Historical Collections Relating to Gwynedd (Pennsylvania)

By Howard M. Jenkins

Second Edition


Chapter 25. Agriculture, Slaves, Schools, Hotels, Stores, etc.

Some idea of the agricultural methods of the early settlers may be gathered from the inventories of personal property attached to their wills. In 1712, William John's inventory showed his grain crops to be wheat, rye, and oats; he also had hay; and these were "in the barn," showing that he, at least, had by that time built a barn. He had 21 cattle of all sorts, 5 of the horse kind, in addition to "1 old mare with her breed in the woods." He had "7 stock of bees," showing attention already given to them, and Jenkin Jenkin's inventory, 1745, includes 18 hives of bees. Owen Evans, 1723, also had bees, and his inventory includes "6 acres of new land fallow for barley."

Cider was made quite early. Robert John, 1732, had "an apple mill and press." Jenkin Jenkin's inventory includes "7 hogseds and 3 barrels of sider."

As to implements and tools, there were none up to 1750 but of the simplest sort. Robert John had 3 plows, 1 harrow, 3 hoes, an iron bar, mauls, wedges, axes, spades, shovels, dungforks, pitch-forks, a broadaxe, 2 cross-cut saws, "sithes," sickles, 2 grindstones. The sickle, of course, was the implement for reaping grain, but Jenkin Jenkin's inventory (1743) mentions "a cradle", in connection with "a scythe and 4 siccles," showing the use of the cradle as early as that. He had also "a cuting box."

Sheep were raised by Robert Evans, whose inventory, 1746, showed 22 head of them, as well as 20 hogs, and Evan Evans, the preacher, 1747, had 30 head of sheep. Robert Evans's crops were partly in "ye barn," and he had a lot of "flax unrotted." Jenkin Jenkin's crop items include flaxseed and buckwheat.

Of vehicles of any sort there is no mention in any of these early inventories, except a cart. Robert John had one, and Evan Evans had "a cart and thiller's gears;" he also had a sled. Those who traveled went on horseback, and in the inventories the "riding-horse" is usually mentioned separately, and appraised at a considerably higher price than the horses used for farm work. It was common, also, to appraise the saddle with the horse. That the sale of a horse was attended with some formality at times is shown by a bill of sale among the papers of Ellis Lewis, of Upper Dublin, given to him, in 1728, by John Clark, "of Elizabethtown, in East New Jersey," for "a black horse, branded I F on the near buttock, with a few white hairs in ye forehead, and a few white on his hind off leg." (The price was 3 pounds, 5 shillings)

Some memoranda in the little book of Samuel and Cadwalader Foulke give clues to the time of agricultural operations. Thus:

On the 5th day of May, 1773, fell a snow of several Inches deep, and was succeeded by the greatest crops of wheat that was known for more than 30 years.

9th of July, 1801, Began Reaping. 15th do., Finished Reaping and all our grain in the Barn.

12th of July, 1802, began Reaping. 17th, Finished Reaping, and all our grain in the Barn.

1803, May 8th, a snow of 4 or 5 inches.

On the last day of March, 1807, was the greatest snow ever known at that season.

On the first day of Nov'r, 1810, it began snowing, which continued 32 hours, and drifted for two days & was attended with unusual freezing. After one moderate day it began Raining on the 8th. The 10th in the evening was the greatest fresh in Wissahickon that had happened in 16 years. The sun has not shone from the 8th until the [date omitted.]

March 30, 1823, there was a snow near a foot deep, attended with the hardest gale for 12 hours, ever known, by which thousands of cords of wood were blown down.

1834, May 14th, 15th and 16th, the ground was froze each morning.

Concerning the slaves in Gwynedd, the meeting records furnish some clues. Here are a few extracts from the monthly meeting minutes:

4th mo. 27, 1756. [Answer of Monthly Meeting to 10th Query:] We have but very few negroes amongst us, and they we believe are tolerably well used.

7th mo. 25, 1758. A Friend among us has sold a negro slave to another since our last Quarter. Querie: is that an offense?

1st mo. 29, 1760. [Answer to Query:] Some slaves are brought to meeting at times.

2nd mo. 26, 1760. Thomas Jones has purchased a slave, and he appearing in this meeting in a plyable frame of mind, expressed disposition of using him well if he should live; this meeting desires him to adhere to the Principle of doing unto others as he would be done unto, which will teach him how to use him in time to come.

3rd mo. 30, 1761. Richard Thomas has purchased a slave, and he being in this meeting, Friends had a good opportunity to lay the inconsistency of the practice before him, [etc.]

10th mo. 27 1761. Mordecai Moore sold a slave for a term of years but says that he has such a regard for the unity of Friends that if it was to do again he would not do it.

10th mo., 1770. Jonathan Robeson acknowledges selling a negro woman, who was very troublesome in his family for several years. He never intends to do the like again.

1st mo., 1780. Miles Evans agrees to manumit his negro man. A committee of the meeting is appointed to advise the negro with respect to his conduct when free.

7th mo. 27, 1784. [Women's branch of the Monthly Meeting answering the query:] No slaves amongst us. Those set free are under the care of the committee.

J. Quinn: Additional comments at the end, as in 1775 an inventory of slaves was made.

Jenkin Jenkins's inventory, 1745, shows "a servant man" appraised at 8 pounds, and "a negro woman," 40 pounds. The former was probably an indentured servant, and the latter a slave. Items of the "time" of indentured servants occur in many of the inventories. In Evan Evan's inventory, 1728: "a servant lad, 15 pounds, and a servant maid, 1 yr to serve, 4 pounds." In Robert John's, 1732: "The time of 5 bound servants, 50 pounds." In Evan Evan's, 1747: "A servant man's time, 2 yrs, 10 pounds."

In 1757, as appears from an old memorandum of account the pay of a farm laborer, David Evans, in the employ of Ellis Lewis, of Upper Dublin, for reaping and mowing, was 2 shilling 6 pence per day -- about 53 cents. For threshing less than that was paid. Some items in the account run thus:













Mowin second grass





Thrashin wheat





Mowing grass





Thrashin buckwheat



As to schools and education, the first school-house in the township undoubtedly was that in the lower end, mentioned by Rowland Hugh and Robert Humphrey, 1721, in their petition for a road. In 1729, it appears that "Marmaduke Pardo, of Gwynedd, schoolmaster," was married at Merion, so that Gwynedd had a teacher at least that early, if not --as is reasonable --in 1721, when the school-house was provided. [Marmaduke came from Pembrokeshire, Wales, with the following quaint certificate, dated April 19, 1727: "We whose names are hereunto subscrib'd, being the Curate and others of the inhabitants of the parish of St. David's, do hereby certify whom it may concern that ye bearer hereof, Marmaduke Pardo, of the Citty of St. David's, and county of Pembrock, hath to ye utmost of our knowledge & all appearance liv'd a very sober and pious life, demeaning himself according to ye Strictest Rules of his profession, viz., wt what we call Quakerism, & yt he hath for these several years past took upon himself ye keeping of a private school in this citty, in which station he acquitted himself with ye common applause, and to ye general satisfaction of all of us who have committed our children to his care and tuition, " etc. (signed by Richard Roberts, curate, and about 25 others.)]

Of the teachers following Marmaduke Pardo I have no account. Samuel Evans (son of Owen and Ruth) was a teacher "at North Wales," towards the close of the last century. A school was kept under the oversight of the Friends, at the meeting-house, at least as early as 1793. Joseph Foulke, in a manuscript furnished the writer in 1859, recalled the following facts:

"My earliest recollection of schools which I attended was at Gwynedd meeting. There was no house for the purpose, but what was called "the little meeting-house" was used. An old tottering man by the name of Samuel Evans was the teacher. The reading books were the Bible and Testament; we had Dilworth's Spelling-Book, and Dilworth's Assistant (or Arithmetic). Grammar was a thing hardly thought of; there was however a small part of the spelling-book called "A New Guide to the English Tongue," and a few of the older pupils learned portions of this, by rote, and would occasionally recite to the master, but the substance appeared to be equally obscure both to master and scholar.

My next schooling was in 1795, in the house late the property of William Buzby, on the Bethlehem road, above the Spring-House. It was a kind of family school, taught by Hannah Lukens. (Here Dr. Walton, of Stroudsburg, laid the foundation of his education.) I next went to Joshua Foulke, my father's elder brother, and an old man. He taught in a log school-house, near the 18-mile stone on the Bethlehem road. My father, with the help of his neighbors, built this house [about 1798], on a lot set apart for the purpose at the southern extremity of his premises. This log school-house stood about thirty years, and besides Joshua Foulke, we had for teachers William Coggins, Hannah Foulke, Benjamin Albertson, Hugh Foulke (my brother), John Chamberlain, Christian Dull, Daniel Price, and Samuel Jones. (I have probably not named all, or given them in the order in which they came).

The Free School of Montgomery, however, was more popular. The salary paid there, $160 ayear, secure more competent teachers than other schools in the neighborhood. I can remember when the teacher's pay was from a dollar to ten shillings per quarter for each scholar, and he obtained his board by going about from house to house among his employers, and it was a remark that people would trust a teacher to instruct their children to whom they would not lend a horse!"

[Ed. note, 2009. A list of pupils in the 1807 Gwynedd school and some lessons have been put on line.]

Many interesting data ought to be available concerning this "Free School at Montgomery." It was maintained for many years, and the old house yet stands, and is used for school purposes. Here William Collom, an accomplished teacher, taught about 1820. Benjamin F. Hancock was teacher there, when his son, the General, was born. Among the scholars at one time were Samuel Aaron, Samuel Medary, and Lewis Jones, and a flourishing debating society was maintained about William Collom's time.

George I. Evans of Emerson, Ohio, says of his father, Jonathan Evans: "He taught school for two years, perhaps, near Everard Foulke's, about half a mile east of Bunker's Hill, and 1 1/2 miles from Quakertown; after that he moved to Gwynedd and taught school there. I think he moved to Sandy Hill [Whitpain] in 1816 or '17, and remained there until after 1824. He also taught in Worcester, and in 1826 and 1827 he taught at the end of Uncle John Ambler's lane, in an old log house on Captain Baker's place. I think he got as low as $6 a month for teaching."

The public schools of Gwynedd township date their history form the year 1840. In 1834, during the administration of Governor Wolf, the first common school law passed the Legislature. It left the school districts the option of acceptance or rejection by a vote of the school directors, who were elected by the people. This law was objected to as needlessly elaborate, and in various respects unsuitable for the circumstances of the people. However fair or otherwise this charge may have been, comparatively few schools were organized under it, in any part of the State. In 1835 its repeal was nearly carried through the Legislature. The Senate passed the repealing act by a decisive vote, but in the House, Thaddeus Stevens led the opposition, and by his passionate eloquence and persistent earnestness, secured a majority in the negative. The next year, in Governor Ritner's administration, the law was amended, and with this change the friends of public schools began their work in earnest.

In 1834, the Gwynedd Board of Directors were Peter Hoot, Thomas Shoemaker, Solomon Kriebel, Jesse Spencer, William Buzby, and Charles F. Jenkins. On the vote for accepting or rejecting the State system, the members were unanimous in the negative.

In 1835 and 1836 the votes of the directors were to the same effect. But in 1837, under the provisions of the amended law of '36, the people voted on the question of adoption, at the township election, in March. For three years the opposition was successful, the votes being as follows:

1837, March -- for Adoption, 23; for Rejection 100.

1838, March 16, -- for Adoption 73; for Rejection 128.

1839, March 15, -- for Adoption 46; for Rejection 125.

The contest of 1838 was a warm one, and while the friends of the schools showed a great increase of strength, their decisive defeat evidently discouraged them for the next year. But a very persuasive element had now entered into the case. The State appropriations to the school district were piling up. They had begun in 1835, under the Act of '34. By special acts and resolutions passed from year to year by the Legislature, it had been provided that such appropriations should still be open to the acceptance of the districts, up to a date in the future, --this date being in each act moved a year ahead. And in 1837 there had come from the national treasury to that of the State that large sum (nearly three million of dollars) which was Pennsylvania's share of the Surplus distributed under the Act of Congress of 1836. This money was largely applied to the public schools, and the effect it had on the Gwynedd appropriation will be seen by the following statement:

State Appropriations to Gwynedd School District:

For the year beginning June, 1835 ... $83.37

For the year beginning June, 1836 ... $228.27

For the year beginning June, 1837 ... $799.80

For the year beginning June, 1838 ... $353.00

For the year beginning June, 1839 ... $326.00

When the vote came to be taken, once more, at the township election in March, 1840, there was, therefore, nearly eighteen hundred dollars to the credit of the school district, and open to its use in the event of a vote for accepting the system, but to be covered into the general fund of the State, in the event of a fresh rejection. With this aid, the friends of the schools triumphed. On March 20th of that year, the vote stood:

For Acceptance 86; For Rejection 80.

The Directors in 1840 were Charles Gregor, John Boileau, John Jenkins, Samuel Linton, Samuel B. Davis, Charles F. Jenkins. The adoption of the system made necessary the laying of a tax, and this was fixed at $228.26. The following statement shows the district's share of the State appropriation, and its amount of tax, from 1840 to 1845 inclusive:

1840, State Appropriation, $326; Tax, $228.26

1841, State Appropriation, $326; Tax, $225.42

1842, State Appropriation, $410; Tax, $320.65

1843, State Appropriation, $410; Tax, $266.83

1844, State Appropriation, $245; Tax, $296.87

1845, State Appropriation, $192; Tax, $301.80

The report of the State Superintendent for 1844 showed the progress which Gwynedd had by that time made. There were 4 schools, 4 teachers (all males); 255 male and 197 female pupils. The average compensation of teachers per month was $20. The schools were open 9 months in the year. 13 pupils were instructed in the German language. It is interesting to note that in that year, 19 townships of the county, of majority of the whole number, still rejected the State system. Gwynedd and Montgomery were the only two in this section accepting; Hatfield, Horsham, Towamencin, Worcester, Whitpain, and Upper Dublin were among those which had so far refused.

The four schools open, in 1844, were the "upper eight-square," on the Allentown road; one on the Sumneytown road opposite Frederick Beaver's; one at Gwynedd meeting-house, partly supported by the meeting fund; one at the "lower eight square," on the turnpike below Spring-House. The two "eight-square" were actually octagonal in shape, a plan then thought to be a very good one. [Editor's note: A school-house, on the meeting grounds, built in 1857, still stands and is used as a kindergarten, run by the meeting, and is pictured below.]

The first hotel in the township was no doubt that of Thomas Evans, on what is now the turnpike, a mile below Acuff's. On which side of the road it stood may be somewhat uncertain, but probably on the south-west side, where there used to be traces of an old building, a well, etc. Rowland Robert's hotel, in Montgomery, must have been on the Bethlehem road, below Montgomery Square. It existed in 1749, as we know by his will. The hotel at Spring-House was established about 1763, probably by Martin Shoemaker, who came from Lower Salford. Christian Dull bought this property of Philip Bahl, and continued to keep it for many years, probably until his death in 1820. He was the landlord when Alexander Wilson, afterward the famous ornithologist, stayed over night there in his pedestrian tour to Niagara Falls, in October, 1804, and "wrote up" the place in a not particularly complimentary manner.

[Wilson's poem, "The Forresters," describing his trip, says,

"Mile after mile passed unperceived away,

Till in the west the day begun to close,

And Spring-House tavern furnished us repose.

Here two long rows of market folks were seen,

Ranged front to front, the table placed between,

Where bags of meat, and bones, and crusts of bread,

And hunks of bacon all around were spread;

One pint of beer from lip to lip went 'round,

And scarce a bone the hungry house-dog found;

Torrents of Dutch from every quarter came,

Pigs, calves, and sour-kraut the important theme;

While we, on future plans revolving deep,

Discharged our bill, and straight away retired to sleep."

[Editor's note, 2001, "The Spring House Tavern" still is in use as a restaurant, at the place where Bethlehem Pike, Sumneytown Pike, Norristown Road and Penllyn-Bluebell Pike meet.

Before buying the Maris property, by the meeting-house, and establishing his hotel there, David Acuff kept tavern at Spring-House (perhaps in the Scarlett building) for a number of years. I have seen his licenses for years from 1811 to 1816. He bought the Maris property of Jesse J. Maris, in 1818, and at the August Term, 1819, petitioned the court for a license. This, however, was not granted him until 1827. The petition of 1819 recites that his place is "where the great road leading from Doylestown to Plymouth Meeting crosses the great road leading from Philadelphia to Kutztown," and that there are no hotels between Spring-House and George Heist's, on the latter road, or "between Montgomery Square and Pigeontown" (Blue Bell) on the other. [editor, 2001: This is today the property known as "The William Penn Inn, across from Gwynedd Meeting, at the corner of Sumneytown Pike and US Route 202.]

The tavern at Kneedler's was long known as Heisler's. (Reading Howell's map, 1792, shows it by that name, --though mis-spelled Heister's.) When it was established is not certain. In 1776, Jacob Heisler had 147 acres of land, according to the assessor's list, but he is not marked as having a tavern. Henry Kneedler, who had married his granddaughter, Margaret Heisler (daughter of Jacob, jun.), acquired the property in 1840, and the hotel was long kept by his son, Jacob Heisler Kneedler.

George Heist's tavern, on the turnpike, below the old St. Peter's churchyard, was a famous place in its time. The large buildings, now used for a dwelling (Cardell's), were put up to accommodate the public, and there used to be large stone sheds and stabling, which were torn down during the ownership of Silas H. Lande, in the '60s.

As has been already stated, the central part of the present store-building and residence of Walter H. Jenkins was a hotel during the Revolution. Jesse Evans, the tailor, when he sold most of his property to George Maris, in 1755, retained this, (now W.H.J.'s), but as he became insolvent, the sheriff sold it for him, in November, 1764, to Jacob Wentz, of Worcester. He, in 1769, built the middle part of the house, and rented it out for a tavern. Who was the landlord is not known. Owen Ferris, "of Towamencin, gentleman," bought the property of Wentz, in 1778, and in 1782 sold it to John Martin, who in 1794 sold to Edward Jenkins. The last named built the present store end of the building, and kept store there until his death in 1829, when the property descended to his son, Charles F. Jenkins.

Earlier than Edward Jenkins's store at this place was that of Owen Evans, in the Meredith house. (He calls himself "storekeeper" in a deed to his son Samuel.) This store Samuel Evans probably continued; in his deed for the sale of 88 1/2 acres to Amos Roberts, in 1765, he calls himself "store-keeper," also.

'Squire John Roberts was doubtless the most important merchant in Gwynedd, for many years. His store was at the Spring-House, a particularly good place for business in the old times. He began there soon after the close of the Revolution, some of his accounts that I have seen being of so early a date as 1786. His papers show that he dealt largely in flaxseed and linen, buying the former of the farmers and exporting it, from Philadelphia, to the Irish ports, --Belfast, Dublin, Newry, and Cork. In return he received the linens. His operations were sometimes directly with the Irish commission houses, but more frequently he conducted them through Caleb and Owen Foulke, of Philadelphia. The shipments each way were quite large: whether they were ultimately at a profit to John may be doubted. Months were required for returns, each way, and the various charges for insurance, freight, storage, commissions, etc., were about 30 per cent of the prices realized on the flaxseed. John closed his business at the Spring-House in 1794, by selling out to John Hubbs, for whom his brother-in-law, Amos Lewis, of Upper Dublin, became security. John Hubbs did not prove to be a successful store-keeper, and did not long continue.

The first grist-mill in the township was doubtless that on the Wissahickon, at Penllyn, built by William Foulke. Its date of erection is uncertain, but it was some years before the Revolution. Pretty nearly contemporary with it, but rather later, was the mill north of North Wales, formerly John L. Heist's. In the 1776 list it is entered as Barnaby Beaver's.

At Mumbower's, there was a saw and fulling-mill set up about 1744. In that year Evan Evans conveyed 29 acres to his son Abraham Evans, including a strip 2 perches wide and 98 long, "for the purpose of digging a race to lead the water to a saw and fulling mill."

According to Gordon's Gazetteer, there were in Gwynedd, in 1832, two grist-mills and three saw-mills. (There were returned to the assessor 307 houses, and 776 cattle.)

The construction of the turnpike from Spring-House upward by Montgomery Square was set on foot in 1813, a charter having been granted by the Legislature, and approved by the Governor, on January 16 of that year. The name of the corporation, "The Spring-House, Northampton Town and Bethlehem Turnpike Company," showed the ambitious design which which was entertained, and which, compared with the actual progress of the work, was altogether too large for the means at command. The commissioners named in the charter were William Tilghman and Peter Kneplay, of Philadelphia; John Roberts, Evan Jones, Silas Hough, and John Weaver, of Montgomery township; Samuel Sellers, Andrew Schlicher, and William Green, Bucks county; James Greenleaf, Abraham Rinker, Jacob Hartzel, and Peter Wint, of Lehigh county; and George Huber and Owen Rice of Northampton county.

The road was to begin at Spring-House, and go by Montgomery Square, Trewig's tavern, Seller's tavern, Swamp meeting-house [Quakertown], to Fry's tavern, and from there to the borough of Northampton [Allentown], in Lehigh county, "with a convenient section to the town of Bethlehem." The roadway was not to be less than 50 nor more than 60 feet wide, of which at least 21 feet was to be made an artificial road, "bedded with wood, stone, gravel, or any other hard substance, well compacted together, and of sufficient depth to secure a sold foundation to the same; and the said road shall be faced with gravel or stone pounded, or other small hard substance, in such manner as to secure a firm, and as near as the materials will admit, an even surface, " etc., etc. [This is today, 2001, the non-freeway portion of Pennsylvania State Road 309, with the spur to Bethlehem being state route 378. It would start at Spring House, go past Montgomery Mall, Montgomery Baptist Church, through Colmar, through Sellersville (east of 309), through Quakertown -a bit east of present 309, past Richland Friends' meeting-house, and then roughly follow 309 into Allentown. ]

The stockholders organized by a meeting "at the public-house of Philip Shellenberger," May 24, 1813, electing Evan Jones, President; George Weaver, Treasurer; and Owen Rice, Hugh Foulke, Edward Ambler, John Roberts, Benjamin Rosenberger, Thomas Lester, James Wilson, John Gordon, Henry Leidy, John Todd, Benjamin Foulke, and Isaac Morris, managers.

The managers met first, August 23, 1813, at John Weaver's hotel, and elected Cadwallader Foulke and John Houston surveyors. Next day they met at David Acuff's hotel, Spring-House, and remained for further meetings on the two following days. There was some controversy over the route. One proposition, negatived by a vote of 6 to 3, was to run "in a straight line from Spring-House to George Weaver's;" another (yeas 4, nays 8), that it "be carried along the North Wales road until where the [Treweryn] creek intersects the same, from thence through the lands of Messrs. Foulke, Sheive, and Evans, in an oblique direction to the Swede's Ford road, thence along it to George Weaver's." Some other propositions were made, and finally, 9 to 3, the road as now located was fixed on.

The subsequent construction of the road was very slow. It never got to "Northampton Town," or even to Quakertown, but stopped at Hilltown, and the corporate title was changed finally to the Spring-House and Hilltown Turnpike Company. The State granted aid to a considerable amount: by an act in 1816, the Governor was authorized to subscribe to 200 shares of stock ($10,000); by another, in 1821, he was required to subscribe for 300 shares more; in 1824, he was directed to pay Patrick Logan, a contractor who had been at work on the road, $1,593, a balance due him, and the balance due under the Act of 1816 (and a supplement, 1817), stated to be $7,157, when the road was completed to Trewig's tavern. In 1833, an act of the Legislature recited that "owing to the embarrassed situation of their funds," the Company had no prospect of complying with the conditions of the Act of 1821, and the Governor was ordered to pay the whole $15,000 State aid, as soon as they should complete not less than 2 1/2 miles more road.

The turnpike from Spring-House to Sumneytown, 17 miles, was made 1847-48. A general meeting to organize the company was held at Jonas Boorse's hotel in Lower Salford, May 20, 1847, and Charles F. Jenkins was elected President, Isaac W. Wampole, treasurer, and Ellis Cleaver, Henry Kneedler, Seth Lukens, Jonas Boorse, Jonas C. Godshalk, Solomon Artman, Nathaniel Jacoby, and George Snyder, managers, with Jacob Pruner, jr., as surveyor, located the route (varying very little from the bed of the old road), starting from the Spring-House on May 27th, and reaching "the upper end of Sumneytown on the morning of June 3rd). This work fixed the width of the road (50 feet), and its angles; subsequently Lawrence E. Corson, of Norristown, fixed the grades. The road was divided into full mile sections, for construction. All bridges with a span of over six feet were to be separately contracted for. The first nine sections, from Spring House upward, were contracted for by Robert Scarlett and David Acuff, at $2,700 each; two more, above, were taken by John Boileau, at $2,600 each, -- this covering all of the road in Gwynedd. The bridge over the run at Spring-House, and that over Evans run (between Gwynedd m.h. and North Wales), were built by Robert Scarlett, and he also raised the walls of the bridge over Treweryn. The work of construction was so far advanced that the lower nine miles were inspected by the Governor's committee in June, 1848, and the remainder in September, and upon favorable report, the Governor issued his certificate, September 8, 1848, authorizing the erecting of toll-gates and the collection of tolls.

Charles F. Jenkins, to whose energy the rapid construction of this important work was largely due, continued to be the president of the company until January 1859, when he resigned, and Algernon S. Jenkins was elected, continuing to his death, July 9, 1890.

[Sumneytown is a village directly "up country" in Marlborough township. This road was the route of travel for the people of a large section of country to the markets of Philadelphia, and until the construction of the railroad, hundreds of wagons, --two, four, and six-horse teams, --passed each week through Gwynedd on their way to and from the city. Flour from the mills on Perkiomen, farm produce of all kinds, linseed oil, and blasting powder, formed their main freigtage. It was usual for many of these to go down on Monday and Thursday afternoons, reaching the city in time for the Tuesday and Friday markets, completing their sales, and returning on Wednesday or Saturday. It formed an extensive traffic, and the hotels along the road were busy places on the days when the "hucksters", mill-teams, hay-teams, and market farmers passed up or down. But after 1856, the railroad having been completed, this was broken up.]

Besides the details given in Chapter XVI about the early roads, some other facts concerning the highways may be noted. In 1722, the monthly meeting records that several Friends were "under streight for want of a convenient road to ye meeting-house." In 1749, the meeting paid Richard Jacobs 1 pound, 16 s. "for laying out a road from New Providence meeting-house to Gwynedd meeting-house" -- a curious sharing of the functions of the Court!

There was formerly an old road up by Jacob B. Bowman's house, leaving the Swedes' Ford road by the corner of the woods recently cleared off, and entering the Lansdale road up by J. Schlemme's. This was a "private road", 24 feet wide, laid out by order of the Court, in 1758. It started from the township line, about where Lansdale is, and came by lands (among others) of George Howell, Thomas Shoemaker, Robert Roberts, John Thompson, Hugh Evans, and Jesse Evans, "into Montgomery road." Its length was 3 1/2 miles, 33 perches.

John Humphrey's bridge, mentioned in the Welsh Road proceedings of 1709, was unquestionably the first bridge in the township, and it seems to have been a well-known landmark. The bridge over the Treweryn, on the turnpike, a mile above Spring-House, is an important one [2001, today, on Sumneytown Pike at the boundary between Gwynedd Mercy College and Siemens Corporation properties]. Before it was built the stream had to be forded, and Henry Jones says his mother told him she got through with difficulty when it was swollen by a freshet. The bridge over Wissahickon, near Kneedler's was built in 1819. That on the State Road, over the Wissahickon, was built by the county, in 1833. William Hamill, S.E. Leach, and Benjamin B. Yost were the county commissioners. Samuel Houpt was the contractor for building, and was paid $2,557.30. This probably included the materials, except sand, for which $189 was paid, as appears by the county account, published in January, 1834.

The bridge over the Wissahickon, on the Plymouth road, at the mouth of Treweryn, was built in 1839, by the county, John Schaffer, Abel Thomas, and Silas Yerkes being in that year the county commissioners. I have seen among Franklin Foulke's papers duplicates of three of the contracts made for its erection. In one, Henry H. Rile contracted "to find the sonte for bridge or quarry leave, for which said quarry leave the commissioners doth agree to pay to the said Rile the sum of 12 1/2 cents per perch, to be measured in the wall, after completion of said bridge, the rim stone excepted." In another, Rile contracted "to furnish sufficient boarding and lodging for all the labourers that is employed to work at said bridge, except those that wish to board themselves, for the sum of 15 cents per meal; the commissioners is not to pay the board for any of the labourers when they are not at work at said bridge." In the third, Collom Cline and Charles Cox contracted "to furnish lime of the best quality sufficient to build said bridge, for which said lime said commissioners doth agree to pay 13 1/2 cents per bushel," measured at the bridge, if required.

The "State Road" was laid out by commissioners, under an Act of General Assembly of 1830. It was, however, only a fragmentary construction, so far as the route through Gwynedd was concerned. The old road-beds were in part used, and new pieces were made, of which the most important was that from the intersection of the Plymouth road, below Acuff's, down to the Wissahickon and up the hill to the Whitpain township line, at or near which the bed of the old Swedes' Ford road was reached.

Additional comments from James Quinn (editor, 2007) on slavery

In 1774, owning a slave became a disownable offense in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. (Laurie Halse Anderson History of Gwynedd Meeting). In response to this a committee was formed at Gwynedd Monthly Meeting (Gwynedd, Plymouth and Providence Meetings) that made an inventory of the slaves and attempted to convince the slave holders to free the slaves. Below is the minute of their findings with my comments in italics.

To the Monthly Meeting to be held in Gwynedd the 25th of 7th mo 1775

We the committee appointed by the Monthly Meeting to visit such of our members as are possessed of slaves & detaining them in Bondage contrary to the good and wholesome rules of our Yearly Meeting. Agreeable to our appointment we proceeded on the service and visited all such of our members that are under that circumstance as we know of which are Eight in number who are posssessors of sixteen Negroes and one Mullata vizt.

1st Possessor of a Negroe Girl about sixteen years of Age and appeared in a disposition rather to justify the practice of detaining her in Bondage during Life than otherwise.

2nd Possessor of five Negroes, one of which is a Man about 35 years of age who he said he intended to set free at the next Quarter sessions. the other four viz three boys and a girl are young who he said he intended to set free as they came of Age, the boys at 21 and the Girl at eighteen with giving them learning to fit them for business. From the number of slaves, this appears to be Abraham Dawes (1704- 1776). In Abraham's will which he made in 1765 but updated with codicils in 1765, he left a slave "Wench Porthena" to his wife Hannah, a young Negro girl named Ester to his daughter Edith, and to his daughter Mary he left a slave named Jeppo. There was another slave named Dinah mentioned. (Byron Hoffman e-mail to J. Quinn) Abraham Dawes' three story home in Whitpain still stands on Butler Pike, just northeast of the Broadaxe Tavern.

3rd Two negroes man and woman the Man about thirty years of Age who was in the possission of a friend lately deceased now in his Executors who said he intended they should soon enjoy their Liberty. This is probably the estate of Benjamin Jacobs of Providence who died in 1774, and his brother Israel is the executor. The earliest recorded manumission (voluntary freeing) of a Gwynedd slave took place on 2nd day 12 month, 1775. Israel Jacobs, executor of the estate of his late brother Benjamin, freed Benjamin's slave, "a certain Negroe-man named Jem." It does not appear that Benjamin directed the manumission in his will. Rather, Israel seems to have been moved by his faith. In the manumission paper, he wrote "from a persuasion of duty, agreeable to that great Command of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Matthew [chapter] 7 and [verse] 12 "all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them"' On 4th day, 4th month 1776, Israel Jacobs freed another of his brother Benjamin's slaves, a woman named Mazee. He did not mention Mazee's age, and we can only speculate why there was a delay between her freedom and that of Jem's.

4th Possessor of three Negroes one a Woman twenty one years of Age who he said he expected should have her liberty in a short time. The other two a Man & Woman about twenty years of Age both as we thought incapable of freedom. Ed. note:  Before 1755 most slaves came from the West Indies where they had previously been slaves. In 1755 the French and Indian War caused a labor shortage in Pennsylvania and slave importation increased and direct importation from Africa was the norm. After 1765 the labor shortage was over and slavery began to disappear. By 1775 half the slaves in Pennsylvania had been freed. I suspect the man and woman above may be more recent arrivals from Africa. Since this group contains the only male slave whose owner is unaccounted for, this is perhaps Miles Evans of Norriton township, who freed a male slave in 1780.

5th Possessor of two negroes a Woman of about thirty two years old who he said should have her liberty when she had earned him thirty Pounds. The Girl about ten years who he said is to be set at liberty by his last Will when she arrives at the age of thirty. I think this is Richard Thomas of Hilltown twp. whose will freed his slaves at age 30 and who died 1776. Excerpt from his will: "Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Martha the full and Just Sume of fifty Pounds of like money as affore said, and also my little Negroe Girl Called Rose Untill She attains to the age of thirty years, and my will is that then, if She lives to the age of thirty years, She Shall from thence forward be a free Negroe as although She had never been a slave. Item I give and bequeath unto my Negroe Felis her freedom when she Attains to the age of thirty years and that She shall from thence forward to a free woman." (Will of 1772) Excerpt from "Wandering through Historic Hilltown" by Edward Matthews: "It was in 1740 that Henry Paxon sold to Richard Thomas, as much as 320 acres situated along the county line. This extended for perhaps a mile and a half along the townships' boundaries and northeast half a mile over the rugged regime of hill and dale. This was part of the 650 acres Jeremiah Langhorne had sold to Henry Paxon. This was sold to Richard Thomas for 690 pounds - indicating no improvements. This piece extended along the county line for 440 perches, climbing the long slope above Reiff's Corner and over the rolling country beyond. This Thomas family waxed thriving and prosperous, were considered somewhat aristocratic and slave holders. In the tax list of 1774 we have the names Richard Thomas and his son, Evan Thomas. The death of Richard Thomas took place about 1784." His son Evan was a Loyalist Captain in the Queen's Rangers during the Revolution, was disowned by Gwynedd Meeting in 1778, and emigrated to New Brunswick after the war.

6th Possessor of two negroes both Women one about thirty four the other about nineteen years old; the said friend not in a Capacity of giving any account what might be done for them.

7th Possessor of a Mulatto girl about eleven years old bound to him till she is thirty one who he said he intended to set at liberty at the age of twenty one with endeavours to learn her to read.

8th Possessor of a negroe girl about seventeen years old who her mistress said she intended to do the best she could by. This is likely Mary Robeson of Whitemarsh. On 1st day, 4th month, 1776 Mary Robinson, of Whitemarsh, "from a sense of duty and for my own Peace.." signed a manumission paper freeing her slave Dinah, who was then seventeen years and six months old. The law at the time allowed female slaves to be freed at age eighteen, and Mary's statement meant that Dinah would be free as soon as she reached her 18th birthday. Mary is the sister of Jonathan Robeson, referred to by Howard Jenkins above. The Robesons are descended from one of the first Chief Justices of Pennsylvania and were originally Episcopalian.

In addition, Thomas Jones removed from Abington to Gwynedd in 1757 and was found in the Gwynedd minutes. He was already disowned by the time of the above minute:

198-2. 1757-10-25. Thomas Jones received on certificate from Abington MM dated 7-?-1757.

2nd mo. 26, 1760. "Thomas Jones has purchased a slave, and he appearing in this meeting in a plyable frame of mind, expressed disposition of using him well if he should live; this meeting desires him to adhere to the Principle of doing unto others as he would be done unto, which will teach him how to use him in time to come."

190-3. 1775-2-28. Thomas Jones and wife disowned for disunity.

At present the editor has not found any slaves in old Gwynedd township or Towamencin, but Mordecai Moore, a Friend from a wealthy family, who moved to Montgomery township from Maryland, did own slaves. I cannot find them on this list based on a description of their slaves that I have seen, so I believe that they had already freed them by this time (A 19th century Newspaper article, found in the scrapbooks of the Historical Society of Montgomery County, describes them in October 1777 as freed slaves named "Old Dave" and "Old Rose" who were present when Washington camped on the Moore's property after the Battle of Germantown). In the Gwynedd area slave owners tended to be Tories in the Revolution as Evan Thomas, son of Richard joined the English Army and Jonathan Robeson was suspected of doing the same (he disappeared with the English from Philadelphia in 1778). Most of the Quakers were Whig sympathizers and a minority participated in the local militia.

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