The purposes of the society are given in its 1906 charter:
· "to perpetuate the memory of those who came to America in the good ship Welcome in company with William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, who arrived in October, 1682
· to collect and preserve historic data relative to the settlement of the State of Pennsylvania and the founding of Philadelphia
· and to bring together in social intercourse and friendly relations the descendants of the aforesaid persons who came to these shores in the ship Welcome."
Though it is not specifically stated in the charter, the Society was founded as nonprofit and educational.
Originally, the membership was limited to the descendants (male or female) of those who were passengers on the Welcome. Presently, membership is composed of descendants of those ancestors who traveled with fellow Quakers to America during the course of the year of 1682. This includes 22 ships and 23 crossings of the Atlantic.
On April 1, 1906, nine people signed the charter organizing the Welcome Society. We do not know whose was the original idea to found such a society, but we do know the names of those original members. They are, presumably in order of membership:
Frances Howard Williams, the first president
Aubrey Howard Williams, son of Frances, the secretary
Rodman Wistar, the vice president
George Cuthbert Gillespie
Alexander Wilson Wistar, member of Council
Thomas H. Shoemaker
Charles Gobrecht Darrach
Harold Edgar Gillingham
On April 21 the signed charter was submitted to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for a certificate of incorporation. The two Williamses and Thomas Shoemaker swore an affidavit that the charter was indeed "their act and deed." At the court on the 26th, Thomas Cadwalader, attorney for the group, moved the charter be approved. This was granted on October 3 and recorded on the 5th, and The Welcome Society of Pennsylvania became a legal entity.
The charter lists the officers of the Society as of the first of April. Beside the charter signers these were: Elliott Fischer, treasurer, and Richard McCall Cadwalader, Sydney George Fisher, and John Story Jenks, all members of Council. Although he was not named as an officer or signatory of the charter, at least one other name apparently appears before the last of the officers - Charles Evert Cadwalader. By the end of the year the Society had 26 members.
The official business meeting was set for the fourth Monday in October of each year. Since that time the meeting has always occurred in October, the month that the Welcome arrived in the Delaware River, but the date has varied. The membership was limited to the descendants (male or female) of those who were passengers on the Welcome.
Throughout its history, the society has maintained faithful to the goals of education and assisting others. The minutes of the early years are replete with records of gifts - small ones, since even by the annual meeting in 1931 the receipts and expenditures balanced out less than $1,000, and the remaining full balance in the Saving Fund Society of Germantown was only $2,600.
The Society has an illustrated, educational 24-page book on the life and times of William Penn titled "Your Friend William Penn". Select the following link to view the book. It is in Adobe Acrobat [PDF] format and is approximately 10 megabytes in size -- dial-up users should be aware. You may save a copy from within the Adobe Acrobat Reader program or by clicking the right mouse button on the link and choosing "Save Target As" or "Save File As". [You may download the free Acrobat Reader program from www.adobe.com if necessary]
Please select the following link to see a list of the ancestors approved for membership in the Welcome Society:
Mr. Andrew F. Webster, 257 E. Third Street, Moorestown, NJ 08057
Lydia Willits Bartholomew, Lucky Hill Farm, 145 Lucky Hill Road, West Chester, PA 19382
Mr. William Newberry Potts, 800 Spring Avenue, Fort Washington, PA 19034
The annual dues for membership are $35. Lifetime membership is $700.
Information on the rules and procedure for joining the Society are available by going here: How To Join.
The historical and genealogical efforts of the Society are not all serious. The members do have fun by participating in a variety of social events throughout the year. Information on recent and upcoming events is available by going here: Welcome Society Events.
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