On this date in 1907, The Norwalk Daily Reflector reported exciting news: a Chauquatua Assembly was to be established at Ruggles Beach.
What is Chauquatua? And where is Ruggles Beach, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.
The first Chauquatua Assembly was established in 1874 at Lake Chauquatua in New York by a Methodist minister. It grew over the years, and by 1907, had assemblies all about the country, and traveling assemblies that visited towns on a circuit. These assemblies featured religious and secular lectures, musical programs, and other wholesome entertainment.
I have not found any records of an assembly being
actually established at Ruggles Beach in 1907, but I do know that Chautauqua programs were presented during the summer from a couple 1908 diary entries by Harriott Wickham (my grandmother and member of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907). As I discussed in Summer in the Firelands on September 1 last year, Harriott and most of her classmates spent their summers on the shores of Lake Erie. Here is what she wrote about the Chatautauqua program that summer of 1908.
Wednesday, July 29, – We finally got up our nerve and went over to Chautauqua tonight for the first time. It was a sort of recital of “Madame Butterfly” by a woman in Japanese costume, and was very good. After that they had moving pictures which were not only very poor, but were also disgusting. After the show, we all went over to the hall and danced for awhile.
Thursday, July 30, – Dreadfully hot! We stayed at home and read most all day. When we went in bathing that Jerpe fellow and another had a log out there trying to dive off of it. We joined them, and so I suppose we have got acquainted with him at last. We went over to Chautauqua again in the evening, but didn’t enjoy it much. I don’t care much for lectures anyway and this was a particularly tiresome one. We went over to the hall afterwards, but there wasn’t much doing, so we came on home.
It seems Harriott was more interested in spending her summer at the beach swimming and dancing, instead of listening to lectures and or watching other “wholesome” entertainment.
There are a few Chautauqua Assemblies still operating today: for instance in Boulder, Colorado and at Lake Chautauqua. Another assembly is located at Lakeside, Ohio, and Harriott and some of her friends visited there later in the summer of 1908. In a later post, we’ll see what she had to say about in her diary about that visit to Lakeside.
Source: “Chautauqua Assembly,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 7, 1907, page 1, column 8.
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