The Quaker Heritage Trail Burlington County’s 21 Historic Quaker Meeting Houses By Joe Laufer, Burlington County Historian
“Because noe people can be truly happy though under the Greatest Enjoyments of Civil Liberties if Abridged of the Freedom of theire Consciences as to theire Religious Profession and Worship.” from William Penn's Charter of Privileges for Pennsylvanians 1701
The Quaker influence on the origins, colonization and development of Burlington County goes back to the arrival from England of the Kent at Burlington City in 1677 and the Shield in 1678 and the involvement of William Penn in the establishing of West Jersey in 1680. The philosophy upon which Burlington County was formed was derived from the Concessions and Agreements of 1677. The Concessions, written by William Penn (1644-1718) and other Quakers, guaranteed representative government, fair treatment of Native Americans and civil rights and religious freedom and protection for all inhabitants. William Penn “The Shield” in Burlington – 1678 … and current monument on banks of Delaware
Even before the arrival of the Kent and Shield, the Quakers had a stake in Burlington County. George Fox himself (the founder of the Society of Friends) had crossed and re-crossed New Jersey during his religious visit to America in 1672. In fact, there is a record of Fox being in the Burlington City area on July 12, 1672. Fox visits New Jersey including Burlington in 1672 Later, William Penn was chosen by Fox to arbitrate a dispute between John Fenwick and Edward Byllynge over land in West Jersey in 1674 (Penn was 30 years old). "The purchase of 1674 is an event of the greatest historical significance for it marks the beginning of the first great Quaker experiment in American Colonization" says Edwin P. Tanner. As a result of his involvement, Penn helped establish the Province of West Jersey in 1680. Subsequently, in 1681, East Jersey was purchased. George Fox Founder of Quakerism
The Quaker colonists went right to work to establish schools, meeting houses and cemeteries throughout Burlington County, starting first in Burlington City. By 1681 there were 1,400 Quakers in Burlington County. Records show that in 1699 the "Friends" were more numerous in Burlington County than all other counties in the Delaware Valley. Artist’s rendering of Mount Laurel Friends Meeting Quaker beliefs are manifested in “The four testimonies”: EQUALITY PEACE SIMPLICITY COMMUNITY
QUAKER TESTIMONIES - those tenets of Quaker belief - continue to guide as Quakers look for answers and directions in their lives. Harmony - Quakers are widely known as people who believe war is wrong. Pacifism remains an integral of our belief system - if God is a spirit of love, how can that spirit want us to take part in something which is cruel and destructive. Community - we should use our special talents and abilities to help others. Work is the outward expression of our belief and as such we can be of service to God Equality - historically, Quakers have believed that men and women are equal. We are opposed to racism, class discrimination and oppressive treatment of people anywhere. Simplicity - Quakers believe that simplicity gives a person the wholeheartedness necessary for inward search. The absence of what is unnecessary applies to speech, dress, furnishings and architecture as well as business and income. The inner person is more important than the outer and the right use of world resources as well as of personal assets is a deep concern of many Friends.
