3.01.2016

Eunice White Beecher

Wife of the Reverend Henry Ward Beecher

author and minister's wife
Eunice White Beecher was also author of a novel, From Dawn to Daylight, and several books about housekeeping. Her husband, Henry Ward Beecher of the illustrious Beecher family, became one of the most famous men in the United States during the 19th century.

Early Years
Eunice White Bullard was born August 26, 1812 in West Sutton, Massachusetts, the daughter of Lucy White Bullard and Dr. Artemas Bullard. Eunice was educated in Hadley, Massachusetts. In the meantime, Henry Ward Beecher, almost a year younger than Eunice, had a stammer and was considered one of the less promising of the brilliant Beecher children.

THIS MY 500th POST !

4.05.2015

Charlotte Digges Moon

Lottie Moon, missionary in China

Southern Baptist Missionary to China

Charlotte Digges "Lottie" Moon (1840–1912) was a Southern Baptist missionary to China with the Foreign Mission Board who spent nearly forty years living and working there. As a teacher and evangelist, she made many trips into China's interior to share the gospel with women and girls.

Image: Charlotte Digges "Lottie" Moon (1840–1912)

Early Years
Charlotte Digges Moon was born December 12, 1840 to affluent parents who were staunch Baptists, Anna Maria Barclay and Edward Harris Moon. She was fourth in a family of five girls and two boys. She grew up on her family's 1,500-acre tobacco plantation called Viewmont, near Scottsville, Virginia. When Moon was thirteen, her father died in a riverboat accident.

2.18.2013

Sojourner Truth

image of an itinerant Methodist preacher who became a leader in 19th century social reforms movements
Sojourner Truth was an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist who escaped from slavery in New York in 1826. She began as an itinerant preacher and became a nationally known advocate for equality and justice, sponsoring a variety of social reforms, including women's property rights, universal suffrage and prison reform.

She was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh in Swartekill, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, who were slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. Both the Baumfrees and the Hardenberghs spoke Dutch in their daily lives. After the colonel's death, ownership of the Baumfrees passed to his son Charles.

9.08.2012

Rebecca Jackson

Founder of a Black Shaker Community

Little is known of the early life of Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795-1871), a free black woman who became an elder in the Shaker religion, which was founded by Mother Ann Lee just before the Revolutionary War. At age 35 Jackson underwent a religious conversion during a thunderstorm, after which she became an itinerant preacher and established a black Shaker community in Philadelphia in 1859. There are no known images of Rebecca Cox Jackson.

a Shaker church and its parishioners
Image: African American Church in Philadelphia by Pavel Petrovich Svinin, 1815

Rebecca Cox was born on February 15, 1795 to a free family in Hornstown, Pennsylvania and lived until the age of three or four with her grandmother, who died when Rebecca was seven. From the time she was ten, she was responsible for the care of two younger siblings. Rebecca's mother died when she was thirteen, and she was taken in by her brother Joseph Cox, a thirty-one-year old African Methodist Episcopal minister, a widower and father of six children.

In 1830, she married Samuel S. Jackson, who also lived in the Cox house, and they continued living with her brother and his children. They had no children. In addition to managing her brother's home, Rebecca worked as a seamstress, one of the most common occupations for black women during that period, even after getting married.

In July 1830, at age 35, Rebecca experienced a religious awakening during a severe thunderstorm. For years, her fear of storms had been so great that, "In time of thunder and lightning I would have to go to bed because it made me so sick." On this day, she was unable to contain her fear, convinced that she would die during the storm. In her moment of greatest despair, as she prayed for either death or redemption, she suddenly felt as though "the cloud burst," and the lightning that had been "the messenger of death, was now the messenger of peace, joy and consolation."

After this revelation, Rebecca began to experience visions in which she discovered the presence of a divine inner voice that instructed to use her spiritual gifts. She claimed that in these dreams she could heal the sick, make the sinful holy, speak with angels and even fly. She left her husband's bed to live a life of "Christian perfection." Her inner voice instructed her "to travel some and speak to the people."

At first, Rebecca recounted her visionary experiences and held prayer meetings in people’s homes. She soon developed a large following – inspiring both blacks and whites, mostly women – through neighborhood "Covenant Meetings." She was harshly criticized for "aleading the men" and for her refusal to formally join any church, which several Methodist ministers saw as "chopping up our churches."

Morris Brown, who succeeded Richard Allen as Bishop of the AME Church, came to a meeting led by Rebecca with the intention of stopping her; but after listening to her, he declared, "If ever the Holy Ghost was in any place, it was in that meeting. Let her alone now."

