While in Philadelphia, Thomas Hargrave was in the marble and granite monument business with his brother, John. John would later become owner of the property. Thomas Hargrave’s son, William, also was in the business partnership with his father. William would continue in the marble business until his death in 1889. At that time, John P. Stillwell because a junior partner, and the firm operated under the name Hargrave & Stillwell.
While Thomas Hargrave owned the property, it is likely he added a two-story addition and porch to the rear of the main stone house. The stone cutting and monument pieces were located at the rear of the house.
Hargrave was 86 when he died in his home shortly before 10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 1894. Hargrave’s obituary notes that he was a staunch Democrat at the end of his life, even though when he came to Doylestown “he was just as strong an opponent of the Democratic party.” Hargrave’s allegiance to the Republican party was questioned just after the Civil War, when one of the leaders challenged his vote on grounds that Hargrave was not naturalized. “The unwarranted proceeding so angered Mr. Hargrave that he never afterward affiliated with that party not voted for any of its candidates. He always was the first man at the polls in the morning thereafter, and the first ballot that went into the box for many years was Mr. Hargrave’s straight Democratic vote.”
Hargrave was still active in the marble business until shortly before his death. For a man who was known for creating lovely and meaningful pieces of memorial sculptures, the monument that sits atop his own grave in Doylestown Cemetery is rather plain.
Visit our Facebook page, Hargrave House B & B, to see what it looks like.
On March 23, 1855, Philadelphian Thomas Hargrave bought the lot and house for $1,600. Hargrave, a marble mason by profession, had come to Doylestown two years earlier to open a second establishment of his large marble monument business. He later became one of Doylestown’s most prominent businessmen.
A native of Leeds in Yorkshire, England, Thomas Hargrave came to America as a young man. An expert marble cutter, Hargrave had no difficulty finding work. One of his first jobs was constructing ornaments for the building at Girard College in Philadelphia. He established his first marble business, said to be the largest in the city, at 13th Street and Ridge Avenue. Historical records indicate he displayed some of his marble sculptures in the 1847 Exhibition of American Manufactures at Franklin Institute. It featured a monument base and die with a figure of an infant in a sleeping pose. Two lambs were part of the piece, and the Italian marble headstone had a carved wreath of flowers, enclosing a name in raised letters. Documents of the exhibition describe the work as “well done” and worthy of the fine art label. Many of his most handsome monuments were erected in Laurel Hill Cemetery, a noted garden cemetery in the East Falls section of the city. Laurel Hill was also where a former owner of Hargrave House, Margaret Kripps, is buried.
Hargrave was married twice, with his second wife being much younger than he was. After their marriage in 1860, Mary Deschamps Hargrave gave birth to three daughters: Kate, Annie and Mary Jane. The federal census of 1870 notes that the Hargrave family lived on South Main Street in Doylestown. Hargrave was 60 years old and a marble mason by occupation.
More on Hargrave’s activities in our next installment.
In 1815, Judge William Watts purchased the house and lot for $1,000 and a swap of two other lots. Watts – a prothonotary, clerk of quarter sessions and associate judge for Bucks County – moved to Doylestown from Southampton when the new county seat was established here.
Dr. Thomas N. Meredith bought the property in 1819 for $1,500. Born in Doylestown, Dr. Meredith was a physician, as was his father. He married Rachel Burson nine years earlier and they eventually had 11 children. Historical research indicates he must have had some kind of financial problems, since in 1823 the court of common pleas issued a writ of execution against Dr. Meredith for failing to pay almost $2,000 in debts owed to Robert Jamison. He tried selling his house to pay off the debt, but was unable to do so. Later that year, the house was sold at a sheriff’s sale to Margaret Kripps of Philadelphia.
Kripps was the highest bidder on the property, buying the house and lot for $601. She was also a woman buyer, certainly not a common occurrence in the 1800s. She owned the house for more than 30 years, but there is no indication that she lived in it. She was single and lived her whole live in Philadelphia. Most likely she maintained landlord status and rented out the property.
