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106Bulletin of Friends Historical Association WILLIAM HOBSON, QUAKER DIARIST By Edward P. Thatcher* "Attended School and meeting. I was favored with a good degree of power in the ministry." These words from the diary of William Hobson, Quaker, were written in Newberg, Oregon, Seventh Month 31, 1887. The school referred to is Friends Pacific Academy, then just two years along in its history toward the present George Fox College. The meeting was Newberg Monthly Meeting of Friends, established in October 1875 by William Hobson and other Orthodox Friends recently of Honey Creek Meeting, New Providence, Iowa. Newberg, through the efforts of William Hobson, thus became the first Quaker community west of the Rockies. The diaries of William Hobson have recently been loaned by his granddaughter, Laura Blair, to the University of Oregon Library. To insure preservation of the paper and the legibility of the penciled entries the diaries have been microfilmed,. The microfilms are retained in fireproof stacks and are available for study by historians and other scholars. William Hobson was born to Quaker parents, Second Month 4, 1820 in Yadkin (then Surry) County, North Carolina. He worked in his father's grain mill and blacksmith's forge, attending school very little until the age of eighteen. While at Friends Boarding School at New Garden (now Guilford College), North Carolina during the winter months for three years after becoming eighteen, he became proficient in spelling and written expression. Of his work at home he relates: "my labor was well worth 50 cents per day to my father on an average for every working,day. Which though small; Yet for that country and the times, is still a satisfactory reflection; that I was not more cost than profit in my raising." From 1841, when he last attended the New Garden Friends' School, then in its third year, until 1859, when he began a continuous daily record of his activities, there are no records known * Edward P. Thatcher is on the staff of the Library of the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. Notes and Documents107 in Oregon of William Hobson other than a single written statement that with wife and two small children he left Surry County in 1847 for Iowa. Most of his diary entries are brief: "Took in corn," "Worked on house," "Vitrioled my oats," "Riv'd boards," "Sorted my Winesap Apples," "Attended School and meeting." There are, however, longer entries, written during each of his three major trips in the interests of Friends' ministry. He made trips to California and Oregon in 1871, 1874, and finally with his family to the Willamette Valley in October 1875. On these trips he distributed copies of writings of Fox and Barclay, and many hundreds of Friends' tracts. That William Hobson usually spoke to whatever meeting he attended is assumed from the number of times he makes clear "the good relief by speaking" that he experienced and from the fact that he notes travel to Friends' and Methodists' meeting places. Often his travel was on foot and well into the hinterlands of Oregon and Washington Territory. He left a notebook of religious thoughts and quotations, which, we may assume, provided texts for much preaching. The diary of William Hobson not only documents early Quaker settlement and the spread of Christian ministry in Oregon, but because William Hobson recorded the costs of his major purchases and sales and wrote in detail of travel conditions and traveling expenses, supplies an important unit in the mosaic picture the historian is continually designing of American life and manners. As stated, there is little record here to tell us anything about Hobson between 1841 and 1859. During this interval he married and with two children he and his wife traveled to central Iowa. Later, during his western travels, he records writing many letters to relatives, some of which may yet exist among family papers in North Carolina and Iowa. Neither these nor records of his migration to Iowa are here. Letters, as personal narratives, may be more revealing to Quaker historians than his diary, which notes chiefly his activities as a husbandman of the land. William Hobson was a leader among Quakers, an interpreter of the Lord's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 106-108
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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