Israel French Jr.

An Advocate of God and Freedom

Introduction – The Israel French Ancestry in Maryland

The “French” surname is an old colonial name; one branch of which settled in the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County area of Maryland in the late 1600’s.  It is not known exactly when they arrived in America.  Otho French is one of the first known Frenchs in Maryland.  He was born there around 1707.  His son Israel (Sr.) was born in the All Hallows parish in 1746.  Israel French married Margaret Grant at the All Hallows Anglican Church in 1770.  Their first three children would be born in Anne Arundel County.

The early 1770’s were a very turbulent time in the British Colony of America.  It was a time of mis-trust between the colonials and the British - the talk of a revolution was in the air.  It was potentially a great danger to a young family like the French’s who were living in the bustling, strategic commercial area of Annapolis.  Some colonists were opposed to a war.  Some became British sympathizers – Tories – and were publically ridiculed.  Others were pacifists but were not British sympathizers.  The French Family were not Tories but most likely did not support war.

Around 1775 with a war looming, Israel Sr. and Margaret French changed their lives greatly.  They left the Anglican Church – the official Church of England – and became Quakers.  The Quaker faith strictly opposes war.  Religion was a much larger part of life back then and to change faiths was a serious commitment.  The French Family also relocated from busy Annapolis to remote Frederick County in western Maryland where warfare would probably not invade their life.  Israel Sr’s only known encounter with the American Revolution was in 1776 when he was fined 2 pounds by a Maryland War Commission for not enrolling with the local militia to train for combat.  He held fast to his new Quaker faith.

In Frederick County, the French’s built a homestead at Pipe Creek where a Quaker Friends Meeting House had been established in 1735.  They had a few more children including Israel Jr. who was born in 1779.  The family lived a quiet life farming the land in the Pipe Creek community for over 30 years.  They were registered in the 1790 and 1800 census for Frederick County Maryland.  Israel Sr. and Margaret died around 1820 most likely in Maryland but possibly in Ohio.

Israel Jr. – Migration to Ohio

Around 1805, Israel Jr. started a family of his own.  He married a lady named Deborah and they had a daughter Zeruah in 1807.  In 1808 and 1813 came two more children: Israel 3rd and Julia.  Israel Jr. may have worked in the real estate business or had a partnership with a Joel Elliot.  In 1812 he bought land for Elliot in Frederick County, Maryland and later in 1815 he bought land for Elliot again in Belmont County, Ohio.  Israel Jr.’s brother Otho and sister Emma had previously bought land in Ohio as well.  These three French siblings all decided to relocate their families to neighboring Belmont and Jefferson counties in Ohio between 1810 and 1815.  This area was the wild frontier of America back in those times but it also had a strong Quaker population.

Israel French Jr. decided to build a home in Mount Pleasant village in Jefferson County.  The town was founded ten years earlier as a haven for North Carolina Quakers who had aligned themselves with the Anti-slavery cause.  The town is only a few miles from the Ohio River and the slave-holding Virginia border (West Virginia today).  Here the Quakers would be more easily able to help escaped slaves along their northward journey on the Underground Railroad.  Black residents were integrated into the Mt. Pleasant society; some purchasing property on the lands bought and divided by Israel French Jr.

Israel Jr. and Deborah’s family was enumerated in the 1820 Mt. Pleasant, Jefferson County, Ohio census.  It listed Israel as a “manufacturer” for his occupation.  Along with occasional land dealings, he was also known as a teacher throughout the region.  An interesting note in the census indicated that there was a free Black Girl living with the family and in the 1830 census a free Black Boy was residing there as well.  They would be paid for doing typical household chores.  The next seven years were tranquil for the French’s and the Mt. Pleasant community.

Dis-harmony Amongst the Friends

The late 1820’s would be a time of reckoning for the Quaker population through out the United States and especially in Mt. Pleasant where a revolution would take place.  Oddly enough, the Society of Friends who based much of their faith in non-violence would see the potential towards violence as a reality amongst themselves.  Elias Hicks was a travelling Quaker from Long Island, New York who preached about the straying of the Society of Friends.  He believed that the traditional Quaker methods taught by John Woolman were being forgotten and that they should return to the faith and values of the Quaker forefathers.  Hicks’ popularity was very strong in Ohio and Indiana otherwise known as the “Northwest Territories” of the US at that time.  His followers would become known as “Hicksites”.

