On July 17th 1795, Joshua Evans arrived at Dartmouth, and stayed for almost two weeks, visiting with local Quakers Seth Coleman and Thomas Green, among ten other local families.
Evans, a Quaker minister and abolitionist, was born in 1731 in West Jersey. He was a vegetarian and a fervent proponent of the peace testimony, Quaker plainness, and ending slavery.
“…Wherever he went, Evans was acutely sensitive to all suffering. He would visit any Indian village near his route, relaying the needs he found there to whatever Meeting he was visiting, suggesting members take action, which they usually did. He often preached “something is yet due the Indians for land wrongfully taken,” and he liked to compare the blood of Abel, calling out for revenge, to the blood of slaves and Indians… Evans’ actions against slavery, at home or traveling, included visiting Quaker slave owners and “laboring with them” over the issue and the practicalities of extrication… Joshua Evans also took his stand against war early in life; at 25 he declined military service and gave everyone great pause by also refusing to pay substitutes to kill for him… His concern for peace is easily lost to us, interwoven as it was with use of slave-labor products…”
Evans described Dartmouth as “situated on the east side of Chebucto bay, and contains between fifty and a hundred houses.”
He attended several meetings in Dartmouth “large for the place, and proved to be a heart-tendering, favoured opportunity” including public worship, a meeting of conference and a preparative meeting “in which, those who incline to marry are allowed to declare their intentions. This is on account of their situation being so remote from any monthly meeting.”
“These friends have had their trials, by reason of others removing away, when they had not freedom to go. Our visit was very acceptable, as coming in a needful time; which some of them expressed.”
On July 27th 1795, the day he departed Dartmouth, Evans descibed his visit as “Many people, Friends and others, coming together”.
Dartmouth’s motto is “Amicitia Crescium”, friendship grows. Perhaps Evans’ visit to Dartmouth and his musings served as inspiration.
Evans’ visit to Dartmouth was nearly three years before his travels through the southern states (in the spring of 1798) condemning slavery in the strongest terms. Returning to New Jersey, he died in July of that same year.
Descendants of these early Quakers reside in Dartmouth to this day.
“Joshua Evans Papers”, ca. 1788- ca. 1804
“Journal of the Life, Travels, Religious Exercises and Labours in the Work of the Ministry of Joshua Evans, Late of Newton Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey”, ca. 1834
“Joshua Evans: Consistent Quaker,” in The Friendly Vegetarian, No. 13, Spring 1986.
“Descendants of Benjamin Green Sr.”
“Quakers in the Atlantic Provinces, a very brief historical overview of the Religious Society of Friends”
(Doris Calder, Daphne Davey, Maida Follini and Dorothy Milne, 2015)