QUAKER-ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > QUAKER-ROOTS > 1998-11 > 0910791098
Subject: Quaker Burials/Doanes/Nixons
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 08:31:38 EST
Fellow Quaker Researchers:
I received several responses regarding my comments on the Philadelphia Doane
Outlaws. I have gone back into the Doan List Archives and have pasted
together information there regarding the Doane Outlaws and other Interesting
This is for any of you other descendants out there of Doans, including my John
Doan and Elizabeth Pike (d/o Abigail Pike and Ephraim Overman) AND I still
cannot figure out how Elizabeth was born in Loudon Co VA, unless her mother
and father were taking a trip there, and the blessed event occurred during
that trip. Doesn't sound like Abigail was a woman to take to her bed during
Enjoy the Doane reading.
Dated October 26, 27 or 28, 1991 - Philadelphia Inquirer
Cherishing a checkered past: The Doanes recall their outlaw ancestors
By Walter F. Naedele, Inquirer Staff Writer
Outside the wall of a northern Bucks County graveyard sits a
weather-worn headstone. The mark of a man. The mark of a rich heritage. The
mark of a family. The Doane family, whose leaves and branches have spread
throughout the nation and beyond, is rooted in the 1629 arrival of an English
clergyman, recorded in thick books of genealogy, celebrated in international
family gatherins. Six of the most celebrated of them made their mark in the
Bucks County. Five brothers and a cousin.
Thieves and traitors. A gang of thieves and traitors.
Two of them--the two who lie outside that Bucks County graveyard--were
hanged in Centre Square, the small park where Philadelphia City Hall now
Two Saturdays ago, the Doane Family Association of America Inc.--New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland Chapter, gathered in Bucks County to celebrate
its rich cultural heritage.
Doanes (some of who spell it with the E, some without) have been rather
reluctant to gather for such celebrations. "We've tried to interest people
in the association," chapter trustee Lorraine Melsky said. "We would take a
telephone book," send invitations to the Doans and Dones listed there, "and
get no response, not one."
Usually, Melsky said, only 10 to 15 Doane descendants show up.
On Oct. 13, 33 were at the first meeting to take place in a Bucks
County restaurant, rather than at a family home. Food might have been the
attraction, she said, not history.
What the Doanes heard was history--tales about thieves and traitors,
abou ttheir most cherished kin.
Not one of the current Doanes was said to cringe that the blood of
Revolutionary War bandits coursed through their bodies.
"Good heavens, that's the best part," Donna Doan Kohut of Doylestown,
local chapter secretary, said with a laugh a few days afte the lunch.
"We're very proud of having outlaws in the family."
The pride is documented in a two-volume family history on file at the
Free Library of Philadelphia, first published by the Doane Family Association
in 1902. This is some of what they're proud of, some of the treasured past of
those Bucks County rascals:
On Oct. 22, 1781, Moses Doan, his four brothers--Aaron, Joseph, Levi,
and Mahlon--and a cousin, Abraham, robbed the contents of the Bucks County
Treasury from the house of the county treasurer in Newtown.
. Sometime before September 1783, the gang robbed tax collectors in
Buckingham, Makefield (before there were Upper and Lower Makefields) and other
Bucks locations, then hid out in a cave on Tohickon Creek. (Two centurie
later, it happened that a Doane--Lorraine Melsky--served as Upper Makefield
tax collector, from 1982-1989.)
. On Sept. 1, 1783, Moses was shot and killed in the home of a Doan
gang member in Plumstead.
. In 1788, Levi Doan and his cousin were caught in Chester County,
confessed to aiding the British and on Sept. 24, 1788 were hanged in
. Aaron and Joseoph Doan fled to Canada; Mahlon fled and was never
heard from. The Doans who were hanged in Philadelphia are buried in a place
distinction in Plumsteadville, north of Doylestown.
Distinction.-- Distinctly not in the Quaker cemetery in Plumsteadville.
outside. Outside, Doanes say, because the two were thought not to merit
in sanctified ground.
