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Quaker Migrations - Sources of Additional Information


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Although this is titled "Quaker Migrations" much of it applies to non-Quakers as well. When searching for ancestors be aware of time frames and migratory trails used in the early days. Getting through the wilderness was not an easy task - often every foot of the way had to be cleared if immigrants were among the first through. Others then followed these same trails. Many followed along watercourses and many used centuries old Indian trails. A series of excellent Migration Trail maps is included in The Handybook for Genealogists published by Everton Publishers, Inc. There are several editions - the Eighth Edition being the first to separate America into different sections for the Migration Trail maps. This book is an indespensible guide giving information on when counties and states were formed and addresses to write for various types of genealogical information. Most libraries have copies.

A Historical Map Collection can be seen at the University of Texas Web Site. It includes maps of expansion, growth and settlement across the United States.

There is an interesting Migrations Project Web Site where you can contribute the migratory information about your ancestors. Just another good place to possibly make connections to other researchers.

There is a good article from Ancestry Daily News "Thirteen Reasons Our Ancestors Migrated". Top of the list is religious persecution such as the Quakers experienced.

Need to look up a place name? Check Places Named Web Site.

Quaker Migration to the New World

A map of England with migration sites marked for some of our families. Much more English and Irish information on that page as well.

A Web site with some comments on German Migrations from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

(Some of this narrative is modeled after a study of migration to North Carolina published in 1965 under the title "Carolina Cradle" by Robert Ramsey) As early as 1660 George Fox suggested that land be purchased in America and a Quaker colony established. The low cost of land in America and increasing persecution in England contributed to many Friends acting on Fox's suggestion. William Penn had become convinced of the principles of Quakerism. When his father bequeathed to him a claim against the crown for sixteen thousand pounds, Penn asked for payment by a proprietary charter for forty thousand square miles of land in America. Penn then immediately began the work of settling his colony, offering land at very low rates and distributing pamphlets describing the prospects in "Pennsylvania" and ways and means of migration. He also described a proposed government based on justice to all regardless of religious beliefs.

One of Penn's tracts:
"To all persons that are willing to Settle upon their Lands in Pensilvania, and the territories thereunto belonging, That they will give to every such person or persons, fifty acres of land, to them and their heirs for ever, free and clear of all manner of Quit-rents; ten families to settle together, for the convenience of good neighborhood, in every five thousand acres. This encouragement we promise to give to a hundred families; and so soon as each family have built them a cottage, and cleared ten acres of land, every family so settling shall have deeds executed by the Trustees, and send them over upon certificate for that purpose, first obtained under the hands of this company's agent or agents,residing in Pensylvania."

Penn's tracts were extremely appealing and members of the Society of Friends entered the middle colonies in two great migratory waves beginning in 1676. This first wave was largely triggered by the persecution of Quakers under the reign of Charles II in England. See the Chester County Survey of 1683 showing how many parcels of land had been taken up by that time. As an example, John Simcock was part of this early migration having been persecuted in England. From Abstracts of Chester County Land Records: "Deed. On 16 March 1681 William Penn of Sussex England to John Simcock of Ridley, husbandman. William Penn for 100 pounds grants to John Simcock a tract containing 5000 acres in the province of Pennsylvania..." It is instructive to follow Simcock's swift advance in life in the new colony. First, he recouped his 100 pound investment entirely by about 1697 by selling less than 400 acres of the above land. From then on it was profit. When he bought the original land he was listed as "husbandman" (one who tills the land); in a deed in 1696 he is called "yeoman" (a farmer who owns his own land) and after that he is referred to most often as "gentleman." In his will in 1702 John Simcock gave 1000 acres of his remaining 2875 acres to his son John, and the rest was divided among his other children. That John Simcock, Sr. was a rich man there is no doubt. When the will of his daughter Elizabeth Fishbourne was probated in 1709 the inventory showed one of the finest households in all of Chester County.

John Simcock was a member of The Free Society of Traders, consisting of over three hundred members, who purchased all told 20,000 acres, for the purpose of developing the land. Many, many of the names associated with the Woodward family over the next three centuries are found in these deeds: Coppeck, Taylor, Pussey, Hodgkins, Smith, Bernard, Dicks, etc., etc. Researchers should be aware, however, that there was a great deal of difficulty in actually assuring that all the deeds were recorded as they should be. In 1759 Philadelphia set out to rectify the matter by encouraging people to bring in all their deeds for recording. The results are published in “Warrants and Surveys of the Province of Pennsylvania including the Three Lower Counties” 1759 (this is simply an index of the results of that effort and does not contain actual deed information.) Often deeds were not recorded until the land was later sold so sometimes a deed may be recorded literally decades after being obtained by the first recipient from Penn.

In August 1682 William Penn himself set out for his colony sailing from Downs with three ships loaded with settlers. Despite a small pox break out the ships arrived safely October 27 at New Castle. The next day the ship Welcome stood up the Delaware and cast anchor off the mouth of Chester Creek. There is a myth that Penn asked Thomas Pearson, an ancestor of Aaron Mendenhall who married Mary Woodward, for a name for the area and he supplied "Chester." It has been proven that Thomas Pearson could not have been on the ship with Penn, but no doubt the area is named for Chester[Cheshire], England. There is a similar myth that the township of Thornbury in Chester County was named by or for the Thornburgh family, but it had its name before they came and was named after Thornbury in England.

Pennsylvania Maps


Several Woodwards came to Pennsylvania during this first migration, buying land in Penn's colony from John Simcock. Robert Woodward in December 1696 granted land that he bought from Simcock to one John Powell in the presence of Thomas Woodward. The land was located on Crum Creek near George Woodward. Our ancestor, Richard Woodward bought land of John Simcock in March 1687 and Thomas Eavenson bought adjoining land on the same date, according to an early Woodward genealogy (Lewis Woodward, 1897). Thomas Eavenson was married to Elizabeth Woodward who was probably sister of Richard and Robert Woodward. No record of this purchase is currently found, but it is given credence by a deed dated 12 October 1717 "Thomas Evanson of Thornbury, yeoman, & Elizabeth his wife, to their son Joseph Evanson of Thornbury. Whereas John Simcock, late of Ridley, gentleman, by deed dated 6 Feb 1687 granted to Thomas Evanson a tract in Thornbury, 120 acres...Now Thomas Evanson for 60 pounds & love & affection grants to Joseph Evanson a tract bounded by land of ... Richard Woodward (Jr.), Richard Evanson...Recorded 26 Nov. 1724.

More settlers came. The land advanced in price. In 1724 Nathaniel Newlin (whose two sons would marry daughters of Richard Woodward, Jr.) purchased 7700 acres from the Free Society of Traders for 800 pounds. This became Newlin Township {map}. Compare that to the 100 pounds that John Simcock paid for 5000 acres in 1681! Nathaniel Newlin resold 120 acres of this land for about 37 pounds to our ancestor Abraham Marshall. Newlin was making his profit as well and his will and inventory in Chester County in 1729 showed a thriving mercantile business and a large inventory of household goods.

A second migratory wave occurred between 1714 and 1740, evidently chiefly for economic reasons. The opening up of the interior of Pennsylvania about 1714 contributed, leading to the establishment of more land companies and organized planting of interior settlements. Our ancestor Edward Thornbrough was part of this migration, coming to the Lancaster County area just east of Chester in 1715 on a certificate from Armaugh, Ireland. The Thornbroughs were a long established and well documented family in England and it is clear that Ireland was merely a stopping place on their escape from persecution in England. Dave Thornburg has a web site containing several Thornburg newsletters (currently inactive - we are trying to find it again). Letter#10 does a very good job of summarizing what probably drove the Thornborough family to leave England. (A word of caution: ours were not the only Thornburgs to come to America and they are not the ancestors of the majority of the Thornburgs in America!)

The almost inescapable wealth and prosperity which the Quakers experienced in Pennsylvania created problems within their faith. Many left the faith to enjoy their rising prosperity and there is little doubt that the conflict between wealth and the preferred simple style of living of the Quakers contributed to the pressure to migrate away from Pennsylvania.

After 1700 huge numbers of Ulster Scots, Welshmen, Huguenots, and Germans streamed across the Atlantic escaping, wars, famines, persecutions and other intolerable conditions in their home countries (for a short excerpt on the "conditions" of sea migration {click}). By 1723 they were pushing into what would become Lancaster County in 1728. By 1750 most of the land was taken up, as Peter Eichenberg (one of whose descendants would marry a great granddaughter of Abraham Woodward 120 years later in Illinois) could obtain land that was only a 100 acre parcel and was "poor, mittling, and stony" according to tax records. He was of the Dunker faith and paid heavy tax fines because of his refusal to participate in the militia. No doubt this was also the Quaker experience.

Quakers were established at Monocacy in Frederick County, Maryland, before 1725. An excellent web site excerpts Pioneers of Old Monocacy by Grace Tracey and John Dern and tells of the beginning of the migration into Maryland. The Beals family were part of this early migration.

Migration to Virginia

For a story of the "Old Wagon Road" down the Shenandoah Valley {Click}.

As early as 1730 land pressure and the reaction to rising prosperity that was interfering with religious beliefs pushed settlers further into the Shenandoah Valley, a natural corridor extending through Virginia nearly all the way to North Carolina. While many settlers braved interior Pennsylvania, especially after the Revolutionary War, the earliest trend was south. The mountains and the Indians to the west formed a natural barrier. And well established colonies on the Virginia coast tolerated the settlers as a buffer against the Indians. Hopewell (or Opeckan) Monthly Meeting in Frederick County, Virginia, was established about 1735 but settlers may have been there as early as 1730 and would have been holding their meetings for worship. Hinshaw's description of Hopewell Monthly Meeting tells of the life of the settlers there "the terrain was wild and uncultivated...some seventy families settled themselves in that lovely valley, and that in their thriftiness they had soon created a large community, built houses of logs, set up sawmills and grist mills and brought about a condition of orderly living..." The Thornbrough, Mills and Beals families were among these first settlers.

Fuhey and Cope gives a list of those migrating from Pennsylvania to Hopewell Meeting in Virginia: Alexander Ross, Morgan Bryan,Caleb Pusey,John Wilson, Thomas Curtis, Nathaniel Thomas, John Peteate, John Beals, John Mills, JR (here is the bridegroom John Mills, SR and his father), Thomas Anderson, John Hiatt, Isaac Perkins, Geo. Robinson, Richard Beeson, Robert Luna, John Richards, Giles Chapman, James Brown, Luke Emlen, John Littler, Benj. Borden, John Hogg, Josiah Ballenger, Cornelius Cochrine, John Frost, Thomas Dawson, Thomas Brandon, George Hobson, Sr and Jr, Evan Thomas, John Wright, John Hood, Edward Davis, Thomas Babb, James Davis, Hugh Parvall, Morgan Morgan, Simon Taylor, Abraham Holligsworth, (it says there were others, unnamed.....).

Generally, it was the policy of the Quakers to make sure that land was properly purchased from native inhabitants before settlement occurred but this was not always the case. In 1740 Thomas and Sarah Thornbrugh obtained a certificate from Sadbury Monthly Meeting in Pennsylvania and proceeded to move to the Opechan River area in Frederick County, Virginia. They received grants of land there along with Thomas's nephew Walter Thornbrough. Late in 1756 as the French and Indian War was heating up Thomas and Sarah Thornbrough were forced to leave Virginia and return to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Walter Thornbrough and son Henry Thornbrough chose to move further south into North Carolina. Thomas Thornbrough died in 1758 and in his will directed "My executors pay unto the Friends of the Meeting of Sufferings in Philadelphia Ten Pounds to be applied by said friends in purchase of the land of the Indians at Pecken." Thomas Thornbrough as a good Quaker tried to do the right thing.

