Quiet roads lead to the community of Snow Camp, settled in what is now southern Alamance County in 1749 by members of Cane Creek, the Piedmont’s oldest Friends meeting. In the early 1970s, brothers James and Bobby Wilson founded the Snow Camp Outdoor Theatre, and for years, two plays — The Sword of Peace and Pathway to Freedom — have kept the area’s Quaker history alive on the stage. Meanwhile, the Snow Camp Historical Drama Society continues to work on another aspect of the Wilsons’ legacy: a collection of meetinghouses and other historic buildings on the grounds, which they hope to turn into a living museum.
Meanwhile, the Snow Camp Historical Drama Society continues to work on another aspect of the Wilsons’ legacy: a collection of meetinghouses and other historic buildings on the grounds, which they hope to turn into a living museum.
The early seeds of Quakerism in North Carolina took root in the northeast, where George Fox, founder of the Society of Friends, led some of the first worship services in the colony in 1672. According to Fox’s journal, he preached at the home of a Quaker named Joseph Scott, who would later help found the Perquimans Monthly Meeting — the first congregation of Friends in North Carolina. Decades after Scott died, his land was purchased by Abraham Sanders, also a Quaker, who built a home on the property in 1730. That house, now known as the Newbold-White House, still stands today, one of the oldest that’s open to the public in North Carolina. Its sturdy red bricks and pine woodwork, carefully restored to how they likely looked when Sanders and his family lived there, stand as a reminder of the early days of a faith that grew up across the state and flourished.
Months before George Fox arrived in northeastern North Carolina, his fellow missionary William Edmundson led the area’s first Quaker meeting under a stand of cypress trees on the banks of the Perquimans River. Within a decade, locals founded Perquimans Monthly Meeting, one of the state’s first organized churches, which eventually gave way to Piney Woods Monthly Meeting, established in 1794.
Today, members of Piney Woods continue to meet near where Friends first worshiped in North Carolina, not far from where the Perquimans River flows.
Quaker Lake Camp
On more than 250 acres in Guilford County, children have plenty of room to explore their strengths and interests — from climbing “the tower” to paddling a canoe, riding mountain bikes to practicing archery, playing music to making jewelry. At Quaker Lake Camp, every activity is meant to help children grow: in confidence, skills, and faith. Campers attend Bible study in the morning and Vespers in the evening, and on the last night of every summer session, they quietly reflect around a campfire, speaking when they feel moved. A week spent in the woods, finding God in the beauty of nature, is an experience that counselors hope campers will carry with them for life.
New Garden Friends School
For students at New Garden Friends School (NGFS), kindness is part of the curriculum from preschool through 12th grade. Teachers treat every child’s opinions with respect, and classmates, in turn, learn to value each other. NGFS was founded, in part, as a response to the racial turmoil of the 1960s in Greensboro: Having seen the value of a Quaker education firsthand, two Guilford College administrators envisioned a diverse, inclusive school for younger children, and welcomed their first class of 60 students in 1971. Since then, NGFS has outgrown the church basement where it started, now occupying two campuses.
On the lower school campus, a fence painted by pre-K through middle school students illustrates the theme “What Diversity Means to You,” with every child’s ideas represented in full color.
In 1837, Quakers of the New Garden settlement founded the school that would become Guilford College. The legacy of those early Friends inspires Guilford’s core values — community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice, and stewardship — and majors like Peace and Conflict Studies. But one of the most powerful symbols of the school’s history can be found in the campus woods, once the site of Underground Railroad activities. A towering tulip poplar — the oldest in the forest — rises above the canopy, a silent witness to the freedmen and Quakers who helped enslaved African-Americans on their journey north. In 2017, Guilford opened a trail and a viewing platform near the tree, where visitors quietly reflect on the meaning of freedom.