Israel French Jr. had become a respected and well known Quaker leadership figure in Mt. Pleasant.  He was in favor of the preachings of Elias Hicks and the return to traditional values along with a large number of other Ohio families.  Quakers would hold quarterly meetings in regional areas of individual states and in the last quarter meeting of 1827 the separation of beliefs became evident.  Israel and a few other Hicksite Friends were to be appointed as committee members but had their names erased and were excluded from holding office by the Orthodox Quakers.  Israel and his colleagues were assuredly upset.  Though they still considered themselves Friends, they bided their time until the 1828 yearly meeting of ministers and elders.

In September of 1828, the Quaker Ohio yearly meeting was held at Mt. Pleasant.  At the first days meeting, Elias Hicks was verbally harassed following his speech and later that night a confrontation was planned.  It is known that during the week of the meeting, Hicks and his supporting elders also held private evening meetings at the home of Israel French, Jr.  As the second day’s meeting was about to begin, Israel stood up and protested that he would no longer recognize the clerks of the meeting and that new ones should be appointed.  About half of the attendees agreed stating, “I concur.”  Another from Israel’s party called for a new (Hicksite) head clerk of the meeting.  Again, a large number spoke, “I concur”.  After this, voices were raised for and against the disturbance then some shoving began.  Order was restored shortly there after and no more physical confrontations occurred.  Since Hicksites had the slight majority of numbers, the Orthodox Quakers had to vacate the meeting house and held their conference outside.

This rebellion officially would split the Society of Friends through out the young United States.  Accounts of the events from the schism have been clearly documented through transcripts of the legal proceedings that were held in 1828 and 1829.  Some Hicksites including Israel French Jr. were fined a token amount and did 30 minutes of jail time for inciting riotous behavior.  A retrial at the Ohio Supreme Court over-ruled the fines and determined both parties should share the blame.  In an 1829 letter written by Israel Jr. to Elias Hicks, he tells Hicks about the continuing disputes between the two Quaker factions and little hope for a fast reconciliation, “…but from Ohio I fear a long course of probation awaits thee.  Thy shepherds appear to have been smote with blindness and thy flock scattered while devouring wolves seek them for a prey.”

Israel Jr. would correspond occasionally with Halliday Jackson – a Hicksite Quaker from Darby, Pa.  Jackson was visiting the Mt. Pleasant meeting the day the schism took place and was called to testify in the subsequent trials.  From 1830 to 1833, Israel would send letters to Jackson keeping him abreast of the Society’s issues.  One October 1830 letter described the split over the use of the existing meetinghouse.  The Hicksite and Orthodox Friends came to an agreement for a while for both of them to use the same meetinghouse for yearly and other meetings although at different times.  There were still very bitter feelings evident as Israel Jr. told Jackson, “We closed the 5th day and left the house in good order for the reception of our enemies – for so I think we may justly call them.  They have manifested so much enmity of late – endeavoring to assail and destroy if possibly the reputation of every minister that appears to be pointing the way to life.”

There is little doubt that the on-going hard feelings from the Hicksite separation put attention and stress on the French family.  Young Israel III may not have supported the radical Quaker ways of his father and his name has not been found on transcribed Quaker records.  Around 1829 Israel III left the family and moved back east to Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania – 60 miles from Frederick County Maryland.  There he was married as a Methodist in 1830.  However, Israel Jr’s daughters were known to strongly support their father in religion and in the Abolition cause. Around 1830, Zeruah French married Joel Wood who was a prominent figure in the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society.  He helped form the Liberty Party which put a Presidential Candidate on the ballot.  Julia French would marry Dr. Caleb Cope in 1849.  He was raised on an Underground Railroad stop.  He helped his father Joshua hide slaves in a clever spot behind their sawmill’s water wheel.

The French’s became members of the Short Creek Friends Society - one mile west of Mt. Pleasant - after the Orthodox Quakers re-took control of the Mt. Pleasant meetinghouse.  Israel Jr. still continued his leadership role; he was the head clerk at the Wheeling (West) Virginia Friends yearly meeting in 1831.  He was also an agent and writer for the “Advocate of Truth” from 1830 – 1833.  The “Advocate” was a monthly published news and opinion pamphlet of the Hicksite Quaker Friends Society.  In one of the 1831 issues, Israel described a bit of hope for the relationship between the two factions.  The meeting house was being swept out by Mr. Richards, a Hicksite, after a meeting when an Orthodox guard of the building walked up and stated, “’I am appointed to keep the house’ to which Richards replied, ‘And so am I and would be as well pleased with thy help as any person’s’ and pointing to a broom, the guard took it and they swept it out together.  This is I think the first instance I have heard of anything like the parties joining in active operations within the limits of our Yearly Meeting since 1828.”

