Bethesda Friends Meeting
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Original Yearly Meeting Quaker Site Rededication 350 Years Later

  • April 23, 2022
  • Galesville, MD

A 350th anniversary and re-dedication of the West River Quaker Burying Ground (WRQBG)  in Galesville, MD will take place on Saturday, April 23, at 1:00 p.m. at the Galesville Memorial Hall, 952 Galesville Road, Galesville, MD. The program will include brief Quaker worship, brief talks including colorful local history, an ice cream social and tours of the historic site. (Yes, Maryland Quakers also played an important role in U.S. ice cream history.)

Quakers from around colonial Maryland, plus a few from England, first gathered at the site on April 23, 1672. The 1672 meeting participants included the colonial governor, justices of the peace, and wealthy tobacco-plantation owners. The event itself, effectively acknowledging Quakers as respectable citizens, showed a historic change. Less than 20 years before, in 1659, colonial leaders had ordered the first Quaker preachers “whipped from constable to constable until they should reach the bounds of the province” for the Quakers’ controversial opposition to war. By 1777, Maryland Quakers at their Yearly Meeting on the same site decided those who insisted on keeping enslaved people “must be disunited from our religious Society.” Later tensions over this decision, in part, led Quakers to cease meetings in this original meeting area for more than 100 years. The Meeting House once on the site reportedly was burned down during the Civil War. Despite the loss of the 18th-century meeting house, local families and Quakers collaborated to operate and preserve the Burying Ground continuously since 1672. 

In recent years, WRQBG Trustees have found the graveyard is at capacity  and that its remaining open spaces may hold the earliest, unmarked Quaker graves. Therefore, in 2022, Trustees no longer will offer any new graves, unless previously designated within a family lot. Instead, the site now will be rededicated as a historic and educational landmark. 

Because space will be limited, advance registration is required. To reserve space, please register here.

Bethesda Friends Meeting

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 30152, Bethesda MD 20824

Our Meetinghouse is on the campus of the Sidwell Friends Lower School at the intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Beverly Road in Bethesda, Maryland

We are a member organization of the Religious Society of Friends
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