Friday, October 14, 2005

Friend Thomas Beals ~ First Quaker Missionary in the Northwest Territory

Long before General Mad Anthony Wayne pacified the west consequently opening the Ohio territory for settlement, Quakers were concerned about the Native Americans that lived in the Northwest Territory. One of them was Friend Thomas Beals (1719~1801), a very weighty Friend, preacher, minister and founder of meetings. As early as 1775, twenty years before the Greenville Treaty, Beals made a remarkable journey to visit the Shawnee and Delaware and others in the Northwest Territory. After holding many satisfying meetings with the Indiana and seeing the rich land, he predicted that eventually there would be a great gathering and settlement of Friends north of the Ohio River.
Thomas Beals was accompanied by his nephew, Bowater Sumner, William Hiatt and Daniel Ballard and their intention was to visit the Shawnee and Delaware tribes of Indiana. However, early in their journey near Clinch Mountain in Virginia, the group was arrested and jailed. They were going to be placed on trial because people were afraid that they were conspiring with the Native American. When it became known that one of them was a Quaker preacher, the officers at the fort asked for him to preach before the trial began. Thomas Beals, a powerful preacher, held a meeting for worship with them and his words helped to convert a young man at the fort and the Friends impressed the rest present by their fervor.
The Quakers were freed and they continued on their journey to pay a religious visit to the Indians. They crossed the Ohio River into what is now the state of Ohio (in the area that later became the eastern part of Indiana Yearly Meeting). After they had many successful meetings with the Natives Americans, they returned home where Beals made his famous prediction concerning the Quaker settlement in Ohio and Indiana.
Also see:
The Famous Quaker Rev. Thomas Beals by Sandra Branson Young
http://bransoncook.systemaxonline.com/RevThomasBeals.htm
Thomas Beals: First Friends Minister in Ohio by Harlow Lindley
http://www.the-roundup.com/quaker/beals/bealsthomas.html
Thomas Beals' Genealogy publilshed online by Duncan Rea Williams III
http://www.drwilliams.org/genealogy/196.htm

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Anonymous David Poland said...

Cool. My ancestor was Rev Thomas Beals. People do not believe me sometimes when I say my family has been in Washington since it was a territory. My great gramma Cora was born in Ellensburgh, Washington Territory, but her uncle was a circuit riding preacher for the Christian Church, took after his grandpa Beals. The reason our family line left the Quakers is bigotry I think, and sad. Thomas' son or grandson (I am not looking at papers at the moment) fell in love with a girl, but the church, which his family set up, said he could not marry her. Her dad was "written of the roll" or I guess did something that they excommunicated for? He said she did nothing wrong and that it should not punnish her. So he married her anyways, because after all it should be about LOVE not legalism. He switched to the Christian Church denomination because of that. Funny, if it were not for Beals those white people here would not have a Quaker church meeting, but they felt entitled to kick his family out because of love. *shrugs* And we have never come back.

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