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Re: William Millner & Elizabeth Lee of VA
Posted by: Duncan Rea Williams Date: September 02, 2000 at 21:17:36
In Reply to: Re: William Millner & Elizabeth Lee of VA by Kelly Gronwald of 62

This may be of interest:

Thomas Beals was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, in 1719. He was the son of John and Sarah Beals, formerly Sarah Bowater of an English family of Friends. Thomas Beals had two brothers, John and Bowater, and four sisters: Prudence, who married Richard Williams, Sarah, who married John, Mary, who married Thomas Hunt and after his death, William Baldwin, and Phebe, who married Robert Sumner. John Beals Jr., married Esther Hunt and Bowater Beals married Ann Cook, a sister of Isaac Cook, who was the husband of Charity Cook, a noted Friends minister.

From John Beals, the father, there descended a large number of members of the Society of Friends located in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Oregon and California. On many of these descendants, gifts in the ministry have been conferred. Among those of direct descent were: Thomas Beals, Bowater Beals, Sarah Mills, Ruth Hockett, Hannah Cloud, Nathan Hunt, Hannah Baldwin, Elizabeth Bond, Peter Dix, Benejah Hiatt, John Bond, Jesse Bond, Jesse Williams, Jesse Hockett, Aseneth Clark, Myseam Mendenhall, Daniel Williams, Eleazer Beals, Asaph Hiatt, Ruth Haisley, Naomi Coffin, Esther Carson, Levi Jessup, Jesse B. Williams, Margaret Toms, William J. Thornberry, Anna M. Votaw, Amos Bond, Elwood Scott, Dr. Dougan Clark, Elizabeth Beals Bond and Jehial Bond.

From Chester County, as it then was, John Beals moved with his family to Monocacy Carols Manor, Maryland. There, his son Thomas, the subject of this sketch, married Sarah Antrim. From there they moved to Hopewell, near Winchester, Virginia, where John Beals died in 1745, three years before the family moved on to North Carolina. Thomas Beals moved with his family to North Carolina in 1748, being then twenty-nine years old. He stopped first at Cane Creek, then he went to New Garden, North Carolina, which was at that time frontier territory. In a very short time he was joined by some other families. In the year 1753, Thomas Beals, then about thirty-four years of age, came forth in the ministry.

The next move he made was to Westfield, Surry County, North Carolina. Here he was instrumental in the development of a large meeting. He must have lived at New Garden and Westfield about thirty years, during which time he paid lengthy visits to the Indians. In the year 1775, twenty years before Wayne's Treaty with the Indians at Greenville, Thomas Beals, accompanied by nephew Bowater Sumner, William Hiatt and David Ballard, started to pay a visit to the Delaware Indians and some other tribes. After passing a fort not far from Clinch Mountain in Virginia, they were arrested and carried back to the fort to be tried for their lives on the charge of being confederates of the hostile Indians. The officers, understanding that one of them was a preacher, required a sermon before they went in for trail. Thomas Beals thought it was the right time to hold a meeting with the soldiers. This proved to be a very good idea for a young man from the fort was converted and, some time after, joined the Friends, became a member of the group and at a very advanced age, bore public testimony to the truth of the principles of which he was convinced at the fort. After the meeting, the Friends were kindly entertained and told that they were at liberty to go on their journey. They crossed the Ohio into what is now the State of Ohio held many satisfactory meetings with the Indians and returned home safely.

Discussing the trip, Thomas Beals told his friends that he saw with his spiritual eye the seed of Friends scattered all over that good land and that one day there would be a greater gathering of Friends there than any other place in the world, and that his faith was strong in the belief that he would live to see Friends settle north of the Ohio River.

In the year 1777, Thomas Beals, accompanied by William Robinson and an interpreter, Isaac Ottoman, started to pay a religious visit to the Six Nations and some other tribes of Indians and proceeded as far as Sewickley, a small meeting of Friends in the western part of Pennsylvania, where they were captured and carried to Hannelstown, not far from Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh. There they were detained some time and then sent home. Still having a concern in his mind for the Indians, he made another attempt to visit them, but was again arrested and imprisoned, under guard, in a cold, open barn. When he was let out of confinement, he was permitted to hold a meeting with the soldiers, but was not allowed to go any farther, and had to return home.

In 1781, Thomas Beals moved from Westfield, North Carolina, to Blue Stone, Giles County, Virginia, where he lived but a few years. This move does not appear to have had the approval of his friends, for Nathan Hunt states that they sent a committee to induce him to return to Westfield, North Carolina. The little meeting of twenty or thirty families was entirely broken up at Blue Stone. Beals and his family stayed, however, and suffered not only for the necessities of life, but their son-in-law, James Horton, was taken prisoner by the Indians and, from the most reliable information that can be obtained, was carried to Old Chillicothe, near Frankfort, Ohio, and there put to death.

In the year 1785, Beals moved to Lost Creek, in [east] Tennessee, and in the year 1793, he came to Grayson Co., Virginia, where Nathan Hunt states that Thomas Beals established meetings and says that he was very zealous for the support of the testimonies of Friends. In the year 1795, George Harlan and family, members of the Society of Friends, settled on the Little Miami, at Deerfield, four miles from the present town of Morrow.

