Friends sometimes marry Neighbors

civil war photograph
civil war photograph
Luther W. Hopkins 1861 daguerreotype from his Civil War memoir: “From Bull Run to Appomattox.” In 1878, he married Quaker Sarah Catherine Brown

Loudoun County Confederate cavalryman Luther W. Hopkins (1843-1920) wrote a memoir of his service in the Civil War, From Bull Run to Appomattox. The entire memoir can be read here. An excerpt shows how Goose Creek Meeting Quakers’ personal items, in this case those of the Samuel M. Janney family, were freely taken by Confederate army neighbors:

“As the army crossed the Potomac (four miles east of Leesburg) Gen. Lee had to make some provision for the stragglers. It would not do to let them follow the army into the enemy’s country, because they would all be captured. He concluded to abandon his bodyguard and leave it at the river, with instructions to turn the stragglers and tell them to move toward Winchester, beyond the Shenandoah. This was the point, no doubt, that Gen. Lee had fixed as the place to which he would bring his army when his Maryland campaign was over.

It was with much regret that we had to give up our post of honor as guard to the head of the army to take charge of sore-footed stragglers. But a soldier’s duty is to obey orders.

civil war photograph
Civil war photograph taken in Maryland, Courtesy National Archives #559270

“The army crossed the river into Maryland, and we were kept busy for a week sending the stragglers toward Winchester.

“Some bore wounds received in the battles mentioned, and their bandages in many cases still showed the dried blood as evidence that they had not always been stragglers. Some were sick, and some too lame to walk, and it became necessary for us to go out among the farmers and procure wagons to haul the disabled. In doing so, it was my duty to call on an old Quaker family by the name of Janney, near Goose Creek meeting-house, Loudoun county, and get his four-horse wagon and order it to Leesburg. This I did in good soldier style, not appreciating the old adage that “Chickens come home to roost.”

“After seeing the wagon on the road, accompanied by friend [Samuel M.] Janney, who rode on horseback (the wagon being driven by his hired man), I went to other farms, doing the same thing. And thus the lame, sick and sore-footed and the rag-and-tag were pushed on, shoved on and hauled on toward Winchester.

“Some years after this I had occasion to visit the same spot, in company with a young lady.

“It was the Friends’ quarterly meeting time at Goose Creek. We attended the services, and, of course, were invited out to dinner. It fell to our lot to dine at the home of friend Janney, from whom I had taken the wagon. I did not recognize the house or the family until I was painfully reminded of it in the following manner:

“We were seated at a long table in the dining-room (I think there were at least twenty at the table), and several young ladies were acting as waitresses. I was quite bashful in those days, but was getting along very nicely, until one of the young waitresses, perhaps with no intention of embarrassing me, focusing her mild blue eyes upon mine, said, “I think I recognize thee as one of the soldiers who took our wagon and team for the use of Lee’s army, en route for Maryland.” I did not look up, but felt that twice twenty eyes were centered on me. I cannot recall what I said, but I am sure I pleaded guilty; besides, I felt that all the blood in my body had gone to my face, and that every drop was crying out, “Yes, he’s the very fellow.” It spoiled my dinner, but they all seemed to think it was a good joke on me.

“Quakers were not, as a rule, in sympathy with the secession movement, which greatly intensified the discomfort of my position. My young friend, however, although a member of that society, never deserted me, and sometime afterward became more to me than a friend; she has been faithful ever since, and is now sitting by me as I write these lines.”

During the war, Loudoun County Quakers had regularly suffered from John Mosby’s 43rd Virginia Battalion swooping down on their fields and barns to take supplies needed for the Confederate army. Luther Hopkins rode with Mosby’s Battalion when he was not with his regular 6th Virginia cavalry regiment. The 43rd Battalion’s reputation for “tithing” from the Quaker farms gave Luther an added reason to be shy about his military background when courting a Quaker daughter. Luther’s older sister, Catherine Hopkins Broun, wrote a Civil war diary. She lived in Middleburg, 13 miles from Lincoln, and wrote about her family’s – including Luther’s – war experiences.

In 1878, at the Quaker meeting, Stony Run, in Baltimore, Luther W. Hopkins married Sarah Catherine Brown. Though Luther had himself been raised near Middleburg as a Methodist, the young couple settled in Baltimore and raised their family in the Quaker faith. Love and marriage brought him back to the faith of his Quaker grandparents.

hand written quaker meeting minutes
Luther Hopkins married Quaker Sarah Catherine Brown in Stony Run Meeting, Baltimore, in 1878. Courtesy of ancestry.com


It was not uncommon for families to drift in or out Quakerism. The Society of Friends held to a strict discipline and it wasn’t for everybody. Asa Moore Janney wrote “A Short History of the Society of Friends in Loudoun County which included the following delightful anecdote:

“Fairfax and Goose Creek records are a mine of genealogical data. Henry B. Taylor in response to the request from a lady out west once sent her what the minutes had to say about her Quaker ancestors. Several had been “kicked out of meeting or been delt with” for drunkness, fighting and adultery.

She received his letter and some time later wrote again to Henry, “that she was glad to state that her family had done better since they had joined the Methodists.”

old fashioned country store
Asa Moore Janney in his Lincoln, Virginia country store in the 1970’s. He, along with a brother, wrote about local Quaker history and culture in Ye Meeting Hous Smal.

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