A Staunch Quaker Abolitionist Seeks Sanctuary

Around 1832, Israel Jr., Deborah, Julia, Zeruah and Joel Wood moved to Richmond in Wayne County, Indiana – another Quaker settlement in the “Northwest” United States - and joined the Whitewater Chapter of the Friends.  Perhaps he felt no longer able to make a positive change amongst the split Mt. Pleasant, Ohio Society.  Early in 1833 Israel Jr. wrote to Halliday Jackson, “I am now with all of my family in a strange land among strangers where the harvest appears to be truly great and the faithful labors fine, but I feel very much stripped and sometimes I fear I shall be ranked as a deserter.”

Wayne County was a major hub of the Underground Railroad, locally lead by Levi Coffin, a cousin of Lucretia Mott– the Quaker Abolitionist / Social Reform leader.  The late 1830’s saw another gradual divide taking place in the Society of Friends.  Levi Coffin became a powerful figure in the Indiana Anti-Slavery campaign.  His strong desire for the Quakers to pay more attention to Abolition made him and his associates very controversial.  In 1838, Israel Jr. was selected to take part in a Hicksite Quaker committee that travelled to remote Friends meetings to get a feel for how they collectively viewed the importance of Abolition. 

It appears that Israel French sided with the “Anti-Slavery Friends” as in 1842 he was nominated to a four person committee by the Indiana Anti-Slavery Society in order to meet with Henry Clay, the famous Kentucky Senator.  When Clay was to lecture in Indiana, the committee was to present him with a petition asking him to free his slaves.  Israel Jr. declined that nomination however because he was elected as a business director for the annual meeting of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society.  His daughter Julia was also a business director for the three-day meeting. 

Five months before Israel Jr. passed away in August of 1846, he must have again voiced his strong opinion, this time to the changing hierarchy of the Hicksite Quakers. In doing so, he was dismissed from the Friends due to disunity.  It has not been discovered exactly what this “disunity” was, but his anti-slavery opinions may have become too much for the Quaker elders.  The matter may have come up again at the 1847 Indiana Quaker Yearly meeting.  At that meeting, Israel Jr. and some of his compatriots were slandered so much so that it was noted in a letter written by Lucretia Mott.  “I do not at all wonder, that John Mott should have little hope of any revival in the Society in its present form.  What an abomination - the proceeding in Indiana, against such men as Morris Place, Israel French, and some whom we could name--Fredk. Hooker & wife &.c &.c!  All from the intolerance of a few ruling Spirits.”  Lucretia Mott was clearly on Israel Jr’s side, after all he had recently died and was defenseless.   She also felt the Hicksites were now forming their own factions – mostly split on the Abolition issue.

Deborah French passed away only 18 days after her husband in 1846 and both were interred at the non-sectarian Goshen Cemetery just north of Richmond.  Ironically, they were not interred as members of the Society of Friends - the religious group they had faithfully followed their entire lives.  The Indiana Quakers also dismissed Julia French for disunity a year after her father.  She then moved back east and married Caleb Cope in Mount Pleasant in 1849, so she returned to her Ohio roots. 

Israel French Jr. lived his life with passion for his faith in God and the Abolition causes of the 1800’s.  Many people like him get lost in the vast history of the US, yet we are indebted to them for the important roles that they played in championing religious and social Freedom.

References:

All Hallows Anglican Church records, Pipe Creek Quaker Meeting records, Maryland State Observation Committee military records, US Census records, State property tax records, Jefferson and Belmont County, OH; Fulton County, PA; Wayne County, IN historical sketches, Mt. Pleasant Quaker Meeting records.

The Life & Labors of Elias Hicks, 1910, Henry Wilbur

Report of the Trial of Friends, Steubenville, Ohio, 1829.  Marcus Gould

Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, 1962, Willard Heiss

Advocate of Truth, Quaker publications, 1828 – 1833

Indiana & Ohio Anti Slavery Society programs, 1842

Lucretia Mott letter, 1847

Wayne Co., Indiana Genealogical Society

Swarthmore College Library, Swarthmore, PA.