In 1796, James Baldwin and Phineas Hunt, with their families, members of the Society of Friends, from Westfield, North Carolina, moved to Virginia shore of the Ohio River. Here Mary Hunt was born, on October 18, 1796, four miles from Point Pleasant, on the Virginia shore. In February, 1797, the Baldwins and Hunts crossed the Ohio River and settled opposite Green Bottom near each other. Two families of Friends now settled together in the Northwest Territory with the one previously mentioned (the Harlans) quite remote from them. On May 8, 1797, a group of Friends moved from Westfield, Pennsylvania, and settled at High Bank on the east side of the Scioto River, four miles below the present Chillicothe.

In the latter part of this same year, Jesse Baldwin moved from his first location opposite Green Bottom, some eighteen miles down the Ohio, and settled in what was called Quaker Bottom, in Lawrence County, opposite the mouth of the Guyandot River, and the present town of Guyandot. So far as can be ascertained, this was where Friends in the Northwest Territory first sat down to hold a Meeting for divine worship. John Warner, son of Isaac and Mary Warner, who was born at High Bank, Ross County, Ohio, on July 12, 1798, was, so far as is known, the first child born as a birthright member of the Society of Friends northwest of the Ohio River, and, on November 11, of that year, Rebecca Chandler, daughter of William and Hannah Chandler, was born near the same place.

In 1798, a group of Friends from Hopewell, Virginia, settled at High Bank, and in the same year a group of Friends, all from North Carolina settled at Salt Creek, near Richmondale, Ross County, Ohio. In 1799, Thomas Beals, who had visited this country twenty four years before, now moved to Quaker Bottom, along with other members of his family [including grand children, Abel Thornberry and Tabitha Beals]. They were accompanied by Obediah Overman and his family, all from Grayson Co., Virginia. On their arrival, they opened a meeting for worship in the dwelling of Jessie Baldwin. There they met regularly during their residence at that place.

The nearest Meeting to them was at Westland, Pennsylvania. Sometime during the year 1799, Taylor Webster and family, from Redstone, Pennsylvania, settled at Grassy Prairies, five miles northeast of Chillicothe. In the spring of 1801, Thomas Beals, Jesse Baldwin, John Beals and Daniel Beals moved from Quaker Bottom, and they, with Enoch Cox and their families, settled up Salt Creek near the present town of Adelphia.

August 29, 1801, Thomas Beals died and was buried two days later, near Richmondale, Ross County, Ohio, in a coffin of regular shape, hollowed out of a solid white walnut tree by his ever faithful friend, Jesse Baldwin. He was assisted by Enoch Cox and others, who covered the coffin with part of the same tree, which had previously been selected for this purpose by the deceased.

Buried near him were William Puckett, Hugh Moffett, as well as others, of the small community. A meeting house was later built on the land then owned by the Moffett family and a Meeting was held there for some time. In the spring of 1802, a group of Friends settled at Lees Creek, in and near the present town of Leesburg, which is located in Highland County, Ohio, where no white person had lived before.

In the fall of the same year, Sarah Beals, widow of Thomas Beals, and her sons, John and Daniel, and their families, moved from Adelphia, as did Phineas Hunt, formerly of Raccoon Falls. All settled at Lees Creek and Hardins Creek near each other. This community was augmented in the spring of 1803 by the families of Jessie Baldwin, John Beals, Bowater Beals and John Evans, and, in the fall of the same year, two Lupton families, from Hopewell, Virginia, settled at Lees Creek. On their arrival, Friends became concerned about a meeting for worship. Widow Sarah Beals heartily endorsed the idea.

Thus there began a Friends Meeting at Fairfield (Leesburg), regularly authorized in May, 1804. Sarah Beals died July 7, 1813, at the age of eighty-nine, and was buried at Fairfield. Thomas Beals's daughter, Margaret, whose first husband, James Horton, was captured by the Indians, afterward married Daniel Huff, who lived in the Fairfield, community. When Thomas Beals was captured in 1885, one recalls that a young man then at the fort was converted. That young man was Beverly Milner, who eventually settled near the last residence of Sarah Beals. In his later years, after he became too feeble to attend Meeting, he often alluded to the ministry of that heavenly man by whom he was converted. He died in 1848, when he was almost eighty-seven, and was buried at Fairfield.

This sketch may give some idea of the toil, privations, labor, struggles and sufferings of the pioneers. In the planting Quakerism in the Old Northwest, Thomas Beals and his faithful wife and devoted family are but one of the hundreds who struggled, nor was he the only one buried in a log coffin. Many were buried with nothing but boards to separate them from the lone mountains, never to be seen or marked by loved ones. The author is convinced, however, that to Thomas Beals belongs the credit of having been the first Friends minister to carry the message of Christ into the vast region north and west of the Ohio, that region which, in a few years, was to become the great center of the life of not only the Society of Friends, but the entire Nation. Thomas Beals's prophecy of 1775 began to be realized in his own lifetime and has long been a reality within the limits of the Old Northwest Territory for threequarters of a century. On Sept. 19, 1937, a monument was dedicated at the grave of Thomas Beals near Richmondale, Ohio.

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