Ohio’s Quaker heritage honored

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DAMASCUS, Ohio – The Ohio Historical Society will dedicate five Ohio historical markers in northeastern Ohio Oct. 27, all honoring the region’s Quaker heritage and the impact the early Quaker pioneers made in settling the state.

Locations. As part of the Ohio bicentennial celebration, markers will be presented at the following locations:

* The Marlborough Friends Meeting House and Burying Grounds, 10053 Edison St., N.E., Marlboro Township, Stark County, 1 p.m.;

* Deer Creek Quaker Cemetery, corner of McCallum Avenue and German Church Road, Lexington Township, Stark County, 1:45 p.m.;

* Lexington Quaker Cemetery, 2:30 p.m., corner of Greenbower Street and Rockhill Ave., N.E., Lexington Township, 2:30 p.m.;

* Village of Damascus, Friends Burying Grounds, Lot 17, U.S. Route 62, 3:30 p.m.; and

* Village of Damascus, Damascus Cemetery, Valley Road, 4 p.m.

Quaker legacy. In Marlborough (old spelling) Township, a Friends Meeting was created in 1813, but the first Quaker settlers moved to the township sometime in 1805. The Marlborough Monthly Meeting of Friends was renamed Alliance Monthly meeting of Friends in 1865, and at that time, the Marlborough and Lexington Friends relocated to 322 E. Perry St., Alliance. Also by the time of the move, attendance in the Marlborough Friends group had dwindled and the meeting was discontinued.

In 1897, the Marlborough property, which included three acres, the meeting house and burying grounds, sold for $25. When state Route 619 was widened in the early 1940s, approximately 30 feet of the south end of the burial lot was exhumed and reinterred to the north portion of the lot.

While excavating a deeper basement under the old meeting house, present landowner Jerry Whitmeyer found tombstones that had been used for a floor. These, along with a few other tombstones, are displayed at the cemetery site.

Deer Creek/Lexington. The Deer Creek Quaker Cemetery is voluntarily maintained by the Lexington Township trustees. The original property was purchased by the Quakers in 1822; the meeting house and property sold for $80 in 1898 to private owners. The meeting house is owned today by Stephen Stickler and Brenda West.

Lexington Township also maintains the previously unmarked Lexington Quaker Cemetery, where burials continue today. The town of Lexington itself (then part of Columbiana County) was laid out in 36 lots in 1807 by Quaker Amos Holloway.

The Lexington Friends Meeting was created in 1809 and the first home Amos Holloway built in Lexington, in 1808, was turned over to the Quakers as a meeting house. Later, the building became Lexington’s first school, which was supported by the Quakers.

Damascus. The dedication of the historical markers in Damascus will have additional significance, as it also marks the re-interment ceremony of 118 graves (1807-1843).

These graves were exhumed at the Friends Burying Grounds in Damascus over the last two years under the direction of John White, chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Youngstown State University. (An article on the archeological dig at this site appeared in the July 3, 2002, Farm and Dairy.)

The 4 p.m. ceremony will include a dedication of the cemetery name plaque; dedication of the 118 names plaque, including remarks by John White and direct descendants; dedication of the historical marker; re-interment of the 118 graves and remarks by Revs. Edwin Mosher and Kenneth Albright, Damascus Friends Church.

Rare Bible donated. The ceremony also includes the presentation of a 211-year-old Bible owned by Anthony Morris to Malone College in Canton. Morris was a charter member (1808) of the Springfield (Damascus) Friends and first grave digger for the cemetery.

The Bible was published in 1791 by Isaac Collins, Trenton, N.J. There are two editions of this rare Bible in Ohio: at Xavier University and at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, both in Cincinnati.

The family Bible contains handwritten accounts of the births and burials of ancestors of Anthony Morris’ wife, Hannah French Morris; the births and burials of Anthony Morris and his family; and others.

All the dedication ceremonies are open to the public.

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