Quakers in Powhatan County
Note: Midlothian Friends Meeting has a Midlothian VA address, but is physically located in Powhatan County.
Midlothian Friends are not the first Quaker meeting in Powhatan county; there was a strong Quaker presence going back almost 300 years ago in what was then Goochland county, then Cumberland county with its formation in 1749, and then finally Powhatan county with that county's formation in 1777.
The Quakers lived in the Powhatan hamlet of Fine Creek,which was first developed in 1735 by John Pleasants Sr., a member of a prominent and early Virginia Quaker family. He built a gristmill at Lees Landing Road (Rt. 641) and Huguenot Trail (Rt. 711) along the lower falls of Fine Creek. Within a decade a small rural hamlet emerged next to the gristmill with several stores, including: a cooper’s shop, a blacksmith shop, a small cheese factory, and a postal station. There was also a ferry that provided access across the James River to the northern part of Goochland County. Eventually a one room schoolhouse was also built for the area’s children.
Fine Creek Meeting was a part of a larger population, the White Oak Swamp Monthly Meeting. We know from the historical Quaker record that White Oak Swamp Monthly Meeting (aka. Henrico Monthly Meeting) had a dozen or so Quaker meetings under its care in the 18th century. Fine Creek was just one of those, along with its sister meeting, Richmond Friends Meeting.
Fine Creek Meeting existed from 1746 until 1780 – some 34 years. Had Fine Creek meeting survived the ravages of history, today it would be 49 years older than Richmond Friends Meeting.
There is much mystery surrounding the meeting. At that time in Quaker history, once a meeting was in existence for more than a few years, there was pressure as well as support to build a permanent meetinghouse. Also, Fine Creek meeting was nurtured by the Pleasants family – one of the wealthiest families in Virginia. So, the circumstantial evidence would suggest that a meetinghouse existed somewhere in the Fine Creek area of Powhatan. Where exactly was the Fine Creek meetinghouse located? Was it in the hamlet surrounding the gristmill; or, was it in the surrounding countryside? Why was the Fine Creek Meeting “laid down” after existing for 34 years? One can only hope that as ancient records become more searchable, someone will be able to fill in the missing pieces to this local Quaker mystery.