The Quakers at "Monoquesey"

Excerpts from "Pioneers of Old Monocacy:
The Early Settlement of Frederick Co., Maryland 1721-1743
by Grace L. Tracey and John P. Dern, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987

The beginnings of a small Quaker settlement in the area near today's Buckeystown paved the way for the organization of the first religious establishment in western Maryland. The resulting "Monquesey Meeting" of the Society of Friends thus preceded the churches organized by the far more numerous German Lutherans and Reformed, as well as the Established Church of England.

The earliest of these settlers, Henry and Josiah Ballenger, were sons of Henry Ballenger, Sr. of Burlington, New Jersey. They came to Maryland sometime before November 4, 1725 when Josiah Ballenger had his first land surveyed. His tract, which he called "Josiah," was located on the Monocacy River northeast of present-day Buckeystown, some five miles south of today's city of Frederick. It was surveyed in the same month as were John van Metre's "Meadow" and Thomas Bordley's "Rocky Creek." The latter, in fact, made reference to its beginning point as "a mile above the plantation of Henry Ballenger."

Also living in this settlement, eventually (on March 23, 1734) renting land on "Carrollton," was the beloved Quaker leader James Wright, whose daughters Hannah and Mary Wright were to marry, respectively, Henry Ballenger in 1726 and Josiah Ballenger in 1727.

James Wright's other children became active participants in the Monocacy Quaker community. James Wright, Jr. and his wife Lucy, continued their association with the Meeting until the 1750s when they moved with their children to Virginia. Most of their children -- Ralph, Elizabeth, James, Ann Susanna, Boyater (no doubt Bowater!-JR) and Micajah -- were born at Monocacy. John Wright and his wife Rachel Wells, the daughter of Joseph and Margaret Wells of "Boyling Springs," were overseers of the Monocacy Meeting in 1745, though afterwards with their children -- William, Mary, Joseph, Margaret, Charity, Rachel and John Wright, Jr. -- they moved on to North Carolina. Martha Wright Mendenhall became an able Quaker leader and died in Martinsburg, (West) Virginia in 1794 at the age of 82. Elizabeth Wright married George Matthews, son of Oliver Matthews. Oliver Wright moved to what is now Hampstead in Carroll Co. and Sarah, Lydia and Ann Wright, though apparently born in the Monocacy area, left for Virginia with their parents while they were still children.

Henry Ballenger appeared in the Court records of 1732, being paid a bounty for the heads of three wolves. He was an overseer of roads, appointed by the Courts of 1735, 1742, 1743 and 1747. In March 1749 he contracted with the Court to keep a ferry over the Middle Ford of the Monocacy, where State Route 28 now crosses the River. With his wife, Hannah Wright, he lived a short distance north of his brother Josiah on a tract called "Henry." Though named for him, the land had been patented to John Radford in Late 1724, a year before Josiah got his land. "Henry" straddled a rather sizable creek which empties into the Monocacy midway between today's Frederick and Buckeystown. With its many branches the creek drains a sizable area southwest of Frederick. About a quarter mile from its mount Henry Ballenger built his mill, the first of record in the area which is now Frederick County. Not surprisingly, therefore, the creek was known initially as Mill Branch, although it is now called Ballenger Creek. By both names it was frequently referred to in old road records. Henry Ballenger leased the land "Henry" until he could purchase it from John Radford on May 1, 1748. He had, however, surveyed for himself in 1743 an adjoining parcel which he called "Mill Lot". This he sold to Mary Fout in 1748. Of Henry Ballenger's children -- Rachel, Mary, William, Henry Jr., Hannah, Rebecca, Moses, Martha and John Ballenger, all born at Monocacy -- only William, who married Cassandra Plummer, remained in the area.