Yet Rebecca was still frustrated by her inability to read and write. Her brother had promised to teach her, but had not been able to do so, being tired every night. She resolved to "not think hard of my brother, … [who] had always been kind and like a father to me." She continued to rely on him to read and write for her. Until she realized he had made substantial changes in letters she had dictated.

7.27.2012

Isabella Graham

Scottish-born Sunday school teacher and charity worker in New York City

Scottish-American Educator and Philanthropist

Isabella Marshall Graham (1742-1814) was a Scottish-born charity worker, educator and philanthropist who founded one of the earliest relief societies in the United States. She was one of the leading figures in the movement to provide assistance to the poor who were coming into American cities in search of work in the early days of the industrial revolution. 

Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, on July 29, 1742, Isabella Marshall grew up on an estate at Eldersley near Paisley. An inheritance from her grandfather enabled her to attend boarding school for seven years, where she received an excellent education. At 17, she became a member of the Church of Scotland under the ministry of Dr. John Witherspoon, later president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

6.24.2012

Elizabeth Ann Seton

statue of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, educator of Catholic chidlren

Educator and Founder of the Sisters of Charity

Elizabeth Seton (1774–1821) was the first native born American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975). She established the first Catholic school in the nation at Emmitsburg, Maryland, where she founded the first American congregation of Religious Sisters, the Sisters of Charity. Her enduring legacy now includes six religious communities with more than 5,000 members, hundreds of schools, social service centers and hospitals throughout America and around the world.

Image: Monument in St. Raymond's Cemetery
Bronx, New York

Childhood and Early Years
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born on August 28, 1774, the second child of a socially prominent couple, Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton of New York City. Elizabeth grew up in the cream of New York society and was raised in the Episcopal Church. Catherine Seton died in 1777, possibly a result of childbirth - their youngest child died early the following year.

2.28.2012

Jarena Lee

first woman preacher for the African Methodist Episcopal Church

First Woman Preacher in the AME Church

Jarena Lee was a 19th century African American woman who left behind an eloquent account of her religious experiences, first published as The Life and Religious Experience of Jarena Lee in 1836 and later revised and expanded as Religious Experience and Journal of Mrs. Jarena Lee in 1849. She was also the first woman authorized to preach by Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Childhood
Jarena Lee was born on February 11, 1783 in Cape May, New Jersey to free but poor black parents. Because of the economic circumstances of her family, Lee was sent off to work as a live-in servant when she was just seven, "at the distance of about sixty miles from the place of my birth."

2.17.2009

Quakers and the Revolution

Quaker founder

Role of Quakers in the American Revolution

Image: Quaker Founder George Fox

The Religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers has opposed war and violence from its inception, and has sought instead to do away with the causes of war and alleviate the suffering it causes. George Fox, the founder of the Friends, preached in the 1640s that there was a divine spark within each person, which means that all human beings are infinitely precious in God's sight, and no one is justified in taking the life of another.

12.20.2008

Ann Lee

leader of the Shakers

Women in Religion: Leader of the Shakers

Image: Mother Ann Lee

The second of eight children, Ann Lee was born on February 29, 1736, in a poor district of Manchester, England, known as Toad Lane. Her father John Lee was a blacksmith whose meager income barely fed his family. Except for a parish church record of her baptism in 1742, very little is known of Ann Lee's childhood.

Since education for a girl of Lee's station was out of the question, she was illiterate and found employment in the textile mills of Manchester. By her twenties, she was serving as a cook in the public infirmary and madhouse. Lee exhibited a religious bent early in life, found living in the crowded industrial city difficult.

10.19.2008

Bathsheba Bowers

Quaker woman

Women in Religion: Female Quaker Preacher

Quaker writer and speaker Bathsheba Bowers wrote a spiritual autobiography, An Alarm Sounded to Prepare the Inhabitants of the World to Meet the Lord in the Way of His Judgments (1709), one of the first published religious testimonials by an Anglo-American woman. In a biographical sketch of Bowers written in 1879, William J. Potts referred to other works written by her, but none of these has come to light in scholarly research, and her reputation accordingly rests solely on her spiritual autobiography.

Raised in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Bowers was one of twelve children born to Benanuel Bowers and Elizabeth Dunster Bowers, English Quakers who had settled in America. When the Puritan persecution of Quakers became intolerable in the late seventeenth century, her parents sent Bowers and three of her sisters to live in Philadelphia, a city known for its liberality and its large Quaker population.

