Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Ellwood H Stokes in Ocean Grove New Jersey’

Ocean Grove, New Jersey. April 20, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger. © Blogfinger.net

Ocean Grove, New Jersey. April 20, 2015. By Paul Goldfinger. © Blogfinger.net Click to enlarge.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

“I hereby acknowledge the good hand of God in leading me from the beginning until now.”     With these words, written in 1897, Elwood H. Stokes began his autobiography called “Footprints in My Own Life” published in 1898 in Asbury Park by the Press of  M., W. & C. Pennypacker.

A note on page 8 gives a clue as to why he was inspired to write this book.  The frontispiece says “Upon these sea-bleached sands I wrote my name, but one swell of the rising waters wiped it out forever; so will the fast flowing billows of time soon erase my name from the records of earth, and the world will pass on as though a generation of us had never existed.”

Stokes  (1815-1897)  was born into a poor family of Quakers.  He had an uncle named Job.  When he was 16 years old he wanted to join the other boys in sinful activities.  He said, “I tried to plunge into sin, but an invisible power held me back.”  He married Hannah Neff when he was 23.  They had one child–Mary.

After becoming a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church he traveled the circuit and later was given assignments in New Brunswick, Trenton, Newark and Morristown among a number of such New Jersey towns.

At the age of 29, in Long Branch, NJ, Stokes saw the ocean for the first time, and he was powerfully impressed. He said,”I looked! I was astounded! I had seen lofty mountains and noble  rivers; I had seen the beautiful valley, the sloping hill, the winding rivulet; I had seen nature and art combined, forming the most romantic landscapes;—-but never, never had I seen a sight so majestic as the mighty ocean.”

He rose in the ranks and was present on July 31, 1869 when Ocean Grove was founded by a group of Methodist preachers. In 1870 he was named President of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association and he kept that position until he died. He was a much beloved religious leader who led the development of Ocean Grove to the point where huge crowds would come in the summers.  Thanks to him, Ocean Grove today is the longest active Camp Meeting in the United States.

In his latter years, the religious leaders in the Grove became concerned about increased secularism.  Stokes noted that with the increased prosperity of the Camp Meeting attendees, more and more activities were focused on pleasure rather than religion. But Stokes continued his hard work in promoting the Camp Meeting religious life including services on the beach  attended by thousands and sacred music in the Tabernacle.

He never finished his autobiography, so the last chapter was written by his friend and colleague Rev. Dr. Ballard who concluded by saying, “Whatever may come in the future–however much the forms and customs may change as they have already changed—the names of Ellwood H. Stokes and Ocean Grove will stand together while time has a history or eternity a record.*”

MOLLY O’DAY

 

*All quotes are from Stokes’ autobiography.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: