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  early churches of New Jersey

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Walnford Friends
Ellisdale, Burlington County

    

Henry Beck (in Fair to Midlands) tells of an early Quaker meetinghouse
in the vicinity of Ellisdale—the Walnford Meeting, which he said was organized about 1700. That seems improbably early. The meetinghouse was located a short distance from what is now Monmouth County’s Historic Walnford Park, a 36 acre village/ plantation that was founded in 1734. An important owner of the plantation in 1772, Richard Waln, was a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker who sympathized with the British, which meant his
property was subject to confiscation. He established his family on
Crosswicks Creek during the Revolutionary War, and though he was interned for a while, he eventually was paroled. That suggests that the mid-to-late 1770s is a more likely date for construction of the meetinghouse. His nephew, in fact, was a Quaker “minister” during this period.
     Sometime early in the nineteenth century the meetinghouse was moved across the road and served as a public school; in the twentieth century it was converted into a residence. There have been more changes in the last several years. A few years ago I corresponded with a lady who grew up in the house, which was even then known as a former Friends meetinghouse; she said the recent changes made it all but unrecognizable to her.
     It appears as a Quaker meetinghouse/school on Wolverton’s Atlas of Monmouth County, published in 1884, and there are other documents that testify to its existence. Ellis, quoting Gordon’s Gazetteer (published in 1834), notes that there was a Quaker meetinghouse near Ellisdale Village which had been used as a schoolhouse by the Friends of the Arneytown Meeting. In a subsequent entry he notes that it was built before 1812, and that in 1867 it was moved across the road. That may not settle the matter for everyone, but the evidence is pretty convincing to me.

 

 

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