Search billions of records on

A Partial History of the Quaker Community in Sullivan County

by David Wayne Bailey
The Sullivan Review
Dushore, PA
A Series of Articles in 2004
Transcribed for the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page

Compiled by David Wayne Bailey

The Sullivan Review
October 21, 2004

“The Meeting House of Elklands” wrote (Thomas) Chalkley Matlack following his
visit in 1936, “was built facing the northeast, the south-east end (having no
windows) being towards the road that extends from Lincoln Falls to Shunk. The
situation is a fine one. In front is a goodly-sized open lawn, at the upper end
where the schoolhouse once stood, a few trees proving shade for outdoor lunches
that sometimes are held on special occasions. The neatly kept Burial Ground,
wherein every memorial is a granite stone, is a little distance further back
from the Meeting House. The wagon sheds are at the northwest end of the Meeting
House with no intervening space between. The House is a frame structure
presenting an old fashioned Quaker interior divided in two departments by a
partition having upright sliding shutters on one side of the door and a single
shutter on the other side between the member’s galleries, opening laterally as a
window shutter does.
“The building is outwardly plain in keeping with tradition. There are simple
hooks for hanging coats near the door, next to an unframed round mirror. The
walls benches, cushions and shelves are gray, contrasting starkly with windows
framing bright sky, trees and nearby meadows. Originally, attached sheds
sheltered horses, and a separate building housed a school to educate young
Matlack relates that on the July day in 1936 that the “gathering was a small
one, numbering but a score of individuals wit on one occupying the facing
benches where in past times the ministers and elders used to sit.”
Others have observed that building “has no central heating, but uses a wood
stove to banish the cold on chilled mornings.” An the House, “unadorned by
steeple, or bell,” had yet called Quakers to worship for many years.
Little has changed as one visits or attends worship at Elklands Meeting today.
The schoolhouse and sheds have disappeared, but Meeting House and Burial Ground
remain, having become even as a part of the landscape itself. But this was not
the first Elkland Meeting.
In her comprehensive History of the Churches of Sullivan County, Adona Ruth
Sick tells us that the Society of Friends was established in England (by George
Fox) in about 1648, the founders objecting to the elaborate ceremonies of the
Church of England. Their central belief was that which they referred to as the
“Inner Light,” the Spirit of God present in every man, which would guide him to
the Truth. Their faith rejects violence of any kind.
William Penn, a Society of Friends leader, founded the colony of Pennsylvania in
1681 and Quakerism flourished, with Philadelphia as its center. Bowdin’s
“History of the Society of Friends,” states: “Meetings were established about
1790 on the branches of the Susquehanna, Muncy and Elklands, and some years
later at Stroudsburg, near the Delaware.”
“The Elklands” was a wilderness, its only access being a packhorse trail opened
by Joseph Wallis in 1784,. Soon thereafter, in or about 1798, James Ecroyd
settled along King’s Creek near the township’s northern boundary. Ecroyd,
himself a member of the Society of Friends, was gradually followed by the
faithful families of Jesse and Ezra Haines, William Snell, the Bingleys,
Wynnes, Royles, Kings, Russells, Boyles and Patterson’s, Ecroyd with his mill,
and others with their occupations formed the first settlement in The Elklands.
And when a Meeting House was finally built in 1805, it was centrally located to
within a mile of each of those early Friends’ families. The Friend (Vol. 24:91)
confirms this as having been a Quaker settlement and Adona Sick tells us that
“authentic records seem to verify the fact that the Society of Friends (Had) the
distinction of (holding) the first church service ever conducted in Sullivan
County.’ An interesting irony lies in the fact that Dr. Joseph Priestley of
Northumberland (son of the noted scientist) the original holder of most of the
townships land, was an avowed and outspoken Unitarian.
Brief mention needs here be made as to what was drawing these new homesteaders
to this seemingly remote area. The Wallis’ Road, the regions’ earliest, was
merely a packhorse trail, but he “new and improved” Genesee Road was designed
to be a major trade route running from Pennsdale (Muncy) to Meansville
(Towanda), thence to up-state New York. This road left the valley at Lincoln
Falls and climbed the mountain before heading up toward the valley of the
Susquehanna. Completed in about 1802, the Genesee Road ran just south of
Ecroyd’s settlement by what would become Eldredsville. And, what better location
to live and do business than on the main thoroughfare? Doubtless the new route
would seem to us but little improvement over the Wallis Road, it was the promise
upon which one Edward Jarvis Eldred came to rely.
Edward Eldred had emigrated from England in 1798 with introductions to land
developers, John Vaughan and Joseph Priestly of Northumberland (above). Eldred
was encouraged to learn the trade of surveyor and , by spring of 18000, had
bought property from Dr. Priestley and was headed for the Elklands.
He first lived in a log cabin owned by Thomas King, Sr. whose family was already
in that community, and, as luck would have it. Eldred found himself in the right
place at the right time, right on the “Highway!”

