HISTORY OF THE OLD SCHOOL MEETINGHOUSE
The beginnings of The Old School (Baptist) Meetinghouse in Southampton, Pennsylvania go back to John Hart, and to the year 1682, the year Pennsylvania was founded.
John Hart, a Quaker freeholder of Whitney, Oxfordshire, was a First Purchaser. In England, he bought one thousand acres of land from William Penn. Then, in 1682 at age 21, Hart sailed for America, and with him his sister, Mary, his bride-to-be Susannah Rush and her family. They arrived in August, about two months before Penn.
Founder of Pennsylvania
Hart took a prominent role in politics and religion in Philadelphia. He was elected to the first Pennsylvania assembly as one of six men representing Philadelphia, and he voted approval of the first charter of government. At his home, regular Quaker meetings were held as early as 1687.
By 1691, a serious disruption divided the Philadelphia Quakers. George Keith, a Scotsman and headmaster of Penn Charter School, proposed a controversial issue. He argued that Philadelphia Quakers should separate true members from those who were spurious by requiring adherence to certain Biblical statements of faith. As a result of disagreements, the "Keithian" Quakers felt an affinity toward Baptist meetings held in the Bustleton section of Philadelphia. Similar to Quaker services, they used no liturgy, had no professional clergy and held to the direct guidance of God in their lives.
David Jones was chaplain in the Revolutionary War and tended the wounded in many battles from Brandywine to Yorktown. He served at Southampton from 1786 till 1781.
In 1772, the Baptists erected a two-story Meetinghouse. Nearby were the sexton house, an old school and a hitching ground for buggies. In 1814, The Meetinghouse was remodeled, and the pew arrangement was enlarged. Today, The Meetinghouse stands as it did centuries before. A small, but enthusiastic, group of preservationists are responsible for keeping and maintaining The Meetinghouse in its original beauty and serene setting. The adjoining graveyard is a virtual "Who's Who" of Revolutionary War heroes, heroes of other wars and prominent people of the Colonial era in America.
Silas Durand, a lawyer, was the last resident minister from 1884 till 1918. He published a hymnal and often wrote for the "Zion Landmark," an Old School Baptist magazine.
Random excerpts from The Church Record Book, as dark times of the Revolutionary War are reflected in the writings for 1778 to 1779: