This page started out with pictures of old Friends meeting houses from the original three counties in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Chester (which included what is now Delaware County), and Bucks. But it has expanded so there are also pictures of old meeting houses in Montgomery County (which was originally part of Philadelphia County), Lancaster County (originally part of Chester), and in a few other Pennsylvania Counties. So far these include one or more old meeting houses in Berks, Centre, Columbia, Lycoming, Montour, and York Counties.
Here's a link if you'd like to learn a bit more about the early Friends' message
The map (dating from ca. 1850) shows many of the towns that had meetings in the southeastern quarter of Pennsylvania. It is a detail from James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (Vol. II: Pennsylvania and New Jersey (London: W & F.G. Cash, 1854), opposite p. 1.
Because this web page has gotten so large, it has hived off a second page for some old places of Friends worship in Delaware, Maryland, New England, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia. More will probably be added in time. As of now this is not a complete listing of all Friends meetings or even of old meeting houses in Pennsylvania. Click here to see a current list of mostly "unprogrammed" meetings, not only in Pennsylvania.
If you want to learn more about the construction of meeting houses in Philadelphia and New York Yearly Meetings, see David M. Butler, "Quaker Meeting Houses in America and England: Impressions and Comparisons", in Quaker History, Vol. 79, no. 2 (Fall, 1990), pages 93-104. He points out that some 60% of English meeting houses are of the "cottage" type, with the door in the long wall, while about 35% are "chapel" type with the entrance in the gable end. In contrast, nearly all the colonial meeting houses were newly built for the purpose of holding meetings for worship and business, and developed a distinctive architecture that suited this very well. One contribution of American meeting houses over those in England is the equality of the two sides; there was no distinguishable difference between the men's side and the women's side. In England, where women's meetings were set off a little later from the men's, their space was often an afterthought, and more cramped.
Another resource is Silent Witness: Quaker Meeting Houses in the Delaware Valley, 1695 to the Present by Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service, a 56 page paperback printed by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 2002. It documents the evolution of meeting house design in the Delaware Valley from 1695. It shows the way that faith and practice have been reflected in the architecture of the buildings, as well as demonstrating the Quaker testimony to simplicity. The meeting houses that are included are documented with photographs and drawings produced by the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service.
Another good source of information is Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), pp. 156-187.
The traditional organizational structure of the Religious Society of Friends consists of local congregations of worshipping Friends ("monthly meetings") that gather each month to conduct their church business; these meetings are organized into regional groups ("quarterly meetings") that gather four times a year to worship and conduct business. Groups of quarterly meetings gather annually in a "yearly meeting" to worship and consider the affairs of the larger body. The word "meeting" connotes both the organization and the event. Today there are local and regional variations of this structure. Much earlier a monthly meeting often consisted of several "preparative meetings" that were local groups that worshipped and also prepared business to bring to the monthly meeting. In addition there have been "Allowed Meetings" and "Indulged Meetings". But let's not get technical.
An excellent introduction to Friends' faith and practice is Michael L. Birkel, Silence and Witness: The Quaker Tradition in the Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004).
Warning: this page is still under construction and not all the photographs or accompanying data have been posted yet. The citations and sources are not yet properly posted, either, although most are included [in brackets]. If you have comments, corrections, or additions to this page, please contact me at
As Silas Weeks observes, "meetinghouses--old and new, pastoral and nonpastoral--as well as burial grounds and other structures--are as important a part of Quaker heritage as any written documents. Structures are merely another kind of record." [Silas B. Weeks, New England Quaker Meetinghouses Past and Present (Richmond, Ind.: Friends United Press, 2001) xi.]
Bucks County meeting houses
(one of the three original counties laid out by William Penn's surveyors, Bucks is assumed to have been named for Buckinghamshire, England)
Doylestown is the county seat
An 1891 visitor commented: "A few things are noticeable in all the meetinghouses in this section: (1) they are all capacious and evidently intended for large congregations; (2) they were honestly built, and built to last, being very solid structures of stone, with the evident expectancy that the Society of Friends had come to stay; and (3) the evident taste and refinement of those early Friends, evinced in the neat panelling of the shutters and trimming of the woodwork in the building. They must have been quite as tasteful as the dwellings of that early day. [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.II." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 187.]
Bucks Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting is not quite contiguous with Bucks County. However, because potential viewers of this page are probably more familiar with the boundaries of the County than with the Quarter, I will include here only meeting houses within the county. There are pictures and/or information on the following meeting houses: Bristol, Buckingham, Doylestown, Falls (in Fallsington), Makefield. Middletown (in Langhorne), Newtown, Plumstead (in Gardenville), Richland (in Quakertown), Solebury, Southampton, Warminster, and Wrightstown. There is also something brief on George School. Additional Friends' schools in Bucks County, past and present, are not yet included here.
For those who are curious, Richland Meeting is part of Abington Quarter, while Lehigh Valley (Northampton County) and Quakertown (Hunterdon County, N.J.) are part of Bucks Quarter but not located within Bucks County.
There are two other old meeting houses in Bucks County. One is an abandoned Hicksite meeting house on Street Road, with its burial ground carefully fenced off from what was the surrounding Johnsville Naval Air Development Center in Warminster. The Naval Air base was established during World War II, then later used to test modern aircraft and as a training facility for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs. It was closed by 1998. The meeting house is still standing, currently being used for Assembly of God services (I think). There is also the Twelfth Street or Western District Meeting house from Philadelphia, that was phyically moved to the George School campus just south of Newtown. I am leaving out the present Southampton and Yardley Meetings because they have twentieth century buildings. Southampton's first building, however, was an old one-room school, that is included even though the school was not connected to Friends, as far as I know.
After the separation of 1827 there were often two meeting houses in each location. Most of the older, larger meeting houses in Bucks County were retained by the so-called Hicksites, while the minority Orthodox withdrew and built their own meeting houses. Most of these are now private residences or have been torn down.
A Quaker visitor from Chapaqua Meeting in New York visited Bucks Quarter in 1891, and gave this general description:Our impression of Bucks County is that we have here a valuable company of Friends, intelligent, earnest, and zealous for the right, who, if they can fully realize the work that is needed in our Society and the part they should fill in the service, will not be found wanting in faithful services therein. They are located in an excellent farming country, and all their surroundings indicate thrift and prosperity. Friends, we are not filling the position in the world to-day unto which we have been called! Earnest, prayerful, loving service is needed that has been already too long withheld. Gifts and talents from a loving Father are not occupied, and are becoming rusty and unserviceable for want of use. The golden grain, the results of the labor of our fathers, is being trodden under foot for want of the harvesters. [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.III." Friends Intelligencer 48:13 (Mar. 28, 1891), p. 203.]
Bristol Meeting house is at Market and Wood Streets in the borough of Bristol. It was for many years a Preparative Meeting, first of Falls until 1788, and then of Middletown. About 1704, as happened in so many times and locations, worship began in the area in Friends' homes. The first meeting house was built in 1710. There was a large tree on the meeting house grounds said to date from the time of William Penn. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 78.]
[Photos by Aaron Siskind, in Bucks County: Photographs of Early Architecture (Published for the Bucks County Historical Society by Horizon Press, 1974), 84, 85. See also p. 56.]
When English Quaker Robert Walker (1717-1785) traveled in the ministry among Friends in the American colonies, he commented on the states of the various meetings he visited. He noted that he and his companion Joseph Potts had a "satisfactory meeting" at Bristol in August 1774. This was not damning by faint praise, it was standard, understated Quaker terminlogy. [John M. Moore, "An English Quaker Minister's Visit to Colonial America, 1773-1775", Quaker History, Vol. 78, no. 2 (Fall 1989), 108.]
In 1777 British troops occupied the meeting house, using it for a hospital.
Bristol Meeting opened a school in 1875. I don't know when it was laid down.
Buckingham Meeting, Bucks County, Penna., was set off from Falls Meeting in 1720, although meetings for worship were held there from 1701. As soon as a few Friends were settled in the area John Scarborough and John Bye requested permission from Falls Monthly Meeting to hold meetings for worship in Thomas Bye's house. Thomas Bye and his son John had built a log house near Lahaska in 1699. Three years later they built a 19 by 19 foot stone addition in preparation for the arrival of Thomas's wife Margaret and their other four children. It was on the traditional English pattern with two doors, opposite one another, and a 14 foot fireplace. About 1710 the log part burned. Over the generations additions were constructed on the house. [The house has been restored, as "Old Congress" of Byecroft Farm. Margaret Bye Richie, John D. Milner, and Gregory D. Huber, Stone Houses: Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 205), 68-73.] Worship continued to be held there until the first meeting house was built.
The first meeting house was constructed in 1706 [Michener] or 1710 [Bye, Milner, and Huber] or ca. 1720 [the meeting's web site]. I guess readers may make their choice among three options? A new one was erected in 1729, which burned in 1768. The present meeting house was built in 1768 at a cost of £736.14.00. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 78-9.] Buckingham Meeting house is the earliest known example of the "two-cell, symmetrically balanced, or 'doubled' meeting house that became the prototype for American Friends meeting houses" for the next hundred years. The men's and women's sections were treated as equal parts of a whole structure. Other meetings considering new construction sent delegates to Buckingham to look at what they had built, and the idea spread rather quickly. In 1789 Wrightstown and Falls meeting houses were built on the same plan, as was Middletown in 1793. [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 184-85.]
The meeting house is at 5684 York Road (route 202 and 263) in Lahaska. A somewhat technical description of the exterior stresses the high quality of workmanship, pointing out. . . the stone work with narrow white mortaring of wood-burnt lime of the period. As a gesture towards decoration, the eaves run across each end as well as along the front and rear of the structure. The cornice includes a concave, plastered support, evidence of extra expense and care in the construction. . . . Matthias Hutchinson, Associate Judge of Bucks County for two terms, a man of several other capacities including master mason, was responsible for the over-all construction of this superb building with Edward Good of Plumstead, the chief carpenter. [Margaret Bye Richie, John D. Milner, and Gregory D. Huber, Stone Houses: Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2005), 64; there are beautiful photographs, pp. 64-67.]
An 1891 visitor described it as "a substantial stone building, in a good state of preservation. It is beautifully situated in an old forest, on high ground, and though quite ancient in appearance, impresses one with the thought of good, solid comfort and convenience. The graveyard adjoining is well fenced and well kept, and this commendable feature was noticed everywhere throughout meetings of this quarter. The uniform low gravestones look so much more neat than the higher and more irregular ones in other burying grounds." [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.II." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 186.]
Like so many other Delaware valley meeting houses, Buckingham was commandeered during the Revolutionary War. It was used for a hospital.
Buckingham Meeting started a school in 1794, which is still in existence.
Color photos by MJP Grundy 11/2002
Doylestown Meeting, is at 95 East Oakland Avenue, east of Main Street, in Doylestown. Friends were meeting regularly in Doylestown by 1806 when the meeting was officially started as an Indulged Meeting of Buckingham. The meeting house was constructed in 1836, with the basement expansion done in 1955 (the work done largely by the members). Doylestown did not become a Monthly Meeting until 1951.
Photographs by MJP Grundy, 12/2006
1789 Falls Meeting house, used by the Hicksite branch after 1827. It was renamed the William Penn Center in 1951, and is operated as a United Fund Agency. From a post card, #169, ca. 1900-1910, in Bertha S. Davis, Olive S. Steele, and Charlotte R. Cutshall, Postcards of Bucks County, Pa. as Printed by Arnold Bros. (Washington Crossing, Pa.: Washington Crossing Card Collectors Club, 1980), 64.
Falls Meeting, or Fallsington Meeting, is at 9300 New Falls Road in Meetinghouse Square near the intersection of New Falls and Tyburn Roads, in Fallsington. It was the first Friends meeting established in Bucks County. Meetings for worship were held in the vicinity of the falls of the Delaware River even before William Penn was granted the charter to the colony that was to bear his father's name. The first meeting for business was held at the home of William Biles on 2 Third Month (May) 1683. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 75-76.]
The opening minute described their purpose:"to wait upon the Lord for his wisdom, to hear what should be offered, in order to inspect into the affairs of the Church, that all things may be kept therein sweet and savory to the Lord, and, by our care over the Church, helpful in the work of God; and we . . . thought it fit and necessary that a Monthly Meeting should be set up, both men and women, for that purpose; . . ." [Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938), Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 951.]
The first meeting house was built of brick in 1690 [Michener] or 1692. [Hinshaw; Snipes, The History of Falls Township, 28; and the meeting's web page] It was on six acres of land that had been donated by Samuel Burges. Although the building no longer exists, it is thought to have been at the location of the former school house, which in 1992 was the site of the home of Hugh and Harriett McCue.
A second, larger meeting house was built nearby of stone in 1728 at a cost of £1000. It is constructed of fieldstone with a later frame addition. It is thought that the gambrel roof was added in 1758, "to better accommodate our women Friends at Quarterly Meeting." It is believed that it is this building, known as the "Gambrel Roof House" which in 1940 had been divided into apartments. Since 1969 it has been owned by Historic Fallsington, Inc. The photos of the Gambrel Roof Building and the Schoolmaster's house are from the Historic Fallsington webpage. [Samuel M. Snipes, et al, Tri-Centennial History Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Incorporation of Falls Township, Bucks County, 1692-1992, 105.]
Friends operated a community school from 1730 until 1940. A stone house was built for the schoolmaster. Restored to its original look, it is now owned by the Falls Friends Meeting. In the 1760s Daniel Burges, grandson of the original donor, began selling lots of about an acre each near the meeting house. They were bought by Quaker craftsmen such as Joseph Kelley, carpenter; Samuel Moon, chairmaker; John Merrick, tanner; and Joshua Linton, tailor. Thus the village of Fallsington grew up around the meeting house. [Samuel M. Snipes, et al, Tri-Centennial History Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Incorporation of Falls Township, Bucks County, 1692-1992, 28.]
A third meeting house was built in 1789, pictured at the top of this entry and also to the right, below. After the separation of 1827 it was retained by the Hicksite group. Presently it is the William Penn Center. The Orthodox meeting house was constructed adjacent to the school building in 1841. The two meetings were reunited in 1947, along with the Primitive group that had split off from the Orthodox. [William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938) Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 951; Snipes, et al, Tri-Centennial History Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Incorporation of Falls Township, 177; Friends Historical Library Finding Aid.]
On the left is the Orthodox meeting house at Falls, and on the right is the Hicksite meeting house. These photographs were on the 1933 program of the 250th anniversary commemorative exercises, 20/5/1933, in Fallsington.
By 1910 Falls was the only Orthodox Meeting left in the Orthodox Bucks Quarter, so the Quarterly Meeting merged with the (Orthodox) Burlington and Bucks Quarterly Meeting. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.).]
Falls Meeting records consist of men's minutes (including the Orthodox branch), 1683-1936; women's minutes, (including the Orthodox branch) 1683-1918; Hicksite men's minutes (including the combined men's and women's meetings) 1827-1937; women's minutes, 1827-1891. There are also books of records of births and deaths, marriages, and certificates of removal. I think the originals are at the Quaker Collection at Haverford College. Microfilm copies can be viewed there and at the Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College. Now they have been digitized and are available for a fee through ancestry.com or for free if your local public library is fortunate enough to have a subscription to ancestry library. However, a caveat: ancestry's indexing and search engine leave a great deal to be desired in terms of making the details of Quaker actions comprehensible.
As a witness to Friends' testimony against ostentation and for simplicity, no gravestones were used before the 1850s, although careful records were kept. Unfortunately, the records were burned in the Croasdale store fire of 1910. [Snipes, et al, Tri-Centennial History Commemorating the 300th Anniversary of the Incorporation of Falls Township, 177.]
Makefield Meeting house is at 877 Dolington Road, Newtown. The meeting was first established under Falls Meeting in 1750, and the meeting house was built two years later, in 1752. In 1755 a log school house was built which later burned down. A stone house was built for the school master in 1787. It still stands, currently in use as the caretaker's residence. These photos were taken by Matlack, part of his album of meeting house photos, now at the Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore. The photo to the right shows the meeting house from the front, and one can glimpse the sheds on the right, where the horses were kept during meetings. The smaller photo to the left looks at the meeting house from the sheds. The third photo shows the burying ground with its relatively high wall. I assume Matlack supplied the color tinting.
Middletown Meeting, 453 W. Maple Ave., Langhorne, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was set off from Falls Meeting in 1683. The first meeting for business was held 1/11m/1683 at Nicholas Waln's house. At first the meeting was called Neshamina, after the Creek that ran by the township. The first meeting house was built in 1690. The current meeting house, pictured here, was built in 1793. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 77.] Thirty silver maples were planted on the grounds in 1851. On April 9, 1962, the sheds which in earlier generations had sheltered horses, burned. Friends took the opportunity to replace them two years later with new stone First Day School rooms. In 1966 a garage was added, and the drive was black-topped. In 1969 the meeting house was connected to the town sewer system.
Photographs by MJP Grundy, 7/3/1978
A quarter century later, the meeting house looks just about the same:
Photographs by MJP Grundy, 6/27/2004
In a very rare written account of the interior arrangement of a meeting house, Middletown minuted in 1699:The meeting having under consideration the indecent sitting and settling of our meetings, doth order, that public Friends [ministers] do sit in the galleries [facing benches], and the elder Friends with them, or before the galleries; and that our women Friends take one side of the house [the left side] and the men the other; and that all sit with their faces towards the galleries. [As quoted by Butler in Quaker History, 80:97.]
As was the custom, children from the Friends school attended mid-week meeting for worship. An 1891 visitor to the Sixth-day [Friday] morning worship, reported: "The meeting was large, and impressed us as a strong and united meeting of Friends. A large company of children from the school adjoining added to the interest and life of the meeting." [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.III." Friends Intelligencer 48:13 (Mar. 28, 1891), p. 201.]
Graves, Middletown Meeting graveyard: Anna (Paxson) Reeder, and her parents, Catharine (Paxson) Paxson and William Rodman Paxson.
Photograph by MJP Grundy, 7/3/1978
Middletown Friends school building (no longer used as a school)
Photograph by MJP Grundy, 7/3/1978
At the time of the separation in 1827 the majority of Friends in Middletown identified with the so-called Hicksites, so they retained the meeting house. Those few who identified with the so-called Orthodox walked out and met elsewhere.
Middletown Orthodox Meeting house, pictured here, was built in 1840. It is now a private residence, considerably remodeled, in Langhorne.
