My Osban/Osborn/Ozbun connection

Pleasant Hodson/Hodgin (February 7, 1827-May 20, 1908) married, January 20, 1853, in Guilford County, Eunice Osban (May 1, 1834-September 27, 1910), daughter of Elisha and Nancy (Mendenhall?) Ozbun. Pleasant and Eunice, my great-great-grandparents, are buried at Concord Friends burial ground in Sumner Township, Guilford County. Four known children.

* * *

The prolific Ozbun/Osban/Osborn family was among the early Quaker settlers who would form Centre Monthly Meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina. Even so, tracing Eunice’s maternal line has been difficult.

For starters, Eunice is a name that was popular among the Nantucket Island families, but rarely appears among the given names used by the Pennsylvanians who migrated to Guilford County. For that reason, I have suspected that somewhere in her ancestry, one of the New England Quaker lines would emerge.

My cousin and fellow researcher Floyd Hodson remembers hearing that Eunice had an “Uncle William,” although I have been unable to determine who that might be.

The 1850 Guilford Census places her in the household of Elisha Osborn, a shoemaker valued at $300. His age is given as 45. His wife, Nancy, is reported as 35 (her actual age was closer to 38). Eunice is 16, and has a 13-year-old brother, David. The 1880 Guilford Census has Nancy living in Sumner Township, age 62 (it was actually closer to 68), living with grandniece Rhoda, age 12.

Although he comes from Quaker stock, Elisha Osborn shows up, with Thomas Osborn and five others, as one of the trustees purchasing an acre and fifty-two rods for “the union Methodist Protestant Society … for the sole purpose of a place for divine worship and Burying Ground.” The tract was “a certain piece or parcel of Land Lying on the waters of Deep River whereon their [sic] is a Meeting House Called New Friendship …” in the vicinity of the 1798 Union Meeting shown on Fred Hughes’ Guilford County map. A gravestone for Elisha Osborn, born December 11, 1804, and died August 13, 1862, is recorded in the Fairfield United Methodist Church cemetery, on Route 62 West in southwestern Guilford County; that congregation was established in 1844. Elisha’s death date is confirmed in materials sent by Jack Osborn of Longwood, Florida.

Elisha’s wife, Nancy (Mendenhall?) Ozbun, was born March 20, 1812, and died March 7, 1900. Her dates are taken from family Bibles. Her maiden surname as Mendenhall is drawn from an editor’s insertion in an abstract of Guilford marriage bonds, March 21, 1832, although I have thus far been unable to confirm her place in the prolific Mendenhall family tree. (I wonder if the editor had in mind Nancy E. Mendenhall, daughter of James Mendenhall, deceased, who married David M. Osborne at “New Boston,” four miles west of Greensboro, in September 1845 in a service conducted by the Rev. James D. Lumsden.) I am also uncertain of Nancy Ozbun’s place of burial, though it could be in a space next to Elisha’s at Fairfield Methodist, near the Randolph County line. In its listing of grave sites there, The Guilford Genealogist (Winter 1995) notes “4-5 spaces” exist between Elisha’s stone and the next one.

Although she outlived her husband by another 38 years, Nancy apparently did not remarry, if the family notes cited above are accurate.

Thomas Ozbun had been a cipher to me. In an index to North Carolina wills 1771-1841, I came across a William Hodson, Pleasant’s grandfather, witnessing the 1825 Thomas Ozburn will, “Thomas Ozburn being the oldest son of Elisha Ozburn.” Naturally, I could not come upon any reference to an Elisha Ozburn in the generation that gives us John Ozbun and wife Sarah Ballard; my attempts to sift through what information I had had me theorizing – correctly, as it turns out – that Thomas was Elisha’s father, and was himself the son of John and Sarah.

My cousin Floyd Hodson, drawing upon information handed down on his side of the family, and including family Bible entries and the memories of our Aunt Vera Haddix, who had corresponded as a child with Eunice, reported several times that Eunice had an “Uncle William,” which may be a clue in searching her parents’ ancestry. In a chart for Thomas Ozbun, there is no William, which would lead one to suspect that the Uncle William would appear as Nancy’s brother. A Mendenhall? We will see, in time.

Floyd reports Nancy’s dates as 3-20-1812 and 3-7-1900, and says she is buried at Centre. The only stone that fits her years, though, is Nancy, the wife of Dicks Hodgin. Combined with the Census materials already listed, as well as the notation cited, and children listed to Dicks and Nancy (Manship) Hodgin, I must discount the coincidence.

One question that arises: Why only two children? As for Elisha, why just nine months, eight days from the time of his parents’ wedding to his own birth?

As I mentioned earlier, somewhere in Eunice’s ancestry I expect a New England line, since Eunice and even Elisha are common names among the Nantucket Quakers who migrated to Guilford County, but not among the Pennsylvanians – the two principal bodies of Friends who migrated to North Carolina Piedmont.

OZBUN: Jack Osborn of Longwood, Florida, has provided much data on the Ozbun family, and I draw heavily from his materials.

Elisha Osborn/Ozbun is the son of Thomas and Rebecca (Buller) Ozbun; they married March 3, 1804, and Thomas died in 1825.

Thomas is the son of John and Sarah (Ballard) Ozbun; John was born in 1743 in Sussex County, Delaware, and moved to Warrington Monthly Meeting in York County, Pennsylvania, where he married.

John was the son of Matthew and Isabell (Dobson) Ozburn II; Matthew was born in 1697 in Sussex County, Delaware, married in November 1723, and died June 22, 1783, in North Carolina, where he is buried at Centre Friends. Isabell, daughter of Richard and Eleanor Dobson, died May 19, 1770, in North Carolina.

Matthew is the son of Matthew and Mary Ozburn I; Matthew I was born, 1661, in England and died, 1738, in Sussex County, Delaware. His parents are Robert and Elizabeth Osborn of England.

* * *

The Matthew buried at Centre, incidentally, was among the highly regarded Quaker gunsmiths of Guilford County. What has come to be known as the Kentucky long rifle originated among the Pennsylvania Friends, where it began as the Pennsylvania long rifle. Fred Hughes relates two versions regarding Matthew during the American Revolutionary War:

On the day after the battle of Guilford Courthouse, Osborn visited the battlefield and viewed the devastation and destruction that guns bring. Thereupon, Osborn, horrified, went back to his home and proceeded to buy all the guns he had made, and destroyed them. In the other version, Matthew Osborn was a gunsmith, making three sizes of guns:

One of 120 balls to the pound of lead, a squirrel rifle

One of 100 balls to the pound of lead, a turkey rifle

One of 80 balls to the pound of lead, a deer rifle

A neighbor borrowed a deer rifle and participated at the famous battle. After the battle, the neighbor returned the rifle, with a report of its use. In horror, Osborn smashed the rifle on a stump, with appropriate remarks. Whoever tells either story will swear to its authenticity, but there is no documentation for either version.

* * *

Until Jack Osborn’s packages arrived, I had been greatly perplexed trying to piece together this family line, drawing upon the Quaker minutes, Census data, the Ozbun marker at Centre Friends burial ground, and other bits and pieces – especially since the men’s and women’s minute books of Centre Meeting had gone up in flames when Obed Ozbun’s home burned sometime after the Civil War. (An attempt to reconstruct the minutes more fully than those abstracted in William Wade Hinshaw’s Encylopedia of American Quaker Genealogy appeared as a special double edition of The Southern Friend, Autumn 1990-Spring 1991. In the editorial explanation there, Mary Louise Reynolds admits, “A reconstruction, however, can never be as complete as the original, and this report is no exception. The disownments, requests for reception into membership, and other records that involved only Centre are irretrievably gone. Even transfers are incomplete in instances where the other meeting’s records have likewise disappeared.”)

