Donate to save the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meetinghouse. 

 

It takes just a minute.

 

[Text adapted from Jo Ann Staples, Committee for the Preservation of the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meetinghouse.  Used with permission.  In collaboration with the Caroline County Historical Society and the Caroline Digital History Project.]

Quaker Meetings in Caroline County

 

The history of the Society of Friends (Quakers) on the Eastern Shore of Maryland goes back to 1659 when the Quakers in Talbot County established the Third Haven Meetinghouse. The first Quaker meetinghouse in what would become Caroline County was established at Marshy Creek near Preston in 1727. This was a very prosperous Meeting (Quaker congregation) and remained in operation until 1946.  Although it was known by three different names – Marshy Creek, Snow Hill, and Preston –  and was housed in three different structures over time –  the membership grew and flourished. The last meetinghouse, a large red brick building, was constructed in 1904 and “laid down” (closed) in 1946.

In the more northern area of what was to become Caroline County, a meetinghouse was constructed at “Nine Bridges” (the Bridgetown area) in 1733. The Quakers in this area felt it was too far and too difficult to travel to the Chester Meetinghouse in Queen Anne’s County. From the start, “Nine Bridges” suffered from low attendance and infrequency of meetings.  All of the meetings held in Caroline County were under the direction of The Third Haven Monthly Meeting, In 1791, it was decided the few remaining members of “Nine Bridges” would join the Greensboro (Greensborough) or “Choptank Bridge” group who at the time met in members homes. A meetinghouse was not constructed in Greensboro until 1795 and was discontinued in 1807, also because of poor attendance. The members were directed this time to attend meetings in Denton at the Tuckahoe Neck Meetinghouse, which had opened in 1802.

 

The Nicholites and the Quakers

 

Two other Quaker Meetings near Concord and at Federalsburg had a different beginning. Originally, these buildings served as a meeting place for a sect known as the Nicholites or New Quakers. This sect was led by Joseph Nichols of Kent County, Delaware, and it eventually spread into Maryland, especially Caroline County.

Nichols was born about 1730 in Kent County, Delaware and began his ministry about 1760 as a result of a traumatic incident in his life. He was a very charismatic leader and was able to draw others into “obedience to the Inward Director and a life of austerity”. The Nicholite tenets were similar to those of the Quakers; anti-slavery, opposition to war, and a life of self denial, but in many ways were more strict.

The movement continued to grow but, unfortunately, Joseph Nichols died in December 1770.  Many of his followers were convinced of his zeal and continued to embrace his views. It is reported that as many as 1,000 people attended some of the open meetings.  Many of the members moved from Delaware into Caroline County, and in 1784 a Nicholite Meetinghouse, Centre, was established at Concord and the next year a second one, Northwest Fork, was opened in Federalsburg.

Because of their similar views the Quakers and the Nicholites began to meet together. As time passed, the Nicholite sect began to fade due to their very strict tenets.  Starting in 1797, there was a flood of requests to transfer to the Quaker sect. Eventually, the Centre building was closed and moved to Burrsville where it was converted into a dwelling.  Likewise, Northwest Fork was moved about three miles outside of Federalsburg and renamed Pine Grove. It was moved a second time and placed farther west along Route 318 just slightly over the line into Dorchester County. Today, the building is privately owned and unrecognizable as a meetinghouse, having been converted into a dwelling.

 

Later History of Tuckahoe Neck Meetinghouse

 

The last Quaker Meetinghouse built in Caroline County, Tuckahoe Neck, was completed  in 1802 and remained active until 1897 when it was “laid down” (closed). It is often referred to as the “Neck Meetinghouse” to differentate it from the Tuckahoe Meetinghouse at Matthewstown in Talbot County.

The building served in several other capacities over time. The Quakers and non-members conducted a school from 1856 to 1858 and again from 1877 to 1879.  During the Civil War,  it was used as a barracks for Union soldiers, and it was reported the soldiers would leave the building allowing the  Quakers to hold their meeting. The “Dunkards”  ( Church of the Brethren) established a church for Black citizens and, finally, the building served as a public school from 1899 to 1900. 

 

Saving the Meetinghouse

 

With Quakers moving away or joining other meetings, Tuckahoe Neck quickly fell into disrepair. In 1930, a few of the former members made an attempt at limited repairs, but once again it was left to deteriorate.  By 2002, the building was in a terrible condition with extensive termite damage.  Major restoration work took place over the next two years. This included new footing and brick piers, replacement of termite damaged sills, and floor joists with new beams and joists being installed, and a new shingle roof added.

As had occurred in the past, there was no regular maintenance, and by 2017 more repairs were needed. The east end of the building required the most attention, and was repaired by the summer of 2019. However, there was no plan to address the need for repair of the other three sides or to establish a plan for regular maintenance. As a result, a few individuals came forward with a fundraising plan to restore the building, but also to establish a trust to provide perpetual care.

The Committee for the Preservation of the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meetinghouse is appealing to all citizens of the County to assist in this effort. We have developed a multi-facet plan of fundraising, consisting of writing grant proposals, electronic fundraising, and signature fundraising events.

If you would like to assist in this truly worthwhile effort or would like to have more information, please contact Jo Ann Staples at quakers@carolinehistory.org.                             

 

Donate to save the Tuckahoe Neck Quaker Meetinghouse. 

 

It takes just a minute.

 

Stand in the Place:  The Quakers of Caroline County

Visit Tuckahoe Neck Meetinghouse in 1974 - Virtually

In 1974, Denton resident and land historian Eleanor Horsely prepared and submitted documention for the Tuckahoe Neck Meetinghouse to be listed in the Maryland Inventory of Historic Places.  She traced the history of the building, transfers of ownership, and physical condition of the building.  Read more.

 

Northwest Fork Meetinghouse

The original single-story, one-room plan structure was erected in Federalsburg by the Nicolites around 1775-80. Although altered as a bungalow around 1913-15, the former Pine Grove Friends Meetinghouse, originally the Northwest Fork Nicolite Meetinghouse, is the only structure in Dorchester County to survive as a representation of these religious sects that were active within the Eastern Shore counties during the 18th and 19th  centuries. [Read more from the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties.]

See all the Quaker Sites

Locate all Quaker sites with the web map here.

Share Button