Bob Blattenberger, 327 King St. Woodbury, NJ  08096; October 2009 / 2012

Letter to Elias Hicks from Israel French Jr.

Bridgeport, Ohio
April 9, (1829)

Dear Friend,

I received thy very acceptable favor of the 21st of the 2nd month last.  We were rejoiced to hear of thy safe arrival at home for reports had been put in circulation that thou hadst been denied that favor and had departed this life before thou had reached the arms of thy family.  But it appears to have been ordered otherwise by our gracious and kind heavenly father whom I trust thou hast been serving with fidelity in so much that the enemies of all good have thereby been incited to jealousy.  And finding that thou couldst not be brought to bow down and worship the work of men’s hands for all the kingdoms that the world could present, nor get to cast thyself down where set as it were on the pinnacle of the temple; this spirit of anti-christ hath become exceedingly enraged - pursuing with unrelenting hate every appearance of the steadfast reliance on him who alone remains to be the author and finisher of the true Christian faith.

I have also seen in a New York paper an account of the departure of thy dear consort.  Have felt deep sympathy on the occasion for as mortal beings, we cannot help feeling our depreciations - especially those of so tender a tie.  But when we recollect, we are so soon to follow and have the appearance of a well grounded hope of reunion in that state where the wicked cease from troubling, the weary are at rest, and the poignancy of grief is abated; and this I trust dear friend, is thy liberation.  And it must have afforded some consolation to thy mind that thou wast permitted to arrive in time to witness the closing scene of her with whom thou has passed so great a portion of time in that union of love that constitutes the greatest felicity allowed to us here, which we may reasonably conclude that forms an important item of the joys to be realized in a never ending state.

I also heartily rejoice that thou wast favored to perform my visit or rather that we were favored to have thy company and services at the time we did.  Many have been convinced of the falsity of the charges against thee, but there are still thousands in our country who having suffered themselves to be imposed on receiving too easy credulity - the false statements of their leaders - are yet sitting as it were in darkness.  It is a time of great trial indeed to see so many of our friends drawn away by this dark accusing spirit and become so bewildered that they cannot receive the truth.  If “the darkest time is just before day” (as thou observed to me near our parting) surely we may hope that the day may begin to dawn ever long and I think it will in the East, but from Ohio I fear a long course of probation awaits thee.  Thy shepherds appear to have been smote with blindness and thy flock scattered while devouring wolves seek them for a prey.  But I will be silent perhaps – it’s all in the ordering of wisdom by him who knows best and that these trials are permitted to work some great good at present in mercy concealed from the view of many.

Our meetings are mostly attended but I think that there are many that still go with our opposers on account of them being in possession of most of the meeting houses and perhaps other reasons of a private nature & popularity.  There have been a few desertions from our ranks but they were mostly where Friends are in the majority.  Where Friends are small in number and have been much tried, there has been an accession to their numbers – particularly at Smithfield Friends – they at first considered themselves almost too weak to hold a meeting at all but they have gathered up and hold a monthly meeting and are preparing to build themselves a house.

At Concord, Friends have braved the storm until the Orthodox have left them and hold their meeting in the schoolhouse.  Elisha Bates and Rebecca Updegraff made an appointment at Concord last first day for a meeting at 2 o’clock in the afternoon to be “principally for the Separatists” – using a great deal of ingenuity to get them by their attendance to acknowledge themselves as Separatists.  They soon informed them (at the close of the forenoon meeting) that if they wanted the meeting house for themselves as Separatists from the Society of Friends, they could have it, but that they could not sanction them by giving their attendance and retired to their homes.  The Orthodox held their meeting in the schoolhouse and withdrew also, but at some other meetings they have not been so guarded but have opened their meeting house and attended.  I know not what is best but I am very fearful that Friends will not be sufficiently attentive to “be aware of the Leaven of the Pharisees”, and more especially as they are now assuming a softer tone better calculated to allure the innocent.

I received an interesting letter a few days since from Noah Haines from Waynesville, Miami County.  This dear Friend appears to continue alive in the truth.  He informs us that after making great efforts to scatter and drive Friends from the meeting house (which Friends bore with patience but persevered with firmness to hold all their meetings) the Orthodox are having them in most of their meetings in that quarter.  I also received a letter some time ago from dear Amos Peaslee.  Not with standing his great trials, he appears to continue to be engaged as a laborer in the Lord’s vineyard – visiting the meetings in Jersey; but I think there is no place where the declaration “the harvest is truly great and the laborers are few” is realized than in our poor Ohio.  And my mind is often drawn to the junction “pray ye the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth laborers into his harvest”.

