Quaker Migrations Across the Centuries
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This is a guest post by Diane VanSkiver Gagel, M.A. 

The Society of Friends (Quakers) was founded in the 1640s in the east midlands of England by George Fox. The Quakers quickly expanded in numbers and geography in England. By 1655, Quakers were immigrating to the English colonies in America, partly through religious zeal to convert others to their faith. Religious zeal was an important factor in the emigration/migration of the early Quakers to and within the American Colonies. The first English Quakers went to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, but others soon followed from England and other European countries to found West Jersey and Pennsylvania in the 17th Century. In Massachusetts, the Quaker preachers and the early converts came into direct conflict with the Puritan church and colonial leaders. Many suffered for their new faith and some made the ultimate sacrifice. As a result, some Quaker_Eastern and NY MM Quakers moved to Rhode Island, where religious tolerance was more prevalent. Several of my ancestors faced this challenge. Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were early Puritan settlers in Salem, Massachusetts. However, early English Quaker preachers soon convinced the Southwicks that the Society of Friends was a better path. Governor John Endicott wanted to rid the colony of the scourge of Quakerism and arrested them and other Quakers. They were fined and whipped, but they remained adamant in their faith. Eventually, Lawrence and his wife were exiled to Shelter Island, where they soon died, probably from exposure. Their children Daniel and Provided had also become Quakers and were just as firm in their new faith. Endicott took a different tack with the children. In addition to the jailing and whipping, Endicott decided to teach them a lesson by selling them into slavery. However, when the slave auction began for Daniel and Provided, the ships' captains at the Salem docks refused to bid on them as they were white; the Southwicks were returned to jail and suffered more physical abuse before being released. Eventually, the English crown prohibited the extreme measures the Massachusetts colonial government was inflicting on the Quakers. Nevertheless, some New England Quakers decided to move south to West Jersey, the first colony founded by Quakers, where they could practice their faith without harassment. Daniel and his sister, Provided Southwick Gaskill, were among those who moved to West Jersey. Although Quakers were early pioneers in many locations, they usually did not move into areas facing confrontations, especially where Native Americans were attempting to push back new settlements. In general, Quakers migrated once conflict was less prevalent. In addition, some Quakers migrated in family groups or even as whole or partial meetings. One advantage of having Quaker ancestors is that their movements can be traced via the Monthly Meeting (MM) records; Quakers who were moving permanently or temporarily to another location/meeting were required to obtain a certificate of removal to be presented to the new meeting to show they were members in good standing. These requests are found in the Monthly Meeting minutes, both men and women's meetings. quaker southern coloniesIn the mid-1600s, Quaker preachers also traveled to the Virginia Colony.  Converts were made, and the Quakers soon faced opposition here as they did in New England, though not so severe. Over time, these official attitudes changed, and Quaker meetings were increasing in numbers in Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Tennessee. Adding to these native members were Quakers from the northern colonies who traveled the Great Emigrant Road south from Philadelphia.  New Jersey and Pennsylvania Quakers moved to Virginia to find new land to develop; these meetings were originally under the jurisdiction of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. However, by 1789, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting was established to oversee the early southern meetings. Many of the Virginia Quakers soon looked further south in the Carolinas for fresh land, where they soon outnumbered the non-Quakers even having a Quaker Governor in 1694. In addition to the migrating Quakers from the mid-Atlantic colonies, some Quakers from Nantucket also looked south for new lands, some settling in Virginia and others moving on down the Great Valley to the Carolinas and later to Georgia.  As the 18th Century progressed, Quakers moved west from their coastal homes, and meetings inland were soon set up on the southern frontier. During the Revolutionary War era, Quakers moved west from the Carolinas to Tennessee. These Southern Quakers were living in a slave society, and in the early days did not object openly to this issue; in fact, some Quakers were slave owners. However, over the next century, the Quaker doctrine soon saw the evil of the practice, and the Yearly Meetings urged their members to modify their views on the enslavement of Africans. In the 1790s, some northern Quakers had traveled to the new Northwest Territory and found it very appealing for new settlements. This news of a new, fertile land that also prohibited slavery soon spread to the southern meetings. Also after the 1791 slave insurrections in Santo Domingo (Haiti), Quaker ministers traveled south to warn the meetings that living in a slave society could expose them to similar violent actions. As a result, many southern Quakers took action selling their land and chattels (some below market value) packing their remaining belongings, and migrating north to the Ohio Territory. The main roads the southern Quakers took to Ohio Country were the National Road for those from northern Virginia; the Kanawha Road for those coming Quaker_Philadelphia YMthrough central and western Virginia; and Daniel Boone's Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap for those from southern Virginia and the Carolinas. This journey could take up to seven weeks. In fact, a large portion of the Hopewell MM, Virginia, settled in Ross and Warren Counties, Ohio, and other early settlers were from the Bush River Quarterly Meeting area of the Carolinas.  In 1800, the entire membership of the Trent MM, Jones County, North Carolina, left to settle in Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio. Other southern meetings saw part if not all of their membership move north to the new territory/state of Ohio during this period. The new meetings in eastern Ohio became part of the Ohio Yearly Meeting, while those meetings in western Ohio were part of the Indiana Yearly Meeting. Quakers continued to move west as new land opened up until the last frontier of the Northwest was available. As each new territory opened, the older Quaker meeting records fill with requests for certificates of removal to the new lands.  My own Quaker ancestors, the Browns and the VanSkivers, moved from New Jersey west to Ohio in 1815, and their migration is documented in the Quaker meeting records in New Jersey and Ohio. For further reading on Quakers and their migrations, I suggest the following: Elliott, Errol T. Quakers on the American Frontier: A History of the Westward Migrations,         Settlements, and Developments of Friends on the American Continent.  Richmond, IN:            The Friends United Press, 1969. Jones, Rufus. The Quakers in the American Colonies. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1966. Leach, Robert J. and Peter Gow. Quaker Nantucket: The Religious Community behind the Whaling Empire.  Nantucket: Mill Hill Press, 1997. Milligan, Edward H. and Malcolm J. Thomas. My Ancestors Were Quakers. London, UK: Society of       Genealogists, 1983. Mote, Luke Smith. Early Settlement of Friends in the Miami Valley.  Indianapolis: John Woolman Press, Inc., 1961. Weeks, Stephen Beauregard. Southern Quakers and Slavery: A Study in Institutional History.    John Hopkins, 1896. (Google Ebooks) Worrall, Jay Jr. The Friendly Virginians: America's First Quakers. Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing      Co. 1994. Ancestry.com now includes digital copies of Quaker meeting records in both England and the United States. Google Books has digital copies of many early Quaker histories. To learn more about Quaker research, see Lisa Parry Arnold's new book, Thee & Me: A Beginner's Guide to Early Quaker Records Diane VanSkiver Gagel, M. A., is a retired college instructor, freelance writer, and professional genealogist. She has a M.A. in American Studies, is the author of four books and numerous articles, and lectures widely on a variety of topics.  She has been a speaker at FGS, NGS, OGS Conferences as well as the Family History Conference at BYU.  Diane is Past President, Past Board Chair, former Trustee, and a Fellow of the Ohio Genealogical Society. She has also chaired several OGS Annual Conferences. She is the author of the NGS Guide to the States: Ohio.