Lincoln Preservation Foundation
Jacob & Hannah Janney House
Historical Dates: 1749 - present
Threat Level: Low
Location: Foundry & Taylor Road
Also known as "Achila Meade," this stone house was built about 1749 to replace the original log cabin. Jacob and Hannah Janney, married at the Falls Meeting in Bucks County, PA, on March 20, 1742, moved with their young family to Virginia in 1745. Hannah Janney, who raised 12 children here with Jacob, was a leading spirit in the founding of Goose Creek Friends Meeting.
Hannah Janney, the wife of Jacob, was a leading spirit in the founding of the Goose Creek Friends Meeting. Hers is the voice I hear when I ponder the quiet wisdom of Quaker history. Before their stone house was finished, she would repair to the woods twice a week to sit on a log in silent devotions. In 1917 a centennial committee for the new brick Meeting House erected a memorial to Hannah near the spot where she worshiped. A plaque set in a boulder across Lincoln Road from the Meeting Cemetery reads as follows:
Here on a log in the unbroken forest Hannah Janney, wife of
Jacob Janney, worshipped twice weekly in 1736. In 1738
Friends Meetings were held in a private house once a month.
Then came a log meeting house, then the old stone house in
1765, and the brick house, 1819.
In Ye Meeting Hous Small (1980), Werner Janney and Asa Moore Janney correct the first date as being “a little previous, since in 1736 Hannah would have been only eleven years old” (p. 15). They continue: “On 3rd Month 20th, 1742, Jacob Janney (age not known) married Hannah Ingledue of Philadelphia (not yet 17).” The wedding occurred at the Falls Meeting in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Their marriage certificate on parchment is still preserved at the Goose Creek Meeting House. Jacob started looking for land in Virginia in what would become Loudoun County, where some relatives had already gone. On June 20, 1743, he obtained a grant of 690 acres from Lord Fairfax, and on August 5, 1743, he and Hannah secured their certificate of removal from the Falls Meeting. In 1744, while visiting Virginia again to patent another 270 acres, Jacob was present as an overseer at the first meeting of the new Fairfax Monthly Meeting in Waterford.
It was not until a year after that, in 1745, that Jacob and Hannah,
married now three years and with a family, actually moved to
Loudoun and settled about a mile east of where the Goose Creek
meeting house would rise. Their stone house, the one that succeeded
their original log cabin, still stands there to remind us of them.
(Ye Meeting Hous Small, p. 16)
Kimberley Williams’ “Quaker Sites in Loudoun County, Virginia,” a brochure published by the Mosby Heritage Association (2005), suggests that
The central part of this house has the measurement of a patent house.
When obtaining a land patent from Lord Fairfax, those seeking a
patent had to agree to several requirements, one of which was to
build a log or stone house within two years that measured at least
16’ x 20’.
(“Quaker Sites,” Stop 14)
It seems likely, as assumed in Ye Meeting Hous Small, that within the two-year time limit Jacob would have quickly erected a log cabin to secure his claim and that the present stone house, with a larger measure of 20’ x 25’, may have taken a little longer to complete. That is why I have not pushed my estimate of the building date up to before 1749. The central portion may incorporate the site of a log cabin. With two ground floor rooms over a full basement and two front entrance doors, it most resembles, among early Loudoun stone houses, Hunting Hill in Taylorstown, built c. 1737 by the Quaker Richard Brown, who also built the original log portion of Oakland Green in the Goose Creek Historic District and whose son Henry built a stone wing there in the 1740s.