By about 1900 attendance at the Middletown Orthodox Meeting had dwindled to the point that it could no longer conduct its own business, so it was put under Falls Meeting (Orthodox). By about 1910 only the family of Samuel C. Eastburn attended. The building was in need of repairs. So with the consent of the Eastburns the trustees sold the house at public auction. The following year it was remodeled as a private dwelling. [T. C. Matlack, "Friends Meeting Houses and the Boarding Homes, Schools, and Burial Grounds associated with them", Vol. 1: Adams, Berks, and Bucks Counties (ca. 1929) mms given to the Quaker Collection, Haverford College, in 1934. The photograph is from Matlack.]
Newtown Meeting, is on 219 Court Street (off of South State Street), in Newtown.
The painter Edward Hicks (1780-1849) moved to Newtown and encouraged local Friends to gather for worship in the empty court house (the county seat having recently moved from Newtown to Doylestown). Two years later, in 1817 a meeting house was built, and it is still the main part of the existing meeting house. My thanks to Bob Cooke for sending me this photo of the meeting house and of Edward Hicks's home, 5m/2/2010.
Middletown Monthly Meeting granted Friends in Newtown an indulged meeting for worship on First and Third Days in 1815. Two years later, when it built a meeting house, Newtown Friends were made a Preparative Meeting with Wrightstown. When Makefield Monthly Meeting was established in 1820, Newtown Preparative Meeting was shifted to Makefield. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 77.]
This old tinted photo by Matlack shows the same two sides of the meeting house, but the pathway is gone and a road comes right alongside now. The lower left photo, also by Matlack shows the front of the meeting house with its two doors, from the Burying Ground.
In addition to being a place of worship, the meeting house has a permanent display of work by Edward Hicks. He was recorded as a minister, and his journal is one of my favorites.
An 1891 visitor to Newtown commented that "a temperance meeting was held in the evening with a large attendance of Friends and others. Newtown seems to us an exceptionally pleasant town in the character of its inhabitants. So many Friends and those of Friendly interest and inclination make a community attractive and influential for good to others. There seems a good healthy moral atmosphere to pervade its very streets, and the temperance sentiment is strong and well defined." [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.III." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 187.] For years the popular place to eat in Newtown was the Temperance House. My understanding is that eventually it belied its name and tradition and obtained a liquor license.
Also in Newtown is the Newtown Friends Home, established under the care of Bucks Quarterly Meeting to care for elderly Friends. It is pictured to the left in another Matlack photo.
Photos by Robert Cooke, sent to me 5m/2/2010, used by permission. Other photos by Thomas Chalkley Matlack from his album now at the Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore.
Plumstead Meeting is located at 4914-A Pt. Pleasant Road, in Gardenville. Its web site describes it this way:Friends began meeting at Plumstead in 1730; the log cabin was replaced by a stone building in 1752. A formal meeting was discontinued in 1869. The stone building was rebuilt by Buckingham Meeting in 1875. Plumstead Worship Group reopened the building for regular use in 1989 under the care of the Buckingham Meeting. In 2002 it became a monthly meeting, with services weekly through the year and on Christmas Eve. [http://quakersbucks.org/plum.htm as seen 11m/21/2006.]
I don't quite understand why a stone meeting house would be rebuilt six years after the meeting had been formally discontinued. One guess is a typographical error. Another is that it was discontinued as a monthly meeting but continued as a preparative meeting. More research is needed here.
An 1891 visitor to Sunday worship wrote,[The Plumstead meeting house] is pleasantly situated on a high hill, commanding an extended view over a beautiful country. The meeting was established in 1730, and the house was built in 1750. It is of stone and in a good state of preservation.
The house was well-filled, and the meeting was to us an exceptionally pleasant one in the presence of so many children who came with their parents and were very bright and attentive. They pressed forward to speak with the strangers after meeting and gladdened our hearts by their childlike friendliness. About one-quarter of the meeting were Mennonites, a plain and substantial people, whose kindly greetings expressed that they have much in common with our Society, in practical testimony and life at least. [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.II." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 186.]
This last small area where the landscape still looked at least somewhat as it did when Friends and others first settled, is in danger from the developers who make money treating land like a commodity, with no thought of the larger quality of life and history.
The photographs above show the back of the meeting house, the (presumably restored) carriage shed, and a view of the meeting house from the carriage shed. [Photos by MJP Grundy, 12m/5/2006.]
post card sent to Lydia B. Dunning, postmarked 5 April 1915
Richland Meeting, at 244 S. Main Street, at Mill Road, in Quakertown, is part of Abington Quarter rather than Bucks Quarter. Friends began to move into the area in 1710, and in 1723 a small log meeting house was built. It was replaced by a more permanent structure in 1730, which was rebuilt in 1862. A school house was constructed in 1860.
From a post card, # 97, ca. 1900-1910, in Bertha S. Davis, Olive S. Steele, and Charlotte R. Cutshall, Postcards of Bucks County, Pa. as Printed by Arnold Bros. (Washington Crossing, Pa.: Washington Crossing Card Collectors Club, 1980), 65.
Solebury Meeting is at 2860 Sugan Road, one mile north of Route 202, and two miles northwest of New Hope. It was set off from Buckingham Meeting in 1806 when there were sufficient Friends living in Solebury to sustain their own meeting. The meeting house was built that summer and fall by local Friends, at a cost of about £1,500. It was constructed on the general plan of Buckingham's meeting house. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism; (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 82-3.]
As early as 1891 a visitor noted that Solebury men and women held joint meetings for business. [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.II." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 186.] How long they had been doing that needs some additional research.
In recent years the carriage sheds have been made into First Day School classrooms. They are visible in the distance in the modern (color) photographs of the meeting.
The burying ground is across Sugan Road from the meeting house. It is quite large, well tended, and enclosed in a low stone wall. Some of the older stones are illegible.
Southampton Meeting is a twentieth-century meeting at 710 Gravel Hill Road, at the corner of Street Road, but is included here because its first meeting house was an old one-room school that was later converted into a taproom, then purchased by Friends. Friends began to worship in homes in 1941 in Bryn Gweled Homesteads, an intentional community that was being developed. Then they cleaned and renovated the old taproom, opening it for worship in about 1947. This building was used until 1969 when it was demolished in order to widen Street Road. The photo is a poor reproduction of a photo taken by Beth Taylor shortly before the meeting house was destroyed.
Southampton Friends built a new, modern meeting house, a photo of which is on its web page.
Warminster Meeting was established as an indulged meeting by Horsham Meeting (Hicksite) in 1840. Before that time Friends living in Warminster had to travel five miles to Horsham, and they wanted something closer to their homes. An acre of land was purchased from Thomas Parry, and a meeting house built that was 54 feet long by 27 feet wide. They also built sheds and enclosed a burial ground at a total cost of $1,400. Abington Quarterly Meeting approved it as a Preparative Meeting in Sixth Month 1841. At the time there were 24 families and parts of families of the Hicksite branch of Friends, consisting of about one-eighth of Horsham Meeting. In the first sixteen years, ten men, heads of their families and all but one under the age of fifty, died. [Harriet E. Kirk, "Some Account of Warminister Meeting", in A Collection of Papers Read Before the Bucks County Historical Society", Vol. V (1926), 116-7, at https://archive.org/stream/collectionofpape05buck#page/139/mode/2up, accessed 12/28/2015; Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 90-91.]
In response to the Civil War the Ladies' Aid Society of Warminster was organized in December 1861 to sew and collect aid for Union soldiers. They met every Wednesday, with at most 40 members. After September 1863 they met at the Warminster Meeting house until the Society ended in June, 1865. [Heaton, "Bucks County Women in Wartime, in A Collection of Papers Read Before the Bucks County Historical Society, Vol. V (1926), 139, at https://archive.org/stream/collectionofpape05buck#page/139/mode/2up, accessed 12/28/2015.]
When the Johnsville Naval Air Base was built, Friends refused to sell, so the base carved out the small area belonging to the meeting house, sheds, and burial ground.In 1883 the meeting consisted of 31 families and parts of families. In the twentieth century the meeting dwindled and the Preparative Meeting was discontinued in 1953, although meetings for worship were still held, at least occasionally. It was entirely laid down about 1962. Today the meeting house is used by the Assembly of God church. The photo is a recent google maps view.
Wrightstown Meeting house is on Route 413 in Wrightstown. Friends worship started in the area in 1686 in the home of John Chapman when James Radcliff, a "public Friend", settled near the Chapman family. A log meeting house was built in 1721. Wrightstown was established as a separate meeting in 1734. The present stone building was erected in 1787. [[Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 80.]
The Friends Meeting operated a school from 1847 to 1903. Eventually the building (shown below in a ca. 1900-1910 post card) was turned over to become a public school. It is no longer used by the public school district. Wrightstown Meeting now has a nursery school under its care. There was also an eight-sided school in Wrightstown in the nineteenth century.
A visitor to its Fourth-day [Wednesday] mid-week meeting for worship reported that it "was well attended. A nice company of children from the adjoining school were present, among whom we noticed several Indian boys from the Carlisle school, and we find there are many in this vicinity engaged by the farmers. In every instance we heard only a good report of them from those who have them in their employ. [R. S. Haviland, "Visits and Meetings in Bucks County.II." Friends Intelligencer 48:12 (Mar. 21, 1891), p. 186.]
Photographs from post cards, # 7 and # 165, ca. 1900-1910, in Bertha S. Davis, Olive S. Steele, and Charlotte R. Cutshall, Postcards of Bucks County, Pa. as Printed by Arnold Bros., 64, 58.
George School, just south of Newtown, was established in 1893 as a boarding school for Hicksite high school boys and girls. The large building with two wings and a center section is Main, the girls' dorm, and for many years the dining hall and administration offices. Originally it housed the entire school. Next to the right and slightly behind is Drayton, traditionally the junior and senior boys' dorm. On the right is Retford, the old science and math classroom building.
The school continues to expand and erect new buildings, particularly to the right of Retford in this older photograph.
The Western District of Philadelphia Meeting house, known more familiarly as the Twelfth Street Meeting was taken apart and reassembled on the George School campus.
[Photograph is a detail from a post card, ca. 1950s.]
For a few scenes of older sites in Bucks County that are not meeting houses, click here.
Meeting houses in the original Chester County
(now also including Delaware County)
Meetings that have been posted so far include Birmingham, Bradford, Caln, Chester, Chichester, Concord (in what is now Delaware County), Darby, Fallowfield in Ercildoun, Goshen, London Grove, Haverford, Kennett, Lansdowne, Middletown (in Lima, in what is now Delaware County), New Garden (in Toughkenamon), Newtown Square, Nottingham, Old Haverford (in Havertown), Oxford, Penns Grove, Providence (in Media), Radnor (in Ithan), Romansville (in Marshallton), Schuylkill (in Phoenixville), Springfield (in Delaware County), Swarthmore, Uwchlan (now in Downingtown), Valley Meeting (in Strafford), West Chester, Westchester, Westtown, and Willistown.
Merion Meeting is in Montgomery County. These are not the only old meeting houses nor the only currently active meetings in Chester and Delaware Counties. There is also information on Westtown Friends Boarding School.
Not all of these have their illustrations or data posted yet. Some day more may be included.
For additional photographs of meeting houses in Chester County see the chester-county-genealogy web page.
Birmingham Meeting (Hicksite) ca. 1895, Frds. Hist. Assoc.
Birmingham Meeting is located south of West Chester, at 1245 Birmingham Road, a quarter mile south of Route 926. Worship began there in the winter of 1704. The meeting house was built in 1718 when the meeting was set off from Concord Meeting as a monthly meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 70-71.] Another source says that worship began at "William Briton's house" in 1690, and it was set off from Concord as a Preparative Meeting in 1726. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.).] I have not yet had an opportunity to check the minutes for myself.
The meeting house, burial ground, and nearby Quaker farms were the site of the Battle of the Brandywine, known locally as the Battle of Birmingham Meeting. Washington requisitioned the meeting house for use as a hospital. On First Day, 7 September, 1777Friends assembled as usual from an expectation that the meeting might be held in the house even if it should be taken possession of afterward; but from the situation of it, their request would not be granted. They therefore got permission to take some of the benches out of the house and placed them under the trees which stood in front thereof, on which they seated themselves in the quiet as far as was practicable under the existing circumstances, inasmuch as the officers and workmen were moving about, and engaged in making preparation to receive the sick . . . . [Robert H. Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981 (Phila. Yearly Meeting, 1981), 52.Thursday 11 September 1777 the usual mid-week meeting for worship had to be held in a wheelwright shop.While we were sitting therein, some disturbance was discovered near the house and about the door, which occasioned some individuals to go out and know the cause . . . and the uneasiness not subsiding, suspicions arose that something serious was taking place, and the meeting accordingly closed. [Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981, 53.]
Washington's forces were guarding the main Nottingham road at Chadd's ford on the Brandywine. Howe sent 8,000 German mercenaries directly up the Nottingham Road from Kennett Square. Meanwhile he sent Cornwallis with an even larger force north to cross the Brandywine above Chadd's Ford, and then move south against Washington. Washington received confused warnings of British troop movements, and swung his troops, anchoring the defensive line at the Birmingham meeting house. The burying ground wall was used as a breastwork. Washington and Lafayette were here, and during the fighting Lafayette got a musket ball in the leg. It was treated when he reached the Richardson house in Bucks County.[Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981, 53. More information on the meeting house can be found in Nancy V. Webster, et al, Brandywine Battlefield: The National Historic Landmark Revisited (Media, Pa.: Delaware County Planning Project, 1992).]
Birmingham Meeting (Hicksite) 2001.
In this more recent photo the old meeting house is on the left,
the new wing for First Day School classes is on the right.
Photo by MJP Grundy, 2/2001.
After the 1827 separation a different building was constructed nearby by the Orthodox minority. I do not have a photograph of the Orthodox building. It was built of serpentine stone, and is now a private residence. The Hicksite Birmingham Meeting, made up of preparative meetings in Birmingham and West Chester, was discontinued in 1955. The next year its two constituent meetings became monthly meetings. The Orthodox Birmingham Meeting merged with West Chester Monthly Meeting in 1964.
Below is the 8-sided school house belonging to Birmingham Meeting. For more information on these remarkably practical buildings, click here.
Photos by MJP Grundy, 2/2001.
Bradford Meeting is at 526 West Strasburg Road in Marshallton. Friends worshipping in the area were given permission by Kennett Monthly Meeting to hold worship locally during the winter months, starting in 1719. The group was called "Brandywine Forks" or simply "Forks". Bradford Monthly Meeting was established in 1737 by Chester Quarter, when the meeting for worship and the preparative meeting at Bradford were transferred to the Monthly Meeting of the same name.
The doorway hood or little porch roof on the side of the building is "an example of the application to meeting houses of architectural elements common to domestic architecture and the use of indigenous materials." [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 166.]
After the 1827 Separation, the Hicksite branch of the meeting eventually merged with Uwchlan Monthly Meeting in 1883 to form the Bradford-Uwchlan Monthly Meeting, but this meeting was discontinued in 1901and the members transferred to Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. The Orthodox branch reunited with the Hicksite Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1955 and became the current Bradford Monthly Meeting. [Information from the Bradford Monthly Meeting web page, www.calnqm.org/bradford.htm, seen 12m/9/2007; http://trilogy.brynmawr.edu/speccoll/mm/bradfmm.xml.]
Photo by Mary McIndoe, used by permission, e mail 12m/6/2007.
Caln Meeting was settled about 1716, when the first meeting house was built. These photos are of the building that is now known as Old Caln Meeting. More photographs can be seen on the Caln Meetinghouse web page.
photos by MJP Grundy, 5/1995
Chester Meeting is at 520 East 24th Street (near Chestnut Street and Providence Road) in the city of Chester. The first monthly meeting for business was minuted on 10 Eleventh Month 1681 at "Essex House", the home of Robert Wade on the south side of Chester Creek. When William Penn arrived some months later, he stayed in the house, and the first Pennsylvania Assembly session was held there in 1682. The drawing shows the artist's understanding of the first meeting house of Friends in Chester. It is from George Smith. History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (1862), p. 188. The current meeting house was built by Orthodox Friends in 1829. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 65-66; A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.).]
All of the early meetings in Chester County were at first part of Chester Monthly Meeting. By the time there were seven, it was time to divide, and Goshen Monthly Meeting was formed in 1721 with preparative meetings at Goshen, Newtown, and Uwchlan. Chester continued to have preparative meetings at Chester, Springfield, Providence, and Middletown. [James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (London: W. & F. G. Cash, 1854), 2:248.]
Bushes pretty well obscure the front of the meeting house, so here is a view of the porch, behind the bushes. There is a large, old burying ground, of which this photo shows only a part. [Photos by MJP Grundy, 7/28/2010.].
From Chester Meeting's web page:
Chester Monthly Meeting was established as a monthly meeting for Marcus Hook and Upland by the general meeting held at Burlington in 1681. Its first business sessions were held in 11mo, 1681/2. In 12mo, 1683/4, the meeting became part of Chester [Concord] Quarterly Meeting. At the time of the Hicksite Separation of 1827, two branches of this monthly meeting were formed.
In 1934, Chester Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) was discontinued, and its two preparative meetings, Chester and Providence, were established as monthly meetings. Chester Preparative Meeting (Hicksite) then became the new Chester Monthly Meeting (Hicksite). In 1948, Chester Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) merged with the Twenty-Fourth Street Monthly Meeting formerly Chester Preparative Meeting (Orthodox) to form Chester United Monthly Meeting of Friends. This meeting was the forerunner of the current Chester Monthly Meeting of Friends.
In 1948, Chester Monthly Meeting (Orthodox) released some of its members to form Springfield Monthly Meeting. The members of Chester Preparative Meeting (Orthodox) merged with Chester Monthly Meeting (Hicksite). The membership of Chester Monthly Meeting (Orthodox) was therefore identical with that of Media Preparative Meeting, its only remaining preparative meeting. The preparative meeting was accordingly discontinued. In 1952, the monthly meeting became a united meeting by affiliation with the two Concord Quarterly Meetings. In 1952, the Orthodox branch became a united meeting by affiliation with the two Concord Quarterly Meetings. In 1955, the meeting's name was changed to "Media Monthly Meeting". This is currently an active monthly meeting.
