Seth H. Evitts: Revolutionary War Soldier, Quaker, and Abolitionist

quakerI have not had a chance to post anything for a while because life has been crazy and I have been very busy researching a line of our family tree that I never knew existed!  After months of trying to break through a brick wall and determine who the parents of Nicholas Kimble were, I decided to look into some other branches of the family tree that I had ignored up until now. 

I decided to look into Nicholas’ wife, Sarah Billings.  I had had some success in finding information on her family members.  As a matter of fact, it was her grandparents, Newman Billings and Jane Roberts Billings that I found living in Mansfield, Ohio in the early 1800s.  What I had not looked into was her mother’s line.  Ann Marie Dukes married Solomon BiFamily Treellings in 1831, in Richland County, Ohio.  Ann Marie’s parents were Daniel Dukes and Sarah Evitts (Evetts). (I will post more details regarding the Dukes family at a later time.)  Sarah was the daughter of Seth Hill Evitts and Naomi. (I have not been able to find Naomi’s maiden name.) This post will focus on my fifth great grandfather, Seth Hill Evitts.

I have been able to piece together Seth’s life, but I still have many unanswerFamily Tree 2ed questions. Seth Hill Evitts was born in 1750 to John Evitts and Martha Woodward Evitts, in Annapolis, Maryland.  I haven’t found much detail in regards to Seth Hill’s childhood, but I do know that he had three brothers (Abraham, Joseph John, and Woodward) and that he lived on lot #96 on Prince George Street in Annapolis, very close to the city docks.

By 1770, Seth had moved to Caroline County, Maryland and was becoming very active with the local Quaker meeting houses, serving as witness to several marriages.  Now this is where I begin to have a number of questions….On June 24, 1777 Seth Hill Evitts is listed as Ensign in Captain Shadrack Liden’s Company of the 14th Maryland Battalion.  Generally, Quakers are pacifists and do not want to get involved in conflicts.  Many Quakers were persecuted for not declaring their loyalty to one side or the other during the Revolutionary War.  In saying that, I know that there were some Quakers who did choose to fight for their rights and independence despite the fact that they would be banished from their local meeting house.  Clearly, Seth Hill Evitts had some strong feelings and felt the need to fight alongside other patriots.  On March 2, 1778, Seth Hill Evitts took the oath of allegiance and fidelity before the honorable Nathaniel Potter.

Sometime in 1778, Seth Hill Evitts married Naomi and their first child, Sarah (who I am descended from), was born on June 13, 1779.  Sarah’s birth is recorded in the book Joseph Nichols and the Nicholites written by Kenneth Carroll, indicating that at this time Seth Hill and Naomi belonged to an offshoot of the Quakers, the Nicholites.  According to this book, the Nicholites were organized as a religious society in 1774 and were slightly more strict than the Quakers.  Nicholites were known for the following:

  • They wore undyed cloth;
  • They sought the right of affirmation rather than swearing;
  • They avoided going to court to settle their difficulties;
  • They had a strong disavowal of war;
  • They were opposed to capital punishment;
  • They usually refused to participate in elections;
  • They were extremely opposed to extravagances;
  • They rejected superfluous expense;
  • They did not believe in excessive schooling….you only needed to be able to read;
  • They held their business meeting with women and men seated together.

I’m still trying to determine how Seth Hill was a member of the Nicholites, who were more strict in their convictions than the Quakers, yet still managed to serve as an Ensign during this same time.  I really wish that I could find out some more details about this time period in Seth’s life.

On November 9, 1783, Seth and Naomi had a second daughter, Ann.  Again, this birth is recorded in the book Joseph Nichols and the Nicholites.  According to records at the Maryland Archives, on May 3, 1797, Seth Hill Evitts had been appointed as a delegate from Choptank, the River region in Caroline County where he lived, to the 4th Convention of Delegates/Abolition Society being held in Philadelphia.  Seth was appointed to take into consideration reports from a variety of abolition societies and report them to the convention.  Clearly, Seth had strong feelings regarding the issue of slavery.  Ironically, his brother Abraham owned at least one slave (according to his Last Will and Testament).  I wonder what the family dynamics were surrounding this issue? According to the Minutes of the Proceedings of the Fourth Convention of Delegates, on May 5, 1797, Seth Hill Evitts requested a leave of absence “on account of sickness in his family”.  I have no definitive proof, but it seems likely that he had to return home because of his wife, Naomi.  Sometime in 1797 or early 1798, Naomi died and Seth Hill Evitts married his second wife, Rebecca Wilson later in 1798.  Seth and Rebecca had two sons, Jonathan and Woodward.

According to Joseph Nichols and the Nicholites, the Nicholites only existed for a very short time. Within the book, there are several excerpts from minutes from the Nicholite meetings that were written down by Seth Hill Evitts who was the clerk of the local meeting house.  Around 1800, many of the Nicholites were requesting that they be accepted into the local Quaker meeting houses.  Seth Hill Evitts was one of the first to be accepted into a local Quaker meeting house being accepted by the Northwest Fork Meeting House on November 11, 1801.

Once again, in 1808, Seth Hill Evitts was appointed to sit on a board by his peers.  This time, he was selected by the General Assembly of Maryland to sit on a Board of Agriculture for Caroline County.  According to the Act of Maryland that was passed on January 20, 1808, the purpose of this Board was as follows: “…whereas societies for the promotion of agricultural and domestic manufactures would, by exciting a spirit of emulation, and by diffusing useful information, tend much to the advancement of prosperity of the state, and ought to be encouraged.”  Clearly, Seth Hill Evitts was a highly respected farmer in Caroline County and it was believed that he would be able to effectively promote agriculture within Caroline County.

Seth Hill Evitts died in 1811, leaving behind his two daughters, two sons, and second wife.  His inventory for his estate clearly illustrates that he was someone who did not believe in living extravagantly.  He owned what he needed to accomplish his work on his farm and to accommodate the needs of his family.  The only thing listed in his estate that could be considered a luxury was a silver watch that he left to his brother Abraham and which was eventually passed down to his nephew, another Seth Hill Evitts (that’s another post for another time!).

I am still in shock that I have traced at least one branch of the family back to before the Revolutionary War.  I had no idea that anyone in my family tree had been in America that long! And who knew that we had roots in Annapolis, Maryland?? Then to top it all off, to find out that my fifth great grandfather was a Quaker and an abolitionist is amazing to me.  Although there is so much that I don’t know about Seth Hill Evitts, I believe it’s safe to say that he was a man who stood up for what he believed in….even if that meant stepping away from his religion for a brief period of time…he did what he believed was right for himself and others no matter how it might impact him.  I would like to think that these very liberal traits have been passed down through the generations! I for one am proud to say that I am descended from such an amazing man!




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