Quaker ancestry: the Mollineaux/Molyneaux/Mullinex/Molliner family of Westchester County and Flushing, New York

The Zooey Deschanel episode of this season of "Who Do You Think You Are?", where she researches her Quaker ancestry, made me want to look a little closer at my own Quaker ancestry. I know a little bit about that line, the Mollineaux/Molyneaux/Mullinex/Molliner family (gotta love those names with a bajillion spellings...makes it soooo fun to do any kind of search on them...), which married into my Raynor line, but not very much. While Zooey was looking at her Pownall line in Pennsylvania during the mid 1800s, just prior to the Civil War, my Quaker roots are in Long Island and Westchester, New York in the 1600s and 1700s - but even that far back, I can find anti-slavery sentiment among my ancestors. In fact, one of my ancestors was one of the earliest New York Quakers to raise opposition to the issue of slavery, and to free his own slaves.

So, here we go: My 6th great-grandparents (yes, we have to go THAT far back) were John Raynor and Phebe Mollineaux. They are the parents of my 5th great grandfather, Whitehead Raynor, whom I know quite a bit about and who intrigues me more and more the more I find out about him (he seems to have been quite wealthy and influential around town, and according to my grandmother, he is our family "celebrity," having been quite involved and influential in the Ku Klux Klan...guess he didn't take after the Quaker line of his family!)

Anyway, John was from Long Island. I don't know if Phebe was born on Long Island or how she and John met, but apparently her family is from Westchester. God bless the Quakers, who much like the Germans, kept pretty organized records. You can find minutes from their monthly & quarterly meetings on Ancestry.com (and I'm sure other places...I would imagine the Society of Friends today still keep those records pretty organized; I may have to go to them directly to find out more about this line), and those minutes include birth, marriages, and deaths of their members.

If you have New York Quaker ancestry, Swarthmore College, the same place Zooey went for info on her family, has a great database of names available online. You can find the database here.

Okay, so Phebe Mollineaux was the daughter of Moses Mullinex and Hannah Farrington, who lived in Westchester County, New York. Moses' father was Horseman Mullinex. What a name, huh? Horseman (or Horsman as I've sometimes seen it spelled - that's a name, like the name Whitehead, that I would LOVE to know where it came from!) died in 1725. That's more than 50 years before the start of the American Revolution. He lived in Westchester County and in Flushing, Queens. And we have it on public record that in 1701, Horseman freed one of his slaves, a man named Jack. We also have it on public record that at the quarterly and yearly meeting of the Friends in Flushing, New York, Horseman and a man named John Farmer publicly voiced their opposition to slavery. It is said they were the first New York Friends to raise opposition to slavery.

Now, New York is not a southern state. So how prevalent was slavery in the North? If you go back far enough, even your northern ancestors probably owned a slave. Maybe not a plantation full. But certainly one or two. It was just commonly accepted, a societal norm, as unbelievable as that can seem to us today. It's something most of us in genealogy have to deal with and confront, learn about and then learn from.