History of Purchase Meeting

The First Settlers

Purchase Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends was founded by the first settlers in the Harrison area of Westchester County. In 1695, John Harrison of Flushing, Long Island, together with four partners, bought a tract of virgin land in Westchester. The land, which corresponds almost exactly to the Town of Harrison today, was purchased from the Indian Sachem, Pathungo, for the sum of forty pounds.

One of Harrison's partners was Samuel Haight, a member of the Society of Friends. While other partners sold their shares, Haight retained his and encouraged his Quaker friends from Flushing to move to Westchester. Thus, the Quakers became the first settlers of Harrison. In the northern part of the Harrison's tract a farming community developed which became known as Purchase. These Quaker farmers formed a meeting and began to worship in each other's homes in 1719. One of these farmers, Anthony Field, donated a plot of land for a meetinghouse and in 1727 the first meetinghouse was erected. This historic meetinghouse stood at the corner of Purchase and Lake Streets for nearly 250 years. Fire damaged the structure in 1919 and it was reconstructed to the original external appearance. Unfortunately, it was completely destroyed by fire in 1973.

In 1755 the British troops deported the French Acadians from Nova Scotia as part of the British takeover of Canada. The Acadian story is recounted in Longfellow's well-known poem, "Evangeline." The Acadians resettled along the east coast of the Colonies and some of these refugees were received by the Quakers at Purchase.