Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Question of Quakers

So far all the Germans in my colonial research have been Lutheran, but this new research is starting to open a different door to the question of Quakers. Why do I say that? Well if I am to consider the possibility that my Taylor line came from Bucks County, PA, most of the documentation I have found so far comes from Quaker Monthly Meeting records, specifically the Falls and Wrightstown Monthly Meetings in Bucks County, PA, and the Kingwood Monthly Meeting in Hunterdon, New Jersey.

This is an entirely new topic for me, so please excuse me while I try to learn more about it! Here are a few high-level facts which I think are true:
  • The Quaker religion was started by an Englishman named George Fox, generally around 1652.
  • George Fox and William Penn visited the Rhine valley in Germany in 1677 and they invited several families to join them in the "Holy Experiment" that would be Pennsylvania. In 1682, 13 Quaker families sailed to Philadelphia and founded Germantown.
  • Generally speaking, Quakers had no preacher, they allowed women to speak in their meetings, they were anti-slavery, and they often would not take any oath of allegiance, not because they were not willing to give their allegiance, but because they would not swear. It seems they were widely persecuted in New England as well as some other colonies, including Virginia. 
All of this is foreign to me, especially after now researching for several years about my German relations who were distinctly Lutheran. So that got me wondering about what it might have been like to be Quaker in early Sussex County, New Jersey. Imagine my complete surprise to find that a Quaker meeting house was erected near Scott's Mountain around 1753 by Samuel Smith who lived in Greenwich and who petitioned the meeting in Kingwood, Hunterdon, NJ to start his own meeting house! See this link  for a picture and more details.

So wowee. It looks to me like being Quaker in Sussex County, New Jersey in the mid- to late- 18th century was a possibility. This all gets more interesting by the minute!

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