Burlington County Quaker Meeting Houses • Active Meetings: • Mount Holly • Moorestown • Mount Laurel • Medford (Union St.) • Westfield • Cropwell • Crosswicks • Rancocas • Arney’s Mount Today there are 21 Quaker Meeting Houses in Burlington County -- some active, and some "laid down" (the Quaker term for being abandoned and turned over for other uses). Some communities have two meeting houses, as a result of the "Hicksite Separation" in 1827 -- a reform movement which created a splinter group which separated "Orthodox" from "Hicksite" believers. Fortunately, in 1952, the 300th Anniversary of the founding of Quakerism by George Fox in England, there was a reunification of all Quakers into one body of believers. • “Laid Down” • Bordentown • Burlington (Conf.Ctr) • Mansfield • Copany • Upper Springfield • Vincentown • Medford (Main St.) • Crosswicks (2) • Coopertown • Easton • Moorestown (School) • Colemantown
QUAKER HERITAGE TRAIL MAP 91 miles 1 2 18 19 3 4 5 20 17 16 6 14 21 15 13 7 12 8 11 9 10
A 91-MILE SELF-GUIDED TOUR OF BURLINGTON COUNTY’S 21 QUAKER MEETING HOUSES • Burlington to Bordentown 8 miles • Bordentown to Crosswicks 4 miles • Crosswicks to Mansfield 7 miles • Mansfield to Lower Springfield (Copany) 4 miles • Copany to Upper Springfield 7 miles • Upper Springfield to Arney’s Mount 6 miles • Arney’s Mount to Vincentown 8 miles • Vincentown to Medford 6 miles • Medford to Cropwell (Evesham) 7 miles • Cropwell to Colemantown 6 miles • Colemantown to Mt. Laurel 2 miles • Mt. Laurel to Easton 4 miles • Easton to Moorestown 6 miles • Moorestown to Westfield (Cinnaminson) 5 miles • Westfield to Coopertown (Edgewater Park) 6 miles • Coopertown to Rancocas 5 miles • Rancocas to Mount Holly 5 miles • TOTAL 91 MILES
Oldest to Newest Existing Meeting Houses • Upper Springfield • Mount Laurel (e) • 1772 Rancocas • Crosswicks (Hicksite) • 1775 Arney’s Mount • Lower Springfield (Copany) • 1775 Mount Holly • Burlington • Mount Laurel (w) • Moorestown • Coopertown • Cropwell • Easton • Mansfield • Colemantown • 1813 Vincentown • 1813 Bordentown • 1814 Medford (Union St.) • 1842 Medford (Main St.) • 1854 Crosswicks (Orthodox) • 1859 Westfield (Old) • Moorestown (Orthodox) • 1963 Westfield Other Structures 1783 – John Woolman Memorial 1791 – Warrington Westfield School 1792 – Burlington Friends School 1822 – Rancocas Friends School
1. Burlington Meeting – 1678; 1687; 1783 Located at 340 High St. in Burlington City, this facility is now a regional conference center for Southeastern Pennsylvania/New Jersey Quakers operated by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Of historical significance, the first meetinghouse on this site was a hexagonal frame structure built in the 1600s. Indian Chief Ockanickon is interred in the burial ground behind the meetinghouse
Burlington Friends Schoolhouse – 1792 York St. (Between Penn & E. Union Sts.), Burlington City The small brick schoolhouse housed many Quaker students who were taught the three R’s. The Quakers stressed education, feeling that a young person must be prepared to accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Discipline was strict and the students spent long hours attempting to solve the mysteries of long division and Latin. This building contains many photographs, books, and documents of Burlington.
2. Bordentown Meeting – 1740; 1813 Located at 302 Farnsworth Avenue. Laid down. Operated as a museum by the Bordentown Historical Society. Recently restored. Note the different colored brick under the roof line. This is one of several Quaker Meeting Houses in the county whose roof was “raised” to accommodate increased attendance.
3. Crosswicks (Orthodox) – 1831; 1854 Located at 530 Ward Avenue in the Crosswicks section of Chesterfield. It now serves as headquarters for the Chesterfield Township Historical Society.
4. Crosswicks (Hicksite) – 1677; 1693; 1773 Located on Front and Church Streets in the heart of Crosswicks Village. An active meeting. Of historic interest is a cannon ball imbedded in one wall, a result of a Revolutionary War battle.
Mansfield Meeting – 1684; 1732; 1731; 1812 • 3191 Route 206 South • Located on Route 206 at mile marker #32 just south of the intersection of Mansfield Road East. • It is in the process of being refurbished. Plans are to use it as headquarters for Burlington Monthly Meeting, the storage of local Quaker archives and occasionally for special events.
6. Lower Springfield – (Copany) – 1698; 1775 Located at 1832 Jacksonville - Jobstown Road near the intersection of Petticoat Bridge Road. Privately owned and used as a home. Historical significance as a Hessian Hospital during the Battle of Petticoat Bridge – a prelude to Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware on Christmas Eve, 1776 in the Battle of Trenton.
Inside Copany Left: Downstairs Below: Upstairs
7. Upper Springfield - 1727 Located on the corner of Meetinghouse and Highland Road, just off Route 68. This half of the building was rehabilitated in 1916 Only half of the original structure remains. Caretaker’s house for the historic burial ground in the rear.
