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Jemima Wilkinson House

Jemima Wilkinson House Jemima Wilkinson House

The view east The view east from Wilkinson House.
Photographs by NYSOPRHP.

Jemima Wilkinson (1752-1819), religious founder

This two and one-half story, framed Federal style residence is the only surviving home of Jemima Wilkinson, the first American-born woman to found a religious group. Also known as the Friend House, this building and the surrounding lands became the center of the agricultural and spiritual activities which supported the growth of Wilkinson's Society of Universal Friends, a movement which combined elements of Quakerism, New Lights Baptists and the closely related Society of Friends. The product of a Quaker home, Wilkinson's intense religious interests were influenced by the death of her mother and a fever-born vision which convinced Wilkinson to begin preaching to a sinful world. After her recovery in 1776, she began calling herself the Public Universal Friend and soon moved her expanding group of followers-many who had left various sects to follow Wilkinson - into unsettled western New York. The Society built its first community near the present town of Torrey, far from the temptations of civilization. However, a 1794 dispute over land titles split the movement, causing the Friend to move her colony to what is now Jerusalem, NY and onto the property that became her final home. Although the basic tenants of the Friend's movement-repentance, pacifism and abolition-resemble the Quakers and other movements of the era, she was able to attract converts by her deeply held beliefs and inspirational preaching style. Her death in 1819 led directly to the demise of the Society and she was briefly interred in a vault in the cellar of the house. Fearing for the future safety of Wilkinson's grave, disciples removed her body and buried her at an unmarked location on the property.

The Jemima Wilkinson House is located outside Jerusalem, NY. The property is not open to the public.

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Last Modified: Monday, 30-Mar-98 15:42:58EST