Tuesday, March 3, 2020

#59-Close but not in conflict 2 Quaker Houses of Worship in Westbury, NY

Quaker Houses of Worship, Westbury, NY: Hicksite & Orthodox

For a long period of time there were simultaneous Quaker Meetings in Westbury, not far from one another. So, yes, there would  be TWO Friends Meetings in Westbury, NY

In the Beginning

A Friends Meeting House was Built in Westbury:
When the "Friends" (Quakers) finally decided to build a meeting near Westbury (it was not the oldest one on the Island), it was 1701. That was built at Post Avenue and Jericho Turnpike in Westbury. The cost of the 3 1/4 acres of land was 4 British pounds.  (The current building is not the original, several have replaced it.)

"Hicksite" Meeting Westbury NY 1869 as it was
The Orthodox - Hicksite Split
- What could be more painful than a split in the same community?
In the early 1800s forces drove the Quaker community in the East into two main groups. It was not the only split, but it was a major schism for that time.

It was so deep that the Orthodox Quakers in Westbury (who continued the tradition preaching and recognized ministers within the meetings, as well as a structured Sunday School) decided they needed their own building.

So it was that that arm of the Society of Friends had an Orthodox Meeting House near Post Avenue in 1830. Most of the members were former members of the older meeting, which was right near them.

The other (original) branch (called "Hicksite") remained in the original building which was so aged they  had to replace. 
So though the Hicksite building site is older, and has had continuous worship for longer, the Orthodox Meeting House (which is close to the Hicksite building) has become the oldest building for religious purposes in Westbury.

"Orthodox" Friends Meeting Westbury, NY

Many years ago, the two branches of Friends in Nassau County came back together.
No doubt there were problems after the split, but how did these two peace-loving communities cope with being separate yet so close?  Unavoidably, families would be split between the two houses in close proximity if only because Quakers often married close cousins.

I have preserved letters which made mention of an ancestor who, when she was at her grandmother's house, naturally attended the other meeting. Of course, this hardly bears mentioning, except that they were physically and relationally close.

In another case, my great grandmother's maternal grandmother, Sarah Rushmore (Hicks) lived through the schism to see her collateral relatives attend the other Meeting.
(Sarah Rushmore married John Doughty Hicks).
This is a bit of bitter irony because Sarah's father-in-law, Isaac Hicks (1767-1820) had helped to fund Elias Hicks' travel and ministry--it is Elias who is most often associated with the split.
But, Sarah Rushmore Hicks lived through the split, and had family members in both parts of the Society of Friends in Westbury.
For example, her granddaughter Marianna Hicks and her husband, William Hawxhurst were Hicksite Quakers.
But her son-in-law's (William) sister, Margaret Hawxhurst, was an Orthodox Friend, as were many other friends, relatives and neighbors.

Now, you already know this story has a happy ending, but I found the letters and photos;
When my great grandmother Bertha (Hawxhurst) Tyson was young in the 1880s, the Orthodox Meeting was used by both Meetings for Sunday School.

Bldg Used for Sunday School in Westbury c. 1890

Apparently the worshipers at the Orthodox Meeting offered to give all the children of the Society of Friends in the area Sunday School. They held it in a little building near both Meetings (see photos).
So, while my gr, gr grandparents were Hicksite Quakers (William Hawxhurst & Marianna (Hicks) )  they sent my great grandmother to Sunday School taught by the Orthodox Quakers.

From her notes (I have digitized copies of Bertha's diaries and some letters), she enjoyed her time there enormously.
So much so, that she saved and labeled this photo of some of the women in the Orthodox Meeting in Westbury who were attached to the Sunday School. Her aunt is the 2nd from left, below.

Henrietta Titus, Marg Hawxhurst,Mary Post, Sarah Titus, Sarah Bunyan "Orthod Friends who conducted our Sunday School"

I know *Margaret Hawxhurst is the sister of William Ephraim Hawxhurst, my great great grandfather. The other women's names may or may not be married names, any information regading that would be welcome.
1 Hawxhurst has been spelled: Hauxhurst (and less often Hawkshurst)
2 The digitized photos, except for the second (of the Orthodox Meeting), are from the Margaret B Walmer collection or AC Johnson collection.

1 comment:

  1. Curious as to how if at all the family of Amos and Isaac Willets fits into the Westbury Friends picture.


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