Lower Merion Historical Society

The Lower Merion Historical Society

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History of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania

By William J. Buck, edited by Theodore W. Bean; Everts & Peck, Philadelphia (1884)

Lower Merion

THIS township is bounded on the north and east by the Schuylkill, on the northwest by Upper Merion and the borough of West Conshohocken, southeast by Philadelphia, and south and southwest by Delaware County. Its greatest length is six and a half miles, with a width of four miles, embracing an area of fourteen thousand five hundred acres. In its situation it is the most southerly in the county, and the greatest in extent and population. By the erection of West Conshohocken into a borough, in 1874, its territory was reduced about two hundred and fifty acres. The surface is generally rolling, the highest elevation being near West Conshohocken, rising probably three hundred and fifty feet above the Schuylkill, and at the cemetery to the rear of Pencoyd two hundred and twenty-five feet, the most level portion being in the vicinity of Ardmore. The soil is generally a productive loam, approaching a stiff clay only in the vicinity of Bryn Mawr. Extending through its breadth is a belt of serpentine, accompanied by steatite or soapstone, which is quarried on the Schuylkill, a mile above Mill Creek. In connection with the aforesaid formation, talc, dolomite and some other kinds of stone abound.

The surface of this township is agreeably diversified by a number of beautiful streams, thirteen of which empty, within its borders, into the Schuylkill. Though none are large, yet several furnish valuable water-power. So well is Lower Merion watered that scarcely a large farm can be found which does not contain one or more excellent springs of living water. Mill Creek is the largest stream, and lies wholly within the limits of the township. It has its source near the Green Tree Tavern, on the Gulf road, and is, a winding, rapid stream, about six miles in length. In this distance it receives fourteen small streams, and a line of steep hills marks most of its course, but none are over one hundred feet above its surface. It was noted for its paper mills before the Revolution. Nicholas Scull mentions on it, in 1758, “Roberts’ grist and paper mills.” In 1858 it propelled the machinery of one plaster, two grist and two saw mills, besides eleven manufactories. The Merion Cotton Mill, with nine hundred and forty spindles, was propelled by it before 1822. Trout Run, a branch of Mill Creek, has a course of about two miles, and has received this name from the fish found in it from an early period. In the south part of the township the east and west branches of Indian Creek have their origin; also a branch of Cobb’s Creek. Rock Hill Creek and Frog Hollow Run are rapid streams, from one to two miles long, that empty into the Schuylkill opposite Manayunk.

As may be well supposed, from its extent and location near a great city, it must possess a considerable population and valuable improvements. The census of 1800 mentions 1422 inhabitants; in 1840, 2827; in 1860, 4423, and in 1880, 6287, denoting a rapid increase. As the township contains about 23 square miles, its present population is 270 to the square mile. In the assessment of 1882, 1508 taxables were returned, and 863 horses and 1536 cattle. The real estate is valued at $4,566,499, and including the personal $4,848,969, being equivalent to $3212 per taxable, being, in point of average wealth the ninth in the county. In 1883 nine hotels, two restaurants, two confectionery, two dry goods, three drug, one stove, one grocery, one provision, three flour and feed, and fourteen general stores were licensed, besides two lumber and two coal yards. The villages are Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Pencoyd, Wynnewood, Academy, Merion, Rose Glen, Libertyville and West Manayunk, the first seven containing post offices. Previous to 1830 there was not a post office in the township. In 1851 the number was only two,–General Wayne and Lower Merion. The public schools are fourteen in number, open ten months, and for the school year ending June l, 1882, had an average daily attendance of 538 pupils. The churches are ten, belonging to seven religious denominations, of which the Presbyterians, Episcopalians and Methodist Episcopal have each two. The census of 1850 returned 613 families, residing in 588 dwelling houses, and 195 farms. According to the census of 1870, this was the only township in Pennsylvania where the farm value rated above four million dollars.

The turnpike road leading from Philadelphia to Lancaster passes through Lower Merion a distance of four and a half miles. It is said to have been the first road of the kind constructed in America, and was commenced in 1792 and completed within two years after that date. It is kept in admirable repair, and passes through Ardmore and Bryn Mawr. The Pennsylvania Railroad has a course of six miles and four tracks, with stations at Overbrook, on the city line, Merion, Elm, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford College and Bryn Mawr. This road was opened for travel to Columbia in March, 1834, and to Pittsburgh in 1854, a distance then of three hundred and ninety three miles. The Reading Railroad follows the Schuylkill the entire length of the township, a distance of seven and a half miles. It was incorporated in 1833, placed under contract the following year and finished in 1839. Nearly a mile above West Manayunk is Flat Rock tunnel, nine hundred and sixty feet in length, made through solid rock, at a depth of ninety-five feet belowthe surface. The stations of this road are Pencoyd, West Manayunk, Mill Creek (lately changed to Rose Glen) and Spring Mill Heights. The Schuylkill Valley Railroad was opened for travel from the city to Manayunk May 12, 1884, a distance of eight miles from Broad Street Station. The stations are Bala, on the city line, and West Laurel Hill. It crosses the river below West Manayunk on a bridge about one third of a mile long and ninety feet above the water. The view afforded to passengers in looking up or down the valley is grand. The first telegraph line between Philadelphia and Lancaster was established through this township in 1850.

Bryn Mawr is regarded as the most populous place in Lower Merion, and is supposed to contain about three hundred houses within a radius of a mile of its station. Except the older portion on the Lancaster pike, it presents to the stranger the appearance of a scattered collection of country seats. That it has considerably increased in population may be judged from its containing in 1858 only twenty one houses, and being then known as Humphreysville. It has an elevated situation, is nine miles from Philadelphia, and adjoins Delaware County. Lancaster and Montgomery Avenues and the Pennsylvania Railroad pass parallel to each other through its whole length, the former containing the larger proportion of its buildings. There are, besides, several other streets crossing in various directions. For years this vicinity has been a noted resort during the summer months for boarders from the city, at times estimated as high as two thousand. The hotel here is a spacious three story stone building, belonging to a company, standing within handsome, enclosed grounds, and stated to possess accommodations for five hundred guests. Between the hours of six A.M. and midnight twenty- seven passenger trains stop daily at the station going east and twenty-three west. The mail arrives daily three times from the east and departs for the city four times.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of St. Luke is a fine one-story Gothic building, with a steeple and stained glass windows, situated at the corner of Montgomery Avenue and Penn Street, of which the Rev. J. D. Martin is pastor. The Presbyterian Church was organized in 1873, and a chapel erected of green stone on Montgomery Avenue was dedicated April 16, 1874. A parsonage, built of brick, was erected on the church lot, and on the 18th of December, 1884, the cornerstone of a church edifice was laid. The building is to be of stone, sixty-five by sixty-five feet. The Rev. William H. Miller was chosen pastor in 1874, and is still in charge. The church has a membership of about one hundred. Both churches have worship twice every Sunday and Sabbath schools that meet at three o’clock.

Temperance Hall is a two-story stone building, the upper portion of which is used for society purposes. Here meet the American Star Council, No. 53, of O. U. A. M., Bryn Mawr Division, No. 10, of S. of T., Bryn Mawr Loan and Building Association, and Bryn Mawr Cornet Band. Two weekly newspapers are issued here,-The News, by Frank A. Hower, established July 1, 1881, and the Home News by L. A. Black, originally founded by G. Frank Young, June 6, 1876. Bryn Mawr in the Welsh signifies the great hill, and was the home of Rowland Ellis, a noted scholar and minister among Friends, as well as of several other early settlers, situated near Dolgelly, the chief town of Merioneth.

Ardmore is on the Lancaster turnpike and Pennsylvania Railroad, seven miles from Philadelphia, surrounded by a level country. It contains nearly one hundred houses, two hotels, one grocery, two drug and three general stores, a Lutheran church, a steam planing-mill and shutter and door manufactory, carried on by Goodman & Brother, and one lumber and coal-yard. In Masonic Hall, Cassia Lodge, No. 273, F. and A. M., meets; also Montgomery Chapter, No. 262, B. A. M. At Odd-Fellows’ Hall, Banyan Tree Lodge, No. 378, of I. O. O. F. The Lower Merion Building and Loan Association meets alternately here and at Merion Square. Haverford College, belonging to the Orthodox Friends, is only half a mile distant, in Delaware County. This village in 1858 contained only twenty-eight houses; the census of 1880 gives it five hundred and nineteen inhabitants. The “Red Lion” tavern was established here before the Revolution, and was kept by John Taylor over a quarter of a century, who disposed of it before 1840. Before the completion of the railroad it was a noted stopping place for the large teams to the West, as many as fifty of them staying at one time overnight. This stand is still conducted as a public-house. This village was formerly called Athensville, and Cabinet post-office was established about 1852, but since changed to Ardmore. The Athens Institute and Library Association was incorporated here in 1855, but have lately sold their building and dissolved.

Pencoyd is situated a short distance above the city line on the Reading Railroad and Schuylkill River. The village comprises about seventy houses and contains a post-office, two stores and a hotel. Adjoining, to the rear, is West Laurel Hill Cemetery, comprising one hundred and ten acres, tastefully laid out into winding walks and planted with shrubbery. The railroad has a station here, and steamboats from Fairmount ascend this far up the Schuylkill. The name was applied from the extensive rolling-mills here, belonging to A. & P. Roberts & Co., established in 1852, and contains fifteen double puddling furnaces, eleven heating furnaces, three forge-hammers, one rotary squeezer and four trains of rolls of from twelve to twenty-three inches in diameter. The products are channel-bars, beams, ties, angle-iron, hammered and rolled axles, bar and bridge-iron. The annual capacity is twenty thousand net tons, and gives employment to upwards of five hundred hands. The tract of land on which these works are situated is denoted on Hill’s “Map of the Environs of Philadelphia,” published in 1809, as belonging to “A. Roberts, Pencoed, 298 acres, settled 1684.” A member of the firm stated to the writer, in September, 1883, that a portion of this land has never been out of the family since first taken up and settled upon by John Roberts, their ancestor, who arrived from Wales two centuries ago. The original place of settlement was near by, and a part of the tract extended over the line into Philadelphia. Application was made in 1706 for a road from Merion Meeting-house to the present village, a distance of two and a half miles, “where a ferry was to be established.” This, subsequently, was called Righter’s ferry, authorized in 1741.

West Manayunk is at the mouth of Rock Hill or Gully Creek, opposite Manayunk, with which it is connected by a bridge over the Schuylkill, built in 1833. There are here about twenty houses, several manufacturing establishments, a railroad station and I two stores. The Ashland Paper Mills, S. A. Rudolph & Son, proprietors, employ about ninety hands in the manufacture of printing-paper from rags, wood and straw. These works were founded in 1864, and have produced as high as three million pounds of paper per annum. It is driven by three steam-engines, whose aggregate is two hundred and fifty horse-power, propelling Dixon’s patent straw and wood digester, two pulp-dressers and seven paper-machines. Near by, up the creek, arc the woolen-mills of Mason Schofield and of John & James Dobson. The latter were not in operation in the fall of 1883. Here, in 1858, Samuel Grant, Jr., & Co., carried on the Ashland Dye-Mills, and not far off, at that date, were Isaac Wetherill’s cotton-factory and Grimrod’s grist-mill. A “Directory of 1850” mentions in the township at that time S. Croft’s brass-rolling mill, W. Chadwick’s, S. L. Robeson’s, J. Shaw’s and J. Elliott’s cotton manufactories, W. H. Todd’s woolen-mill and A. S. Nippes’ rifle manufactory.

Merion Square is located nearly in the centre of the township, at the intersection of several roads, and contains about thirty-five houses, two stores, two churches, school-house, several mechanic shops, and according to the census of 1880, two hundred and seven inhabitants. The post-office is called Lower Merion. The Methodist Episcopal Church was built before 1858, of which the Rev. A. W. Prettyman is the present pastor. The Presbyterian Church was built in 1877; is in charge of Rev. A. W. Long. Both have services twice every Sabbath and Sunday schools attached. The Odd-Fellows’ Hall is occupied by Merion Lodge, No. 210, of I. O. O. F., and Montgomery Encampment, No. 115. Merion Square Division, No. 128, S. of T., also meet in the latter building. This village in 1858 contained twenty-six dwellings.

Libertyville is a mile northeast of Ardmore on the old Lancaster road; contains nine houses, two stores and a wheelright and blacksmith shop.

Wynnewood, where a post-office has been established, is about three-fourths of a mile below Ardmore. The station and grounds are neatly kept. Fine country seats abound in this vicinity. The name has been applied from the residence of the late Hon. Owen Jones, which is so denoted on Hill’s map of 1809, as handed down from the first settlement.

Academyville is a mile southwest of West Manayunk; contains about ten houses. Lower Merion Academy, which had its origin in motives of benevolence, is located here. In 1810, Jacob Jones devised a tract of land in charge of trustees, with a sum of money, to which was added other bequests “to be applied to the hiring or employing a tutor or tutors for as many poor and orphan children of both sexes living in the township as the issue and profits of said sum would allow. “The trustees, therefore, erected a large building in 1812, which was opened as a boarding and day school the following year. Keeping boarders was soon abandoned and the day school alone continued, which was then styled the Lower Merion Benevolent Institution. In 1836 the school was merged into and called a free school, and as such, has ever since been continued. It is still controlled by trustees, in accordance with the requirements of the bequest, and has thus received its present name.

The General Wayne is the name of an inn on the old Lancaster road, said to have been so called in consequence of that officer having encamped here with his command, probably in 1792, on his western expedition against the Indians. This inn was kept in 1806 by Titus Yerkes, and is noted on Hill’s map of 1809. It was kept by Major William Matheys in 1824, and by David Young in 1838, in whose family it has remained until the fall of 1883. The elections of the whole township were continuously held here from 1806 until 1867, a period of sixty-one years. The elections of the Lower District are still retained here. Before 1851 a post-office was established with this name, perhaps the first in Lower Merion, but it has recently been removed and its name changed to Academy. A plank-road for two tracks was made from here to West Philadelphia in 1855, but has been for some time worn out. The old Friends’ Meetinghouse here denotes a very old settlement, probably the village of Merioneth, mentioned by Gabriel Thomas, in his “Account of Pennsylvania,” published in 1696. Most probably from its being on the old Lancaster road, the same is called Merion by Lewis Evans on his map of 1749. It contains, besides the hotel and meeting house, some five or six houses and a smith-shop. Near this is Belmont Driving and Race Course, containing a one-mile track, eighty feet wide between the railing, begun in 1876.

Flat Rock is about a mile above West Manayunk, and is a place abounding in interesting scenery and historical associations. Owing to the contracted and rocky channel of the river for half a mile, it is wonderful that persons in canoes and boats could venture to pass in safety, as we know they did before the construction of the canal, in 1818. The name is derived from a bed of huge rocks extending across the river. At this spot a bridge was built in 1810, which was the first that spanned the Schuylkill within the limits of Montgomery County. In 1824, while several teams were crossing, loaded with marble, it gave way. On being repaired by the contractor, Lewis Wernwag, and requiring but two days for its completion, the river, rose thirteen feet during July 29th of that year, bringing down a great quantity of logs, trees, boats and drift-wood, which swept nearly the whole of the structure away, occasioning a serious and heavy loss to the builder. However, by September 10th he finished it to the satisfaction of the managers. In consequence of a great freshet, September 2, 1850, the Conshohocken bridge, four miles above, was swept away, and came down with such force as to take this bridge entirely away, and it has not since been rebuilt. What helped to heighten the catastrophe was the holding of the Conshohocken bridge firmly together by the railroad track that had been laid across it. From the western abutment of the bridge, which still remains by the roadside, a splendid view is obtained in a northwesterly direction of the falls of Flat Rock dam and of the Schuylkill for the distance of three miles. Near by is Duck Island, covered with numerous willows, and it is a favorite resort of wild fowl. This is supposed to be the “Beaver Island,” mentioned in the Upland court records of 1677 as being in the Schuylkill; if so, it must have been formerly the abode of this animal. Flat Rock dam was constructed about half a mile above the site of the bridge by the Navigation Company, and was the means of furnishing much valuable water-power to the manufactories in Manayunk. By its raising the water above and thus by reducing his water-power from sixteen feet to about twenty inches, a heavy loss was caused to John Shoburn, who was unable, in consequence, to continue the running of his cotton-mill, near the mouth of Mill Creek. A copper plate engraving of this dam and adjacent scenery was published in Philadelphia in 1828, showing its attractive features, a reduced copy of which may be seen in the chapter on the Schuylkill. A writer of the time in speaking of Flat Rock, refers to it as “a spot, a few years ago, where the rambler was invited only by its singularly wild and romantic beauties.” James Mease in his “Picture of Philadelphia,” published in 1811, recommends it as well worth a visit. Just half way between the site of the old bridge and the dam is the Flat Rock tunnel of the Reading Railroad, nearly one hundred feet below the surface of the hill.

The mouth of Mill Creek is also an interesting place for visitors, being only half a mile above the falls of Flat Rock dam. The highway and the railroad pass over the stream by two bridges nearly adjoining, and twenty feet above the water. Near by is a beautiful small island in the Schuylkill, which is quite a feature in the scenery, containing about half an acre, covered with buttonwood and willow trees. From here up and by the side of the creek for a quarter of a mile to the paper mill is a good, level road, beautifully shaded, which with the surrounding scenery, makes a very attractive walk. The station here, so long called Mill Creek, has recently been changed to Rose Glen, and a post-office established in July, 1884, with Robert Chadwick, postmaster. A boat ferry for the conveyance of passengers to Shawmont, on the opposite side of the river, has existed above twenty-five years.

West Laurel Hill Cemetery is situated half a mile northwest of the city line, and immediately to the rear of Pencoyd, which is opposite Manayunk. The company was incorporated in 1869, when for the purpose two adjoining estates and part of another were secured, containing in all one hundred and ten acres. The choice is stated to have been the result of a careful examination of the entire vicinity of Philadelphia. Its surface is rolling and variegated, the highest point being two hundred and twenty-five feet above the waters of the Schuylkill. From it a fine view is afforded, particularly in a north and west direction. Since in their possession extensive improvements have been made to adapt it to the purposes for which it is intended. Numerous winding walks have been tastefully laid out and planted with shrubbery, neat buildings erected, as dwellings, lodge, receiving vault, stabling and sheds. Numerous monuments have been reared to the memory of the dead, the interments having reached in September, 1883, nineteen hundred. Two stations adjoin the grounds, one at Pencoyd belonging to the Reading Railroad, the other on the Schuylkill Valley road. The latter road has been in operation since May, 1884, and the station is called West Laurel Hill. The cemetery is only four miles distant from Market Street bridge, and Belmont Avenue leads directly to the place. The office of the company is at No. 115 South Fifth Street.

In the northern part of Bryn Mawr, beside the New Gulf road, buildings have been erected for a female college, to be in charge of the Orthodox Friends. For this purpose Dr. Joseph W. Taylor, of Burlington, N. J., who died January 18, 1880, aged seventy years, left a handsome bequest. He had purchased here thirty-seven acres and had commenced the improvements a short time before his death, under the superintendence of George W. Ott, who is still retained in charge. In June, 1884, Taylor Hall was nearly completed, it being built of granite from Port Deposit, Md. It is one hundred and thirty feet long and about sixty feet in average width, with a square tower one hundred and thirty feet in height. The other will be called Merion Hall, and is one hundred and seventy-five feet long by forty-six in width. Taylor Hall is designed for instruction while Merion Hall will be used for dormitories and household purposes. Both are substantially built of dressed stone and three stories high, after designs by Addison Hutton, the architect. It is intended to have the buildings finished by March 1, 1885, and that the institution shall be ready for students in the following September. The amount left by Dr. Taylor was about eight hundred thousand dollars, of which a considerable portion is invested and the income only applied to its use. Dr. James L. Rhodes, of Philadelphia, who was named in the will as one of the trustees, was elected president of the board in March, 1884. He has been a physician in Germantown for some time, and is now a minister among Friends and senior editor of the FriendsÕ Review. Martha Carey Thomas, of Baltimore, has been selected dean of the faculty and professor of English. It is intended to adopt and maintain a standard of admission and instruction equal to the best male colleges in the country. Dr. Taylor had been connected with the Haverford College, for boys, which is only a mile distant, and thus, no doubt, was induced to erect here also a somewhat similar institution for girls.

Among the ancient houses of worship still standing in Pennsylvania, the Friends’ Meeting house in Lower Merion is one of the oldest. It is situated on the old Lancaster road, at what has been for some time called General Wayne, but little over a mile from the city line. The early Welsh, it appears, who settled throughout this section were nearly all Friends, and are known to have held worship in this vicinity, at the house of Hugh Roberts, as early at least as the Fourth Month, 1684. According to the researches of the late Dr. George Smith, they built at first a temporary structure of wood in 1695, which stood until 1713, when its place was supplied by the present substantial stone edifice, which was completed in the fall of that year. Its ground-plan is in the form of a gothic T. with a length of thirty-six feet and the end facing southwest, is twenty by twenty-four feet. It is one story, or about fourteen feet to the roof, with walls over two feet in thickness, and, viewed from the inside, remarkable for the height of its windows above the floor. A stone up in the gable, fronting the road, has cut on it “Built 1695, repaired 1822.” This has been the means of leading many astray, they supposing that the present edifice had been erected at that date, whereas it was the date of the erection of the original building, whose place it supplied eighteen years later. This has now been so long and widely published that the impression will not be so readily removed. It was of stone, pointed, but in repairing it, probably in 1822 or not much later, it was plastered in imitation of large dressed stone, which has marred its venerable appearance. The graveyard adjoining contains only a few recent tombstones that bear inscriptions. There is a tradition extent that when the Welsh Friends of this vicinity went to Haverford Meeting, on the occasion of William Penn preaching there in 1701, many could not understand him because he spoke in English. The congregation has become small; the writer attended worship here on a beautiful Sabbath day in 1871, with but seventeen persons present. For the long period of eighty-six years from the early settlement here, it was the only house of worship in the township.

The Baptist Church is located at the intersection of the Gulf and Roberts roads, and about a half a mile to the north of Bryn Mawr. It is a two-story stone building, erected in 1809, to which a small addition has been made since 1858. It is in a retired situation, surrounded by aged chestnuts and oaks, trees of the original forest. The graveyard comprises nearly two acres of ground and is neatly kept. There are numerous handsome white marble tombstones here, on which we find the surnames of Clare, Preston, Restine, Hagy, Hibbard, Foreman, Levering, Righter, Blankley, Williamson, Jones, Young, Llewellyn, Smith, Morris, Shubert, McClenachan, Taylor, Bailey, Shoester, Curwin, Ewing, Elmer, Davis, Johnston, Barrett, Stewart, Sheaff, Sturges, Baldwin, Humphreys, Evans, Lee, Suplee, Butler, Stanley, Marshall, Yocum, Bauman, Gore, Migs, Edwards, Casidy, Scott, Latch, Roberts, Thomas, Shaw, Horn, Bevan, Owens, Wilson, McBride, Praul, Burns, Hoyle, Williamson, Zell, Haley, Gaskill, Litzenberg, Rogers, Wrigley, Moore, Nagle, Crawford, Kenzie, Fretz, Coulter, Miller, Pyatt, Matheys, Pechan, Stedman, Armstrong, Castncr, Pawling, Dick and Ripley. Several members of the Gaskill family are buried here, being the descendants of Peter Gaskill, who married Christiana Gulielma, the daughter of William Penn, Jr., son of the founder of Pennsylvania by his first wife. The congregation was organized and the church founded chiefly through the exertions of its first pastor, Rev. Horatio Gates Jones, D.D)., who entered in charge for the long period of forty-four years, or until his death, which took place at his residence in Roxborough, December 12, 1853, aged seventy-seven years. In 1858 the Rev. Mr. Anderson had charge. The present pastor is Rev. William Wiley, who has also services in a chapel on Lancaster Avenue. Before the erection of the church the congregation worshiped in a small building near by, which had originally been a school-house, but some time since demolished.

About three-quarters of a mile east of Bryn Mawr stands the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, which ranks among the finest church edifices in the county. It is built of dressed stone, fifty by one hundred feet in dimensions, with an elegant tower. The grounds comprise about five acres, laid out with walks, and within which is a grove of forest trees. A neat two-story parsonage is attached. The present rector is the Rev. Edward J. Watson, D.D. Services are held here twice every Sabbath, the Sunday school at 9.15 A.M. On the tombs here are found the names of Morris, Yarnall, Farnum, Wheeler, Struthers, Miles, Wildgoss, Lycett, Roundlet, Haydon, Kelly, Williams, Peace, Maxwell, Crumley, Evans, Waln, Lyons, Watts and Harkins. This congregation was represented in the Episcopal Convention of 1883, by N. Parker Shortridge, Rowland Evans and Archibald B. Montgomery as lay delegates. A church was originally built by the congregation on the north side of the Lancaster pike, half a mile distant, about the year 1848, and stood until 1870, when the present commodious edifice was erected in its place, on what had been previously known as the parsonage ground. Near Merionville is the Episcopal Church of St. John, built about ten years ago. The present rector is Rev. C. C. Parker, whose address is Academy. It will thus be seen that of the eleven Episcopal Churches now in the county, two are in Lower Merion.

The name of this township is derived from Merioneth, in North Wales, probably one of the most mountainous counties, some of the peaks rising to three thousand feet, with generally a poor soil and not half its territory under cultivation. The early settlers were nearly all Welsh, and among them it is known that Edward Jones, John Thomas, Robert Owen, Thomas Owen, Hugh Roberts and Rowland Ellis came from Merioneth, which will account for the name of the township. What are now Upper and Lower Merion townships, Gabriel Thomas, in his “Account of Pennsylvania,” in 1696, calls Merioneth, this, however, we know was divided and known by their present names before 1714. In 1685 the boundary between Merion and Chester County was ordered to be determined.

But a short time before the arrival of Penn, a number of Welsh who proposed settling in Pennsylvania, purchased a tract of forty thousand acres of land, which subsequently was located in Merion, Haverford, Goshen and several of the adjoining townships. How much of this tract lay in this township is not known to us, but no doubt it covered more than half its present area. Thomas Holme, the surveyor-general, in his map of original surveys commenced in 1682, gives us the following names as purchasers: John Holland, Christopher Pennock, William Wood, William Sharlow, Daniel Meredith, John Roberts, John Humphreys, Thomas Ellis, Edward Jones and a number of others whose names are not mentioned. About 1683 and the following year several had already settled on their purchases, and the number was yearly augmenting.

According to the researches of Dr. James J. Levick, of Philadelphia, probably the earliest settler in Lower Merion was Edward Jones, “chirurgeon,” who set sail in the ship “Lyon,” John Compton, master, and arrived with forty passengers in the Schuylkill River, August 13,1682, almost two months before William Penn. In a letter written by him, dated the 26th of that month, he states,—

The Indians brought venison to our door for 6 pence ye quarter. There are stones to be had enough at the falls of Skool Kill, that is where we are to settle, and water-power enough for mills, but thou must bring Mill-stones and ye irons that belong to it, for smiths are dear. They use both hooks and sickles to reap with.

His wife was Mary, the daughter of Dr. Thomas Wynne, and h brought with him his children, Martha and Jonathan. On John HillÕs “Map of the Environs of Philadelphia,” published in 1809, he is thus alluded to: “Jones,-The first British settlement, 18th of Sixth Month, 1682.” The place designated is now the estate of his descendant, the late Hon. Owen Jones, near Libertyville. That date, as may be observed, is only five days after his arrival, and it is certainly an early claim. He died 26th of Twelfth Month, 1737, aged ninety-two years; consequently on his arrival he was thirty seven years old. Thomas Chalkley, in his journal, states that he was buried at Merion, and that his funeral was attended by many hundreds. Samuel Smith, in his “History of the Provence,” mentions him as “given to hospitality, and generally beloved by his acquaintances.” His son Jonathan, who at the time of his arrival here was three years old married Gainor, daughter of Robert Owen. He died June 30,1770, aged nearly ninety-one years. Martha married John Cadwallader, at Merion Meeting-house, 26th of Tenth Month, 1699. Robert Jones purchased of William Penn, in England, in 1682, five hundred acres of land, which were afterwards located in this township. He was also an early settler, popular among his neighbors, and in June, 1715, appointed one of the justices of the County Courts, which office he held for several years. In consequence of French and Indian alarms, a company of Associators was formed here for the defense of the province in February, 1747, of which Edward Jones was chosen captain and Griffith Griffiths first lieutenant. John Jones, an extensive farmer and one of the associate judges of the county, died December 26, 1824, in his eightieth year. Robert Jones was a supervisor of highways in 1767, John Jones in 1785, and Israel Jones assessor in 1780. The late Oven Jones, of Wynnewood, was the son of Jonathan Jones and Mary, daughter of William Thomas. He was elected to Congress in 1856, and served as a colonel of cavalry in the Rebellion. He died December 25, 1878, aged fifty-nine years. The late Dr. George Smith, the historian of Delaware County, was also a descendant of Thomas Wynne and of Edward Jones.

Thomas Wynne, a native of Coerwys, Flintshire, North Wales, arrived in November, 1682 in the ship “Welcome” with William Penn, accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth, and her daughters, Jane and Margery. As his son-in-law, Edward Jones, had preceded him, nearly two months, and had settled in the present township, he was induced to follow and settle beside him. He was a physician and also a minister among Friends. He represented Philadelphia County in the first Assembly, held at Chester, December 4, 1682, of which body he was elected Speaker the following session, and subsequently became one of the judges of the court. He wrote several tracts of a controversial character in defense of the doctrines of the Society of Friends. In connection with John ap John, he is mentioned as having purchased five thousand acres of land sometime before 1701. His will bears date of 15th of First Month, 1691, wherein he calls himself a “practitioner of physick,” and appoints Thomas Lloyd and Griffith Owen his executors. He died 16th of First Month, 1692, and was interred in Friends’ burying-ground, in Philadelphia. His residence was on the site now occupied by the mansion of the late Colonel Owen Jones, which has thus led to the origin and perpetuation of name of Wynnewood.

The Roberts family is also an early one, and has done much to advance the prosperity of the township, and probably has not been surpassed in energy by any other of Welsh origin in the county. John Roberts came from Pennychlawd, Denbighshire, North Wales, and settled on a tract of two hundred and fifty acres, in 1683, that he had purchased from John ap John and Thomas Wynne. He was married to Gainor, the daughter of Robert Pugh, of Merionethshire, by occupation a mill-wright, and is supposed to have erected the third mill in the province. This was near the present village of Pencoyd, which has received its name from the place of his nativity. A portion of this tract has never been out of the family. John Roberts, who carried on a grist-mill and two paper-mills on Mill Creek, before 17O8, was his descendant; also the late Jonathan Roberts, of Upper Merion, United States Senator, Algernon S. and Percival Roberts, the founders and proprietors of the extensive Pencoyd Iron Works, and George B. Roberts, president of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, who resides on his ancestral acres in this township. On the list of 1734 six of the name are mentioned as residing in Lower Merion. Hugh Roberts came from Llanvrawr, in Merionethshire, where he had suffered much for his religious principles previous to his removal to Pennsylvania. He was a minister among Friends, and visited their meetings in Maryland and New England, and made two journeys on this account to Great Britain. On his return from the latter country in July, 1698, he was accompanied by a number of immigrants from North Wales, whom he had encouraged to come. Before the building of Merion Meetinghouse meetings were frequently held at his house, as shown by the records of Radnor Monthly Meeting as early, at least, as in Fourth Month, 1684. He died 18th of Sixth Month, 1702, and was interred in Merion burying-ground. On tile assessor’s list for 1780 we find the names of Algernon Roberts, rated for 224 acres; Joseph Roberts, 150; Hugh Roberts, 130; and John Roberts, 60 acres.

Rowland Ellis was a native of Bryn Mawr, near Dolgelly, Merionethshire. He arrived in 1686, bringing with him his eldest son, Rowland, then a boy. The ship brought besides about one hundred passengers from North Wales. After remaining here about nine months he returned, leaving his son with his uncle, John Humphrey. In 1697 he came back, bringing his family, besides a considerable number of his countrymen. He was a distinguished scholar, and for the Welsh he performed the important duties of a translator and interpreter. He was commissioned a justice of the peace for Merion in 1707, continued one for many years, and also holding the office of county commissioner. He was the original settler on Charles ThompsonÕs property, now belonging to Naomi Morris. In 1720 he removed to Plymouth township, where he soon after translated from the Welsh Ellis Pugh’s “Salutation to the Britains,” which was printed by S. Keimer, of Philadelphia, in 1727, in a duodecimo of two hundred and twenty-two pages. While on a visit to his son-in-law, John Evans, in Gwynedd, in 1729, he was taken suddenly ill, and thus happened to die there in his eightieth year. A memorial concerning him was

Benjamin Humphrey came over in 1683, was a useful man in the settlement, and was widely known for his hospitality, particularly to the newly arrived immigrants. He died November 4, 1737, aged seventy-six years. David Humphrey was commissioned one of the judges of the County Courts November 22, 1738. In the list of 1734 are found the names of Benjamin and John Humphrey, and of 1780, Thomas Humphrey. It was from members of this family that Humphreysville received its name. Edward Edwards purchased of William Penn, in England, two hundred and fifty acres, which he located here and settled upon, and he was still living in 1734. Robert Owen came from Wales in 1690. He was a minister, and traveled much on this account, both in his native country and in America. He died in July, 1697, and was interred at Merion Meeting-house. Benjamin Eastburn, who is mentioned in the list of 1734 as a resident here, in 1722 married Ann Thomas, of Abington. He was appointed to succeed Jacob Taylor as surveyor-general October 29, 1733, and continued in that office till or near his death, his successor being William Parsons, who was commissioned August 22, 1741. The part that he performed in the “Indian Walk” was not creditable. In his map thereof he has done his utmost to conceal and cover the transaction. With all his subserviency to the interests of Thomas Penn, the latter reflects severely on his character as may be seen in the Penn manuscripts. Griffith Llewellen was commissioned a justice of the County Courts in April, 1744, and continued in the office for a number of years.

We herewith present a list of the land holders and tenants residing in Lower Merion in 1734, copied from the original manuscript prepared by the constable for Thomas Penn. It contains fifty-two names, and to their descendants cannot fail to prove interesting. Excepting about four or five names, the balance are probably all Welsh, which will show how extensively they were the original settlers here: John (son of Mathias) Roberts, Hugh Evans, Robert Jones, Robert Roberts, Robert Evan, Rees Price, Edward Jones, Abel Thomas, Benjamin Eastburn, Jonathan Jones, William Haward, Richard Hughs, MorrisLewellen, Benjamin Humphrev, John Humphrey, Joseph Williams, Rees Thomas, William Thomas, Peter Jones, Humphrey Jones, John Griffith, Catharine Pugh, ReesPhillip, Joseph Tucker, James John, Thomas John, John Lloyd, Griffith Lewellen, Robert Roberts, David Jones, William Walton, David Davis, Joseph Roberts, John Roberts, David Price, Issachar Price, David Price, Jr., Lewis Lloyd, John David, Robert (son of Peter) Jones, Thomas David, John Evans, Eleanor Bevan, Owen Jones’ plantation, Evan Harry, Nicholas Rapy, John Roberts (carpenter), Evan Rees, Samuel Jordan, James Dodmead, Edward Edwards and Garret Jones. The list of 1780 shows a reduction to about thirty-five Welsh surnames out of a total of one hundred and eighty-five, at that date but little surpassing the German element. A study of Hopkins’ farm map of the township, published in 1877, shows a great falling off here of the nationality that for the first half-century of settlement were so largely dominant. John Oldmixon, in a visit here in 1708, mentions the Welsh and their tract as “very populous, and the people are veryindustrious; by which means it is better cleared than any other part of the county. The inhabitants have many fine plantations of corn and breed abundance of cattle, insomuch that they are looked upon to be as thriving and wealthy as any in the province.”

During the Revolution, particularly while the British held possession of Philadelphia, from September, 1777, to June, 1778, the inhabitants of Lower Merion, in consequence of their nearness, suffered severely from the raids of the enemy. Though no striking events of interest occurred here during the exciting struggle, yet it was compelled to bear some of the trials. Shortly after their departure an assessor was appointed to value thedamages, which amounted to £3212, or $8565 of our present currency. Michael Smith was the heaviest loser, to the extent of £451. During this period twenty-nine persons stood attainted with treason within the present limits of the county, yet only one of the number was a resident of Lower Merion, thus showing that the mass of the people here must have been generally disposed to independence.

From the township assessment of 1780, as returned by Israel Jones, the assessor, we derive some interesting information. John Righter is mentioned as holding a grist-mill and one hundred acres; Catharine Zolly, grist-mill and fifty-two acres; Anthony Levering, grist and saw-mill and one hundred and fourteen acres; John Jones, saw-mill; Catharine Scheetz, two paper-mills and one hundred acres; Frederick Bicking, paper-mill and two hundred acres; Jacob Newhouse, paper-mill and fifty-two acres; Benjamin Scheetz, Daniel Claus, Simon Clans, George Handbolt and Jacob Nagle, paper-makers; Daniel Burrell, oil-mill; William Stadleman, Abraham Streeper and David Briggs, inn-keepers; Samuel Horten, Jonathan Robeson, Thomas Humphrey and Jesse Thomas, smiths; Lewis Thomas and John Whitemun, wheelwrights; John White, millwright; Robert Elliott, John Young, Thomas Robeson, Michael Kline and Henry Shulster, weavers; Robert Holland, tanner; John Robeson, clergyman; John Evans and Isaac Lewis, tailors; John Smith, mason; Joseph Smith, Jacob Coleman, Rudolph Latch, James Nussel, shoemakers; Daniel Briggs, Philip Pritner, Robert Elliott, Hugh Jones, Isaac Taylor, Frederick Bicking, Benjamin Scheetz, John Price, holding negroes, the first two having two each. The assessment of 1785 mentions 5 grist-mills, 4 saw-mills, 5 paper-mills, 2 tan-yards, 4 taverns, 245 horses, 298 cattle and 7 negroes, the latter number showing a decrease of three slaves in five years.

Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress, was long a resident of Lower Merion, where he died August 16, 1824, at the advanced age of ninety-four. He was a native of Ireland, and came to America in 1741, in company with his three elder brothers. He first taught school and early formed the acquaintance of Dr. Franklin. At the first meeting of Congress, in 1774, he was called to keep the minutes of their proceedings, and was continued secretary till 1789, when he resigned. He married Hannah, the only child ofRichard Harrison, who had died in 1747. Her mother was the daughter of Isaac Norris and a granddaughter of governor Thomas Lloyd. Mrs. Thomson was an heiress, by whom he acquired a considerable estate, taxed in 1780 for seven hundred and fifty acres, and extending southward nearly to the present Bryn Mawr. His wife having died September 6, 1806, in his will, made a short time before his death, he bequeathed the whole estate to his nephew and executor, John Thomson, of New Castle, subject to the maintenance ofhis aged sister, Mary Thomson, “during the term of her natural life.” The greater part of the estate in 1858 was owned by Levi Morris, who was then rated for five hundred andninety-six acres. The estate is now held by Mrs. Naomi Morris, and is decidedly the most extensive tract owned by any one person in the township. The mansion occupied byCharles Thomson as been carefully preserved, being a substantial, plain, two-story stone house in the prevailing style of he period in which it was erected.

On the Harrison estate, and about half a mile north of Bryn Mawr, is the cemetery of the Harrison family. It is in a secluded situation, being surrounded by woods, and notreadily found by a stranger. It is inclosed by a substantial wall, whose dimensions are about ninety by forty-five feet. A stone in the inclosure states that “it is opposite thedivision between two rows of family graves, wherein are interred Richard Harrison, died March 2, 1747, and a number of his descendants; also Charles Thomson, Secretary of Continental Congress,” and Hannah, his wife. “Wherein are interred” the remains of Charles Thomson, looks very much like an intentional mistake. He is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery, his remains having been removed from here several years after his death, contrary to the expressed injunction l of his will, dated January 29, 1822, on file at Norristown, which states, near its beginning, “and first I desire to be buried in the old Burying-ground at Harrington,” meaning, it is natural to suppose, where his wife had been buried more than fifteen years previously. Hence we do not wonder that it made some excitement, and was the occasion of several pamphlets. Henry Woodman, of Buckingham, a respected minister of Friends, visited this cemetery in 18,58 and wrote an account thereof, published at the time, wherein he states that there was a stone here at that date, in the wall, with this inscription,—

In memory of Richard Harrison, the founder of this cemetery, who departed this life the second day of the First month, 1747, in the 78th year of his age. He, with his wife and children, are buried here, some of whom had died previously, and some subsequently to his death. Being members of the Society of Friends, no monuments were placed to mark their final resting-place. This stone is erected near the centre of them, to perpetuate their memory, in 1844.

It is apparent that the latter stone must have been since removed and the former one inserted. In the enlarged part are more recent stones, with inscriptions denoting the surnames of some six or seven families.

Few townships in the county possess better roads than Lower Merion. Of late years great quantities of cinder have been hauled and placed on them from the West Conshohocken furnaces, which, when worn down, make excellent and smooth roads, as may be witnessed on the Township Line road, extending southwestward from the latter place to Merion Square. Pains have also been taken to have them well graded and of good width, which tends greatly to improve the appearance of the country through which they pass. The Haverford road is probably the oldest in the township, having been laid out in 1703 as a public highway from near Haverford Meeting-house to Philadelphia. It entersLower Merion a trifle over half a mile south of Ardmore, and proceeds directly on about a mile and a half across the southern corner of the township. The road from the meeting-house to Powell’s ferry was confirmed in June, 1704. Report of a survey for a road from Merion to Radnor was confirmed in March, 1713. The road from Lancaster to the Schuylkill, at High Street ferry, was laid out November 23, 1741, and is now known as the old Lancaster road, passing through the township a distance of about six miles, and the villages of Merionville, General Wayne, Libertyville, Ardmore and Bryn Mawr. This road is noted on Scull & Heap’s map of 1750. Below the meeting house is mentioned “Griffith’s ” and “Tunis,” on opposite sides, and “Evans” about a mile in an easterly direction. On the making of the turnpike, in 1792, this road was considerably straightened, and in consequence but a very small portion of the original road through this township was used for the purpose. The Gulf road was another early and important highway, noted on Lewis Evans’ map of 1749 as extending from Valley Forge to the Lancaster road, a short distance above Ardmore. This road is noted for having on the east side of its course the “Penn milestones,” called so from having on the rear side the three balls or platters of the Penn coat-of-arms. They appear to be soapstone, and are generally above the ground about three and a half feet, bearing on the front merely the figures denoting the distance in miles from Philadelphia, -as, for instance, between Bryn Mawr and the Upper Merion line are two, bearing respectively “12” and “13.” It is remarkable that these should have been only placed along this road. When and by whom placed and who bore the expense are matters for conjecture. In 1766 a petition was sent to the Court of Quarter Sessions praying for a road from John Roberts’ mill “to Rees Ap Edward’s Ford, on the river Schuylkill, for the transportation of lime and other necessaries across said ford, for the convenience of the public.” This probably is the present Mill Creek road, and consequently this ford must have been in the vicinity of the mouth of the stream, thus indicating the necessity of bringing lime from Whitemarsh and Plymouth. At March Sessions, 1785, Anthony Levering made application for a road from Levering’s Ford, on the Schuylkill, by his mill, to the Lancaster road, on the north side of Merion Meeting house. The court appointed commissioners to lay out the road, which was ordered to be opened. This is evidently the highway commencing at the mouth of the stream at the lower part of West Manayunk, and thence proceeding through Academyville, by Belmont Race Course to the meeting house. It was one of the first applications granted for a new road after the organization of the present county. The overseers of the highways in 1767 were Robert Jones and Stephen Goodman; in 1785, William Stadleman and John Jones; and in 1810, Louis Knox and Peter Pechan.

Prior to the Revolution those persons in the township that were entitled to vote were obliged to go to the State-House, in Philadelphia. In 1778 the elections for this district were ordered to be held in Germantown, and from thence, in 1785, removed to the court- house in Norristown. By an act of Assembly passed on March 31, 1806, Lower Merion became the Ninth District in the county, and elections were required to be held at the General Wayne, and remained there until 1867, when a division was made into the Upper and Lower Districts. Through the increase of population, the court confirmed, June 3, 1878, the division of the Lower District into East Lower and Lower Districts, the elections for the former to be held at West Manayunk, and for the latter to continue at the General Wayne. The division of the Upper District was confirmed by the court June 10, 1880, to be called West and Upper Districts, the elections for the former to be held at Bryn Mawr station and for the latter to continue at Merion Square. We thus perceive that in a large and populous township like this, with its two centuries of history, even the subject of its elections, if inquired into and the materials brought together could, through the changes connected therewith, be made the matter of an interesting sketch since the days of slavery, servitude and property qualifications.

In connection with this subject and deserving mention, a map of Lower Merion was published in 1858 by John Levering, from surveys made by himself, showing all its buildings and various improvements, names of property-holders and the boundaries of lots and farms. This, we believe, was the first effort of the kind for the whole township; a part of the lower portion bad been thus given in Hill’s map of 1809.

Assessment of Lower Merion for 1780

  • Peter Evans, 230 acres, 1 horse and 3 cattle
  • Philip Pritner, gent., 100 a., 1 h.., 2 c., 2 slaves
  • Alexander Oliver, 4 h., 9 c.
  • Leonard Nidley, 2 h., 3 c.
  • David Thomas, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Lawrence Trexler, 2 h., 3 c.
  • Jonathan Brooks 100 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Charles Massey, 2 h., 3 c., 1 chair
  • Jesse Jones, 100 a., 2 h.
  • Francis Jones, 50 a., 3 h., 2 c.
  • Catherine Zolley, 52 a., grist-mill, 1 h., 2 c.
  • David Briggs, inn-keeper, 42 a., 2 slaves, 2, h., 3 c.
  • John Jones, 50 a., saw-mill, 2 h., 5 c.
  • Samuel Horton, smith-1 c.
  • Abraham Nanna, 120 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • John Tate, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Abraham Tuley, 2 h., 3 c.
  • Jonathan Sturgis, 200 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Joseph Smith, cordwainer, 1 c.
  • John Davis, mason, 1 h., 2 c.
  • Elizabeth Crickbaum, 100 a., 3 h., 2 c.
  • Robert Lisle, laborer
  • Robert Elliott, weaver, 100 a., 3 h., 4 c., 1 slave: Israel Jones, 2 h., 3 c.
  • Llewellyn Young, 2 h., 5 c.: John Smith, mason, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Peter Trexler, rents of Charles Thomson, 750 a., 6 h., 10 c.
  • Henry Pugh, 50 a., 1 c.
  • Thomas Cochran, 150 a., 2 h., 4 c.
  • George Horn, 77 a, 2 h.
  • Andrew Horn, 77 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • William Broades, 25 a., 3 h., 4 c.
  • Hugh Jones, 334 a., 4 h., 12 c., 1 slave
  • John Grover, 3 h., 4 c.
  • Wendel Kingfleld, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Hannah Bridson, widow, 93 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Willing Tolbert, 93 a., 4 h., 2 c.
  • Joseph Taylor, 1 c.
  • Isaac Taylor, aged, 139 a., 3 h., 2 c., 1 slave
  • John Young, weaver, 1 h., 1 c.
  • John Llewellyn, 350 a., 2 h., 5 c.
  • Mathias Foltz, 50 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Abraham Walter, single, 89a.
  • Joseph Roberts, 150 a., 1 h., 3 c.
  • John Rowland, laborer, 1 h., 1 c.
  • Eleanor Lloyd, 50 a.
  • Isaac Comly, 2 h., 4 c.
  • Meranah Alloway, 2 h., 3 c,
  • Enoch Davis, 40 a.,1 C.
  • Christ. Homiller, 3 c.
  • John Pimple, 1 h., 2 c.
  • John White, millwright
  • William Ward, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Daniel Burrell, oil-maker, oil-mill, 3 h., 3 c., 1 chair
  • Hugh Roberts, single, 130 a., 1 h., 1 c.
  • Jacob Amos, 1 c., 2 h.
  • Isaac Warner, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Anthony Righter, laborer, 1 c.
  • John Righter, miller, 100 a., gristmill, 4 h., 4 c.
  • Jacob Hansbury, laborer, 1 c.
  • Joseph Sill, 2 h. 2 c.
  • Frederick Bicking, 200 a., paper-mill, 1 slave, 2 h, 5 c.
  • Jacob Newhouse, 52 a., paper-mill, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Thomas Wilday, 51 a., 1 h., 1 c.
  • Thomas Robeson, weaver, 1 c.
  • John Robeson, clergyman, 1 h, 2 c.
  • John Robeson, laborer, 1 c.
  • James Winter, 80 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Jonathan Robeson, smith, 151 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Daniel Claus, paper-maker
  • Benjamin Scheetz, paper-maker, 1 c., 1 slave
  • Catherine Scheetz, 100 a., 2 paper-mills, 1 h., 3 c.
  • George Handbolt, paper-maker, lc.
  • James Underwood, 2 h., 5 c.
  • Ambrose Emery, 2 h., 4 c.
  • Samuel Pawlng, laborer, 1 c.
  • John Grover, 70 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Thomas Morgan,100 a., 3 h., 3 c.
  • Michael Cline, 30 a., 1 h., 1 c., weaver
  • Thomas Waters, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Rudolph Exbright, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Henry Miller, 50 a.
  • Thomas Humphreys, smith, 30 a., I h.,1 c.
  • George Dimple, 2 h., 3 c.
  • Philip Sing, 45 a., 2 h., 2 c., 1 chair
  • Algernon Roberts, 224 a., 6 h., 7 c.
  • John Evans, tailor
  • Jacob Coleman, cordwainer, 40 a.
  • Mathias Creamer, 2 h., I c.
  • Jacob Everman, laborer, 30 a., 2 c.
  • Jacob Keighler, 3 h., 3c.
  • Casper Space, 1 h., 2c.
  • a., Rudolph Latch, cordwainer, 75 a., 2 h., 2c.
  • James Calahan, laborer, 1 h., 1c.
  • Wm. Stadleman, innkeeper, 80 a., 4 h., 2 c.
  • Jesse Thomas, smith, 40 a., 2 h., 1 c.
  • John Zell, 100 a., 4 h., 2 c.
  • Nehemiah Evans, 50 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • John Durnal, 5 h., 5 c.
  • Isaac Hughs, 70 a., 3 h.
  • David Shannon, 100 a., e h., 5 c.
  • Henry Bare, 4 h., 5 c.
  • James Nussel, cordwainer, 2 a.
  • John Roberts, 50 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Jacob Lobb, 4 h., 3 c.
  • John Price, 194 a., 1 slave, 5 h., 8 c.
  • Walter Walter, 80 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Daniel Lobb, 1 c.
  • Hugh Knox, 120 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • John Cook, 3 h., 1 c.
  • Margaret Goodman, 168 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Michael Bower, 100 a., 2 h., 5 c.
  • Martin Miller, 35 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Jacob Matson, 1 h., 3 c.
  • Peter May, 150 a., 3 h., 2 c.
  • Henry Shooleter, weaver, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Abraham streeper, inn-keeper, 16 a., 1 h., 1 c.
  • Robert Holland, tanner, 40 a., tan-yard, 1 h., 2 c.
  • Michael Smith 2 h, 2 c.
  • William Smith, 2 h., 1 c.
  • Michael Smith, 2 h., 1 c.
  • Simon Claus, paper-maker, 2 c.
  • Anthony Tunis, 100 a., 1 h, 2 c.
  • Jeremiah Trexler, 2 h., 2 c.
  • David Zell, l00 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Jacob Conrad, 4 h., 2 c.
  • Isaac Lewis, tailor, 2 h., 2 c.
  • Jacob Jones, 230 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • John Amos, cordwainer, 1 c.
  • John Whiteman, wheelwright, 1 c.
  • Jacob Sloan, 100 a., 2 h., 3 c.
  • Anthony Levering, 114 a., grist and saw-mill, 3 h, 2 c.
  • Paul Jones, 130 a., 3 h., 2 c.
  • Silas Jones, 140 a., 2 h., 2 c.
  • Margaret Heller, 180 a., 1 h., 3 c.
  • Frederick Crow, 100 a., 3 h., 4 c.
  • Israel Davis, cordwainer
  • Nicholas Stoltz, 2 h., 4 c.
  • Bartle Righter, 40 a.,1 h., 3 c.
  • Jacob Neagle, paper-maker, 1 c.
  • Michael McMullen, 190 a., 3 h., 4 c.
  • William Roberts 1 c.
  • Rudolf Sibley, 180 a., 3 h., 5 c.
  • Michael Hersh, 1 h., 1 c.
  • Edward Price, infirm, 200 a.
  • Rees Price, 15 a., 2 h., 8 c.
  • Thomas David’s estate, 280 a.
  • John Vanderin, 13 a.
  • Peter Righter, 5 a.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

The list of 1734 contains the names of fifty-two residents of Lower Merion, and among them there is not recognizable a single German name, yet they had sufficiently increased by 1765 to have ministers occasionally preach to them in their language and baptize their children. In 1767 the first communion service was held, in which forty-three persons participated. Through the exertions of William Stadleman, Frederick Grow, Stephen Goodman, Christopher Getzman, George Bassler and Simon Litzenberg an organization was effected and a lot of ground purchased, with a view to erect thereon an Evangelical Lutheran. Church, with a cemetery attached. A small log house for worship was built thereon in 1769, but no communion service held until May 1,1774. The Revolution now approaching, the excitement connected therewith impaired the congregation to such an extent that it had but little more than a lingering existence throughout the whole of this period, and even its pulpit was occasionally supplied by ministers of other denominations.

Near the close of the century matters began to wear a brighter aspect, and it was determined, as the building was getting dilapidated, to erect a new one of stone in its place. This was accordingly accomplished in 1800, but without securing stated religious services or a regular pastor. Through the efforts of several of its most efficient members, the Rev. B. Keller, of the Germantown congregation, was induced, in 1828, to divide his ministrations with this church. The attendance began now to increase, and through renewed efforts on the part of the pastor and the chief members prosperity became more manifest. A substantial wall was erected along the roadside on the southern part of the lot, and a Sunday school started under flourishing auspices. The Rev. Jeremiah Harpel succeeded in the charge in 1831, and at the first communion he held eleven persons participated. His energetic labors materially added to the membership. In 1833 the building was enlarged, and in November of that year dedicated to St. Paul.

Mr. Harpel having resigned in 1834, the Rev. Charles Barnitz assumed the charge in the following year, making his residence in the neighborhood, and remained its pastor until 1839, during period he added to its membership fifty persons. His successor was Rev. Edward Town, who retained the pastorate about two and a half years, or until 1842. A vacancy now occurred, which was filled by Rev. Nathan Cornell in the autumn of 1844, who, within three years, added some twenty-four members. The Rev. William D. Roedel having settled here, the congregation built for his accommodation a parsonage in 1851, on the upper or western end of the church ground. He remained in charge until 1855, during which time he received seventeen into membership. Rev. Timothy Tilghman Titus succeeded, and remained pastor for several years. Henry Woodman, in a visit to this section in the latter part of 1858, thus speaks of this congregation and its previous church building—

I was informed by some persons residing near the place, that it has at thee time the largest congregation of any other place of worship in the township. Thirty years ago, there was only a small house upon the premises used in the double capacity of meeting and school-house, and the congregation had become very small. All restraints against service being performed in the English language being removed, they hare now become a large and highly respectable congregation. The officiating clergyman informed me that if service was now perforated in the German language, they would leave to get another congregations to understand it

As these Germans were surrounded by the descendants of the early Welsh settlers and an English-speaking population, chiefly belonging to the Society of Friends, in consequence it was long known through this section as “the Dutch Church.” It stood at the intersection of cross- roads, about a quarter of a mile southeast of Ardmore, and was a one-story stone building, surrounded by the graveyard with shade trees. In 1873 it was torn down, and the new church erected on a one-acre lot donated by Mr. Kugler, in the lower part of the village, fronting on Lancaster Avenue. It is a handsome edifice, built of dressed stone, two stories high, fifty-two by seventy feet in dimension, surmounted with a steeple and was dedicated in December, 1875. The present pastor is Rev. W. H Steck. Services are held twice every Sabbath, the Sunday school being in the afternoon.

The graveyard, which has now been in use nearly one hundred and twenty years, in 1858 comprised about one and a half acres, and has since been enlarged to twice that size. It is neatly kept, and is now partly inclosed by iron railing. As may be expected, a considerable number are buried here. From the numerous tombstones we have transcribed the following surnames, of which fully three-fourths denote a German origin: Stull, Keoch, Cassidy, Hoegne, Dolby, Brooks, Bailey, Kenzie, Knox, Martin, Thomas, Weest, McMinn, Smith, Lainhoff, Kugler, Miller, Sheaff, Goodman, Grover, Coldflesh, Sibley, Kensel, Ott, Uries, Freas, Zell, Stelwagon, Trexler, Horn, Jones, Hagy, Raser, Schrieble, Krickbaum, Knoll, Walkin, Prentz, McElroy, Herse, Snyder, Righter, Wagner, Litzenberg, Hill, Wilfong, Wright, Helmbold, Black, Stadleman, Leedom, Fullerton, Griffith, Heater, Fimple, McClellan, Amos, Latch, Wallower, Fiss, Richter, Hoffman, Hayworth, Barr, Tibben, Grow, Wood, Mowrer, Rhodes, Schofield, Garrett, Wise, Williams, Super, Warner, Hansell, Bettle, Knoll, Gravel, Bloom, Epright, Pouge, Lentz, Schafer, Fryer, Vaughan, Bowden, Hoffman, Burns, Abraham, Seabold, Bevan, Rodenboh, Nagle, Pope, Pitman, Lowbey, Hilt, Whiteman, Grave, White, Noblet, Yetter, Clevenger, Magee, Holland, Miles, Wilcox, Fry, Lyons and Young. A neat stone has been erected here to the memory of the late Charles Kugler, which informs us that he was born February 5, 1805, and died October 28, 1879. He was long identified with this church, above fifty years superintendent of the Sabbath-school, a school director of the township thirty-six years, and sixteen years president of the Lutheran Publication Society, besides holding other positions.

Theological Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo

This institution of the Catholic diocese is situated in the southeastern portion of Lower Merion, and within half a mile of Overbrook Station, on the Pennsylvania Railroad. The dome, surmounted with an elevated gilt cross, forms an object that can be seen for miles around the country, and its extensive grounds and magnificent buildings attract attention and are a subject for comment among visitors on business or pleasure who have occasion to pass through this section. Its origin dates back to 1832, when a house was used for this purpose near St. Mary’s Church, on South Fourth Street, Philadelphia. In the year 1838 it was incorporated by an act of Assembly as the “Seminary of St. Charles Borromeo.” The incorporators were John Keating, John Diamond, Joseph Dugan, Michael McGrath and Marc Antoine Frenaye. These gentlemen constituted the first lay trustees and formed five of the nine required by law. The other four consisted of Bishop Francis P. Kendrick, the president of the seminary, the professor of theology and the professor of Sacred Scriptures.

In January, 1839, the building at Eighteenth and Race Streets was completed, when Rev. M. O Connor, D.D., opened the seminary with eighteen students. The object intended was that those thus educated should serve the missions within the diocese of Philadelphia alone. At this date this diocese included the whole of Pennsylvania and Delaware, with the western part of New Jersey; but such has been the increase of churches that since 1869 its territory has been reduced to the city of Philadelphia and nine counties, namely,– Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Delaware, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton and Schuylkill. In 1848, Rev. Thaddeus Amat became president, with twenty-five students, and $4043.26 raised by subscription for their support. The seminary having been enlarged, the number of students in 1851 had now reached to forty-one. Owing to a further increase and the want of sufficient accommodations, Bishop Neuman, in 1859, opened a preparatory seminary at Glen Riddle, Delaware Co., under the direction of Rev. James F. Shanahan, now bishop of Harrisburg.

Seeing a necessity for further accommodations, Bishop Wood, at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, in 1866, secured the site known as the Remington Farm, near Overbrook, about four and a half miles from Philadelphia, containing one hundred and twenty-seven acres, and now bounded by City, Lancaster and Wynnewood Avenues and the Hunter estate, the land being diversified, a branch of Indian Creek passing through it and possessing fine meadows, shady woods and stone adapted for building purposes. The cornerstone of the new building for the seminary was laid April 4th, 1866, on which occasion the president, Rev. Michael O’Connor, preached the sermon, when he reviewed its early history and struggles to arrive at what they were now prepared to accomplish. Owing to the extent of the improvements to be made, the seminary building was not ready for use until January, 1871. In 1872, Rev. James A. Corcoran, D.D., assumed the rectorship of the seminary, succeeded in the following year by Rev. Charles O’Connor, D.D. The Rev. William Kieran, D.D., who was appointed in 1879, is its present rector. The seminary contains on an average one hundred students, and since its first foundation has supplied the diocese with upwards of three hundred and fifty priests. There are eight professorships, besides several assistant professors. The languages taught are English, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Syriac. The French and Italian languages are cultivated in private by a number of students. Rev. James A. Corcoran, D.D., is the professor of Hebrew, Syriac and homiletics. Every branch of sacred and profane science receives its due attention in the ten years’ course required here in preparing the students for their future labors.

As this seminary building ranks among the finest in the country, a brief description will be given. Its architecture is of the Italian style and the general ground plan somewhat in the form of the letter E. The east, or main front, is three hundred and eighty-four feet in length, three stories high and the central portion surmounted by a dome, the summit of which is one hundred and eighty feet above the ground. In the rear of the central building is the chapel, forty-five and a half by one hundred and three feet in dimensions and admirably fitted up, the decorations and paintings therein being excellent. Besides the main altar, four side altars are built in alcoves, sixteen feet wide and twenty-four feet high. The organ and choir-loft are situated at the east end of the chapel, and the students, when in choir, sit in stalls facing one another, according to the mode adopted in Rome. The central building is devoted to the library, choir halls, sacristies, reception-room, and parlors. The pavilions contain study and recreation halls. The northwest pavilion and a building adjoining it are the quarters of the matron and her attachés, the kitchen, laundry, engine-room, store-rooms, etc. The southwest pavilion is occupied as students’ rooms and a laboratory. The house is built of gray stone, heated by steam, and everything used in its construction is of the most substantial and durable character. The architects were Samuel F. Sloan and Addison Hutton. There are, besides, located on the grounds gas and water-works, two private dwellings for employees, carpenter-shop, barns and large and commodious stables.

The library contains nearly eighteen thousand volumes, many of which are valuable and some rare. Among these we shall give space to mention the following works, all folios excepting two: The Bollandist “Lives of the Saints,” commenced in 1643 at Antwerp, and still being published, 67 vols.; De Lyra’s Bible, printed at Rome 1472, the capitals painted by hand; a German Bible, printed in 1534, translated by D. Johan Dieten; a Bible in 10 vols., printed in 1645 at Paris, in Syriac, Samaritan, Chaldee, Arabic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew; “Councils of the Church,” 11 vols.; “Cornelius a Lapide,” 10 vols., Antwerp, 1645; Martin’s “Corruptions of the Scriptures,” 1582; “Bulla Roma Pontificum,” 29 vols.; “St. Augustine,” 14 vols; “Venerable Bede,” 5 vols., 1563; “Bellarmine,” 11 vols., quarto; “St. Thomas Aquinas,” 26 vols.; Montfauçon’s “Antiquities,” 10 vols.; Kingsborough’s ”Mexican Antiquities,” 9 vols.; “Scriptorum Graecorum Bibliotheca,” 70 vols.; Lemaire’s “Bibliotheca Classica,” 150 vols., quarto. Such a library is calculated to impress one with the antiquity and extent of the church. Many of the volumes have been donated by distinguished persons residing in Europe and in this country. It contains also a fine collection of medals struck by the various popes, commencing in 1417 and down to the present time. The walls of the seminary are also adorned with numerous valuable engravings and paintings. To bring this seminary to its present condition has cost not less than one million of dollars, and requires for its continuation an annual outlay of nearly forty thousand. The result, however, has been that some of the most gifted minds in the church are happy to call it their Alma Mater, and its welfare concerns many thousands of Catholics residing within the diocese.