Migration to North Carolina

North Carolina Maps
There were small Quaker meetings established before 1740 in North Carolina as well as in Virginia. Bradford Monthly Meeting in Chester County, Pennsylvania, reported on the 19th day 12th month 1740: "Abraham Marshall has for some time had drawing in his mind to visit Friends in Virginia and North Carolina and desired a certificate for same."

This was a typical ministerial calling for a Quaker, and the desired certificate was produced 19th day, 1st month, 1741. Abraham Marshall made his trip to Virginia and North Carolina. He was back in two months for Bradford Monthly Meeting reports:
"Third month Sixth Day 1741 "Abraham Marshall return certificate from Perquimons in North Carolina. 'His servis amongst us has been well received his testimoney being sound and atended with a good Degree of Divine power and Tendernes of Spirit and this inosent Conversation adorning his Doctrin.'" A similar certificate was returned from Pascotank County. A Virginia certificate has not been found. Abraham Marshall was 72 years old and one can only imagine the rigors of the trip. It is unfortunate that we do not know the location of the Virginia meeting as it would have been the best clue to his mode of travel. Pascotank and Perquimons in North Carolina are on the sea coast and travel might have been by ship. He might also have gone by horseback and the time frame would have allowed that. Settlements were few and far between and he would have spent many nights alone in the wilderness; he may even have had hospitality from the native Indians. Arduous horseback trips were not unknown. We do know that in 1753, Elizabeth Shipley, aunt to Abraham Marshall's sons Humphry and Jacob, made long horseback journeys to other provinces on religious missions as a Quaker minister.

Such journeys did not always end well: In 1742, another Quaker minister from Chester County, Benjamin Mendenhall, made a similar trip to North Carolina, dying in Pasquotank County at the age of 52. These ministries made their own contribution to Quaker migration, as the ministers carried news between the settlements and took back accounts of the land and the manner of living in the new settlements. Rufus Jones, in "Quaker Spiritualy" writes, "These itinerant ministers told us of life and work in far-off lands. They interested us with their narratives, and in our narrow life they performed somewhat the service of the wandering minstrel in the days of the old castles. They gave us new experiences, a touch of wider life and farther-reaching associations, and for me, at least, they made the connection with God more real..."

There were enough families for a monthly meeting to be set up at Cane Creek, North Carolina, in the central part of a large area which comprised Orange County (including present counties of Caswell, Person, Almanace, Chatham and Orange and parts of Rockingham, Guilford, Randolph, Lee, Wake, and Durham). It was authorized under Perquimans Quarterly Meeting on the coast of Carolina in 1751. The request for the meeting indicated there were upwards of thirty families settled in the area. Many of our family names are found there: Sumner, Mills, Mendenhall, Thornbrough, Hunt.

New Garden Monthly Meeting in Rowan County followed in 1754 as many in that area considered it a hardship to attend Cane Creek meeting; at that time there were upwards of forty families in the Rowan County (including future Guilford and Randolph Counties) area. Again, our family names are prominent: Beals, Beeson, Cook, Hunt, Mendenhall, Mills, Thornbrough, Dicks, Edwards. Hinshaw quotes from Southern Quakers and Slavery: "Of the settlers who formed the New Garden meetings the first to arrive were doubtless the immigrants from Pennsylvania by way of Maryland. They brought the name with them from Pennsylvania. It has always been a characteristic of Quakers to reproduce the names of the sections with which they have been associated in former years..." First settlement was about 1750 and a meeting for worship was allowed at New Garden by Cane Creek in 1751. It was to this meeting that Abraham Woodward brought his hard won certificate from Pennsylvania in 1765. Settlers from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, began to join the New Garden settlers about 1771. Migration from the northward stopped abruptly with the outbreak of the Revolution.

For a map of the extent of the spread of Quakers by the time of the Revolution {click}. For the route from Pennsylvania to North Carolina see the Great Wagon Road links on the Pennsylvania Map page.

For more on North Carolina Quaker Meetings see our Quaker Meetings page.

Migration to Tennessee

Tennessee Maps. For a map of Colonial Roads, see North Carolina Maps, first item.