Meanwhile, Hannah and Jacob were busily engaged in starting their own Quaker meeting. In 1745 the Fairfax Monthly Meeting granted to Friends who settled along Goose Creek and its tributaries the privilege of meeting for worship during the winter in each others’ houses. “In 1746 . . . regular meetings began to be held at the house of Jacob Janney and his wife. The minutes of 10th Month 1749 state that the meetings were now to be held also on 4th Days (Wednesdays) at the home of Isaac Nichols” (Ye Meeting Hous Small, p. 14). The Nichols house, later called Fox Dell and now Meeting House Farm, is located on Telegraph Springs Road near the New Guinea Bridge over Goose Creek. In Old Virginia Houses: The Piedmont, Emmie Ferguson Farrar and Emilee Hines note that “All three portions [of various dates] are of native brown stone. One section was built in 1744 by Isaac Nichols, and an upstairs room was used by the Janneys and their fellow Quakers as a meeting place” (p. 19). Whether or not the earlier date of the building of Nichols’ stone house is precisely accurate, Jacob Janney apparently had to catch up with his neighbor at building more substantially in stone.
Attention also turned to the need for a common meeting house. Jacob Janney and Isaac Nichols, along with Thomas Clowes, builder of Jefferson Hill down Hughesville Road east of Lincoln, spearheaded the building of a log meeting house in 1751 near the site of Hannah’s first worship in the forest, and then the completion of the stone meeting house nearby in 1765.
Hannah Janney continued to exercise vigorous spiritual leadership in the Gook Creek Meeting. My favorite story about her ministry involves her making the bestowal of charity not terse and cold but merciful and compassionate.
We know, for instance, that she used her influence to make
Isaac Nichols reinstate his daughter Mary in his will. He
had disinherited her because she loved gay clothes, music,
singing, and dancing. Hannah is said to have achieved her
purpose by plumping herself into a chair at Isaac’s and
announcing, “Isaac, I am here to stay until thee has changed
thy will in regard to thy daughter Mary!
(Ye Meeting Hous Small, p. 57)
When Hannah Janney sat down, people listened!
She must indeed have been of strong character, as evidenced
by a memorial in the minutes of Goose Creek Meeting. On
her death in 1818, at the age of 93, she was recorded as a
woman of few words, but it was added “that as a ‘mother
in Israel,’ it was her earnest concern to watch over the flock
and family, for good.’
(Ye Meeting Hous Small, p. 14)
The allusion is to Deborah, one of the wise judges of Israel before there were kings (Judges 4:4-5, 5:7). Hannah Janney lived long enough to witness the groundbreaking in 1817 for the present brick Meeting House in Lincoln.
Hannah raised 12 children here in this house with Jacob, though early in their marriage he traveled far afield on Quaker business. On August 26, 1751, he obtained a certificate from Fairfax Monthly Meeting to travel in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Dear Friends: After the Salutation of Brotherly Love to you,
These, may acquaint you that our well esteemed friend
Jacob Janney has had a concern for some time past to visit
you in the Service of Truth . . . and, we hope his Visit among
you may be of good Service and when Clear of the same may
Return in Peace to his family and us his friends with Solid
Satisfaction of Joy and Love in his Bosom.
(Cited in Ye Meeting Hous Small, p. 15)
For all these testimonies to Jacob’s stature as a Quaker, we do not know how long he was gone or what he actually said in Service of Truth. Werner and Asa Moore Janney speculate that he probably had many a side chat with his old friends in Bucks County urging them to come down to Virginia and find some good land. Indeed, much more concrete than any of Jacob’s ministering words were his burgeoning economic activities along the banks of Goose Creek. He operated a grist and saw mill there by 1774, inherited by his son Israel in 1784 and by his grandson Daniel in 1818. Two other sons, Jonas and Joseph, operated another mill on the North West Fork of Goose Creek by 1774 (p. 36).
Hannah Janney had many anxious concerns in her later years over the moral laxity of some of her children and grandchildren. In 1785 her eldest son, Blackstone Janney, had the builder Minor Bartlow construct an elaborate brick house on part of the 270 acre tract that Jacob had patented in 1744, situated a couple of miles east of Lincoln on the present Homes Mill Road.
