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Fishertown

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In the 1780s, members of the Society of Friends from Adams County traveled northwest over the newly opened Burd's road (U.S. 30) to Bedford, and up into what became known as Quaker Valley. They founded the Dunning's Creek Society of Friends Meeting in the early 1790s, approximately one mile northeast of Fishertown. From 1795 to c. 1875, the group met in a log structure in the village of Spring Meadow two miles north of Fishertown. The town is named for Jacob Fisher, who once owned the land, and it grew around two houses and a blacksmith shop owned by Azariah Blackburn. It consists mostly of frame houses lining two roads that intersect at a small jog in the road. The vaguely Queen Anne housing stock consists of two-story houses with gable roofs, dating from the 1880s and 1890s.

From 1827 until 1968, the American Society of Friends was divided into two sects based on differing interpretations of Quakerism. The Hicksites followed the teachings of Elias Hicks and emphasized individual spirituality. The Orthodox held to a strong belief in the readings and teachings of the elders. Hicksites dominated in the Baltimore Yearly Meeting, but the Dunning's Creek Monthly Meeting was divided in half. Although the schism ended in 1968, the two Fishertown meetinghouses remain divided and continue to meet separately. After 1830, two log meetinghouses—one Hicksite, one Orthodox—shared a six-acre plot in Spring Meadow. In 1851, the two sects cooperated to build a frame octagonal schoolhouse for the area's children (now at Old Bedford Village, see BD13). Although octagonal schoolhouses are quite rare in western Pennsylvania, many in stone or brick dot Delaware Valley in New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, and Delaware. The octagonal form was generally popular, and not limited to a certain religious or ethnic group between 1800 and 1850.

By the 1880s, the center of settlement had moved to Fishertown. Both meetings soon followed, erecting new buildings here. In 1882–1883, the Orthodox Meeting built a small frame, gable-roofed meetinghouse at 3140 Valley Road (PA 4003). The Hicksite Meeting built Dunning's Creek Friends Meetinghouse, a large brick structure on PA 4028 ( BD21). The Spring Valley Grange No. 814 (c. 1900; 750 Grange Hill Road), a frame, gable-roofed structure reminiscent of a meetinghouse, serves as a community center for this farming area.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Lu Donnelly et al.

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