After the Revolution the Quakers began to move into the part of North Carolina that would become the future state of Tennessee. British policy concerning westward settlement was no longer operative. Utilization of the Indian trails of the Great Valley of the Appalachians brought settlers from Virginia and Maryland to Tennessee, while North Carolinians used the valleys of the Holston, Nolichucky and French Broad Rivers to arrive at the same part of eastern Tennessee. Partly the movement was an effort to escape the evils of slavery, but mostly it was simply the need to acquire land and the fear that all the good land would be taken up by those who had Revolutionary War land warrants.

Migration to Ohio

For a very early Ohio migration story see Ohio County Web Site. While this was not our Quaker migration route it is an interesting story of the obstacles to early migration.

When the Northwest Territory (future Ohio, Indiana, Illinois) opened up with the end of the Indian Wars in about 1814 the Quakers had their first real opportunity to move to a land that was destined to be a free state. Many of the Woodwards were in the forefront of this migration.

Over the years many of the Pennsylvania families had taken the route to Western Pennsylvania as land opened up there, then on into Ohio and Indiana in the same time frame as those coming up from the south. It isn't clear that some of these families even realized they were related since they were two or three generations removed from their common Pennsylvania ancestors. Woodwards, Newlins and Mendenhalls, among others recombined in the West.

William Wade Hinshaw, in Volume IV of his Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy has an excellent foreward concerning Friends in Ohio, including much history before the main migration began (as early as 1773). He too points out the importance of Quaker ministers in settling new areas. He has several paragraphs about minister Thomas Beals.

OTHER CAUSES OF QUAKER EXODUS FROM THE CAROLINAS (Source: Hawkins File, Indiana State Library)
Some of the country In the Carolinas is rather rough farming country - the uplands are hilly, some places poor and stoney -mostly impossible to cultivate and non-productive, - the creeks and branch have narrow strips of bottom land which are subject to floods.
Families were" large and the younger generation needed land to cultivate, grazing land for stock and land for homes. Then some portion of the land was tied up by large land holders (land grants kept in the original family) - plantations with many slaves.
In 1795 a great flood raged through the Carolinas - with losses of property and livestock. In 1798 came another destructive flood, Communication was slow - but eventually the people did hear about 'Congress Lands." In 1796 setting aside various tracts of lands which were to be sold by officials of the Government, and known as "Congress lands' - this land was called Northwest Territory and included what is now the State of Ohio.
Many Quakers began to talk of the prophecy of a great war (within the lifetime of the children then born) 'during which many sons - like those in the Apocalypse would flee to the mountains to hide themselves. There was talk - and the Carolinas began to fear a black uprising - killing many whites who had remained in the slave states. Stories also circulated that the Carolinas would become arid (as the desert of Arabia).
Scouts - prospectors from different settlements (usually two or three from each settlement) banded together and went on horseback across the country from their homes In search of new lands for their families and friends, Nearly all were Quakers by faith. Usually such exploring ventures employed a frontier guide. Usually they were satisfied after many weeks of exploring that their friends would be pleased with the country In southwestern Ohio. An account of such a scouting party from Randolph County, North Carolina tells us that before reaching home one member of the party (Martin Davenport) became sick and soon died of the fever - yet this exploring party - like nearly all - returned home and reported very favorable. Communities soon became aroused - to get a home "Out West".
In 1803 several families from Cane Creek, South Carolina left for Ohio (transferring their Quaker membership to Westland, Pa. M. M. -the closest meeting to their proposed home). Scouts made several trips back and forth to what they called Miami Country -glowing reports came back to Carolina - good land - timber - prospect for water power - building stone - good spring water - natural drainage - game - etc. - away from slavery.
Miami M. M. was opened 10/13/1803 (at Waynesville, Ohio) - this was quite an Inducement for other Quakers since they desired to live close enough to go to church twice a week. Even when several Quakers lived close together - this made good prospects to get their own Meeting - and land near a Quaker Meeting often brought some premium. Soon other meetings were opened Caesars Creek, Fairfield, Fall Creek, etc.
It Is said 'the people from the Carolinas started to Ohio (Miami Country) almost in panic and in great numbers. The panic exodus caused land values to drop - some land in the Carolinas sold for $3.00 to $6.00 per acre - far below its value - yet the Quakers sold out and continued to move in ever increasing numbers until few Quakers were left, The Cane Creek (S.C.) exodus was so nearly complete - that the last members apparently had no one to leave the Meeting record books with - so they carried then to Ohio The man's record books were used in Ohio for a time - but the women's books were carried all the way to Whitewater country(Wayne Co. Ind.) - where they remained in the custody of Whitewater Meeting for over 100 years. Sometime probably in the mid 1920's these women's Cane Creek record books were sent to the Carolina Yearly Meeting. John and Lydia Hawkins had each been secretary of their respective meetings - and some thought they carried the books, however there are a number of enteries (transfers from Cane Creek) after they left - so It seems the books were brought north by some other persons - who could find no one to leave then with. Cane Creek Meeting was discontinued in 1808 -for lack of members.
From "Hawkins File," Indiana State Library: We are told that about 50 wagons (40 families) left South Carolina in 1805 at one time. Each family had their covered wagon and all their belongings.
Old correspondence tells us (from Henry Milhouse) "it took 5 week and 5 days for the trip to Miami Country - the roads were worse than expected - much wet weather - most of the people were unwell at times." We are told that Indians carried a few old men across their territory - saying "they were Penn's men - and were too old to walk." Several Hawkins families came to Ohio in the above mentioned caravan and soon afterwards.

