Few members of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, were to be found in Texas until after the Civil War. Their early opposition to slavery led the Friends to bypass the Gulf Coast states. Several monthly meetings (organizational units) of Friends made known their opposition to accepting slaveholding Texas into the Union, primarily because Texas reserved the right to divide into five slave states. Furthermore, a proslavery, antiabolitionist newspaper, the Austin Anti-Quaker, appeared in March 1842. Several individual Quakers made their way to Texas before the 1870s, however, the most famous being Mifflin Kenedy. Early twentieth-century Quaker groups were in Lipscomb County (1910) and in View Point, Texas. Today there are two major Quaker organizations in the state, the Kansas Yearly Meeting, the earlier group, and the South Central Yearly Meeting.
The Estacado Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends, established in Estacado, Texas, was sponsored from Iowa. In 1893 the Friends began leaving Estacado and settled for a brief time in Alvin. They purchased 1,538 acres at the headwaters of Clear Creek, adjacent to Harris County, from J. C. League in 1895 and named their settlement Friendswood at the suggestion of Frank J. Brown, one of the colony's leaders. Friendswood Academy was established in 1902 and maintained until 1945. For a time the Friendswood Monthly Meeting retained its connection with Iowa Yearly Meeting. It later transferred to Rose Hill Quarterly Meeting, of which the League City Monthly Meeting was also a part in 1910. In December of the same year the Friendswood Quarterly Meeting was established under the auspices of the Kansas Yearly Meeting. Meetings belonging to this group in 1970 were in Bayshore, Northshore, Friendswood, South Houston, League City, Texas City, and San Antonio, which included the San Antonio Monthly Meeting and the Friends Chapel Monthly Meeting. These meetings have pastors, and their services are programmed to resemble traditional Protestant church services more than they do traditional Friends meetings.
In 1964 the Kansas Yearly Meeting sponsored the Friends School in San Antonio. The school, located in the former Southern Christian College buildings, offered education, housing, and guidance to emotionally disturbed children who had been rejected by other child-care agencies. In 1970 approximately eighty students were being cared for. In 1963 the Kansas Meeting Friends joined an interdenominational group and established headquarters in Friendswood for CABCO (the Central African Broadcasting Company), known in Europe and Africa as CORDAC. The station, located in Bujumbura, Burundi, on the northeast shore of Lake Tanganyika, broadcasts daily missionary programs in five languages to a audience possibly as large as ten million.
After World War II a number of individual Quakers moved to Texas, and the American Friends Service Committee began to expand its work into the state. These two developments resulted in the establishment of monthly meetings and smaller "preparatory" meetings in several Texas cities and finally, in 1961, to the formation of the South Central Yearly Meeting, which encompasses monthly meetings in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. These traditional meetings, like those in England and Pennsylvania, have no pastors or "programmed" services. In Texas in 1996 such monthly meetings and worship groups were found in Alpine, Austin, Corpus Christi, College Station, Dallas, Denton, Fort Worth, Galveston, the Hill Country, Houston, Lubbock, Midland, San Antonio, and Tyler. South Central Yearly Meeting is affiliated with the Texas Conference of Churches and the Friends General Conference, and is active in its support of the work of the American Friends Service Committee, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, and the Friends World Committee for Consultation. The American Friends Service Committee has had service programs of various kinds in Texas since the end of World War II. Most meetings have been involved in activities promoting peace, justice, racial integration, and relief work of many kinds. Several have provided sanctuary to Central American refugees.
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Henry C. and Melissa S. Fellow, Semi-Centennial Historical Sketch of Kansas Yearly Meeting of Friends (n.d.). Sheldon Glenn Jackson, A Short History of Kansas Yearly Meeting of Friends (1946). Edith McGinnis, Promised Land (Friendswood, Texas, 1947; 3d ed. 1969).
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Kenneth Carroll and Eugene Ivash,
“Religious Society of Friends,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 19, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
February 1, 1996