Meredith Davis, originally from Wales, was destined to become a mainstay of the Monocacy Quaker community. His wife Ursula Burgess, was the daughter of Charles Burgess and granddaughter of Colonel William Burgess who supported early Quakerism in Maryland. In 1726 Davis had 450 acres surveyed at the mouth of the Monocacy River. He called the tract "Meredith's Hunting Quarter" and here, twelve years later, he was appointed by the Prince George's County Court to keep a ferry across the Monocacy "next to his land at the mouth of the river." Seemingly he and his wife maintained a residence both here and on "Westfailure" in lower Prince George's County. On April 10, 1728 he had "Welch's Tract" surveyed beside the Monocacy. Early County Court records indicate that Meredith Davis and Thomas Griffith were the chief rangers for upper Prince George's County. In 1731 Davis became more closely associated with the "Monocacy Quakers" when on March 27th he had "Good Luck" surveyed as 400 acres next to Ballenger's "Josiah." Its first line was on the 17th line of Carrollton." Eight years later he surveyed 67 acres as "Friend's Good Will," also an adjoining parcel.

In 1726 the New Garden Monthly Meeting, which had been established at Chester, Pennsylvania some eight years earlier, gave permission to the Quakers settled along the Monocacy River "to hold religious services on first days in the home of Josiah Ballenger, the Meeting to be called Monoquesey." This authorization that the services be held at Josiah Ballenger's and a reference to the Quaker Meeting House being "near Josiah Ballenger's" led historians for long years to believe that the Meeting House had actually been located on the land "Josiah." The research of Millard M. Rice has shown this to be in error, for on April 27, 1739 Meredith Davis transferred five acres of his "Good Luck" to William Matthews and Henry Ballenger as trustees of the Monocacy Meeting "to build thereon one or more house or houses for a Meeting Place for.... the People called Quakers." He may have made this grant after actual construction of the Meeting House had begun, for in late 1738 Allen Farquhar on "Dulany's Lot" was asking in his will that he be buried at the "new Meeting House" and we know of no other in this region at that time. Known as the Cold Spring Meeting House of Monoquesey," the building seems to have predated by at least four years Frederick County's first Lutheran log church, which was constructed in 1742 or 1743. The Quaker building was mentioned in a petition to the March 1745 Prince George's County Court from the "back inhabitants"" who sought a road from Isaac Leonard's to the mouth "of Minoccoccee," to run "from the main road above Isaac Leonard's along by Ballets Fout's so as to come into the main Minoccaccee Road by the Quaker Meeting House."

Growth of the Maryland Quaker community was slow compared to the rapid influx of Quakers across the Potomac in Virginia. When Jeremiah Brown, William Kirk, Joseph England and John Churchman visited the Friends in 1734, they reported "that those Friends residing at Monoquacy and Oppeckon and thereabouts have and keep a Monthly Meeting for discipline amongst them and that it go under the name as they call it, Hopewell..." Although the Monocacy Quakers established religious services prior to those of the Quakers in Virginia, by 1735 there were so many more Quakers in Virginia than at Monocacy that Virginia's Hopewell was made the business meeting for the combined area.

Between 1736 and 1739, Josiah Ballenger with his wife Mary and children Josiah, Jr., Sarah and James, together with his father-in-law James Wright, joined the Quaker movement to Virginia (note from JR: above paragraphs say James Wright didn't leave until the 1750s). His brother Henry Ballenger remained. So also did Meredith Davis who on December 1, 1739 for thirty pounds purchased "Josiah, the houses, yards, gardens, orchards, Fences and Wood." A few months earlier, on September 11th, Davis had leased his "Good Luck" to William Matthews, although its designation as the Davis Mill near present-day Buckeystown remained. Catastrophe struck, however, and in 1741 Davis had to have his land resurveyed and repatented to include additional land replacing that which was washed away by the Monocacy River. Illustrative of the inexactitudes of early surveying was the further Resurvey made by Thomas Cresap on November 21, 1745. He found that 6 acres of "Good Luck" lay foul on "Josiah," 80 more acres were on an elder survey called "Carlton" ("Carrollton") belonging to Charles Carroll, 10 acres of "Friends Good Will" were on "Josiah" and 78 additional neighboring acres could be incorporated in the whole Resurvey, which then would total 649 acres.

In 1742 Meredith Davis signed the petition to divide Prince George's County. After his wife Ursula died, Meredith Davis married Ann Belt, widow of Thomas Claggett. They transferred to John Darnall on June 29, 1751 for 124 pounds 160 acres of "Good Luck." This represented acreage on the west side of the "Great Road that leads from the mouth of Monocacy to Frederick Town." The deed expressly omitted five acres, "Where the Quaker Meeting House now stands and already conveyed by the said Meredith Davis for the use of the said Meeting."

