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Removing to a Remote Place: Quaker Certificates ofRemoval and their Significance in Trans-Appalachian Migration Neva Jean Specht* Behold, Isend an angel before you, to guardyou on the way and to bringyou to the place which I have prepared. Exodus 23:20 At the command ofthe Lord thepeople ofIsrael set out, and at the command ofthe Lord they encamped. Numbers 9:12 Members of the Society of Friends began trickling into southwestern Pennsylvania just as America's War for Independence began. By the time American diplomats signed the Treaty of Paris, the western Pennsylvania Quaker community had grown large enough to propose the establishment of a permanent monthly meeting; it would be the first west ofthe Appalachian mountains.1 Despite the growth ofthe Quaker community in trans-Appalachia , Quaker ministers and other "weighty Friends," traveling "on concerns " were mindful thatFriends living so far awayneeded special attention. Quaker minister Barnaby Nixon worried that "Friends so lightly remove their habitations; who yet profess to be led and guided by the spirit ofTruth, but [they] do not appear engaged to seek its direction."2 And Nixon was not alone in his apprehensions. Many Friends did not see long-distance removal as a positive thing for the growth of the Society, but saw it instead as a practice that might lead to "low times." Friends in the East worried about the extension of the Society to the West. They realized that western settlement was fraught with complications . Any time Friends settled too far away from other Friends, it became difficult to attend meetings and administer discipline. In addition, there was the concern that the remote lands were not obtained free and clear from native Americans.3 In 1780, even before any Friends' meetings had been formally established west ofthe mountains, members living in Virginia and in York County, Pennsylvania, reported that a few of their number had movedwestofthe mountains. The yearlymeeting appointed several Friends to visit those rogue western Quakers to find out ifthey were indeed holding up the Discipline of the Society. Once they finally arrived, which took several months because of difficulties with travel and weather, visiting Friends were favorably impressed with their western co-religionists, although the visiting Friends commented they would have liked to have seen members settled closer together.4 An underlying concern about the western * Neva Jean Specht is Assistant Professor ofHistory at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, She is currently at work on a book on the transAppalachian settlement of the Society of Friends in the years following the American Revolution. 46Quaker History Quakers still permeated their report, as it did the comments ofalmost every other visitor to the westerly meetings throughout the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Despite their anxieties, the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting approved the establishment of Westland Monthly Meeting in the fall of 1785.5 Yet in order to ensure that the new monthly meeting would encounter as few difficulties as possible and would meet the standards that Friends east ofthe mountains expected, Hopewell Monthly Meeting, near Winchester, Virginia , sent a contingent ofweighty Friends to "af[f]ord them such Instruction and help in the Settlement thereofas in the Wisdom ofTruth they may see occasion." It was a common practice for Friends from more established meetings to appointa committee to visit andmonitornewmonthlymeetings. In Westland's case, because ofits remoteness, it was doubly important that the new meeting be more than just a mere convenience for inhabitants put offby the two-day trek across the mountains to attend meetings in Virginia: it must be formed "in the wisdom of truth."6 The deliberateness that Friends used in setting up Westland Monthly Meeting paid off. Although weighty Friends continued to express anxieties about Westland's isolation, the meeting resembled and functioned like its more established counterparts in its conduct of the Society's concerns. Westland Monthly Meeting immediately formed committees to visit members , conduct marriages, and pursue disciplinary problems. But membership matters continually engaged Westland Monthly Meeting members more than any other Society business. Just a month after their first meeting, families and individuals began appearing regularly, certificates ofremoval in hand, from meetings in New Jersey, eastern and central Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and...

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