Memorial to Burlington County’s Unknown Soldiers of the Revolutionary War A project of one man – Al Stephens of Monmouth Road, Springfield Township, it was erected in September, 1987 in the Upper Springfield Friends Burial Ground, behind the old Upper Springfield Quaker Meeting House at the end of Meeting House Road, not too far from the entrance to Ft. Dix off Route 68. The memorial reads: 1776-1783: Erected to the Memory of Revolutionary War Militiamen who gave their lives in local skirmishes with the British and Hessian forces and were placed in unmarked graves each known only to God.”
8. Arney’s Mount – 1743; 1775 Located on Pemberton- Arney’s Mt. Road (Rt. 668) at the intersection of Juliustown Rd. Seasonally active meeting. Included in National Park Service’s Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS). Built of New Jersey Sand- stone quarried on site.
9. Vincentown – 1781 (Current building, 1813) Located at 115 Main St. at the corner of Grange St. in the historic village of Vincentown The white stucco building is currently used as the Vincentown Grange. The original walls of the Meeting House (shown on the left) remain under the stucco. Vincentown was founded by Quakers and once called “Quakertown”. The historic burial ground remains behind the Grange building.
10. Medford - Orthodox - 1842 Located at 53 Main St., near the corner of South St. Laid down. Currently owned by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Roman Catholic Social agency. Awaiting approvals for restoration.
Medford – • Hicksite - 1793; 1814 14 Union Street, Medford An Active Meeting.
12. Cropwell - Evesham/Marlton - 1786; 1809 Located on Old Marlton Pike between South Cropwell and North Cropwell Sts. behind Burn’s Pontiac, close to the border with Camden County. Cropwell is one of the Active Meetings.
13. Colemantown Meeting - 1813 Located on Elbo Lane, near Moorestown- Mt. Laurel Road. The Colemantown Meeting House (1813) is shown to the left of Jacob’s A.M.E. Chapel (1859). The meeting house was built by Quakers for freed black slaves harbored in Mt. Laurel through the “Underground Railroad” by Quakers of the Mt. Laurel Meeting (less than 2 miles up Mt. Laurel Road). The old meeting house is currently used as a church hall. It was moved to its present location from across Elbo Lane in 1965. Dr.James Still, the renowned Black Doctor of the Pines, is buried in the cemetery behind the chapel.
Tomb of Dr. James Still Black Doctor of the Pines
Mount Laurel Meeting - 1694; 1717; 1760 (e); 1798 (w) • Located at the intersection of Moorestown-Mount Laurel Road and Hainesport-Mount Laurel Road. Operated under the Moorestown Meeting. An Active Meeting. In June, 1778, British Troops on the way to Freehold temporarily took over the new portion. Built of New Jersey Sandstone quarried on “Evan’s Mount” (across the street). Two subsequent sections replaced the 1717 structure in 1760 and 1798 successively.
15. Easton Union Meeting - 1811 Located on Fostertown Road, South of Mt. Laurel-Hainesport Road. Currently the Easton Bible Church – an Independent Fundamental Christian Congregation. The property was sold by the Quakers to Easton Union Church about 1949-50; later, about 1968, the Easton Bible Church purchased all of it.
Marker located at the corner of Chester and Main Streets, Moorestown, indicates the location of the original Friends Meeting House built of logs in 1700. A larger stone building followed after a fire in 1720.
16. Moorestown – 1700; 1720; 1802 - Hicksite Located on Main Street, opposite Chester Avenue, across the street from the location of the original Meeting Houses.
17. Moorestown – 1839; 1897 - Orthodox Located on the grounds of Moorestown Friends School, serving now as the school cafeteria. To the left: An old picture of the Orthodox Meeting House which preceded the one shown above.
18. Westfield Friends – Cinnaminson – 1788; 1794; 1800; 1859; 1963 Located on Riverton Road, just before it intersects with Route 130. This is an Active Meeting The structure to the left is the newest Quaker Meeting House in Burlington County, constructed in 1963. Women’s suffragist, Alice Paul, of Mount Laurel, is buried in the cemetery here. Earlier Meeting House (1859) now serves as a school
Friends Lower Schoolhouse – 1791 Riverton Road, Cinnaminson In December, 1788 Abraham Warrington established a school in his home, and by 1791 a structure was built under the auspices of the Chester Preparative Meeting. This early schoolhouse currently serves as the office of the Headmaster of the Friends School at Westfield, with newer portions of the school having been built around it.
