Home : Quarterly Archives : Volume 10
Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
Source: October 1959 Volume 10 Number 4, Pages 66–84
Reminiscences of a shady road and quiet nook in Easttown
A ride of a fraction over seventeen miles, over the magnificent roadbed of the Main Line of the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Broad Street Station, Philadelphia, brings the traveller, after a journey of from thirty to forty minutes, to the thriving village of Berwyn, formerly known as Reeseville. After arriving at the station, a stroll of about half an hour, or a ride of fifteen or twenty minutes along the ancient road, which leads to the center of Easttown Township, brings the visitor to the "Leopard" village, crossroads, or Post Office according to the fancy of the reader, the hamlet being known by all three appellations.
As one leaves the station and starts west on the turnpike the attention of the visitor is first arrested by the bright cheerful double house by the roadside, all hidden from view by its surrounding wealth of shrubbery, the house built of wood, painted and sanded so as to give it the appearance as if built of stone. It was formerly known as the Stackhouse House, but is now the home of Mr. F. H. Stauffer [Note 1] who is the literary editor of the "Philadelphia Evening Call" and also a frequent contributor to the leading magazines of the country. Continuing along the turnpike to the point where the Leopard Road commences, a number of houses are passed which form part of the village. At this point the turnpike crosses to the north of the railroad by an iron bridge over the deep cut. On the opposite side of the railroad a cluster of houses are seen which deserve more than a passing notice.
The large square house north of the railroad [Note 2] occupies the former site of the "Drove Tavern", also known as Abel Reese's, by whom the Inn was kept during the period while the turnpike was yet the great artery of travel.
After the advent of the railroad and the consequent decline of staging and teaming, the old Inn was replaced (prior to 1847) by the large and well known Reeseville Academy and Boarding School, presided over by Prof. Noble Heath, who had formerly been connected with the celebrated Bolmar School of West Chester.
To the west, just over the bridge, at the northeast corner of the Valley road, stands a curious hip-roof double house, probably the oldest house in the immediately vicinity. This house was formerly the home of one branch of the "Reese" family after whom the village was named. [Note 3]
It also served as a parsonage for the Rev. Wm. Henry Reese while rector of St. David's (Radnor) and St. Peter's (Great Valley) Churches during his incumbency 1833 - 1838, the house being about midway between the two churches.
A country store was also kept there for some time by John Reese. Afterwards during the Forties he was succeeded by "Lachepelle," since which time it has usually been known as Lachepelle store.
The neat yellow dashed stone house [Note 4] with its sunny white porches on the opposite corner was long occupied by one William Barber, whose athletic prowess and sporting proclivities may still be recalled by some of the older residents.
The dilapidated old lath and plaster ruin between the pike and the railroad cut [Note 5] served formerly as the medical office of Dr. Reese, in his time a well known local practitioner. The line of telegraph poles beyond these buildings on the crest of the hill, north of the railroad, yet marks the course of the old "Provincial" or "Kings" Road and now known as the "Old Lancaster" Road [Note 6], the precursor of both turnpike and railroad. It was from this vicinity that the army of Gen. Forbes started in 1758 to retrieve the disaster of Braddock's defeat.
Leaving the turnpike at the Bridge and now entering the Leopard Road proper, a succession of up hill and down dale, crossing two spurs of the South Valley Hill, also in the valleys so formed by two branches or feeders of the Darby Creek, that spring out of the southern slope of the Valley Hill.
Prior to 1877, when the railroad was straightened and the course of the turnpike and Leopard Road changed to their present location, there was here a dangerous crossing of the road and the railroad at grade. [Note 7]
At the southeast corner so formed stood the Carter's House [Note 8], wherein lived for many years with his son Henry, Dr. Henry Yates Carter, born in London, April, 1750 - his mother being Mary Cowper, a descendant of Calvering Karl Cowper. Arriving in this country after the death of his parents and studying medicine with his uncle in Philadelphia, he became a surgeon in the British Navy, and as such was present at the seizure of Gibraltar. He was also on board of the Admiral's ship in the great naval engagement between Sir George Rodney and Count DeGrasse. In 1795 he returned to this country and settled in Germantown, where he followed his vocation for many years.
The doctor was a consistent church member and during his residence here a communicant of Radnor Church.
When during the rectorship of Rev. John A. Childs (1848 - 50) services were held in the Glassley Schoolhouse, he, notwithstanding his great age (within two years of a century), was one of the most regular attendants and active workers for the success of the mission. The doctor was remarkable for his urbanity and even in his hundredth year his infirmities never prevented the exhibition of the refined manners and courtesy of a gentleman. He died November 17, 1849; his remains repose within the walls of Radnor Churchyard.
The first railroad station was also at this crossing; it was a mere wooden shed or shelter, and a would be passenger could stop any train by merely waving his hand to the obliging engineer. The first noteworthy improvement met after turning off the pike is the lately erected pointed stone residence of a gentleman from Philadelphia. [Note 9]
In the hollow at the bottom of this hill, stood on opposite sides of the road two small buildings that illustrate more strongly than anything else the past and present epochs this vicinity, viz: on the right, an old springhouse with its dairy fixtures, and on the left, a house containing a calorific engine for supplying the residence above mentioned with an ample supply of spring water.
It was through this hollow that the surveys for the Pennsylvania Railroad were originally run in 1828. John Wilson, the engineer, in his report to Board of Canal Commissioners of State of Pennsylvania, December 1, 1828, thus describes the 64th mile, from Columbia: "Commencing near Mrs. Robinson's Inn, crossing the turnpike at the 17th mile stone, then turning a projecting point of ridge it is traced over favorable ground, terminating in the garden of Atlee Potter, Soil Loam and Clay." This mile was estimated to cost $1,114.05. The contract was allotted to Barker and Company. The roadway, 22 feet wide, was to be graded for a double track. April 16, 1834, the first train of cars passed over the road. It was
drawn by a locomotive "Black Hawk." The train started from Columbia for Philadelphia arriving at its destination in eleven hours. Tradition tells us that when the train reached our road crossing the locomotive was out of water. A crowd of people had collected to witness the novel spectacle. Buckets and pans were brought into requisition and the passengers and citizens with the aid of Carter's pump soon replenished the tank when the train moved on amid the hearty acclamations of the people.
On the west side of the road in direct contrast to the fine stone house just passed nestles the old Potter Homestead [Note 10] located there on the hillside for almost a century. It was Atlee Potter, father of the present owner, who was W. Master of Farmer Lodge, No. 183, A. Y. M., which met at the General Jackson Inn on the turnpike during the time the anti-Masonic excitement was at its height. Of the 32 members on the roll, twelve, under pressure of political excitement, withdrew during 1826 - 28. One was expelled for publicly denouncing the Order and three died. The remaining sixteen good men and true assembled August 22, 1829, at the call of the W.M. and concluded, in view of public excitement, to cease and dissolve the Lodge.
Farmer Lodge was not the only Lodge to suspend operations. Nearly all in Pennsylvania voluntarily suspended their work on account of the prevailing excitement concerning the abduction of William Morgan which was said to have been committed in the State of New York in the Fall of 1826.
Continuing up the hill beyond Potter's the property of H. T. Coates, Esq., is passed, where it is expected that a fine set of buildings are soon to be erected. Over the top of the hill and the new Leamy House [Note 11] and buildings are passed, replacing a house of ancient date that formerly stood along the roadside. It was demolished in 1882.
Over Leamy's Bridge and up the hill to the turn of the road the cosy home of Harry Burns, [Note 12] the mason, is reached.
To the left the old "Supplee" homestead [Note 13] is seen in the hollow at the foot of the hill. Next on the right the Wirtz property [Note 14] (rebuilt in 1878) is before us, occupied generally during the summer by various parties from the city. One of these occupants in his attempts to obtain an insight into the mysteries of "cricket" has on more than one occasion afforded delectation and amusement to some of the more bucolic residents. The next house on the right, locally known as the "Sonnies' Hall," [Note 15] 1851 as a place of meeting for the Sons of Temperance, a Division of that society having been formed in the township during the previous year.
During the "Know Nothing" excitement (1854-1857) the building was used as a meeting place for that organization. The "Native American" element predominating in the township at that time, the club or lodge mustered over a hundred and fifty members.
Afterwards it was for a short time used as a hall for a Council of "American Mechanics." Eventually the building was sold, altered and turned into a dwelling house and is still used for that purpose.
As we approach the State Road and turn to the right at "Priest's Corner," taking its name from the owners of the farm whose buildings are seen beyond to the right. A few hundred yards brings us to another turn, now to the left, Sharp's Corner, so called after the owner of the place.
The old frame building with its outside chimney [Note 16] was many years ago used as a country store; the house is now occupied by several parties, one a local character, known to old and young. "Old Kitty" who, though on the verge of ninety, is yet able to go out among the neighbors to do washing, and is still, notwithstanding her advanced age, robust enough to swing an axe, to chop her own wood, and all this without the use of spectacles.
A few roads further and "Hawthorne" [Note 17], the residence of Mr. Joseph Sharp, with its fine grounds and group of outbuildings are reached. (This was formerly the Walley plantation.) Crossing the bridge which spans the sparkling rivulet that meanders in front of the mansion, a glimpse is obtained,
to the right, in the distance, of "Cottage Home," for a number of years the summer home of Hon. S. J. Randall, ex-speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives. This house [Note 18] was formerly owned and built by Jones Bowman, of Philadelphia. It was afterwards the abode of John P. Hutchinson. A short distance beyond the bridge, the ascent of what is locally known as the "Leopard," or "Sharps Hill" begins, on the crest of which is the "Leopard," located where the road leading from the Chester Valley to the Delaware, formerly known as the "Darby Road," later as the "Newtown and Paoli Plank", or "Summit Road," known as the "Paoli Road," intersects with the old "Grubb's Mill Road", now known as the "Sugartown" or "Leopard Roads" (leading from Berwyn to Sugartown in Willistown Township.
The ancient Inn [Note 19] with its swinging sign-board from which the cross roads take their name was built, as the date stone in the gable informs us, by Jonn Evans in the year 1796, one year after the completion of that great highway, the Lancaster Pike.
It was formerly, in pre-railroad times, when yet the song and shout of teamster was heard throughout our part of the land, an active and prosperous business centre.
It was also known as one of the best drove stands [Note 20] in the eastern part of the country, frequently over 100 cattle being sold there in a single afternoon.
Tradition tells us that the tavern was licensed as soon as the building was completed but is silent who was the host. Among those who dispensed the hospitalities of the place in later years the following are remembered: Philip Kirk, (1833 - 43), Israel Home, William Steele and partly Isaac Thomas until his death in 1863.
During the Revolution the property was owned by John Evans, father of Dr. Thos. B. Evans. He was also the builder of the Old Inn in 1796. There is a tradition that Evans was a Tory or loyalist and did not favor the patriot cause, as was the case with his immediate neighbors, the "Waynes" and "Jones" (Rev. David). This tradition is further strengthened by reference to the accounts of Lewis Gronow, Esq. who was sub-Lieutenant of Chester County in 1777, in which it appears that he collected from John Evans for "Exercise" and "Class" fines, the sum of £ 55 5s. Od. (sic) The fact is, according to the official report he was the most mulcted (sic) man in the whole township.
The central location of these crossroads has hardly an equal in the county. Within a radius of about three miles, we have Paoli, Chester Valley, The Warren, Paoli Monument, Green Tree, Malvern, Berwyn, Devon Inn, Spread Eagle, Wayne; Radnor Church, Edgmont, Newtown Square, etc. While outside of this circle lay grouped within easy driving distance, West Chester, St. Peter's in the Valley, Media, Chester, Downingtown, Phoenixville, Norristown, Conshohocken, Valley Forge, Bryn Mawr, Rosemont and numerous other interesting places.
Here was the gathering place of the township on all public occasions; where the farmers and gentry of the former generation met and discussed the questions of the day-social, religious, politics while smoking their pipes, once sipping their "Flip," "Punch" or "Porter Sang," or during and after the cholera scare in 1832, their toddy in the shape of "Tanzy Bitters," a large patch of that herb being cultivated for use in the bar room back of the tavern and in the garden of the house above the old barn. Stray plants still spring up from year to year along the fence corners. Here also the township elections are held.
The meadow and grove opposite, with its lowly springhouse nestling in the shadow of the greet oaks, as well as the triangular cattle pen were in frequent demand for political meetings, both Democratic and Federal, during the holding of which extra help was always needed in both bar and kitchen of the Inn. The meadow was also the "bowling green" of the vicinity, the "ball alley" being just east or the livery stable. Here the formerly favorite game of handball so much in vogue in colonial times was played. Matches were usually
played on Saturday afternoon, expert players coming from considerable distance to bowl against the local experts, of whom Tom Bishop will yet be remembered by some of the old residents as the "Champion of the Leopard." It was not an unusual occurrence for from 500 to 1000 people to be present on these occasions, with large sums frequently changing hands on the result of the game.
During the time of Dr. Evans, in the first quarter of the century, several militia musters were held here under the command of General Joshua Evans of Paoli and Colonel Isaac Wayne on which occasion most all the dignitaries of the county, both civil and military, were present. After the farce of a muster was over salutes were fired and a banquet for the officers and their guests was indulged in. The field piece was fired after every toast as it was drunk after dinner. The festivities usually wound up with a ball or dance at the tavern.
On these occasions the "Republican Artillerists" of Chester County, whose armory was at the Leopard, with their bright, brass field piece "Diana" were always the feature of the muster. It was one of the best known organizations in this part of the state, being organized shortly after the close of the second war with England and composed of the elite of the country.
One of the first results of the forming of this company was the gathering together of the remains of the American soldiers who fell at the massacre of Paoli, September 20, 1777, decently reburying them in one large common grave and surrounding the mound by a neat stone wall. Also the title to be vested in the military of the county forever, in fact establishing the first national cemetery in the United States, the distance of which is but three miles from Leopard. It was also through the exertions of the members of this company that a monument was erected over this common grave on the fortieth anniversary of the slaughter, viz: September 20, 1817 (now in turn supplanted by the fine granite shaft, dedicated at the Centennial Anniversary, September 20, 1877).
On this occasion (1817), all the surviving officers and soldiers of the Revolution in this and the adjacent counties were requested to attend and unite with the company in paying the last offices of respect to the memories of their unfortunate countrymen. The Rev. David Jones, of Easttown, who had been the former Chaplain of the attacked party, and had also been present at Brandywine and Germantown, gave an interesting account of the massacre, stating that he was on the ground during the whole of the skirmish. After he had finished his remarks the ceremonies were concluded by twenty rounds from the field piece of the Republican Artillerists.
At the reception of General Lafayette, July 26, 1825, on the occasion of his visit to West Chester, the Artillerists under command of Lieutenant Colonel (Dr.) Thomas B. Evans of Leopard, bore off the chief honors of the day, among others the firing of a salute of thirteen guns. The regular days for parade of the company were July 4th and February 22, the objective points usually Paoli or West Chester. In 1829, shortly after the death of Colonel Evans, the Artillerists were disbanded.
The following curious occurrence has been given as the cause that eventually led to the sudden disbandment of the company: During the Fall of 1824, J. Andrew Schulze, then Governor of the State, visited West Chester. The artillerists, as the representative organization of the county, turned out finely mounted and in full uniform to receive and escort the Governor from Chester to his quarters in West Chester. The Governor, who was a plain unassuming Pennsylvania Dutchman, and unused to such pomp and parade, is said to have burst out in loud laughter as he saw the company drawn up to receive him. Their gay uniforms, tony swords, head kept erect by stiff leather stocks and surmounted by the high plumed shake, proved too much for the simple-minded Executive. Arriving in West Chester he at once drove to the Cross Keys notwithstanding that the Artillerists and citizens had a banquet prepared and rooms arranged at the Turk's Head for his reception.
It will no doubt be a revelation to many of the present generation that both our intersecting roads were formerly part of the underground railroad system; one of the main stations of that corporation being in Willistown, the route being over the Sugartown and Leopard Roads. The other route from the station in Delaware County was from Newtown via Lewis Corner (now St. Davids Post Office). The objective point of both being Norristown, or if Phoenixville, by the last named route it was via Leopard, many a bag of "black wool" being shipped through the Leopard known only to the conductor in charge.
In connection with this subject a few of the old people will no doubt recall the old log cabin that stood near the Sugartown Road just west of the Leopard Farm, with its occupant, old ___ Cooke, a fugitive slave, also the constant state of apprehension in which the poor fellow was kept through frequent rumors of kidnapping. The reports current (1857 or 8) in the neighborhood of colored children having been stolen, and sold into slavery by a man driving about the country in a York wagon with a dapple grey horse, and a long rifle lying across his knees may also still linger in the memory of some who were active in the pursuits of the alleged kidnapper.
During the eventful period from 1860 - 65 the war excitement ran as high in our hamlet as it did in the more populous parts of the county. Meetings were held, funds collected, squads of citizens were drilled and initiated in the mysteries of "hay and strawfoot" and eventually mustered in for the defense of the Union. Here were largely recruited the men forming Company "C" (Paoli Guards), Captain Price; Company "K" (Wayne Guards), and Captain William Wayne, of the 97th P.V.
The Inn ceased to be a house of entertainment for man and beast in 1864, when the house and lot were bought by Messers Downing and Hayman and turned into a country store. It is at the present date (1886) still in possession of and kept as such by J. W. Hayman, who is a decendant of Captain William Hayman of the Revolutionary Navy, a brother-in-law to Major General Anthony Wayne. The Leopard store has been a U.S. post office since 1865.
On the corner opposite the Old Inn still stands the old farm barn, [Note 21] and until 1872 next to it, directly in front of the Inn, were the livery and exchange stables, which for so many years served as an arsenal or armory of the Republican Artillerists.
The brass field pieces formerly stored in the old stable were the wonder and admiration of the country children as they plodded their way to and from the Leopard store, the old one-story building that stood at the northwest corner until last year (1885).
This store was long presided over by James Porteus, said to have been a descendant of a Lord Bishop of London of that name. Mr. Porteus was for many years, until his death, April 16, 1872, an active member of Radnor Church, and his body now rests within the shadow of the wall of that venerable edifice.
The Porteus house [Note 22] stood on the right-hand side of the Sugartown Road above the store. This was formerly known as the Matlack property. After the death of the widow of James Porteus (1883), the property was sold to city parties, and during the winter of 1885-6 the house was modernized and reconstructed, so as better to meet the requirements of a modern dwelling.
The ruins of the store were also removed at that time and the old well at the corner filled up.
The village smithy and wheelright shops are still located at the old shops on the northeast corner and now presided over by its industrious owner, William Atkinson. The house [Note 23] adjoining was the residence of Jane Evans for some years.
The triangular field adjacent was formerly the "Drove Yard" belonging to the Tavern.
The Leopard schoolhouse [Note 24] stands in the centre of its common on the Leopard Road just back of the Old Inn.
The location is a very commanding one, overlooking the valley formed by the South Valley hills and the spur on which our hamlet stands, the whole country from Malvern to Berwyn being within the scope of vision.
The present schoolhouse was built by the township in 1882, replacing a two-story edifice the upper story of which was built by subscription and used as a "Townhall," also for Sunday School, Church, lyceum, and other purposes.
The lower story was built by the township in 1850 (?) and used for school purposes, taking the place of the Wayne Schoolhouse on the Darby Road.
The Sunday School held at the Leopard was usually what is known as a "Union school" and was generally well attended.
Religious services during the last quarter of a century have been conducted occasionally by different persons, noteworthy among whom were the Rev. W.F. Halsye, who preached 1867 - 70, and Rev. George Pierce of the Great Valley. The futile attempt made in 1872 - 3 to form a Methodist congregation in the village is yet fresh in the memory of those who so heartily entered into the work.
Of local village characters old "Joe Steele," so long the hostler and village cobbler, also "Orphey Hook" who kept the Wayne - tollhouse will be recalled by the old residents. Dr. J. E. Lewis with his prominent features, riding on his grey horse, was almost
as well known in his time as the rubicund face of old Doctor Mordecai on his two wheel rig. But all these have long since passed over the river, and the only one now left, though rarely seen, is "Squire Plug."
The mansion [Note 25] next to the former tavern, noted on Lake & Beer's maps, 1860, as "Myrtle Hall," was the residence of Dr. Thomas P. Evans, the former owner of the Leopard property until his death in 1828, since which time the house has been occupied by his daughter, Hannah Kaufman, and more recently by the doctor's widow, Jane Evans, who had accepted that portion of the estate lying north of the Paoli Road in lieu of dower. She died in 1883.
The house is now, after having been put into complete repair, the summer residence of a Philadelphia family.
The portion of the Leopard property south of the Paoli Road [Note 26] consisting of about 50 acres, was sold in 1875 after the death of Hannah Kaufman, by order of the Orphans' Court, it being purchased by the writer, whose land adjoined on the southeast, and it now forms part of the estate locally known as "Sachsenstein."
This estate, although mentioned last, is not the least historic of our vicinity. The old stone building now forming the rear wing of the present residence of this estate was in former years the residence and parsonage of no less a person than the
celebrated Baptist preacher and patriot, Rev. David Jones, "Davy Jones," as he was generally called, had charge of the Great Valley Baptist Church. His history is too well known to make a repetition necessary.
During the Revolution our vicinity suffered along with the rest of that section of the county traversed by the British on their march from the head of the Elk to Philadelphia by way of the Great Valley during September, 1777.
Such was the hatred of the British commander against our patriot preacher that, not satisfied with the destruction of his church in the Valley, a detachment of the Queen's Light Dragoons of Gen. Howe's command was sent to Easttown to destroy and loot the parsonage. How well they carried out their instructions may be seen by the following extracts from the claims still on file in the Commissioner's office in West Chester, viz:
Rev. David Jones, total loss, 81 i,lls, 3d (sic); among things destroyed or stolen: riding chair, warming pan, pair bellows, pair hand irons, nine 'chockalete' bowls, loaf of sugar, (7 lbs.), pair leather breeches, 16 pairs stockings, barrel soap, churn and "cyder" tub, candlesticks, knives, forks, blankets, decanter and glass mug, glass tumbler. Nothing was spared; what could not be carried off was burned or broken by the ruthless band of the hireling foe.
On the occasion of this raid, the wife of the preacher with difficulty escaped, it is said, to a place of safety with her youngest son, then seven months old (born February 11, 1777), who in after years became the celebrated divine, Horatio Gates Jones, D.D.
Tradition tells us that General Anthony Wayne was a frequent visitor at the parsonage, also that when General Washington, in June, 1787, visited Chester County, to go over his old battle fields and see his old quarters, at Valley Forge, he made a special trip from Moore Hall to spend a day with his former companion in arms.
It is a noteworthy fact the address delivered by Chaplain Jones, at the dedication of the Paoli Monument proved to be the last occasion on which he officiated in public. He always wore the cue, the cockade hat, knee-breeches, also shoe and knee-buckles, in short, the dress of a gentleman of "ye olden time."
He entered into rest February 5, 1820, in the 84th year of his age.
It is further an interesting fact that this property is a part of the 5000 acres granted by William Penn, September 14 1681, to James Claypoole, who was a lineal descendant of the celebrated Oliver Cromwell.
The parsonage in former times was a two-story pointed, stone building, erected about the middle of the last century, with the gable towards the road - the porch on the front or south side extending the entire length of the house.
The kitchen on the north side was a more ancient building about 18x27 ft., and one and one-half stories in height, with walls over two feet in thickness it is said to have been the first stone house erected in the vicinity. It datied back to the seventeenth century, also that the lime used in its construction was burnt on the premises, the limestone being quarried and hauled from the Great Valley about three miles distant. Vestiges of this kiln may possibly still be seen in the old ruin on the road to Paoli.
The low doorway with its stout oaken door, and one window faced towards the west, a well of excellent water is almost in front of the door; the other window opened towards the road, the whole of the north end of this primitive structure was taken up by the wide mouth fire place, which extended clear across the room; it also affording an entrance to the bake oven which stood outside of the walls. The ceiling was low, with heavy exposed beams, black with smoke and age, yet still disclosing the marks of the axe of the sturdy Welsh pioneer which felled the timber and hewed them into shape. This part of the old building remained without change until February 1877, when the old chimney and gable end were torn down, the ceiling raised and plastered and another story added. The fireplace before whose spacious hearth, whereon the ruddy flame had so often flared and flickered, and the steaming pot swung from the large swinging crane in the corner while the early pioneer of his successors (noteworthy among whom were Francis and Anthony Wayne, the uncle and cousin of Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne, who are said to have set up the first town in this part of the county) sat and smoked during the long winter evenings, perhaps brooding over their affairs and perfecting plans for the future, was finally vanished at this time to make room for a cooking range suitable for the requirements of the present time. The house during the ownership of the Rev. David Jones was surrounded by large orchards of apples, pears, plums, grapes and other fruits. The rev. gentleman is said to have had a weakness that way, and was prone to stick a fruit tree wherever he could find a suitable place to dig a hole. His partial proclivities were also well known to everyone, and was the cause of a Quaker Tory after the Revolution composing a song in ridicule of that sterling but eccentric patriot, one couplet reading something after this order:
'Munching his apples, pears and plums To the squeak of his fiddles, fifes and drums.'
Another feature of the parsonage was the huge cider press erected prior to the Revolution with its great screw and lever. This was the first press of that kind erected in this part of Chester County. Farmers for miles around would bring their apples to be ground into the then favorite beverage "cider."
This press stood parallel with the road just west of the present gate. The press consisted of six massive piers of masonry about ten feet high; the size of the press was 30 ft. by sixteen. In 1870 it was turned into a stable and finally demolished after more than a century's use in 1878.
The property remained in the Jones family until 1854 when it was sold to John Haley who at one time taught at the old Wayne schoolhouse.
After that time the appearance of the house was altered. It was raised half a story and a frame room or office was built between the house and the road. This for a time served as singing school for Prof. Kaufman, also for a number of years as a millinery store, kept by the two Misses Hayman. This building now does duty as a tool shop a considerable distance from its original location.
In 1868 that portion of the plantation lying south of the Paoli Road was sold to Dr. J. L. Lewis, a well known medical practitioner in this part of the county. He formerly resided at Lewis' Corner, two miles below on the Paoli Road.
After his death in 1870, the property came into the possession of the present owner, since which time the whole appearance of the place was again changed when the old stone parsonage was turned into a wing, the front building erected, the yard graded, walks and drives laid out, the large barn built, green houses and graperies started, fine shade trees and evergreens planted and the whole place so metamorphosed as to make it fill the requirements of a modern suburban dwelling.
One of the later epochs in the history of the Leopard was the building of the Newtown and Paoli Plank Road in 1853-4.
This road connected the Lancaster Turnpike with the Philadelphia and West Chester Plank Road.
Great expectations were formed as to the future of this road, and heavy dividends anticipated by the promulgators of the enterprise.
Stock was eagerly sought after by the neighbors. Two steam saw mills were erected to saw the logs into planks. One of these mills was located in Yerkes' woods, about three-quarters of a mile east of the village. It was burned in 1667. The conflagration is said to have been the result of carelessness on the part of a Hibernian gentleman, who on returning from a "wake," went into the mill to light his pipe and then threw the match among the shavings and saw dust.
The other saw mill was a portable mill and set up in Wayne's woods that then covered the field between Isaac Wayne's house and the road.
After the completion of the Plank Road the Old Inn again did a flourishing business.
While the planks were yet in good condition and the novelty had not worn off, every country swain endeavored to own, or pretend to, what was the "ne plus ultra" of horseflesh, viz: 2:40 on the Plank Road.
The Leopard at this time regained its popularity as a place for dancing parties; the sound of the fiddle interspersed occasionally with the toot of the horn was again a common occurrence.
No doubt recollections of some of the pleasant evenings spent at the singing school presided over by the talented Professor Henry Kaufman, later by Professor Hoffman, during above period still lingers in the memory of some of the now old participants.
Although many have since joined the silent majority there are still a few who can recall the night that the class had to be dismissed on account of the thick smoke in the school room, caused, it was thought at the time, by a damp flue, but discovered on the next day to have been the result of a board that had been placed on top of the chimney by some mischievous urchins.
It may be well to say here that the writer on this occasion had a narrow escape from a well earned thrashing.
The "Lyceum" was also one of the institutions started about this time. As to what the decision was that was arrived at, whether the "house burned up or down," has escaped the memory of the writer.
This era of prosperity brought about by the advent of the Plank Road, unfortunately did not last long. The planks would rot and the sills decay, the large dividends were not forthcoming, the novelty of paying toll soon wore off, and as the stockholders refused to sink any more money in the enterprise it was after a few years abandoned; the planks were soon after sold to the highest bidder in lengths of 100 yards. Thus ended the bubble. The only dividend declared was one of 2 percent after the affairs were wound up.
The hamlet soon after lapsed into the quiet state that it now reposes in.
The above is copied, almost exactly, from two long newspaper clippings from the "Village Record," evidently published in West Chester. The reference to "at present date (1886)" indicates the year of writing, but the interesting advertisements on the reverse page suggest that it was published in two parts in January, 1887.Top
By Mildred F. Fisher and Miss Sara B. Nuzum
(2) The Drove was owned in 1807 by John Reese but run by John Pugh. At the time of Mr. Sachse's article there stood a large square wooden house on the site of the Drove Tavern. This was long known as the Fritz house and was torn down around 1954.
(3) In this house the first meeting of the church later known as Trinity Presbyterian Church was held. In later hears it was known as the Jane Smith house and was finally torn down when the house across the street where Mrs. Emily Peirce now lives was built for Jane Smith to move into. Higher on the hill where the Jane Smith house stood Mr. Edward Beadle built the house now occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Leighton.
(4) This house was owned by Wm. Barber from Feb. 16th, 1833, until he lost it to sheriff sale in 1852. Former owners of the property included Elizabeth Iddings Wayne, wife of Isaac Wayne, they being, the parents of Anthony Wayne, previous to 1921 by Mr. John Beadle, and now by Mr. and Mrs. LeRoy Fisher.
(6) For many years the road along the Conestoga High School
was known both as the Conestoga and the Old Lancaster Road.
In a map of Tredyffrin Township, dated May 31st, 1952, the name
Conestoga is given to the upper road, and Old Lancaster Road
moved down to the road which had been the Lancaster Turnpike
(8) This property lay between where the original Leopard Road crossed the railroad and the bridge which crosses it now. The barn probably stood on part of Mrs. Emily Peirce's property and the house nearer the railroad, or maybe where part of the railroad is at present. It has long been torn down.
(10) This property was part of the Elizabeth Wayne property, later owned by Martin Potter who had a son Atlee Potter. In later years it was known as the Atkinson property and is now owned by Mr. and Mrs. Fred G. Farrell who purchased it from Miss Margaretta Atkinson in 1956.
(15) Sonny Hall. You are now about a half mile south of
Berwyn on the Leopard Road. This vicinity was known as Pleasantville,
and "Sonny Hall," now torn down, was the home of Graham
Shaw and was formerly used as the Lodge room for the Sons of
Page last updated: 2011-08-01 at 12:23 EST