And I have been ready to say is not our case similar to that of David and his men when pursued by Saul?  We have a number of raw and undisciplined men and pursued by those who have appeared in former times to be the Lord’s anointed. And oh if we may in mercy be so preserved as David was not to stretch forth a carnal hand against them although they may appear to have fallen as Saul’s head.  I hope we may yet be made to rejoice as David did not at the overthrow of those that sought his life but in the God of his salvation that preserved him from evil, so that in time all Israel were brought back – and that this may be the case with our poor deluded brethren.  That they may return to their first love and put this accusing spirit from them is the sincere desire of my soul.

We are all in usual health.  My dear Wife and Daughter join in much love to thee hoping that thou mayest continue to persevere in the path of perfect obedience so as to witness the sun of righteousness to gild thy evening days and receive in the end the answers of well done good.  And faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of the Lord.  I subscribe thy friend and brother in the truth – Elias Hicks.

Israel French

PS.  Please present our love to our dear friend Jesse Merritt, also to our dear friend Townsend Hawkhurst if way should open.  He paid us a very acceptable visit some years ago and as well as I recollect, was the second person that the Orthodox undertook to grind because he observed in his testimony that the captain of our salvation “was placed in the same predicament with ourselves.  Being in all points tempted as we are _______(letter torn) sin”, this gave offense to some of “the better part of society” as they stated themselves at that time.  And they refused to give him an endorsement though Ann Taylor told me then that she considered him a solid Friend.

I think sometimes it will “devolve on me” to write a history of the Ohio yearly meeting as I recollect not to have been absent from a single meeting of it from its commencement until I was dragged away from it by the civil officers at the insistence of Orthodoxy in 1828 – a span of 16 years during which time from my peculiar situation and standing, I became acquainted with the origin of many things that would be well to be preserved as beacons to warn succeeding generations of the rocks on which our bark appears at present to have been shattered.  If it is not too great a burden or if thou hast anything to communicate for our help or encouragement, I should be glad to receive a line from thee when it may be convenient.

NB.  It is hard to ascertain the standing of the parties as regards to numbers.  The Orthodox make a great parade at meetings for discipline, going in flocks from neighboring meetings, perhaps to make a show of strength to discourage us.  But from what we have ascertained by actual enumeration in some meetings, we think an equal division is not far from the truth of the case and it is quite uncertain on which side the majority would be.

Letter to Halliday Jackson from Israel French Jr.

Colerain, Ohio
October 4, [1830?]

Esteemed Friend Halliday Jackson,

Thy very acceptable letter with the pamphlets therein mentioned came safe to hand.  This interesting work of our natured friend Job Scott has been rather scarce here and was an acceptable present from you.  I gave them to our Committee for Sufferings and they were divided by them among the quarters for further usefulness.  I had wanted to get some of them also in the Letter of Luke Howard and have this work, Luke’s letter attesting it and Job’s character, and the “Answer to Luke by a Friend in America” all bound together.  This would please the subject in a prominent point of view to every reader and I think be more generally useful than to have them separate.  I am now supplied with about 10 of these treasures and the answer to Luke Howard but have not Luke’s letter.  If there are any of them that can be readily obtained with you, I would be glad if thee would send me an equal number (or more) to enable me to carry my design into effort.  Perhaps thou can find some safe hand to send them by as I am in hopes some more of our friends will find themselves drawn to visit in gospel love their poor little weak brethren in the west.

Thee requested me to give thee our account of our yearly meeting.  My apology for not attending to it sooner is in disposition in my family.  My daughter – my only child I now have with me – was taken ill during the yearly meeting week.  We almost despaired of her life for sometime.  And this has been the first day that she has been able to sit up and but little at a time yet, but she appears now to be in a way to recover.  Her case was fever of the rather of the typhoid type.  There have been many cases of this and dysentery amongst us this summer and several deaths – mostly young people in the bloom of life.

