Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Friday, July 20, 2012

Paul Went Frollicking and to Places of Diversion in 1780

I wrote about Paul Dakin (1761 in Pawling NY - 1829 in Hudson NY) going frollicking and visiting places of diversion which led to his disownment from the Friends Meeting at Oblong New York in 1780 at the age of 19.  

Oblong Monthly Meeting Men’s Minutes 1757 -1781, Box NY - 105 Page 519 Paul Dakin Acknowledgement, 18th day 10th month 1780
The acknowledgements of Paul Dakin Ferris Doly Daniel Akin & James Akin Condeming their going to frollicks and Places of Diversion Is Left for the Consideration of Next Mo Meeting
Oblong Monthly Meeting Men’s Minutes 1781 - 1788 Box NY - 105 pages 50, 51, Paul Dakin Disowned, 15th day 11th month 1780
 One of the Friends appointed on Paul Dakins account Report that he has answered his appointment and as there to Nothing appears to alter Conclusion of Last Meeting Concerning him there after Due Consideration this Meeting Doth Testifie against his Mis Conduct and Disownes him from Being any Longer a Member of our Society untill he by his Conduct Manifest Sincere Repentance and amendment of Life and Make Satisfaction to this Meeting which that he may to own Desire and Testification being prepared against him was Read approved and Signed and the following Friends are appointed to give him a copy of his Denial if he Desires it and acquaint him of his Rite to an appeal and if he Shews No Intention of appealing Read it at the Close of a first Day Meeting at at Oblong and Report at Next Meeting That is Wing  Killey & Benjamin Ferris Jr ------------


At the time that I wrote that blog post, I could only imagine what frollicking and places of diversion actually were.  I have found a description for anyone who would like to know what Paul had done to get himself disowned by the Quakers.

From Quaker Hill A Sociological Study by Warrren H Wilson (New York, 1907), p.29:

The Meeting not only provided no play opportunities, but
it forbade the attendance of its members upon the "frollicks,"
which then were held, as nowadays they are are held, in the 
country side.  A gathering with plenty to eat, and in those
days a free indulgence in drink on the part of the men, with
music of the fiddler, and dancing, this was a "frollick" --that
horror of the meeting house elders.  Indeed, it was of inci-
dental moral detriment; for it was outlawed amusement, and
being under the ban, was controlled by men beyond the influ-
ence or control of the meeting.  The young people of the
Quaker families, and sometimes their elders, yielded to the
fascinations of these gatherings.  The unwonted excitement
of meeting, the sound of music, playing upon the capacity for
motor reactions in a people living and laboring outdoors, in-
flamed beyond control by rum and hard cider, soon led to 
lively, impulsive activities and physical exertions, both in 
immoderate excess and in disregard of all the inhabitions of
tradition and of conscience.  That there was a close relation of
these "frollicks" with sexual immorality of the period is

Now that we know what was involved in frollicking, just a reminder that the Quakers in the 18th century in the Oblong were not the ones with folks singing hymns in their church.  Their meetings for worship were silent unless someone was led to speak.  Singing and dancing, in and out of church, was frowned upon.

The Quakers were trying to "live apart" from the larger world community in a tightly knit community of their own.  However, in the neighborhood, were other settlers who were not Quakers.  The description of the challenges of holding a Quarterly Meeting [4 times a year, meetings in the same area met for worship and business] with Friends from a variety of meetings.  

An account is given elsewhere of the discipline of the
Meeting in its struggle against immorality and "frollicking."
The following quotation from James Woods' "The Purchase
Meeting," vividly depicts the confused elements of the social 
life of that time:  "On great occasions such as the holding
of a Quarterly Meeting, the population turned out en masse.
[Warren, p.28]

The population who turned out en masse are not the Quakers,
but rather the other residents of the Oblong, or in the case quoted above, Purchase meeting, who had no church restrictions on the various forms of amusement described below.