Chichester Meeting was formed in 1682. That summer and fall some 23 ships had arrived in the Delaware River bringing Quaker individuals and families from Great Britain. Ezra Michener quotes a minute:At the Monthly Meeting of Chester, the 11th of the seventh month [September], 1682, it was agreed that a meeting should be held for public worship, for the western part, at Chichester, the fifth day of the week. [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 68.]
The earlier 24 foot square meeting house burned down in January 1769. The present meeting house in Boothwyn was built in that year and is one of the earliest existing meeting houses in "near pristine condition." It is not in the usual pattern of most other Delaware valley meeting houses. The front door and the facing benches are in opposite gable ends, not along the longer walls. The partition dividing the men's from the women's side for separate meetings for business gives rooms that are not of equal size, and only one side has the facing benches. There is an old ten-plate cast iron stove in the east room. The smaller west room has a fireplace in the southwest corner and a single built-in bench along the north and west walls. There is a good description of the meeting house illustrated with some lovely photographs in Margaret Bye Richie, John D. Milner, and Gregory D. Huber, Stone Houses: Traditional Homes of Pennsylvania's Bucks County and Brandywine Valley (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 2005), 162-165.
The meeting house follows a typical English pattern with the front room, entered by the porch door, with facing benches for worship, and a back room where the women went to hold their business meetings. Although most meeting houses did not bother with fireplaces in the early years, when there was one it was usually to accommodate the women. Thus the single fireplace at Chichester is on the women's side. The warmth was provided for meetings for business, not for worship, so as to discourage drowsiness. [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 162, which also has a floor plan of the builsing.]
From Chichester Meeting's web page:A meeting for worship at Chichester was established in 1682 by Chester Monthly Meeting. In 1684 it became part of Concord Monthly Meeting. Chichester Preparative Meeting was established in 1700. At the time of the Separation, two Chichester Preparative Meetings were established. The Orthodox branch of the preparative meeting was discontinued in 1880; its members were transferred to Concord Preparative Meeting. The meeting for worship was discontinued in 1883. Chichester Preparative Meeting (Hicksite) was discontinued in 1914; its members were transferred to Concord Monthly Meeting. The meeting for worship is currently active on an occasional basis.
Concord Meeting is at Old Concord and Thornton Roads in Concordville. The meeting was established in about 1684, although from the time of the influx of Quaker settlers in 1682 opportunities to worship seem to have sprung up in several places, the names of which weren't fully determined at first. Apparently Chester Monthly Meeting consisted of worshipping communities in Chichester and Upland (which became Chester in 1682). By 1684 it appears that Chester had formed its own monthly meeting, and Chichester and Concord formed another, meeting alternately at the two locations. From 1729 it was held only at Concord. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 67-68.]]
The present meeting house was rebuilt in 1788. The photo to the right was taken about 1870. [The photo is from Gilbert Cope, comp., Genealogy of the Smedley Family Descended from George and Sarah Smedley, Settlers in Chester County, Penna. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name, and Abstracts of Early English Wills (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Company, 1901), opposite p. 364.] The recent photo, below, was taken by Mary McIndoe, and is used with her permission.
Concord is also a Quarterly meeting. The nomenclature can be confusing. It started out under the name of Chester Quarterly Meeting, which was established in 1683. By 1758 Chester Quarter had become very large, with 14 monthly meetings each of which had several preparative meetings: Bradford, Chester, Concord, Darby, Duck Creek, Fairfax, Goshen, Hopewell, New Garden, Newark, Nottingham, Sadsbury, Warrington, and Wilmington. It was also a huge territory, including parts of four different colonies. So Friends agreed to separate off a new, Western Quarterly Meeting, keeping only Chester, Concord, Darby, Goshen, and Wilmington. In 1800 Philadelphia Yearly Meeting changed the name of Chester Quarter to Concord Quarter. [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 65, 92.]]
Darby Meeting house, photo from Robert H. Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981 (Phila. Yearly Meeting, 1981), p. 83.
Darby Meeting, is at 1017 Main Street, in Darby, Delaware County (which was originally part of Chester County). It is a half block south of the intersection of MacDade Blvd. (Main Street becomes Lansdowne Ave. a bit farther north.)
Meetings for worship began in 1682. Early settlers in the area who were members of the Men's Meeting included John Bartram (grandfather of the botanist), and John and Michael Blunston, Richard Bonsall, Henry Gibbons, Adam Rhodes, and Samuel Sellers, all of whom had immigrated from Derbyshire. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 67.]]
This is the third meeting house on the site, built in 1805. It seems to have dwindled in membership, and when this photo was taken in 2010, the meeting does not appear to be thriving. [Photo by MJP Grundy, July 2010.
Fallowfield Meeting house is in Ercildoun. It was split off from London Grove, and the meeting house built in 1811, with modifications in 1912 and 1935.[Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 103-4.]
Fallowfield Meeting house
Photo by MJP Grundy, 2/2001.
The meeting's name comes from Lancelot Fallowfield who immigrated from Westmorland County, England, in 1714, and bought a tract of land from William Penn's sons. Lancelot doesn't appear to have actually settled there himself, but sold it in 1718 to John Salkield, a Friend originally from West Jersey. John and other Friends worshipped at London Grove Meeting. Several generations later Fallowfield Friends asked for and were granted permission to hold an Indulged Meeting in the home of one of them, George Welch. The first meeting house, built of logs, was constructed in 1794. Two years later Fallowfield became a Preparative Meeting. The meeting thrived. In 1804 it was large enough to ask London Grove to hold meetings for business every other month in Fallowfield. It was agreed they could host monthly meeting four times a year. A larger meeting house was needed, and this one was built in 1811. Modifications were added in 1912 and 1935. Finally in 1959 a well was drilled so that a kitchen and toilet facilities could be added.
The East Fallowfield Anti-Slavery Society was formed in 1835 and some of its meetings were held in the Fallowfield Meeting house. One gathering was broken up by rioters from a neighboring community. It was decided, then, to construct a separate building, called People's Hall, next to the meeting house and dedicate it to public discussion of any issue of real social importance. Ercildoun was a stop on the underground railroad.
At the separation among Friends in 1827 a small Orthodox group split off and met in the original log meeting house until 1890 when the Orthodox meeting was laid down. The old log meeting house and all its land except for the burial ground, was sold in 1911. [Norma Jacob, ed., Quaker Roots: The Story of Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (1980), 32-33.
Goshen Meeting, is on the southeast corner of Route 352 and the Paoli Pike, in West Chester. The current meeting house was rebuilt ca. 1856. It is shown to the right in a photograph reproduced in Gilbert Cope, comp., Genealogy of the Smedley Family Descended from George and Sarah Smedley, Settlers in Chester County, Penna. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name, and Abstracts of Early English Wills (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Company, 1901), 122.
Goshen Meeting began officially when some Friends newly arriving in the area asked Chester Quarterly Meeting on 2 Twelfth Month [February] 1701/2 to allow them to settle a meeting for worship. It was referred to the next Quarterly Meeting, when Friends cautiously agreed there could be worship every other First Day at the house of Griffith Owen. Since Griffith Owen lived in Philadelphia, it is thought that Robert William and his wife Gwen Cadwalader and their family were living in the house. This is corroborated when, in 1702 Friends of Haverford contributed £19.8.9 to him to build a new house, he having received Friends "kindly and openhearted" and keeping the meeting in his house. Things apparently were not entirely smooth, because a year later Goshen Friends brought a request to change something about their meeting to the Quarterly Meeting which minuted on 2 Sixth Month 1703 that they needed to first agree among themselves and then bring it to the Quarter. They agreed fairly quickly, and on 30 Sixth Month they brought a rather complicated schedule to Chester Monthly Meeting, calling for meeting mostly at the meeting house (first mention there was one) and sometimes at Thomas Jones's house. When it was taken to the next Quarterly Meeting, 1 Ninth Month 1703, it was revised somewhat, to occasionally meet "at David Jones's in Whiteland in the great Valley". [Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 134.]
It is an interesting insight into Friends' insistence on integrity that when David Jones misbehaved, his house was no longer considered an appropriate venue for Friends' worship. Chester Monthly Meeting minuted 27 First Month 1704:Ellis David and Cadwallader Ellis Informed this meeting that David Jones belonging to Goshen meeting some time since did unhappily Conive or Give way to his servant to work in his team some of his neighbours Creatures without their Consent, and desired the advice of this meeting Concerning this matter, and this meeting having considered the saime Concludith thereupon, first, that the meeting now kept at David Jones's house, if the Quarterly Meeting approve of itt, bee for time to come keept att Goshen; secondly, that the sd David Jones do condemn the sd action by a paper under his hand to bee brought to the next monthly meeting, and Lastly, that hee make Reasonable satisfaction to the owners of sd Creatures." [transcribed in Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 135.]
The Quarterly Meeting saw fit to move the venue of the meeting from David Jones's to Robert Williams's house. [Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 135.]
It is unclear what the first meeting house was like, but it must have been a fairly crude log structure. In Ninth Month [November] 1706 Goshen Friends proposed to Chester Monthly Meeting that they build a meeting house and burial ground near Edgmont Road. In time a meeting house was built on the burial ground near Robert Williams, with a meeting for worship every six weeks at James Thomas's in the great Valley. The new building was ready for use 31 Eighth Month [October] 1709. [Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 135.]
At first Goshen, along with all the other meetings in Chester County except Haverford and Radnor, was a preparative meeting of Chester Monthly Meeting. In 1721 that monthly meeting was divided into two, with Goshen, "Newton" [sic: Newtown Square], and Uwchlan preparative meetings forming a new Goshen Monthly Meeting. [James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (London: W. & F. G. Cash, 1854), 2:248.]
In 1736 a new meeting house was erected, and used steadily for more than a century. Around 1855 this old building burned and the Hicksites built a new meeting house on the same site in 1856.[Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 136.] The rear of the meeting house is pictured below. It now has a long wing of classrooms not pictured off to the left. Goshen Meeting has a large burying ground, part of which is shown below. For additional information see the Goshenville website.
At the time of the spearation in 1827, the majority of Friends identified with the Hicksites. But for several years both groups used the meeting house, gathering at separate places within the building. Then Orthodox minority built their own smaller meetinghouse on two lots they purchased in 1849 just south of the original property. They built the serpentine stone building pictured to the right in an old photograph and below as it looked in 2010. The Orthodox also created their own cemetery, seen below. The Hicksites retained the 1736 building and cemetery. In 1891 the Orthodox Meeting was laid down and in 1920 the building was sold to the Goshen Grange. In 1990 Goshen Meeting repurchased the building and it is now used by the Goshen Friends School. The Grange continues to hold its meeting there. [http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Chester_County/East_Goshen_Township/Goshenville.html, seen 9/23/2009.]
[Color photos by MJPGrundy, 10m/21/2010.]
Both meeting houses are part of the Goshenville Historic District. They "exhibit fundamental design elements indicative of meetinghouses constructed in Southeast Pennsylvania during the mid-nineteenth century. Each meetinghouse has symmetrical facades, end gabled roofs, and two front entrances. The former Hicksite Meetinghouse, which is still used for meetings, has a highly intact interior, with dual meeting areas, floor to ceiling wood paneling, and a wood paneled partition." The two front entrances (male and female) reflect the separate spaces for men and women to separately conduct their business. At a time when women in other denominations and venues were usually denied a voice, generations of Friends women developed their gifts and talents running their own meetings, finances, discipline, etc." [http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Chester_County/East_Goshen_Township/Goshenville.html, seen 9/23/2009.]
Haverford Meeting house, formerly Orthodox.
Photograph by MJP Grundy, 5/4m/1987
Haverford Meeting house is at 855 Buck Lane, in Haverford. It was established in 1827 at the time of the Separation. A small group of Friends in the original Haverford Meeting at 231 E. Eagle Road, Havertown, identified with the Orthodox or Arch Street Friends. They withdrew and met by the side of the road in Radnor, then adjourned to the nearby home of Jacob and Jane Maule. A few months later they began to meet in a house provided by Samuel and Sarah Garrigues at the corner of College Avenue and Tunbridge Road in Haverford. Since they only had seventy members, this was adequate for several years. When Haverford School (that became Haverford College) opened in 1833 the students attended meeting for worship at midweek and on First Day. The building was too crowded, especially on First Days. In addition, the students complained of having to walk through the fields to the meeting house, no matter what the weather. In 1834 the Garrigues sold two acres of land on Buck Lane near County Line Road to the Haverford School Association for $300, and the school deeded the property to the trustees of Radnor Monthly Meeting, as it was then called. A stone meeting house was built, 35 by 60 feet, with the usual removable partition at one end to provide an area for the women's meeting for business. The first meeting was held in the new building on First day, 23 November 1834. [Edwin B. Bronner, "Haverford Meeting Through the Years", in "Haverford Friends Meeting Historical Commemoration, November 18, 1984, printed in The Haverford Messenger Vo. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1985), 3.]
Gradually membership declined. The members of "Radnor Monthly Meeting", as it was called, were transferred in 1865 to Western District Monthly Meeting in Philadelphia, and the local group became an Indulged meeting. Under the influence of Twelfth Street Meeting, which was the center of Gurneyite sympathy within the Orthodox Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Friends in Haverford Indulged Meeting became increasingly active in a variety of organizations for social change. They established their own school in 1885. It also enlarged the meeting house. In 1881 a porch was added to the front of the building, and the insides renovated, the partition removed, and fireplaces installed. Carpets were laid and wallpaper hung (both of which have long since been removed). In 1894 the gallery wing was added, 14 by 48 feet, to allow for the attendance of increasing numbers of Haverford College students. In 1903 they added a First Day School wing. A second floor was added in 1913. [Edwin B. Bronner, "Haverford Meeting Through the Years", 4.]
In time Friends in Haverford Indulged meeting felt they should be able to run their own affairs, and in 1891 asked their parent meeting to set them off. After two months of discussion, Twelfth Street Meeting rejected the request. In 1904 they asked again. This time the request was granted, and Haverford Monthly Meeting was established. The first meeting for business was held 22 December 1904 with David G. Alsop as clerk. Towards the end of 1910, after the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) Book of Discipline was revised, the men's and women's meetings for business were merged. [Edwin B. Bronner, "Haverford Meeting Through the Years", 4.]
Haverford Meeting has a web page.
The original Old Haverford Meeting house, which was retained by the so-called Hicksite body, is at 231 E. Eagle Road, Havertown.
Kennett Meeting, in Kennett Square (spelled with a single "t" until midway through the 19th century), is understandably confused with Old Kennett Meeting, which originally was Newark Meeting. There is now a new Newark Meeting, in Delaware, that has no connection with the old Newark Meeting. Thus the confusion.
Although there were plenty of Friends families in the area throughout the 18th century, it wasn't until 1812 that Friends in Kennett Square requested and were granted permission to hold an Indulged Meeting in the town. They first met at the home of John Phillips. In 1813 they built a meeting house, and in the next year became a Preparative Meeting.
At the time of the separation in 1827 the majority of the meeting were Hicksites, and the Orthodox minority from Old Kennett, Centre (in Delaware), and Hockessin (in Delaware) withdrew to worship with like-minded Friends at Parkerville, or some went to London Grove. The Parkerville Meeting finally built its own meeting house in 1891. The meeting was laid down in 1906, and the few remaining members transferred to Kennett Square Meeting. The building was sold in 1938. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 57-58.]
The Hicksite group, meanwhile, demolished the old stone building and constructed a new, larger one of brick. In the 1950s they sold it and moved to a quieter location where a new building was constructed. It is on Route 82, south of Route 1, at Sickles Street in Kennett Square. [Norma Jacob, ed., Quaker Roots: The Story of Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (1980), 40-42.]
Lansdowne Meeting is at 100 N. Lansdowne Avenue, in Lansdowne. The meeting house was built in 1831. In about 1864 it was set off from Chester as Upper Darby Meeting.
One account says the meeting was reestablished as a monthly meeting in 1904. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.).] Another version says it was established in 1901. Perhaps the former was the Orthodox and the latter the Hicksite group?
Today Lansdowne Meeting has a school from pre-K through 6th grade.
[Drawing of the meeting house from a note card.]
London Grove Meeting was settled in about 1724, although Friends had been worshipping in each other's homes since 1714 when several Friends' families settled in Marlborough. The home of John Smith was a regular venue. The first meeting house was built in 1724, and a larger one constructed in 1743. The present one is larger still, built in 1818. It is on Newark Road and Route 926, five miles west of Kennett Square. It was held by the Hicksite majority at the time of the separation in 1827. The Orthodox withdrew and met in a small house on lower ground about a quarter mile nearer the railroad station. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.).]
Photo on the left is the London Grove burial ground and the ancient "Penn Oak". It is a quercus alba, a white oak that provided shade once for William Penn when he ate lunch beneath it. [Norma Jacob, ed., Quaker Roots: The Story of Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (1980), 23.]
Photos by MJPGrundy
Marlborough Meeting house is at the intersection of Marlboro and Spring Roads in Unionville.
There are a few drawings of the meeting house on the Historic American Buildings Survey web page.
Media Meeting house was built in 1875 and 1885 at 125 West Third Street opposite North Avenue. It was of the Orthodox branch of Friends. Before the separation Friends in the town of Media worshipped together in Providence Meeting.
Media Meeting has a web page.
Middletown Meeting in the original Chester County, now Delaware County, was established in 1686 when Chester Meeting authorized a meeting for worship at the home of Bartholomew Coppock. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 38-39).]
In 1696 the monthly meeting of Chester agreed that a meeting should be settled every First and Fourth day at Bartholomew Coppock's house. It was first called by the name of the person where it was held, but eventually became Middletown Meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 66.]
After the separation, there was a second Middletown Meeting, formed in 1828. Both are in Lima, adjacent to each other.
On the left is now Middletown Preparative Meeting; on the right Middletown Monthly Meeting. Photographs by MJP Grundy, 6/26/2004
New Garden Meeting is at 875 Newark Road at New Garden Road, in Toughkenamon. It started about 1712, and was set off from Newark Meeting in 1718. After the separation the Orthodox constructed a building a short distance away. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 60-61.]
Tradition says the original meeting house was constructed of "hewn logs tenoned into guttered corner-posts; amd when taken down, it was re-erected for a barn". Later it was again taken down and cut up for fire wood, to the dismay of Jacob LINDLEY, an elderly Friend who remembered worshipping in the old timber building. The present brick building was constructed in 1743. The south end of it is on the site of the original log meeting house. The north end was added about 1790. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 98.]
