Friends in the Family

Friends—that is the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, were prevalent in my Father’s ancestry. First, some background on the group: The Friends religion was started by George Fox in England in the 1650’s. The term “Friend” comes from the verse “I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,” John 15:15. The name “Quaker” was used as a nickname because they “trembled (or quaked) in the power of God.” In the late 1600’s, Quakers were settling in the New World. William Penn established the Quaker settlement that would become known as Pennsylvania.

Friends meetings were set up in the community, such that people could get there easily by horse or on foot. They held weekly religious services and early on these were “quiet Meetings” in which people would meet in silence, with members rising to speak as they felt led by God. “Thee” and “Thou” were familiar words in the household. Monthly business meetings were also held, with men and women holding separate meetings. Quakers kept records from these business meetings & on member births, marriages & deaths and those records that have survived through the years offer a wealth of information for the family historian.

When I first started researching the family tree, I knew that some of my ancestors were Quakers. I was surprised to find in my local library a resource that gave information on the Quakers in other states. It was a collection of volumes: William Wade Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of Quaker Genealogy, originally published in 1936. (It is now available on Ancestry.com) Mr. Hinshaw extracted basic information from meetings in several states, including North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Looking in these books, I found some of the Millikan, Hinshaw, Boon and other Quaker names from Dad’s side of the family. Most of his ancestors came from North Carolina Meetings. But I didn’t quite understand the terminology in the book. Hinshaw had placed a key in the front of the book indicating what abbreviations he used. Some of the abbreviations are: gct=granted certificate to, rocf=received on certificate from, rqct=requested certificate to, dis=disowned & mou=married out of unity. The combination of “dis mou” was seen quite frequently in the records.

So looking at this collection, it was easy to see in the Springfield Monthly Meeting records of Guilford County, NC, that John Boon married Sarah Pierson in 1816; that Sarah was originally listed with her parents, William and Elizabeth; that John & family got a certificate to a meeting in Indiana in 1819. That gave me quite a bit of information to work with. John & Sarah Boon are my 4thG-Grandparents.

The Hinshaw, Barker and Allen ancestors were found in records from Holly Springs Monthly Meeting in Randolph County, NC. There were also notations in some early records that some of the Hinshaws came from County Tyrone and Grange, Ireland.

The Millikans show up in the records of Marlborough Monthly Meeting in Randlolph County, NC. Just a couple of lines had me wondering exactly what they were up to. Clark & Lydia (Hinshaw) Millikan (my GGG Grandparents) were married in 1855, but Lydia was “dis mou,” disowned for marriage out of unity. I didn’t quite understand this because all that I knew about Clark at the time was that he was a “birthright” Quaker. So why was he not listed as a member & why was Lydia disowned?

Just a couple of years ago, on a visit to North Carolina, I found information that may have answered the questions. Clark married Nancy Adams in 1851. She was not a Quaker. She also had a daughter at the time they were married. Clark and Nancy had a daughter together, Nancy Angeline, and Clark’s wife, Nancy died. So, my assumption is that Clark may have been a member of a Meeting in the past, was “dis” for marriage to Nancy. Then Lydia was “dis mou” for marriage to Clark. Clark was received into the Meeting on request in 1864 and Lydia with their 3 daughters in 1865. Then, in 1867, the entire family gct Greenwood Monthly Meeting in Hamilton County, IN. Clark and Lydia stayed in Indiana for the rest of their lives. They remained members of the Society of Friends as well; as did some of their descendants.

So, in all, the Quaker connections in the family have made some of the research easier. Now, many of the actual Meeting records have been digitized into Ancestry.com’s collection. Who knows what other tidbits may be found there.

© MJM 2016

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