Bethiah Mosher Furnas ~ Quaker Minister & Poet
Sketch by Diana Bouton
Bethiah Mosher was born on the third of March 1813 in Cardington, Ohio, a town founded by her granfather Asa Mosher. Her father, Robert Mosher and mother, Edith Nichols had come to the Ohio valley from New York as small children. By 1800 they owned significant acreage within township limits as well as valuable farmable land in the surrounding valley.
Members of the Mosher family were instrumental in organizing schools and establishing the Quaker meeting. They built the first grist and saw mill and Asa Mosher sat ont he first town council. Bethiah grew up in a family of relatiave prosperity and civic prominence. It must have beena loving happy home because she stayed in close touch with her sisters throughout her life and deeply mourned her parents at their passing. She was raised in the Quaker church. Pictures of her show a strict adherance to the Quaker fashion of "plain dress." On September 23, 1853, at the age of 22, she married Robert F. Furnas, a young farmer from Waynesville. Her poetry gives us a peek into the trials of their courtship. Bethiah and Robert had eight children:
- Mary Furnas, b. 1855
- Seth W. Furnas, b. 1857
- Calista Furnas, b. 1860 ~ d. 1862
- Eunice Furnas, b. 1862
- Edith D. Furnas, b. 1864 ~ d. 1873
- Phebe Furnas, b. 1868
- Robert H. Furnas, b. 1870
- Joseph Furnas, b. ca. 1872 ~ d. 1874
Bethiah continued her family's tradition of community service by focusing her considerable acumen and creative energy on the enhancement of the nascent communites growing around her. Her diary shows she played an active role in the creation of the school system in Waynesville. She became a minister of the Miami Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). She was a skilled and prolific writer, leaving us the legacy of her poetry. We feel her compassion in the obituaries she wrote for the local Paper. While living in Kansas, she directed plays, undoubtedly some of her own creation, for a local cildren's theater group. As an intelligent, articulate yet gracious member of the community, we can only imagine how friends and neighbors must have depended upon her kind heart, openess, and warmth.