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Adams Meetinghouse

August 27, 2014  •  7 Comments

The Adams Meetinghouse was home for the East Hoosuck Meeting.  Quaker settlers from Smithfield, RI and Dartmouth, MA settled in the area in 1769.  The Meetinghouse was built in 1782.  At its peak in 1819, the Meeting had 40 families. 

When the Erie Canal was completed in 1825 and facilitated westward movement, the East Hoosuck Quaker settlers began to move west for better farmland.  The last East Hoosuck Friends Meeting was held in 1842.  Subsequently, the Meetinghouse was deeded to the town that maintains it today.

The Meetinghouse sits alone, high on a hill, in the middle of a cemetery.  In the distance is Mt. Greylock.  It has two doors, one for men and one for women, and a gallery on the second floor.  There are fireplaces on the first and second floors, facing benches, and partitions between the men and women’s sides.  One of the partitions hinges up and the rest are pulled up by hand.  This is quite different from the normal winching systems of the time. The building is constructed with hand-hewn beams and post and beam construction.  Some of the original nails, hinges, and door handles are still in place.  It is bare and simple inside. 

I have previously written about Quaker testimonies of Simplicity, Integrity, Equality, Peace and Community [see Amesbury Meetinghouse blog entry].  Most Quakers take the testimonies to heart, and the East Hoosuck Quaker community was no exception, especially in regard to Equality.  The testimony on Equality arises out of the belief that all people are created equal in the eyes of God, with the Inner Light equally present in all, regardless of sex, color, race or creed.  In early times, this testimony was reflected in Quakers giving equal spiritual authority and recognition to women and refusal to use forms of address that recognized social distinction.  They were known for not doffing their hats and for using the words “thee, thy, and thou” instead of the more formal ‘you’ that connoted social ranking.  Though these forms of social activism do not exist today, Quakers throughout the ages have pursued Equality in whatever contemporary issues existed.  

At East Hoosuck Meeting there are several examples of people living lives in testimony to Equality.  In this Meeting there was a famous (for her time) preacher known for the ‘true gift of speaking’.  She was named Hannah Anthony Hoxie.  In the early 1800’s it is remarkable that a woman, of any persuasion, would be noted as a preacher.  East Hoosuck Quakers were also involved in the Abolitionist movement and it is known that they harbored runaway slaves. 

Susan B. Anthony was born into an activist East Hoosuck Quaker family in 1820.  Her aunt was Hannah Anthony Hoxie, the woman preacher.  Her family held abolitionist meetings on their farm.  In her own time, she became an activist herself.  She was involved in the temperance movement, but because she was a woman she was not allowed to speak at temperance rallies, and this experience led her into Women’s Rights.   In 1852, she joined the Women’s Rights Movement and began to dedicate her life to woman’s suffrage.  She also campaigned for the abolition of slavery and the right of women to own property.  Due to the efforts of Susan B. Anthony and others, the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, giving women the equal right to vote.

I am personally grateful to the East Hoosuck Quaker community for nurturing Susan B. Anthony during her early years.  Her activism has allowed me and my daughters, and all American women, to live the lives we have today, with full equal human rights.  And I was also surprised and proud to learn that she was a Quaker, which I had not known previously.  It is amazing to me that, despite its humble beginning and ending, the East Hoosuck Quaker community had such a lasting effect on the world.  You would never guess it from looking at the building.  As I have learned at each Quaker Meetinghouse I have photographed, the building is only the beginning of the story.

The picture is of Adams Meetinghouse, on the hill, in the midst of the cemetery.  Mt. Greylock is to the left.  The two front doors are open in welcome.  Some of the wooden shutters are still closed in this picture, and some have already been opened to allow the daylight in the building.  Window light is the only light available in the building.  

Adams MeetinghouseAdams Meetinghouse


Jean Schnell
Thank you to everyone who commented, or sent me a private email. I am always surprised that anyone is reading my stuff, let alone taking the time to comment or email. The comments keep me going! Thank you!!!
Carol Schnell(non-registered)
Jean- What a wonderful picture. It looks like a painting. I am again learning wonderful history from your Blog. Thank you
Shirley Britton(non-registered)
The first paragraph which starts "The meetinghouse sits alone, high on a hill, in the middle of a cemetart' liftrd me out of my seat and flew me to Hoosuck! This elegant and simple description exactly matches your breath-taking photographic image...Then you told this significant story of people and place! How can it get any better?
Jean, this is stunning. I mean it. I could look at this all day.

I knew about Susan B. Anthony being a Friend. In 2000 I was involved with "Angels and Infidels", presented by the Worcester Women's History Project. It was performed at Mechanics Hall, in Worcester, to celebrate the first *national* woman's rights convention, which was held in Worcester in 1850. Abby Kelley Foster was also a Quaker.

I linked a website that might be of interest.
Deanna White-Hebert(non-registered)
Jean, I did know this history and Susan B. Anthony is my hero. It just so happened this June that a women's Educational organization I belong to had their Regional Conference in Rochester, NY. I planned 2 extra days to visit the historical sites in Rochester and Seneca Falls. Susan lived in Rochester for 50 years and her home is now a working museum. She was a good friend of Frederick Douglas, who also lived in Rochester for a time. He is also a hero of mine. They are both buried in the same cemetery in Rochester. There is a park near her home that has a life-size bronze sculpture of Susan and Frederick having tea together. At the conference we had a Susan B. reenactor. As you can tell, I loved my visit! So, how timely that you posted this history of her meetinghouse! I have never been there or new it was still standing. Thank you.
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