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Thursday, 21 January 2021 18:54

Lyrics of Quakerism

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A few weeks ago, we looked at a book on creationism and geology inspired by Norristown and the surrounding region. This week, I’d like to share another book inspired by our county.

 

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Interior of Norristown Meeting

 

Lyrics of Quakerism is a book of poems by Ellwood Roberts. Regular visitors to our library might recognize him as the editor of the two volume Biographical Annals of Montgomery County, as well as a history of Plymouth Meeting. He also wrote several works of genealogy on Quaker families in Montgomery and Bucks counties.

Roberts was actually born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1846, and moved to Pennsylvania in as a young man in 1861. Both of his parents were from Pennsylvania. On his father’s side were Welsh Quakers. His mother was Scotch-Irish and Pennsylvania German.

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According to his entries in both his own Annals of Montgomery County and Henry Wilson Ruoff’s Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Montgomery County, he was largely educated at home. He spent 14 years teaching in public schools and at Friends’ Central School. He wrote both poetry and prose pieces that were published locally, and eventually, Roberts joined the editorial staff of the Norristown Herald.

Roberts was also instrumental in the development of Norristown. In partnership with family members, he bought up farmland and built moderately priced houses. He was even responsible for the Historical Society purchasing its first home on Penn Street.

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Abington Meeting House

Throughout his life he was a devoted Quaker, and his poems in Lyrics of Quakerism reflect this. Several poems are dedicated to local meeting houses and the book is illustrated with photographs of those houses.

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A two page spread showing Gwynedd Meeting and its accompanying poem

In other poems, he refelcts on the spirituality of Quakerism, writing much about the Inner Light and the quiet of the meetings.  Other poems concern life on the farm and local nature.  Ellwood Roberts died in 1921 at his home in Swarthmore.


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Read 1244 times Last modified on Friday, 05 February 2021 20:06