Mrs. Haddon Estaugh of Pennsylvania
Her maiden name was Haddon; she was the oldest daughter of a wealthy and well educated but humble-minded Quaker of London. She was endowed by nature with strength of mind, earnestness, energy, and with a heart overflowing with kindness and warmth of feeling. The education bestowed upon her, was, after the manner of her sect, a highly practical one, such as might be expected to draw forth her native powers by careful training of the mind, without quenching the kindly emotions by which she was distinguished from her early childhood.
At the age of 17, she made a profession of religion, uniting herself with the Quakers. During her girlhood, William Penn visited the house of her father and greatly interested her by describing his adventures with the Indians in the wilds of Pennsylvania.
From that hour her thoughts were directed towards the new world, where so many of her sect had emigrated, and she longed to cross the ocean and take up her abode among them. She pictured to herself the toils and privations of the Quaker-pioneers in that new country, and ardently desired to join them and share their labors and dangers, and alleviate their sufferings by charitably dispensing a portion of that wealth which she was destined to possess.
Her father sympathized with her views and aims and was at length induced to buy a large tract of land in New Jersey, where he proposed to go and settle in company with his daughter Elizabeth, and there, carry out the plans which she had formed. His affairs in England took such a turn that he decided to remain in his native land.
This was a sad disappointment to Elizabeth. She had arrived at the conviction that among her people in the new world was to be her sphere of duty; she felt a call thither which she could not disregard; and when her father, who was unwilling that the property should lie unimproved, offered the tract of land in New Jersey to any relative who would settle upon it, she gladly availed herself of the proffer, and begged that she might go herself as a pioneer into that far-off wilderness.
It was a sore trial for her parents to part with their beloved daughter; but her character was so stable, and her convictions of duty so unswerving, that at the end of three months and after much prayer, they consented tearfully that Elizabeth should join “the Lord’s people in the new world.”
Arrangements were accordingly made for her departure, and all that wealth could provide or thoughtful affection devise, was prepared, both for the long voyage across that stormy sea and against the hardships and trials in the forest home which was to be hers. In the spring of 1700 she set sail, accompanied by a poor widow of good sense and discretion, who had been chosen to act as her friend and housekeeper, and two trustworthy men-servants, members of the Society of Friends.
Among the many extraordinary manifestations of strong faith and religious zeal connected with the early settlement of this country, few are more remarkable than this enterprise of Elizabeth Estaugh. Tenderly reared in a delightful home in a great city, where she had been surrounded with pleasing associations from infancy, and where as a lovely young lady she was the idol of the circle of society in which she moved, she was still willing and desirous at the call of religious duty, to separate herself from home, friends, and the pleasures of civilization, and depart to a distant clime and a wild country. Hardly less remarkable and admirable was the self-sacrificing spirit of her parents in giving up their child in obedience to the promptings of her own conscience. We can imagine the parting on the deck of the vessel which was spreading its sails to bear this sweet missionary away from her native land and the beloved of her old home. Angelic love beams and sorrow darkles from the serene countenances of the father, and mother, and daughter, and yet no tear is shed on either side. The vessel drops down the harbor, and the family stand on the wharf straining their eyes to catch the last look from the departing maiden, who leans on the bulwark and answers the silent and sorrowful faces with a heavenly smile of love and pity. Even during the long and tedious voyage Elizabeth never wept. Her sense of duty controlled every other emotion of her soul, and she maintained her martyr-like cheerfulness and serenity to the end.
That part of New Jersey where the Haddon tract lay was at that period an almost unbroken wilderness. Scarcely more than 20 years had then elapsed since the 20 or 30 cabins had been built which formed the germ-settlement out of which grew the city of Brotherly Love, and nine miles of dense forest and a broad river separated the maiden and her household from the people in the hamlet across the Delaware River.
The home prepared for her reception stood in a clearing of the forest, three miles from any other dwelling. She arrived in June when the landscape was smiling in youthful beauty, and it seemed to her as if the arch of heaven was never before so clear and bright, the carpet of the earth never so verdant. As she sat at her window and saw evening close in upon her in that broad forest home, and heard for the first time the mournful notes of the whippoorwill, and the harsh scream of the jay in the distant woods, she was oppressed with a sense of vastness, of infinity, which she never before experienced, not even on the ocean. She remained long in prayer, and when she lay down to sleep beside her matron-friend, no words were spoken between them. The elder, overcome with fatigue, soon sank into a peaceful slumber; but the young enthusiast lay long awake, listening to the lone voice of the whippoorwill complaining to the night. Yet, notwithstanding this prolonged wakefulness, she arose early and looked out upon the lovely landscape. The rising sun pointed to the tallest trees with his golden finger and was welcomed with a gush of song from a thousand warblers. The poetry in Elizabeth’s soul, repressed by the severe plainness of her education, gushed up like a fountain. She dropped to her knees, and with an outburst of prayer, exclaimed fervently, “Oh, Father, very beautiful hast thou made this earth! How beautiful are thy gifts, O Lord!”