. To them were born four children, all of whom long since passed to the excellent glory, and lie in their respective graves in Ogdensburg, Theresa and Mexico, N.Y., and Newark, N.J. After sixteen years of happy wedded life came his inconsolable grief. Then May 25, 1855, a charming union was formed with Mrs. Arvilla Loveys, widow of the Rev. Jonathan Loveys of the Black River Conference, which continued thirty-seven years, when he was again called to mourn and his home thrown into desolation.

After a sojourn of a few years in Utica, N. Y., this venerable man of God, now homeless and childless, wended his way to the town of his nativity to spend the evening of his days amid the scenes of his childhood. On Friday, June 8, 1900, as a result of a fractured hip, after two weeks of suffering, his soul sprang upward into the depths of heaven to follow infinite day.

Men will never lose confidence in the possibilities and glories of the unselfish life as long as the name of Joseph Henry Lamb is remembered.  He is chanting the doxology in the noon-days of eternity. "He has passed up to be a prince in that land to which pilgrims carry only what they know and what they are."

The diary itself is a mid-19th century Album of Friendship which has been repurposed and contains his memorandum of people, events, etc. from the twilight years of an elder-statesman of New York Methodism. The notes cover from 1892 through to 1895 or so.

In it, he makes mention of:

Mexico [New York] 4th Quarterly Conference, Northern New York Conference April 18th, 1894 in Ogdenburg – President Goodsell.

The death of Mrs. Lamb, January 2, 1892. J. H. Lamb, Executor.

Preaching at the YMCA [November 5, 1892]

His personal confinement because of an injury to his ankle. “From Jan 29 to March 16, I was confined to my room with rheumatism in my right ankle and foot. 47 days is the longest time I can remember of being shut up in all my long life. On dry dock for repairs. I trust this sickness will do me good. For 53 days I was not able to go down to meals.”

The death of an old miser of Utica. “April 8, 1893 [on the death of Mr. Holgate]. He never married and was about eighty years old when he died. His disease seemed Jaundice. He was as yellow as a saffron boy all over. It was quit a job to take care of him in his last days and there did not seem to be any one of his relatives willing to do it. I don’t think I ever saw a man die that had less friends to mourn his loss than he had.”

Account of I. L. Hunt, another pioneering Methodist of New York. April 10, 1893. “At the Methodist Preacher’s meeting today, Rev. A. E. Corse and myself were appointed speakers at this service. Br. Corse took up the condition of the Church over the country when Br. Hunt [Rev. I. L. Hunt*] began his ministry, also some reminiscences of his early life, also the appointments he fille during his years of service. In my remarks I spoke more particular of his character, of his life, also of his peculiar way of presenting the truth, also of his love for the doctrines of the Methodist Episcopal Church, his remarkable sermons and exhortations and camp meetings and elsewhere, his preaching a remarkable sermon at Potsdam on the weakness of the Law and the grace’s superiority to it, etc.”

A solid recipe for “A Good Linament,” including beefs gall, kerosene oil, and hartshorn, etc., he says it has helped his rheumatism.

A rather painful self-reflection, he actually titles,”My conflict with myself.” “This afternoon I am in quite a quandary about starting for Conference tomorrow. The weather is so cool and unsettled and the distance through the Adirondacks is so far. And we shall probably have to ride one hundred miles where the snow is a foot or more deep and the air must be chilly. Then again I cannot get on my boot on my right foot yet and I fear I cannot protect it sufficiently from the changes I shall be subjected to. Another thing, I am as tender almost as a child. I have been shut up in this warm room nearly three months and when I go out I am sensitive to the cold. I very much dislike giving up going. It will be the first conference I have missed in 52 years. But if I should go and take more cold and come home sick, who will take care of me?

I think it takes a good deal of patience and grace to take the infirmities of old age cheerfully. I mean to be resigned to the will of God whatever His will is.”

He then attends conference with just one boot! “I went to the Malone Conference with only one boot. The other foot was well protected with a good stocking & sock and a large felt overshoe.”

An account of a great storm, beginning with the Scripture verse, “The floods lift up their voice.” “The old Mohawk is booming. It has rained almost incessantly for 24 hours. In the west very much damage is done. The Mississippi is overflowing its banks and carrying off bridges, houses, cattle, and the paper says it looks as if the River would change its bed. I went down to the Mohawk River this forenoon to see the water. It is very muddy & high and runs fast. But I have seen it some higher than it is now because it did not run over the road between Utica & Deerfield Corners.

But the rainfall was very general over the country, north and south, east and west. Even in Chicago where the great World’s  Fair is being held. But on the day of opening it was cloudy, but did not rain much if any. This wet spell puts the famers back in their spring work very much.”

He records a brief history of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Mexico, beginning in 1808, the Black River Circuit, hiring of the first pastor, what he was paid, etc.

Plus accounts of another “Great Fire” in Utica, which saw the loss of J. B. Wells dry good store, loss of $250,000 in goods, etc. And a few days later, another! [was there an arsonist in Utica!?]; a wonderful account of “The Great Horse” being displayed in Utica; 2,550 pounds, 22 hands high, 12.5 feet long, etc, “He is a monster!” The horse was on its way to exhibit at the World’s Fair; His account of seeing “The Old Norwegian Boat [a boat built in imitation]” that crossed the Ocean before Columbus passing up the Erie Canal on its way to the World’s Fair; an account of his call to preach in Little Falls [1893 . . . will he wear two boots!?]; his preaching at the “Old Ladies Home” [he called it that, not me]; the Oneida County Fair; purchase of a new buggy to be made by Lewis Miller of Mexico, New York; attends the opening of the Folts Mission Institute in Herkimer, New York; moves back to Mexico, N.Y. and is hoping to be a help in the local Methodist church; attends various Camp Meetings; account of Mrs Kelley of Scriba, NY who was convicted of 2nd Degree Murder and sent to the State Prison for life; a bank robbery in Rome; An account of the opening the World’s Fair in Chicago, etc. etc. etc.

The album worn, as shown. Some stains, very legible. 61pp of text in Lamb’s hand. Appears complete.

*Rev. I. L. Hunt was an influential New York Methodist pastor, camp-meeting preacher, Presiding Elder, and pioneer.