With regard to our yearly meeting, I think it was rather larger than it was last year – especially on the sister’s side.  We had the company of Elizabeth Cox and companions Mary Matthews accompanied by her husband Eli Matthews from Baltimore, and Joseph Cadwallader, Amos Cook and Samuel Paine from Indiana.  Our dear ancient friend Hugh Judge also attended – alive in the truth – and seemed to enjoy himself as well as I have ever seen him.  Near the close he bore testimony to it’s being one of the most solemn and interesting yearly meetings he had through the long course of his life and ever been favored to sit in.  And indeed I can add my testimony that for solemnity of feeling and harmony of proceeding, I have seldom if ever seen one to equal the present.  Not that we were all in one opinion on matters that came before us but all seemed to be striving to advance the cause; and when after free and open discussion, the best way seemed to be pointed out.  All seemed willing to relinquish their own previous views and adopt it.  We closed on the 5th day and left the house in good order for the reception of our enemies – for so I think we may justly call them.  They have manifested so much enmity of late – endeavoring to assail and destroy if possibly the reputation of every minister that appears to be pointing the way to life. 

Poor Joseph Cadwallader – a more innocent or honest man I think lives not.  He has all the innocence of the dove but lacks the wisdom of the serpent which really appears to be requisite among such wolves.  They have strove to circumscribe his labors in these parts, raising a report that he had twice made sale of a piece of property.  And rather than be exposed, had been induced to refund the purchase money and a good deal more so as by insinuation to make him appear quite fraudulent.  Now the truth appears to be Joseph sold a town lot, had a deed prepared, notified the purchaser who promised to call and get it.  Joseph moved to Indiana.  The purchaser (who was brother-in-law to Joseph) called on Joseph’s brother who was the person who held the deed but managed so as not to have left it - Joseph’s brother also moved to the west.  And now when Joseph was with us, his brother-in-law called on him apparently in a very friendly manner and after stating that he had not got his deed, [he was told] that the lot had been sold for taxes and received from Joseph a sum as a full indemnity and satisfaction of all claims.  And Joseph in that confiding way which is common to good and unsuspecting men, paid the money without ascertaining where the deed was, or taking any receipt, or clearance from his brother-in-law – after which this wicked version of a tale was put into circulation.  I have been thus particular as this upright movement was made to look so bad here.  I do not know how black it may appear by the time it reaches your lying friend. 

I have no late account of the trespass case, so conclude and remain thy friend,

Israel French

PS – I would take it as a favor if thee would – when thee goes to the city – call on Marcus TC Gould and have the direction of my paper altered to be forwarded in future to Farmington, Colerain Township, Belmont County, Ohio; to which place thee will also please to direct thy letters.  My present residence being about 5 miles south of Mount Pleasant.

NB – It may be proper to note that the lot sold by Joseph Cadwallader had fallen in value and that his brother-in-law had offered to sell it for one-half of what Joseph now paid him.  So it will appear that Evan Herford (as his name ought to be recorded somewhere) – he being the purchaser and brother-in-law – had a double purpose to effect to obtain more than the present value for his lot which might have satisfied a man merely covetous and second to injure a man whom he envies.  Well, might Solomon say who can stand before envy?  Joseph seems to be improving in best wisdom and nothing appears to remove the enmity of those people so much so, any of those they would wish to ____________[letter torn] because they have unjustly called them __________[letter torn] abiding in the Truth.

Letter to Halliday Jackson from Israel French Jr.

Rural Retreat near Farmington, Belmont Co, Ohio, 2nd mo. 24th, 1831

My Endeared Friend Halliday Jackson,

I have just returned from attending our quarterly meeting at Short Creek house.  The meeting was, I think, as large as any we have had since the separation and love & harmony reigns among us.  And there were some small appearances among the middle aged class that seemed to rest as dew on the parched field and we were led to hope that our Zion might again arise and put on her beautiful garments. 

Our meetings for discipline are for the most part encouraging but when we return to our little meetings, we are often deeply tried when we find that many (particularly of our young people) are absent.  On these rests the hopes of succeeding days and when we observe that those who have stood as pillars in the church militant are daily called from words to rewards, we naturally look around to see where are the successors of those standard bearers – scattered abroad!  Greedy wolves hast entered in by which the flock have been scattered and we have not, I fear, been sufficiently devoted to the author of all true wisdom – so as to be rightly instructed how to gather the flock and lead them back into the fold of peace and rest.   I have often been led to view the gospel day as described by one of the Lord’s prophets.  Formerly when “Righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters do the sea”, the language is then to be “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of our God and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.”  And when I contrast this with what I have observed to be the practice of the society for more than 30 years in the exercise of our discipline, I am led to conclude that the glorious privileges of that day are but dimly seen and perhaps still less felt and enjoyed.

