HIGH POINT -- For nearly 250 years, the members of Springfield Friends Meeting have been leaving their fingerprints all over the greater High Point community. Now, the church has published a book to commemorate those individuals and their many contributions.
“Springfield Friends: 250 Years” features 71 biographies of men and women who have made a difference in the community. The list includes the likes of Nathan Hunt, who was the primary founder of what is now Guilford College, and whose son, Nathan Hunt Jr., was High Point’s first elected mayor.
It includes Solomon Isaac Blair, who operated a secret school before the Civil War to teach slaves to read. It includes Allen Jay, a Quaker minister for whom Allen Jay High School was named, and William Allen Blair, a prominent businessman and early editor of The High Point Enterprise. It includes brothers Sidney and Charles Tomlinson, the founders of Tomlinson Chair Co., and Hannah Millikan Blair, a heroic woman who occasionally hid Patriot soldiers in her house to protect them from Loyalist raiders during the Revolutionary War.
“Quakers have been deeply, deeply involved in the history of High Point, and that’s the story we really want to share with this book,” said Joshua Brown, pastor of Springfield Friends.
“This book is about the stories of the people who built and preserved our church — ministers, missionaries, men and women of faith and vision. It includes Quaker pioneers in education, business, banking and industry. Many of them were active with the Underground Railroad and taught former slaves to read.”
Other recognizable names in the book include those of educator Emma Blair, for whom the old Emma Blair Elementary School was named; Quaker minister and community activist Clara Cox; race-car driver Jimmie Lewallen; and nationally renowned auctioneer Forrest Mendenhall.
Brown, pastor of Springfield Friends since 2015, co-edited the 363-page book, along with Brenda Haworth, curator of the church’s Museum of Old Domestic Life, and local historian and genealogist Dan Warren. It includes a foreword by Tom Terrell Jr., president of the Springfield Memorial Association.
According to Brown, the biographies are largely taken from a series of presentations made at the church’s annual Memorial Sunday celebrations, which are similar to church homecomings.
“Every year since 1907, we’ve had a big get-together with a meal and a speaker who talks about some aspect of our history,” he said. “These Memorial Sunday talks were the foundation of the book. We thought most of them were lost, but Brenda Haworth was able to locate a bunch of the manuscripts. We’ve spent a lot of time transcribing them, editing them, and getting extra information to bring them up to date.”
The goal of the book is to celebrate the rich history of the church, which will observe its 250th anniversary in 2023.
“We were started three years before the Declaration of Independence, in 1773,” Brown said. “So given how much history we have, we thought it would be best to start doing our research and preparation well in advance.”
In addition to the current book, two more volumes of “Springfield Friends: 250 Years” are in the works.
The second volume, expected to be published next summer, will focus on historical events that local Quakers were involved in, such as the Underground Railroad, the development of the local furniture industry, and the growth of local public schools. The third volume will be a collection of genealogies of families that have been active members of Springfield Friends.
“All of this is our way of teaching our own members — but also sharing with the community — about who we are, what we’ve done, and who we still are today,” Brown said.