by Leslie Ray Sears, III and Pamela Sears Cooper
In the 1880 Dennis (Cape Cod) Massachusetts census when Isaiah Hall, 1880 census enumerator, reached the house at the northwest corner of the Old King’s Highway and Bridge Street in East Dennis, (just a few miles away from our great-grandfather’s house) he recorded the following on page 14 of enumeration district 12 dwelling house (in the order of visitation) #160, family #170: Mary C Paddock, age 56, keeping house. In fact in the 1880 Atlas of Barnstable County, you can clearly see this house labeled as Mrs. M Paddock. The 1880 Atlas is a valuable resource when studying the census from the whole town point of view. Mary Crocker Paddock (1821-1892) was the daughter of Judah and Mary Crocker (Crowell) Paddock. Whether this entry listed Mary as a “Mrs.” in error or whether they were referring to her deceased mother who was also named Mary Crocker Paddock (1794-1868) is a mystery.
Living with Mary are Anna N Shaw, 33, boarder, clergyman b. England; Emma F Angell, 30, boarder, physician, b. NY; Ellen McLaughlin 20, servant, b. Ireland and John McLaughlin, 7mos., boarder. It’s difficult to think of a 7 month old baby as a boarder but clearly his mother is employed by the owner to support the other boarders. Four women, all single. Pam discovered this intriguing household during data entry for the 1880 Dennis tree and did some more digging.
It’s no wonder Emma is in the company of Reverend Anna Howard Shaw (1847-1919) (another case where the enumerator wrote N instead of H or just our lacking ability to discern his penmanship). The minister appeared to be inviting all of her forward thinking friends to come preach and teach in East Dennis. We wonder if the local seafarers' wives made a particularly good audience since they must have been an independent lot. Anna had graduated from the Theology School of Boston University in 1878 at age 31. From 1878 to 1885 she was pastor at East Dennis, Mass. She was ordained by the Methodist Protestant Church on Oct. 12, 1880.
Reverend Dr Shaw must have been quite a leader as she is described in Jim Coogan’s Barnstable Patriot article “The Woman Preacher Who Faced Down a Sea Captain” in the 24 Jun 2001 issue. “Two factions in the East Dennis Methodist church were at each other and couldn’t get along. She said ‘I will refuse admittance to any among you who bring personal criticism into your public prayers.’ One retired sea captain stood up angrily. ‘I have prayed in this heavenly way for 50 years before that gal was born," he pointed to Shaw. ‘And she can't dictate to me how I shall pray in the future.’
Shaw allowed him to continue. When he finished, she spoke directly to him. ‘Captain, If I came aboard your ship and refused to follow orders, would you not consider that an act of mutiny?’ The old man nodded in assent. ‘And would you not put me ashore in irons?’
Problems continued in the church until Reverend Shaw said she would resign and went home to that house on Bridge street to pack her bags. The parishioners would have none of it.
Coogan continues “But before she could leave, a delegation of church goers surrounded her house. They were led by the same captain that she had earlier banished from the church. He had heard about the sermon and agreed that the young woman preacher was indeed correct in her assessment.
‘Its high time quarrelling and backbiting were stopped,’ he told the crowd. ‘I've come here to say that I'm with the gal. She got real spunk. Put me down for my original subscription and ten dollars extra!’”
Anna attended Albion College, Michigan, just 30 miles from Olivet College, Michigan where Dr. Emma did her undergraduate work. Do you suppose this is the connection that resulted in their being boarders in the same house in East Dennis? Or maybe it’s the fact that Anna attended Boston University School of Theology just six years before Dr. Emma. They are only two years apart in age. Rev. Anna became the first woman to be ordained a Methodist Protestant minister in 1880. Of course the church in East Dennis is no stranger to famous people. Our grandmother attended that church when Peter Marshall, Jr was preaching there in the 60s.
That house is currently an antique shop. Oh to be a fly on the wall at the dinner table in 1880.