Six Penny Creek AME Church

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The Mt. Frisby African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church can be connected to charcoal production, as several Six Penny Creek community members were colliers and also worked at Hopewell Furnace[1].

Mt. Frisby African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Six Penny Creek community established Mt. Frisby African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856[2]. The church was erected on land adjacent to (and possibly owned by) John Waston. It is currently owned by the Cole's, descendants of the original occupants [3]. More information on the Cole family can be found in the "Residents" section of the Six Penny Creek Community page. The church was constructed of local red sandstone and was a built as a one story, three bay structure[4]. Six Penny Creek and the Underground Railroad are intertwined, as Mt. Frisby AME Church was a station on the Underground Railroad[5]. It was also significant for being the location of the oldest African-American cemetery in Berks County, PA[6].

Significance of AME Churches

The Underground Railroad was influenced by religious denominations, including AME, Quakers, Black Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, among others[7]. Quakers, such as members of the Scarlett family, assisted self-emancipated individuals on the road to freedom. Within the Six Penny Creek community, the efforts of both Quakers and the establishment of the AME church within the community were important. Six Penny Creek and the Underground Railroad were linked by Mt. Frisby AME Church. Churches were often established on the edge of a settlement, rather than being centrally situated[8].

The AME denomination grew from the Free African Society, which was founded by Richard Allen, a former slave from Delaware[9], in 1787 when Absalom Jacobs and he broke from Philadelphia's St. George's Methodist Church and established a new congregation[10], Bethel AME, in 1794[11]. Allen was successful in his legal lawsuits in 1807 and 1815 in Pennsylvania courts to secure the right of his congregation to exist as an institution independent of the general Methodist denomination[12]. Allen was a proponent of self-improvement, dignity, and racial equity, and these convictions of his were included in the establishment of other AME churches[13]. AME churches were utilized to harbor self-emancipated individuals along the Underground Railroad[14]. Following Allen's death in 1831, William Paul Quinn took up the mantle and established one of the earliest Black churches west of the Allegheny Mountains, an AME in Pittsburgh, where he served as pastor to the church, which also served as a station on the Underground Railroad[15].


  1. Speros and Lynch 2013, 47
  2. National Park Service 2015
  3. Speros and Lynch 2013, 47
  4. Speros and Lynch 2013, 47
  5. Homan 1958, 114; National Park Service 2015
  6. National Park Service 2015
  7. LaRoche 2017, 12
  8. LaRoche 2017, 101
  9. Dickerson
  10. LaRoche 2017, 133
  11. Dickerson
  12. Dickerson
  13. LaRoche 2017, 133
  14. LaRoche 2017, 134
  15. LaRoche 2017, 134-135


  • Dickerson, Dennis C. The Official Website African Methodist Episcopal Church: Our History. AME Church.[1]
  • Homan, Wayne. 1958. “The Underground Railroad.” Historical Review of Berks County 23 (4): 112–28.
  • LaRoche, Cheryl Janifer. 2017. Free Black Communities and the Underground Railroad: The Geography of Resistance. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
  • National Park Service, Hopewell Furnace. 2015. African-Americans at Hopewell Furnace. National Park Service: U.S. Department of the Interior.[2]
  • Speros, Susan and Michelle Lynch. 2013. Prioritizing Berks County Cultural and Historical Resources Within and Nearby the Hopewell Big Woods. Friends of Hopewell Furnace NHS.[3]