Officials of the Ohio History Connection , members of the Stillwater Monthly Meeting , and decedents of the pioneer Hartley, Hall, Doudna, Webster and other Quaker families, will formally dedicate an Ohio Historical Marker at the site of former Richland Conservative Friends Meeting east of Quaker City Sunday.
The public is cordially invited to the program and unveiling which gets underway at 2 pm on Shannon Run Road, .3 of a mile northeast of Eldon (Spencer's Station) just off SR 265.
Richland Meeting came about following the Hicksite-Orthodox split of the Society of Friends in 1827-28. Prior to that, all Quaker City area members of the faith gathered for services at Leatherwood Meeting House located in the Friends Cemetery.
On Shannon Run, a primitive log meeting house was erected by the Orthodox group in 1828. It was replaced 1857-58 by a frame structure. That building, damaged by fire in the early 1870s, was rebuilt in 1872 serving Richland Meeting for over a century.
This historical marker is also representative of the pioneering spirt of the early Quakers who migrated to eastern Ohio, mostly from southern states, to escape the institution of slavery. The faith, based on pacifism and simplicity, blossomed during the first half of the 19th century.
Richland Meeting continued long after the Hicksite group at Friends Cemetery folded. By the 1970s though virtually all the member of Richland Meeting had passed on or moved away.
During these final years, Elmer Hartley (1897-1993), a fifth generation member, could be relied upon to bring the area's Quaker history alive. He also spearheaded fundraising efforts to provide permanent funds for upkeep of the cemetery and meeting house.
At formal meeting for worship on October 17, 1973, Richland Meeting was officially "laid down," or closed. Ownership transferred to the Stillwater Monthly Meeting in Barnesville. Sixteen years later, in 1989, the vacant, deteriorating building was torn down.
Elmer Hartley's son, Ernest, currently a resident of California, recorded the Meeting's final minute, "The Meeting House stood serenely under giant oak trees whose great, spreading branches welcomed all visitors to this peaceful spot. While this has been a small Meeting, it has been a good one and many remember it as a quiet and peaceful place where birds are heard singing and the Holy Spirit is near."
Now, 44 years later the Ernest Hartley, major sponsor of the permanent marker, returns to Millwood Township and Richland to honor the rich history of this Quaker Meeting that served the community for 147 years.
The Richland marker is the fifth for Guernsey County and 25th in an area that also includes Belmont, Noble and Mornoe counties. Statewide over 1,500 markers commemorate sites and local history.