Our History

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(Click photo to enlarge.)

As early as 1655 the New World had attracted Friends. George Fox visited America from 1671-1673. A period of expansion followed this as meetings were established in New York, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas and in greater numbers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There is evidence that Friends had meetings here in Harford County in the early 1700’s. Among family records are names of Quakers from earlier meetings at West River in Anne Arundel County and Third Haven in Talbot County.

In the year 1738, William Amos, while exercising the function of an officer of the militia, was walking through the woodland. According to the legend, he sat down upon a log to rest and here his meditations were such that he regarded them as worship. The following Sunday he invited two of his friends to join him on the log and they, too, felt similar emotions. On subsequent Sundays he invited more of his friends to join until the log was fully occupied. Upon inquiring around they discovered that their mode of worship was like that of the Society of Friends. They then visited Gunpowder Monthly Meeting near Cockeysville. They formed a Meeting under the care of Gunpowder and erected a log building on the spot of the original log in the area known as Bond’s Forest. One end of this building was used as a school. In 1773, a stone building was constructed to replace the original structure.

In 1815, Little Falls (named for the stream of water nearby) became a Monthly Meeting and a part of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting. The Forest Meeting was established about this time under the care of Little Falls. The Forest Meeting was located in Forest Hill at the site of what is now called Friends Park. Growing membership at Little Falls resulted in the need for a larger building and thus the first stone meeting house was taken down and replaced by the present stone structure, which was designed by Benjamin Ferris. The cornerstones of the earlier building, dated 1773, were placed high in each end wall directly over the date stone of the present building dated 1843. The meeting house is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The interior of this building has remained much the same over the years. The rising tiers of benches distinguish its simplicity. One can imagine the advantage to this arrangement in the days when men wore high silk hats to meeting. Light reflected through the windowpanes gives credence to the building’s age. The wooden partition dividing the building is counter balanced so that when the lower part is lowered its weight is used to raise the upper part to completely open the room for larger meetings. Men and women worshipped together; however, men sat on one side of the partition and the women on the other for their separate meetings for business. Friends were one of the first religious groups to insist on equal, if separate, rights for women.

The white clapboard schoolhouse, which stands in the yard, was used for the education of the children during the 1800’s. An interesting architectural feature of this building is the arched ceiling. The story goes that this was insisted upon by one of the teachers so that he could properly teach astronomy. A recent library addition houses the meeting’s collection of books on Quaker history and genealogy. Little Falls Meeting has held completely to unprogrammed services with periods of silent worship and with no music. Meeting for worship is held each Sunday or First-day, as Friends call it, at 10:30 a.m. Children’s First-day programs begin at 10:45. Visitors are always welcome to join us.