Monday, April 03, 2017

Quaker Women Series: Amanda Way

Amanda Way, prohibitionist, abolitionist, and suffragist and was born in 1828, to a Quaker family.  For as many organizations as she helped found, and for as many lectures she gave across the nation, it is surprising and confusing why we do not know about Amanda Way.  Early in life she became the sole breadwinner for her family when her fiancĂ© died three weeks before their marriage, her father died that same year, and her older brother married.  In order to support her family, she became a teacher.

Amanda wore many different hats when it came to her professions and ministries.  She was a teacher, an activist for women’s rights and temperance, a nurse in the Civil Way, milliner (she made hats!), seamstress, and a preacher.  In fact, she was active in all of the great reform movements that happened in her lifetime:  women’s rights, temperance, and abolition of slavery!  She was also a conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Amanda Way was a founding member of Indiana Woman’s Rights Association, 1851.  She revived said association in 1869 (it was inactive from 1859-1869).  Indiana’s First Woman’s Rights Convention in 1851 “focused on what women thought of as the largest injustices they faced:  discriminatory property laws, wage inequality, and lack of educational opportunities.”  In her keynote address she declared that “unless women demand their rights politically, socially, and financially, they will continue in the future as [they have] in the past.”  The following resolutions she presented were accepted:

“That all customs, laws and institutions that deprive women with an equal right with men to intellectual, social and moral improvement; to the attainment of wealth and personal comfort and independence, or to an equal share in creating, and administering the social, civil, and religious institutions under which they are to live, and to which they are to be held responsible, are unjust, cruel and oppressive and ruinous to the peace, order and progress of individuals and to the whole human family; and of all men and women who respect themselves and their fellow beings, will plead and labor for their change, or their overthrow.”

Whereas, we believe the present style of female dress is highly inconvenient, unnatural and destructive of health and a mark of the degradation of women, therefore: Resolved, That the women of this convention pledge themselves, before our families, to throw off the bondage imposed upon us by Parisian Milliners and adopt a style of dress more in accordance with reason.” 
Installed 2013 Indiana Historical Bureau, Indiana Women’s History Association, Inc., Winchester Friends Church, Randolph County Historical Society, and Friends of Amanda Way

Amanda participated in the “Whiskey Riot” in 1854.  This is a fascinating story of approximately 50 women going business to business destroying all of their alcohol!  You can read about it here, including quotes from an original news article!  A different take on the event is found here, including the lawsuit that resulted from their temperance actions and their verdict.  Some say Amanda did more than participate and named her as the leader of the pack.  The “Page Liquor Case” is what came of the “Whiskey Riot.”  Mr. Page owned a store and sold large quantities of liquor to the men in the town, causing numerous problems in the community and home, including abuse.  The women wanted the shop owners to sign a pledge that they would stop selling liquor.  Jill Hinty Keener records that,  Page refused, and locked the door to prevent them from entering.  Undeterred, they used hatchets and hammers to chop down his door and break out a window.  They then rolled seven or eight barrels into the street, chopping off the “faucets,” and breaking out the heads.  They also did considerable damage to the inside of his shop.  The list of stock destroyed tells exactly how much damage they did: 

a barrel of brandy,
a barrel of bourbon,
a barrel of rye,
nine gallons of rum,
ten gallons of gin,
ten gallons of rye whiskey,
ten gallons of sweet wine,
six gallons of wine,
sixteen gallons of gin,
twenty barrels and kegs,
twenty spigots and faucets,
one hundred dollars worth of damage to doors and windows,
as well as coffee and candy spilled on the floor.

Surprisingly, many of the town’s attorneys, all men, came together and defended the women in the criminal trial which ended with a not guilty verdict

Amanda was also a leader in Independent Order of Good Templars, a fraternal organization promoting total abstinence from alcohol that “always admitted women on the same basis as men,” according to their literature.  Offices she held included:  Grand Worthy Chief, Grand Deputy, Right Worthy Grand Vice-Templar, Right Worthy Grand Templar, and Past Grand Worthy Chief Templar.  She also served as Grand Worthy Chief Templar, their highest office.  Articles from the Centralia News-Examiner in 1905 document her attendance at their annual session in Washington, stating that

“among the more prominent people present are Miss Amanda Way, Right Grand Templar and Past Grand templar of Kansas and Idaho.”

Amanda was a member of Women’s Christian Temperance Union, where their purpose remains the same today as it was then: “protection of the home, the abolition of the liquor traffic, and the triumph of Christ’s Golden Rule in custom and in law.”

In 1869, she helped found American Woman’s Suffrage Association, working alongside Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, but you won’t find her name listed with theirs.  For as involved as she was, hardly anybody knows who she was!  She is included in both Anthony and Cady’s biographies, though.  

At approximately 43 years of age, she became a Methodist Episcopal minister in 1872 but returned to her Quaker roots and became a recorded minister with them in 1884.  Five years later we learn she was in Boise Idaho!  In 1899, Charles R.Scott writes about resigning his pastorate at Salem, Oregon, and going to Boise, Idaho, stating “I found a few Friends organized into a monthly meeting under the efficient labors of Amanda M. Way, forming a nucleus for what promises to be in the near future, under God’s blessing, a work of no small magnitude;” Amanda was doing more than preaching while in Boise.  She was nominated by the Idaho Prohibition Party to run for US Congress in 1900 (but did not win) – she was 72 years old. 

When asked why she never married, her response was, “I never had time.”  After learning of everything she was involved with and in, I believe her! 

#QuakerWomen #WomenHistoryMonth #WomenPreachers 


  1. Thanks for your article about Amanda Way....she was a remarkable woman whose life, work and witness should not be forgotten. I shared this on the Winchester Friends Meeting Facebook page as Amanda became a member of Winchester Friends when she was unlicensed as a Methodist minister. Just as a matter of history, in the 1880's in Randolph County, Indiana there were more Quakers here than in any other part of the world. In the Quarterly Meeting there were around 17 recorded ministers, 7-8 of them women. Somewhere in the past 140 years we've neglected recognizing and recording women in ministry and today in the same area there are maybe 2 among 20+ recorded pastors. We have a powerful heritage and it gives me hope for the future.

    Pam Ferguson
    Winchester Friends Meeting, Winchester, Indiana

    1. Thank you so much for the additional information. Appreciate it!


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