JOPLIN, Mo. —
Researching Quaker ancestors is exciting because the Religious Society of Friends has recorded details about its members since the 1600s. One of the best sources of those records is William Wade Hinshaw's set of books titled "Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy." Most larger libraries have a copy.
After checking his encyclopedia, I learned that several of my Sanders and Smith ancestors were Quakers in Chatham County, North Carolina, in the late 1700s and are listed in the records of the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting, one of the largest and first Quaker groups in the region.
From those records, I learned the names of the children, the area where each lived before moving to Cane Creek and the date that they moved there, the area where each family settled after leaving Cane Creek and the date they left, the maiden name of spouses and whether the spouses were Quakers. I also learned the dates of births, deaths and marriages.
Although I thought I understood the records, I was wrong. I discovered my error on a recent trip to Cane Creek when I visited with John Allen, the local Quaker historian, and Mark Tope, the current minister at the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting.
Since details about my ancestors were listed in the Cane Creek Monthly Meeting. I thought that they and their families went there for worship each week. Allen explained that settlers in outlying areas attended preparative meetings in their communities. Delegates from those meetings went to the monthly meetings, where information about the families was recorded.
In retrospect, I had wondered how the families were able to travel more than 30 miles from their farms to worship each week, because settlers could only go about 10 miles per day over the narrow trails.
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