There is a fine description of the Quaker Settlement in Ohio on a Williams Web Site This site is a little tricky to navigate - click on Quaker Roots on the left, then on Early Quakers, then on Settlement in Ohio.

Migration to Indiana

There is a nice Western Migration Map on the Haworth Association Web Site showing direct routes West to Indiana as well as the loop through North Carolina and Tennessee (the map is linked on our Pennsylvania Map page).

Volume VII of Hinshaw is actually a several part book by Willard Heiss on the Indiana Quakers. Part 1 tells much of the settlement of Indiana by the Quakers, and as time permits we will abstract it here. (Also see our Indiana Map Page.) As early as about 1806 southern settlers began moving directly north to Indiana. We have added a letter about a journey from North Carolina to Indiana by a group of Quaker families in 1815. There were several connections between these families and the Woodward family.

Some of the Bond family went to Indiana from North Carolina. The page contains a story of Edward Bond's horseback ride to Indiana to visit his sons. John Woodward, son of Abraham Woodward and ancestor of Nadine and Jill of this Web Site, took his entire family on horseback from North Carolina to Indiana in 1814, the youngest still a baby.

An interesting article in "Piecework," July/August 1995 tells about abolitionist Quakers gathering to make a quilt from Clinton County, Ohio, and Wayne County, Indiana, in about 1842. It contains some information about the Quakers and their migration: "Many migrated to the Northwest Territory (which included the present states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin), which was especially attractive because the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided that there would be 'neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.' They settled especially in Ohio and Indiana. The Quaker historian Rufus Jones has estimated that by 1821, 20,000 Friends lived west of the Allegheny Mountains. Three-quarters of them had come from the southern states, 6,000 from North Carolina alone. ...Because of the massive migration from the South, by the 1840s Richmond [Indiana] rivaled Philadelphia as a major Quaker center in the United States."

A brief story of migration from Kentucky to Hendricks County, Indiana, in 1829 has been added to Migration Support Stories page (no family connections).

Ira and Riley Woodward, sons of Benjamin, and grandsons of William and Elizabeth Millikan Woodward, wrote a history of Benjamin's migration to, and life in, Indiana.

Migration Further West

Western Maps
After the settlement of the "Northwest Territory", as rapidly as lands opened up in the west, families moved on, many losing their Quaker identity but others establishing new Quaker meetings. And after 1845 with the call for "Manifest Destiny" and the settling of the entire North American continent, Quakers were found in every part of North America. Our Quaker Meetings page gives brief descriptions of the locations of Quaker Meetings that were important to our families.