History of Friends in Concord, NH

Original Concord Friends Meetinghouse, now a private home on Franklin St., Concord, NH

Concord, New Hampshire

Erected: 1815

Location: Franklin Street

Burial Ground: Yes, on separate site [‘Quaker Lot’ in the Old North Cemetery]

Private Residence

In the early 1800s a builder named Greely Hannaford (19 Nov 1767 - 10 May 1852) [ancestor of Arthur M. Hannaford, founder of Hannaford Brothers Company] from Portland, Maine happened to attend a Quaker meeting one First Day.  A woman rose and spoke, according to his account, “so appropriately to my state of mind that I was astonished and like Paul, struck down to the ground at noontime.”  Following this transforma­tive experience [Greely] Hannaford became a Friend, and when his sister Ruth [Turner], who owned a tavern in Concord, came to visit him he convinced her to become one, too.  Upon her return home, she started the first Friends Meeting in Concord in 1805, and ten years later a meetinghouse was built approximately on the site of the present-day State House.  In 1816, when the state of New Hampshire purchased the lot, the meetinghouse was moved to a location on State Street.

The meeting was laid down in 1840, and in 1845 the meetinghouse was sold and became a schoolhouse.  In 1859 the building was again moved and later rebuilt as a residential duplex on Franklin Street [see above right], where it is still a private home today.

There is a small Friends burial ground with a memorial marker set aside in Concord’s Old North Cemetery on State Street.

SOURCE: Charles Day

©2001 Silas B. Weeks

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Weeks, Silas B (Silas Burling), 1914-2006

New England Quaker Meetinghouses: past and present / by Silas B. Weeks.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 0-944350-51-8

1.     Quaker church buildings – New England.

2.     Quakers – New England – History.

NA5215.W44 2001                         2001023709


Old Quaker Burial Ground

The following is from the National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, p. 11 dated Sep 26, 2008.

2. Quaker Lot, 1811. Contributing site.

The Quaker Lot occupies a lot of approximately 10,000 square feet abutting the north side of the Minot Enclosure.  Although Quakers customarily did not mark the graves of their deceased with headstones, Levi Hutchins, a well-known clock maker, erected a marble headstone for his wife, Phebe Hutchins (1766-1829).  Sixteen other Quakers are memorialized on a single granite, slant face monument.  Although no death dates appear on the monument, some are known and included in the following list: Benjamin Hannaford, d. 1811, Ednah Hannaford, d. 1815, Seba Houghton, d. 1810, Lydia Dunlap, d. 1811, Sarah Houghton, d. 1813, Daniel Rodgers, d. 1819, William Rodgers, Mary H. Warden, Peter Hazeltine, d. 1827, Daniel C. Hazeltine, Levi Hutchins, Phebe Hutchins, d. 1829, John Hutchins, Anna H. Morse, Sarah Arlin, Joseph A. Hoag.  Both these markers are at the far eastern end of the lot.  The only other memorial on the Quaker lot is a 1926 granite monument located in the southwestern corner.

The Quaker Lot had its beginnings as a private burying ground. According to the Amsden Manuscript, Benjamin Hannaford, a Quaker, set aside in his will of 1811 a lot north of Old North Cemetery as a Quaker burying ground.2  The Quakers in Concord, the first group to withdraw from the town church, held their first meeting in 1805.  They built a meetinghouse in 1815 where the State House now stands.  The state bought this land in 1816 and historian Lyford says the meetinghouse was moved to a plot east of the present Quaker Lot, fronting on North State Street.  The peripatetic building was again relocated in 1845 when it was sold to School District No. 11 for use as a schoolhouse.3

In 1911, the Report of the Cemetery Commissioners recommended the City buy the Quaker Lot from Otis G. and Harry P. Hammond for $300 as the lot was “in a very bad condition and a disgrace to our city.”4  The resolution “Appropriating three hundred dollars for the purchase of the Old Quaker Cemetery Lot” was passed on October 14, 1912.5

2 Grace P. Amsden, “A Capital for New Hampshire” c. 1950, 3 vols.  (Bound manuscript, Concord Room, Concord Public Library) chap 25, p. 4-5; chap. 26, p. 13-15.

3 James O. Lyford, History of Concord, New Hampshire, vol. 2.  (Concord NH: The City Government, 1896), vol. 2, p. 713-714.

4 City of Concord Annual Report, 1911, p. 442.

5 City of Concord Annual Report, 1912, p. 25.

From James O. Lyford, History of Concord, New Hampshire, vol. 2.  (Concord NH: The City Government, 1896), vol. 2, p. 713-714. (https://www.concordnh.gov/DocumentCenter/View/766)

The Friends, or Quakers [in Concord, New Hampshire]

The first open dissenters from the town church were the Friends, or Quakers.  Dr. Bouton mentions their being in Concord as early as 1803, but it was not until October 24, 1805, that a meeting was set np for public worship.  This was done by the Weare Monthly meeting, which made the Concord society subordinate to itself.  The exact number of persons composing that meeting is not known, but it was doubtless small, as there was a record of only sixty odd names of men, women, and children for the whole life of the society, and two thirds of these were children.  The principal members were Ruth Turner, Sarah Sweatt, Lydia Dunlap, Sarah Arlin, Levi and Phebe Hutchins, Abel and Sarah Houghton, Bethiah Ladd, Daniel and Ruth Cooledge, James and Mary Sanborn, Josiah and Sarah Rogers, Israel and Abigail Hoag, Ruth Hazeltine, and Thomas and Ruth Thorndike.

Meetings were held for some time at the dwelling-house of Ruth Turner and Sarah Sweatt at the North end.  In 1814 a lot of land was purchased, where the state house now stands, and in 1815 a meeting-house was erected there by the Friends of Concord, assisted financially by the Weare Monthly meeting and by a donation from William Rotch of New Bedford, Mass.  In 1816 the lot was sold to the state, and the meeting-house removed to a lot at the North end given by Benjamin Hannaford, who was not a member of the meeting but a public-spirited citizen.  The lot is on State street, near the old cemetery, just south of the residence of the late Isaac W. Hammond.  The house was on the front of the lot, and remained there until sold to School District No. 11 for a schoolhouse in 1845, when it was removed to the rear of the old brick schoolhouse, which stood where is now the home of ex-Governor Frank W. Rollins, and used several years as a primary school.  About 1859 the building was sold by the school district to Samuel M. Griffin, who removed it to Franklin street, where it was used as a storehouse.  Subsequently it was con­verted into a two-tenement house and now stands on the south side of that street and is numbered 19 and 21.

The Friends meeting in Concord became so reduced in numbers that in 1840 it was discontinued. “Aunt” Ruth Turner and “Aunt” Sarah Arlin were perhaps the leading- spirits, for tradition says that they were fre­quently moved to declare their tes­timony.  It is probable that the scat­tered residences of the members had something to do with lessening the interest in the meeting, for they resided as far apart as are Bow line and West Concord.

According to the custom of the Friends there is a burial-place in the rear of where the meeting-house stood on State street.  There are several graves, but only part are marked with headstones.  A plain marble stone gives the name of Phebe Hutchins, wife of Levi Hutchins, who “fell asleep April 22, 1829.”  Levi Hutchins, who is buried beside her in an unmarked grave, was one of the famous clock makers, Abel and Levi Hutchins, who did business here from 1785 to 1819.  Only two other graves are marked,—that of John Hutchins of New York, who died June 5, 1843, and that of Joseph S. Noyes, who died November 7, 1855.

  History of Friends in Concord, NH (.doc)

  History of Friends in Concord, NH (.pdf)