Material History of American Religion Project

Church stick

Line drawing of tithing stick

"The tithing man was always given a convenient place in the first American churches, and it was his job to keep order. His badge was a long stick with a rabbit's foot on one end and a fox tail on the other. The heavy end of the stick was used to waken nodding boys; the faces of slumbering matrons were brushed with the softer end. This was always good for a laugh, but undue noise was reprimanded by the tithing-man's holding a forefinger across his lips and tapping his stick with the other hand. The 'finger-to-the-lips' sign for quiet may have originated from the church and the tithing man."

Eric Sloane, American Yesterday (New York: Wilfred Funk Inc., 1956), 32.

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