Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Stephen Pike, Burlington, New Jersey

Handwritten letters, 1805-1825. The material centers on Stephen Pike (1786-1826) a Burlington, New Jersey teacher and merchant who married Rebecca, a daughter of the noted Rev. Thomas Scattergood. Pike is an interesting writer who frequently punctuates his letters with humor and personal musings. He was active in Quaker affairs and there are many names and commentaries. All but a few of the letters were penned by Stephen Pike and many were sent to his good friend, Thomas Kite, in Philadelphia. Other correspondents: Rebecca Pike, sister Sarah, and Miers Fisher.

Highlights include:

Three detailed travel letters home, 1819, Union, PA; Salem, Ohio; Fredonia, New York; from Pike's horseback trip to towns in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York. Content on a salt mine, maple sugar camp, journey into coal mine, Lake Erie, Cattaraugus Indians, more.
Hears Elijah Hicks lecture
Dr. Physic to treat Susan Emlen's cancer
ALS Miers Fisher - death of William Redwood
Fascinating descriptive portrait of the "little Prophetess" Mary Roscoe [married name Hinsdale -- later figured prominently in Thomas Paine recant controversy]
Quaker meetings; prominent visiting ministers
Brief excerpts:

1819 [Pike enters 400 ft into PA coal mine with lighted candle] - "There are a number of passages crossing each other at right angles like the streets of a city; what represents the blocks of houses, however, are but 6, 8, or perhaps 10 feet square - through these passages a cart is drawn to the extremes where the coal is dug..."

1819 [Sandy Hill Meeting, OH] - "...the smallest meeting house I think I have ever seen...built of logs...with sliders to separate the men and women..."

1819 [Ohio salt works on Yellow Creek, north of Richmond] - "They bore the earth, mostly through solid rock...descending frequently to the depth of three hundred feet...a tube is inserted to pump up the salt water from the bottom."

1819 At Lake Erie, Pike is mortified to find himself unexpectedly on board a vessel of war while on an outing with Commodore David Deacon. "My opposition to the spirit of war was by no means lessened by this accidental visit..."

1819- [Buffalo, NY] - "I passed through the Indian Village at Cattataugus...I was much interested in seeing the uncivilized aborigines of our country in their native haunts...I saw a number of the Indians of both sexes apparently enjoying their indolent repose...I met one party of young folks on horseback. They galloped by me with smiling countenances, their faces ornamented...with streaks and spots of red paint." More.

1819 [Crosses Carthage Bridge, NY] - "Conceive of a bridge of a light, airy structure, two hundred feet above the surface of the water, the principal support being a single arch of 300 feet springing from one perpendicular precipice to another...; [seeing people on bridge from below] " appeared as if [they were] passing over a rainbow among the clouds."

1813 [Elijah Hicks] - "I had the satisfaction of hearing him, for the first, at an appointed meeting he had here...He was eloquent on his two (I almost said favourite) topics..." More.

1814 - "Dr. Physic, who is now sick in the same family is an instance of one who has attained to their every pinnacle...and is very far from being lifted above the calamities of life. He has come to relieve his afflicted friend, but he is, himself so much afflicted by disease as to be unable to perform the necessary operation."

1807 [Philadelphia Yearly Meeting] - "This being the yearly meeting week we are crowded with company and fare sumptiously...the streets are swarming with plain gowns...the doorkeeper of the women[s] meeting house was curious enough to count the number that attended it and computed it to upward of sixteen hundred women in one house."

1824 - "Sister Scattergood has had a tedious time with a felon on one of her thumbs...Her son Joseph has also been much afflicted with a swelling on his arm. Above seventy leeches were applied. Afterwards it was oppend and since that town or more pieces of bone have come from it..."

Prophet Mary Roscoe

1814, 1815 - "Mary R. rose and began an interesting and very instructive address...she appears to speak only in compliance with a higher power.."; "...there were many in the meeting as well as myself, enamoured of the beauty of her lines, and exicted strongly to desire the possession of what appears so noble, and the same time, so lovely."; "I am told she fainted several times in attempting to speak in public,"; "She resided for a time in Willet Hicks; family, and it troubled Willet & his wife not a little that they could not, by any means, induce her to sit with them at table. I suppose they considered her a sister in the highest affinity, being, spiritually a child of the same Divine Parent, a partaker of his favours....but he insisted that the kitchen was her proper place..." More.

Note: Three letters have content on Mary Roscoe -- her family background; sermons, personal nature. Although none of these letters are complete, they do contain a lengthy Roscoe portrait - about 2pp. legal total. One letter with paper loss at bottom; two lacking signature pages. [See last photo.} Mary Roscoe (later married Henry Hinsdale) played a prominent role in the Thomas Paine (1737-1819) recant controversy.

Letters & Postcards on E-Bay