Sandy Spring has had large Quaker and African American populations since its founding in the 1720s. Encouraged by their regional and national Religious Society, most Sandy Spring Quakers had freed their slaves by about 1820, creating a significant free black population in the area. African Americans in Sandy Spring owned and worked on farms, and ran schools, churches, and fraternal organizations such as the Sharp Street United Methodist Church and the Odd Fellows Lodge.
In the years before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was active in Montgomery County, and escapees knew they would be aided by free blacks and Quakers of Sandy Spring as they headed north.
"One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, "What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?" — Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder (posthumously 1965)