10.02.2008

Mary Coffin Starbuck

Quaker Preacher of Nantucket Island

Mary Coffin Starbuck was born February 20, 1645 in Haverhill, Massachusetts, just two years after her parents' arrival from Devonshire, England. Ten men got together and planned the purchase Nantucket Island, off the Massachusetts shore. Mary's father, Tristram Coffin was the leader of the group -- along with Edward Starbuck, Thomas Macy, and Isaac Coleman – and the purchase took place in 1659. He took his family to the island in 1660, where he was Chief Magistrate in 1671 and Commissioner in 1675.

map of Nantucket Island

In 1662, Mary married Nathaniel Starbuck, a prosperous farmer, local official, and partner with her father in purchasing the area from the Indians. The son of Edward and Catherine (Reynolds) Starbuck, Nathaniel was born February 20, 1634 in Dover, New Hampshire. Mary was eighteen when her first child was born – the first white child born on the Island of Nantucket. From this family all of the Starbucks of America are descended.

8.26.2008

Elizabeth Ashbridge

Quaker woman preacher

Quaker Woman

Image: Assembly of Quakers
A woman preaches before an assembly of Quakers in London in 1723.

Early Life
Little is known about Elizabeth Ashbridge beyond what is recorded in her brief autobiography, Some Account of the Fore Part of the Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge, first published in England 1774. The book is a frank account of her unhappy marriage and her search, with the help of various religious groups, for a sincere religious faith. It is remarkable both as the spiritual testament of an intelligent and courageous woman, and also as a revealing (and often unflattering) depiction of life in colonial America in the first half of the 18th century.

Elizabeth Ashbridge was born in 1713 in the town of Middlewich in Cheshire, England to Thomas and Mary Sampson. Thomas was a surgeon on sea vessels, and Mary was a pious follower of the Church of England. When Elizabeth turned 14, she married a miserly stocking weaver several years her elder without parental consent, only to become a widow five months later.

1.09.2008

Mary Fisher

Quaker women

The Year: 1656

Image: Panel B2 of the Quaker Tapestry, which was devoted to Mary Fisher

Quaker Beginnings
In the 17th century, the Quakers - also known as the Society of Friends - were a form of Protestant Christianity that was started by George Fox in England in 1652. According to tradition, Fox was standing on Pendle Hill in northwest England when he received a vision from God directing him that instead of simply obeying doctrines and rules, he should focus on the Inner Light—the ability of every person to directly receive God's love.

George Fox believed there was no need for ordained ministers and traditional forms of worship, and began to preach this new form of Christianity throughout England. He also added the ideas of pacifism and the rejection of sworn oaths, which, of course, was not to the liking of political authorities. Officials hounded his followers and jailed them for their refusal to take oaths and for not supporting the Church of England.

10.31.2007

Mary Dyer

Quaker Mary Dyer defied the laws of Massachusetts Bay Colony

Defied Puritan Law Banning Quakers

Image: Mary Dyer Memorial at the Boston State House

Mary Barrett was born in 1610 in London, England. In St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, on October 27, 1633, Mary married William Dyer, a milliner and a Puritan. Mary and William emigrated from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635. They settled in Boston, and on December 13, 1635, they were admitted to the Boston church. They were numbered among the intelligent citizens, being above the average in education and culture. William became a freeman of the Colony in 1636, and he held many positions of public importance.

Banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Dyers became early supporters of Anne Marbury Hutchinson. When Anne was excommunicated, Mary Dyer walked out of the church with her. When Hutchinson was banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1638, the Dyers followed her to Rhode Island, a colony founded on the principle of religious freedom. They helped to found the new colony at Providence.

10.29.2007

Anne Hutchinson

Puritan women: Anne Hutchinson on Trial

Women in Religion: Early American Religious Leader

Image: Hutchinson On Trial

Puritan leaders called Anne Hutchinson and her supporters Antinomians—individuals opposed to the rule of law. Puritans saw her as a challenge to their male-dominated society. Tried for sedition, she was also exiled as a danger to the colony. She lived in Rhode Island for a time and then moved to New Amsterdam, where she was killed in 1643 during a conflict between settlers and Native Americans.

Anne Marbury was born in Alford England, in July 1591, the daughter of Francis Marbury, a deacon at Christ Church in Cambridge. Anne's father believed that most of the ministers in the Church of England hadn't received the proper training for their position, and he said so. He was promptly arrested and spent a year in jail for his subversive words of dissent. But he wasn't deterred, and he was arrested several more times.