Mathew Osborn II and Isabella Dobson

Mathew Osborn II and Isabella Dobson


MATHEW OSBORN II and his family were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), therefore most of our information on them naturally must come from the records of that Society. Apparently a large majority of his descendants have also been Quakers and much of what we know of them has come from the records of many Friends Meetings scattered over a wide area.

They lived in North Carolina in a period of development and expansion and at a time when new counties were being formed and new Quaker Meetings were being established. Guilford County was established in 1771, part coming off of Rowan County and part from Orange County. A few years later a portion of Guilford County became Randolph County. Because of this it was possible for a family to have lived in any one of two or three different Counties or to have been members of any of several different Friends Meetings without ever having changed their place of residence. A definite beginning of the family of MATHEW OSBORN II comes from the Minutes of Duck Creek Monthly Meeting of Friends, Delaware, on file at Swarthmore College Library, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania:

Mathew Osborn and Isabella Dobson appeared here and declared their intentions of marriage with each other, this Meeting appointed Joseph ? and Tamer Mears to inquire into his clearness in relation to marriage and report to next Meeting.

Duck Creek Monthly Meeting 8-21-1723

Mathew Osborn and Isabella Dobson appeared here and continued their intentions of marriage with each other but Friends appointed to inquire into their clearness in relation to marriage being not here and their report in writing is miscarried, therefore it is left to Friends of Cold Spring to see things cleared up before the marriage be accomplished and if things appear clear they are left to their liberty to accomplish the same and some Friends are desired to attend the marriage and see that good order be kept and make report to next Meeting. The Clerk is ordered to send a few lines to Cold Spring on this account.

Duck Creek Monthly Meeting 9-18-1723

According to appointment Cold Spring Meeting appointed two Friends to attend the marriage of Mathew Osborn and Isabella Dobson who gave account to this Meeting in writing that said marriage was decently accomplished. Duck Creek Monthly Meeting 10-15-1723

Thus MATHEW OSBORN II, son of Mathew I, was married to Isabella Dobson in 10th month 1723, the exact date being uncertain. His local Meeting was Cold Spring Neck which was a very early Friends Meeting located between Lewes and Milford, Delaware. The exact location of the Meeting is not known, but there is still a small town by the name of Cool Spring near Lewes which may have given rise to the name of the Meeting. It was probably a preparatory Meeting as Duck Creek Monthly Meeting Minutes always listed the names of the representatives present from Cold Spring and Little Creek Meetings. According to George L. Caley in Footprints of the Past we learn that:

The settlement of Duck Creek Village occurred around 1700 about one and one half miles north of the present town of Smyna, Delaware, along Duck Creek. As a village it enjoyed a favorable location for a beginning - the head of navigation. Seemingly there was a house or houses, then possibly a grist mill was next erected. However, we know that the village boasted a tavern, a blacksmith shop, a Quaker Meeting house, later a Church of England edifice, two cemeteries, and other small businesses. Then as swiftly as it had emerged, Duck Creek lost its position. It did not immediately become a ghost town but it entered a phase of non-expansion, lingering gentility and finally lapsed into deterioration. In the Quaker Cemetery may be found stones dating back to the year 1750. This spot once housed a Quaker Meeting and School.

The settlement of Duck Creek Village was eclipsed by the founding of Duck Creek Cross Roads, now Smyrna, in 1768, by James Green. Duck Creek Cross Roads never had a "square" or a "green." As the name implies it had the "cross roads" which later became the "four corners" which is the center of the town of Smyrna yet today.

Other unverified historical stories tell us that the slavery question was very hot in that part of the state and Thomas Garrett was accused of enticing slaves off the farms round about. One day Lucretia Mott and her husband visited the Meeting and resentment grew to a riot and the Duck Creek Meeting house was burned. (This may account for the fact that no one seems to know the exact spot where the old Meeting house stood). After that Friends moved to Camden and Odessa, Camden now being a strong Meeting. The meeting at Odessa is called Appoquinimink Monthly Meeting, a weak struggling Meeting under the care of Wilmington Friends.

In 1748 MATHEW OSBORN II and his family moved from Delaware to York County, Pennsylvania, and in 1749 their membership was transferred to Warrington Monthly Meeting of Friends there.

Warrington Monthly Meeting was established in 1745 and is located in Warrington Township, York County, Pennsylvania, midway between Wellsville and Rossville, about nine miles southeast of the town of Newberry. A log meeting house was erected in the same year on 8 tract of 29 acres and 26 perches located on Conewago Creek. Lieut. Governor John Penn granted this tract to the trustees at a cost of 9 pounds, 12 shillings and 9 pence.

