Over the past month or so, we have learned that Ercildoun was a place where the freedom seekers passed through to reach a better life. After the Civil War, some of them stayed and made a life here and a town their own.
Their descendants still reside here in town and some of them have passed down the stories that were given to them. A man by the name of Milton Searle tells the story of Samuel Ruth, a former slave from the South, came here with his wife Louisa. They, including a man named James Brown, were baptized in this area and started to hold Bible studies in the area regularly. According to Searle, they were the first people of color to worship in Kelton, located in Penn Township. They were given a letter from the Church of Christ to build another congregation in 1868.
This then prompted Samuel to hold Bible study sessions in peoples’ homes and encouraged others to join in worship with them. He then started to meet in the Abolitionist Hall with Quakers in the area in December of 1868.
|Photo courtesy of Localcemetaries.com|
Louisa Ruth, Samuel’s wife, worked for a Quaker woman in the area. The Quaker woman sold them an “8.163 acre plot of land” which then became Church of Christ.
On April 7, 1911 the deed was entrusted to Samuel Ruth. However, the deed also stated that no organs or other musical instruments to be used or kept in on the premises.
Searle also stated, “The stones for the foundation were dug and carted from the Jacob Carter place just south of the village and the stone mason was Mr. Compton. The Ruth children and community members carried the stones from the quarry to the building site.”
That same year, the church bought more land for a bigger parking lot and to expand the graveyard.
Today the church is still very much used and beloved by the community.
Everyone deserves to make an impact in their community. Those who were escaping for a better life did just that. The Church of Christ was lead by some truly fearless people who took their faith seriously and wanted to make their lasting legacy here in Ercildoun.
Without knowing the black history of Ercildoun, you only see half the picture. Ercildoun is too important to only know half of its story.
Note: The information for this Fact Friday comes from the book Ercildoun: A Quaker Village in Chester County, PA by Janet Polk Morris. Morris gathered her information from Great Grandmother Leah’s Legacy, Remember! You’re Free” by Ida Jones William which was also used for this post. William is Samuel and Louisa’s Granddaughter. Ercildoun resident Milton Searles also provided information for Morris, which was then used for this post. We here at Triple Fresh do not claim ownership of this information and are strictly using it for education purposes.