The Charity Society of the Jericho and Westbury Friends Monthly Meetings Records
175 Years In One Book  - John B. Shie 1970

    The complete records of the Charity Society of the Jericho and Westbury Friends Monthly Meetings are contained in one book. About 20 extra pages were added when the book was rebound in 1946. At the present rate of recording, the book should suffice until- the next century. It has a brown cloth cover and measures about 8x121/2 x11/2inches.    The first meeting was held on June 7, 1794, when Quakers from the Jericho a n d Westbury Monthly Meetings (these included most of the Quakers in present Nassau County) met and formed the Charity Society. "For the relief of the Poor among the Black People, more especially far the education of their children".    The Society started with 30 charter members and has the same number today. Each member contributed an average of seven pounds. The minimum contribution accepted was 30 shillings. Elias Hicks gave 10 pounds. The total initial subscription was 218 pounds. The members had the choice of giving the money or the interest on their subscription each year as the intention of the Society was to raise a capital fund and spend the interest from it for the educational work. Later on they eliminated the subscription requirement and charged dues.    At the first meeting they selected trustees and appointed a committee to raise the money. At the second meeting, July 17, 1794, it was agreed "some distribution may be profitably made to assist in schooling Black children in the course of the present year". A committee was appointed to start this.    In the next month this committee on schooling reports "Attention thereto and that some children have the privilege of going to school __." By October 18 children were in school and the committee spent one pound and seven shillings. In December only five children were at school.    This wide variation in attendance continued and is not explained. It was not seasonal and may have been due to lack of clothes or shoes. However, the society helped with these items when needed. Probably the parents needed the children's help on their farms or at home.    1797-The committee had five children at school, under their care, and had spent for three months, 3 pounds, 6 shillings and 8 pence. While most such transactions will not be shown in this article, the Society paid various amounts, depending on the number of scholars, each year from the first such payment in 1794 to 1868. After the latter date L. I. schools were supported by taxes and could be attended by Blacks.    As is customary in all Quaker organizations, the accounts are audited each year. Since nothing of interest occurred in any of the 175, audits, the following is the only one given;    `"8Mo. 1801 Agreeable to appointment we have examined the Treasurer's accounts and find in his hands obligations amounting to
Interest Money
Adonijah Underhill
Isaac Sherman

    1802-The Society felt a concern (as it did in the future) because so few children were going to school. A committee was appointed to visit "Black People to encourage them-to cooperate with us(in) giving their children a suitable education; and to~ promote a concern in the Parents for an improvement in Morality and virtue __."    1803-The capital of the Society was increased by 100 pounds given in the will of Israel Pearsall in 1799, as follows: "I give unto Gideon Seaman and Elias Hicks-one hundred pounds-for the use and benefit for an Institution of a school for the instruction of the Black children which (is the Charity Society.)" In 1841 Benjamin Doughty left to the Society $50 and in 1918 the will of Sophie U. Willets gave $2000.    1812-for the first time the reports are given in dollars and cents. The Schooling Committee reports: there are 11 children-and their accounts amount to 14 Dollars and 39 cents. They seemed to have had some trouble writing $14.39 as we do. They            $ ctswrote 14   39. By 1825 they were using the dot between the dollars and the cents but            ctsthey wrote it $14.39. To make sure it was not misunderstood 39 it was generally written $14   . 100. By the 1850's they seemed to feel comfortable writing $14.39.    1817-A committee again visited parents in an attempt to increase the number of students by talking to the parents. While not encouraged labout weekday schools the committee did feel that the parents would permit children to attend schools held on First Day (Sunday). The Committee, therefor recommended to the society that several schools be opened on Sundays, in various neighborhoods and the teachers be from the Society. Schools were promptly opened and a minute says, "the schools in certain neighborhoods offered encouraging hope". It was a false hope; one school became so small they decided to discontinue it. The other schools were closed not long after.    It has been said that Gideon Frost (who founded Friends Academy) was one of these volunteer teachers. The records in the Charity Society Book do not record the names of the teachers. Gideon Frost was a member of the Charity Society and may have been a teacher. A record of one of these schools was published in 1957 as part of an article by Stanley K. Bergesen. This school opened on April 27, 1817 with 20 students in a place called Guinea. By May 5th the school had grown to more than 50 scholars, too many far the committee of John Carle, Joseph Higbie and Jonah Willets, to teach properly. Young volunteers arranged in three groin, were selected to help the committee.    The first group were Benjamin D. Hicks, Joseph S. Townsend and Elias Higbie. The second group were Daniel Willets, George Valentine and Jacob S. Willets. Third group Valentine Willets, Isaac Willets and Thomas J. Townsend. From the records we note some young ladies also taught but their names are not recorded.    