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Shuler family papers

A collection of one hundred thirteen items chronicles the Shuler family of Lexington County since their arrival in South Carolina from Switzerland during the mid-eighteenth century. The earliest item among the Shuler family papers is a German-language sermon book dating from 1733 in which the name Leonhardt Shuler appears. The collection also contains three early Orangeburg District land papers that are of particular value to researchers since Orangeburg public records for this period were destroyed in a court house fire. The first, 4 June 1787, a grant and plat for two hundred seventy-eight acres laid out to Lewis Clakely, is signed by governor Thomas Pinckney. The second, 3 December 1800, signed by governor John Drayton, grants ninety-five acres of land to Jacob Seigler. The third, 18 June 1802, conveys the first tract of Lewis Clakely's land to Jacob Seigler, silversmith. Another important early document is a petition, 16 August [1812], "To the Revd Members of the Lutherian Convention conveind in Gilford [N.C.]" concerning "the lukewarmness and carelessness of hearing of the Gospel" among members of the faith and urging "that you may make such rules and regulations, to the organization of the Church of Christ, and that there may be an ingathering of thousands of those who are now wandering on the dark mountains of errer to sing His praises in the great Congregation of His people."

In the 1850s William Alexander Houck (1826-1874) attended the Lutheran Seminary, which was then located in Lexington. Courtship letters to Mary M. Haigler of Orangeburg, whom he later married, convey information on the school, 1850-1853, and are descriptive of courtship rituals of the time. Also present is the text of remarks, ca. 1853, made by Houck upon the retirement of seminary professor Ernest Lewis Hazelius (1777-1853). A letter, 19 May [1853], from Houck advises Mary of an invitation from the Rev. [Stanmore R.] Sheppard of Newberry "to come up and spend the vacation with him, and assist in his protracted meetings." Following his ordination in 1853, Houck served Lutheran congregations in Orangeburg and Lexington counties.

The Houcks' daughter Amanda married Dr. Joseph Linn Shuler in 1874. A native of Lexington County, Shuler (b. 1846) served in the Confederate Army, and the collection includes two Civil War letters from himó11 March [1864] and 16 July 1864. The latter, written from Petersburg, Va., and addressed to his mother, tells of the Yankee shelling of the city and Shuler's desire for news and provisions from home. After the war, J.L. Shuler studied medicine at Washington University, Baltimore, Md. His courtship letters to Mannie, as Shuler addressed Amanda, discuss family and social activities and farming. In 1874, anticipating her marriage to Shuler, Amanda decided not to return to Staunton Female Seminary in Staunton, Va. Her decision, however, did not meet with the approval of principal J.I. Miller, who advised her in a 27 July 1874 letter that if she chose to marry rather than return to school she would be committing "a mistake that will be life long in its effects."

Following their marriage, the Shulers lived at Selwood in Lexington County, where one of the principal institutions was St. Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church. Four manuscripts dating from 1896 document a controversy in the church between the pastor and church member George S. Swygert. The church council, of which Dr. Shuler was a member, mediated the disagreement, which apparently was resolved when Swygert sent an apology "for his hasty words in the church and before the council." Of additional interest from that period of time is a letter, 25 June 1898, with attachments, from J.W. Stokes, Orangeburg, complaining of problems with mail delivery between Columbia and Irmo.

The collection also includes texts of sermons preached by the Rev. William A. Houck, 1871-1872. Bound volumes include a field notebook, 1917-1919, with one photograph kept by Master Engineer Karl B. Shuler, 37th Platoon, 56th Engineers.

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