A new stone building was erected near the old building in 1769. In 1782 it was necessary to almost double the original size and a stone addition was made on the north end of the building. The following year the old part was thoroughly repaired with a new floor and a new roof. For many years this important Quaker outpost was visited by ministering Friends who came from England. Then slowly the members of Warrington began to move away. John Anscombe's book on the Quakers of North Carolina says from Warrington Meeting alone the following families moved into North Carolina:- Beeson, Cox, Dennis, Elliott, Frazier, Fisher, Harlen, Hough, Johnson, Jones, Kendall, Lindley, McCrew, OZBURN, Pidgen, Pope, Reynolds, Ruddock, Water and Wilson. No wonder old Warrington Meeting closed its doors in 1869.

It was later reopened and today the beautiful old stone building is still standing, in an excellent state of preservation, and is used at times by Warrington Monthly Meeting of Baltimore General Conference.

While the OSBORN family lived in this community, MATHEW'S son WILLIAM married Rebecca Cox 10-5-1750 at the home of her father, Richard Cox. A Robert Vale married Sarah Butler at Warrington Meeting 8-10-1749. He was born in London and they met on board ship coming to America. He wrote that "when he came to York County it was a wilderness of woods and that Indians came to see them after the marriage." (History of York County by Gibson, 1886, p 287). It is interesting to note that just inside the Warrington Cemetery gate is a relatively new replacement headstone which reads:

"Robert Vale 1716-1799 - Sarah B. dates of birth and death unknown."

In late 1752 MATHEW II and his family moved again, this time to Virginia, in search of a permanent home, but being of the Religious Society of Friends they met with very cool reception and he was advised to move on since his church did not find favor with the Church of England and was opposed to war and to paying taxes to support the King's armies.

So with his good wife lsabella he moved on southward into North Carolina. They settled about twelve miles south of Greensboro in what is now southern Guilford County. Here they established a home of logs from the surrounding forest and reared their family of seven sons and one daughter. Records show that MATHEW II and his family transferred their church membership from Warrington to Cane Creek Monthly Meeting by certificate dated 9-10-1752, being received 2-3-1753. Records also show transfer of membership for WILLIAM and his family and his brother Mathew, dated 6-4-1753, received 1-5-1754. They also settled in the same Guilford County Community.

Cane Creek Meeting, located on Cane Creek in what was then Orange County, North Carolina (now Alamance County), was established 10-7-1751. In 1849 the western part of Orange County, including the site of Cane Creek Meeting, was set off as Alamance County. The Meeting is in that County today about fifteen miles south of Graham, the County seat.


At Perguimans and Little River Quarterly Meeting held 6-30-1751, Friends on Cane Creek wrote to our Quarterly Meeting desiring a Monthly Meeting to be settled amongst them, which was referred to this Meeting, and several Friends of them parts appeared at this Meeting and acquainted Friends that there are 30 families and upwards of Friends settled in them parts and desire still in behalf of themselves and their families to have a Monthly Meeting settled amongst them, which request upon mature consideration, Friends thought proper to grant and leave to themselves to settle it in the most convenient place amongst that body.

Among persons mentioned in the minutes of Cane Creek Meeting during the
first eighteen months is the name of MATHEW (OZBUN) OSBORN.

New Carden Meeting located in Guilford College Community about six miles west of Greensboro. First settlers 1750,- First Meeting for Worship 1751, Monthly Meeting established 1754.


At Perquimans and Little River Quarterly Meeting held 5-25-1754 Friends at New Garden requested this Meeting to grant them the privilege of holding a Monthly Meeting amongst them by reason of the hardship they underwent in attending Monthly Meeting at Cane Creek. It appeared to this Meeting that there is near or quite forty families of Friends seated in them parts, in consideration of which this Meeting thought proper to grant them their request.


At New Carden Monthly Meeting held-1754

From our quarterly Meeting held at Old Neck in the County of Perquimans ye 25th- ye 26th of ye 5th month 1754, to Friends at New Carden in Cape Fair.

Dear Friends,
These are to inform you that your request of having a Monthly Meeting settled amongst you was laid before this Meeting and Friends having considered weightly thereof, unanimously agreed to grant your request. Signed on behalf and by order of aforesaid Meeting,
Joseph Ratliff, Clerk

However, this did not solve all of MATHEW'S problems as they found themselves living almost midway between these two Meetings, Cane Creek some fifteen miles to the southeast and New Garden about the same distance to the northwest of their community. Travel being what it was in those days they found a satisfactory church life difficult, if not a real hardship.

