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Partial Context of Frederick County, Virginia Hopewell Friends History

(Hopewell Friends was a community of Quakers in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, the residents of which emigrated to America to avoid religious persecution)

Benjamin Borden was born in 1692, a son of Benjamin Borden and ---- Grover, near Freehold, N. J., and died in Frederick County, Va., in 1743. He married Zeruiah Winter of West New Jersey, and came to Virginia sometime in 1732. He was prominent in the affairs of the county and was appointed to the first bench of justices on the organization of Orange County in 1734, and of Frederick County, when it was set off from Orange in 1743. He with others was the subject of religious persecution by the Orange court in October and November, 1737. His will, dated April 3, 1742, and probated October 9, 1743, in Frederick County, mentions his wife Zeruiah, his sons Benjamin Jr., John, and Joseph, and his daughters Abigail, wife of Jacob Worthington, Hannah, wife of Capt. Edward Rogers, Mercy, wife of William Fearnley, Rebeckah, wife of Thomas Branson, Elizabeth, wife of ---- Branson, and Deborah and Lidy, still single. Witnesses: Thomas Sharp, Lancelot Westcott, Edward O. Borden, Thomas Hankins, and Thomas Rogers.

The religious persecution of his family continued after his death, and the Frederick County records show that on May 7, 1746, the grand jury for that county presented Zeruiah Borden, Deborah Borden, and Mercy Fearnley "for speaking several prophane, scandalous and contemptable words against the Holy Order of Baptism."


HOPEWELL FRIENDS HISTORY 1734-1934 Frederick County, Virginia
page 29

Thomas Branson was the son of Thomas Branson and Elizabeth his wife, daughter of John Day. Thomas Branson Sr. also had land in the Shenandoah Valley, and by his will, probated Nov. 21, 1744, in Springfield Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, devised it to his sons Thomas and Jacob, and describes it as "my lands on Shannandow River in Virginia which I laid out for Thomas Alexander and one called 'Scotch Robin'." This will was probated in Frederick County, Virginia, March 5, 1744, John and Thomas Branson qualifying as executors with Thomas Hankins and Thomas Sharp sureties. This land was near White Post, but now in Warren County; and near it Thomas Branson Jr. secured a patent in his own name for 1370 acres on both sides of Crooked Run. Near it Jacob Branson, his brother, received by patent in his own name 1000 acres. The will of Thomas Branson Sr. mentions his wife Elizabeth, sons David, Joseph, Jonathan, Lionel, William, Thomas, and John; his daughters Sarah Owin, Mary wife of Zachariah Robins, Elizabeth wife of William Rogers; his granddaughter Abigail Rogers; his grandson Thomas, son of John. Thomas Branson Jr. married Rebecca, daughter of Benjamin Borden, and John married Martha, widow of John Osmond and daughter of Thomas Antrim. William Branson, son of Thomas Sr., removed for a while to Stafford County, Va., and from him are descended the well known Branson family living until recent years near Clearbrook in Frederick County, Va. Lionel, son of Thomas Sr., settled on Lost River in what is now Hardy County, West Va., where some of his descendants reside at this time.


HOPEWELL FRIENDS HISTORY 1734-1934 Frederick County, Virginia
page 73

On the 5th of 6th month, 1817, it was recommended by a committee at Hopewell that Abraham Branson and William Jolliffe be appointed as trustees "to proceed forthwith" to sell the meeting houses at Stafford, Southland, and Smith Creek, with the several lots of land on which they were built, reserving the graveyard at each place. The Smith Creek meeting house, however, was not sold until 1839, and meetings were held in it occasionally, at least, until 1830 or thereabouts.


HOPEWELL FRIENDS HISTORY 1734-1934 Frederick County, Virginia
page 74

William Reckitt made record of visiting Moses McKoy at or near Crooked Run in 1757, and of holding a meeting there. This might be regarded as an indication that the "Several years past" 1760 reached back to 1757 or earlier. In a report made at Hopewell in 1822 concerning titles to meeting-house properties it was stated that the 99-year lease for the meeting-house lot at Crooked Run was three-fourths gone. This would fix beginnings there in or about 1748. It appears, however, that the calculation of 1822 was not accurately made, since the lease in question has been found on record in Winchester. It was made by Thomas Branson of Orange County, N. C., to John Painter of Frederick County, Va., and dated 6th month 1st, 1758, to run 99 years. It conveyed 4 acres of land on the southeast side of Crooked Run, "for a Friends' Meeting house & burying ground, for that use, and no other."

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