Piety and worldliness both observed the day.  The latter class 
gathered about the meeting house, had wrestling matches and 
various athletic sports in the neighboring fields, and horse
races on the adjacent roads.  The meetings regularly ap-
pointed committees as a police force to keep order among the
meeting  house during the time of worship and business."
[Warren, p. 28]

That was the Quakers' description of the temptations and distractions.  It was also confirmed by those "worldly" folks in the neighborhood:

The stories told by old Quaker Hill residents of the gather-
ings about the meeting house, even on First Day, or Sunday,
confirm the above quotation.  The field opposite the meeting
house, for  years after 1769, when the earliest meeting house
was moved away ...
... An old resident tells
me that crowds of men were always about the meeting  house
before and after meeting, and even during meeting, ...
[Warren, p. 28]

The Quakers might have been trying to live a life of piety and asceticism "separate from the world", but the temptations of the world were nearby and my GGG'grandfather, Paul Dakin succomed to them and as a result was disowned.

The link for this website is
© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh, What a Difference a Couple Hundred Years Make!

As a member of the Religious Society of Friends in the 21st century, the expectations sound very similar, but not exactly the same as in the 18th century.

My Meeting for Worship does not have any paid clergy, and so all the responsibilities of running the church need to be taken on by everyone in the church community.  Members of unprogrammed Friends Meetings often say "we didn't get rid of the ministers, we got rid of the laity."  Individuals need to take care of all of the jobs, or parts of jobs, that a staff at a church would provide.

For example, last year a young couple in our meeting wrote a letter to the Meeting requesting to be married under the care of our Meeting.  Their letter was read at a monthly meeting for worship to conduct business.  A committee was appointed to meet with the couple to see if they were clear for marriage.

Rewind a few years, back to the 18th century:
I was reading about members of Oblong Monthly Meeting in the series of books by Frank J Doherty, The Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York, An Historical and Genealogical Study of all the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent, (volumes I -X, 1990 - 2010).  It included examples couples coming to business meeting and requesting marriage under the care of the meeting and a committee of clearness was appointed.

For example:
  “The minutes of the Oblong Friend’s 
Meeting held 14th 6th month 1775 include:  “At this meeting Stephen Osborn,

son of John Osborn and Mary Osborn, deceased, and Sarah Boorn, Daughter of
Nathaniel Boorn and Freelove, his wife, appeared and offered perposals (sic)
with each other and consent of parents Being produced here this meeting
appoints Timothy Dakin and David Hoag to Inquire into the young man’s
clearness from all others in that respect and make a report next meeting.”
[volume IX, page 748]

note:  You might wonder why there wasn't a committee appointed to inquire about the woman's clearness.
Actually, that would have been done by the woman's meeting [there were separate meetings for business back then] and these were the notes from the men's meeting.

But then came the report, a big OOPS:

minutes for the meeting held at Oblong 20th 3rd month 1776 include:  “Stephen
Osborn produced to this (sic) an acknowledgment for his conduct in keeping 
Company with the woman which is now his wife, both living in one house, also
being unchast with her[,] is considered and excepted (sic) and Nathaniel
Stevenson and Reed Ferris are appointed to read it at the close of a first day
meeting at Oblong and New Milford.”
[volume IX, page 748]

Fast forward to the 21st century:
That couple in our meeting was found clear for marriage, and another committee was appointed.  This new committee was responsible to help the couple with the planning of the wedding "in the manner of Friends," taking care of the details before, during and after the wedding to make it legal in the eyes of the state, as well as, meeting the religious expectations of our Friends meeting.

A called meeting for worship was held.  The couple married each other surrounded by their family, friends and Friends in the meeting.  At the end of the meeting for worship for marriage, everyone present [all ages] signed the marriage certificate.  At the next meeting for business, the committee "shepherding" the wedding reported back to the meeting that the wedding was held and the marriage was accomplished in the manner of Friends.
That completed the jobs of the committee appointed to help with their wedding -- in the 21st century.

BUT, not so in the 18th century:

  “Ebenezer Peaslee was very active in the Oblong Friends Meeting and is noted
on 51 pages of the minutes from 1757 through 1780.  The first record was when 
he testified to the successful marriage of Joshua Sherman and Mary Soule at the 
meeting held 18th of 8th month 1757. ... Ebenezer Peaslee and Timothy Dakin
were often appointed to verify that a marriage had been consummated properly.” 

