- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 25, 2002

To the Southern sympathizers of Loudoun County, Va., the area surrounding Waterford, Lovettsville and Goose Creek was enemy territory. The people living there were mostly Quakers who had three things going against them in the eyes of their pro-slavery neighbors: They were abolitionists, they were pacifists, and they were intensely loyal to the government of the United States.
When the residents of Loudoun County voted on the state's Ordinance of Secession in 1861, only three of 15 voting precincts recorded a majority vote against leaving the Union two of them by an overwhelming margin. All three were in that portion of the county known as "Quaker Country" or the "German Settlement."
Unlike the English, who migrated into the Loudoun Valley by coming from the Atlantic coast and moving westward along the Potomac River, the Germans and Quakers came from the north and west, settling first in Pennsylvania and then working their way southward through fertile farmland rather than along rivers. By 1725, William Beales and others from Nottingham, Pa., had settled in the "Monoquesy" Valley of Western Maryland. In 1732, the new settlers established the Hopewell Meeting of the Society of Friends on the banks of the Opequon Creek in what is now Frederick County, Va.
A year later, the Fairfax Meeting was established by Amos Janney, his brother-in-law Francis Hague and others from Bucks County, Pa. It did not meet in the City of Fairfax, but in the vicinity of Janney's Mill on the banks of what was then known as Kittocktin Creek. The community that grew up around the mill and the meetinghouse was called both Fairfax and Janney's Mill in its early days, but by 1782, it had taken the name Waterford, which it bears today.
Despite a lack of normal incentives to the creation of a frontier town a navigable river or major highway the Waterford community thrived as families with surnames such as Hough, Hibbs and Goodheart joined the Janneys in their new home. By 1746, enough Quaker families had settled on the fertile land of the Loudoun Valley that a First Day Meeting was established south of Leesburg at Goose Creek, meeting first in private homes.
When a permanent meeting for worship was approved for Goose Creek in 1749, Issac Nickols donated land for the construction of a log meetinghouse. The log structure, replaced in 1819 by a new one made of stone, was converted into a combination poorhouse and caretaker's home.
For the most part, the Quakers lived in peace with their neighbors of other religious denominations. As tensions between slaveholders and abolitionists heightened throughout the early 1800s, however, occasional problems surfaced. In 1857, for instance, mapmaker Yardley Taylor, a member of the Goose Creek Meeting, was accused publicly of leading a group of Quakers into Fauquier County for the purpose of stealing slaves and smuggling them to the North.
Although Loudoun's Quakers had little to do with politics, the emergence of anti-slavery parties almost forced them to become involved. In 1841, Samuel M. Janney, a Quaker from Loudoun County, toured the state speaking against slavery. Although a number of people encouraged him to run for office, he wrote in 1844, "We [Quakers] should look well to our steps before we become active members of any political party, for I apprehend none of them are conducted on our principles." Four years later, he further declared, "It is not expedient for ministers of the Gospel to take any [political] office."
Janney's injunctions against political activism did not deter other Friends from becoming involved. In a meeting in the Goose Creek Friends' meetinghouse on March 15, 1856, the Republican Party was organized in Virginia with George Rye of Woodstock and John C. Underwood of Clarke County named its first candidates for office in the state. The Loudoun Democratic Mirror, the county's largest newspaper, denounced the meeting and castigated Goose Creek Quakers Taylor, Jesse Brown and Jesse Hoge by name for speaking against the Fugitive Slave Law and promoting abolition.
Nothing strained relations between Loudoun's Quakers and their neighbors as much as John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859. Intending to foment a slave revolt in Virginia, Brown seized the federal arsenal in the town to acquire rifles for the army of slaves he expected to flock to his banner.
"Nat Turner with 50 men held Virginia five weeks " he said; "twenty men in the Alleghenies could break slavery to pieces in two years. " His "revolution," however, was contained quickly by militiamen from nearby Virginia towns and ended when 90 Marines commanded by U.S. Army Col. Robert E. Lee broke into the brick firehouse he had chosen as a fort and took Brown and four other men prisoner.
One of the four was Edwin Coppock, a Quaker from Iowa. (His brother Barclay escaped to the west before the arrival of the Marines.) He was tried for treason and murder with Brown and four other members of the band and, like them, was sentenced to hang. Gov. Henry Wise refused to commute or change their sentences; all five died on the gallows.
