It is 1811. You are a Quaker woman living in North Carolina, a slave state. You are anti-slavery. In fact, your husband is an abolitionist. One night, the two of you discuss what can be done about your situation. Although North Carolina is your home, living in a place where a man, or woman, is considered less than another solely because of the color of their skin is unconscionable. Something has to be done. It is decided that you and your extended family will move to a free territory. Your husband makes the necessary arrangements and discusses the plan with family and friends. When the day arrives, you are one of 218 people traveling to Indiana territory. This land is mostly wooded, and the Indians living there are often hostile. It will take weeks to reach this new home, and a dwelling will have to be built upon arrival.
How terrifying must this have been? I don’t know that I would have had that much courage, but Deborah (Dicks) Lindley did. That was just part of her story.
Deborah Dicks was born on the tenth day of the tenth month in 1757.1,2,3 Her parents, Zacharias Dicks and Ruth Hiatt, were both Quaker ministers.1,2,3,4,5 She married Jonathan Lindley, a Quaker abolitionist, in 1775.2,3,4,5,6 They had twelve children.2,3,7,8
In 1811, seeking a life in a land free from slavery, Deborah, along with her husband, 29 other family members, 75 other Quakers, and many free black families, moved from her home in Orange County (now Alamance County), North Carolina to the wilderness of the Indiana territory. Their original destination was Terre Haute. Due to Indian discontent in that area, they settled further southeast of their original destination. They named this area Orange County after their home county.2,3,4,5,8
Sadly, Deborah died on August 9, 1811, just a few weeks after her arrival. Her grave is the first marked grave of a white woman in Orange County, Indiana.2,3,5,8
- Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Guilford College; Greensboro, North Carolina; Minutes, 1700-1900; Collection: North Carolina Yearly.
- “Deborah Dicks Lindley.” Find A Grave. Jacquie Cooksey, 07 Sept. 2006. Web. 20 Oct. 2015.
- Dunaway, Stewart E. The Battle at Lindley’s Mill. Second ed. S.l.: Lulu, 2009. Print.
- Powell, William Samuel. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. Vol. 4, L-O. Chapel Hill U.a.: U of North Carolina Pr., 1996. Print.
- McCormick, Mike. Terre Haute: Queen City of the Wabash. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2005. Print.
- Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.
- Ancestry.com. U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Guilford College; Greensboro, North Carolina; Records 1814, Volume 11; Collection: North Carolina.
- Oslund, Nancy Lindley. “Jonathan Lindley: The Paoli Pioneer.” The INGenWeb Project. INGenWeb, Nov. 2003. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.