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                Chapter 6   Society and Culture 

 

1630 records from the Massachusetts Bay Colony discuss Christianized Indians, called Praying Indians, and the interaction of local Indian communities with the colony. Ike’s family was mainly Anglican-Episcopalian and built St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in the 1890s in Asbury Park, NJ. At that time it was not unusual for taxes be collected for the support of churches. It was the custom to profess belief in a Protestant sect in order to be eligible for office.

 

The newly formed states were deficient in clergy, professors and educated lay people since many colonists were Loyalists and fled to other English territories during the revolution of 1776. The nation consisted of about 30,000 Scotch Irish Presbyterians, who had no love for the English, 5000 Jews in cities, and about 100 Catholic priests.  This was a time of keeping piety for the Sabbath, no work or amusements, no carriages in Boston or Ocean Grove of the 1880s.

 

Laws prohibited recreation, travel, shopping, games, swearing and one could be fined for not attending church.  Other days of the week permitted recreation, gambling, prizefighting, horseracing, bowling greens, sports, cards, and checkers, riding horses and telling stories.

 

Education was the mission of the churches at the time since the law for public education was passed in 1868 in NJ. When Ike was a boy in Eatontown, students learned to read, write and do arithmetic at home or in church schools taught by ministers or religious teachers. Lotteries were used to build church buildings, schools, hospitals and roads. The first Kindergarten was founded in 1860 in Boston; however, it would take another fifty years for the idea would spread to NJ.

 

Private academies taught by headmasters served boys ages nine to fourteen. These were one-room schoolhouses where the Bible was read daily and discipline consisted of whipping, flogging and punishments. There were long benches and tables for written work in ink since lead pencils were too expensive.  Slates had not been introduced in 1815 and paper was very expensive. Girls were educated in home skills, not academics until the New Jersey Public Schools law opened education for both sexes in 1868.

 

Learning took place by rote and memorization. By 1815 Webster’s Dictionary, the first to standardize spelling and pronunciation, sold five million copies. Subjects were taught orally without books. In 1818 a Girls Seminary started in Massachusetts and the first high school was started in Boston in 1821. Education for girls was a foreign concept. Teachers were male, paid by taxes and boarded by local families. A woman teacher was paid $4.20 a month since the profession of teaching was considered effortless and made for an easy life with no manual labor.

 

Ike uses dollars, cents, half-cents and shillings when recording transactions in his account book of 1855. Scores of different kinds of currency were issued at the time. Failing to pay debts was punished by imprisonment, although bankruptcies were not a disgrace. New York incarcerated thirty-four debtors in 1815 and each was responsible for providing his own food. The main vice at the time was drunkenness. Wines were imported since there were no local vineyards. The unfortunates, paupers, orphans, foundlings, sick, insane and unemployed were sent to almshouses.

 

One hospital opened in Philadelphia in 1815 but was unsanitary and overcrowded. The main treatment for any sickness was bloodletting by a barber. A vein in the arm, neck or foot would be cut to let out the bad blood. The most common diseases were diphtheria, decayed teeth and gout. The idea for smallpox vaccinations appeared in 1807. There was no anesthesia until 1846. Dueling was the custom used to settle disputes in the middle and southern states although rare in New England. Common punishments for crimes included whippings not lynching.

 

Suffrage (voting) stipulations included ownership of property, payment of taxes, being of white race, upper class and male gender, eliminated all renters, all other races, middle and lower classes and all females. Many censuses inaccurately listed the Richardsons as white. Hundreds of European workers migrated to the shore to work in small industries.

 

Such was the world in the1800s that surrounded Isaac and Elizabeth Revey Richardson.

Sand Hill Indian History * PO Box 444 * Lincroft * NJ * 07738 * 732-747-5709