John Heyl Vincent Documents and Images



Ministerial credentials,
1850–1851

On March 17, 1850, just three weeks after his eighteenth birthday, John H. Vincent became an exhorter (lay speaker) in the Methodist Episcopal Church. At its June 15, 1850 Quarterly Conference, the Lewistown Circuit, Huntingdon District, Baltimore Conference, authorized Vincent to serve as a Local Preacher, “so long as his doctrines accord with the Gospel of God our Savior, and he is obedient to the order and discipline of said church.” He retired from the ministry fifty-four years later in 1904.

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Typescript copy of a farewell
address to the Jo Daviess Guards,
April 25, 1861

Reverend Vincent served the Bench Street Methodist Episcopal Church (now First United Methodist Church) of Galena, Illinois from 1859 to 1861. During that pastorate, Vincent met and befriended Ulysses S. Grant. Immediately following the siege of Fort Sumter, Grant raised a volunteer company of soldiers known as the Jo Daviess Guards. On April 25, 1861, as the troops assembled to leave Galena, Vincent delivered a farewell address in the presence of 5,000 onlookers. This copy of the address was typed in 1917.

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Carte de visite of the Bench Street
Methodist Episcopal Church,
Galena, Illinois,
1857–1877

Cartes de visite (calling card-size photographs) were patented in Paris in 1854. Because they were portable and inexpensive, cartes de visite became very popular in the United States during the Civil War. This image of the Bench Street Church was produced by D. H. Lamberson’s Photographic and Fine Arts Gallery of Galena, Illinois. It shows the church as it appeared between 1857 and 1877.

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Letter from John H. Vincent
to Elizabeth D. Vincent,
October 1871

Vincent was a witness to many of the significant events of his day. In this letter to Elizabeth (“Lib”) Vincent, his wife, he discusses the aftermath of the great Chicago fire:

The fire! How fearful! Chicago ruined! All its wealth and glory swept away in forty-eight hours. I go there tonight. Meeting at the Central Rail this PM (in Cleveland). Much loving and much material aid tendered. 100,000 people are homeless! A train leaves here tonight with bread crackers, cheese etc. for relief of the suffering. Men that yesterday were worth thousands or millions are tonight worth nothing. Oh, how well it is to have our treasure laid up in heaven. 

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Photograph of John H. Vincent
in his study in Topeka, Kansas,
1893–1900

Rev. Vincent was elected Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church by the General Conference of 1888. As bishop, Vincent lived in Buffalo, New York (1888–1893), Topeka, Kansas (1893-1900), and Zurich, Switzerland (1900-1904). This image of the Bishop in his Topeka study shows a man who loved books, the arts, and the sciences. He held that “all knowledge, both religious and secular, is sacred.”

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Letter from Jane Addams
to John H. Vincent,
February 3, 1902

The John Heyl Vincent papers include an autograph and letter book containing greetings from seventy friends and colleagues presented to Bishop Vincent on his 70th birthday. The page featured in this exhibition is a personal letter from famous social reformer Jane Addams (1860–1935) who writes: “My Dear Bishop Vincent May I congratulate you not only upon the founding of Chautauqua but upon the very substantial contribution you have made toward educational methods adapted to working people.”

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Portrait of John H. Vincent,
circa 1900–1920

This photograph of Bishop Vincent produced by Johnston Studios (possibly R. W. Johnston Studios of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) shows a dignified elder churchman dressed in his preacher’s frock coat reminiscent of an earlier era.

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