Photo by MJP Grundy, 10/2003.
Newtown Square Meeting was formed in 1696. The meeting was set off from Radnor Monthly Meeting, as indicated in these two minutes from Radnor's records:At our monthly meeting, held at Haverford, the fourteenth day of the eleventh month, 1696, William Lewis, and some other Friends, having proposed to this meeting to settle a meeting at Newtown, they are left to their freedom therein.
Thomas Jones is ordered by this meeting to acquaint Friends in Chester Meeting that the meeting at Newtown is done by the consent of this meeting, in order to have their approbation therein. (1697) [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 69.]
Turns out that the resentments engendered by Thomas Holmes's arbitrary decision to split the Welsh Tract into two counties, spilled over into resentment between the Welsh meetings at Haverford, Merion, and Radnor, and Chester Quarterly Meeting. The latter refused to give its "approbation". However, by 1706 tempers had cooled and Newtown Friends were transferred from Merion Monthly Meeting to Chester Monthly and Quarterly Meetings.
The meeting house is at 120 N. Newtown Street Road (route 252) north of route 3 in Delaware County. The original part of the building was constructed in 1711, and enlarged in 1791. Perhaps ironically, Newtown is now part of Haverford Quarterly Meeting.
Newtown Square Township was incorporated in 1684; its early inhabitants were mostly Welsh, although the township was just outside the Welsh Tract. It is one of the few towns laid out by Penn that were actually built according to his plan of a central square with individual plots radiating out from it. Newtown in Bucks County is similar in design.
Photos by David Paxson, used by permission, 3/2005.
Nottingham Meeting is a bit confusing because in the past approximately 200 years there have been a number of permutations and affiliations for groups calling themselves Nottingham Meeting, or some variation thereof, namely East Nottingham and West Nottingham, and today's Oxford Meeting. When they were first started it was assumed that they were all in Pennsylvania. I have not done primary research in the specific meeting minutes myself, but as nearly as I can figure, a Nottingham meeting was established in 1704 under Concord Monthly Meeting. In 1715 it was shifted to be part of Newark Monthly Meeting, and in 1718 to New Garden. In 1730 Nottingham Monthly Meeting was set off from New Garden as a monthly meeting in its own right, consisting of preparative meetings at Nottingham in Calvert, Md., West Nottingham about six miles west of Calvert, and Bush River. In 1735 it added Deer Creek Preparative Meeting. In 1819 Nottingham Monthly Meeting and its preparative meetings were transferred from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to Baltimore Yearly Meeting.
The original Old Haverford Meeting house, which was retained by the so-called Hicksite body in 1827, is at 235 E. Eagle Road, Havertown. The first Welsh settlers arrived in Haverford Township 1682. It was a wilderness area, unlike other parts of southeast Pennsylvania that were already inhabited by a scattering of European settlers. Friends immediately began meeting for worship in homes, particularly those of John Bevan, William Warren, and Hugh Roberts. The first monthly meeting was held 10 Second Month [April] 1684 at the home of Thomas Duckett. Soon a log meeting house was built. In 1693 William Howell deeded to the meeting's trustees its present grounds. The trustees were John Bevan, William Lewis, Henry Lewis, and Morris Llewellyn. Money began to be raised for a stone meeting house in 1688, and it was completed in 1700. This is probably the southern part of the present building. In 1694 stables were erected for the horses. The large stone mounting block is still on the grounds. The northern part was added in 1800. The drawing shows the old Haverford meeting house. It is from George Smith, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (1862), p. 201. In 1930 a stone addition was added to the south side for a First Day School room. It was doubled in size in 1949, with another section added in 1959 with toilet facilities and a basement with central heating. Old Haverford is the oldest house of worship in Delaware County."The original Meeting House had no chimneys. It was heated by a 'jamb stove' at either end of the building. The fuel was supplied and piled up outside the Meeting House. The smoke from these stoves escaped from a flue a few feet above the opening, through which more fuel could be added. Part of this arrangement can still be seen in the wall of the southern portion of the Meeting House." [ Diane M. Laurent, on the Old Haverford meeting web page.]
"The burial ground was laid out in 1684, on land believed to have belonged to William Howell."
Since most of the original inhabitants of Haverford Township were Friends, the township business and the meeting business were often mingled. "In 1698, Old Haverford Monthly Meeting made the decision that town meetings were to be held to settle municipal concerns, and Monthly Meetings were to be held only for religious matters." [Laurent, on Old Haverford meeting web page.]
Early Welsh Friends started three meetings for worship, Merion, Radnor, and this one. Together they formed a single monthly meeting that was called Haverford from 1684 to 1698, then Radnor Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting was part of Philadelphia Quarter until 1955 when it formed part of a new Haverford Quarterly Meeting.
Old Haverford Meeting has a web page.
Old Kennett was first known as Newark Meeting. It began in 1682 when several Friends' families settled on the east side of the Brandywine in New Castle County. Existing minutes begin in 1686, although they seem to be of an already established meeting, so perhaps earlier minutes have been lost. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 93-95.]
Friends soon moved farther up the Brandywine, and began having worship in each other's homes as soon as there were enough people. By 1715 the parent Newark Monthly Meeting had Preparative Meetings and simple meetings for worship at New Castle, Newark (the original meeting), [Old] Kennett (pictured to the right), New Garden, Nottingham, and Centre. As population increased, the structure of meetings changed to match the new conditions. New Garden was set off as a monthly meeting in 1718, with Nottingham under its care.
The original land for [Old] Kennett was purchased and the meeting house built ca. 1710, enlarged in 1719, and enlarged again in 1731. The 1755 renovation removed huge fireplaces at either end and added two galleries. The meeting still has a few of the ancient narrow, backless benches. By the middle of the eighteenth century the original Newark Meeting had shrunk and was eventually laid down. The name was changed to Kennett in 1760. In 1812 Friends in Kennett Square were granted an Indulged Meeting, and that is the meeting known today as Kennett.
Elgene A. Smith includes a meticulously reconstructed burial chart and name index to burials in the Old Kennett burying ground in "Old Kennett" Cemetery and the Harlan Family (1995).
Early shots of the Battle of the Brandywine were fired before daybreak in the meeting house graveyard, 11 Sept. 1777. That Thursday was the regularly scheduled time for monthly meeting. Friends did all they could to ignore the troops and sounds of battle. Jacob Peirce wrote, "While there was much noise and confusion without, all was quiet and peaceful within."[Robert H. Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981 (Phila. Yearly Meeting, 1981), 53.]
Photo by MJP Grundy, 2/2001.
Oxford Meeting house is at 260 S. 3rd Street in Oxford, but sometimes it is also listed as Nottingham Meeting. Technically it was Oxford Preparative Meeting of Nottingham Monthly Meeting. The meeting was laid down in 1914, and ever since the building has been the possession of the Cemetery Association. In August 2014 its 175th anniversary was celebrated.
This little preparative meeting was a nest of abolitionists and women's rights advocates. Frederick Douglass address an abolition society in the meetinghouse there, stayed with a Quaker family, and compared the meeting quite favorably to London Grove, which permitted him to address a crowd outside the meetinghouse but not inside the meetinghouse. In Douglass's day it was called the Oxford Friends Meeting. [Remarks by Chris Densmore at the 175th anniversary.]
There is an early photo of the meeting house. The building was constructed in 1839. These photos were taken by Tom Paxson at the 175th anniversary.
Providence Meeting was already a place of Friends' worship in 1684. At the very first Quarterly Meeting in Chester County, held 4 Twelfth Month [February] 1683/4 four monthly meetings brought financial contributions: Chester, Chichester, Darby, and Providence. Providence had only managed to collect 3/ 5d [3 shillings and 5 pence] from its newly settling families. At a monthly meeting on 2 Second Month [April] 1688 Friends were appointed for each of the little meetings to collect certificates of removal brought by their various members. Thomas Minshall was named "for his meeting". At the 2 Ninth Month [November] 1691 Chester Quarterly Meeting Friends agreed to have a regularly scheduled collection of financial contributions on "the Last weekly first day of each month". Thomas Minchall and Bartholomew Coppock were to collect it for "their meeting". This regular collection of funds, so very unusual for Friends, was maintained for at least fourteen years. The collections from "Thomas Minshall's Meeting" were recorded regularly until 24 Twelfth Month 1700/1 when the name was changed to Providence Meeting. [Gilbert Cope, comp., Genealogy of the Smedley Family Descended from George and Sarah Smedley, Settlers in Chester County, Penna. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name, and Abstracts of Early English Wills (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Company, 1901), 85-6.]
In 1696 the monthly meeting of Chester agreed that a meeting should be settled every First and Fifth day at Thomas Minshall's house. It was first called by the name of the person in whose house it was held, but eventually became Providence Meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 66.]
There seemed to have been a little disagreement about where to finally build a meeting house when the group had outgrown Thomas Minshall's house. In1700 it was built in Nether Providence. It was probably made of logs. In 1723 a committee was appointed to enlarge it so it could accommodate Quarterly Meetings in rotation. On 19 November 1726 Thomas and Margaret Minshall conveyed one acre on which to build the meeting house, and their son Isaac and his wife Rebecca conveyed an adjoining acre for a burial ground. By 1726/7 it was completed, with a gallery for large gatherings. A quarter century later, in 1754 it was minuted that the meeting house "Is very much out of Repair" so a committee was named to "build ye Old End with stone and such necessary Repairs on ye Inside as They shall Think proper". In 1773 it was decided that the men's side needed to be made more comfortable for winter, with "a Floor overhead" and to provide a stove and repair the roof. In 1814 they decided that major rebuilding was required. The new meeting house was 65 by 35 feet, and three feet higher than the old one. Work was pretty much completed by 30 First Month 1815. [Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 87-9.]
Radnor Meeting is on the southwest corner of Conestoga Road and Sproul Road (rt. 320), in Ithan, near Villanova. It is in the original Welsh Tract. The earliest men's meeting minutes are 10 Second Month 1684. Meetings were held in homes (that of Thomas Ducket, William Shaner, Hugh Roberts, and John Bevans for the first four meetings). Then they held the meetings for business mostly at Haverford until 22 Second Month [April] 1698 when they agreed to rotate the meetings for business, in turn, at Haverford, Merion, and Radnor. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 59.]
A youth meeting was held at the Radnor meeting house, in Third, Sixth, Ninth, and Twelfth months, as early as 1698. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 62.]
Early Welsh Friends started three meetings for worship, Merion, Radnor, and Old Haverford. Together they formed a single monthly meeting that was called Haverford from 1684 to 1698, then Radnor Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting was part of Philadelphia Quarter until 1955 when it formed part of a new Haverford Quarterly Meeting.
West end of the meeting house, and the burying ground, pictured above. It is the only surviving example of a "telescoping" form, in which the main meeting room seen here, has a smaller, lower, women's room added at the end (just visible beyond the tree branches). This was not an uncommon pattern in early Delaware Valley meeting houses, and there was lots of variation in the style of the "little meeting house". [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 164.]
The first meetinghouse, built by 1693 when the marriage of Philip Philip and Phoebe Evans took place in it, was probably constructed of logs. The present, stone meeting house has the date 1718 on its gable. The eastern end was added later as a school building. See the meeting's web page. There are a number of photographs as well as a few architectural drawings of the meeting house on the Historic American Buildings Survey web page.
Photos by MJPGrundy, 5/2011.
Romansville Meeting house is located in Marshallton, just outside of Romansville, in West Bradford Township. It was built in 1846 on land donated by John and Lydia Worth for use by the Hicksite Friends of Bradford Preparative Meeting. There is a photograph of the meeting house on the Village of Romansville history page. [My thanks to Steve Barsky for bringing this to my attention, e mail 1/21/2012.]
Friends had begun to worship in the Marshallton area before 1719, when Kennett Monthly Meeting gave them permission to worship locally during the winter months. They were set off as a monthly meeting in 1737. At the separation in 1827, the Hicksite group eventually built this meeting house. It was merged with Uwchlan meeting in 1883 to form Bradford and Uwchlan Monthly Meeting. With dwindling membership it was laid down in 1901. However, meeting for worship are still occasionally (once a year?) held in this old meeting house. [See the Friends Historical Library finding aid.]
Schuylkill Meeting is at 37 North Whitehorse Road in Phoenixville, Chester County. It was originally proposed as a preparative meeting in Charlestown Township, under Radnor Monthly Meeting. But it ended up being in Schuylkill Township, and was named accordingly. [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 62-3.]
It seems though, that Michener didn't have it quite right. In 1826 Charlestown Township was divided. The eastern part became Schuylkill Township. As a consequence, the name of the Meeting was changed from Charlestown Indulged Meeting to Schuylkill Indulged Meeting. It was an Indulged Meeting of Valley Preparative Meeting of the Radnor Monthly Meeting. A reader kindly sent me a transcription from the minutes of Valley Preparative Meeting:1812The following are from the minutes of Radnor Monthly Meeting:
This meeting unites in believing the time has arrived wherein Friends in Charlestown may be indulged with a Religious Meeting to be held at their school house in that place on the 3rd 5th day and the 1st days in every month until an alternation may be deemed necessary from the Valley Preparative Meeting.Feb 13, 1812
The Valley Preparative informs that they have united in a belief that the time had arrived that our members in Charlestown might be indulged with a meeting for worship, to be held at their School house in that place on the third fifth day and last first day in every month. This meeting on deliberation refers the subject for further attention at next meeting.
Enoch Walker who lived at Moore Hall in Phoenixville had built the school house in 1807. The addition to the east was completed in 1815 or 1816. The current meeting house was built in 1807. The old photo of it (to the left) is from the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area webpage. Apparently at that time the building was white-washed. The stucco (and whitewash) were removed in the 1999 renovations. The more recent color photo is by Dennis M. Hendricks, posted on flickr. You can get a glimpse of the burying ground to the left in the photo, behind the building. [My thanks to Michele Tomarelli for bringing these images to my attention. My thanks also to a friend for the above information, citing Carol and Bob Herbertson, A Chronological History of Schuylkill Friends Meeting (Sept. 2006), and T. C. Matlack, Brief Historical Sketches Concerning Friends Meetings of the Past and Present with Special References to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Swarthmore College: Friends Historical Library).]
Springfield (Del. Co.) Meeting was established in 1686 by Chester, at the home of Benjamin Coppock the younger. The first meeting house was built in 1700. It burned down and was replaced in 1738 by a stone building with a gambrel roof. In 1851 Orthodox Friends built the present meeting house. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 37.]
A slightly different version holds that it was in 1696 that the monthly meeting of Chester agreed that a meeting should be settled every First and Fourth day at John Bowater's house. It was first called by the name of the person in whose house it was held, but eventually became Springfield Meeting. After the 1827 separation, the Springfield Orthodox Meeting was quite small, and in 1849 the meeting was discontinued. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 66.]
Yet another version states that Chester Quarterly Meeting recognized the first Springfield meeting at ffrances Stanfield's house, Third month 3, 1686, but at the next Quarterly Meeting, Sixth Month 2, it was moved to Bartholomew Coppock the Younger's. At the Twelfth Month 6, 1698/9 Quarterly Meeting, Springfield Friends announced their intention to build a meeting house at their graveyard. Since a burial place was needed while worship could still take place in homes, Friends had already arranged for it. The building was soon constructed, but burned in 1737. The drawing (by John Sartain in 1837) shows the 1738 stone replacement that was used until it was taken down in 1850. [Henry Graham Ashmead, History of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (Phila.: L. H. Everts & Co., 1884) pp. 716-7, the drawing is on p. 716.]
The stone meeting house is at 1001 Old Sproul Road in Springfield. By 2010 there were few active Friends in the meeting and the building now provides space to the Peace Center of Delaware County. The Peace center is under the care of Chester Quarterly Meeting.
There is a newer wind added to the building, seen in this photo with a few of the old head stones in the burial ground.
Color photos by MJP Grundy, July 2010.
Swarthmore Meeting was formed in 1869 by Hicksite Friends.
Uwchlan Meeting is now in Lionville. But earlier it met in the meeting house pictured to the right. It first comes into written records in 1712 when Friends from Goshen Preparative Meeting reported to Chester Monthly Meeting a "Request of several friends that Lives at a place called Youchland to have a meeting at the house of John Cadwalladers". The Monthly Meeting appointed Jacob Simcock and Ephraim Jackson to visit them and report back. Clearly Youchland/Uwchlan was a Welsh community, and it is interesting that two Englishmen were sent to visit them. Two years later sympathetic Friends in Goshen recommended that Uwchlan become a preparative meeting rather than just an allowed meeting for worship. John Cadwallader gave a piece of land for a meeting house and burial ground. [Gilbert Cope, comp., Genealogy of the Smedley Family Descended from George and Sarah Smedley, Settlers in Chester County, Penna. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name, and Abstracts of Early English Wills (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Company, 1901), 190-91.]
Uwchlan Preparative Meeting was established by Chester Monthly Meeting in 1720. The next year Chester was divided, and Uwchlan became part of Goshen Monthly Meeting, along with Preparative meetings in Goshen and Newtown. In 1763 the Particular Meetings of Uwchlan, Nantmeal, and Pikeland were separated off to constitute Uwchlan Monthly Meeting. Pikeland was discontinued in 1857. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 135-36; James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (London: W. & F. G. Cash, 1854), 2:248.]
The following was minuted 8 First Month 1778 during the Revolutionary War:A few Days ago the Key of the Meeting-house at Uwchlan was demanded by some of the Physicians to the continental Army in order to convert the same into an Hospital for their sick Soldiers; the Friend who had the Care of the House and Key refusing to deliver it, forcible Entry was made into the House and Stables and as there is no Prospect of enjoying the House peaceably from next First day it is agreed that Uwchlan Friends hold their meetings at the House of our Friend George Thomas in the Great Valley and that our preparative and monthly meetings be held at Nantmeal on the usual Days till further Order. [as transcribed in Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 191.]
The Uwchlan meeting house was erected 1756, and remodeled ca. 1875. The Hicksite Meeting merged in 1883 with Bradford to form the Bradford-Uwchlan Monthly Meeting. By the turn of the last century attendance had fallen so low that meetings were only occasionally held. [Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, 191.] In 1901 the Monthly Meeting was discontinued and its members transferred to Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. The building was sold. It is now on the National Historic Register. In 1973 it was owned by the Women's Community Club of Uwchlan, which continues to hold meetings and community events in it.
