The small village of New Garden was founded about 1750. It was located in the western section of Guilford County. The inhabitants of this town had migrated from William Penn’s settlement in Philadelphia. They were all Quakers wanting a little more freedom to worship as they liked. They made the long trip over what is known as “The Great Wagon Road”. It stretched from Philadelphia Pennsylvania, through a sliver of Maryland, and all the way through Virginia. Like many colonial roads, most of the Great Wagon Road was little more than a wide dirt path. Travel was slow. Rainstorms made the road almost impassable. Immigrants came by foot, horse, or wagon. In good weather, a horseman could go about 20 miles a day. A wagon averaged half that distance.
Once the Quakers reached New Garden they were amazed at the beauty of the area. They found plenty of space to build their home and farm the land. In 1757, Richard Williams donated 53 acres and the timbers for the construction of the first New Garden Meeting House. Over ninety public Friends from the North, from eastern Carolina, and from Europe attended meetings at New Garden between the years 1752 and 1778. Once the Meetinghouse was complete the town began to grow around it.
My 6x Great Grandfather, John Mills III was one of these Quakers that made this arduous trip. He was born on January 29, 1688, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Mills Jr and Mary Kenion. Here he met and married his first wife, Rachel Bates in 1708. They had 5 sons. Rachel died in 1740 and soon after her death, John at the age of 52, took 3 of his adult sons and their family and headed south towards North Carolina. It was about a 440-mile trip and it took almost 2 months. They stopped to rest and worship in Hopewell, North Carolina and John met Rebecca Harrold, a single woman half his age. They soon married and continued their journey to New Garden.
John, his wife, and sons along with their families were among the first members of the church there. John and Rebecca had 7 children, 4 sons, and 3 daughters. John died on November 24, 1760, at the age of 72. Rebecca died two months later on January 24, 1861, at the age of 44. Their youngest son Jonathan was 3 years old. His older brother William (my 5x Great Grandfather) raise him and all 5 of his siblings.
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