Orange County Courthouse, Paoli Indiana ca. 1997-2000

Quakers were among the earliest from North Carolina to make the move to Indiana. It’s there where in 1813 they built a church called the Lick Creek Monthly Meeting. Fleeing the institution of slavery in North Carolina, this group of Quakers formed a new seat of government in Indiana they named Orange after the county they left behind.

Not all the settlers of this new land in Indiana came from Orange County North Carolina. Also making the move were Quakers who had attended the Piney Grove Meeting located just within South Carolina  north of the present day town of McColl.


It is in the Piney Grove community where at first I believed my Thomas family once lived and worshipped. However, years of research covering many miles of landscape proved that belief to be in error. I’ve written about this “Other Family” …of Robert, William, Tristram, John, James, and Benjamin Thomas. Some of these brothers were large slave owners and their uncle Philemon of Marlboro County SC even owned slaves in the number of hundreds. Led by an opposing viewpoint, brothers John, Lewis, and the children of James made abolition a profession of their faith. In doing so, they removed to Indiana where the families were instrumental in the Underground Railroad.

Most of the Quakers in this Thomas family moved to New Garden Meeting in what’s now Wayne County Indiana. Francis Thomas among them is recognized as father of the Quaker’s Indiana Yearly Conference. In writing about these people, I’ve intentionally left out mention of Lewis Thomas who was also Quaker and who also made the move. There was something about him and where he lived that I was not yet ready to discuss. So here we go. Unlike his brothers, for some reason, Lewis separated himself from the family and chose to settle at Lick Creek located in Orange County near the Kentucky state line.

Around the year 2000, I made the trip to Indiana, driving through the densely wooded Hoosier National Forest to reach the lands of Lewis Thomas. My visit started with a drive through Paoli, the county seat. It was a sunny summer morning, the grass was richly green and the court house grounds were draped in red, white, and blue in preparation for an outdoor festival. Booths were filled with crafts, streets were lined with vendors, and the air filled with the sound of check-check-check in preparation for a scheduled concert on the court house lawn. As it turns out my timing was sadly in vain as the courthouse offices were closed in observance of a federal holiday. I would have really enjoyed a full day or more in the area though more stops to the north beckoned.

Now some 18 years later, I’ve come across very interesting connections binding my Thomas family here in North Carolina to other families who journeyed to Indiana. The connections do not relate to Lewis Thomas and “the others” per say, but maybe in some way they do. At this point I just don’t know.

It’s interesting back in North Carolina that from the county of Orange sprung Chatham where also flows a waterway by the name of Lick Creek. My story is a based on the lands near this Lick Creek in North Carolina where once lived a person named Joseph Thomas.
It is a different kind of story, one that’s very much different from the dialogue I grew up believing. And for the record, Joseph Thomas of Chatham County, North Carolina, is considered to be racially white as is supported in DNA and public record.

Let’s set the stage with a little background on the Quaker named Lewis Thomas, head of the other Thomas family who settled in Orange County, Indiana.


The son of Stephen Thomas, Lewis Thomas was born in Talbot County Maryland on 10 May 1750. His family removed to North Carolina shortly after his mother’s death. Per sale of his estate, Lewis’ father Stephen died in Anson County prior to Aug 1774. And soon after, Lewis Thomas married Agnes Breeden as their first child was born in Nov 1775.

Lewis Thomas acquired land along Jones Creek on the west side of the Pee Dee before moving a bit east where he received a land grant west of Gum Swamp along Bear Creek. This location was nearer to his older brothers John, James and Benjamin and was also close to Piney Grove, a meeting house for the Society of Friends known as Quakers.

During the American Revolutionary War, many Quakers removed themselves from their rural preparatory meetings. At that time, and in search of security both in terms of safety and practices of faith, Lewis Thomas moved west to be nearer the mother church.
Dated 16 Aug 1783, at the height of the southern campaign, Lewis bought 172 acres on the Reedy Fork of the Haw River in present day Guilford County. The family attended nearby Deep River Preparatory.