This much is clear: the Hodgson/Hodgin/Hodson family repeatedly intermarried with the Ozbun/Osban/Osborn lines.

In the Centre Friends burial ground is a family marker, presumably erected in the late 1800s, relating that Matthew Ozbun come to Delaware in 1682, where he became a convinced Friend. According to the monument, the Ozbun name was originally Norse. That marker also appears to blur Matthew I and II into one person, which seemed to defy normal mortality.

I have worshipped at Warrington Friends Meeting in Pennsylvania; its lovely stone meetinghouse dates from the early 1700s and was, when I was there, still without electricity, relying instead on candlelight on an overcast morning.

The Duck Creek Meeting affiliation in Delaware came as new information to me. Because of its proximity to other Friends Meetings on the Delmarva Peninsula, I found myself examining a volume on Quakers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but could locate nothing on the family lines reported. Migration upward to York County, Pennsylvania, seemed unusual to me, from what I had seen of Quaker patterns. I am looking for inklings to their reasons (in-laws, for instance?). The move from Pennsylvania to North Carolina may have been influenced by real estate investor James Hendricks, who had purchased a large part of Lancaster County with Robert Hodgson (son of the Woodhouse missionary and detailed in a separate section of this blog); Hendricks later moved on to the other side of the Susquehanna River before moving on to the North Carolina Piedmont.

In the period that interests us here, provincial boundaries were not as rigid as they are today: the Mason-Dixon line separating Maryland from Delaware and from Pennsylvania was not drawn until 1760 or so. From Quaker Roots, published by Western Quarterly Meeting, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.: “As early as 1705, Friends from Pennsylvania had penetrated as far south as Duck Creek in Kent County, Delaware … Evidently the Meeting prospered, because in 1720 it made application to Chester Quarter to set up an Indulged Meeting at Cold Springs, near Lewes, a considerable distance further south. Duck Creek was so far from Philadelphia Yearly Meeting that its relationships seem to have been more with Third Haven and other Meetings on Maryland’s eastern shore. … In 1786 Southern Half-Yearly Meeting was set up by agreement with Maryland Yearly Meeting, and Third Haven, Cecil and Duck Creek became part of it. … In 1830 Duck Creek was merged with Motherkill and the name of the new combined Meeting was changed to Camden.”

Besides illustrating the southern Delaware/eastern shore Maryland closeness, that passage might also clarify some of the Ozbun Delaware heritage. An indulged meeting, akin to a preparative meeting, was a subsidiary body to the monthly meeting.

Quaker Roots also discusses Warrington: “The roots of Warrington Monthly Meeting go back to 1734, when a number of Friends’ families, including the Husseys, Garretsons, Coxes, Days, Fraziers and others removed from Newcastle County, Delaware, across the Susquehanna into what was then Indian territory. … The Monthly Meeting had branches, with Meeting Houses, at Warrington, Newberrytown, Newberry (Redlands), York, Menallen and Huntington.” So we can see that our ancestors – including George and Mary (Thatcher) Hodgson – may have been within any of those. (I have been several times to Menallen, Warrington, and York meetinghouses, without any awareness of this connection.) It is interesting to note some of the families originally from Delaware to Warrington are later among the ones Frederic Verne Osborn lists going from Warrington Monthly Meeting to North Carolina. The question for us, then, is how did this southern Delaware family build the connection with those from the northern county?

BULLER: We have already seen the Buller roots in York County, Pennsylvania, before the migration to North Carolina. The Hughes’ map shows a Thomas Buller settling on the Randolph County line, 1770, just west of William and Samuel Ozbun.

