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Tyra Hutchens brought this First Word to meeting on March 26, 2006.

Quaker DNA

Why are Betty Lou and I here today? It is partially because of large doses of dominant Quaker DNA inherited from long lines of Quaker ancestors. Last year during lunch with Mike and Erica, Mike asked me about my Quaker heritage. I outlined my and Betty Lou's Quaker ancestors. Mike said it would be a good topic for First Word.



Betty Lou's first identified Quaker ancestor was Thomas Gardner who came to Cape Ann Massachusetts in the early 1600's along with other Quaker families. The family soon moved to Salem Massachusetts. About 1666 Thomas Gardner Senior's grandson Richard Gardner and Tristam Coffin met in the Merrimac Valley, Maine and because of a long string of Quaker fines and other harassments agreed, along with twenty seven other men to buy Nantucket Island from Thomas Meyhew "for the sum of Thirty Pounds of Current Pay and two Beaver Hatts, one for myself and one for my wife." The Gardner and Coffin families moved to Nantucket and lived there for a hundred years. At one time two thirds of the islands inhabitants were Quakers. For many years, the principal island industry was whaling.

By the 1870's, because of the smallness of the island, the unproductiveness of the soil and the island's exposed position in view of the developing trouble with England, the Quakers, including the Gardner's and the Coffin's, felt it prudent to move to the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

In the middle 1800's the availability of free or cheap land and their objections to southern slavery lured many North and south Carolina families to the west. The Gardner's moved to Indiana and on to Iowa. Betty Lou's father was born in Iowa and moved to Oregon with his family in 1888 where he married Bess Ramsey, the daughter of another Quaker family. Betty Lou's grandmother Lydia Cook Gardner was a founder of First Friends Church on Portland's east side.

Another Quaker family, the Cooks, came from England to Philadelphia in 1713, later moving to North Carolina. Cook descendants moved to Indiana and on to Marion County Oregon around 1890, where Betty Lou's grandparents Hulda Cook and Daniel Ramsey were married in 1869.

Her Welsh Pugh Quaker ancestors settled in Pennsylvania. Another of Betty Lou's Quaker ancestors, Henry Burr, emigrated from England to Long Island and later with his wife to New Jersey. He is alleged to have returned to England with George Fox following one of his visits to the colonies. One of his descendants married Betty Lou's great grandfather Martin Cook. They moved to Oregon in 1886.


With only one Quaker ancestral line my Quaker ancestry is less complicated than Betty Lou's.

My first identified Quaker ancestor is Nicholas Hutchins who emigrated from England to the South of Richmond on the James River, where he married a Quaker, Mary Watson. Nicholas was a member of the Church of England. He converted to Quakerism following his marriage, being the earliest recorded Quaker convert in the colonies.

His son Strangeman married Elizabeth Cox, the granddaughter of a Jamestown settler and moved north to Goochland County, Virginia, where he had a large family. Shortly after the Revolutionary War the family moved to Surry County in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

Objecting to slavery, a number of Strangeman's descendants including my great grandfather Thompson Hutchens sold or freed their slaves. In 1861 the Thompson Hutchens family moved to Indiana and to Iowa a few years later. In 1876 the family, including my grandfather Isaac Hamlin Hutchens, moved to the vicinity of Newberg. They were part of the first group of Quakers from Iowa Yearly meeting led by William Hobson. The incorporation of Newberg followed in about twenty years.

Because of my Quaker heritage I am, as is Betty Lou, a birthright member of the Society of Friends.


Betty Lou moved with her family from Salem to Newberg when she was ten years old. I first saw her playing table tennis with another boy at a Christian Endeavor party in the basement of the Newberg Friends Church and exclaimed, "That's for me!" We were married June 7, 1942.

Genealogical research reveals that Betty Lou and I are related two different ways, one as sixth cousins once removed. This is not surprising considering our long Quaker ancestral lines and that Quakers are a small denomination with considerable intermarriage.

For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures for ever,
And his faithfulness to all generations
Psalms 100, verse 5