The Sullivan Review
October 28, 2004

To visualize the quickly growing settlement of which Eldred was the central
figure, we read briefly the oft-told accounts as repeated in Notes and
: “As early as 1803, Eldred had commenced putting up buildings of
considerable size, but the demand made on him by the Genesee emigration led him
to greatly enlarge his plans for building. He was almost constantly overrun with
applications for lodging, meals and provisions for beast.
It was not infrequent at that time that twenty to thirty wagons with moving
families encamped around him and eagerly sought supplies such as he had. Mr.
Eldred, presuming on a continued use of the Genesee Road as the main line of
travel to western and central New York, undertook to build a large house to
accommodate the traveling public.
The plan was that of constructing four house of hewed timber cornering together,
and so forming the fifth, the ground figure being that of a “fox and geese”
board. The dimensions of each of these buildings was bout 18 by 24 feet two
stories high, the middle one being 18 by 18 feet three stories high with a
lookout on top. It took a considerable time to complete this building, but it
was finished in the year 1805, and known as “Liberty Hill.”
Later coined “Eldredsville” by General McKean, the community was soon on the
postal route, Eldred became a Justice of the Peace and his records, known as
“Eldred’s Docket,” still exist. Life was good! And Liberty Hill, also known as
Eldred’s Tavery flourished .. for a time. And it was into this newly formed
settlement that Elklands meeting was itself born.
One can only imagine the faith and desire for worship possessed by those early
Friends’ settlers. The trip from The Elkland’s to Muncy for regular and monthly
meetings was over twenty miles over mountainous and forested terrain, often
requiring two to three days travel by daylight. The growing number of Friends in
the community prompted a request to Muncy Monthly Meeting, found in their
Minutes of fifth month 1804, as reprinted in the “inventory of Church Archives”:
A request from the friends of the new settlement in the Beachwoods, called the
“Elklands,” was produced expressive of their desire of being privileged to hold
a Meeting of divine worship on the First-day of each week at the home of Jesse
Haines until a house is prepared for that purpose. The meeting fully uniting
with the request it is directed accordingly to be opened on the First-day
preceding our next Monthly Meeting, and to be continued for six months, under
the care of Benjamin Warner, William Ellis, Joseph Carpenter, Moses Lukens,
Reuben Lundy, and Abel Roberts; who are desired to attend the first opening
thereof, as well as to attend a general care to the subject, and to report as
occasion my require.”
So, the earliest meeting at Elkland were indulged Meetings, allowed in 1804 and,
by definition, organized solely for the purpose of worship. Those first meetings
were held at the home of Jesse Haines rather than at a Meeting House and Haines
has often been referred to as the Elklands first “minister.”
The first Meting house was built in 1805 on a plot of land granted by James
Ecroyd as found in the minutes of the Muncy Monthly Meeting: “1 mo. 23, 1805
Jesse Haines states that James Ecroyd proposed granting a lot of land in the
Elklands settlement, for the use of Friends there to build a meetinghouse on
and requests that trustees may be appointed by this meting to hold the same in
trust for the aforesaid purposes, to this the meeting agrees and appoints Jesse
Haines, Jacob Clayton and Benjamin Warner , Jr. to that service.”
This building was erected in 1805 “about one half mile south of Ecroyd’s
settlement, and northwest of Eldred’s Tavery.” It was described as being a
“one-story stone building with two windows, one door and a clumsy fire place and
chimney,” It was in 1819 occupied by Thomas Baker and at some point was being
used as a Sunday school. We are told that the land was later owned by Mahlon
Mercur (or Mercer) and his name does appear at that spot on the 1870 map of
Sullivan County. It is curious to note that neither spelling of that names
appears in a U.S. Census of Elkland Township. A few stones are all that remain
of the first Meeting House, on the south side of what is now Dykes Road.
Further evidence of the Meeting House having been built in 1805 is a reference
to it by Robert Sutcliff in his Travels in Some Parts of North America in the
Years 1804, 1805 and 1806
(pub. 1815)
“1805, Dec. 15th I attended Elklands Meeting. During the sitting of it a company
of hunters came in and leaving their rifle guns at the door behaved in a
becoming manner until the meeting broke up.”
The actual transfer of the property from James Ecroyd and (his) wife to Jesse
Haines, Benjamin Warner, Jr. and William Watson never took place until June 21,
1808. It was land from the Joseph Reeves parcel, which extended down to Lincoln
Falls. But, it may have been too late. Meetings at this House continued only
until 1809, when we find the following entry in the Muncy minutes:
“First-month 1809, Friends appointed to care of the meeting at Elkland, report
that part of their number have lately visited that meeting and Friends there
appear easy to have a discontinuance; with which this meeting unites, and
discontinues it accordingly”