Consequently, they began to hold Meeting in the neighborhood immediately around them. At first there were only a few families and Meeting was held in private homes. Later, as more families came, MATHEW began to feel that a church was needed and was of prime importance to their little community. Accordingly he, along with Peter Dix, John Beals, Isaac Beeson and William Hockeet, secured title to a tract of seven acres of land for a church site. They were granted a Meeting for worship, by New Garden Meeting, in 1757 and built their first meeting house in 1763. The Monthly Meeting was established in 1772. Since the location was somewhere near the half-way point between Cane Creek and New Carden meetings and the community had become a central meeting place for Friends living in that general area it seemed only natural that the name of "Center" ("Centre") should be chosen for the new Monthly Meeting. Among the recorded names of charter members of Center Monthly Meeting are those of MATHEW OSBORN and Thomas Osborn.

A. Willard Mendenhall has given us the following historical sketch of Center Meetinghouse, which the writer has taken the liberty of editing to a small degree: The first Meetinghouse at Center was erected in 1763. It was a log structure twenty feet square with dirt floor and a rock fireplace and chimney in one end. It was used until 1780 and a stone marker, erected at its site in 1928, carries an engraved picture of the building and this inscription:

"First Meetinghouse at Center 1763-1780 Meeting for Worship established 1757 Monthly Meeting established 1772. In 1780 a second building was erected which was fifty feet long and thirty-eight feet wide. Hewn logs were mortised together into corner posts, in a style called 'puncheon' with an entire side framed together on the ground. When all four sides were ready they were raised into place and fastened with wooden pegs. The story handed
down from an early date, describes this second community project as a difficult undertaking since the great weight required "around a hundred men" to raise one side. One man, William Hockett II, subscribed $40.00 toward its construction and paid it out with 100 days work at forty cents per day.

It was in this rough hewn building that Center Community first engaged in organized Christian Education with the beginning of a Sabbath School in 1865. In 1866 a day school was organized under the care of the Monthly Meeting and pupils met for two years in this pioneer structure. There were no windows, little heat and no desks. With the help of Baltimore Association the Monthly Meeting later erected a school building and supervised a Quaker public school for many years, until finally taken over by the State of North Carolina. A third meeting house was completed in 1879 and served the community until 1948 when the fourth and present Center Meetinghouse was begun. In 1955 an educational wing was added containing ten separate classrooms, a Sunday School office and library, rest rooms, a large basement: fellowship hall with fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen.

The story of this Meetinghouse is an inspiring example of the way a rural Friends Community has taken its limited resources and raw materials and fashioned them into a thing of beauty and durable service--a lasting and ever-expanding memorial to a man of the stature and vision of MATHEW OSBORN II.

Part of the original seven-acre tract was devoted to a community cemetery which is still intact and in use, although in the older part many of the field stones originally used as grave markers have disappeared. Records are in the vault at Guilford College Library. (Unfortunately, minutes of Center Men's Meetings prior to 1835 and Center Women's Meetings prior to 1825 have been destroyed by fire.)

MATHEW II lived a quiet, industrious life in the area around his beloved little church. He operated a mill on Cane Creek and was an expert gunsmith.
It is reported that he made rifles in three sizes - little squirrel guns of 120 balls to the pound, turkey rifles of 100 balls to the pound and deer
rifles of 80 balls to the pound - all were flint lock. In 1771 some man got one of his deer rifles and used it in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. After the battle he returned it and MATHEW broke it across a stump with the remark that he would not have a gun that had been used to slay his fellowman. He is recognized as one of the founders and a charter member of Center Monthly Meeting which is today, over two hundred years later, an active Friends Meeting of near 400 members. He died in 1783 at the age of 86 and was buried from the Meetinghouse in the community cemetery which he had helped establish.

In 1928 his descendants erected a monument to his memory in the cemetery with the following inscription:-

Mathew II, son of Mathew Osborn I, Norse (Ozbun) of England Came from Pennsylvania to North Carolina in 1753. Died 1783. Wife Isabella Dobson died 1770.

On the opposite side of the monument are the names of the seven sons and their wives and the one daughter.

These seven sons became the progenitors of a great many of the Osborns now living in the midwestern and central United States. His eight children gave him over fifty grandchildren whose descendants were to carry his name to the far reaches of the country in succeeding years. When the great migration to the Northwest took place in the early l8OOs many Quakers made the move to new country in search of a new life with new opportunities and freedom from the conflicts of slavery. Many members of this Osborn family were among the great numbers that "went west."

Seven of MATHEW'S eight children are believed to have lived and died in the Center Community, but all had children and grandchildren who joined the westward movement. In several cases entire families moved together or at least to the same general area. At this writing descendants of these eight children are known to live in practically every state in the Union. The writer is personally acquainted with descendants of seven of the eight children.

Adapted from "Mathew Osborn and His Family" by Frederic Verne Osborn, 1970