The Orthodox Meeting moved from Lionville to Downingtown in 1900. It is the current Uwchlan Meeting, at 800 East Lancaster Ave. in Downingtown. There is a photo of the current building on Uwchlan Meeting's web page.
Valley Meeting is at 1121 Old Eagle School Road, Strafford. It is part of Haverford Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Valley began in 1713 as a Preparative Meeting under the care of Radnor Monthly Meeting. Lewis Walker, a Welsh Quaker, was the first European settler in the Tredyffrin Township area, sometime before 1708. First meetings for worship were held in his home, and in the home of Joseph Richardson until 1731 when the first meeting house was built. Like so many other Friends meeting houses, it was used as a hospital for sick or wounded troops while Washington was at Valley Forge. "Later General Washington observed that before he arrived at Valley Forge he had looked upon the Friends as sympathizers with the British, but during the winter of 1777/1778 he found them to be extraordinarily kind and completely reliable." [Jean Kadyk on the Valley Meeting web page.]
Additional history from the Meeting's web page:The site for the new building, in which we meet today, was bought for $100.00. A two-story building was constructed and the older Meeting House was later torn down. It took only a year to construct the new building, and it was opened for worship on April 23, 1872, all at a cost of a little over $9500. The carriage sheds remaining can be seen at the back of this Meeting House, and similar sheds at one time extended along the north border of the property.
A Minute from Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, dated February 7, 1871, records the beginning of further use of the Meeting House, as a place to hold its summer meetings in August a wonderful gathering of Friends, making their way up Meeting House Lane, now known as Old Eagle School Road, then a dirt road, directing horse and carriage into the Meeting House Grounds.
This new Meeting House was divided by a moveable partition, which allowed the men and women, at certain times, to hold their separate business and worship meetings. This arrangement followed faithfully the belief of Friends then and now that men and women are equal in the sight of God. The original machinery used to raise and lower these partitions remains stored in the attic of the Meeting House.
Three years after this Meeting House was opened, and elementary school was established. A teacher was employed for $50 a month. In September of 1875, the school opened with 25 pupils. Tuition was $25 for the 10-month term, with an additional fee of $10 for instruction in Latin. The school remained open for ten years, and then was discontinued because of a lack of students. Seventy years later, in 1955, the Valley Cooperative Preschool was opened in the Meeting House. Today we continue to welcome this school and the pupils and their parents it brings to our Meeting House.
Valley Preparative Meeting became a Monthly Meeting in the late 1930s, thus becoming independent of Radnor Monthly Meeting. [Jean Kadyk on the Valley Meeting web page.]
Photos by MJP Grundy, 7/2012.
West Chester Meeting (Hicksite) is at 425 North High Street in West Chester.
It began as an Indulged Meeting in 1810, and was combined with Birmingham in 1815 to form a Monthly Meeting called Birmingham. So Birmingham Monthly Meeting had two preparative meetings: Birmingham and West Chester. After the separation in 1827 there were two Birmingham Monthly Meetings, two Birmingham Preparative meetings, and two West Chester Preparative Meetings. The so-called Hicksites built this meeting house in 1868.
Photo by MJPGrundy, 11m/2009
West Nottingham Meeting, nicknamed "Little Brick Meetinghouse", is about five miles west of East Nottingham Meeting but hard to find unless you have good directions. See Nottingham Meeting.
Westchester Meeting began as an Indulged Meeting in 1810, and was combined with Birmingham in 1815 to form a Monthly Meeting. Orthodox Friends built this meeting house in 1844 on the corner of Church and Chestnut Streets. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 48-49.]
Westtown School was opened in 1799 as a boarding school out in the country where Friends could send their children for a "guarded" education. It was co-educational from the beginning, but with carefully segregated facilities. Boys and girls met together for meeting for worship and one evening a week in the winter for a lecture. Otherwise it was two entirely separate schools under one administration and one roof. The accommodations were spartan. Washing was done by filling one's basin at the outdoor pumps (one for boys, and one for girls with a shed around it). In the winter faces and hands must have been cleaned pretty quickly. [Watson W. and Sarah B. Dewees, Centennial History of Westtown Boarding School: 1799-1899 (Phila.: Press of Sherman & Co., 1899), 38, 61-2, 146.]
The 1810 drawing on the right shows the original building. [Taken from a Supplement to The Westtonian, Vol. 2, No. 1, First Month, 1896.] It was of brick burned on the property, 100 feet long and 56 feet wide. The dining rooms (one for boys, one for girls, and one for faculty), kitchens, and laundry facilities were in the basement. The girls had the third floor and the boys the garret. The drawing below to the left is of the girls' dorm on the third floor in 1886, with the beds and trunks crowded together. [The drawing is from Supplement to The Westtonian, Vol. IV, No. 1, First Month, 1898.]
The "administration" of Philip Price as superintendent and his wife, Rachel (Kirk) Price as matron, ran from 1818 to 1830. They introduced a warmth and kindliness that softened some of the more rigorous rules and austere conditions. A report at the conclusion of Westtown's first quarter century (in 1824) noted that 1337 boys and 2145 girls had been admitted. The boys' pump was upgraded with a shed and a trough. The Lombardy poplars shown in the ca. 1810 drawing above had grown so large they were cut down in 1820. [Dewees and Dewees, History of Westtown, 94-101.]
The difficulties resulting in the separation of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1827 had reverberations at the school. Pupils were restless and insubordinate. Several were removed. Average attendance between 1826 and 1830 was only 119 students. [Dewees and Dewees, History of Westtown, 101.] Westtown fell under the control of the Orthodox branch. It was not until 1893 that the Hicksites opened their own boarding school, George School, in Bucks County.
Dubré and Jane W. (Edwards) Knight were superintendent and matron from 1861 to 1868, during the Civil War. One teacher left to join the army. But for the most part the school remained an island of routine and calm. One feature of life among the girls was the system of "companies" run by strict and unwritten rules that the half dozen or so girls in a company would socialize only with each other, share food boxes from home, and so on. Membership often descended from older sister to younger ones. But like a college sorority system, not all girls were included, so that an adult gathered up the remaining girls into what were spitefully called "scratch companies". In the winter of 1874-75 one of the largest companies declared itself dissolved, that each girl was free to be friends with anyone else. The system soon disappeared after that. [Dewees and Dewees, History of Westtown, 131-34.]
Attendence for 1861-62 was down to 149, the lowest it had been in thirty years. After the war it rose, so that there were 243 pupils in 1866-67. This brought an urge to expand the facilities. However it was not until 1885-88 that an entirely new building was constructed and the old one torn down. The photograph shows the new building from the girls' wing. [ The photo is from Art Supplement to The Westtonian, Vol. 1, No. 4, Fourth Month, 1895.
With the new building came many changes. Vacation was changed to mid-summer. All the classes became co-ed, with the girls' and boys' curriculum very nearly identical. Co-ed dining, at tables of twelve, with faculty seated among the students, was introduced, along with the expectation of polite conversation rather than silence. [Dewees and Dewees, History of Westtown, 191-92.] There are a few photographs of the meeting house on the Historic American Buildings Survey web page. The campus meeting house was originally constructed in 1929.
See today's Westtown School.
Westtown Meeting has a meeting house on the Westtown campus, built in the traditional style.
Willistown Meeting house is at 7069 Goshen Road, Newtown Square. It suffered a fire 10 April 2002 that burned the meeting's library and a bathroom. But the main part of the 204-year-old stone building was saved. Fire fighters came from Newtown Square, Edgmont, and Goshen shortly before 7:00 a.m. and had the blaze under control by 8:43 a.m. [Newspaper report, Apr. 11, 2002.]
On 12 Fourth Month 1743 Francis and Ann Smedley of Willistown conveyed one acre of land to five trustees for the purpose of building a school house and hiring a "capable Master to teach their children and youth in necessary learning." Free use of the nearest spring was included. Presumably this is where the first Friends' meetings for worship were held, too, allowed by Goshen Monthly Meeting beginning around 1747 but meeting only in the winter months. On 9 Fourth Month 1784 Goshen Monthly Meeting minuted that the meeting held there during the winter was requesting to become a preparative meeting. After being considered several months insufficient unity was found with the proposal to proceed with it. It came up again in 1787 and was taken to the Quarterly Meeting. A committee was named to go and feel out the situation, and on 10 Eleventh Month 1788 Chester Quarterly Meeting approved holding a meeting in Willistown twice a week. In 1794 Willistown finally became a preparative meeting of Goshen. Anticipating that the monthly meeting would circulate among the preparative meetings, a new meeting house was built in Willistown in 1798-99. In 1793 the widow Ann Smedley deeded another 3/4 acre for erecting the meeting house. Over the next years additional parcels of land were added until the present meeting house lot is 4 acres and 35 perches. In 1809 subscriptions were pledged to build a stone wall around the burial ground. [Gilbert Cope, comp., Genealogy of the Smedley Family Descended from George and Sarah Smedley, Settlers in Chester County, Penna. With Brief Notices of Other Families of the Name, and Abstracts of Early English Wills (Lancaster, Pa.: Wickersham Printing Company, 1901), 168-70.] The old photograph of Willistown Meeting house above is from Cope, Genealogy of the Smedley Family, opp. p. 165. The four color photos below are by MJPGrundy, 10m/21/2010.
In the left photograph below the old part of the meeting house is on the right end of the building. It still has its old partition, shown in the right photograph, that could be closed so that men and women could hold their meetings for business separately, undisturbed by the other.
The meeting and its school evolved into a rural crossroad village that provided the basic needs for the surrounding Quaker farmers, became the seat of local government, and later experienced a decline in commercial importance due to changes in transportation patterns in the late nineteenth century. Willistown Meeting house is now in the Sugartown National Register Historic District, approximately two miles northeast of Goshenville. [http://www.livingplaces.com/PA/Chester_County/East_Goshen_Township/Goshenville.html, seen 9/23/2009.]
For more, see Anna S. Bartram's short history, "Willistown Friends' Meeting"
Meeting houses in Philadelphia County
Philadelphia County originally included what became Montgomery County;
early scattered settlements eventually became recognizable neighborhoods in the growing urban area;
the city and county became coterminous in 1854
Most of these meeting houses can be located on historical maps of Philadelphia. So far the following meetings in Philadelphia County have been posted, although not all of the entries are complete: Arch Street also known as Fourth and Arch Street, Bank Street, Byberry, Chestnut Hill, Frankford on Penn Street, Frankford meeting at Unity and Waln Streets, Germantown at 47 W. Coulter Street, Green Street in Germantown, the Orthodox Northern District at Sixth and Noble [no longer exists], Central Philadelphia at Race Street and Fifteenth, Southern District on Spruce Street, Twelfth Street or Western District [now moved to the George School campus in Bucks County], West Philadelphia Meeting (Orthodox), and West Philadelphia Preparative Meeting (Hicksite). Not all of these meeting houses are still standing. More entries will probably be posted in time. Thanks for your patience.
Several years before William Penn received the charter to his colony from Charles II (1681) there were a few Friends living on the west shore of the Delaware River, mostly around Upland (now Chester) and at the falls (in what became Bucks County). They associated with Friends in Salem and Burlington, in "West Jersey", occasionally joining them for meetings. As Friends began to move into the new colony of Pennsylvania, meetings began to be settled. A group of Friends began meeting for worship in the home of Thomas Fairman at Shackamaxon. They joined with others in the newly platted city of Philadelphia, forming a monthly and quarterly meeting 9 Eleventh Month [January] 1681/2. (See a note on Quaker dating.)
In 1685 the Bank meeting house was built on Front Street above Arch Street. A brick meeting house was built in the center of the city, but as it was little used, between 1701 and 1703 it was dismantled and the materials used to replace the first building, somewhere on the River bank. Meanwhile a "Great" meeting house was built in 1695-96 in the southwest corner of High Street (now Market) and Second. It was enlarged in 1755, and used for quarterly and yearly meetings until 1804 when the brick meeting house was constructed at Fourth and Arch. [William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938) Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 329.]
After the separation in 1827 there were often two meetings in the same neighborhood, differentiated by their location. So, for example, in Frankford there were meetings at Unity and at Waln. In Germantown, there are Green Street (which is no longer on Green Street) and Coulter Street meetings.
Arch Street Meeting house was built in 1804 when the noise and bustle of its previous location at Front and Arch led Friends to move to a quieter location. After 1827 Arch Street became an Orthodox meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 52-3.]
There was at first a low brick wall around the entire meeting house compound, it was easy to see the grounds and graves over the top of the wall, while walking along the northern side of Arch street. Within a few decades it was replaced by a much higher brick wall. Oral history reported that at first Indians, African-Americans, and strangers were buried freely in the Friends' ground. They also weren't too careful about where Arch Street would eventually be placed. This oral tradition was confirmed in September, 1824, "when laying the iron pipes along Arch street, off the eastern end of the meeting house, they dug up several coffins in corresponding rows." [Watson's Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania (1857), Vol I: Chapter 75.]
The meeting house had originally been built large enough to accommodate yearly meeting sessions, and after the separation it continued in that capacity. The Orthodox Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was often referred to as "Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Arch Street)". In 1910 the Yearly Meeting revised its Book of Discipline to permit monthly meetings to do away with the separate men's and women's meetings for business. The Yearly Meeting, however, continued to hold separate sessions until 1928. Elizabeth B. Jones was the last clerk of the women's Yearly Meeting. [Edwin B. Bronner, "Haverford Meeting Through the Years", in "Haverford Friends Meeting Historical Commemoration, November 18, 1984, printed in The Haverford Messenger Vo. 1, no. 1 (Jan. 1985), 8.]
The meeting house is at Fourth and Arch Streets, as shown on a post card.
Bank Street Meeting house no longer exists, but there are old drawings of it. It was nearly square, with a hipped roof, and two "front" doors. One on the south and one on the east, so that men and women could enter their separate meeting rooms. Originally a curtain separated the two compartments, then later a wooden partition. Because the door was in the center of the facade, the division between the two rooms was shifted, making the rooms unequal in size. Everyone worshipped together in the larger room, then for business the women only needed a room half that size, and without facing benches. This was the English pattern, only changed in Philadelphia in 1755 with the construction of the Great Meeting House at Second and Market. (It has long since disappeared, too.) [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 161.]
Northern District Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia, was sometimes called Noble Meeting or Sixth Street Meeting because of its location at Sixth Street and Noble, but more frequently was just called North Meeting. It was the first monthly meeting set off from Philadelphia, in 1772. The members of the new meeting were from the old Bank meeting, who had moved to Key's Alley (New Street) in 1790. [William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938) Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 329.] The meeting recorded a gift of ministry in French refugee Stephen Grellet in 1798. Later he moved to New York, and eventually to New Jersey.
In 1812 it purchased land and built a brick building at Fourth and Green Streets. When the Orthodox-Hicksite schism divided Friends in 1827, the majority of Green Street Friends identified with the so-called Hicksites, so the Orthodox withdrew. In 1835 they agreed to purchase a lot at Sixth and Noble Streets for $28,000. In Sixth Month 1837 plans for a building were approved. The new meeting house, costing $30,000, was first used on Eighth Month 12, 1838. ["Friends Abandon Old North Meeting House", The Philadelphia Record, Monday, July 13, 1914.]
Samuel F. Balderston was a recorded minister here, as was his son, Marcellus Balderston.
The two photographs below show the interior of the meeting house. The left view is looking toward the facing benches; note the arch over the facing benches that improves the acoustics. The right photograph is looking back toward the doors. These photographs look like they were not taken at the same time, as the benches have a slightly different arrangement.
Around 1870 there began to be more outgoing certificates of removal than incoming ones, the neighborhood was changing from residential to commercial, and membership began to dwindle. By 1914 there were still some 90 Friends listed on the books, but most of them lived out of town and only about a dozen were still active. The meeting was laid down in 1914 and its remaining members joined to the Meeting at Fourth and Arch Streets. The North Meeting building is no longer standing. ["Friends Abandon Old North Meeting House", The Philadelphia Record, Monday, July 13, 1914.]
Twelfth Street Meeting house
Photo from Robert H. Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981 (Phila. Yearly Meeting, 1981), p. 100.
Western District or Twelfth Street Monthly Meeting of Philadelphia was built in 1812-13 on the west side of Twelfth Street between Market and Chestnut Streets. After the separation the Orthodox kept this building while the Hicksites withdrew to Green Street. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 56.]
Western District became a monthly meeting in 1814, using the meeting house at 20 South Twelfth Street. [William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938) Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 329.]
There is a gelatin silver print photograph by George Mark Wilson, taken ca. 1923, displayed at the Library Company of Philadelphia's exhibition 22 Feb.-26 May 2000, "The Changing Heart of the City: Building and Rebuilding Western 'Wash West'".
The entire meeting house was disassembled, carted to the George School campus in Newtown, Bucks County, and carefully reassembled there. It is somewhat ironic, but perhaps symbolically hopeful, that this home of the most Gurneyite of all the Orthodox Philadelphia YM meetings should end up on the Hicksite George School campus.
Southern District or Spruce Street Meeting was established in 1733, meeting first in a building on Fourth Street near Chestnut, and then going to the so-called "Hill Meeting" on the south side of Pine, below Second. This is part of the area known today as Society Hill. Then it moved to the northeast corner of Ninth and Spruce, stretching along Spruce between Ninth and Acorn Alley. The meeting served the city from the northern side of Walnut on south, including Moyamensing, Southwark, and Passyunk.
In the wake of the 1827 separation, the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia for the Southern District was the Orthodox group until it was laid down in 1872. The Hicksite group, called Spruce Street, met from 1833 to 1903. The meeting house has long since been demolished.
Race Street Meeting of Philadelphia, is at Fifteenth and Race Streets, but now opens on Cherry Street. It was built in 1857 for sessions of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite).
There are some twentyfive photos of the meeting house on the Historic American Buildings Survey website.
Frankford Meeting at Penn Street, was the Orthodox meeting house, built in 1833. Clapboard meeting houses are quite rare in the Philadelphia area, although common in other parts of the country, especially North Carolina and Ohio, but also some in New England and New York.
Friends first met for worship in what became the Frankford the area in the home of Sarah Seyers, at Tacony, or Oxford. Then in 1682 Thomas Fairman moved with his family from Shackamaxon to Oxford, and gave a piece of land to build a meeting house. First there was a log building, then in 1775 one of English bricks and stone was constructed. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 58; Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 86. Note that in Bonner the pictures of the two Frankford meeting houses have been reversed, now with each other's caption.]
