(This article is a reprint of a paper read in 1912 by the late Henry C. Conrad (No.276) of Wilmington Delaware. at the exercises commemorating the three hundredth anniversary of the founding of Plymouth Meeting. He was the complier of Part I of this book.)


A paper presented at the
At Gwynedd Meeting House
Son of Lewis Conard

In going back to the early history of the Friends, I find it upon record, that at one time, in the course oi a religious visit, William Penn and William Caton made a journey to the Palatinate, that part of Germany designated the "Low Country" and adjacent to the mouth of the Rhine, bordering on the German Ocean.

They and their Gospel message appear to have been well received by many of the inhabitants, especially by the Princess Elizabeth, who was then ruler of the Palatinate, and who in consequence became a personal friend of William Penn. Thus their religious tenets seemed to have received considerable attention, and it is probable that our ancestor, Thones Kunders, who was from the town of Cresheim then, among others first embraced the principles of the Society of Friends.

Great political changes took place in England, bringing great suffering and distress upon the nation, a large portion of which fell upon the Quakers. This condition extended to Germany, upon the death of Princess Elizabeth, with the same severity as in England; and no doubt Thones and the other German Friends felt its force to such an extent as to desire to escape to a land free from oppression and tyranny of the Old World", both ecclesiastical and political.

Also about that time, Charles II of England, being indebted for a large sum of money to Admiral Penn, William's father, and being either unable or unwilling to pay on the Admiral's death, in settling up the estate proposed to grant William, in lieu of the debt, a tract of land in America. The choice fell upon the west bank of the Delaware, where the city of Philadelphia now stands; and it was given the name of Pennsylvania or Penn's Forest.

William Penn was a man far in advance of his times, and the acquisition of his Province afforded him an opportunity to put into practice a cherished plan, that of forming an asylum for the di stressed and oppressed of every nation, where they might find a peaceful escape [rom the sufferings of civil and ecclesiastical tyranny and dwell and worship in peace.

On his second visit to Germany there is no doubt he opened his great land to the Friends there; and as a result a tide of immigration set in to Pennsylvania. Hence in 1683 quite a colony of German Quakers and Mennonites, Thones and his family among them, left the stormy shores of the Old World to found homes in the then almost unbroken wilderness of the New.

As the vessel containing them, after four long weeks upon the stormy ocean, at last passed the capes of the Delaware, and slowly sailed up the placid bosom of the mighty river, the first sight of the New World that was to be their future home must have been deeply Impressive.

The primeval forests, almost untouched by the hand of civilization, extending along the shores of the river, colored by the glorious hues of Autumn, glowed in wonderful beauty, as the mellow light of the October sunshine fell upon them, stretched away silent, vast and majestic over the Western hills. No signs of human activity broke the deep silence of the wilderness except the bark canoe of the Indians it glided over the surface of the river, or the smoke from his camp fire as it slowly wreathed itself above the tree tops of the forest. William Penn and his English settlers had been in Philadelphia only one short year.

As these new immigrants spoke only the German language, it was but natural they should remain together upon landing. So taking up land north of Philadelphia, the colony located upon it, and Germantown came to be born. There can be no doubt that great and almost unbelievable hardships attended them; but patient industry, economy, integrity, and a firm reliance upon Divine Providence caused the "wilderness to blossom" and laid those foundations for religious liberty and material comfort which we, their descendants now enjoy.

The place of holding this reunion (Gwynedd Meeting) at this time seems to be particularly appropriate. Our grandparents were members of Gwynedd Monthly 1feeting, and here in this House during the period of a long life they frequently met both at Monthly and Quarterly Meetings for the purpose of Divine V.,Torship; and upon these same seats which we now occupy, they sat with others of their clay and generation-an impressive gathering within these very walls.

How my own mind travels back, after almost half a century, to the first time I ever attended Abington Quarterly Meeting held in this House. All our uncles were then living except Uncle Levi, Who had lost his life in the Civil War. I believe that most of them were here with their families. It was in the Eighth Month, and a large concourse of people seemed to be coming in various conveyances to the place of worship.

As the meeting started to gather, I went upstairs to the front of the youths' gallery, and seating myself just where it goes across the end, I had a good position. How vividly I call to mind the long lines of middle-aged and elderly Friends, both men and women, lad in the distinctive garb of the last century, as they filed in and filled these galleries from end to end and took their places in the body of the meeting.

