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John H. Pitezel papers microfilm

 Collection — Box: Microfilm Cabinet 1--Drawer 3
Identifier: MSS-369

Scope and Contents

The collection includes Pitezel’s correspondence mostly to family and friends (with notes and related materials), journals, and writings (essays and a poem), many of which later became books.

Most of his letters are to his mother, brother, Joshua, and sisters, Caroline and Mary. They detail his religious activities, beliefs, the people and situations in which he traveled, preached, and lived, family news, the weather, and illnesses. He was strongly anti-Catholic and reported often on Catholic missionaries and their missionary efforts. The letters are pasted together with related documents, which makes organizing them a challenge.

His journals span September 1846 through September 1851 and detail his life and work in Adrian, Marshall, Sault Ste. Marie, and at Kewanenon Mission, Michigan, and note his visits to Indian chiefs, councils, and medicine men, as well as stories told to him by Indians.

The writings include six autobiographical and religious essays.

This note is an adaptation of that compiled by the staff of the Clarke Historical Library.


  • 1824 - 1889


Conditions Governing Access

No restrictions. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Please consult the Clarke Historical Library for conditions governing use at (989) 774-3352 or

Biographical / Historical

John H. Pitezel was a Methodist minister who worked in the Upper Peninsula evangelizing to the mining commmunity and the Ojibwa of the region. Born in Laceham, Maryland, on April 18, 1814, Pitezel attended Norwalk Seminary (Ohio) from 1834 to 1836. Pitezel served in the Lower Sandusky Circuit in 1835. He was admitted to the Michigan Annual Conference in 1836 and traveled the Tecumseh Circuit with Rev. Wm. M. Sullivan. He also worked in Adrian and Marshall, Michigan. In August 1836, Pitezel was appointed to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, at the personal request of Superintendent William Brockway of the Indian Missions of the Upper Peninsula. On September 4, 1836 he moved to Sault Ste. Marie with his family. Pitezel served there for nine years. From his diaries of those years he later published his book, Lights and shadows of missionary life: containing travels, sketches, incidents and missionary efforts, during nine years spent in the regions of Lake Superior (1859). In 1844, Pitezel was transferred to Kewawenon, near current day L’Anse, Michigan, and frequently traveled to visit Indian communities at LaPointe, Grand Island and Sandy Lake. Pitezel was also asked to serve as a "roving commission" to establish religious worship among miners in 1846. He was successful at Cliff Mine, organizing a class of 30 men. In November, 1846, Pitezel was appointed to Eagle River Mission, where he organized a class of twelve men. In 1848,the Michigan Annual Conference appointed Pitezel Superintendent of the entire Indian Mission District, as well as pastor of the Soo. He served there through 1852. Pitezel later left the Upper Peninsula and served in Albion, Michigan from 1858 to 1862.

He was married twice, first to Eliza Holdstock (1820- ) in 1838 and in 1840 to Abbey (surname and dates unknown), with whom he had several children. Pitezel died in 1906. His books include: Historical recollections: a paper (copyright 1872); History of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norwalk, Ohio: and the Norwalk seminary (1888); Life of Rev. Peter Marksman: an Ojibwa missionary illustrating the triumphs of the gospel among the Ojibwa Indians (1901?); Lights and shades of missionary life: containing travels, sketches, incidents, and missionary efforts, during nine years spent in the region of lake Superior (1859); and Stray leaves from the budget of an intinerant (copyright 1861).

This note is an adaptation of that compiled by the staff of the Clarke Historical Library based on information from the collection and The Methodist Church in Michigan: The 19th Century by Margaret Burnham Macmillan.


1 Reels

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

Finding aid for original available at;focusrgn=frontmatter;rgn=Names;size=25;sort=occur;start=1;subview=standard;type=simple;view=reslist;q1=Pitezel.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation from Dr. Bernard Peters.

Existence and Location of Originals

Housed at the Clarke Historical Library.

John H. Pitezel papers microfilm
Catherine Oliver
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

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