The Sullivan Review
November 10, 2004

One can understand that things were happening quickly at this juncture to
explain the willingness to discontinue worship in The Elklands. Just to the west
and down the mountain was Shunk, in and about which lived several other Quaker
families, in numbers, which begin to exceed those of The Elklands- Hoaglands,
Battins and Kilmers among them. Joseph Hoagland, another man to believe in a
future for the Genesee Road, is thought to have held Meetings in his home as
early as 1802.
And The Elklands, which began as a Friends community, was quickly becoming
settled by other non-Quaker families as well. Thus, there was likely a desire on
the part of the faithful to move worship to Shunk, where a larger fellowship
could be formed.
Things were beginning to go badly for Edward Eldred as well, and matters wee
soon to become worse. Eldred’s plans seem to have been thwarted by the slowing
migration due to the unpopular War of 1812 to the north, not to mention the
“cabin fever” being carried by the returning soldiers. Another disappointment
was the abandonment of the plan for a “Great Turnpike” as river and canal
transportation developed. We do know that Eldred did his best to maintain a high
morale; and in the last reference, save one, to the first Meeting House we are
“The walls of the deserted friends’ Meeting House were repaired, and men women
and children listen to carefully prepared addresses which aroused the inactive
and despondent to a hopeful expectation of a renewed happiness. This proved a
cord which strongly bound Mr. Eldred to this community.”
The final chapter in the first Meeting House was the marriage between Aaron
McCarty and Elizabeth Pardoe, found in a Muncy Meeting minute: “3 mo. 22, 1826.
Request being made for the privilege of holding a special meeting in Elklands in
the House formerly built for that purpose on the 5th of 4th mo. Next, with a
view to the accommodation of Aaron McCarty and Elizabeth Pardoe in accomplishing
their marriage.”
“Two miles beyond Elkland on the same public highway and on the eastern limits
of the village of Shunk is the site of the Meeting House which was the
predecessor of the present house. It stood near the road at one corner of the
graveyard nearly opposite the small church which now stands t he other side of
the road. The graveyard where so many of the earlier members of the Elklands wee
buried is on a hillside sloping toward the village.” (Matlack)
If we can understand the first Meeting House as being Ezra Haines’ labor of love
and his desire to find a focal point for a young Friends’ settlement, then we
can accept the years to follow as a time of spiritual growth and strength
embodies in the person of Ellen Roberts McCarty.
It was in about 1803, and perhaps as early as 1800 that Joel and Ellen McCarty
emigrated to The Elklands with their children, which would become eleven in all.
They had been married on November 27, 1797, “under the care of the Catawissa
Monthly Meeting.”
Joel has been credited by some with influencing the change of the regional name
from “Beechwoods” to “The Elklands,” owing to hits large population of Elk.
Though that story may b merely apocryphal, what is know for sure is that in
addition to being an active builder of the young community, Joel was a very
successful hunter of panthers and wolves in those parts, collecting a bounty of
eight to twelve dollars each.
Ellen Roberts McCarty was a remarkable person by any standards. Not only was she
a formidable pioneer of Sullivan County, raising eleven children in the
wilderness, but she was one of the entire regions best known and loved religious
leaders of the time. She had been raised in a strict family of Friends, which
was clearly at odds with the liberal teachings of Elias Hicks. Ellen’s father,
Moses Roberts, must have been quite outspoken in his views. An entry in the
minutes of the Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting dated October 25, 1780 names
Moses, together with one Job Hughes, as being “unjustly confined in the
Lancaster goal.” Moses died when Ellen was quite young and she was left to be
raise by her widowed mother. We are told that it was “a situation not very
favorable for literary or religious instruction; yet during this period she
appeared to be preserved in a state of innocence and tenderness of spirit”
In the Society of Friends no preacher or leader is necessary, and the oral
portion of ministry may be given by anyone or no one; in the latter instance the
entire worship is spent in silent communion. But occasionally, a man or woman is
recognized and recorded by special action of the Monthly and Quarterly meetings
as having a “gift for the ministry” Ellen McCarty was such a person.
From what we know, neither Joel nor Ellen appear to have figured prominently in
the actual leadership of the first Meeting House; they did live close at hand
though, and were doubtless involved in its day life until the Meting was
discontinued in 1809. What we are told is, that in 1815, the Meeting was revived
largely through their efforts. Muncy Monthly Meeting, with the approval of
Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, granted them permission to form an Indulged
Meeting in that year.
On 10th month, 21st, 1818, Ellen McCarty was first acknowledged as a minister by
the Muncy Monthly Meeting and her name forwarded to the Quarterly Meeting in
Philadelphia where she was confirmed as a minister in 1819. She was a faithful
servant to one and all until her death in 1844.
Ellen’s driving concerns and prayers were not limited to the Elkland fellowship.
We find in the Elkland minutes the following:
“3 mo. 21st 1821. Our beloved Friend Ellen McCarty expressed to this Meeting a
concern which hath accompanied her mind, to have a meeting at Lewis Lake
(Eaglesmere) and also at the Forks of Muncy creek (where Trout run branches off
at Muncy Valley), as also a sitting in some families there, which concern having
occupied the solid consideration of this meeting, they united therewith and lave
her at liberty to pursue her prospect as may be open therefore, she being a
minister in good esteem amongst us. “Samuel Carpenter and Henry Battin have
unity in this meeting in accompanying said Friends, as also hath Sarah
Carpenter, the first two being elders and the latter in good esteem amongst us.”