As Wilson Morris notes in a Washington Post article from 1976 on the establishment of the Goose Creek Historic District, Blackstone was reprimanded by the Meeting for “irrespectful nonsense.”
The Quakers were apparently correct in their fear of corrupting
influence, for Blackstone’s son Eli later was tossed out of the
meeting after being caught fornicating.
(Morris, p. B1)
The turpitude of Eli Janney, twice married and notorious as “the ‘black sheep’ of the family” (Farrar and Hines, Old Virginia Houses: The Piedmont, p. 17), veered toward a degeneracy far worse than the innocent fun of Isaac Nichols’ daughter, for which Hannah Janney had kindly urged tolerance. This example accords with a general dismay in the Quaker community over the worldliness of later generations in the 19th century living under temptations to slacken their principles of simplicity and equality and to compromise their support of abolition in this northerly corner of the antebellum South. Shortly before publishing Ye Meeting Hous Small, Asa Moore Janney acknowledged in an interview with Wilson Morris that his own grandfather “got put out of the Quaker faith for marrying a Methodist and buying a slave” (Morris, p. B1). Jacob Janney died in 1786. His was one of the early burials in the Meeting House graveyard established in 1784. At his death, he left their stone house and 65 acres to Hannah as her dower. In Loudoun County: People and Places (2000), Mary Fishback traces the later history of the house without mentioning where Hannah Janney lived the final years of her long widowhood. “Ten years later their son Elisha, apparently with Hannah’s permission, sold the property to James Moore, who sold it in 1799 to Benjamin Mead” (Fishback, p. 125). Two additions to the property were built about this time: a spring house with a date stone from the year 1800 (found when the crumbled walls were reconstructed in the 1950s); and a kitchen wing approximately dateable, according to stone mason and historic restorationist Allen Cochran, from the use of Short Hills limestone cornerstones.
In 1813 Benjamin Bradfield purchased the house from Samuel and John Mead, executors of Benjamin Mead. Aquila Mead continued to operate a tannery to the south of the house (Fishback, p. 125). The property is designated as “A. Mead’s tan yard” on Yardley Taylor’s 1853 map of Loudoun County. Werner and Asa Moore Janney elaborate on this later adaptive use in The Composition Book (1973):
Quilly Meade (Aquila) ran Meade’s Tan Yard outside of Lincoln,
down by Henry Taylor’s. He called it Bragtown, a place to congregate
Quilly carried the mail too. The depressions of his tan pits
are still there, beside the old stone house of Jacob and Hannah
Janney, the first of their name in the neighborhood. The house is
now owned by Jane Peacock, Tom Taylor’s sister, and is used by
one of Tom’s hands.
In the 20th century the property, still known as “The Tannery,” was a tenant house on Thomas E. Taylor’s farm. It was inherited by Tom Taylor’s sister, Mary Jane Peacock. In 1997 Jane’s children, Joseph and John Peacock and Carol Kinne, sold the house to Gail and Perry Epes, of Alexandria. We have had the house renovated by Allen Cochran’s Stone Masonry and Timber Framing of Lincoln and moved in upon our retirement in 2014, calling the place Time’s End.
Hannah Janney sat on a log
To catch the Inward Light
And crack the seed of Quaker creed,
Win love without a fight.
She swept the forest floor with prayer,
Sighed her hopes to the Lord
That her man might thank the land he shrank,
Reaping tiller’s reward.
She prayed he might not fell more logs
Or chop the one she sat on.
Let thee revere all creatures mere
E’en though thee keep thy hat on.
Prithee spare more trunks their fall—
‘Tis stones, not stumps, thee needs must clear
To free thy field and raise thy wall
And truly leave a temple here.
So Hannah thought, and would have wrought
Her husband’s heart with words
But let them sink, lest he should think
Her housing dreams were for the birds.
But Jacob heard, and broke old ground
To pile this stony cot
Where we shall pen our thankful scrip
To amortize this shrunken peaceful plot.
—W. Perry Epes (2015)