The third Baptist congregation in the United States was established here at the foot of Iron Hill in 1703 by sixteen immigrants from Wales on the 30,000-acre “Welsh Tract” granted them by William Penn. The current building of glazed-header Flemish bond brick-work replaced a log original. Jerkinhead gables recall those at several of Delaware's early-eighteenth-century churches (for example, NC10). The two front entrances emulate Quaker practice. Steps, foundation corners, datestone (with relief numerals and Catherine wheel), table tomb bases, and several tombstones are of red sandstone, perhaps imported from New Jersey. A greenish rock is evident for tombstones dating back to the 1720s, and there is much marble, suggesting an extensive trade in stones. As recorded by a University of Delaware professor in the 1920s, the oldest stone (1707) was in Latin; others were Welsh, dating as late as 1759. In 1936 the old markers were crumbling, and today, the table tombs in particular are disintegrating. American soldiers made a last stand in the churchyard after the Battle of Cooch's Bridge in 1777, and a cannon-ball struck the building (or, alternatively, went in one window and out another). Once renowned for its huge “Three Sisters” white oaks, the now-treeless yard is surrounded by a heavy wall (1827 and later; recently refurbished). In the 1990s, the church's brick-work suffered an awful repointing with hard, white cement. Across the road are an ancient sexton's house of stone and a shed with tree-trunk posts. As in the early twentieth century, the church houses a tiny Primitive Baptist congregation that meets one or more Sundays a month.
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Welsh Tract Baptist Church
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