At the start of December, a Lakeside Heritage Society volunteer combing through our library collection stumbled across a small storage bag containing an aged, leather-bound book and a typewritten note. Donated to LHS in the 1980s, the book "Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott" had clearly been handed down for many years before finding its way into the Archives.
The Donation Note, which has been included below, offered an incredible overview of the book's heritage. Based on the copyright date, this book is the oldest artifact found in the LHS Archives - printed more than 220 years ago!
For reference, here are a few other events that were happening in 1791, the year "Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott" printed:
-Premiere of Mozart's "The Magic Flute"
-Ratification of the U.S. Bill of Rights
-Start of the Haitian Revolution
-The Bank of the U.S. is incorporated in Philadelphia
-Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" is published
-First steamboat patent approved for John Fitch & James Rumsey
-First French Constitution
"The Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott
by John Ffirth
Book was found in the attic of a cottage by John Gdovicak who gave it to John Wonnell for Heritage Hall. It was owned by Elizabeth Bingman, given Apr. 1 1895 to John Bingman (in one place spelled Bingham).
Originally bound in leather, it was mended with a piece of homespun flannel from a skirt worn by the sister of Oliver Cromwell who lived 1599-1659.
Rev. Abbott was born in 1732. His parents both died, and he was apprenticed to a hatter in Philadelphia, and "soon fell into bad company." At age 40 he was converted and began to preach locally.
He joined the Methodists as an itinerant preacher. This was a dangerous thing to do, for the Methodists were persecuted as Tories. He was ordained deacon in 1790, an elder in 1793. His last appointment was in Cecil and Kent Counties, Maryland. He became ill and returned home in May, 1795 and died in 1796.
He had kept a diary, and started to write his experiences. He gave the manuscript to John Ffirth, who added a narrative of Rev. Abbott's life, and closed with a letter by Hugh Smith.
It is difficult to read, because the letter "f" is used instead of "s".
It would be interested to know of the connection of the Bingmans (or Binghams) to Lakeside."
Lakeside guests often comment on the feeling that they are "stepping back in time" within the gates. For some, its the quaint feel of the cottages - for others its our time-honored traditions. But when LHS staff asked visitors this summer what they thought would be most different when going back in time, nearly all responded by pointing to their shorts and t-shirts. It is true, fashions have changed drastically since the first days in Lakeside. In reading through our newspaper collection this fall, LHS stumbled on an interesting piece of evidence that, even in early Lakeside, fashion sometimes bent the conventional rules of morality.
Published by the Sandusky Register on September 21, 1912:
Lakeside Doesn't Like Rap Methodist Clergymen Dealt
Hands Back "Not Guilty" Plea to Charge That Women's Dress Has Demoralized Her - Former Sandusky Ministers Discuss Hobble Skirt
"Special to The Register.
LAKESIDE, O. Sept. 21, 1912-
That Lakeside is the same old Lakeside, not one bit worse than she was ten or twenty years ago, and that critics are those who are so far behind the times that they find it hard to accustom themselves to modern modes and mannerisms. Lakeside's answer to the charge that she is 'fast.'
Twenty years ago women came to Lakeside wearing bustles and men, decked out in velvet-collared coats and snowy white cravats. If these women or their descendants come now in hobble skirts or any of the other things that 'style' may decree, surely it is not Lakeside's fault.
It would be Lakeside's fault, however, were she to forget her dignity to such an extent that she would endure the presence of women who were not ladies and men who were not gentlemen, and to this charge she pleads 'not guilty.'
The automobile is called the 'devil wagon' by some, as was the violin the 'devils instrument' not so many years ago. There always has been and always will be some people who are 'behind the times.'
Hobble skirts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobble_skirt
"The foregoing was prompted by residents of Lakeside after reader statements in the Cleveland papers Saturday, to the effect that Rev. V. D. Jones, octogenarian and retired Methodist minister, residing in Cardington, O. fled last summer from alleged immodest dress of women at Lakeside.
'I couldn't stand it there,' said Rev. Jones, addressing ministers of the Northeastern Ohio Conference at Cleveland. 'Women ran around with their whole arms showing and only a little strap over the shoulders to hold their waists. I would dislike to say how much of them was naked. There is no doubt but what the increase in white slavery is partially due to immoral dress. Young girls following prevailing style make moral lepers of timid men, who become bold, and they are dragged by them into a life of harlotry.'
'It isn't what you see that arouses your lust, but what is scantily covered,' said Dr. William F. Street, of Canton, O. convert of Billy Sunday. 'Women are directly responsible for mashing. No woman who dresses modestly and conducts herself modestly need fear being annoyed. If women could be induced to abandon the present style of dress most mashers would disappear from our streets.'
"Further comment on the question of women's dress, was according to Saturday's Cleveland papers as follows:
Rev. E.S. Tompkins, of Fairfield, O., president of the board of stewards, would ''make women put something on.'
'I don't care how richly they are dressed, just so they dressed.'
Rev. V.D. Jones of Cardington would have women dress to cover their whole body from head to feet. 'If they would only dress to cover their whole body and then put some more dress over that there would be less white slavery, fewer girls seduced, and few mashers everywhere,' he said.
Rev. J.L. Boyer of Collinwood was apparently the most disgusted over prevailing fashions. 'They should tar the broad expanse of nude back displayed by most women,' asserted Rev. Boyer.
Rev. H.V. Givler of Franklin Avenue M.E. Church, Cleveland, to his congregation Sunday said: 'We are not surprised to go on Euclid Avenue and find bad girls dressed according to their life, but we are mortified and ashamed to see women, about whose good morals and intention there is no question, in dress conforming to those worn by moral lepers.'"
For more on "mashing" visit: https://blog.oup.com/2011/01/masher/