Most Quakers Opt out of Fight; Southern Cause Has Few Believers among Loudoun Friends.(SATURDAY)(THE CIVIL WAR)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

Most Quakers Opt out of Fight; Southern Cause Has Few Believers among Loudoun Friends.(SATURDAY)(THE CIVIL WAR)


Byline: Steve Meserve, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

To the Southern sympathizers of Loudoun County, the area surrounding Waterford, Lovettsville and Goose Creek was enemy territory. The people living there were mostly Quakers who had three things going against them in the eyes of their pro-slavery neighbors: They were abolitionists, they were pacifists, and they were intensely loyal to the government of the United States.

When the residents of Loudoun County voted on the state's Ordinance of Secession in 1861, only three of 15 voting precincts recorded a majority vote against leaving the Union - two of them by an overwhelming margin. All three were in that portion of the county known as "Quaker Country" or the "German Settlement."

Unlike the English, who migrated into the Loudoun Valley by coming from the Atlantic coast and moving westward along the Potomac River, the Germans and Quakers came from the north and west, settling first in Pennsylvania and then working their way southward through fertile farmland rather than along rivers. By 1725, William Beales and others from Nottingham, Pa., had settled in the "Monoquesy" Valley of Western Maryland. In 1732, the new settlers established the Hopewell Meeting of the Society of Friends on the banks of the Opequon Creek in what is now Frederick County, Va.

A year later, the Fairfax Meeting was established by Amos Janney, his brother-in-law Francis Hague and others from Bucks County, Pa. It did not meet in the City of Fairfax, but in the vicinity of Janney's Mill on the banks of what was then known as Kittocktin Creek. The community that grew up around the mill and the meetinghouse was called both Fairfax and Janney's Mill in its early days, but by 1782, it had taken the name Waterford, which it bears today.

Despite a lack of normal incentives to the creation of a frontier town - a navigable river or major highway - the Waterford community thrived as families with surnames such as Hough, Hibbs and Goodheart joined the Janneys in their new home. By 1746, enough Quaker families had settled on the fertile land of the Loudoun Valley that a First Day Meeting was established south of Leesburg at Goose Creek, meeting first in private homes.

When a permanent meeting for worship was approved for Goose Creek in 1749, Issac Nickols donated land for the construction of a log meetinghouse. The log structure, replaced in 1819 by a new one made of stone, was converted into a combination poorhouse and caretaker's home.

For the most part, the Quakers lived in peace with their neighbors of other religious denominations. As tensions between slaveholders and abolitionists heightened throughout the early 1800s, however, occasional problems surfaced. In 1857, for instance, mapmaker Yardley Taylor, a member of the Goose Creek Meeting, was accused publicly of leading a group of Quakers into Fauquier County for the purpose of stealing slaves and smuggling them to the North.

Although Loudoun's Quakers had little to do with politics, the emergence of anti-slavery parties almost forced them to become involved. In 1841, Samuel M. Janney, a Quaker from Loudoun County, toured the state speaking against slavery. Although a number of people encouraged him to run for office, he wrote in 1844, "We [Quakers] should look well to our steps before we become active members of any political party, for I apprehend none of them are conducted on our principles." Four years later, he further declared, "It is not expedient for ministers of the Gospel to take any [political] office."

Janney's injunctions against political activism did not deter other Friends from becoming involved. In a meeting in the Goose Creek Friends' meetinghouse on March 15, 1856, the Republican Party was organized in Virginia with George Rye of Woodstock and John C. Underwood of Clarke County named its first candidates for office in the state. …

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