When war came to Virginia, the state's Quakers resolved to maintain a position of strict pacifist neutrality. The Goose Creek Meeting adopted a declaration that stated, in part: "We deem it our religious duty to take no part in [this war]; and to abstain from every act that would give aid in its prosecution. Our solemn duty [is] to comply with the laws of the land [but] if any laws should be passed contrary [to] the religion we profess and to the true spirit of Christianity, [we must] remain entirely passive under them, suffering all penalties."
Perhaps because of this resolution, in November 1861, long after the secession vote had made it obvious where Quaker loyalties lay, an editorial in the Democratic Mirror highlighted the divisions that existed both within the county and within the Quaker community:
"Loudoun is a border county, and there is of course more diversity of sentiment than in an interior county of South Carolina, but whatever disloyalty exists in this county is almost wholly confined to one section, Waterford and the German Settlement and for such no terms of contempt and execration are too strong but even there, there are numbers of as good and loyal citizens as are to [be] found in the Confederacy, many of whom are now doing gallant service in our army."
A clear illustration of this divided loyalty is that no fewer than 65 of the surnames appearing on the roster of the Confederate 35th Virginia Cavalry, recruited largely in Northern Virginia and Western Maryland, also appear in the records of the Goose Creek Meeting of the Society of Friends. Many of the young men of Loudoun's Quaker community fled the state to avoid being conscripted into the Confederate Army. Others crossed the river into Maryland and returned to Loudoun as members of the Loudoun Independent Rangers, the only organized unit to serve in the Union army from that portion of Virginia that did not later become West Virginia.
The decline of Loudoun's loyal Quaker population was noted by three young girls of that faith who published a Unionist newspaper in Waterford for a few months late in the war. Their July 2, 1864, edition included a want ad for "A few good Union tenants for the vacant houses around town."
The severest test of Quaker loyalty to the Union came in November 1864, when, following an order from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. Philip Sheridan sent Wesley Merritt's division of cavalry across the mountains from the Shenandoah Valley into Loudoun with orders to "consume and destroy all forage and subsistence, burn all barns and mills, and their contents, and drive off all stock. This order must be literally executed, bearing in mind, however, that no dwellings are to be burned and that no personal violence be offered to the citizens."
The area specified for this destruction lay between the Bull Run Mountains on the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the west and from Ashby's Gap northward to the Potomac River the very portion of the county, in other words, that was most loyal to the Union.
Merritt did his job well. When he returned to the Shenandoah by way of Snicker's Gap, he reported that "5000-6000 head of cattle, 3000-4000 head of sheep, and 500-700 horses had been driven off, while 1000 head of fatted hogs had been slaughtered."
Only one of Merritt's three brigade commanders filed a detailed report on the property destroyed, but his figures offer a good hint as to the extent of the destruction. The Reserve Brigade alone reported having burned "230 barns, 8 mills, 1 distillery, 10,000 tons of hay, and 25,000 bushels of grain."
Samuel Janney made several trips to Washington seeking restitution for the losses suffered by Unionist citizens of Loudoun in the amount of $196,000 for property burned and $60,000 for livestock taken.
It would take eight years, but eventually Loudoun's loyalists collected a total of $61,821.13 in payment for the livestock they had lost. They were paid nothing for the burned property on the grounds that the county was not "either permanently or exclusively held by the military forces of the United States at any time during the month of November 1864" and was, therefore, the "enemy's country."
A Senate committee considering the claims reported to the 44th Congress: "Since Loudoun was part of the eleven states proclaimed to be in a state of rebellion, it was established as a general rule that according to the rules and laws of war the U.S. incurred no liability for the property taken, used, damaged, or destroyed by the forces of the Federal Government."
Thus were Loudoun's Quakers rewarded for their loyalty. Distrusted, vilified and often imprisoned by Confederate authorities, they were punished by Union officers for no greater crime than living in the wrong place at the wrong time. Through it all, they maintained their faith and their devotion to the United States.
There was said to have been dancing in the streets of Waterford the day news of Lee's surrender reached town. Waterford and Lovettsville never recovered, though. Too many of the young men who had left town to avoid conscription never returned, and few of the new residents who moved in to claim their vacant homes were Quakers.
The community of Goose Creek fared only a little better. In June 1865, it finally got a U.S. post office four years after first petitioning for one, and the name of the community was officially changed to Lincoln. Still, the town never grew much beyond its prewar size and, like Waterford and Lovettsville to the north, lost many of its Quakers to westward migration.
Within a few years of Appomattox, Loudoun could no longer be said to have a distinct Quaker Community.


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