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QUAKER SETTLEMENTS IN ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK By Levinus K. Painter* Philadelphia Quakers passed through the Indian country along Cattaraugus Creek several times before 1800. Their objective was to visit among Friends in the vicinity of Pelham, Ontario. The first Quaker homesteaders had arrived at Pelham as early as 1782. In 1799 a monthly meeting was organized under the care of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Jacob Lindley and his companions had traveled through what is now Erie County on their way to Canada in 1797. The customary route from Philadelphia led over the mountains to Pittsburgh , thence up the Allegheny River and overland to Buffalo. Quaker travelers made it a practice to cultivate acquaintance with Indians along the way, and frequently they accepted Indian hospitality. These contacts helped to prepare the way for Philadelphia Friends to open their mission for "the gradual civilization of the Indians" on the Allegheny Reservation in 1799. So far as records reveal, David Eddy and his sister Mary, from Danby, Vermont, were the first Quakers to take up permanent residence in what is now Erie County. The Holland Land Company had only recently completed the lot survey west of the Transit Line, running north and south midway in what is now Erie County. The Eddys arrived at Potter's Corners (East Hamburg and later Orchard Park) in the early summer of 1804. Later in the same year, a brother of the Eddys and three other Quaker families arrived. It can be assumed that as soon as a one-room cabin was erected, the few Friends families assembled for worship on the First Day. At some time in 1805, the Obadiah Baker and Elisha Freeman * Levinus K. Painter was for fourteen years minister of Collins Meeting. He has traveled widely in the ministry and has several times visited Friends in Africa. Most of the facts in this article are drawn from the minutes of the meetings. 24 Quaker Settlements in Erie County, New York 25 families arrived in East Hamburg (Orchard Park). An allowed meeting for worship held in the home of Obadiah Baker was recognized by Farmington Monthly Meeting in May 1807. This was the nearest organized group of Friends south of the Canadian border, but located in Ontario County, a hundred miles eastward through the wilderness. According to tradition, a small log meetinghouse was erected in 1807. The records, however, make no mention of erecting a meetinghouse till 1812. Almost as soon as the settlement was started, a log schoolhouse was erected on the site of the present meetinghouse. This building may have served a dual purpose— school during the week and a meetinghouse on the Sabbath. The large frame meetinghouse, still in an excellent state of preservation , was erected in 1820. The local meeting minutes record that the cost was $1,400. Across the border, the Canadian Half Year's Meeting was set up at Pelham in 1809 by joint action of Philadelphia and New York Yearly Meetings. The next year (1810), the care of East Hamburg (Orchard Park) meeting was transferred from Farmington to the newly recognized half year's meeting at Pelham. The same year, East Hamburg minutes refer to a Friends meeting for worship being held in the village of Buffalo. This meeting must have been of short duration, for later minutes make no further mention of a meeting in Buffalo. When border hostilities broke out in 1812, difficulties of communication made it desirable to transfer the East Hamburg (Orchard Park) meeting back to Farmington Monthly Meeting. This same year, East Hamburg minutes record an allowed meeting for worship held at a private home in East Eden (North Boston). Also in 1812, Friends were holding meetings for worship in the Tucker home at Shirley (Collins). Meanwhile, other Quaker developments were taking place in southern Erie County. The Philadelphia Friends Indian Committee had located Jacob Taylor and his companions on a 700acre tract of land east of the Cattaraugus Seneca Indian Reservation at a location which became known as Taylor Hollow in what is now the town of Collins. The contract for the land was signed at the Batavia office of the Holland Land Company on June 8, 1808. This was the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 24-37
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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