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  early churches of New Jersey

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Trenton Friends
Trenton, Mercer County

Quakers in Trenton had held occasional meetings in the homes of residents, probably as early as the late 1680s, and there is an early Quaker burial ground that still exists. It was not until 1739 that the local Society received permission from the Chesterfield Meeting (in Crosswicks) to erect a meetinghouse and hold regular meetings, however, and they did so in that year. The building was a smaller, simpler one, although it is claimed that the foundation and several of the walls of the existing building are original.
     The meetinghouse was occupied by British Dragoons during the Revolutionary War. The additions and renovations made in 1873 and 1896 much altered the meetinghouse, as it bears almost none of the elements prescribed by Quaker authorities (there is supposed to be separate seating for men and women, for example, but the interior of the building bears no evidence of any dividing panels or partition. Moreover, there are many details, such as the fan light in the gable, dentils in the cornice and a pent roof that is entirely too fancy, that are decidedly non-Quaker. The entrance was once squarely in the middle of the gable end.
      The Hicksite schism in the 1820s resulted in the Orthodox minority having to move out; they constructed their own meetinghouse a couple of blocks away on Mercer Street in 1858.
     In the adjoining burial grounds are several Revolutionary War leaders as George Clymer, who signed the Constitution (as a delegate from Pennsylvania not New Jersey).




Copyright (c) 2001 Frank L. Greenagel