The Sullivan Review
November 24, 2004

In 1830, Ellen McCarty traveled to New York State to visit the Quarterly
Meetings in Scipio and Farmington and then on to Upper Canada (the northern
shores of Lakes Ontario and Erie). And while we have no formal record of her
journey, the appreciation for Ellen’s ministry is clear in the following extract
from the minutes of the Society of Upper Canada, Yonge Street Monthly Meeting,
held the 13th of the 5th month, 1830: “…Also our beloved friend Ellen McCarty,
companion to our friend Mercy Ellis, attended this meeting (having previously
visited all the branches thereof) and produced a Certificate of Concurrence from
Muncy Monthly Meeting, Pennsylvania, dated the 12th mo. 23rd, 1829, endorsed by
the Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting, the company and gospel labors of love
amongst us were truly acceptable.”
Ellen Roberts McCarty made this trip in the footsteps of her sister-in-law,
Phoebe McCarty Roberts (a different Roberts family we might add), who journeyed
northward from Bucks County nine years earlier, chronicling her adventures in
what we know as her Diary of Travels to Upper Canada, 1821-22, transcribed by
this writer. Local historian, Kenneth W. Wright quotes an anonymous diarist in
his Quakers of the Shunk Friends Meeting, describing Ellen’s appearance at the
wedding of Rebecca Bird and Edward Molyneux on July 1, 1814 in Loyalsock:
“(She had) raven hair capped with the small Quaker bonnet, sculptured features
and clear skin… of all the women present, she was the most beautiful save for
the bride herself. She had ridden since before dawn to get to the wedding in
company of her fifteen-year-old son, Aaron, traversing what was little more than
a wilderness trail past Eldred’s place.”
The diarist continues:
“I have come to know many women over the years, but never one so passionate and
at the same time so oddly innocent as Ellen McCarty; strong, impetuous,
generous, startlingly frank. She seemed like a woman of noble origin. Her
exuberance of expression, couched in Quaker Thees and Thous, had something
almost imperious about it.”
The following combined excerpts from articles in The Friend; printed fifty years
apart; bear witness to the incredible strength and depth of character possessed
by Ellen McCarty:
From Vol. 24:91, 7 Dec. 1850 and Vol. 74:189, 7 Dec. 1900
“In this retired situation (The Elklands), very much secluded from the busy
scenes of life, and subjected to many of the privations attendant on the
settlement of new countries, her mind became more deeply impressed with the
importance of seeking those treasures which neither moth nor rust can corrupt.
Under these renewed exercises she often expressed the concern she felt on their
(no longer) having a meeting for worship, and encouraged her Friends to unite in
making application for an indulged meeting, which was granted in 1816.
In (this) period of her life she underwent great hardships and sacrifices.
Living six miles from the meeting she attended (in Shunk), generally going
thither on foot, often leading a little child, and caring another in her arms.
On one of the occasions, a heavy snowstorm overtook her on her return. Her
discouragements war so great from the difficulties she met with, that she
thought it could not be required of her to take the same again; but when the
next meeting-day came, she persevered, and in that meeting was her first
appearance in the ministry. Continuing faithful to her Divine Leader, she became
a clear and convincing minister, evidencing the true anointing.
She was very diligent in the attendance of all of our religious meetings, though
frequently having to press through many difficulties and hardships in the
performance of this important duty; often speaking of the sweet peace she was at
times permitted to experience, when sitting in their little silent meetings; and
encouraged her own family and friends not to suffer any worldly business so to
engross their attention so as t prevent them from a regular attendance.
Having thus learned in the school of Christ, the excellence of his government,
and by yielding to the manifestations of grace in her own heart, she became
qualified to invite others to come, taste and see, that the Lord is good.
Though her literary accomplishments were very limited, she was enabled in public
ministry to express herself in a clear and impressive language. Her early
communications carried with them an evidence that were from that Anointing which
alone can qualify for true Gospel ministry; and in the year 1819 were approved
by the Quarterly Meeting of Ministers and Elders. (The first was a spiritual
“becoming, this made it official).
By closely following the leading of the true Shepherd, she became a likely and
acceptable minister; was a firm believer in the doctrines and principles of our
religious Society, as set forth in the approved writings of our early Friends;
and opposed to all speculative views and unprofitable theories. She bore a
faithful testimony against the unfaithful testimony against the unsound views of
Elias Hicks and his followers, being frequently led in her communications to
express her full belief in the authenticity and Divine authority of the Holy
Scriptures, and in the divinity and offices of our blessed Savior as therein set
She several times visited the families of this (Muncy) Monthly Meeting, a
service for which she was well qualified; frequently administering counsel and
encouragement suited to the conditions of those present.
With the approbation of her Friends, in 1830, she performed a visit in Gospel
love to the meetings composing Farmington and Scipio Quarterly Meetings, and to
those friends in Upper Canada.
Although domestic duties necessarily claimed much of her time, having a large
family of children, yet these seldom prevented her from attending to the calls
of duty.
Christian love so warmed her heart towards the whole human family, that she was
a truly sympathizing friend to the afflicted in body or mind. The last few years
of her life were spent in nursing the sick; frequently having to endure many
hardships and privations when attending the poor and remotely situated families
of her neighborhood.

