Quaker notes

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Quakers will rise from the dead this summer in the center of Prospect Park — and you’re invited to watch.

The Quaker Burial Ground — a private cemetery that has been off-limits to park-goers for more than a century — will host a celebration of the peace-loving, oath-shunning religion on June 28 that will feature actors portraying late great Quakers.

They’ll “rise” from Quaker graves and share facts about the lives of their deceased counterparts — right down to their period attire from the 1800s.

The gravesite existed even before the park did — but this event is designed to not only shed light on Quaker history, but the glorious Quaker present.

“We are alive and well and living all over the place and doing good works,” said DK Holland, one of hundreds of Brooklyn Quakers.

One notable member buried at the site is Mary S. McDowell, a public school teacher who was fired for not encouraging her students to join the army during World War I. Quakers don’t believe in the draft.

They also don’t believe in self-promotion, a fact that Holland thinks has hurt their notoriety.

“Quakers have done such amazing things, it’s really a shame,” said Holland, who helped organize the event.

Quakers escaped to the colonies from Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries — but the New World didn’t live up to its name, as Quakers faced the same kind of discrimination over here as they did back home.

The Quakers originally purchased the land for their cemetery — located at what is now the intersection of Center and West drives — from farmers after the soil lost its fertility, according to Bob Wilbur, the Sexton of the cemetery.

They actually owned all of the land that is now Prospect Park but agreed to sell it as long as they were able to keep the six-acre cemetery, which would guarantee them “sanctuary forever.”

Historian Michael Black will present a Quaker program with the Brooklyn Historical Society (128 Pierrepont St., at Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights), 2 pm. Call (718) 222-4111 for info. The Quaker gravesite event in Prospect Park is on June 28 at 2 pm. Raindate: June 29.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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