Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Burned Over District


During the early to mid 1800s, New York State, primarily from the Finger Lakes to Lake Erie experienced religious revivals described as the Second Great Awakening. Because the religious fervor was so strong, this area was also referred to as the Burned Over District.  The Second Great Awakening played an important role in women’s rights, education reform, peace advocates, and the question of slavery.  It spawned many new religions such as Mormonism.  

I became aware of the importance of the Burned Over District, because I now have the original journal of Adeline Cleveland Hosner (1809-1882).  Adeline’s journal was edited by William Heidt, Jr. and published by the DeWitt Historical Society (now known as The History Center) as The Pioneer Clevelands.  Adeline Cleveland Hosner is my great-great-great-grandmother.

I also now have a typed version of the original unedited journal, which The Pioneer Clevelands doesn’t provide.  The forward to the typed manuscript – a project lead by Dale and Metta Winter - explains how the journal was found and the role it played in Ithaca College’s Burned Over District Project.

“In 1974, because the Burned Over District was so important to the religious history of New York State, a group of faculty and students from Ithaca College decided to do some research into the area, its history, and its spiritual values. In looking through church records, the group discovered, much to its delight, the personal journal of a woman named Adaline Cleveland Hosner.”  [Dale Winter]

“The overall theme of Adeline’s journal is the recorded process of a woman’s spiritual quest. In its pages she traces and comes to understand the religious experience as it manifests itself in the daily events of her life.”  [Dale Winter]

Mr. Winter goes on to describe the journals: “The manuscript is a coverless booklet made by folding 42 sheets of 16” and 12-1/2 “ paper in half and hand sewing them together along the fold with fine linen thread making an 84-page booklet measuring 8” by 12-1/2”.   The first entry is March 1838; the last August 7, 1882.”

I look forward to the hours of work ahead reading through the entries to extract important family history information, and really getting to know Adaline.   The first entry tells of her mother’s death as well as her sister’s illness, which resulted in the loss of a child. 

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