200th Anniversary: 1811-2011
The Historic Redlands Quaker Meeting House
When William Penn came to America in1681 to launch his “Holy Experiment”, the intent was to create a Quaker settlement that would be free of the religious persecution that he and many of his fellow sojourners had suffered abroad.
Initially, Penn and the pioneering Quakers settled along the eastern portion of what is now called Pennsylvania. But by the early 1700s, families had migrated to the south central part of the state in the area now occupied by Adams and York Counties.
Because these Quakers needed a place of worship, Meeting Houses were constructed throughout the region.
In 1745, for example, Quakers settling in the area around Newberry(town) built a log meeting house for purposes of worship. In 1792, the primitive structure in Newberrytown was replaced by a simple stone building, which sat beside a small burial ground.
It was, according to Quaker historian Margaret B. Walmer, used until 1811 when they built a new stone building two miles to the west of town. The older meeting house was sold.
Unfortunately, the ongoing western migration of settlers had a serious impact on Redlands and other early Quaker Meetings.
By 1862, the reality of a shrinking population forced the Redlands Meeting, in Quaker terms, to be “laid down”. The remaining Quakers transferred membership to other Meetings in nearby communities.
Though its survival as a place of worship was relatively brief, Redlands nevertheless played an important role in early Pennsylvania history. Its members, in typical Quaker fashion, were social activists as were other Meetings in the region. Some members were involved in the Anti-Slavery Society. A few, like the William and Phebe (Wierman) Wright family of Huntington Monthly Meeting, which is located about twenty miles west of Redlands– helped move over 1,000 freed slaves through the Underground Railroad.
“The Quakers occupy a special place in Pennsylvania history,” said the Pennsylvania Historical Association.
Since 1862, the Redlands Meeting House and two cemeteries, all in York County, have been maintained by Menallen Monthly Meeting of Biglerville, PA.
Miraculously, the Redlands Meeting House and its original furnishings have survived.
Today, the Meeting House and grounds at Redlands offers a rare snapshot of Pennsylvania Quaker history. We think you will agree.