The Sullivan Review
December 9, 2004

And while administering to the wants of the body, she was ever mindful of that
more precious part, the immortal soul; endeavoring to turn their minds unto
Jesus Christ, as the only hope and means of salvation.
(Once), hearing that a company of militia had been assembled by their captain to
exercise on a ground some miles from her house, and feeling her mind drawn to
visit the muster ground, and seek a religious opportunity with the captain; she
believed if she would be faithful, a Friend and neighbor, named Hoagland, would
be willing to accompany her. So she dressed and walked toward the neighbor’s
house, when to her astonishment (sic), she found the Friend standing in her door
with cloak and bonnet on waiting Ellen’s arrival, though entirely ignorant of
her concern by any outward channel. This great confirmation increased her faith.
When they reached the muster ground Ellen had a powerful interview with the
captain, who laid down his arms, never again to resume them.
In the last meeting she attended, the day before she was taken ill, she spoke of
the shortness of time to some present, and encouraged those who might remain a
little longer to greater diligence in the attendance of their religious
From the first of her sickness, she was impressed with a belief that she would
not recover, and was much engaged in fervent supplication to the Father of
mercies, that he would be pleased to preserve her in patient resignation to his
blessed and holy will. The evening before her close, being asked in she would
like to see her physician, she calmly replied, “No, there will be a change
before morning,” and soon after requested her children might be sent for; some
of whom resided a few miles distant.
On their arrival, her powers of speech had so failed that she could say little
more then” I have told you the truth before; “ and in a few minutes quietly
passed away on the 20th day of the Fourth month, 1844, in the sixty-third year
of her age.”
Kenneth W. Wright picks up the narrative:
“Folks from every part of the Elklands, Forks, Fox Townships and from over the
mountain in Bradford County arrived in buggies and on horseback. Jonathan Rogers
made a coffin from the finest Birdseye maple. Her children carried her remains
in silent procession to the burying ground in Shunk. My great-grandfather,
Charles B. Wright, a Methodist preacher from over at East Canton, and Ann Rogers
Wright, his wife, came over the mountain and met with people of every suasion;
old William Molyneux leaning bent and gnarled on his care was there; and there
were Quakers from Muncy and places even more distant; as the coffin moved along
the rutted road shadows of people to whom she had ministered for forty yeas
obscured the procession from the sun.”
…and to the sun, to meet her God.
It was during Ellen’s ministry that the second Meeting House was built. Until
that was accomplished, meetings were again held in homes. Having already granted
permission to hold an Indulged Meeting in 1816, we find the following minutes
from the Muncy Meeting:
“3 mo, 24th 1819. The meeting unites with the proposed of holding the meeting at
Joseph Hogeland’s and Joel McCarty’s once in three weeks at the latter” in other
words, two weeks in Shunk then one up the mountain.
Though one source indicates that the property was secured as early as 1826, the
Meeting House was built at Shunk in 1831, confirmed by information given to
Matlack by Clara Wilcox in 1936:
“Old deed dated 4 Mo. 26th; 1831 just bro’t  to me by Andrew Battin of Elmira, I
believe covers the Shunk property. I expect to send all of the old deeds I have
now in my possession to Friends Fiduciary Corporation soon.”
Also in 1936 Elizabeth M. Heess shared her memories of that Meeting House with
“My memory takes me back to my childhood when I went with my parents to meeting
in a little log cabin in Fox Township near Shunk. The house was heated with a
fireplace in one end and a stove in the other end. The door had wooden hinges
and oh how it squeaked when open and shout. This meetinghouse was surrounded by
the grounds, which is the resting place of our dear departed ancestors. My dear
grandmother Ellen Roberts McCarty used to walk seven miles to worship in this
old Meeting House, often carrying a baby in her arms. Her remains and those of
her husband, Joel McCarty rest in the old cemetery.”
Elizabeth Heess continues:
“But time passed on and a new Meeting House was built in Elkland Township near
the boundary line of Fox. There was a large meeting at that time and in
imagination yet see the row of plain bonnets in the gallery and several broad
brim hats on the other side of the dividing partition. But alas our gathering
has dwindled to a few members (1936) and not a plain bonnet to be seen. A new
cemetery has taken the place of the old one and is already becoming quite
thickly populated.
As Ellen Roberts McCarty was minister in the (Shunk) Meeting House, Sarah Schill
was the new one until she was taken from our midst.”
Sarah, eleventh child of Ellen and Joel McCarty married George Schill. They
lived in Piatt. Like her mother, Sarah became a minister in the Society of
Friends for the Elkland Meeting and traveled as a missionary to upstate New York
and Canada. She served the York gathering until her death in 1892.
In about 1852, Thomas McCarty, youngest child of Joel and Ellen, offered to
donate one and a half acres for the purpose of erecting a new meetinghouse with
additional space for a cemetery plot. This land on the main road at the Fox and
Elkland township line had the advantage of being central to worshippers from
both Shunk and Eldredsville area. But it was not until 1854 that the present
one-story, white frame meeting house was finished.
In 1852 Elkland Preparative Meeting (still at Shunk) informed Muncy Monthly
Meeting of their desire to build a new meeting house and had approached Aaron
McCarty (Joel and Ellen’s eldest), Henry Battin and Anthony Kilmer to have
oversight of its construction. Muncy Meeting approved, and appointed the above
committee of Friends to act as trustees on 1st mo. 21st 1853, with the addition
of Joseph Masters of Greenwood. Thomas McCarty’s health delayed preparation of a
deed to the property but, with his permission the meetinghouse was erected
nonetheless in 1854.
An Indenture between Thomas and Chloe McCarty and the above trustees was finally
prepared in 1856, but never executed. Thomas died after a long illness in July
of 1857 before a signing cold take place.
Thomas having died without a will, the title passed to his three children,
Frederic (5 years old), Lucetta (3) and Martha (one month). The problem is
obvious, and could have been catastrophic under other circumstances.
But the following made clear the family’s intentions of honoring Thomas’s
wishes: “Now we the undersigned being well acquainted with the promise and
intention of said Thomas McCarty to convey the said lot of land as herein
described and the circumstances which prevented the execution of it, have had
this statement prepared in order that his said children when they respectively
come of legal age may execute to said Trustees or such others as Muncy monthly
meeting may appoint, a conveyance of said lot and thus carry out the intention
of their parent.” The above was signed by Thomas’ brothers Jesse and Joseph
McCarty and Jesse’s wife, Martha.
(An interesting side not: Joseph McCarty had achieved a small degree at about
his time, having discovered the hiding place of the body of John George
Vietengruber. Vietengruber bears the dubious distinction of being the first
murder victim in Sullivan County.)
In 1863, Thomas’ widow, Chloe affirmed the terms of the original Indenture,
hoping that her children, when of legal age would make and execute a deed for
the lot, now with house to the Trustees then appointed by Muncy Meeting. And in
1864, not was made of the existing survey, which was presented, to Abel
Blackburn, Reuben Battin, Joseph McCarty and Joseph Snell, who were by then the
“Anthony Kilmer, of Tyrone, Schuyler Co. NY, the only surviving Trustee,
mentioned in the deed of conveyance, given by Joseph Hoagland, to Aaron McCarty,
Anthony Kilmer and John Hoagland, Jr. Trustees of the first part and Joseph
McCarty, Abel McCarty, Reuben Battin and George Schill, the parties of the
second part, March 21st 1878.”
Meanwhile, plans were moving forward to open a school for the children of
Society members. We find in a minute of the Muncy Meeting:

The Sullivan Review
December 16, 2004

“At Elkland Preparative Meeting held 8th Mo. 16th, 1865, the friends nominated
at last a committee to have charge of a school to be under the care of the
Elkland Preparative Meeting of Friends, offering the following names, viz; Aaron
McCarty, Martha McCarty, Sarah Schill, Caroline Blackburn, Mary E. Wilcox,
Eleanor J. Battin, and Reuben Battin, who were agreed to by this Meeting, and
they are accordingly appointed to the service. Taken from the minutes- Abel K.
Blackburn, Clerk for the day” The schoolhouse was built in the next years, with
the total expense of the house and out buildings, $738.41. Abel Blackburn was
the first teacher and the school was considered the best in the country. The
school was discontinued after the 1902-03 year.
The Inventory of church Archives tells us that the Underground Railroad was a
definite but unofficial organization among early Friends and a few others, whose
purpose was to aid escaping slaves to reach Canada or other free territory. The
activity was always of uncertain legality, and was, after the Fugitive Slave Act
of 1850 definitely outlawed, hence the unofficial nature of the organization,
and the lack of records. This aid was given quietly and the slaves who escaped
from their masters in the South were secretly passed from one Quaker family to
another until safe in free territory. Fugitives were given not only food and
shelter but were also transported by horseback, wagon, and sometimes by boat and
train from one “station” to the next along well-defined routes. Travel was
accomplished mostly by night and the slaves were hidden in barns, smokehouses
and cellars during the day”
Elkland Meeting was one of those “stations” The slaves were “conducted from
Muncy by Jacob Haines and others to Marshall Battin at Elkland, who would in
turn guide them by stages to Joseph Jones in Penn Yan, New York. From there,
Jones would usher them across the border into Canada.
This excerpt from the Family History of the Haines Family, collected and written
by Mary Rhodes Haines in 1893 tells the story beginning in Muncy: “The Haines
home on World Run, near Muncy, was the center of a lovely hospitality, a refuge
for the afflicted, the particularly so for the fugitive slave. Many of the
latter class were sent on by Micajah Speakman of Chester County. When they
presented paper with our father’s (Jacob Haines) address and signed “Humanity,”
it was understood where they came from and what was desired and aid was
furnished at once. If there were women and children flying from slavery, our
father sent them forward in some conveyances over the mountains to John Hill;
thence they were taken to Marshall Battin in the “Elklands”, who helped them
onward to Joseph Jones of Penn Yan, New York. Mrs. Charles E. Ecroyd of Muncy,
Pennsylvania states “My mother used to relate to me her fearful forebodings, as
a very young girl at home, when her dear “brother Jesse” (Haines) would start
out at midnight, or about that time, with a carriage load of colored folks to
the Elklands.”
Kenneth W. Wright observes:
“Ellen McCarty was to be spared in her lifetime the great contention which
engulfed the nation, and so many of her descendants, over the question of human
slavery. She would be spared the schism amongst those Elkland Friends who, while
pacifists, none-the-less sent some of their sons off to war.”
In those early years, the Elkland Meeting had three ministers; Jesse Haines,
Ellen Roberts McCarty, and her daughter, Sarah McCarty Schill. We may add to
that list Clara M. Wilcox Finch of Quaker Bridge, New York, a recognized
minister, who provided the information found in T. Chalkley Matlack’s journals.
Whether standing in the deep woods near Eldredsville, or the burial ground in
Shunk listening to the soothing hymns of the Methodist Church bells, or the
simplicity of the Meeting House overlooking the valley, it is quite a simple
thing to feel a sense of the peace and quietude experienced by those Friends of
long ago and of times past in The Elklands.

Postscript: Here you can see a picture and posting of the Old Friends Cemetery at Shunk, PA.

Copyright © 2005 The Sullivan Review and Robert E. Sweeney. All Rights Reserved. Prior written permission is required from the Sullivan Review before the content presented here can be printed or otherwise copied, Prior written permission is required from Robert E. Sweeney before the web deployment or presentation of this content can be duplicated or displayed in any form. This is a FREE genealogy site sponsored through PAGenWeb and can be reached directly at the Sullivan County Genealogy Project.