Frankford became a monthly meeting Third Month 5th, 1816 when it was set off from Abington Meeting.
The brick Frankford Meeting house, at Unity and Waln Streets, was retained by the majority of the group at the time of the separation in 1827; they were the so-called Hicksites. I still need a photograph of this building.
In 1827 there were so few Friends in Byberry identifying with the Orthodox that Abington Quarterly Meeeting (Orthodox) discontinued Byberry Monthly Meeting and made the remnant of Orthodox there a Preparative Meeting with Frankford Preparative Meeting to constitute Frankford Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). However, it turned out there were too few Orthodox members in Byberry to even form a Preparative Meeting, so Second Month 7th, 1828 it was discontinued and its members joined to Frankford Preparative Meeting. In 1833 they built the frame meeting house pictured here, at Penn and Orthodox Streets. At some point Germantown Preparative Meeting (on Coulter Street) was joined with Frankford PM to make a larger Frankford MM. Then Eleventh Month 26th, 1906 they were separated and each became a Monthly meeting in its own right, as part of Abington Quarterly Meeting. [Frankford Monthly Meeting of Friends Records of Members, pp. 1-3.]
Green Street Meeting, at Fourth and Green Streets, was set off in 1816 by Northern District Monthly Meeting. At the time of the schism and difficulties in 1827, Friends who were so-called "Hicksites" withdrew from the contentious yearly meeting sessions, to meet in the Green Street meeting house. Green Street Meeting is now at 45 West School House Lane in Germantown. [William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (1938) Vol. 2: Philadelphia, 329.]
As Hinshaw's account doesn't quite match the account given above for North Meeting, more research remains to be done.
Germantown Meeting is at 47 W. Coulter Street, Philadelphia. This was the Orthodox Meeting, while the nearby one on School House Lane, called "Green Street", was the Hicksite Meeting.
Germantown Meeting has a web page.
West Philadelphia Meeting (Orthodox) at the northwest corner of Powelton Avenue and 42nd. Street, was built in 1873. It is still standing, although no longer belonging to Friends. The Lombard Central Presbyterian Church congregation has occupied it since 1939. They added a parish house on the west side in 1955. [My thank to Aaron Vickers Wunsch for this information, e mail 10m/2/2009.]
The photograph on the right from the Friends Historical Library was reprinted in Robert H. Wilson, Philadelphia Quakers, 1681-1981 (Phila. Yearly Meeting, 1981), p. 103. It shows the meeting house on Powelton Avenue in West Philadelphia, built in 1873.
West Philadelphia Preparative Meeting (Hicksite) at 3500 Lancaster Avenue. on the southwest corner of the intersection, became an indulged meeting under Race Street Monthly Meeting in 1837. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 53-54.]
The original meeting house was built in 1751, then rebuilt in 1901. There was a school immediately adjacent to the meeting house. The next property to the west was the Penna. Home for Blind Men. There are twenty photos of the meeting house and school on the Historic American Buildings Survey website. This site offers the following explanation: "In the nineteenth century, Friends of the middle and upper socio-economic classes left the Center City Philadelphia area and moved out toward the city's suburbs. While the wealthier Friends chose places along the mainline, such as Germantown or Haverford, the middling sorts stopped in West Philadelphia. The first meeting house on the site was erected in 1851; the present meeting house-school complex was built in 1901 for the use of the Hicksite Friends."
When the meeting was laid down about 1942, the building was sold and various bits and pieces were removed. This plaster bas relief of singing boys, for example, used to hang in a First Day School room. The oak cabinets that had been designed by Franklin D. Edmunds, architect, were taken to Pear Hill until that house was sold in 1961. The building itself still stands, and currently serves the neighborhood as a community center.
Byberry Meeting, just over the line from Bucks County in Philadelphia, was established in 1682 by Friends from England. At first it was called Poetquessing. The next year Byberry and Frankfort (known then as Tookany) were joined as a monthly meeting. Friends began meeting to worship in the home of John Hart, and the first meeting house was built in 1684. Fairly soon Byberry was reassigned as a preparative meeting of Abington Monthly Meeting. [James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (London: W. & F. G. Cash, 1854), 2:247.] A stone meeting house was built in 1714, with an addition in 1753. Then in 1808 another meeting house was built "about sixty-six feet by thirty-six" which is the current building. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 91.] The meeting house is at 3001 Byberry-Southampton Road.
As with most meetings, the quality of the spiritual life exhibited by members varied over time. When English Quaker minister Robert Walker (1717-1785) visited Byberry Meeting in about August 1774, he noted that he had a "heavy meeting" there. This was probably not an indication of health, although Friends have used similar metaphors to mean several different things. [John M. Moore, "An English Quaker Minister's Visit to Colonial America, 1773-1775", Quaker History, Vol. 78, no. 2 (Fall 1989), 108.]
Byberry was the home meeting of John Comly, a Friends minister whose published journal offers an excellent picture of Quaker life from the early federal period, and through the 1827 separation. It also gives good insights into the spiritual formation and life of a minister within the Quaker tradition.
In 1827 there were so few Friends in Byberry identifying with the Orthodox that Abington Quarterly Meeeting (Orthodox) discontinued Byberry Monthly Meeting and made the remnant of Orthodox there a Preparative Meeting with Frankford Preparative Meeting to constitute Frankford Monthly Meeting (Orthodox). However, it turned out there were too few Orthodox members in Byberry to even form a Preparative Meeting, so Second Month 7th, 1828 it was discontinued and its members joined to Frankford Preparative Meeting. [Frankford Monthly Meeting of Friends Records of Members, pp. 1-3.]
Photo by MJP Grundy, 1987
Meeting houses in Montgomery County
originally part of Philadelphia County, Montgomery County was incorporated in 1784
It is popularly believed to have been named for General Richard Montgomery, a hero of the battle of Canada before the American Revolution.
Norristown is the county seat of Montgomery County
Abington Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting was set off from Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting in 1786, and consisted at first of monthly meetings of Abington, Gwynedd, Horsham, and Richland. Today it consists of ten monthly meetings: 7 in Montgomery County, two in northern Philadelphia County, and one in Bucks County. Not all of them gather for worship in old meeting houses. Entries are still incomplete, but eventually there should be photographs and information on the following: Abington, Gwynedd, Horsham, Merion, Norristown, Plymouth, and Upper Dublin. Cheltenham and Unami meet in twentieth century buildings, Byberry is in Philadelphia, and Richland is located in Bucks County.
In Montgomery County the so-called called "'Hicksites' being largely in the majority, held the following houses of worship: Abington, Horsham, Gwynedd, Plymouth, Upper Dublin and Upper Providence;" while Lower Merion and Pottstown identified with the "Orthodox." Soon after the division the separated members erected small meeting houses for themselves at Abington, Moreland, Plymouth and Gwynedd, and at Horsham a meeting was held weekly for a time in a private dwelling. [Theodore W. Bean, History of Montgomery County (Phila.: Everts & Peck, 1884), 375, as transcribed by Susan Walters and posted on usgenweb/pa/montgomery/history/local/mchb0027.txt]
Abington Meeting first met at the home of Richard Waln, or Wall, in Cheltenham. The color photographs to the right and below show the Wall/Waln house. The monthly meeting was settled in 1683 by Philadelphia Friends so that those who lived "at Tookany and Poetquesink" could worship. At the start the monthly meeting consisted of three particular meetings. The meeting at Poetquesink, held at John Hart's house, became Byberry Meeting. The meeting that met at Richard Waln's house became Abington Meeting. A third particular meeting met at Sarah Seyers' home and this became Oxford Meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 85-86.]
The photo to the left shows the newer end of the Waln house, which may not have been built when Friends gathered in the Waln family home for regular meetings for worship.
The close-up to the right shows some of the original stone wall of the Waln house.Color photos by MJP Grundy
In 1697 John Barnes provided for land to be purchased for a meeting house. With financial assistance from other meetings construction was completed in 1702. It occupied what is now the north corner of the present meeting house. The eastern half of the present building was erected in 1786, probably using part of the walls of the original meeting house. The present western half was built in 1797. The meeting house is at 520 Meetinghouse Road, at Greenwood Avenue, in Jenkintown.
To the left is an old drawing of the meeting house from James Bowden, The History of the Society of friends in America (London: W & F.G. Cash, 1854), 2:251. Since it is difficult to see the resemblances with the present building, I am unclear if it is the 1702 structure, or just a poor likeness of the 1786 building.
After the separation in 1827 the Orthodox withdrew and eventually built a smaller building nearby.
The addition known as the John Barnes Building was completed in 1929. To the right is a picture of a memorial plate with the image of the meeting house on it. Abington Meeting celebrated its 250th anniversary on September 17, 1933.
Photographs of the present Abington meeting house look pretty similar, and eventually will be posted.
Abington Meeting has a web page.
Gwynedd Meeting house is at 1101 DeKalb Pike (Route 202) at Sumneytown Pike. The first Friends in the area were John Hugh and John Humphrey and their families. They held meetings for worship in their homes. Other settlers joined them. As they spoke only Welsh, it was natural for the new meeting to be joined with Friends and relatives as part of Radnor Meeting, under the care of Haverford Meeting. In 1700 a log meeting house was built. In 1712 the first stone building was constructed. Like so many other meeting houses in the area it was comandeered as a hospital in 1777-78 during the Revolutionary War. [Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 87.
A somewhat different story of the early days of Gwynedd, taken from the Radnor meeting minutes, relates that in 1699 "a General Meeting was appointed at Gwynedd, the second weekly Third day [Tuesday] of every month, at the desire of Friends there." In 1703 Radnor approved Gwynedd Friends' request to move their Preparative meeting (where they prepared items of business to take before the monthly meeting) "from their General meeting day to last weekly Third day in the month". The meeting soon became large enough to be set off from Radnor Meeting in 1714, and be joined with Plymouth to form a monthly meeting. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 86.]
The meeting house was built large enough to host Abington Quarterly meeting, which rotated among Abington, Gwynedd, and Horsham.
The present meeting house was built in 1823, and measures 75 feet by 40 feet. The porticoes over the doors (barely visible behind the leaves of the tree in the post card view) were added in 1847. [Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 87.]
The view to the right, above, is from a post card sent to the Balderstons, 5 July 1916. Since then the meeting house has undergone several additions, including a porch along the entire length, and an annex on the right end. The community room was expanded in 1998 and remodelled to provide more space for a kitchen, additional classrooms, and "pleasant space for fellowship". [www.pym.org/abington-qm/] The old carriage sheds seen on the right side in the postcard are gone now. The second picture below shows the old stone mounting block.
The meeting house still has its partition that originally was lowered in order to allow men and women to have separate meetings for business. The rope in the photograph below to the left pulls the heavy wooden partitions up and down. The second photo below shows the narrow stairs in the balcony that lead up through the door at the right into the attic. The third photo was taken at night in the attic, and unfortunately does not show very well the mechanism for moving the partition.
For many years there was a school under the care of the Meeting. Now there is a pre-school and kindergarten. [www.pym.org/abington-qm/]
Gwynedd Meeting has a web page.
After the 1827 separation a minority of Orthodox Friends withdrew, and in time built their own meeting house on Penlyn Road. After the meeting was laid down the building was sold and converted into a private dwelling. The stone-walled burying ground and house are still standing.
Horsham Meeting is at Route 611 and Meetinghouse Road. It isn't clear when Friends began to worship in the area, but in 1716 they "made application for a constant meeting, to be kept on first and sixth days, during the winter season, which was granted." Friends found it so much easier not to have to travel to Abington in the winter months, that the next year they requested to become a preparative meeting (that prepared business to bring to the monthly meeting). It appears that the meetings for worship and business were held in private homes until 1724 when they requested assistance in finishing their new meeting house. Abington Monthly Meeting asked the other four local meetings of which it was constituted, to help.
In Eighth Month 1782 Horsham and Byberry Preparative Meetings were separated from Abington Monthly Meeting and joined to form a new monthly meeting. It held its meetings for business alternately at Horsham and Byberry. In 1803 Horsham felt it necessary to build a new, larger meeting house which is the one pictured here. In 1810 Byberry and Horsham became separate monthly meetings.
[Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 86.]
Photo probably taken by Lucy T. Shoe; that appears to be her mother, Mary E. D. Shoe standing near the meeting house. 14 June 1949.
After the separation in 1827 the Orthodox withdrew, and built their own meeting house in 1890. [A Little Book of Information on the Particular Meetings composing Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.), 26-27.]
Merion Meeting is at 615 Montgomery Avenue at Meetinghouse Lane, in Merion Station, part of the old Welsh Tract. It is now part of Haverford Quarterly Meeting. Friends first arrived in the area from Merionethshire, Wales in 1682, hence the name. It is said they held meetings for worship first in a tent, then in a log cabin. The present meeting house was built of stone, supposedly in 1695. However, the nineteenth century historian William J. Buck, claims that it was a temporary wooden building constructed in 1695, with the present stone structure built in 1713. The date stone in the east gable reads "Built 1695, repaired 1822." Buck goes on to say, "This has been the means of leading many astray, they supposing that the present edifice had been erected at that date, whereas it was the date of the erection of the original building, whose place it supplied eighteen years later. This has now been so long and widely published that the impression will not be so readily removed. It was of stone, pointed, but in repairing it, probably in 1822 or not much later, it was plastered in imitation of large dressed stone, which has marred its venerable appearance." [William J. Buck, History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Theodore W. Bean, ed. (Philadelphia: Everts & Peck, 1884).]
Be that as it may, it is the oldest existing meeting house in the Delaware Valley. Its near cruciform plan is unprecedented in meeting house design, but it represents the earliest phase of Pennsylvania meeting houses when there were no firm guidelines or rules about what such building should be like. Instead, each meeting was free to innovate its own design. The assumption is that the Welsh Quaker immigrants, having had no purpose-built meeting houses in Wales, drew upon their memories of parish churches back home. Even if its outward design resembled a parish church, inside it was quite different. [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 159. There is a floor plan of the building on page 160.]
Early Welsh Friends started three meetings for worship, Merion, Radnor, and Old Haverford. Together they formed a single monthly meeting that was called Haverford from 1684 to 1698, then Radnor Monthly Meeting. The Monthly Meeting was part of Philadelphia Quarter until 1955 when it formed part of a new Haverford Quarterly Meeting. That same year Merion became a Monthly Meeting.
This ca. 1800 sketch above shows the meeting house at the left, a saw-pit building in the center, and an inn at the extreme right. Two additional acres were given to the meeting in 1801 and 1804 by John Dickenson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, who had family ties to Merion.
The meeting house was constructed along a well-used path linking the Welsh farms to Philadelphia. Hugh Roberts gave the meeting a sundial made of lead which stood in the yard close enough to be read from the road. During the Revolutionary War it was confiscated, melted down, and made into bullets by the rebels/patriots.
School was held in the meeting house loft, shown in the photograph to the left, although the precise dates this room was used are unclear. The students included girls and boys, Welsh and also Native American. These are some of the original benches and desks.
The meeting house was repaired and covered with plaster in 1829-1830. This is the way it is shown in the old photograph above, to the right.
View from the graveyard looking west, ca. 1917 View of the path and steps (laid out in 1915) from the west where Meeting House Lane and Montgomery Avenue meet. Montgomery "Pike" (now Avenue), was built on the old Indian trail from the Delaware River to Lancaster. Soon after 1682 a section of road was laid out from the Merion meeting house to Middle Ferry on the Schuykill River, where it crossed to High Street (now Market) in Philadelphia.
These two photos, ca. 1917, show the interior looking toward the front door (photo on the left), and the "gallery" or balcony (on the right) where the young people would congregate when benches on the main floor were filled.
[All photos but the third one, and most of the information given here, are from A Short Historical Sketch of the Old Merion Meeting House, Merion, Pa., comp. by Charles E. Hires, 1917. Additional data by Mary M. Wood on the Merion Monthly Meeting web site. See also the Lower Merion History Society web site. The latter has many of the same photographs.] There are a number of photographs as well as a few architectural drawings on the Historic American Buildings Survey web page.
Norristown Meeting is on the corner of Swede and Jacoby Streets in the borough of Norristown. The land was deeded to Friends in 1842. There is an 1850 date stone in the north gable. Regular worship began in the building in Fourth month [April] 1852 as an indulged meeting under the care of Gwynedd Monthly Meeting. The building was remodelled in 1959 to provide an all-purpose room on the second floor and additional First Day School rooms. [Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 69.]
The town of "Norris" was located on land originally deeded to Isaac Norris. Most of it came into the possession of his son, Charles Norris, who built a mill on the side of the Schuykill. Charles's widow, Mary, sold the mill and some 543 acres to John Bull of Limerick Township. It became the county seat in 1784 when Montgomery County was set off from Philadelphia. At that time much of the land was held by the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, which made available the land for the court house and public square. The land was surveyed and streets and lots laid out. In 1790 Norristown "contained a court-house, jail, three or four inns, eight or nine houses, a mill and a school-house", for a total of about eighteen buildings. Norristown was incorporated as a borough in 1812. With its situation on the Schuylkill River, with the 7-mile Stony Creek and 4-mile long Saw-Mill Run providing water power for a variety of mills, the population began to increase. In 1820 it had 827 inhabitants, ten years later, over a thousand; more than 2,900 in 1840, and over 6,000 in 1850. There were 8,848 in 1860. [from Theodore W. Bean, History of Montgomery County (Phila.: Everts & Peck, 1884), 747, 752, 755, 757-58 as transcribed by Susan Walters and posted on usgenweb/pa/montgomery/history/local/mchb0027.txt]
The photographs below show the west face of the Norristown Meeting house, with the north gable in the left picture and the south gable in the right picture. [Photos by MJP Grundy, 3/2006.]
Abolition scholar Charles L. Blockson notes that in Montgomery County "most whites were lukewarm in regard to aiding escaping slaves. Some whites were sympathetic and willing to help in time of real need, but they did not want their involvement generally known. Consequently, here too blacks did most of the real fugitive-aid work, such as providing shelter and rescuing escaped slaves in trouble. Among the better known blacks involved were Ben Johnson, John August, and Dan Ross of Norristown." Lucretia Mott was one Quaker who was steadfast and outspoken in her support of abolition and the underground railroad. At an antislavery meeting at the First Baptist Church in Norristown in 1842 she was threatened by an angry crowd when she left arm-in-arm with Frederick Douglass. A mob that gathered that night, throwing stones at the church, was dispersed by an antislavery crowd. [Charles L. Blockson, The Underground Railroad (New York: Prentice hall, 1987), 238.]
