The minutes of Cane Creek Monthly Meeting for November 4, 1753 record the beginnings of the Deep River Friends Meeting. Minutes from that meeting note that Friends of Deep River, living near present day High Point wished to hold worship amongst themselves. A year later on November 30, 1754, Deep River Friends received permission from the New Garden Meeting to hold meetings. Most members had relocated to the Piedmont from Pennsylvania and Nantucket prior to 1750. By the end of the meeting’s first decade, it had gained 423 members through transfers. In 1778, Deep River Friends became a Monthly Meeting.
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From 1754 until the construction of the first meeting house in 1758, the meeting met in the homes of Thomas Mills, Mordecai Mendenhall, Walter Thornborough, and Benjamin Beeson. Built in 1758, the original meeting house had a barn like appearance and included a partition in order to separate the men and women for their business meetings.
Like many churches in the area during the Revolutionary War, Deep River Friends Meeting found itself in the middle of the warpath. In 1781, 3,000 of Colonel Banastre Tarleton’s Redcoats, used the meeting grounds as their campground in route to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. From 1816 until 1834, Deep River served as a meeting place for the Manumission Society. Centre, Caraway, and New Garden also had chapters of the society. The group sought to end slavery in the South and proposed solutions of how to deal with emancipated slaves. While a majority of the members were Quakers and it met at a Quaker meeting house, the Manumission Society was not an exclusively Friends organization.
Deep River Friends placed an emphasis on education. Today a stone monument sits in the northern part of the church cemetery where the first log schoolhouse, built around 1758, stood. Members also played a role in the 1834 chartering of New Garden Boarding School, now Guilford College. In 1857, it became one of the first North Carolina Friends Meetings to hold Sunday School. Attempting to rebuild the education infrastructure damaged by the Civil War, the Baltimore Association hosted a Normal School, a teacher training institute, at Deep River. The brick meeting house that stands today replaced the original building in 1875. The Deep River Friends Meeting was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.
Greensboro News and Record, June 6, 1996
Cecil E. Haworth, Deep River Friends: A Valiant People (1985)
Deep River Friends Meeting Bi-Centennial Pamphlet (1954)
Deep River Friends Meeting Website: http://web.northstate.net/~deepriver/
Seth B. Hinshaw and Mary E. Hinshaw, eds., Carolina Quakers (1972)
Seth B. Hinshaw, The Carolina Quaker Experience (1984)
Deep River Friends Meetinghouse