While Jack Osborn’s notes have Matthew Ozburn II witnessing the marriage of Robert Vale and Sarah Buller at Warrington Meeting, 1749, indicating a Buller line among the Pennsylvanians, I was intrigued to find the only Buller in the 1790 Guilford County Census is a Moses Buller, recorded next door to Job Worth – of the Nantucket Friends. Moses’ household reports two white males over age 16, one under 16, and four females – presumably including Rebecca, who would become Thomas Ozbun’s wife.

If my line of reasoning holds, then Rebecca Buller’s mother should be found among the Nantucket families – notably Barnard, Bunker, Coffin, Coleman, Folger, Gardner, Hussey, Macy, Starbuck, Swain, and Worth families whose genealogies are in a History of Nantucket I possess. Again, we’ll see.

Since the Nantucket Friends largely migrated to the Piedmont in the early 1770s, there would be an acceptable timeframe for an 1780s marriage into a Buller line. In general, though, the Pennsylvania and Nantucket lines seem to continue independently in the Carolinas – intermarriage between the two becomes common only after several generations as neighbors. There are, of course, exceptions to this – including the one I am theorizing.

I also anticipate, based on naming patterns, that Elisha will be found as the father of Rebecca Buller’s mother.

BALLARD: Sarah Ballard’s parentage is at this point in our research unknown.

MENDENHALL: The Mendenhalls are a large, often prominent Quaker family, in Pennsylvania and Indiana as well as North Carolina. Because of this, much of the genealogy has been excellently documented. (See Henry Hart Beeson, The Mendenhalls: A Genealogy, Houston, 1969.) Even so, major holes and controversies remain.

Complicating the picture are a Nancy Ann Mendenhall, born in 1810 to Richard Mendenhall, and a Nancy E. Mendenhall who married David M. Osborne in 1845.

My best guess at the moment places Elisha’s wife, Nancy, as the daughter of Aaron and Mary (Stanton) Mendenhall, who married January 3, 1811, at Centre Friends Meeting; Aaron, in turn, is the son of Isaac (Eighth Month 10, 1756-Eighth Month 1, 1833) and Rachel (Hoggatt) Mendenhall, who married Fifth Month 13, 1788, and were members of Deep River Monthly Meeting and then Springfield, when it was set off around 1790. This Isaac is the son of Mordecai (1713-1803) and Charity (Beeson) Mendenhall, who wed 1735 at Leacock Meeting, Pennsylvania. Mordecai is the son of John Jr. (1688-circa 1771) and Susannah (Pierson/Pearson) Mendenhall, in turn the son of John (1659-1758) and Elizabeth (Maris) Mendenhall. John Sr. is the son of Thomas (1633-1682) and Joan (Strode) Mendenhall; Thomas came to America circa 1675 but returned to England.

Several of the early North Carolina Mendenhalls apparently were with Daniel Boone’s sons when that party was attacked and killed by Indians in Virginia or Kentucky. (Boone, incidentally, provides another Quaker connection: his parents were Friends at Exeter, Pennsylvania. He always wore a broad-brimmed hat and claimed to have never killed an Indian except in self-defense.)

STANTON: Mary, born June 2, 1792, is the daughter of Samuel and Mary Stanton of Randolph County, North Carolina. Both Eunice and David are first names occurring in Stanton tradition. The surname is one found among early New England Friends, especially at Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts Meetings. Samuel, the son of Henry and Lydia, appears to have two brothers, John and Benjamin. At this point, however, I have little other data on the family.

HOGGATT/HOCKET: Mary was born December 11, 1761, and died October 19, 1825. She was the daughter of John and Ruth (Beals) Hoggatt, members of New Garden Monthly Meeting.

Crucial points for further research

The initial challenge on this front is determining how or even if Elisha Ozbun’s wife, Nancy, fits into the Mendenhall family. If she doesn’t, the question then turns on finding the proper surname and its ancestry.

Another line of questioning sees the first name of Pleasant’s wife, Eunice, reflecting New England traditions. Does her ancestry include the Stantons – or one of the other families that migrated from Nantucket, Rhode Island, or Massachusetts?

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