Some say that these schools were the first Sunday Schools. While the subjects taught are not known they were probably not usual Sunday school material but were reading, writing and arithmetic, plus some social or moral training. Four of the 28 attendance records are given from the document quoted by Mr. Bergesen.    "The 11 of the 5th month -Benjamin D. Hicks, Joseph Townsend, Elias Higbie attended the school with three of the committee -that day had 40 scholars."    "6th of the 7th month - Valentine Willets, Isaac Willets, Thomas T. Townsend with two of the committee and two women attended that day -had more than 50 scholars."    "The 16th of the 8th month. One of the committee attended the morning school with 11 scholars. The afternoon George Valentine, Jacob S. Willets with two of the committee attended the school. Had more than 30 scholars."    "16th of the 11 month. First day-Elias Higbie with one of the committee attended the school with 8 scholars. At this school we have concluded to stop keeping school." (Pg. 17 Nassau County Historical Journal Vol. XVIII.)    1831-Elias Hicks having died "a committee was appointed to propose the name of a friend to supply the place of Elias Hicks-(and) proposed Joseph Post, which, after consideration, is united with, and Davis Willets is appointed to inform him thereo~f". The same procedure is used today to replace members.    1833-"Accounts for 141/2 quarters. Tuition amounting to $29.78, that they should pay $21.07 believing that part of the children's parents were able to pay the balance." This is the only place in the book where it is suggested the parents were able to pay a share of the schooling costs.    1833-A special meeting was held and the schooling committee "informs that a school hath been taught by a colored man, composed of 22 colored scholars, 14 of which attended pretty steady during the last quarter-and the school has a deficiency of 10 dollars-which our treasurer is directed to discharge."    This is the first time the word colored is used instead of Black. Colored appears to have been an upgrading. Black (in capitals) appears frequently but the Spanish equivalent negro is seldom used in the book except when used in a proper name, such as "Negro College Fund".    1835-The Society discussed building a schoolhouse for the colored school at Jerusalem. A building committee, and also a committee to raise the necessary money from member subscriptions, were appointed. The completed schoolhouse cost about $60.    1847-Schools were also being held in Huntington and Amityville as well as in "JerL1sulem". The Society continued to pay the deficits - the difference between the amount the school collected and the expenses. Attendence at these schools seemed to be better than other private schools where the Society paid quarterly. As an example, Jerusalem reports "that 21 scholars have attended pretty steady."    1847-The schooling committee reports, "schooling children for 26 quarters and the expense for it was $26. also a school was reported opened by a colored teacher in Lakeville for about 4 months with about 15 scholars." The school needed money as it had a deficit of $45. The Society helped with $25. No records are known of the names of the men who started these schools.    1850-The Huntington school "is in want of suitable books" and needs four dollars.    1851-Arden Seaman informs the Society he spent the $4 appropriated for books for Huntingto~n South and $3.82 in addition thereto."    Also in 1851 it was suggested "some of our women friends might advantageously participate in the concerns of this institution" (the Charity Society). At the next meeting Rebecca Ketcham and Elizabeth Seaman, became members of the schooling committee and Mary W. Willis and Mary W. Post became members.    Women had helped the Society as contributors and teachers but were not members. The Society of Friends always had two separate business organizations; one for men and the other for women. These organizations were joined in one about 1900.    At the start of the Society we find a minute from the women's meeting saying, in effect, here is some money for your work. You may call on our treasurer for further help. In 1899 a minute states "that we ask our wives to join us." Perhaps this merely meant the wives were invited to attend meetings with their member husbands.    1859-Tuition paid "for 441/2quarters. This does not necessarily mean that 441/2pupils attended. As an example, three children may have attended one month each and they would be listed as one quarter of tuition.    1860 to 1865-In the records we find no evidence that the country was involved in a war. Typical entries are: "Schooling for 20 children, 20 quarters; also propose to pay $5.40 for shoes-." "The school at Jerusalem has had about 20 scholars for 118 days (and) in consequence of some neglect on the part of the trustees of the district, no money was received from them." The treasurer was directed to pay the $100 deficit.    1867 - "Schoolhouse   r e - paired and shoes" cost $10.47. The school at Amityville had 25 scholars who received four months' schooling at a cost of $20. Also the Society paid $115 for schooling and $7.26 for fuel and shoes for the Jerusalem School.    1868-The "school at Jerusalem reports it-has kept a school term of an average- of ten to nineteen scholars." These are the last references to the Amityville, Huntington or Jerusalem Schools or the Society paying quarterly tuition bills. Probably the children now went to public schools.    Freedman's schools were being started in the south-arid the Society, not paying local school expenses, turned its attention to the education of the newly freed people. A minute reads "$10 per month-for the Freedman's at Lincoln, Va., of which Samuel M. Janey has an oversite". Caroline Thomas was the teacher. The ten dollars w a s soon increased to twenty dollars a month, the teacher's salary.    