Following the war, in 1787 the family sold the land and returned south of Piney Grove Meeting where Lewis Thomas, a carpenter of Marlborough County SC, purchased land east of the Pee Dee River. And then in 1815, Lewis and others from Piney Grove sold out and moved to now Orange County, Indiana, where they were granted certificate to Lick Creek Monthly Meeting. Again the move was made in search of security but this time was due to the growing intolerance of slavery. I’ve learned little further on Lewis Thomas other than the realization that Lick Creek served as a southern gateway for the famed Underground Railroad. Nested in the densely wooded hills of southern Indiana, the meeting house was in close proximity to the slave taking state of Kentucky.
On the “third day of the fourth month 1826,” Lewis Thomas penned his last will and testament:

Will Record 1
Orange County, Indiana
pages 37 & 38

Whereas I Lewis Thomas of the County of Orange and State of Indiana being of sound and disposing mind and memory do make and ordain this my Last Will and Testament in the manner and form following:

It is my will that all my just debts be paid
And first I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife, Agnes, a tract of land where I now live including the house and plantation and I also give unto my beloved wife all my stock and farming utensils, also one bed and beding and such part of the kitchen furniture as shall not be hereafter be otherwise disposed of during her natural life.
It is also my will that my son, Tildan, have all my stock, farming utensils, bed furniture, etc., that is all the portion of my wife at her decease. I also will and bequeath unto my daughter, Ruth Ann, Cow and calf, five head of sheep, two feather beds and furniture, one bureau, six puter plates, one iron pot. I also give unto my son, Lewis, the tract of land I now live on containing eighty eight acres including the above mentioned part at the decease of my wife. I give unto my son Joseph, one dollar, to my son, Stephen, I give one dollar, to Burral Graham, I give one dollar, to Charles Baucham one dollar, to John Baucham one dollar, to Eli Moris one dollar, James Atkinson, one dollar, to William Trueblood one dollar and to Danile Lambdin I give one dollar.
And Lastly I ordain constitute and appoint my truly and well beloved friends Shadrach Ditto and Tildan Thomas, joint executors of this my Last Will and Testament utterly disallowing and revoking all other wills by me made or intended, ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament.
In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this third day of the fourth month in the year of our lord one thousand eight hundred and twenty six.

(Seal) Lewis Thomas
Test: Thomas Atkinson
S. Ditto
Arthur Atkinson

Some of the children  of Lewis Thomas remained in the area while most scattered north and west to other meetings nearer to the new state of Illinois.

As for my trip to Indiana, I remember the county seat of Paoli and of driving east a few miles on Hwy 150 through wooded forests to where I found the Lick Creek Meeting House. Actually being the third built of three churches with that name, the Lick Creek Meeting House that I saw was small and old. Its graveyard mostly represented families of the 1800’s.

6 thoughts on “LICK CREEK SETTLEMENT(S) (Pt 1)

  1. Joan

    My ggg grandparents were Benjamin Thomas (1783-1851) and Anna Moorman (1788-1861). My research shows Benjamin’s parents, John and Molly (Clark) Thomas, lived (beginning 1766) in Anson County, North Carolina – situated east of the Pee Dee River on the drains of Solomon’s Creek – according to the Land Warrant. The map indicates this is near the town of Cordova, NC. They attended Pee Dee Preparative (Quaker) Meeting House built on land donated by Molly’s father, Francis Clark.
    In 2000, a retired educator, Ted Stickland, proved Pee Dee PM was located in North Carolina and was NOT in South Carolina.

    In 1782, John and Molly moved their family from the above location, in what became Richmond County, NC. in 1779, to Guilford County, NC and joined New Garden MM of NC. Benjamin was born there in 1783. The family joined Deep River MM, also of Guilford Co., North Carolina in 1794. The minutes of Piney Grove Monthly Meeting of Marlborough District, South Carolina (NOT North Carolina) show John and Molly in the first minutes when the Meeting was founded in 1801.

    I have proof this John Thomas (1783-1851) could not be the Revolutionary War soldier named John Thomas who was born in New Jersey. I also have proved the above John Thomas did not live in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War and was NOT the John Thomas living (1786) in SC who supplied a wagon and team to the troops. Documentation has been sent to Daughters of the American Revolution. The organization will not post an update unless a descendant of John Thomas (1783-1851) applies for membership in the DAR.

    Here are some other facts in response to Lick Creek Settlements, Part 1
    The U. S. Federal Census of 1790 lists a total of eight slaves in the household of Philemon Thomas of Cheraws District. A source for your assertion that Philemon had hundreds of slaves would be helpful to my research. Have you read the book, “Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship” by Donna McDaniel and Vanessa Julye?
    Deep River Monthly Meeting of Guilford Co., NC is about 106 miles from Piney Grove MM of South Carolina. AND Lick Creek Monthly Meeting of Orange County, Indiana is 800 miles from the Kentucky border.

    1. geothos Post author

      Thank you Joan for your response and is so very good to read Trent Strickland’s article. It’s been my goal to use the blog format to add meat and flavor to the bones of my research which took place mostly in the late 1990’s …likely at the same time Trent was doing his thing. You can see my work from back then at So, I’m actually very much pleased that my outcomes are as close as they are to the findings made by Trent.

