The Crooked Lake Review

Summer 2005

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Mendon — The Early Years

Quaker Meeting House Road

and the Quakers


John G. Sheret

Every day numerous people travel the Quaker Meeting House Road in the Town of Mendon on their way to and from their jobs in Rochester and elsewhere. Perhaps some have wondered about the origin of the name of this road and the actual location of the Meeting House.

An early photo of the Quaker ("Friends") Meeting House in Mendon. The date is not known.

The author of this article had the privilege of examining a large number of family documents and photographs in the possession of Honeoye Falls resident, Sylvia Van Pamelen. Among the documents were land deeds pertaining to the large farm, located between Clover Street and the Quaker Meeting House Road, once owned by her grandfather, Louis Burton Lord.

1872 Map of the Town of Mendon showing location of the
Friends Meeting House and the home of Isaac G. Ewer

In my review of the land deeds I found one that was of particular importance in the early history of the Town of Mendon—the original deed for the site of the Quaker Meeting House. That document states that on August 25, 1832, John and Sarah M. Whippo sold one acre of land for $40.00 to Martin Davis and Daniel Russell and "their successors in office in trust for the Friends Monthly Meeting of Rochester."

The Quakers, more properly known as the "Society of Friends," built a 30' x 40' (later enlarged to 30' x 60') wood frame Meeting House on the property. The building was located in a grove of locust trees on the west side of the road just south of the Rush - Mendon Road and north of the small cemetery, the only remaining evidence of the Friends' presence.

Quaker Cemetery localed next to the site of their former Meeting House
in Mendon Centre. Photo by John G. Sheret.

On April 2, 1835, Isaac F. Ewer married Lydia Ann Powell in the newly built Meeting House. Lydia Ann had arrived in Mendon in 1832 with her parents, Joseph and Hannah Powell, coming via the Erie Canal from Saratoga County. An obituary on her death in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, dated April 27, 1905, states that the wedding couple performed the ceremony themselves. It further mentions that as it was the first wedding in this house of worship, so much curiosity was aroused that the Meeting House was filled and that many witnessed the ceremony from the yard.

Greek Revival House built by Isaac G. Ewer following his 1835 marriage
in the Meeting House to Lydia Ann Powell

The Quakers flourished in the Mendon Centre area for many years and their members owned prosperous farms with large and well-maintained houses and barns. From April 1836 until January 1867 the early house of this author on the Mendon Centre Road was owned by a Quaker by the name of Silas Birdsall. However, Silas was "disowned" by the Society of Friends on August 23, 1844, for marrying "out of meeting," meaning that he had married a non-Quaker.

Early house owned by the author of this article for over forty years. For many
years it was the home of Quaker Silas Birdsall. Photo by John G. Sheret.

However, by the early 20th Century, due primarily to the practice of disowning members for marrying non-Quakers, their numbers had dwindled to the point that the Meeting House was not used during the winter months. In December of 1909 the Quaker Meeting House was advertised for sale by Mendon Centre resident, William Wasson Cox, who had served as caretaker of the property and whose mother was a preacher in the Society of Friends. In March of 1906, after attending the funeral of Susan B. Anthony in Rochester, Mr. Cox recalled that in 1873 she had spoken at a meeting held in the Meeting House and that she had stayed overnight at his father's house in Mendon Centre.

"House Content" Gothic Revival style house in Mendon Centre, once owned by
William Wasson Cox, caretaker of the Quaker Cemetery and Meeting House.
Photo by John G. Sheret.

In August 1910 a Quaker by the name of George Lindley Quick purchased the building. He dismantled the structure and used the material to construct a barn at his farm, then located on Pond Road in Mendon. The 113-acre farm remained in the Quick family until 1980 when it was acquired by the County of Monroe to expand the Mendon Ponds Park.

The beautiful house of Greek Revival design, built by his father George Quick in 1855, was moved to a new location on Clover Street within sight of the former Meeting House, Unfortunately, the barn, also planned to be moved by the new owner to that location, was destroyed by a fire set by arsonists.

A perhaps ironic twist to this story is that, in March of 1911, the one-acre plot on which the Meeting House was built, was purchased by a Martin Davis, grandson of the Martin Davis who was one of the parties mentioned in the original deed. Mr. Davis cut down the locust trees to be used as fence posts on his farm located on the top of Davis Hill on Clover Street, about one mile north of the Village of Honeoye Falls.

Following the sale of the Meeting House the members met at the home of Jonathan D. Noxon on Locust Street in Honeoye Falls. Mr. Noxon was a prominent member of the local Quaker community and, prior to his retirement in 1903, had owned a large farm on the Stoney Lonesome Road in Mendon. Another chapter in the history of the Town of Mendon was concluded on September 24, 1915, when the final meeting of the Society of Friends was held at Mr. Noxon's house.

Today the Meeting House site is once again a grove of locust trees that stand, along with the Friends' Cemetery, as the only reminder of a religious faith and a way of life on an earlier time in the history of the Town of Mendon.

Site of the former Quaker Meeting House, now a grove of locust trees. Iron fence
in photo shows northeast corner of Quaker Cemetery. Photo by John G. Sheret.

Mrs. Van Pamelen has generously donated the deed for the Quaker Meeting House site to the Honeoye Falls/Mendon Historical Society. It has been encapsulated in transparent archival material to prevent further deterioration of the paper and is now on display at the Society's Museum.

Land deed for one acre of land purchased by the Society of Friends as the site for their Meeting House, August 25, 1832. Courtesy of Sylvia Van Pamelen and the Mendon Historical Society.
© 2005, John G. Sheret

Sources of Information

Diane Ham, Town of Mendon Historian
Lord Family Papers, courtesy of Sylvia Van Permelen
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle
Honeoye Falls Times

Beer's 1872 Map of Town of Mendon
Index to Articles by John G. Sheret
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