The chief object of all religious society appears to me to be to lead one another into the enclosure of love and good will in which God designed should be in the inheritance of all his children.  The whole human family as from this source alone proceeds all righteousness.  And from all righteousness, all happiness and the true and complete happiness of the creature can only bring glory to the creator and thereby answer the end for which man was created.  These I believe to have been the views of all in every age who have through obedience obtained the privilege of having their eyes anointed with the eye salve of the kingdom.  Now when we look at the labor that has been used to separate the weak and diseased from the flock, instead of endeavoring to heal and restore – binding up that which was broken and leading back that which has gone astray – I say when we look back, can we not trace a great deal of the proceedings of society to Pharaseatic origin?  And as there has been several revisions of the discipline since the declension, would it not be well to let it undergo a strict scrutiny and to prune it from everything – if anything there be (when examined by the piercing light of gospel truth) that bears the stamp of Idolitry or self sufficiency which is Babylon, the mother of harlots and the abomination of the whole Earth.

When I took my pen, I had other subjects in view, but the foregoing coming before me I have penned it down and feel free to commit it to thy care.  And I will now turn to what I at first had in view which was to inform thee that the actions for trespass as it is termed is expected to come on at the next term on the 2nd of the 5th month next.  B. Tappan is the only attorney at present retained by Friends.  I have not seen or heard anything from him since the court in the 11th month last.  He informed me then that the Orthodox had withdrawn their demurrer and were pressing for to join issue in the common pleas, but that he had no curiosity to have it tried before such a jury as might be obtained there.  What course he means to pursue, I know not.  He said he would write to me timely but I have heard nothing from him since.  One of my neighbors was up lately who gave me the following statement, “The plea put in by Tappan was that his clients being members of Friend’s Society could not trespass on their own property, therefore no cause of action.  To this their council demurred, alleging that members of the same society might commit trespass by entering against the prohibition of the trustees.”  This was a law point for the judge to decide and he (my informant) understood that the judge had decided against the authority of the trustees to prohibit a member from entering.  Now if this statement be correct and issue is joined on the assumption of a right of membership by the defendants and a denial of it by the plaintiffs, it appears to me that it will open a wide field for discussion.  In the first place, I expect it will be necessary for Friends to prove their right of membership.  This can perhaps be done by the records of the meetings.  These of course would have to be properly authenticated and under seal of sufficient authority to gain credence and admission as evidence in our court.  If this is attended to and rendered sufficiently secure so as to be admitted on the records of the court, it will then lie with the Orthodox to disprove it which will open a door to examine the grounds of their proceeding in regard to disownments, etc, etc, etc.

Our committee for Sufferings (discussed??) of holding a meeting at the stated time last 6th day but the few who met consisting of seven members being impressed with belief that the interest of society required a special meeting, have fixed upon the 2nd 6th day in the 3rd month for that purpose and appointed a committee to notify the members generally.  I am not at present a member of that committee and have no appointment that requires my attention to the law cases, but feeling a deep interest in all that concerns Society, I meet with them when convenient and was with them when the special call was concluded on.  The object of the call was in part to be ready to give the necessary attention to the present suit, but more particularly to take the general subject of law into consideration in order to agree upon what cause would be most consistent for Friends to pursue in the event that any more suits being brought against us.  Some tender minded Friends are of the opinion that in our situation, a better effect would be produced by throwing all the weight on them by just attending when summoned to appear and answering to such questions as might be put to us - without employing attorneys to defend or attempting much defense in any way.  I am not inclined to think that we can lay down any rule of action that will suit all cases, but I an glad the committee are to come together believing that a free communication on the subject might be useful.  And any thing that thee may wish to communicate to the committee will be promptly attended to if forwarded to thy sincere friend -                   Israel French

The severe shock Society received from the conduct of the members composing the select committee before and at the time of separation has induced some of the monthly meetings to decline making any appointments.  And the question is beginning to arise – whether the time of its usefulness has expired and we may safely abolish it and rest the judging of the fitness of every concern with monthly meetings to be exercised by them (by special committee or otherwise) as truth may open the way.  Or whether by reorganizing, it can be placed on its ancient foundation and can become again (instead of a curse) an ornament and a blessing to Society as we believe it to have been in former times.  I should like to have thy judgment on this subject.

Time of Courts – common pleas – for Jefferson County, Ohio at Steubenville for 1831 – May 2nd, August 22nd, Nov. 21st.  Supreme Court – October 14th.