Meredith and Ursula Davis had four children, but their two daughters died at an early age. Their sons Meredith Davis, Jr. and Charles made their homes along the Monocacy, although for a short period about 1745 Charles lived between today's Jefferson and Feagaville near what is now US. Highway 340. Charles Davis' daughter Ann married William Richardson, who died in 1755, and, as her second husband, Israel Thompson. Meredith Davis, Jr. married his step-sister Sarah Claggett, daughter of Thomas Claggett and Ann Belt, and together they had four children: Thomas and Ursula Davis, both born at Monocacy where they died unmarried in the 1790s, Richard Davis who died as an infant and Ignatius Davis (1759-1828). The latter had another resurvey made on the Davis land on April 13, 1798. He named it "Mount Hope," the name by which the property is still known at Buckeystown today. Ignatius lived on "Mount Hope" for many years and operated the Davis Mill near Buckeystown. He was married four times and was the father of about twenty-three children. One of these was Catherine Lackland Davis, who married Dr. Albert Richie.

George Williams, a Welsh Quaker who signed the 1742 petition to divide Prince George's Parish, had no land surveyed or patented in the Frederick County area. He may even have lived a little south of Monocacy Quakers when his son Richard Williams was born in their area in 1726. The records of the New Garden Meeting of North Carolina on December 11, 1746 reported the marriage of Richard Williams and Prudence Beals, daughter of John Beals," of Monoquosy, Prince George's County in Maryland or Virginia."

Geographically, John Beall was also not living in the Quaker area, but his religious association linked him there. Not to be confused with the Beall Family of southern Maryland, he was a Pennsylvania Quaker, the son of Robert (??-JTR) Beall, and lived on the west side of Catoctin Creek, along the Potomac. His land "Chance" was surveyed on January 12, 1732/33. It was probably his son Thomas Beall who married Sarah Ancrum. The list of witnesses to thismarriage is especially interesting for its identification of a number of the Quakers from Monocacy: Oliver, Thomas, Mary and Elizabeth Matthews, Francis Henley, Amos Jenny (Janney), Evan Thomas, John Wright, Sarah Beals, Hannah Ballenger, Susanna Moon and Mary Tannyhill.

In the 1733 list of taxables in Monocosie Hundred appeared the names of Chidley, William and George Matthews. Chidley Matthews had one year earlier witnessed the will of Joseph Matthews. Chidley Matthews had one year earlier witnessed the will of Joseph Hedges and in November 1736 was appointed Constable by the Prince George's County Court. He lived in the present Braddock area in the forks of U.S. Highways 40 and 40-Alternate, but seemingly owned no land of beginning was on "the westernmost draft of Carroll's Creek near the foot of Catocktin Mountain." In October 1742 he signed the petition for division of Prince George's Parish, which led to the formation of All Saints' Parish. Chidley Matthews died in 1762 and was survived by his wife Mary and children Mary, Samuel and John Matthews. His connection, if any, to the Quaker Settlement is unknown.

George and William Matthews leased land on "Carrollton" on the same day, March 25, 1734, as did James Wright, whose daughter Elizabeth had married George Matthews sometime before 1731. In the latter year a son Oliver Matthews was born to them. George Matthews represented the Monocacy Quakers at the Chester, Pennsylvania Quarterly Meeting in 1737, 1739 and 1740. He had his own "Good Luck" surveyed on May 27, 1741, located about five miles west of the Quaker nucleus. In 1746 this was enlarged by a resurvey, and in early 1749 George Matthews conveyed 100 acres of it to Charles Davis. In 1755 the remaining 212 acres, with a beginning point on Ballenger Creek, went to Daniel Bailey.

