Left to right: A number of Friends from Menallen Monthly Meeting served on the Otoe (Plains Indians) Reservation in Nebraska in 1878, under the direction of Jesse Griest and his wife, Sabilla. The Kosers, and the Blacks were also part of the contingent who went west at Pres. US Grant’s request; two handsome mules held Cam Garretson and his siblings when they were small. Cam continued to run Beechwood Orchards, named by his father, Robert Israel, for the fine beech trees at the farm; Israel Garretson and Rachel Garretson’s wedding certificate from Newberrytown Meeting, dated October 20, 1859. They moved to what was then Longsdorf Nurseries in Flora Dale shortly afterwards. In 1881, Israel presented a paper to the Pennsylvania Fruit Growers’ Society called “The Cultivation of Apples”.
In 1691, William Penn (a member of the Religious Society of Friends) founded a government and a society that welcomed all people and all religions. This tolerance attracted immigrants of varied religions and backgrounds, including many Quakers. By the 1730’s some of these families moved to York and Adams Counties in Pennsylvania. The percentage of Friends (Quakers)was significant. To support these new communities new Quaker Meetings were established, notably, Newberry (Redlands) Meeting in 1739, Warrington in 1745, Menallen Meeting in 1748 and Huntington Meeting in 1750.
Although westward emigration continued, several large Quaker families remained to become active in the orchard industry and follow the family traditions of their ancestors . Their influence continues as the orchard industry continues to be a significant contributor to the area today.
During the mid 1800’s, Quakers from Adams and York Counties played a leadership role in the Abolitionist Movement in the United States. Members of Menallen Meeting employed African Americans in their orchards and provided living accommodations for them. Menallen members were very active in helping escaped slaves find freedom north of the Mason Dixon Line and in Canada, serving as ‘conductors’ on the Underground Railroad. Today, Huntington, and Menallen Meetinghouses are part of the National Park Services National Network to Freedom which commemorates sites involved in the Underground railroad.
Over the last half of the 1800’s membership in the local Quaker Meetings declined,because of the western migration. After 1860, Newberry, Warrington and Huntington Meetings were laid down and the remaining membership transferred to Menallen Monthly Meeting. The maintenance and preservation of these historic meetinghouses and their associated cemeteries are now under the care of Menallen Monthly Meeting. Currently, Menallen has responsibility for three meetinghouses (Huntington, Newberry and Menallen) and five cemeteries.
Menallen Monthly Meeting held its first Meeting for Worship as a new independent Meeting on the ninth day ninth month in the year 1780.
Friends Phebe and William Wright aided over a 1000 freedom seekers. Their home was a major stop on the Underground Railroad in this area.
Menallen Monthly Meeting is still in existence and conducts Meeting for Worship each First Day (Sunday) at 10:30 am.
Friends are strongly committed to community outreach, and provide tutoring and ESL classes for local immigrants, help to fill backpacks with food for the weekend for kids on reduced lunch programs, and provide other community support as needed.
Top left: At Huntington Meeting House, “Grandma” Maria Tyson, Cousin Lizzie Koser Wilson, and an unknown friend. Top Center: The Cyrus Griest homestead, Springdale Nurseries on Quaker Valley Road; an Underground Railroad site. Top Right: Picnic in the Menallen Meeting House grove in August/September 1959--Gail Blackburn’s farewell dinner. (Current friends will recognize the trestle table.) Friends include Virginia Perry, Dorothy and her husband Wagner, Alice Black (?), behind her Irene Tyson and Don Tyson (only his hair is showing!) On the right, Bertha Tyson. Bottom Left: Cyrus Griest’s Springdale Nurseries business card. Bottom Middle: Tyson packing house, at Mapleton, Adams County circa 1910. Bottom Right: The Hill House, across from Menallen Meeting House, built for Chester and Bertha Tyson circa 1900, where they raised twelve children.