Hannah Baker Church: wife, mother and Quaker preacher

Map of Ulster County, NY, from Beers via Wikipedia

Map of Ulster County, NY, 1875, from Beers via Wikipedia. Find towns of New Paltz, Lloyd and Plattekill in the southeast corner.

52 Weeks, 52 Ancestors, Number 4
Hannah Baker Church (1775-1843), Ulster County, New York

The Society of Friends, or Quakers, played a significant role in the American women’s rights movement and in the campaign for women’s suffrage. This was due, in no small part, to the fact that they supported education for women and had many female ministers or preachers. Among them was my 4th great-grandmother Hannah Baker Church.

Hannah was born 4 March 1775, according to Quaker records. Her birth was most likely in Clintondale in the southeast corner of Ulster County, New York. Ulster County borders the Hudson River on its west side, with Dutchess County across the river along its east side. Her parents are thought to be Adam and Maria Baker, also of Ulster County, but that is not confirmed. Still, the household of Adam Baker in the 1790 U.S. Census in New Marlborough, Ulster County, included 9 females. New Marlborough was also in the southeast corner of the county.

Hannah married Caleb Church in about 1796 and they had 10 or more children, from John in 1798 to George Washington Church in 1819. Among their sons were Benjamin F. Church, my 3rd great-grandfather, born in 1807, and Samuel Church born in 1805. Samuel’s published biographical sketch provides important details on the Church family and genealogy.

On 21 August 1805, Hannah was received by request [rec. by req.] into the Valley Preparative Meeting of Quakers in Plattekill, Ulster County, New York, according to¬† the volume Quaker History and Genealogy of the Marlborough Monthly Meeting, Ulster County, N.Y., 1804-1900. Her “convincement” of Quaker values led to her membership. She would have been 30 years old.

The most noted of the early Friends ministers in that area were Dr. Adna Heaton, Hannah Church, Nathaniel Thorn, his daughter Esther Weeks, Sarah Roberts and Sarah E. Roberts, the book states. Hannah was a Quaker preacher “who went around on horseback with Hannah Frye,” according to the book Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass.

Hannah is credited by several sources with playing a valuable role in establishing a Quaker meeting in Clintondale, Ulster County, and working for construction of a meeting house there. These include the book History of the Village of Clintondale, Ulster County, NY. The First Settlement to 1824, by P.N. Mitchell, and the History of Clintondale Monthly Meeting, online.

While her husband Caleb is mentioned as an Orthodox Quaker as is Hannah in son Samuel’s biosketch, Caleb is not listed in the Quaker book cited here. He perhaps was never a full member. The Church family was of Puritan stock, Samuel’s biosketch notes.

The final days of Hannah Baker Church, wife of Caleb Church, are narrated in a brief item in “The Friend,” 1844, Volume 17. It recalled that Hannah was “early in life convinced of the principles of Friends, and joined the Society.” Also remembered was that she “sometimes bore testimony to the goodness of her Divine Master and to the praise of the glory of his grace.”

Beset by a “rheumatic affection” at the end, Hannah died 24 September 1843 in Clintondale, survived by her husband Caleb and many of her children. A remarkable woman.

Sources:
> Quaker History & Genealogy of Marlborough Meeting, Ulster County, N.Y.
> Samuel Church entry, Commemorative Biographical Record of Ulster County, New York: Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, and of Many of the Early Settled Families
> Descendants of Richard Church of Plymouth, Mass.
> Quaker Views on Women: Wikipedia
> Quakers in Action: Rights of Women
> History of the Village of Clintondale, Ulster County, NY. The First Settlement to 1824, by P.N. Mitchell.
> History of Clintondale Monthly Meeting
> History of Clintondale Friends
> “The Friend,” published by The Friend, 1844, in Volume 17 (1843/1844), page 72.

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