William Matthews and Henry Ballenger were serving as trustees for the Monocacy Quakers when on April 27, 1739 Meredith Davis, Sr. deeded them the five acres of his "Good Luck" for the construction of the Quaker Meeting House. But William Matthews did not long survive. He wrote his will on November 12, 1739, mentioning a daughter-in-law Sarah Ancrum and naming children Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah and William Matthews, Jr. To these children he gave personal property. His land in Calvert County was to be sold to pay debts, and his wife Mary was named as executrix. Henry Ballenger and George Matthews were to be overseers of his estate. It was probably his son William Matthews who had "Widow's Rest" surveyed on October 27, 1746 with its beginning point "about a mile west of Isaac Well's Plantation." In 1755 this land was in the possession of Francis Cost

Thomas Matthews had "Matthews' Lot" surveyed on October 21, 1741, two and a quarter miles west of "Josiah." Its 100 acres were located where "the elder tract of Mr. Carroll's occasions the irregularity." In 1764 this land was the property of James Dickson, who conveyed it to his father-in-law John Darnall.

Oliver Matthews "of Monocquacy" is mentioned in early Quaker records. He was the son of Thomas Matthews of Baltimore County, who gave him land near present-day Mountville southeast of Jefferson. On February 9, 1749 he had "Chestnut Valley" survyyeyed for himself, 25 acres beginning "on the north side of a head of a spring of the north fork of Tuscarora Creek that descends into Potowmack River."

Joseph Wells and his wife Margaret came from Chester County in Pennsylvania, settling on "Boyling Springs," a 40-acre tract which had been surveyed on June 12, 1743. Its beginning point was also "on a north side branch of the Tuscarora." This land was later conveyed to Baltis Fout. Both Joseph and Isaac Wells signed the October petition seeking to carve All Saints' Parish out of Prince George's Parish. Earlier in 1742 Isaac Wells had been appointed overseer of the road from Monocacy "to Shenandoah," and the November Court of 1743 made him Constable of Monocacy Hundred. On October 27, 1741, Isaac Wells had purchased "Lowland" from Daniel Johnson Low of Prince William County, Virginia, who had had the parcel surveyed for himself on October 15, 1739. Low was apparently a nephew of Thomas Cresap's wife and the grandson of Frances Johnson, wife of Miles Foy. Cresap himself was one of the witnesses to the 1741 transaction.

In 1744 Cresap surveyed "Children's Chance" to the south and west of "Lowland" for Isaac Wells. And on October 27, 1746 "Wells Invention," a 92-acre parcel located east of the other two, was also surveyed for Isaac Wells. Wells had omitted paying caution money, and following his early death in 1747 this last parcel went to John Cholmondley for whom it became the basis for a huge Resurvey of 2,017 acres. Cholmondley died, but willed the land to Robert Lamar, Jr., to whom it was patented on August 10, 1753. "Lowland" passed through several hands to Mrs. Eleanor Medley for whom Leonard Smith in 1774 divided it into town lots to form New Town, the forerunner of today's town of Jefferson. "Children's Chance" was sold by Samuel Wells, brother of Isaac, in two parts, a northern 48 acres to Elias DeLashmutt, Jr. on May 21, 1763, and the remaining 177 acres to the south to Elias DeLashmutt, Sr. on November 8, 1764.

Although Pennsylvania had been created initially as a haven for Quakers, the arrival of numerous immigrants with other religious beliefs provided in time such a shift in emphasis that many Quakers felt compelled to move elsewhere. In the year 1730 the Quaker leaders Alexander Ross and Morgan Bryan appeared before the Governor and Council of Virginia and from them received a grant of 100,000 acres on the Opequon River in Frederick County, Virginia. This encouraged the move of many Quakers who followed them to back Virginia country. Because these people moved through the Monocacy area of Maryland it may prove interesting to list some who were named in the Virginia State Land Office records.

