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Westminster interns, alumni visit Quakertown remains

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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (WC)-- A group of Westminster College students interning with Pleasant Hill Historians and volunteers from the Lawrence County Historical Society visited the remains of a Quaker settlement in Edinburg, Pa., over the summer months.

Led by Pleasant Hill Historians President and Westminster alumnus Andrew Henley ’17, the group—including Lawrence County Commissioner and Westminster alumnus Dan Vogler ’81 and current Westminster students Sara Small, a junior individual interdisciplinary major from Beaver, Pa., Alex Georgescu, a senior computer science major from Hermitage, Pa., and Gabrielle Lucas, a junior political science/history double major from Transfer, Pa. —traveled to the site once known as Quakertown and cleared brush from the cemetery and identified gravestones.

Henley said each stone was marked and its location plotted in order to later make a map of the cemetery area.

“The ultimate goal of the day’s work was to document and preserve a rapidly declining historical landmark for future research,” said Henley, adding that photographic and mapped records taken of the site will enable the public to learn more about this important piece of local history.

The site, now known as Quaker Falls and property of Lawrence County, was abandoned by the Quakers in the 1920s and its remains include the cemetery and many unidentified building foundations.

“The site provides an experience in learning about the first Quaker settlement in the Lawrence County area,” said Henley. In 2019, archaeological digs were excavated throughout the area, where flint pieces were found, dating to the Precontact Period.

“What a rare opportunity it was to work hard with people who were similarly interested in preserving things of the past,” said Small, a Pleasant Hill Historians geospatial intern. “I was truly grateful to even have the opportunity to do my part in documenting the Quakertown cemetery.”

Known as the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers are a Protestant group, who originally immigrated to the United States of America from England and Wales in the 17th century and known for their refusals to participate in war or to swear oaths, opposition to slavery, wearing plain dress and practicing teetotalism. Notable Quakers include Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, Herbert Hoover, John Cadbury and William Penn.

Between 1799 and 1804, the Cadwalader family moved to Western Pennsylvania and settled the area, where they laid out the village of Quakertown. Others joined them including the Sharpless, Shearer and Townsend families, and as the town grew in number, it became a self-sustaining community with a grist mill, saw mill, train station, machine shop and schoolhouse.

After the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, a group of citizens from Lawrence County said that they would, “make a war upon that infamous law.” Around the mid-century, many residing in Quakertown grew to prominence as conductors on a secret collaborative effort to assist the former slaves to freedom, known as the Underground Railroad.

Pleasant Hill Historians plans to return to the site in the future to continue its preservation efforts. For more information visit phhist.com/quaker.

For more information about Pleasant Hill Historians, please contact Henley at 724-714-4232 or ahenley0713@gmail.com.

Above photo, Sara Small '22 working in the cemetery at the Quakertown site. Below, Westminster alumni and interns Andrew Henley '17, Dan Vogler '81, Gabrielle Lucas '22, Alex Georgescu '21 and Small gather together.

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