"To my Friends"

25 December 1873


[MS in Giles Waldo Shurtleff Papers, Oberlin College Archives, 30/32]


Oberlin College Ohio.

25th Dec. 1873.

To my Friends who are also the

friends of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Please allow me by this note

to introduce & commend to your

christian confidence the bearer

Prof. Giles Shurtleff; my friend

& highly esteemed ministerial

brother. He will, with your

consent, make known to you

the work & wants of our college

& theological seminary.

Prof. Shurtleff has known hard

service here & in the army

during our deadly struggle

with the slave power. He

knows our principles, our

works, our faith & our wants

& can, we think, be safely trusted

to represent us before the public.

It is not for us to commend

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our Institution as a work of

man &, least of all, as a work

of our own hands. We wish

simply to relate its simple

tale of facts & principles,

together with its present aims

& necessities, & leave you to

judge of your privilege & duty

relating thereto. You are

aware that we have struggled

long & hard to carry forward

this much needed work, &

with no inconsiderable amount

of misapprehension & opposition

confronting us. But the good

hand of God has sustained

the enterprise & we think set

the seal of his interest in it

upon every department of it.

To you who love Jesus it is sufficient

to lay beay before you the evidence

that he wants the Institution

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sustained. We think he

does or we would not

continue our work, & we

also believe that when

you understand the facts

you will deem it a privilege

to come to the front & help

us on with material aid.

God Bless you all.

C. G. Finney.



Giles Waldo Shurtleff (1831-1904) had been at Oberlin as a student since 1853, and had worked his way through the College. He was attending the Theological Seminary, and acting as a tutor in the Preparatory Department, when war broke out in 1861. As Captain of Company C of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment--a company made up almost entirely of Oberlin students&endash;he saw active service in Western Virginia but was captured early in the war and spent a year of extreme hardship in southern prisons. After an exchange of prisoners he was back in the war but had to be discharged in 1863 because of illness. However, when he recovered he returned to the army in command of a Negro regiment. He did valiant service during the rest of the war, being severely wounded, and ending up as a brigadier-general. After the war he returned to Oberlin College where he became Professor of Latin. (See The Oberlin Review, 19 May 1904, pp. 649-50, and 664-669.)

Shurtleff among others had been undertaking agencies to collect funds for many years, but in January 1873 he was "earnestly requested to take a permanent agency for the College with particular reference to the eastern field" (Prudential Committee Minutes, 7 January 1873, pp. 104-105). Again, in 1875, he was requested "to spend most of his time and strength to raising money for the College for five years or until $150,00O are secured." William Bigglestone has written:

Shurtleff was a good selection for two reasons. He was a man of business acumen and something of an embarrassment as a professor of Latin who has been described as having taught his classes like he led his armies during the Civil War. It was a difficult assignment for one who was at his best when physical courage was required. The days of knocking on doors, lonely rooms, waiting for appointments and often turning away empty handed were extremely hard on him. Shurtleff became depressed if he did not see returns quickly, but fortunately others recognized this trait and refused to accept his dark assessment of the situation. Mrs. Shurtleff made certain he knew that John Ellis said he was the only man they had as likely to do well and that William Ryder thought if he gave up it would be as if he had resigned the army during the dark days of the rebellion. Although Shurtleff once weakened enough to ask Representative James Monroe for a foreign appointment to a consular post, he did persevere." (William E. Bigglestone, Oberlin: From War to Jubilee, 1866-1883 [Oberlin: Grady Publishing Co., 1983], p. 29.)

Shurtleff's business acumen and extensive knowledge of the College finances led to him becoming Treasurer of the College in 1887.