      Keep in mind back then that there were very few hard records on the internet and even fewer books were digitized. That meant many driving trips across the eastern United States. It was a fabulous journey and much more satisfying than today’s research mostly online.
      About John Thomas. Realize, as Trent indicates, that at the time of my research the exact location and meaning of Pee Dee Meeting was yet unknown. I had conversations with a lady in Clio SC who was a treasure locally and as for religion, I visited Hege Library in Guilford as well as the library in Richmond IN. Ultimately my primary sourcing was through Hinshaw’s Record of Quaker Genealogy. Who was I to go up against that!

      As is written on my site above, John did acquire lands “near the Pee Dee” on Solomon’s Creek. However, at the same time your family was buying land west of the Pee Dee as well as near David’s Branch and Gum Swamp. The family did move to Guilford and Wayne Counties before records show them in SC. When in SC, they were on the same creeks branching off of David’s Branch just over the line into SC. Even though Piney Grove was set down in 1801, was there movement and some sort of presense prior? Was John’s brothers involved in Gum Swamp Meeting and how did they all interact?

      Also note that SC line moved in the late 1700’s and more importantly, grants were issued differently in SC than in NC. There were agents in NC counties where you could go to acquire grants. However, in SC there were not. Having to go to Charleston, those citizens whose patriotism opposed the English simply lined up on the border and squatted on the lands just over in SC. This all made tracing exact location very difficult. Now, through platting projects, we’re learning much more about neighborhoods and what the make-up of the communities was like. But for your own Moorman research, I’d look at their businesses that must have been run near Hailey’s Ferry.

      I think there’s confusion about Lick Creek or Branch. It’s located between Paoli and Chambersburg, no more than a 20 minute drive from the Kentucky line. It was perfectly distanced for raids out of Kentucky. There was also Lick Creek in Chatham NC where Free People of Color left to go to what is now known as the Lick Creek Settlement that’s no more than three miles from the Quaker Lick Creek Meeting House. John and Molly never went to Lick Creek MM but his brother Lewis did and died there. The first settler in the African American Lick Creek Settlement was named Matthew Thomas. I’ve wondered if he was related to your Lewis or to one of my family who lived on Lick Creek in Chatham NC …it is confusing!

      And, as for Philemon, the record was either in Anson, Marlborough or Cheraw …can’t remember. It mentioned his holdings in Maryland as well as NC, SC and maybe GA?? The number of slaves was not properly stated. From memory, it was something like forty eleven hundred …a mix in a way that makes no sense. However, it clear that there were many slaves and he was of power and in an area to have sadly worked them. The Pee Dee banks along the area where Philemon lived are dotted with remains of old rice and indigo fields. For them it must have been a horrific life.

  2. Joan

    Thank you for putting your Thomas Family research on Angelfire! I used that information when I started looking at the Henshaw-Hinshaw-Thomas Branch of my family tree.
    As soon as I clicked on Post, I knew I had waaay too many miles from Lick Creek to the Kentucky border.

    I would appreciate having the names of my relatives/ancestors who lived on David’s Branch and Gum Swamp. And I also did not realize some of my family lived in Wayne County, North Carolina.

    Now knowing that Pee Dee Preparative Meeting was located near Solomon’s Creek just south of Cordova in Richmond County, North Carolina – I believe the meetings called Little Creek, Rocky Fork and Gum Swamp were all located in North Carolina. I’ve found streams/creeks in Richmond County, NC with those same names. Unfortunately, the description of Piney Grove Monthly Meeting in “Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Vol I” did not provide a starting date nor location for those smaller meetings. Viewing the original minutes of Cane Creek, New Garden, and Deep River Meetings, has helped immensely to determine Pee Dee Preparative Meeting was under the care of all three of the more established North Carolina Meetings (in succession) until Piney Grove MM ultimately took over supervision.

    Thanks for helping me to sort out my Thomas Family!

    1. geothos Post author

      Yes, from google maps it is maybe 2 miles into SC north of McColl,-79.5738623,15z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x31e83037adfaa7bb!8m2!3d34.7015155!4d-79.5867797 And, John and Molly’s son Francis lived and I think married in Wayne County. Francis is the most noteworthy of the Quakers in the family as he is referred to as the father of the Indiana Yearly Meeting. I’m having troubles getting in to edit my blog site so will do that later. Here’s a bit on Francis and you may wish to read the other parts of that series. Note that I am not related. It was once believed my Benjamin Thomas was the brother of John who married Molly. My discovery of records in the 1990’s and DNA have disproven that. Here’s the post on Francis:

  3. Joan Henshaw

    Addition: On 7 Dec 1801, Molly Thomas was appointed to a Committee by Deep River Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, NC.


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