The meeting has a web page.
Plymouth Meeting at Germantown Pike and Butler Pike, gave its name to the town: Plymouth Meeting. In 1686 James and Elizabeth Fox (no relation to George Fox), Richard Gove, Francis Rawle, and John Chelson, from Plymouth, in Devonshire, England, were early purchasers, but it is not clear that they actually settled on the land. They sold tracts to other Friends who were the actual settlers. These folks began to hold meetings for worship in their homes: David Meredith, Thomas Owen, Isaac Price, Ellis Pugh, Hugh Jones and Edmund CartlegeFriends from Wales who had attended Merion Meeting in the Welsh Tract. However, by 1702 it was generally recognized that the settlement of Friends in Plymouth were under the care of Radnor Meeting. The minutes of Radnor for 1702 record that "Friends about Plymouth of the other side of the Schoolkill [sic], propose to have a meeting on first days [Sunday] at Hugh Jones's . . . . and a weekly meeting the fifth day [Thursday], to be kept by course at David Williams's, at Hugh Jones's, at Lewis Thomas's . . . ." [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 86.]
The black and white photo above to the right, probably taken by Lucy T. Shoe, and dated 14 June 1949, is taken from what is now the playground of the Horsham Friends School. In the first color photo, below, you can see the gable end and the stone wall that are shown in the earlier black and white view. The second photograph, below, is from the other end of the front, approximately the view one sees when turning out of the Germantown Pike-Butler Pike intersection into the meeting driveway.
The first meeting house was built in sometime between 1708 and 1712. Hot ashes in the cellar started a fire which destroyed it. In 1780 an addition was built to replace the log school house on the meeting house grounds. It served as a hospital and campsite for Washington's forces on their way to Valley Forge. Plymouth meeting was a "center of activity" of the abolition movement before the Civil War. In 1867 the meeting house was rebuilt, and a gallery was added to the east end. [www.pym.org/abington-qm/ and Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 81.]
Plymouth Meeting established a school early in its history, and for throughout the colonial period it was the only school in the township. [Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 81.] Plymouth Meeting Friends School today is under the care of the meeting and has classes kindergarten through sixth grade. [www.pym.org/abington-qm/]
The large front door under the porch is in the left photograph, while a small back door, probably no longer much used, is in the right picture.
Virtually all old meeting houses in the Delaware Valley had carriage sheds where the horses and carriages could be sheltered during inclement weather. Plymouth Meeting still retains a well-preserved carriage shed, looking much like it would have a hundred years ago.
The large burying ground has typically small, modest headstones. Families connected with Plymouth Meeting in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries include Albertson, Colley, Conrad, Hallowell, Jeanes, Mausley, Phillips, Roberts, Walton, Yerkes, and Zorn. [Ruth E. Bonner, Quaker Ways: Pictures of Meeting Houses in Current Middle-Atlantic America, (1978), 81.] The oldest grave stone that bears an inscription is to the memory of Mathew Colly, who died March 3, 1722, aged fifty-five years. As he was not a Friend, that portion of the ground has since been incorporated with the rest, the meeting-house standing on its eastern portion. [from Theodore W. Bean, History of Montgomery County (Phila.: Everts & Peck, 1884), 2:1032, as transcribed by Susan Walters and posted on usgenweb/pa/montgomery/history/local/mchb0027.txt]
Plymouth meeting house is now on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Bean's History of Montgomery County has the following account:The Friends were undoubtedly the earliest settlers of Plymouth and of the contiguous portion of Whitemarsh. It appears that William Penn had conceived the plan for a town to be laid out of about one mile square where is now the site of the present meeting-house. In the summer of 1686 the township was purchased and settled by James Fox, Francis Rawle, Richard Gove, John Chelson and some other Friends, who lived here for a time and held meetings for worship at the house of James Fox. Being tradesmen, and not accustomed to a country life, they afterwards removed to Philadelphia. Not long afterwards, however, the land was repurchased and settled. Among a number of others were David Meredith, Edmund Cartlege, Thomas Owen, Isaac Price Ellis Pugh and Hugh Jones, all Friends. It seems they had become sufficiently numerous here to receive the consideration of William Penn, who, in a letter to Thomas Lloyd, from England dated the 14th of Fourth Month, 1691, among other things, said: "Salute me to the Welsh Friends and the Plymouth Friends -indeed to all of them."
The members, with the consent of Haverford Monthly Meeting in 1703, continued their worship at the same, house that had then come in possession of Hugh Jones, and remained there for several years, after which it was held at the house of John Cartlege for some time. Through the increase of population, it was agreed to build a meeting-house for their better accommodation, which was accordingly done at the present site, which for some time previous bad been used as a burying-ground. With the consent of Haverford Monthly meeting and the Philadelphia quarterly Meeting, the Friends of Plymouth and Gwynedd were permitted to hold the first monthly Meeting for themselves the 22d of Twelfth Month, 1714-15. It cannot be ascertained, from the records at what exact time this meeting-house was built, but there is reason to believe that it could not have been long previous to that date. John Rees was appointed, the 25th of Twelfth Month, 1723, to keep the records of the births and burials which had been commenced in 1690. A school was kept from the beginning in connection with the meeting, and was the only one in the township down to the Revolution. Pupils came to it from miles around on horseback, in consequence of which a log stable was built on the premises. [Theodore W. Bean, History of Montgomery County (Phila.: Everts & Peck, 1884), 2:1032, as transcribed by Susan Walters and posted on usgenweb/pa/montgomery/history/local/mchb0027.txt]
Color Photos by MJP Grundy.
Upper Providence Meeting at 8207 Black Rock Road, in Oaks, is no longer very active. The building is now under the care of Norristown Meeting, and Friends gather there for worship only four times in the summer, and for caroling before Christmas.
This meeting house was built in 1828, suggesting that it was a smaller group that broke away from the larger meeting at the time of the separation the previous year.
The original meeting was established in 1716, and the first meeting house built in 1732. It is not described in Ezra Michener's Retrospect of Early Quakerism; he merely notes that no report was received from that meeting.
Photos by MJP Grundy, 5/29/2008.
Lancaster County meeting houses
the county seat is Lancaster
In 1729 Lancaster county was erected out of part of Chester County. The German settlers, in consequence of the new county being formed, applied to the proper authorities for leave to enjoy the rights and privileges of British subjects, which was granted. Click for an 1883 map of Lancaster County.
This section is only beginning, with meetings at Bart, East Sadsbury, Little Britain, and Sadsbury.
Bart Meeting, is in Bart township, Lancaster County.
There is a list of marriages under the care of Bart Meeting, 1827-1850.
East Sadsbury Meeting began in 1810 when Friends in East Sadsbury requested to hold an Indulged Meeting "in a schoolhouse near the turnpike", which was granted. But in 1813 it was withdrawn because local Friends had not provided "suitable accommodations". Then in 1819 they asked again to set up a meeting in Joseph Cooper's schoolhouse, and it was allowed. The next year (1820) Caln Quarterly Meeting seems to have recognized the group as East Sadsbury Meeting. In 1850 the meeting was laid down and the members were joined to the Sadsbury (Orthodox) Meeting. [Michener, 133-34.] The meeting house was sold and converted into a private dwelling, and eventually was destroyed in a fire. But apparently the old burying ground, surrounded with a stone wall, is still there. [Information from Nancy Plumley who received it from Bill Supplee, e mail 3/31/2006.]
Little Britain Meeting, is currently at 225 Lees Bridge Road in Nottingham, which is in Chester County. But Little Britain Township is in Lancaster County. The current Little Britain-Eastland Friends Meeting, is located at Kirks Mills and Friends Roads, Nottingham. There is a list of marriages under the care of Little Britain Monthly Meeting, 1752-1900.
In 1804 Concord Quarterly Meeting consented that Eastland and Little Britain Preparative Meetings join to form Little Britain Monthly Meeting. In 1819 when Nottingham Quarterly Meeting was formed, including Little Britain, the whole Quarter was shifted to Baltimore Yearly Meeting (from Philadelphia YM). At the time of the Separation in 1828 the majority were of the Hicksite persuasion, and those few with Orthodox sympathies withdrew to form Little Britain Preparative Meeting of Nottingham (O). In 1854 the latter affiliated with Primitive Friends.
Sadsbury Meeting house is on Simmontown Road between Route 41 and Route 30, near Gap and Christiana, in Lancaster County. As Friends spread west into what was then sparsely inhabited woods, they needed places to worship, and in 1724 Samuel Miller and Andrew Moore and their families requested permission to build a meeting house. "Liberty" was granted, and a log meeting house was built in 1725, called Sadsbury. On 24 Seventh Month 1737 Sadsbury and Leacock meetings requested permission from their parent meeting, New Garden, to become a monthly meeting so that they would not have to travel all the way to New Garden each month for business meetings. New Garden Monthly and Concord Quarterly Meetings agreed, and the two particular meetings were joined as Sadsbury Monthly Meeting. It met for business on the first Second Day [Monday] each month, beginning in Twelfth Month 1737. Monthly Meetings were held alternately at Sadsbury and Leacock until 1751 when the latter meeting and meeting house were physically moved to Lampeter. [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 127-28.]
The present square stone meeting house was built in 1747. Originally it had wooden galleries or balconies forming a second floor. They were burned during the Revolutionary War. When the meeting house was restored a ceiling was put in instead of rebuilding the balconies. (The ceiling is visible in the photograph below to the right.) Sadsbury was part of Chester Quarter until 1756, then of Western Quarter until 1800, and now of Caln Quarter. The meeting house was not used by Friends between 1903 and 1974, because they had built a new meeting house in Christiana and rented this old one to Mennonites. But the meeting did not prosper and eventually Friends moved back to their old building, and sold the Christiana building to the Maple Grove Mennonites.[From the Sadsbury Meeting website, 2/20/2005. See also Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 163.]
Sadsbury Meeting house sits on a hill, with the large burying ground sloping down from it. In 2006 when these photographs were taken, it was still refreshingly rural. Inside there is a fireplace in each corner of the building. It has the familiar partition that could be raised for joint worship and lowered for separate men's and women's meetings for business. The photograph on the right shows the right side of the meeting house, with its raised ministers' gallery and the partition separating it from the other side. The photo was taken while restoration work was underway, so the benches have been removed.
See another photo of the meeting house on the web.
Friends had come into the Pequea and Mill Creek valleys before June 1722 when Concord Quarterly Meeting minuted the need "to visit those few friends that are removed to Conestoga." From that summer until about 1732 meetings were held with fair regularity in Lampeter township, in Friends' homes. That year "Leacock Particular Meeting" met on First and Sixth days for worship first at Varman's home, then in a log meeting house. But it was not a convenient location, and in 1749 a new site was found and the meeting house moved to East Lampeter township, at what became Bird-in-Hand. In 1790 it was replaced with a brick building. [Frederick Klein, History of Lancaster County (1926) as seen 10m/12/2007 on http://www.midatlanticarchives.com/db_pa_lancaster_co/lancaster_co_quakers/pg003.htm
After the Separation in 1827 the majority of Sadsbury were so-called Hicksites, who retained the meeting house. The Orthodox withdrew and eventually built a small meeting house on the north side of the old Strasburg Rd. about 3/4 mile north-west of Sadsbury. There is an Amish school at about that place now. The meeting house is shown on the Bridgens 1864 map of Lancaster County. [My thanks to Nancy Plumley for this information, e mail 4m/5/2006.]
For more, see Sadsbury Meeting's own web page.
old meeting houses in other Pennsylvania counties
So far this includes meetings in Bellefonte (Centre County), Catawissa (Montour County), Exeter (Berks County), Fishing Creek Meeting, now known as Millville (Columbia County), Huntington Meeting house (Adams County), Menallen Meeting (Adams County), Muncy now known as Pennsdale (Lycoming County), Roaring Creek Meeting (Columbia County), and Warrington and York (both in York County). Eventually there will be more.
Bellefonte Meeting in Centre County, Penna., no longer exists as a Friends meeting. The building, however, still stands on Stony Batter Street, Bellefonte. It is barely recognizable, and is being used for other purposes.
This postcard view (to the right) shows how the building looked when it was a meeting house. It has since been sold and below is the way it looked in 2003, owned by the Knights of Columbus. The white building at the right edge of the photo, behind the meeting house, is part of the Bellefonte Academy. I think it was the superintendant's house, and in 2003 was being renovated.
Friends families started to move into Halfmoon Valley in the early 1790s. The nearest meeting was at Warrington, which had been a preparative meeting of Sadsbury until 9/2/1747. On 7/9/1796 a committee from Warrington Meeting agreed to allow meetings for worship at Centre (the County itself was formed four years later). The following year Warrington changed Centre from an allowed to a preparative meeting. Since it was something over 100 miles away, not many Centre Friends made it to monthly meeting. On 12/17/1803 Warrington Quarterly Meeting approved that Centre and Halfmoon together become a monthly meeting in Warrington Quarter. There were 18 miles between Halfmoon and Centre meetings. [records at Quaker Collection, Haverford College, pp. 7, 1-11.]
At the time of the 1827 Separation Centre Meeting wasn't devastated as badly as many other meetings. It appears that the Orthodox Friends in Centre just drifted away and formed their own monthly meeting, presumably at Bellefonte.
Catawissa Meeting, in Columbia County, began meetings for worship as an Indulged Meeting in 1787 under Exeter Meeting in Reading. It became strong enough to be set off from Exeter in 1796. Isaac Wiggins was named clerk of the Men's meeting, with Ellis Hughes and William Ellis to see that marriage certificates were properly recorded. A committee of eight men was appointed to have care of the burial ground and see that births and deaths were properly recorded. For a time it consisted of four preparative meetings, held in Catawissa, Fishing Creek, Muncy, and Roaring Creek. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 137-38; "Catawissa and Muncy, 1798-1878" (handwritten, bound mms in the Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. See also John E. Eshelman, "A History of Catawissa Friends' Meeting", in Berwick Historical Society, Vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 4-20, which includes the same drawing.]
The old drawing of the meeting house is from James Bowden, The History of the Society of Friends in America (London: W & F.G. Cash, 1854), 2:380. The interior picture shows the partition with the smaller room being where the women held their meetings for business. The entire meeting worshipped together in the larger part in the foreground. Note the stoves. [John E. Eshelman, "A History of Catawissa Friends' Meeting", in Berwick Historical Society, Vol. 1, no. 1, p. 10.]
A few brief glimpses from the minutes give an idea of some early activities of the meeting. A meeting for "Black people" under the care of Exeter Meeting was held near Muncy (minutes of 25/6m/1796). At the next meeting it was reported that another Friend was needed to serve on the committee to care for Black people (25/7m/1796). A liberal subscription by Friends in Philadelphia enabled the meeting to establish the Catawissa School (24/6m/1797). A lot was purchased and meeting house built in Catawissa, and a school was opened there and also at Muncy and Fishing Creek meetings (25/8m/1798). [Extracts from Catawissa Monthly Meeting minutes, pp. 101-120, part of "Genealogical Records of members of the Society of Friends Composing Catawissa Monthly Meeting, Columbia County, Pa.", compiled by John E. Eshelman, Jan. 1947, included in the Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at the HSP.]
Catawissa Monthly Meeting was continued until 1808 "when owing to the removal of many members to Canada . . . it was thought expedient to discontinue it, that is unite it with Roaring Creek into one Preparative Meeting which should become a branch of the new Muncy Monthly Meeting." This was approved by Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting on 7 Eleventh Month 1808. [Notes on Catawissa and Muncy, part of "Genealogical Records of members of the Society of Friends Composing Catawissa Monthly Meeting, Columbia County, Pa.", compiled by John E. Eshelman, Jan. 1947, included in the Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at the HSP.]
Catawissa Meeting has long since been laid down, although the old log meeting house has been preserved. The area which it served is now included in the Upper Susquehanna Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Color photos by MJP Grundy
Dunning Creek Meeting house is a brick building a half mile off Route 56 in Fishertown. The meeting is not included in Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism.
Exeter Meeting in Berks County, is at 191 Meetinghouse Road, near Birdsboro. Friends first began settling in the Oley Valley in about 1710. There were enough of them by 1725 that Gwynedd Meeting authorized a preparative meeting. In 1735 another preparative meeting was authorized at Maiden Creek for predominantly Irish Quakers. In 1737 the two were combined into Oley Monthly Meeting. By 1775 Oley Monthly Meeting covered a very large geographical area, including particular meetings at Robeson, Reading, Pottstown, and Catawissa. [Karen Guenther, "A Crisis of Allegiance: Berks County, Pennsylvania Quakers and the War for Independence", Quaker History Vol. 90, no. 2 (Fall 2001), 15.] However, by that time it was no longer officially called Oley. From the meeting minutes:At a Quarterly Meeting held in Philadelphia, the 3rd day of the third month, 1742, Oley Monthly Meeting reporting that upon a division of the townships, their meeting falls into Exeter Township, whereupon it is agreed that henceforward Oley Meeting be called Exeter monthly Meeting." [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 63.]
Exeter Friends built a meeting house in 1759 near Stonersville, in Berks County. Exeter Township, located in Berks County, was founded in 1741. It is approximately 24 square miles and the population as of the 2000 Census was found to be 21,161. The black and white illustrations from the Berwick Historical Society (1940) show the exterior and interior of the 1759 building. Inset is Charles Lee, descendant of one of the early families. Thomas Lee's daughters married Moses Robert and Job Hughes, who became important families in Catawissa Meeting.
Post card shown above was mailed to Marcellus Balderston on 11 July 1931.
Fishertown Meeting is in a white frame meeting house three quarters of a mile off of Route 56 in Fishertown. It is not included in Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism.
Fishing Creek Meeting began when there were sufficient Friends settling in the area that became Columbia County to warrant the establishment of a new meeting for worship. The following was minuted by Catawissa in 1799, reporting on the recent decision of the parent Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting:At a Quarterly Meeting, held in Philadelphia, the 6th of the fifth month, 1799, the subject brought up from Catawissa, concerning the establishment of a meeting for worship, and a Preparative meeting, at Fishing Creek, being carefully considered, it is believed it may be safe to concur with the prospect of the Monthly Meeting therein. [Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism;... (Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Zell, 1860; reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 140.]
