CMF Roots: Early Meetinghouse Maintenance

One of the buildings on the Fifth Street lot, possibly the meetinghouse

Like any organization with property, Cincinnati Friends Meeting had to deal with the costs related to maintaining their meetinghouse on Fifth Street and other necessities. The 19th-century monthly meeting minutes contain discussions about whether the old log building should be plastered, as well as the need for firewood for the stove and repairs to the roof. In the early 1820s, there were also efforts to “defray the expense of keeping Friends horses, who may come amongst us on religious concerns”—a reference to aiding traveling ministers, since most of the meeting's members and attenders lived within walking distance of the meetinghouse.

Since Quakers did not take up a collection during worship, any needed funds were raised via subscription: certain Friends would be appointed to approach members of the meeting and ask for contributions. For several years, funds were raised for expenses as they were incurred. In some cases, members would absorb the expenses personally until they could later be reimbursed by the meeting.

In 1822, the meeting became more organized regarding general maintenance issues. Margaret Folger was appointed to “take charge of the meeting house, make fires, etc.” For this service, she was paid $4.00 per quarter for the two quarters of the year when fires were needed, and $2.00 per quarter for the other two quarters. By early 1825, it was decided that the meeting should proactively raise funds “to meet current expenses for the present year,” and a budget of $15 was deemed sufficient. They exceeded their goal and raised $16 within two months.

In addition to the meetinghouse, Cincinnati Friends also had to take care of the adjacent burial ground. Benjamin Hopkins was initially appointed to this duty, and was later assisted by John Davis and Jozabad Lodge. By 1824, a committee including those three men along with Joseph Gest, Samuel Peirce, and Ephraim Morgan was appointed “to endeavor to form some rules by which [the burial] committee should be governed for the future to prevent improper interments." The following month, they presented this recommendation:

The committee appointed on the subject of the Burying Ground report that after maturely considering the subject they have concluded to recommend that hereafter none but the following description of persons be interred in the burying ground belonging to this Monthly Meeting, viz: known members of this Society of Friends, and such of their near relations as usually attend Friends meetings, and hold generally to the doctrines and practices of the Society, and minors in case one of their parents is a member.

 

All interments in Friends Burying Ground accompanied with ceremonies or formalities inconsistent with the views of Friends will be considered impositions on the Society.

This article comes from the book Friends Past and Present: The Bicentennial History of Cincinnati Friends Meeting (1815–2015). You can obtain a copy of the printed book or a Kindle version from Amazon.com. The proceeds of all sales go to Cincinnati Friends Meeting.

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