Thomas Curtis and his wife Mary Bryan, daughter of Morgan Bryan, came from Pennsylvania into today's Berkeley County, West Virginia. Isaac Perkins, likewise from Pennsylvania, became a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and a friend of Lord Fairfax. He devoted his life to the Society of Friends. Thomas Anderson built one of the first mills on Mill Creek in Virginia. John Mills, Sr. described himself in 1743 as a farmer from Prince George's County, Maryland; his son John Mills, Jr. was a cordwainer. John Richards was born in England, was taxed in Chester County, Pennsylvania from 1720-1726 and then moved to Virginia, joining the Hopewell Quakers. Cornelius Cockerine likewise owned property in Chester County, then moved to the mouth of the Opequon. William Hogg was a taxable in East Nottingham Township of Chester County, Pennsylvania from 1718 to 1730 and appeared in the Hopewell Minutes sometimes as Hoge, sometimes as Hogue. John Littler was a business partner of James Wright. He kept a tavern in Chester County, Pennsylvania,, 1729-1730, where his records in 1731 show "he is going away." His daughter married Alexander Ross. Thomas Branson in his will of November 21, 1744 identified himself as from Burlington County, New Jersey. He devised his land "on Shannandow River" to his sons who were then living on it. Evan Thomas was a Quaker minister who came from Wales in 1719. His son Evan Thomas, Jr. married the daughter of Alexander Rodd. Abraham Hollingsworth according to the Minutes of the Nottingham (Pennsylvania) Monthly meeting in 1729 was "under dealings and absent from home." Family tradition claims he paid first "a cow, a calf and a piece of red cloth to the Shawnee Indians for his land." But on November 23, 1732 he received a survey for 582 acres "within the limits of an order of Council granted to Alexander Ross." John Willson, Nathaniel Thomas, John Haitt, Jr., John Peteate, George Robinson, Robert Luna, Luke Emelen, Francis Pincher, John Frost, George Hobson and John Calvert were other Quakers who moved through Maryland to Pennsylvania.

Richard Beeson and his family moved from Chester County Pennsylvania in 1735 to settle on a branch of the Opequon near today's Martinsburg, West Virginia. Quaker religious services were held in their home until the Providence Meeting House was built.

Closer even than these Quakers was Amos Janney from Bucks County in Pennsylvania, who in 1733 settled about ten miles south of the Potomac River near today's Waterford in Loudoun County Virginia. Quaker services were held in his home until 1741, when the Fairfax Meeting House was built nearby. the route between Waterford and today's Buckeystown area was traveled frequently.

In contrast to the growth of Quakerism in Virginia, conditions in the Monocacy area seemed to ebb. On June 28, 1759, the Monocacy Meeting House burned. It was rebuilt by November 29th of the same year, but for reasons not recorded, the Monocacy Friends refused to meet in the new house and on April 28, 1764 the Monocacy Meeting was abandoned. In 1751 Henry Ballenger sold his property to Quaker Richard Richardson and moved to North Carolina. Richardson's descendants lived in the Buckeystown area for many years, but organized Quakerism there was at an end.

The five-acre Monocacy Quaker Meeting House site survived until 1805 and the burial ground somewhat longer. In 1792 an attempt was made to reestablish title to the Quaker land. Daniel Ballenger of Frederick County and William Matthews of York County, Pennsylvania, as descendants of the two 1739 trustees who had received the five acres from Meredith Davis, deeded the land to Ignatius Davis. But a provision in the latter deed called for Davis to deed back to these trustees a quarter acre described as Friends Burying Ground. He did so, also in 1805, in a conveyance of 30.25 square perches (0.189 acre) part of a tract called "Good Luck," to Asa Moore of Loudoun County, Virginia, William Stabler of Montgomery County, Maryland, and William Wood of Frederick County, to be held in trust "for the Religious Society of People called Quakers... with power to continue as a burial ground.... with leave to pass to and from the same, repair and keep up forever the enclosures thereof..." Subsequent deeds, one as late as 1844, continued to refer to the five acres originally belonging to the Society of Friends and the Quaker graveyard and nearby Quaker spring.

In 1753 a new Quaker group developed. Less than five miles away, the Quakers who had settled on Bush Creek were given permission to hold meetings on first days at the home of Thomas Plummer. Their first Meeting House was built in 1757. In 1756 a third group, called the Pipe Creek Meeting, was organized in the area where Union Bridge in Carroll County now stands. William Farquhar was instrumental in helping to establish that Meeting and in uniting it officially in 1775 with what was left of the Monocacy Meeting. He was the son of Allen Farquhar who in his 1738 will had made reference to the then new Monocacy Meeting House. A resident on Dulany's Lot," the elder Farquhar had earlier purchased "Kilfadda" in the Pipe Creek area from John Tredane, and here his sons William and Allen, Jr. had continued to live.


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