The headsontes--about eight feet apart--give the reason:
Inscribed on each is the word: "Outlaw."
The Doanes (as well as the Doans) have made other significant contributions to
American history. It was a Doane who wrote the hymn "Nearer My God to Thee."
Another one dreamed up the medication sold today as Doan's Pills.
In the United States and Canada there are 7,000 members of the family
association, says family historian Emma Barrows who lives in the
Binghamton, NY, suburb of Vestal.
he 18th-century Doan brothers might have been outlaws, Barrows said,
but they were Quakers who were inflamed by anti-war, anti-rebel sentiment.
"The Doans of Bucks Co., near Doylestown, were . . . the terror of
their day," the family history reports, quoting Watson's Annals of
Pennsylvania in the Olden Time.
"Their father was a man of good estate, and he and his children of good
"When the war came on they proposed to remain neutral, but because of
their non-attendance in militia drafts and refusing to pay fines, they had
their property sold occasionally and themselves harassed.
"They got inflamed with their neighbors and . . . five brothers of them
set out to live in highways and hedges and wage a predatory and retaliatory
upon their persecutors . . .
"They delighted to injure public property, but did no injury to the
weak, the poor or the peaceful.
"They were in league with the British in Philadelphia and acted as
So many Doans fled to Canada because of the Revolutionary War, Barrows
says, that the largest contingent at North American family reunions is from
In the Philadelphia region, some Doanes say their history is all but
unknown. "Occasionally some native Bucks County person might know," Kohut
said, "Usually, not even in Bucks.
"In fact, when I was in high school [at central Bucks West High School
in Doylestown], I gave a paper about the Doane outlaws.
"And even though [the students] lived in Bucks all their lives, they
had never heard of [the family history]. "
There was one notable Doane descendant whose continued presence in the
family history caused Barrows some pause.
At the time of the Watergate scandal, she said, there was some question
whether President Richard M. Nixon should be dropped from the genealogy, even
though "he had five generations of Doanes in his background."
The Bucks County bandits of the 1780s, Barrows said, helped keep Nixon
in the book.
"We had outlaws in the first book," she said, and so it was decided
that "for color, let's leave him in."
The name was originally "Done" when they came from England. It
gradually changed. In early days names would have been officially recorded by
saying your name to a clerk. The clerk spelled it as he saw fit.
Daniel II was a Quaker before he left the Cape. He travelled 40 miles
to Sandwich where the first Quaker meetings were held. He, his wife,
and four children received their letter of removal and went to PA
travelling 700 miles to Middletown, PA. One thing in the New Doane Book
says the Quakers dropped the "e" because they felt it was ostentatious.
As I said, I still feel we can blame county clerks for the name
spelling. There is one story that some brothers argued and one dropped
the "e" to get even. Daniel liked to try new things (Today we would say
he educated himself in all things). When he got to PA he became
interested in the planets and was disciplined and asked to leave the
meeting. Daniel was the first member to leave the Cape and also the
first to leave the family religion and may have been the first to drop
By Kay Hartman (DFA Historian)
The Doan Gang - First Organized Outlaws in America
Originally the family was quite peaceful as Quakers usually are. When
Quakers or others refused to sign up for the local militia in Colony
days, the local pro-Revolu-tionary forces, would overtax them. When
they didn't pay, those forces waited until the father was out of town,
perhaps on a carpentry job as was the case with the Doan's, the local
forces would then turn the wife and children out of the house, and take
it. When the father returned they jailed him. The boys (joined by
several others) were upset at this and for two years hid out in caves,
attacked the local treasurer, etc. etc. They stole horses and gave to
the British. Moses Doan was ambushed and killed and things went from
bad to worse until Joseph Doan was jailed and escaped. Levi and Abraham
were hung. In Bucks County, PA tours are conducted from time to time
where you are taken to see the caves and the graves of Moses, Levi, and
Abraham (Moses was hidden for a long time and is now on private
property). Levi and Abraham's graves are OUTSIDE the wall of a Quaker
cemetery. There are at least three rows of Doan's inside the cemetery.
By Kay Hartman