Earlier I have written about Friends from the past who had prominent roles in the founding and early history of IMM. Additional Friends participated actively in the early years of IMM, but the last of these that I would highlight is Amy Grace Mekeel (1885-1976). Amy Grace attended Westtown School and later received her BA in 1910 from Cornell University. After graduation, she taught at the Friends Boarding School, Barnesville, Ohio. She subsequently earned Masters and PhD degrees from Cornell and taught zoology at Cornell from 1917-1951.
Like the Woods and Olivers whom I wrote about previously, Amy Grace was a birthright member of the Hector Monthly Meeting; her ancestors founded that Meeting and she grew up in it. But she later became active in the Ithaca Meeting, became its first treasurer, 1926-1934, and served as clerk from 1947-1950. Positions she held in IMM included Recording Clerk, Elder, Overseer, and serving on Nominating and Literature committees.
After retiring from Cornell, Amy Grace gave several local presentations on the history of the Hector Monthly Meeting and the founding of IMM, the splits that occurred among Quakers that affected Meetings in central New York, and descriptions of Quarterly Meetings held in this region. She was the primary source for an article in the Ithaca Journal on July 19, 1958 by Lois O’Connor on these topics that also included photos of the Hector Meeting House and the original stove that was inside it. She was also a source for Quaker information on several internet sites.
Amy Grace did not marry. She lived much of her adult life with her sister, Mary Mekeel. The Mekeel family homestead is located on Mekeel Road, which parallels the Perry City Road one north of where the Hector Meetinghouse is located. Amy Grace, her sister Mary, and several other members of the Mekeel family are buried in the cemetery behind the Hector Meeting House.
— Tom Brown, Meeting Historian
Joshua and Edith Cope were among the active founders of IMM. Joshua (1887-1950) was born in Hatsboro, PA, attended the Westtown School, obtained a B.S. from Haverford College in 1912 (Phi Beta Kappa), and an M.F. from the Yale School of Forestry in 1914. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service in Montana from 1915-16 and then returned to teach at the Westtown School in 1916-17. He worked as the assistant state forester for the state of Maryland from 1918-1924 before accepting a faculty position in forestry extension in the Conservation Department at Cornell University, a position that he held until his death.
Joshua was Clerk of IMM from 1930-1933 and from 1942-1947. In 1938, the Copes moved their membership from Baltimore MM to IMM and thus became the first members of the new Ithaca Monthly Meeting. Joshua also served several years on IMM’s program committee, budget committee, and as Young Friends advisor. He operated a Christmas tree farm called Spruce Top in the Town of Caroline and gave Young Friends the opportunity to earn spending money by cutting and selling the trees. The property also served as a 4-H Forestry camp. Another strong interest of Joshua’s was getting our Meeting involved with residents of the Civilian Public Service camp in Big Flats. Through his leadership and encouragement, Ithaca Friends visited the camp frequently on weekends and also hosted several members of the camp each week. IMM minutes mention a good time that was held by all one weekend evening at a square dance in Fernow Hall, where Joshua worked. Joshua was also a scoutmaster and was active in scouting for many years.
Joshua was sponsored by the AFSC to do a sabbatical in Finland in 1949-50, where he worked with Finnish foresters and also taught at the University of Helsinki. He died quite suddenly of a heart attack in August, 1950 while at Spruce Top.
Edith Cary Cope (1888-1971) was born in New York State and graduated from Mt. Holyoke College before coming to Ithaca. She was active in IMM, serving on the Program and Nominating Committees, as an Elder, as IMM representative to the Church Women’s Council, and she was active in the group who did sewing for AFSC projects in Europe during and following World War II. She was elected to the CURW Board of Control, was president of the Mt. Holyoke Alumni Association, and was active in the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Edith and Joshua frequently opened their home in Ithaca to IMM gatherings. In 1952, two years after Joshua died, Edith moved to Richmond, IN to be with her two sons who were employed by Earlham College. She died there in 1971.
– Tom Brown, Meeting Historian