I was particularly impressed with the Women's Meeting as they were nearly all in the house before the men's side was filled. Mary Levis, Catherine Foulke, Sarah Betts, and Susan Wil1iams on the top seat in the order I have named them. Our own Aunt Phebe Conard, Uncle Albert's wife, seemed to be entrusted with some care in helping to seat the women, as I noticed she stood by the door and walked to their seats with different ones.

On the men's side were Benjamin Tomlinson, Samuel Levick, Joel Lare, Benjamin Foulke, Daniel Foulke, Ashton Roberts, Nathaniel Richardson, Cyrus Betts, Benjamin Moore, Allan Corson, and many others.

The meeting soon became settled, and a solemn silence settled over the gathering-unbroken except for the rustle of the palm-leaf fans, of which there seemed a great many on the women's side.

Mary Levis was the first to speak. She appeared in a short but lively testimony, followed, after a pallse, by Hannah Yerkes. Phebe Foulke also spoke. Then Susan Williams arose in a very feeling testimony which, young as I was, seemed to impress me greatly. Benjamin Tomlinson added a few very weighty thoughts, which from his general manner and appearance seemed to indicate much solidity.

A quiet of some length settled on the meeting when Joel Lare, arising with closed eyes, would abruptly say a few words and then pause, but his voice was clear and musical. He seemed greatly exercised on this occasion, speaking a sentence or two and then pausing j but as he warmed with his subject, he became animated, words came more freely, and as he proceeded the life and power seemed to rise until the whole meeting was covered with solemnity when he sat down.

I particularly remember a part of his testimony. Speaking of the birth of Christ, he quoted: "And His name shall be called Emanuel, which being interpreted is: God be with us." Benjamin Moore at length proposed to proceed with the business; the shutters between the men's and the women's parts were closed', and the meeting for business proceeded.

In this meeting John Moore spoke very forcibly in favor of temperance. As John Walton and I rode along together after meeting, going to his home, we both concluded it had been a wonderful meeting; and who can say but that the serious impressions received that day from the ministry had a large influence, under the Divine blessing, in shaping the final course in some lives then present and causing them to seek the way of rectitude and peace?

It seems to me, as I look around on the seats they once occupied, I almost expect them to come again. But they are .all gone, and we who are following after reap the fruit of their labors; for they served their day and generation well. The history of our family and of our Society seems to be so interwoven that it forms a part of our own lives. Through the faithfulness of these forefathers-our first American ancestors and their coadjutors, the Germantown Friends, the first organized testimony against human slavery was made; the great and lasting blessing of emancipation being the crowning result of that feeble voice spoken for the first time in a Quaker Meeting and rising in power through the years until freedom was brought to millions of our fellow men.

While the Friends controlled the affairs of the province, Pennsylvania had its Golden Age: during the seventy years they controlled the government not a single Quaker lost his life, brotherly love was maintained with the Indians. and comfort and plenty crowned the labors of the inhabitants; while at the same time other colonies adjacent, founded on other principles than those of peace and good will, suffered from wars and famine.

The fathers built better than they knew. The same principles of brotherly love and equality --while religious and political freedom guaranteed to all by the great and wise founder of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania-have become embodied in the foundations of the National Republic, and their legitimate development has produced a nation, which for intellectual and material advancement, as well as for civil and religious liberty, stands among the foremost nations of the earth.

To us of the Conard family, as descendants of that noble band of pilgrims who left the oppression of the Old World and came among great hardships to the New World to enjoy there an unprecedented freedom, as men in the first place and as citizens or the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the second place-to us individually have come down those tremendous advantages as a part of our paternal inheritance.

My dear relatives, allow me to say, above all else, prize our civil and religious liberties; hold them as sacred trusts, to be fully enjoyed by ourselves and then passed on to our children and to generations yet to be born, without diminution and without compromise. Only thus can they enjoy, without oppression, their Christian liberty, their right to an education to fit them properly to perform properly the affairs of this life and to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Your Cousin,
Salem, Ohio, 6-17-191.
Ellwood Conard

Ellwood B. Conard (68)

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Kunders, an humble wool dyer from the banks of the Rhine, who, settling in the untrodden wilds of America, and pursuing the even tenor of a modest and uneventful life, “builded better than he knew.”

Robert Proud, in his history of Pennsylvania says, “Among the first Germantown settlers was Dennis Conrad. The first religious meeting of the Quakers, in that place, was held at his house in 1683. He was a hospitable, well-disposed man, of an inoffensive life and good character.”