Georgetown Meeting

Pictures of Georgetown Meeting:

Original Meeting House

Separate Bell Tower

After 1909 Remodel

Current Meeting House 


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taken from


by Mary Clark and Donald L. Brown

Published by Printing Techniques, Inc. Danville Illinois

Copyright 1977

A church group which has been a great factor in the development of Southern Vermilion County since the early 1800's has been the Society of Friends, more widely known perhaps, as Quakers.

Friends believe that general worship is from the heart, and that real communion takes place when, in spirit, the Voice of God is heard and His Presence is felt, drawing His people to speak to, and of Him. In order to give Him a chance to speak and feel sure of His leading, they often sit in silence for longer or shorter periods in their meetings for worship. Friends always had a reputation for simplicity in dress, conduct and speech.

Many of the Friends migrated from the Carolinas, Virginia and Tennessee because of their hatred of slavery, and to provide homes for their families in the rich prairie lands of the Midwest.

Vermilion Grove Meeting was set up early in the 1800's followed shortly by Elwood Meeting, east of Georgetown. For nearly 50 years, Friends in Georgetown were affiliated with Elwood Friends Monthly Meeting.

A "Monthly Meeting of Friends is a fundamental working unit of the Society. It receives and records members, extends spiritual care, and if necessary, material aid to its membership. It provides for the oversight of marriages and funerals; for treating in a spirit of love with those who fail in accordance with Friends principles; for removing names from membership rolls if this course seems necessary; for collection of funds necessary to carry on the work of the meetings; for holding titles to property and administrative purposes.."

At the meeting of Elwood Monthly Meeting of Friends, Ninth Month 25, 1874, the Friends of Georgetown and vicinity requested the establishment of a "meeting of worship and a Preparative Meeting to be known as "Georgetown Preparative Meeting" to be held in the Village of Georgetown.

Records tell us that "after due deliberation and a free interchange of sentiment, this meeting was united in granting their request, and the subject was referred to Vermilion Quarterly Meeting, where the action was approved."

A committee composed of James P. Haworth, Thomas Hester, John Folger, Frederick Canaday, John Q. Hoskins, Lydia Fletcher, Melissa Haworth, Louisa Mendenhall and Elizabeth J. Hadley was appointed by Elwood Monthly Meeting to investigate the matter and report to the next monthly meeting.

When this report was received, William Rees, Aaron Newlin, Henry Mills, James C. Sanders and John L. Haworth were appointed to attend the opening of Georgetown Preparative Meeting on First Month, 27th, 1875.



In the meantime, a plot of land, 87 ft by 250 ft had been acquired from James H. Lockett "and a meeting house was erected thereon." Regular meeting days were First Day (Sunday) and Fourth Day ( Wednesday). The meetinghouse was built by Henry Huffman and Darius R. Reid in 1874. It was a brick building 36' by 60' and cost $4,000, "not overplain in appearance; door and windows were neatly coped with ornamental stone and brickwork."

Prior to this time, there was but one other Friends meetinghouse (in Cincinnati, Ohio) which used a bell to call worshippers to meeting, it being against the beliefs of the "plain people" as Friends were often called. A bell was purchased for the Georgetown meetinghouse, but because of a disagreement as to whether it should be used on the church, a compromise was reached whereby a belfry should be erected separate from the church. This was done and the lower part was used as a storage place for fuel. "So Georgetown Friends were called to worship by the ringing of a bell."

After several meetings, much prayerful consideration and visiting by various committees, the minutes of the Vermilion Quarterly Meeting held at Vermilion Grove, Second Month, 10th, 1877, recorded a request made by Georgetown Preparative Meeting that a Monthly Meeting be established in that community. The request was granted and the Quarterly Meeting directed that the Monthly Meeting "be opened Fourth Day following the last Seventh Day in the Sixth Month (July 4, 1877 at 10:30 A.M."

Among charter members of Georgetown Monthly Meeting of Friends were Mordecai Morris and Ann; David Mendenhall and Mary; William Taylor and Susan; William Hornaday and Caroline; W.O. Mendenhall, Eli Henderson, Benjamin Jenkins, Soloman Haworth, Benjamin Canaday and Ann; William Terrell, Phillip S. Commons and Hannah; Enos Cook and Melinda; Elam Henderson and Mary; Zachariah Morris and Elizabeth; John Breezeley and Louisa; Enoch Pritchard and Elizabeth; Martha Lewis, Rebecca Rees, Sarah Haworth; Perry Frazier and Mary; Thomas H. Lewis; William F. Henderson and Elizabeth; Obijah J. Wooton; Hermas Cook and Louisa.

The first ministers were Frances C. Jenkins and William F. Henderson. Early Friends ministers did not receive a salary. The first Monthly Meeting clerks were William F. Henderson and Hannah Commons; the first legally appointed trustees were Zachariah Morris, E.T. Pritchard and Elam Henderson. In 1880 a church library was started with 172 volumes. Mary Haworth was librarian. The church membership was 213. There were two men and a woman ministers. The first revival was held by Levi Rees in 1887. Expenses were apportioned to heads of families on a percentage basis. Early janitors received $50 to $55 per year - and furnished all fuel for the stoves and oil for the lamps.

In May, 1897, a committee composed of Thomas H. Lewis, Sarah O. Haworth, Cyrus Guyer, O.P. Clark, Benjamin Haworth, Lucretia Lewis, Mary Jane Gee and Melissa Haworth was appointed to solicit and collect funds for the purpose of building or buying a parsonage and repairing the church. In May 1898 the committee reported that a parsonage had been completed at a cost of $600. This parsonage is still in use (1977). In 1898, the first ushers were appointed: Hermas Cook and Dillon Haworth.

Note: Portions of the following were written by Mary E. Clark and Mary Louise Rees Miller.......they were both members of the Georgetown Meeting.

In 1909, a committee was appointed to consult an architect to learn the probable cost for church repairs. The original exterior walls remain but extensive changes were made in the interior. One of the most noteworthy was the use of stained glass to replace the plain window panes. As such an order from a Friends church was so unusual, the firm with whom the order was placed sent a special representative from St. Louis to Georgetown to confer in order that colors used in the glass might be in accord with the wishes of Friends. Georgetown Friends Church is said to be the first of its denomination in the Midwest to use stained glass in windows. A belfry was built on the church to house the bell.

In 1958 an annex was built on the east side of the church. It was 33' by 44' and the estimated cost was $20,000. More classrooms and a better basement were badly needed. Much of the labor was done by volunteer workmen.

In 1974 a big step was taken and a 1966 Dodge bus was purchased which has been upgraded to a 1987 12-passenger GMC van.

In 1977 a new parsonage was purchased several blocks from the Meeting house for $40,500.00 and the old parsonage was demolished and became more parking area.

In 1981 the sanctuary interior was modernized with carpeting and padded pews. Additional conveniences provided were a ramp in August, 1980, and a bathroom for handicapped on the first floor in November, 1982.

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