19. Coopertown Meeting – 1802; 1806 Located at the intersection of Cooper Street and Route 130 in Edgewater Park. Not exclusively a Quaker Meeting House, it was used by Quakers in 1901, and records show that the Society of Friends contributed a sum to erect the horse shed. The constitution of the meeting provides: “That any sect or creed should have the right to worship there, provided they believed in the Divinity of Jesus Christ and should be forever free.”
20. Rancocas Meeting – 1681; 1703 - Current Building: 1772 Located on the north side of Main St. in the Village of Rancocas in Westampton. - Active Rancocas was settled by Quakers as early as 1680, making it one of the earliest Quaker communities after Burlington. It was the home congregation of several famous local Quakers, including Thomas Olive and John Woolman.
Rancocas Friends School - 1822 Main Street, Rancocas, Westampton Twp. The first Friends school was established here as early as 1703 with no regard to sex, race or religion. It was replaced in 1773 with a frame structure that was in use continuously until the present brick schoolhouse was built in 1822. This school, in continuous use ever since (except for a brief period in the 1930’s), had some of the most respectable teachers in Burlington County (among them, John Gummere, who eventually became the president of Haverford College, Charles Stokes, Laura Gaskill, Nora Dunfee, Mayberry McVaugh and Rachel Hunt). In recent years it has become a Nursery School serving the children of the community.
The first Quaker Meeting House in Mt. Holly was near the corner of Woodlane and Woodpecker Streets as early as 1716. The second was near this location, 47 Mill Street, behind John Woolman’s Tailor Shop.
21. Mount Holly - 1716 - Current building: 1775 Located at 81 High Street at the corner of Garden St. Active Meeting Restored in 1999 with the help of a major Historical Preservation grant through the New Jersey Historic Trust and other funding.
The John Woolman Memorial – 99 Branch St., Mt. Holly John Woolman: October 19, 1720 – October 7, 1772
Final days • Woolman's final journey was to England in 1772. During the voyage he stayed in steerage and spent time with the crew rather than in the better accommodations of the other passengers. He attended the London Yearly Meeting, and the Friends there were persuaded to oppose slavery in their Epistle (letter sent to other Friends in other places). John Woolman went from London to York where he contracted smallpox and died. • Woolman’s wife, Sarah Ellis Woolman • is buried in the Mount Holly Friend’s • Burial Ground. They married in 1749. • A son died in infancy; Daughter Mary lived to adulthood. • Works by Woolman • Essays • "Some Considerations on Keeping Negroes", 1753 • "Some Considerations on Keeping Negroes, Part Second", 1762 • "Considerations on Pure Wisdom and Human Policy, on Labor, on Schools, and on the • Right Use of the Lord's Outward Gifts", 1768 • "Considerations on the True Harmony of Mankind, • and How it is to be Maintained", 1770 • Book • The Journal of John Woolman, published posthumously • The Journal of John Woolman is considered to be an important spiritual • document, as shown by its inclusion in the Harvard Classics.
John Woolman (October 19, 1720 – October 7, 1772) was an itinerant Quaker preacher, traveling throughout the American colonies, advocating against conscription, military taxation, and particularly slavery. John Woolman came from a family of Friends (Quakers). His grandfather, also named John Woolman, was one of the early settlers of New Jersey. His father Samuel Woolman was a farmer. Their estate was between Burlington and Mount Holly .
African American Historic Sites • Bordentown Twp. (Training Center) • 2.-8. Burlington City (Allen, Wheatleys, Cromwell, Island, Bethlehem AME, Friends Mtg., Wesley AME) • Westampton (Timbuctoo) • Mt. Holly (Woolman) • 11.-12. Medford (Still, Haines) • Evesham (Evans) • 14. Mt. Laurel (Jacob’s Chapel) • 15. Moorestown (Barcklow) • 16. Cinnaminson (Trinity AME)
The End Thanks for your kind attention…