On the banks of Goose Creek
When we bought this house the previous owners passed along a binder of historic details about the property, including Timothy Taylor’s family tree. This piqued my curiosity about Taylor and his family, as well as the history of the property both before his time, and in the 200 years since. Having dabbled a bit in my own family genealogy, I couldn’t resist “adopting” Taylor and re-creating his family tree on Ancestry.com. I love poring over public records, adding previously undocumented details and making new connections. It’s my version of a video game, albeit without the frisson of excitement that comes from getting that frog across the road. It wasn’t long before I found myself deep down a rabbit hole of epic proportions, with each new find raising more questions. So let’s start with how a young Pennsylvania Quaker became a Virginia landowner and spent the rest of his life here.
In the early 1700s, Quakers began migrating from Pennsylvania to northern Virginia, where farmland was more plentiful and less expensive. Timothy Taylor’s maternal grandfather, Mahlon Stacy Kirkbride, was from all appearances a prosperous Quaker farmer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In my imagination, some of his buddies traveled to Virginia and returned full of enthusiasm, leading Mahlon to jump on the land bandwagon (landwagon?). Mahlon died in Pennsylvania in 1776, leaving behind a detailed will that provided for his wife, Mary, while distributing his landholdings in Pennsylvania and Virginia among his children and grandchildren.
To Timothy and his younger brothers David and Jonathan, Mahlon Stacy Kirkbride bequeathed a 570-acre tract “near the branch of Goose Creek,” originally purchased from John Hough and Edward Hardin. Mahlon also bequeathed substantial Virginia parcels to older brothers Joseph, Stacy and Mahlon. Smaller lots, possibly in Pennsylvania, were bequeathed to Bernard, the youngest grandson.
Timothy was only 15 when his grandfather died; his eldest brother Joseph was 23 and Bernard, just 5 years old. Again my imagination runs away with me, and I can picture the six brothers traveling to Virginia en masse, perhaps managing all of their land collectively until the younger brothers came of age. But in reality, Timothy fought in the Revolutionary War, was married in Pennsylvania in 1780, and settled permanently in Virginia a few years later.
Timothy’s spiritual life seemed to take a turn after Mahlon Kirkbride’s death. His military service alone would would have caused his removal from the Quakers. But he also married outside the faith. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Timothy Taylor is buried in Goose Creek Burying Ground, a Quaker cemetery just four miles away via our 21st-century roads. Naturally, a field trip was in order.
The first Goose Creek Meeting House was built in 1745 and replaced in 1765. This stone building is now the home of the cemetery’s caretaker, whom we had the pleasure of speaking with last summer. He told us the burial ground was initially used solely by Goose Creek Meeting, but was later made available to relatives of Meeting members, and then to village residents. He then dashed inside the house, returning with several binders of cemetery records documenting each person’s location in the burying ground. Without his help, we would never have found Timothy Taylor’s small, simple headstone. But indeed, there he was, and on that hot summer day we felt surprisingly moved to be in his presence.