[Volume X, page 266]


“'Reuben Macy, late from Nantucket & Ruth Howard the daughter
of Edward Howard and Phebe Howard of this place came before
this (Oblong) Meeting (held 18th 8th month 1774) and proposed 
marriage to each other.'  The minutes of the meeting held 20th 10th
month 1774 show that Wing Kelly and Timothy Dakin reported 
that the marriage of Ruth Howard and Reuben Macy was decently
[Volume VI, page 720]

No one at my Meeting was appointed to investigate and report on the consummation of our young couple's marriage!

What a difference a couple of centuries makes!
I definitely have not been asked to take on the role that my GGGG'grandfather Timothy Dakin had in his Meeting.

©2012 Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to this page is

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 2

These are the articles that I found on my GGG'grandfather's death that I recently wrote about in Part 1 of Death on the Railroad Tracks:

I found this article years ago, then last  year, I saw the rest of the 2nd article which my GG'grandfather had neglected to glue into his scrapbook.  Like other articles of the day, the title only refers to the content of the first paragraph and the rest of the article might not be part of the same story.

Paragraph #2: "Robert Martin, 83  years old, and employed as a laborer at Garfield Park race track, was stabbed in the head ..."

Paragraph #3:

Paragraph #4:

Paragraph #5: "Fred Fihlicht and Cornelius Kearns, aged 13 and 9 ... were drowned..."

Paragraph #6:

Quite informative: Nathan wasn't only person who died on tracks in that day.  In five paragraphs, we have five different stories of tragedy.  Three people died from injuries that day received on train tracks!

• Frail, elderly Nathan Cobb suffering from dementia, wandered onto the Chicago Northwestern tracks [see part 1].
• The unfortunate Willis Wheeler, who came to town and, as a "colored man," was asked "to move on"-- he got scared and "accidentally" ran into a grip-car.  [The other peoples' race wasn't mentioned in their stories.  Was race an important part of why Wheeler's accident  happened?]
Nicholas Rickard was killed driving his buggy across the train tracks and was struck by a train and killed instantly.  [Rickard seems to have misjudged how fast the train was coming.]

As a reminder of why so many people were easily injured in the 1890s by the trains and grip-cars, take a look at the corner of Lake and Marion in 1907.  The train tracks are right down the middle of the street.  Can you better understand why Nathan Cobb, Willis Wheeler and Nicholas Rickard all died on 24 June 1892?
1903 photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
Lake Street and Marion, Oak Park IL

Today there is an elevated train on Lake Street.  These tracks weren't elevated at all in 1892!

© Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012
The link for this page is

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Death on the Railroad Tracks, the Rest of the Story, part 1

When looking through my GG'grandfather Robert S Worthington's scrapbook, I found many family obituaries along with other articles and obits of interest to him.

Two of the articles/obituaries were the announcement of his father-in-law's death, Nathan Cobb on 24 June 1892.

So sad, an elderly gentleman, aged 85, walking with two canes and probably suffering from dementia is killed by a train.  The family clearly was caring for him at home and he slipped out of the house unnoticed.

How did he end up on the train tracks?  It wasn't far.  Looking at an earlier map of Oak Park from the 1870s (available at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society), I noticed he lived a block and a half away.

Ironically, looking at the map close up

There is a picture of a Chicago Northwestern train right where Nathan was hit about 20 years later!

As someone who grew up in towns with trains running through them, the crossings all had signals, the tracks were a bit elevated and would be difficult to easily wander up to if walking with a couple of canes. BUT....

That is not how it was in 1892 in Oak Park.  Frank Lipo at the Oak Park River Forest Historical Society pointed out to me that the trains ran right down the middle of the road, no elevation at all.

Here is a picture of the Chicago Northwestern tracks at Harlem Ave (a few blocks away from where Nathan was hit):

photo thanks to Oak Park River Forest Historical Society
The corner of Harlem Ave and South Blvd

There is no challenge for someone walking with two canes to get onto these tracks!

Today those same tracks are up a full flight of stairs with North Blvd on one side and South Blvd on the other!

©Erica Dakin Voolich, 2012.
The link to this post is: