Scope and Contents
The collection consists of correspondence and other papers of the Virginia Quaker family of Asa M. Janney. The letters contain family news and note Quaker concerns and activities. Of special interest are letters from Asa's older brother, Samuel M. Janney, noted Quaker minister, author and abolitionist. Also included are an account book of Janney's Forest Mills flour mill, 1860-1862; a Swarthmore College student notebook kept by his grandson, Thomas Janney Brown; and a notebook of genealogy and memoirs written by his daughter Lydia Neal Brown which includes a copy of a letter written by her sister Thamsin describing events on the Janney and Brown farms during the Civil War together with other family stories.
Biographical / Historical
Asa M. Janney (1802-1877) was the son of Abijah and Jane McPherson Janney of Loudoun and Fairfax Counties, Virginia. He was the younger brother of Samuel M. Janney (1801-1880), noted Quaker minister, educator, abolitionist, and author. Samuel M. Janney lived with his uncle Phineas Janney while attending school in Alexandria and attempted to run a cotton factory in Occoquan. When that failed, he opened the Springdale Boarding School in Loudoun County. Asa Janney traveled with his brother in the ministry, and the brothers shared a concern for the welfare of Native Americans. Asa served an Agent to Santee Sioux tribe in Nebraska, 1870-1871, when his brother was Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Northern Superintendency.
Asa Janney married Lydia Neal Haines (1800-1891) in 1826 and operated a flour mill, Forest Mills, in Loudoun County. They were members of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting where Asa served as an Elder. Asa and Lydia had eight children: Mary Jane, Eliza, Ellen, Abijah, Cosmelia, Thamsin, Hugh, and Lydia Neal. Lydia Neal Janney (1844-1925) attended Earlham College and in 1866 married a Loudoun County neighbor, William Brown, a Quaker who owned property in nearby Circleville. They had three children: Thomas Janney Brown; Samuel who did not marry; and Cosmelia (Cossie) who married Daniel McPherson. The eldest, Thomas Janney Brown (1867-1951), graduated from Swarthmore College in 1888 and married Elsie Palmer. They were members of Goose Creek Monthly Meeting, Va., and had five children: Janet, Boyd Janney, Elsie Palmer, Virginia N., and Thomas McPherson Brown.