Area Quakers rejoice over new cemetery wall

LITTLE CREEK — Just a little bit of old remains, and that’s great.

Local Quakers certainly are enjoying the whole lot of new.

The Little Creek Friends Burial Ground is now surrounded by 631 feet of a new concrete block wall, at a cost of $25,200 to replace the former crumbling 6-foot-high one made of brick.

The marble caps formerly on the old Quaker cemetery wall on Quaker Lane have been reused for the new structure, however.

“They would be almost impossible to obtain nowadays — and if so would have been very costly — out of our reach — so we are very pleased to have

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Member of the Camden Friends Meeting conregation Mike Richards of Rising Sun stands at the gate of Little Creek Friends burial ground along Quaker Road near Little Creek. Mr. Richards led the renovation project at the cemetery. (Delaware State News photos/Dave Chambers)

been able to reuse them — and keep a part of the old wall in the new one,” said Mike Richards, a Camden Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of

Friends member whose group owns and maintains the cemetery.

It took years of fundraising to achieve the replacement mission, which was boosted by $10,000 provided through a state Distressed Cemetery Grant.

The rest was provided by the approximately 60-member Camden Friends Meeting.

“I appreciate the Friends’ respect for the Friends who are now interned here,” member Cynthia Green said.

Amish contractor Jerry Troyer and a crew of five replaced the structure in approximately two weeks, and Mr. Richards applauded it for its “simplicity.”

Member Allison Richards, who said she may have very distant relatives resting in the cemetery, said, “It’s much better of course.

“It was falling down before. Of course we’d like to see it faced with brick but we’re not going to be able to do that.”

Originally, the Little Creek Meeting established itself on the current cemetery site in 1712, before moving across the road in 1802. Eventually, the Meeting merged with Camden.

With a camera hanging from her neck, Reta Beaty chronicled much of the building project as it progressed on Quaker Lane.

“The Friends are very attuned with taking care of their cemeteries,” she said. “It seems that we should respect this property and the Friends who are buried here from long ago.”

The cemetery covers just less than an acre, and is the resting place for at least five generations of some families, maybe more, according to Mr. Richards. There are probably “several hundred” burial places on the site, some deeply in the ground, many from the Cowgill family and a significant number of others with unknown persons buried there, he said.

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Member of the Camden Friends Meeting congregation Mike Richards of Rising Sun kneels next to graves of his relatives at Little Creek Friends Burial Ground along Quaker Road. The last interment in the cemetery came in 1945.

The last interment in the cemetery came in 1945.

“I’m so pleased because it was in such bad condition,” he said of the wall.

“We’ve had a hard time getting everyone together and getting people to agree.”

According to information on the Camden Friends website camdenquakers.org, “Quakerism, or The Religious Society of Friends, was formed in England in the 1600s by a man named George Fox and a group of like-minded seekers. They believed that everyone could have a direct relationship with God. This continues to be our tradition.”

The Camden Friends have a meetinghouse at 122 East Camden-Wyoming Avenue in Camden and described themselves by saying:

“We practice an unprogrammed form of worship. We do not have a paid clergy. People gather in a friendly atmosphere of silent prayer and meditation to wait on the word of God.

“Anyone in that gathering, who feels they are lead to share a message, can speak it. Seekers from any faith tradition, as well as those seeking a faith community for the first time, are welcome to come and worship any time.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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