Biographical / Historical
In the mid-nineteenth century, the Society of Friends was divided by a series of unfortunate schisms. Following a division in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1827, four other yearly meetings in the United States were divided into factions known as Orthodox and Hicksite. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Orthodox Quakers were divided again into Gurneyite (later Evangelical) and Wilburite (later known as Conservative) affiliations. This separation was instigated by the English evangelical Quaker, Joseph John Gurney, who visted meetings in America teaching his interpretation of Quaker practice and thought. Other groups of Friends, under the leadership of John Wilbur of New England, followed what they believed was a more traditional form of Quakerism. New England Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) split a second time in 1845. Ohio Yearly Meeting divided in 1854, precipatated by visits of Thomas B. Gould, clerk of the New England Wilburite group, and Eliza Gurney, widow of Joseph John Gurney. Whereas most of the Orthodox Quakers in New England and New York Yearly Meetings sympathized with the Gurneyite view, the conservatives outnumbered the evangelicals in Ohio Yearly Meeting. Many of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) were sympathetic to the Wilburite meetings, but to avoid a second schism and to avoid taking sides, that Yearly Meeting ceased formal communication with other yearly meetings for many years.
Ohio Yearly Meeting (Wilburite, later known as Conservative) was split again by two short-lived divisions in 1863 and 1867. The Maulites, or Primitives, were lead by Joshua Maule who rejected a moderate approach to Quakerism. After Maule's death, his version of extreme conservativism faltered.
Edward F. Stratton (1876-1968) was a Quaker from Salem and Barnesville, Ohio. He served as Curator of the Salem Quarterly Meeting records and was Librarian of the Friends Society, Salem, Ohio. In 1964, he moved to The Walton, a Quaker boarding home in Barnesville, Ohio, where he maintained an avid interest in preserving the history of Ohio Quakers. As Curator of Salem Quarterly Meeting Records, Edward F. Stratton was involved with the deposit of Ohio Hicksite and western Pennsylvania Quaker records in Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College in the early 1960s. Salem, Ohio, was the Ohio center of Wilburite Quakerism.