Appoquinimink Meeting in Odessa, Delaware

Under the care of Wilmington Monthly Meeting
West Main Street (Route 299), Odessa, Delaware
[Just west on Main Street at Odessa Route 13 traffic light]
Meeting for Worship every First and Third Sundays of each month at 11:00 a.m.

History of the Appoquinimink Meeting:

Members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were among the
early settlers of the area surrounding Odessa, coming in with various
groups organized by William Penn, seeking religious freedom in "Penn's
Land." In 1763, Friends in the Georges Creek area applied to Kennett
(PA) Monthly Meeting for ".the establishment of a Meeting in their
midst." They met in homes until Georges Creek Meeting House w as built
(later called Hickory Grove Meeting) northeast of present day St.
Georges. They affiliated with Duck Creek (Smyrna) Monthly Meeting. No
known records of Georges Creek or the early Appoquinimink Meeting exist.
References are found in Duck Creek records in the Friends Historical
Library, Swarthmore College, PA. The minutes for the Sixth Month (June)
1781, noted that a request from Georges Creek Friends was read "for the
indulgence of this meeting to remove their present place of meeting to
Appoquinimink Bridge." This had to be approved by Western Quarterly
Meeting as well, and the process took until Eight Month 1782. In Sixth
Month 1783, Duck Creek Meeting minutes noted that "the Friends at
Appoquinimink have erected a house wherein they now meet."

In 1785 the present brick Meeting House was built by David Wilson, whose
wife was Mary Corbit. They were not married under the care of Meeting,
but by a minister, so were temporarily "read out of meeting." Perhaps
because of that, or slow legal processes, the Meeting House and grounds
were not deeded to the Meeting until 1800.
The first school at Appoquinimink (also known as Cantwell's Bridge,
later Odessa) was established by Friends much earlier, in 1735, and
conducted by them until the late 1800's. It was used as a parsonage by
Zoar Methodist Episcopal Church, which was built on land to be sold to
them by the Meeting. Later, Daniel Corbit gave land and built a
parsonage for them across the street, and the former school building was
demolished.
Appoquinimink Meeting thrived until 1828 when the disagreement among
Quakers as to Hicksite versus Orthodox philosophy occurred. Most
Appoquinimink members, including the Corbits, sided with the Orthodox
Friends in Philadelphia, but Duck Creek Meeting became Hicksite and kept
the property. The Alston family tried to carry on, but in 1889 the
Meeting was closed. The building became subject to vandalism and
general deterioration.
The Meeting was a station on the Underground Railroad. A member of the
Meeting, John Hunn, owned the farm to the west and was arrested with
Thomas Garrett for harboring fugitive slaves. Tried in New Castle, he
was fined to the extent that he had to sell his farm. Though he burned
his papers before he died, Harriet Tubman is quoted as saying she hid in
the Meeting House at times. Tubman was interviewed by Earl Conrad, who
wrote a biography of her in the late 1800's. The Meeting House's second
story has a removable panel leading to spaces under the eaves. It also
originally had a cellar reached by a small side opening at ground level.

In 1900, Mary Corbit Warner (Mrs. E. Tatnall Warner) moved the Corbit
family headstones from the Hicksite property to a smaller cemetery with
brick walls just east of and adjacent to the original cemetery. Since
then Corbit descendants have been buried in this private plot. Title
was given to Wilmington Monthly Meeting in 1970. A fund was set up by
the Corbit family for its care.
In 1938, James Finley, with financial aid from Roseanna Evans and Rodney
Sharp, restored the building. It was reopened for worship in 1939,
however, the property title had escheated to the State. In 1948
interested Friends requested the State to restore the title to the
Friends and Wilmington Monthly Meeting received the title and
Appoquinimink became a Preparative Meeting under Wilmington's care.

In 1972 the Meeting House, said to be the smallest brick house of
worship in the United States, was placed on the National Register of
Historic Places. Appoquinimink Preparative Meeting has held regular
Meeting for Worship regularly for a number of years.

All are Welcome!

 
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