1869-The school reported "I will inform the Charity Society that Caroline Thomas has taught the Freedman's School - since the Society has contributed to its support, the school opened 11th 11MO. 1868. A part of the time it was full, averaging 40 or more -Many of them walking from three to seven miles. The application and advancement has been reported satisfactory. The attendance, from the start has been at least 30. The number has been reduced by the children having the measles."    1870-One of the committee visited the Lincoln School. In the winter there were more than 40 scholars, some of them adults, but in the summer the average was less than 20. The committee felt that Caroline Thomas was conducting a satisfactory school and recommended further support.    1874-The Society supported schools in South Carolina, especially t h e Martha Schofield School in Aiken, as well as the Lincoln, Va., school.    1879-In addition to t h e other schools already being helped, the Society sent $75 to Henry M. Laing of Philadelphia, Pa., for the Freedman's School at Mt. Pleasant, near Charlestown, S. C.    Because the Society continued its support of the Schofield and the Laing Schools for many years a brief history of each school follows:    Schofield Normal and Industrial School - Martha Schofield of Penn. carne to South Carolina, shortly after the end of the Civil War as a representative of the Freedman's Bureau. At Aiken, S. C. she started a school for children. In 1882 Trustees from Penn. were appointed and the School was incorporated in 1886. The school has a large, fine campus, athletic fields, more than ten modern buildings and accommodates 100's of boys and girls. Many of its graduates continue to college. In 1951 the school became state supported and no longer receives help from the Society.    Laing School -The Pennsylvania Society for Improving the Condition of the African Race was started in 1775. The purpose was "Abolition, Relief of Free Negroes and to Improve the Condition of the African Race." The members were mostly Quakers or Quaker related people, such as Benjamin Franklin, who at one time served as the President. In 1894 this Society became the Trustees of the Laing School at Mt. Pleasant, S. C.    In addition to its schooling the Laing School attempted to set an example of good farming practices and to help "Negroes" to acquire and operate farms.    In 1929 James and Florence Willits of the Charity Society visited the Laing School and reported the school was crowded with about 100 students and six or eight teachers, the state paying for one teacher only. The Society continued to support t h e school until 1941 when it became a part of the City of Charlestown, S. C. school system.    1880 and 1881-In addition to the support of the Freedman's Schools the Society sent money for the "Kansas Refugees."    1900-The Society continued its support of the Schofield and the Laing Schools. Abbie Monroe h a d replaced Henry Laing. The Society felt the year 1900 justified a review of the Society's accomplishments. This report is written in the book and covers eight pages.    1909 -Support continued for the southern schools but a committee was appointed to consider The Colored Farm and School near St. James, L. I. "The committee after visiting the school, suggested more goad could be accomplished by helping some individual to a goad education or perhaps to a trade school." However a committee failed to find a suitable candidate.    A committee was appointed to investigate "The Mt. Tabor Fresh Air Home and Industrial School, with some 200 acres near Manorville." The committee felt sorry for the Rev. Horace G. Miller "who had so many difficulties" but felt it would take much more than the resources of the Society to make it a practical school.    1913-Henry Wilbur, President of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, who was assisting the Laing and other southern schools appealed to the Charity Society for some help with the Howard Orphanage at Kings Park, L. I. The help was given and shortly thereafter Henry Wilbur died.    The Society thought it appropriate to give a cash gift to the Lamg School in memory of Henry Wilbur. For some reason the Abolition Society thought it could not accept money given in someone's memory but agreed to create a Henry Wilbur Memorial Fund for scholarships in the Laing School.    There is another Henry Wilbur Memorial Fund. In 1916 the Quakers in Nassau County (The Religious Society of Friends not the Charity Society) received a request from a school in Fort Valley, Ga. asking them to raise $1000 in memory of Henry Wilbur who had been helping their school. By 1918 the fund had been raised. It is administered by the Quarterly Meeting of t h e Religious Society of Friends on L. I.    1941-The Zion Church in Westbury commemorated the 77th Anniversary of the Emancipation. Henry Hicks of the Society attended and gave the Society a copy of his paper in which he reviewed the efforts of the Society and Quakers and "Self Help Organizations Among the Colored People".1951-Schools that had been helped by the Society, had become state supported so money raised by the Society was given to various organizations that serve the original purpose of the Society; such as "The Negro College Fund."    Here is a selection taken from the original articles, written in the front of the book: "Yet we hope the time is coming when this oppresed part of the human species will be permitted to enjoy the equal Privileges of their fellow men, which may do away the cause of their present necessities."

This article originally apperard in the March 1970 issue of The Long island Forum - no copyright data was found