FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE (continued)
III. THE MEETING HOUSEITS INTERIOR ARRANGEMENTS & FURNISHINGS
A. Tad Hoover's Recollections
Theodore Hoover in 1911 recalled that the Meeting House was
At general meetings the shutters were pulled down, the women sitting on one side of the low partition and the men on the other. During "business sessions" the shutters were raised, and "the women on their side conducted a session with their clerks, etc., and the men on their side did likewise." Should a question be broached which involved action by the entire meeting, the men on their side would deliberate and act, and then send a messenger to confer with the messenger on the women's side, they having also deliberated and acted. 
The seats for the congregation were placed at right angles to the partition. Instead of a pulpit, there was, facing the congregation, a tier of five seats, one above "the other like seats in an amphitheater, running the "width of the house, and parallel to the seats of the congregation. On this tier of seats sat the elders, lowest down, and the ministers above them, the most important minister, or the visiting minister whom it was desired to honour sitting on the topmost seat next to the partition, with those of lesser importance grading off away from him to the left." On the opposite side of the partition would be seated the most important woman preacher or elder, and grading off from her right those of less importance. 
"Services," Tad Hoover recalled, "were conducted without any set programme." The Friends depended on the "guiding of the Spirit to indicate" what they should say or do. Generally someone was moved to preach or pray, sometimes several, but at times no one. Occasionally a woman would be moved by "the spirit to sing a hymn, but not often as this form of human expression was somewhat under suspicion, and one who did this often was generally urged later in private by an elder to be very certain that she had been guided by the Heavenly Father so to express herself." Some of the elders were afraid that the "inspiration might come from some other source."
Hannah Bean, the Hoover boys' step-grandmother, was often moved, and she sang "the old-fashioned hymns very beautifully, but there were many of those who greatly feared that she was moved by vanity." 
In the matters of dress there was a certain laxity from the "ideals of George Fox and William Penn, but it was largely the exigencies of the frontier and the expense of maintaining a seventeenth century costume which prevented its persistence."
Tad Hoover recalled that all dressed very plainly, and for "meeting days nearly all ministers and elders had some sort of drab or gray-coloured suit and a broadbrimmed hat of sorts." The women, especially the older ones, wore the "peculiar Quaker 'poke' bonnet, which defies masculine description, and they wore gowns which were severely plain and of drab, brown or gray." There were however, signs of revolt, as the girls and younger women, though only on week days at first, "shared a natural desire for ribbons, ruffles, and lace." 
B. Mrs. Odell's Recollections
Mrs. Odell in the 1930s had discussed her recollections of the Meeting House with her cousins Tad and Herbert Hoover. It was agreed that the room was divided through the center by a partition about four feet high. From the ceiling, shutters could be pulled down to the partition making two separate rooms. At the north end of the room, opposite the doorways, were raised seats for "those of the ministry and elders." Just below these there were tables for "the clerk of the meeting," then the pews. The pews were narrow, with straight high backs. On the top row on the men's side sat Joel Bean, while on the women's side sat Hannah Bean, these two being the elder ministers. Next to them sat respectively, John Y. Hoover and Mary Hoover.
There were two coal-burning stoves, at opposite ends of the room. There were two doors, one for women and the other for men, giving access to the building from the outside, and a doorway leading into the room at the west end of the structure, in which the women left their babies while the meeting was in progress. In this room, there were cradles, rocking chairs, and a stove. A copy of the interior arrangements plan, prepared by Mrs. Odell, is found in this report.
The women, during cold weather, would enter the Meeting House carrying soap stones. These would be placed on the rail around the stove to heat. They would then be placed in a flannel bag, and the women, after slipping into their pews, placed the warm stones under their feet. 
Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006