Mount Moriah African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in New Hope, Pennsylvania circa 1818. Independent researcher and archivist Jesse Crooks has prepared an exhaustive timeline.
1818 – The first record of an AME congregation in New Hope, with 33 members, appears in the AME Church’s annual conference minutes.
1820 – Future church trustee Edward Smith first appears on the U.S. Census for Solebury Township, which then included New Hope.
1822 – New Hope has an AME congregation of 29.
1822 – Edward Smith is a minister for the AME Church Bucks County Circuit. Robert Butler is a deacon.
1822 – Jarena Lee, a lay preacher and first woman authorized to preach by the AME Church, visits New Hope in November 1822. She mentions preaching at the home of “brother Butler,” probably Robert Butler.
1824 – New Hope has an AME congregation of 50.
1825 – Edward Smith purchases a small lot next to William Marist’s mill near the future site of the church. His home likely served as a meeting place before the church was built.
1826 – Edward Smith appears on the Solebury tax rolls with the notation that he is a black man. No other taxpayers are listed as black.
1837 – Trustees of the AME Church in New Hope purchase land to build a church (54 sq perches, about a third of an acre). There is a deed restriction for its use as “a site for a meeting House or Church and Grave Yard wherein to bury people of Colour of the African race and for no other use extent or purpose whatsoever.”
1837 – In December, Rev. Jarena Lee visits the newly built church. She writes in her journal that she preached “in the new church; praise God for it. ‘Long expected, seen at last.’”
1842 – Rev. Jarena Lee again preaches in New Hope. It is the last place she recorded preaching in her journal before returning to Philadelphia after two years of constant travel.
1847 – Church members Joseph and Frances Case purchase a lot east of the church. Metes and bounds mention “land now occupied for an African Methodist Episcopal Church & Grave Yard.”
1847 – Richard Peaker purchases a lot adjacent to “the Grave Yard designed for the burial of people of colour of the African race.”
1859 – Joseph and Francis Case sell a small piece of land (0.04a) with frontage on Stoney Hill Road to Mount Moriah trustee Joseph Peaker of Solebury. This lot is the location of the second church.
1860 – Mount Moriah established a Sabbath School some time before 1859. In 1860, they had five teachers, thirty-five scholars, and fifty books to use for instruction.
1869 – A new brick church is built. The cornerstone is laid Sunday, [October 31?]. Rev. Benjamin Tucker Tanner of Philadelphia, Secretary of the AME General Conference and editor of The Christian Recorder, the official newspaper of the AME Church, delivered the sermon.
1870 – The church property is transferred from trustee Joseph Peaker to new trustees John Anderson and Jacob Merritt of Solebury and Samuel Foster of Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The deed states that this 0.04a lot contains the new church and mentions the graveyard as a property boundary.
1871 – Mount Moriah is listed in a county business directory as having no regular pastor.
1877 – The church is repaired, and goes into debt over the cost of repairs. The trustees are sued by Lambertville merchant Cornelius Arnett for the cost of brick, lumber, and other materials. They are also sued by Solebury farmer Cary L. Gordon for materials and labor. The church loses both cases.
1877 – A writ of fieri facias is issued to command the sheriff to seize the church property to satisfy the debt
1877 – The church property is sold to Cary L. Gordon for $220 on May 1, 1877.
1878 – The trustees of the New Hope Colored Methodist Church purchase the Mount Moriah property from Gordon for $250.75 on July 15, 1878. Apparently the former AME congregation changed denominations.
[Between 1878 and 1887] – The congregation of Mount Moriah switches denominations and becomes the Congregational Church of New Hope. Three of the four trustees listed on the 1878 deed as Colored Methodists also appear on the 1887 deed as trustees of the Congregational Church. Date of switch unknown.
1880 – Rachel Moore dies on August 9, 1880. She was manumitted in Maryland but her children remained enslaved. Moore escaped with all six children via the Underground Railroad before settling in New Hope. Her place of burial is not given, but she is almost certainly buried at Mount Moriah. Her sons owned lots next to the church, and records show that two of her daughters are buried here.
1886 – Henry Lee dies on July 14, 1886. A death notice in The Hunterdon County Democrat states that he was buried at Mount Moriah. Lee was born into slavery in the South and probably arrived in Pennsylvania by 1836.
1887 – Trustees of the Congregational Church of New Hope sell Mount Moriah to the trustees of the Colored Methodist Protestant Church of New Hope for $50 on May 16, 1887. This is apparently just a change in denomination within the same congregation.
1886-1890 – Newspaper clippings indicate that Mount Moriah is an African Union Methodist Protestant Church.
1892 – United States Colored Troops veteran Charles Fields dies on March 25, 1892, and is buried at Mount Moriah. He qualifies as an indigent veteran, so his burial and tombstones are paid for by the county. The itemized bill refers to one pair of tombstones, which would include both a headstone and footstone. The headstone remains prominently visible and the footstone with the initials C. F. also survives.
1897 – The minutes of the Philadelphia Annual Conference of the AME Church mention a congregation in New Hope, indicating that Mount Moriah switched denominations from African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church to AME.
1904 – Former Underground Railroad fugitive Harriete Moore dies, and is buried at Mount Moriah.
1905 – The membership of Mount Moriah has dwindled to six.
1907 – New Hope and Buckingham have a combined AME Church membership of six. The reverend assigned to both churches mostly visits them at his own expense, and only in the summer and fall.
1913 – United States Colored Troops veteran John Peterson dies on January 9, 1913. His funeral service is conducted by the pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Lambertville (a black church founded in 1897), but he is buried at Mount Moriah.
1913 – Formerly enslaved Fanny Moore dies on April 21, 1913. A death notice in The Newhope News states that she was buried at Mount Moriah. Her death certificate indicates that she was born in Maryland in 1838 to William Moore and Rachel Kohl.
1931 – The AME Church assigns W. A. Allen to serve New Hope. This is the last record of an AME congregation in New Hope.
1932 – The Philadelphia Conference Committee on Deeds reports that the church building in New Hope requires investigation.
1940-1959 – Mount Moriah appears as a tax-exempt property on the New Hope Borough tax rolls.
1949 – Church trustees are listed as co-defendants when the county seizes a property adjacent to the church to satisfy unpaid taxes. The property corresponds with modern parcel 27-003-039, a residential lot.
1959 – Trustees of the Philadelphia Annual Conference of the AME Church sell the Mount Moriah property to Sheldon and Martha Cheney. The church building is described as “ruins.” Parcel is 0.35a and matches the survey done for the plan to combine the church lands with a residential lot.
c.1959 – The church is demolished. The cornerstone bearing the inscription “Mount Moriah A.M.E.C. 1869” is saved and remains on the property.
1975 – Mount Moriah parcel is merged with an adjacent residential lot. A note on the plan states that the cemetery is “subject to restrictions or easements of record.”
1986 – Mount Moriah Cemetery is added to the Bucks County Register of Historic Places.