Fishing Creek was one of the Columbia and Lycoming County meetings that were combined and re-combined with other local meetings to form various monthly meetings. In Eighth Month 1799 Fishing Creek became a preparative meeting of Muncy Meeting.
Over the next half century Friends moved away, and the 1827 separation further divided Friends. From the minutes of the (Orthodox) Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1856:Fishing Creek reports that the name of "Muncy Monthly Meeting" has been changed to "Fishing Creek Monthly Meeting held at Millville".
[Ezra Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism (reprinted facsimile, Washington, DC: Cool Spring Publishing Company, 1991), 140.]
However, the main body of Friends in Fishing Creek Meeting were Hicksites, and this meeting house remained as their place of worship. Nineteenth century records can be confusing because Hicksite and Orthodox tended to retain the old familiar names while organizing separate institutions. Add to that the shifting structures of preparative and monthly meetings, and the result is, it is hard to sort it all out. If I have misstated anything, please let me know so that I can correct it.
Fishing Creek Meeting is now known as Millville Monthly Meeting. It is relatively near the Little Fishing Creek, which accounts for its original name. The first building was constructed in 1795. The present brick meeting house was built in 1846 at 351 East Main Street, Millville. It is the only functioning Friends meeting in Columbia County today. [e mail 18 July 2005, from Robert Mosteller.] Millville Meeting is part of Upper Susquehanna Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
All photos by MJP Grundy, 8/2005.
Huntington Meeting house is in Latimore Township, Adams County, a quarter mile east of Baltimore Road, on Quaker Church Road, between Baltimore and Bateman roads. The meeting was established in 1746, and a log meeting house constructed in 1750. This stone meeting house was built in 1790. [My thanks to Bob Cooke for this information and the photograph.]
William Wright (1788-1865) and his wife Phebe Wierman (1790-1873) were probably the most active and prominent agents of the Underground Railroad in Adams County. [From the Third Month 2007 Monthly Meeting Quarterly Reports to Warrington Quarterly Meeting.]
There is a great deal more information on the history of Huntingdon Meeting from a newspaper story in 1958.
Huntington meeting is no longer functioning, but Friends from Menallen Meeting continue to oversee the upkeep and maintenance of Huntington and Redlands Meeting Houses and their cemeteries, along with cemeteries at Newberrytown and Friends' Grove. Meetings for Worship are held at least once a year at Redlands, and once a monthduring summerat Huntington Meeting House.
Photos by Robert Cooke, sent to me 5m/2/2010, used by permission.
Menallen Meeting is at 1107 Carlisle Rd (Rt. 34) in Biglerville, 10 miles north of Gettysburg, in Adams County. To find it, drive through Biglerville, 2.5 miles past the Biglerville traffic light. The meeting house is on the right. The original log meeting house was by the burying ground shown in the air view, in what is now Butler Township. In 1838 it was moved to the current location, then replaced with the present brick building in 1884. [My thanks to Bob Cooke for this information and the photo, e mail 5m/2/2010.]
Menallen is part of Warrington Quarterly Meeting, which was transferred from Philadelphia to Baltimore Yearly Meeting because it was easier to go by water down the Susquehanna to the Chesapeake than across country to Philadelphia.
Menallen meeting was established in 1780 and celebrated its 225th anniversary in 2005. Worship began at the present site in about 1838 when the old log building was moved there.Menallen Friends continue to oversee the upkeep and maintenance of Huntington and Redlands Meeting Houses and their cemeteries, along with cemeteries at Newberrytown and Friends' Grove. Meetings for Worship are held at least once a year at Redlands, and once a month during the summer at Huntington Meeting House. At times our resources are strainedthe Meeting's 2003 expenses exceeded revenues by nearly $4,000but we feel an obligation to those Friends who preceded us and provided us with this bounty. [from the "Spiritual State of the Meeting Report - 2003" from the Menallen Meeting's web page.]
My thanks to Bob Cooke, who sent the satellite view of Friends Grove cemetery. It is at the end of a lane off of Center Mills Road, and appears in the center of the photo as a green square to the right of the irregularly-shaped light-colored area, and to the left and below the F in Friends in the tiny print label.
The National Park Service has acknowledged individuals from Menallen and Huntington Friends Meetings for their efforts and contributions to the Underground Railroad in Adams County. See more on their contributions to the Underground Railroad in Adams County. The idea was originally to include all the Underground Railroad information on this meeting house page, but it has grown to the point that it would unbalance the other meeting houses, so it now has its own page.
There is another history of Menallen Meeting from a newspaper story in 1958. Although the first sentence is inaccurate (Friends didn't begin in this country in 1682 but in the 1650s in the Chesapeake, northern New Jersey, New York, and New England; when William Penn was granted the Province of Pennsylvania, Quaker settlement began there in 1682), the rest seems fairly good.
Photos sent to me by Robert Cooke, 5m/2/2010.
Muncy Meeting began in the 1790s when Friends families moved into the area that became Lycoming and Columbia Counties. Meetings for worship were "indulged", i.e. permitted, for one year, at Muncy and Fishing Creek, to be on the same day. Then 22 Tenth Month 1796 Muncy became a Preparative Meeting, approved by Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting on 26 Eleventh Month. On 23 Third Month 1799 Fishing Creek also became a Preparative meeting, and on 24 Eighth Month the two were united to form Muncy Monthly Meeting. In 1808 there was yet another change, as Catawissa Meeting, "Owing to the removal of many members to Canada . . . it was thought expedient to discontinue it, that is unite it with Roaring Creek into one Preparative Meeting which should become a branch of the new Muncy Monthly Meeting." This was approved by Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting on 7 Eleventh Month 1808. [Notes on Catawissa and Muncy, part of "Genealogical Records of members of the Society of Friends Composing Catawissa Monthly Meeting, Columbia County, Pa.", compiled by John E. Eshelman, Jan. 1947, included in the Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at the HSP.]
In other words, Muncy Monthly Meeting followed the more common practice of Britain Yearly Meeting in having a cluster of relatively small preparative meetings gather once a month to conduct their common business as a Monthly Meeting that may not have had much of an existence separate from these meetings for business. [Note that Broadmead Monthly Meeting (Lake Erie Yearly Meeting) consists of small preparative meetings/worship groups: Bluffton, Findlay, Sidney, and Toledo; there is no weekly meeting for worship at "Broadmead", which has no existence separate from the monthly meetings for business.]
After the separation within Philadelphia Yearly meeting in 1827, Muncy became the Orthodox meeting, while Fishing Creek became the Hicksite one.
Since Muncy Preparative Meeting has never actually been in the borough of Muncy, and since now it is large enough to conduct its own business, in 1988 it changed its name to Pennsdale Monthly Meeting. Today Pennsdale is part of Upper Susquehanna Quarter of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Photos by MJP Grundy, 8/2005.
Newberry Meeting, in Newberrytown, York County, was informally known as Redlands. Friends in Manchester and Newberry Townships, on the "west side of the Susquehanna," obtained permission from Sadsbury Monthly Meeting to hold a meeting for worship in 1738. Newberry Preparative Meeting became a part of the Warrington Monthly Meeting when the latter was set off in 1747. In 1861, Warrington Monthly Meeting was laid down, and Newberry Preparative Meeting became a part of Menallen Monthly Meeting. Newberry meeting was laid down in 1867. [Friends Historical Society finding aid]
The photo, from Bob Cooke, shows the meeting house that was built in 1811 when the meeting changed locations from a few miles away. On 14 August 2011 the meeting held its 200th Reunion. There were around 100 people and a few wore period dress. There was a traditional meeting of worship followed by a meal served outdoors. [E mail from Bob Cooke, Aug. 21, 2011.]
Roaring Creek Meeting house was built in 1796 and is still standing near Numidia, but as an historical site rather than a functioning place of meetings for worship. In the nineteenth century it was a preparative meeting in partnership with various other nearby meetings, such as Catawissa, Fishing Creek, and Muncy. There are additional photos from the National Park Service.
Obviously the building was of log construction, and has a two-cell design with unequally-sized meeting rooms (the women were relegated to the smaller room). It faces south with the partition running north-south between the three western bays and the east doorway. This is the English pattern rather than the American style which had equal sized rooms for men and women. When it was built it was out on the frontier of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. [Catherine C. Lavoie, "Quaker Beliefs and Practices and the Eighteenth-Century Development of the Friends Meeting House in the Delaware Valley," in Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck, eds., Quaker Aesthetics: Reflections on a Quaker Ethic in American Design and Consumption (Phila.: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 172.]
In 1808 so many members of Catawissa Meeting had removed to Canada that "it was thought expedient to . . . unite it with Roaring Creek into one Preparative Meeting which should become a branch of the new Muncy Monthly Meeting." This was approved by Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting on 7 Eleventh Month 1808. [Notes on Catawissa and Muncy, part of "Genealogical Records of members of the Society of Friends Composing Catawissa Monthly Meeting, Columbia County, Pa.", compiled by John E. Eshelman, Jan. 1947, included in the Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania at the HSP.]
Then Roaring Creek was separated from Muncy Monthly Meeting, and established as a monthly meeting 7 Second Month 1814, by Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting. It was to consist of preparative meetings at Catawissa and Roaring Creek. [Michener, A Retrospect of Early Quakerism, 140-41.]
Roaring Creek Township, located in Columbia County, was founded in 1832. It is approximately 23.5 square miles with a population of 495 as of the 2000 Census.
Warrington Meeting house was built in 1769 and enlarged in 1782. It is on route 74 in Wellsville, York County. The photograph to the right shows the southern end of the meeting house.
Friends were among the first European settlers in York County, moving from New Castle County (now in Delaware) and settling in northern York County as early as 1735. The meeting was established in 1745. Between 1748 and 1777 a number of Irish Quakers came to the Warrington area. At first Friends, who were still members of Sadsbury Meeting, worshipped in homes. As Friends became more numerous it was clear a meeting house needed to be built and the Newberry and Warrington Preparative Meeting was established. A warrant dated 5 July 1745 was given by John Penn to Thomas Cox, intended to be in trust for Friends. The first building was constructed of logs on the site of the present graveyard, in 1745. Only two years later Sadsbury Meeting agreed to set off Warrington Monthly Meeting. Its first meeting for business was in the log meeting house on 9 Eighth Month [October] 1747. William Underwood was selected to serve as clerk. The Monthly Meeting included worshipping groups in Newberry, Menallen, and perhaps Huntingdon and York Springs. The log meeting house burned in 1749 and was quickly rebuilt.[Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 4-5.]
Unfortunately, Cox had gotten the deed it in his own name, and kept it for his own use. He was disowned, and the land declared vacant. It was then patented 22 January 1767 to William Garretson, William Underwood, William Penrose, and Peter Cleaver, and their successors, in trust for the "Society of People called Quakers". The deed was signed by John Penn, then Lieutenant Governor, and was for 29 acres, 156 perches. Thirteen men then signed up, subscribing amounts ranging from 1/6d up to 5/ for the cost of the warrant. [Joan S. Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Wellsville, Pennsylvania, 4-5.]
The burying ground was laid out as early as 1760 and was used not only by Friends, but also by the larger community. In 1769 a larger fieldstone meeting house was built to serve the increasing number of Friends. It is the front portion of the present building. The plastered walls had wide board wainscotting fastened with hand-wrought nails. The floor was of wide, irregular planks. The small panes of old wavy glass were set in the thick walls, and covered with shutters when not in use. An interesting feature was two "saddle doors" instead of a mounting block separate from the building. This enabled Friends to enter directly from carriages or horses. The building wasand still isheated by a fireplace at each end, and two wood-burning stoves. [Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 5-6.]
Friends in Warrington established a school in the 1760s. A log school house was built about 300 yards northwest of the meeting house. The brothers Zephaniah and Elihu Underwood were the first teachers. The latter received a salary of £45 per year. It was the only school in the area and children came from quite a distance; it was open non-Friends as well as Quaker children. [Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 13-14.]
In 1782 additional space was needed to enable the meeting house to host Quarterly Meeting. A committee was appointed to make the necessary repairs and additions. The present meeting house was the result, with its partition in the middle to divide the women's side from the new men's side. The front of the building faced what is now Route 74, with the fireplaces at the back of the rooms. Today the floor plan is reversed and the benches face the fireplace. [Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 6-7, 20.] The photograph shows the south end door, on the "new" men's end of the building.
In 1788 there was a reorganization reflecting transportation patterns. It was easier to get from Warrington down the Susquehanna River to Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore than go across country to Philadelphia. So Warrington Monthly Meeting and Warrington Quarterly Meeting were transferred from Philadelphia to Baltimore Yearly Meeting. The other meetings in Warrington Quarter today are Carlisle, Frederick, Gettysburg, Menallen, Pipe Creek, and York.
William Wright began in 1804 to cooperate with others (probably local free African-Americans) to help escaping slaves move north to freedom and safety. This photo shows what remains of his second farmhouse, on private land a half mile northeast of Latimore Valley Road and Ridge Road in Latimore Twp. Between the 1840s and the Civil War hundreds of freedom-seeking formerly enslaved people passed through this station on the underground railroad. [My thanks to Bob Cooke, e mail 5m/2/2010 for this information and the photo.] Unlike many meetings, it appears that Warrington Meeting enabled people escaping slavery to hide in the meeting house attic for several weeks until they were rested and could be relayed to the next station. [Ruth Cooke's reminiscense of stories told by her grandfather of having the responsibility of attending to the needs of hidden slaves. Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 14.] Here is a little more on the Underground Railroad in Adams and York Counties.
With increased westward migration and some diminution of religious energy, membership in Warrington Meeting dwindled. In 1862 the meeting was laid down and the remaining Friends were transferred to Menallen Monthly Meeting. The cemetery's care was entrusted to Warrington Township, and it acquired a number of ornate and definitely unQuakerly tombstones. [Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 17.]
In the 1920s two Friends raised money to create a trust fund to preserve the burying ground. In 1946 a weekly meeting for worship was revived at Warrington, and the next year the Monthly Meeting was re-established. [Clippinger, A History of the Warrington Monthly Meeting, 17-19.] There is additional information on the history of Warrington Meeting from a 1958 newspaper story.
Warrington Township, located in York County, was founded in 1744. It is approximately 35.4 square miles with a population of 4,435 enumerated in the 2000 federal Census.
Three photographs of the meeting house by MJP Grundy, 3/2001.
York Meeting house is at 135 W. Philadelphia Street, York. The photo is from Dan Lee, taken on a rainy day in early October, 2013, and used with his kind permission. The following is taken from the York Meeting webpage.The first notice of Friends meeting in York was recorded in the minutes of Warrington Monthly Meeting June 9, 1764. Their clerk recorded that the Quarter was informed "that Friends at York have a Meeting settled there....." . York became an indulged meeting and in October, 1765, lots Nos. 175 and 176 in the city of York were deeded from Nathan and Edith Hussey to trustees William Willis, Joseph Garretson and Herman Updegraff "for the use of the Society of Friends forever." Joseph Garretson and William Matthews were appointed "to employ workmen to build the House."
What is now the east portion of the meeting house was completed in 1766 and has been continually used by the Society since then, giving rise to the claim of being the city's oldest house of worship still in use. John Gibson in his 1866 History of York County stated that the bricks used to build this first section had been "imported from England." Later in 1783 the west room was added to accommodate the "Women's Meeting." Women met separately to conduct business and administer their own money. After these meetings the raised panel partitions that run through the center of the meeting house would be raised and lowered to transform the interior into one large room for Meeting for Worship.
York was established as a Monthly Meeting in 1786 with William Kersey appointed clerk of the meeting. Two years later, York Meeting and the Warrington Quarter would be parted from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and begin their current affiliation with Baltimore Yearly Meeting. York Meeting has seen many periods of growth and decline in the first half of the 19th century. York saw many of its members move west to settle the territory that would become Ohio and Indiana. Membership dropped so low that in 1858 "there were not resident Male Members sufficient to hold a Monthly Meeting" and so York's remaining Membership was given over by Warrington Quarter Meeting to the care of Baltimore Monthly Meeting (Hicksite) as an Indulged Worship Meeting.
York Meeting continued in this capacity and relationship until May 1913 when Friends from York requested "that a Preparative Meeting be established at that place." The request was favored and Bertha Cleaver was appointed clerk. Nineteen years later, in 1932, York would reorganize as an independent Meeting of the Society of Friends under the guidance of Bliss Forbush.
Another 19 years would pass until March, 1951, when the Meeting would again reorganize and petition once again to become part of the Warrington Quarter. York Friends were welcomed back into the Quarter at the next Quarterly Meeting, May 1951, held at Pipe Creek. George Jessop sat as clerk of the Meeting until January 1955, when Eldon Leech was appointed. Eldon clerked York Meeting for 38 years, and at times was the only Friend in attendance to "keep the Meeting."
The 1960s were tumultuous times for York as well as the nation. Many who attended came out of opposition to the Viet Nam War. Some in the greater York community did not appreciate the gathering of anti-war folk at the Quaker Meeting, so one night someone tied a rope to the gate and pulled it off its hinges into the street.
By the mid-1970s, the Meeting House was desperately in need of repair. Vandalism had taken its toll on the old structure; bricks had been pulled from the foundation; window panes were broken; and the gravestones had been disturbed, defaced, and removed. The old lime and sand mortar had crumbled to powder; the end walls were bowed and buckling; the tin roof was leaking; and the electrical system was in need of repair. At that time, only 9 people were members and obviously could not raise the $25,000 needed for restorative work.
With the aid of the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society of York County, the plight of the Meeting House was publicized and a citizens committee formed. It was known as "Friends of the Friends York Meeting". The response was prompt. Local trade unions offered skilled workers and construction firms promised donations of building materials. Financial contributions also poured into the Restoration Committee treasury.
By 1976, without recourse to State or Federal funds . . . the restoration was completed. York Meeting has survived its history and remains today a spiritual refuge where worship is conducted in the manner of Friends, as it has been for [many] years. [from http://www.angelfire.com/pa4/yorkmonthlymeeting/history.html]
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See some old meeting houses, or short histories of older meetings in states other than Pennsylvania. This does not yet include North Carolina, Ohio, and Indiana which have a great number of old meeting houses, not to mention Iowa and the west coast.
This page is obviously still under construction. It may never be finished!
Last updated 8m/5/2020.
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