1869 Autograph Letter Signed by former Hawaiian Medical Missionary Seth L. Andrews

Across four full pages, a semi-autobiographical letter from Seth L. Andrews (1809–1893) who was a native of Vermont, a graduate of Dartmouth College, a Hawaiian medical missionary for many years, and then, a physician in Romeo, Michigan in the closing decades of his life.

Dr. Andrews here writes to an A. Andrews Esq., likely a distant family relation, who has enquired about the doctor’s life story and family details for a genealogical “work” he is compiling.

Dr. Andrews obliges, first noting his graduation from Dartmouth in 1831, his medical degree from Fairfield Medical College in New York in 1835, and his departure “…with my wife and thirty others for the Sandwich Isls. [Hawaiian Islands] where I resided until the fall of 1848.” His missionary service ended because of poor health, but he eventually settled in Romeo in 1853 to begin his private medical practice.

Dr. Andrews’ son, George P. Andrews, also a physician, is Professor at Detroit Medical College: “He has for some years had the principle editorial charge of a the [sic] ‘Detroit Review of Medicine and Pharmacy.’” Dr. Andrews mentions that there are several other physicians in Michigan named Andrews, at least one of whom he believes could be a close relative as the man resembles his father. Dr. Andrews also mentions his brothers Edmund and George.

Seth L. Andrews was born in Putney, Vermont. In 1836 he married Parnelly Pierce and they departed that year for Hawaii as part of the third missionary reinforcement of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. According to a memorial of his life: “He was located at Kailua, Hawaii, where he found a comfortable home in the stone house built by Rev. Attemas Bishop. His work as physician to the mission families on Hawaii involved, however, frequent arduous and even perilous journeys by land and by sea, which told severely on his health. He was accompanied, of necessity, on many of these journeys by his wife and one or more infant children, and so, probably, experienced more of the hardships of missionary life than any other member of the mission.”¹

In his retirement in Michigan, Andrews maintained a collection of Hawaiian artifacts such as plants, minerals, shells, textiles, etc. that he gathered in his missionary days.


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