in the Proceedings of the 1850 National Woman's Rights Convention. She was
born July 18,1814 in Franklin, CT., and died May 4, 1873 of apoplexy at Red Bank,
NJ. She married Edmund Price (born on March 1, 1808), described as an
unsuccessful hatter who made poor investments.
1. Arthur W. Price was born January 23, 1840 in Willimantic, CT. He became an
engineer in the U.S. Navy.
2. Helen C. Price was born May 18, 1841 in Willimantic, CT.
3. Emily W. Price was born in Hopedale.
4. Henry Edmund Price was born April 2, 1850 in Hopedale and died May 2,
Mr. Price was by trade a hatter. He was a very honest, industrious, hard-working
man in whatever business engaged, often consuming 15-18 hours of the 24. Had
he been as successful in preserving the fruits of his toil as in earning them, he must
have become wealthy. But, with no vicious or spend-thrift habits, through
misjudgment or ill-luck in the investment of his funds, he frequently lost in large
sums what he had acquired by laborious diligence. He and his wife came to
Hopedale in 1842, and were among our early members of the community. Mrs.
Price was an intelligent woman, with a literary and poetic genius. She occupied an
influential official position in the community for several years. In 1853, she and her
husband removed to Englewood, NJ, thence to New York City, and last to near Red
Bank, Monmouth Co., NJ. There she died suddenly of apoplexy, May 4, 1878. An
interesting memorial obituary testifying to her life-work and worth, soon after
appeared in the New York Tribune. Biographical and Genealogical Register of
Milford, page 979.
Just below the entry for Edmund and Abby Price in the Genealogical Register is
Price, Charles Henry, a bro. of Edmund, b. in Brooklyn, Ct., June 15, 1819; became
a member of the Community at Hopedale in Aug. 1843, and for some yrs. was a
faithful and efficient manager of our Transportation Branch. In 1844 he m. Betsey
Cleveland, b. in Bozrah, Ct., Aut 27, 1823, and removed her hither.
"Nearly all that we know about the Hopedale Community (1841-1856) is written
through the eyes of Adin Ballou, its founder, planner, theologian, President, and
historian. Ballou referred to Price- as "a sort of poet-laureate to the Community." I
found more than sixty poems, several articles, and the story related in the following
pages. I also found evidence that there are many other stories waiting to be
discovered and told.
"Abby's writings give us an intriguing picture of a highly intelligent, educated
woman, absolutely committed to Practical Christian Socialism. The writings that we
have contain a strong but warm and loving religious flavor. Her writing is replete
with Biblical allusion and metaphor which she applies to the reform movements with
enormous skill. They show us a woman whose thoughts were developing over the
years, and whose personal commitment to reform began to focus on womans' rights
by the early 1950s. And they show us a woman with the courage to speak before a
national convention, criticizing the large society in which she found herself; a
woman whose courage failed when it came to wearing the newfangled Bloomer
costume in public and a woman who finally turned a critical eye on the community
which she loved, advocating for changes in women's sphere with that community. I
would suggest that it may have been this criticism of Hopedale itself that led to a
lack of support during a time of interpersonal crisis, leaving her vulnerable and
ultimately leading to her decision to leave.
"Abby Price along with her fellows at Hopedale was strongly anti-war [Mexican
War], giving many of her anti-slavery writings a rich, sweet-sour mixture of hope
that slavery would end without war, that God and love would somehow put an end
to the evil of slavery.
"There was a particular chain of events that led to the departure of Abby and her
family from Hopedale. Adin Ballou refers to these events a 'A Free Love Episode'
[in his History of Hopedale]. He mentions no names. But upon hearing a rumor,
Sam'l W. Wheeler of Providence wrote to Abby Price as follows: 'It is reported that
you, with two or three others, (Henry Fish is named as one,) are about being or are
excluded from Hopedale Community. I hear nothing as a reason but that you have
adopted what is call by some the 'Free Love' principle What is it? what does it
mean?...You cannot imagine my feelings. Seldom, if ever, has my spirit been
troubled as it is now. Do write immediately.' To his credit, Adin Ballou published
this letter and Abby's reply in The Practical Christian. [July 2, 1853]" Susan G.
LaMar, The Poetry, Politics, and Prophecy of Abby Hills Price.
(unpublished paper for Andover Newton Theological School, 1998).
In a biography of Walt Whitman, written by Mitchell Santine Gould, it mentions
that, " Helen Price was the daughter of one Whitman's dearest confidantes, Abby
The Free Love Scandal of 1853 Hopedale Community Menu
1850 Women's Rights Convention - Worcester
Proceedings of the Worcester Convention
(Abby Price's address begins on page 20.)
Abby Price and the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention
This photo of Abby Hills Price was found by Rev. Patricia Hatch in a
biography of Walt Whitman, and passed on to me by Marcia Matthews.
Here's what Patricia had to say about the find:
"Susan LaMar found the book and I ordered it from inter-library loan. In
the meantime, I talked to Jeanne Kinney, who told me the picture was in
the book. The book is called 'Walt Whitman and 19th-Century Women
Reformers' by Sherry Ceniza. Abby H. Price and her daughter Helen
were good friends and correspondents with Walt Whitman and his mother
from about the mid-1850s."