Oblong Meeting (Laid Down)

Oblong Meeting House

 

 

The Oblong Meeting House is on Quaker Hill, Pawling, New York.
The members of the Oblong Friends Meeting minuted to abolished the owning of slaves in 1776 and later cared for wounded soldiers during the Revolutionary War in this building.


History of Oblong Meeting

In 1731, the Colony of Connecticut ceded to the Colony of New York a two mile wide strip of land known as The Oblong, which ran from the vicinity of Ridgefield to its northern boundary. Quakers quickly settled in this area and, in 1740, requested permission from Purchase Meeting to establish a meeting and build a meeting house. This was granted and in 1742 a meeting house was built, directly across from the present building. In 1744 the groups at Oblong and Nine Partners became a monthly meeting. By 1763 tile building was too small for the rapidly growing membership and a petition was sent to the Quarterly Meeting for a new brick building 45 feet long and 35 feet wide. When consent arrived from the Yearly Meeting, the specifications read: "for a framed house of timber, the dimensions to be 45 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet stud to admit of galleries." All meetings of the Yearly Meeting were to assist in raising the necessary funds for its erection. The new meeting house was built in 1764, on the north side of the road, and still stands. In 1800, Oblong Monthly Meeting was transferred from Purchase to Nine Partners Quarter.


After the Separation in 1828, Hicksite Friends continued to use the present building while Orthodox Friends held services in a building adjoining the northwest corner of the property. Membership declined in the latter part of the century and, in 1885, the Hicksite Meeting was laid down. The Orthodox Meeting remained active for at least another ten years, but was not formally laid down until 1921. In 1936, title to the building and property was transferred to the Historical Society of Quaker Hill and Vicinity. Since then, there have been occasional quarterly meetings held in the old building and Yearly Meeting Friends gather there each summer.
In 1767 the Oblong Meeting raised the question whether it was "consistent with the Christian spirit to hold a person in slavery at all.." After much discussion throughout the Yearly Meeting, it was decided in 1776 that meetings would not accept financial contributions nor receive services from any Friends holding slaves. Records show that the last slave owned by a member of Oblong was freed in 1777. A portion of Washington's Continental Army was encamped on the hills nearby, during the fall of 1778 and winter of 1779. The meeting house was used as a hospital for the soldiers, although there is no mention of this in the Meeting minutes. Some of the soldiers are buried south of the road.

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