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Orchard Park in Erie County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Orchard Park

Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway

 

—Quaker Meetinghouse —

 
Orchard Park Quaker Meetinghouse Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway Marker image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
1. Orchard Park Quaker Meetinghouse Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway Marker
Inscription. The Quaker Meetinghouse, formally known as the "Meetinghouse of the Orchard Park Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of friends", is home to Erie County's oldest active congregation. Known as "Quakers" they brought with them their lifestyle, their culture, and their religion in the very early 1800's.

Circa 1895 photo of the Meetinghouse. Note the horse sheds in the rear.

Agrarian (farming) Quakers preferred life in quiet communities which were detached from what they termed the "corrupting influences" of the larger world. In 1804, Quaker David Eddy of Danby, Vermont, came to settle, followed by his extended family. Within a short time, word of this "uncultivated part of nature's garden, luxuriantly timbered, rich soil, with never failing springs and streams," reached eastern communities. Over the next dozen years a tide of Society of Friends members from Vermont, eastern New York, and Pennsylvania arrived in this locality.
In accordance with the structure of their religion, the fledging congregation was subordinate to the Meeting in Pelham (near Welland), Ontario. Originally the group met for worship in the cabin of early settler Obadiah Baker. Outgrowing his cabin, in 1811 they purchased one-half acre on the northeast corer of Orchard Park's Four Corners "with a log house standing thereon" for $20 to use as
Quaker Meeting Roadside Sign image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
2. Quaker Meeting Roadside Sign
their meetinghouse. They also purchased a two acre parcel on the northwest corner of that location for the sole purpose of having a place to bury their dead. The arrival of the War of 1812 "interrutped communication" with their Pelham Friends.

The group continued to grow as Western New York became more settled, resulting in the purchase in 1817 of three acres of land on this site for $115 from Aldrich Arnold. Here they built Orchard Park's pictureque Quaker Meeting House and established a cemetery. In September 1821, the Society moved into the still unfinished new Meetinghouse. Shortly after, the Four Corners cemetery was reduced to one-half acre in size, which the Quakers maintained until 1854.

The first local lending library was established in this building by the Quakers in February 1823 with the charge that curators "lend them to such families as they shall find to be most in need, having particular regard to women Friends." In 1826, Friends built a school on this property, facing North Freeman Road near the corner of East Quaker Street. Horse sheds were also built, initially along the western lotline, and later immediately behind the Meetinghouse.

The historic Meetinghouse has serenely witnessed ten generations, including unparalleled activity during the eras of the Underground Railroad and Women's Sufferage movement. All the while, the Meetinghouse
Eastward image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
3. Eastward
has exhibited the inherent message of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality as a witness to God's Light.

A venerable structure to grace our Village, the Meetinghouse endures today, a reminder of Orchard Park's roots in an orderly, agrarian society.

The Quaker Meetinghouse was the first house of worship of any denomination in Erie County.

The interior during a meeting of worship, with elders facing the congregation.

The Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway is a 70 mile route encompassing five towns and three villages within Erie County, New York. For a listing of points of interest signs along the byway go to www.wnyssb.org .
 
Location. 42° 46.199′ N, 78° 44.01′ W. Marker is in Orchard Park, New York, in Erie County. Marker is on East Quaker Street (U.S. 20A) 0.1 miles west of Freeman Road, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6924 East Quaker Road, Orchard Park NY 14127, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Obadiah Baker Homestead (approx. 0.2 miles away); David Eddy (approx. 0.3 miles away); Site of Erie County Agricultural Fair (approx. half a mile away); Jolls Homestead
Marker and Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
4. Marker and Meetinghouse
(approx. 0.6 miles away); a different marker also named Orchard Park (approx. 0.6 miles away); Village of Orchard Park (approx. one mile away); Site of Erastus D. Webster Homestead (approx. one mile away); Orchard Park Depot (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Orchard Park.
 
Also see . . .  Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway. (Submitted on February 11, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.)
 
Categories. Churches & Religion
 
Quaker Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
5. Quaker Meetinghouse
Quaker Meetinghouse - West Side image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
6. Quaker Meetinghouse - West Side
Quaker Meetinghouse image. Click for full size.
By Anton Schwarzmueller, January 28, 2015
7. Quaker Meetinghouse
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 11, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York. This page has been viewed 196 times since then and 40 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on February 11, 2015, by Anton Schwarzmueller of Wilson, New York.
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