Reading Room: Demographics Circa 1820

This article, originally titled "Early Membership at Foundry" is provided and used with permission from Papers of Homer Calkin, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

 

When the Foundry congregation was first organized, it was small in numbers. Thirty-eight members met at the home of Ezekiel Young in 1815. Of these, twenty were white and the remaining eighteen Negroes. By the time Foundry became a separate charge two years later, membership had increased to 176. In 1820 there were 196 white and 60 colored members.

We know little or nothing about most of these early worshippers. A list of 112 Foundry members, made while John Emory was pastor, shows that 71 or 63.4 percent were women and the balance men.

From available records one can learn the occupations of thirty-nine. Then, as now, a number worked for the Federal Government. Eleven, or twenty-seven percent, were clerks or messengers in the War, Treasury and Navy Departments. Six were either grocers or butchers. Ten were in the building trades, working as carpenters, brickmakers and cabinet makers. The occupations of shoemaker, printer, police officer and naval constructor were represented by one each. In this group were also six housewives and three widows.

Based upon available information for forty-two members, more than eighty-five percent of them lived within a radius of nine blocks from Foundry Church. However, even in the beginning, some members had to travel considerable distance to church. For instance, Eli Palmer, one of the class leaders, lived near the "western graveyard" at 19th and S Streets, Northwest. Some members lived on Capitol Hill. These included Elizabeth Douglass, James Fry; Joseph W. Beck and Elizabeth Mincher who were much nearer to Ebenezer Methodist Church than to Foundry.

 

This article, originally titled "Early Membership at Foundry" is provided and used with permission from Papers of Homer Calkin, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.