When Kripps bought the property, it was still part of Doylestown Township. (The borough didn’t become established until 1838, when it incorporated.) As an interesting aside, township tax records showed that a year after she bought the property (1824), the value was worth $601 and a tax of 20 cents was levied. Later, in 1848, tax records show the value of the house and lot were worth $900, and Kripps paid a county tax of $1.40 and a state tax of $2.70.
In 1852, two years before she died, Kripps sold the house and one-quarter acre lot on South Main Street to William T. Eisenhart for $900. Eisenhart was a tailor, working in Allentown, Philadelphia, Reading and Pittsburgh before coming to Doylestown. It’s not clear if he ever lived in the house, but he opened his own business on South Main Street. He ran the tailor shop for about 13 years until he began to grow flowers and operate a truck farm. He only owned the house for about three years before he sold the property.
We’ll discuss the next property owner – one from whom Hargrave House takes its name – during the next installment of our history.
As we said in our last blog installment on the 200-year history of Hargrave House, the new county seat took its place at the crossroads in 1813. In January of that year, William Magill sold a portion of his property – Lot E – to David Carr Jr. The transaction was for $310. That lot was a quarter of an acre of land and part of the original Magill farm. Our historical research determined that Carr built the stone house that now hosts our bed and breakfast. After it was completed, he sold the building and property, unlikely that he had ever lived in the house.
The three-story structure was built in the Georgian style of colonial homes. The building was a simple box with side gables and windows in strict symmetry along with a center door – common at the time. Double-hung windows on the first and third floor had 6-over-6 panes, while the arrangement of the second-floor window panes were 9 over 6. As was typical, the upper windows touched the cornice. The roof was a hand-split, pine shingle roof, and the thick, stone walls were covered with stucco. Later additions included a small porch roof along the entire front of the house and a two-story wood frame rear addition. In the early part of the 20th century, the wooden shingled roof was covered with standing seam tin. (Town officials encouraged this action among homeowners after a 1914 fire storm caused several homes to burn.)
Archibald Crawford owned the large parcel of land around the crossroads for about 15 years. Around 1768, he sold a 10-acre parcel to brothers Robert and Henry Magill, recent Scot-Irish immigrants.
The Magill brothers operated a mercantile business at the southwest corner of the crossroads opposite Doyle’s Tavern. In 1776, Henry retired and moved to a farm in Bedminster. He transferred his ownership of the land to his brother, who became sole owner of this parcel.
In 1782, Robert died without a will, leaving behind a wife and one child, William Magill. Young William was only 7 years old when his father died, but his father had requested that his only son be educated and apprenticed to a trade. William apprenticed as a clockmaker and followed that trade for many years, manufacturing large, old-fashioned clocks. He spent his boyhood living with his mother and her new husband, Jacob Troxel, by the crossroads. His education was provided by itinerant schoolmasters and local teachers. As he grew into a young man, he operated his mother’s hotel, The Mansion House, at what would later be State and Main Streets (where Paper Unicorn is today).
William married, had five children, and enlisted in the military service during the War of 1812. He became a captain in a unit known as the Buck County Rangers. He continued as an officer in the militia until his death.
The little crossroads was beginning to grow into a small village. The first stagecoach route between Philadelphia and Easton was established, running directly through the village. The 62-mile trip took 1½ days. In 1813, the county seat was moved from Newtown to the crossroads.
Three streets in the new village were named for the members of the Magill family: Mary Street, Louisa Street and Arabella Street. (Arabella Street eventually became most of what Hamilton Street is now, with the remaining portion becoming Arabella Alley. That’s the current entrance to Hargrave House’s parking lot.) William Magill died in 1824. He had no will.
So after Jeremiah Langhorne died, the executors sold 172 acres of land and 141 perches (which amounts to a little less than an acre in today’s property measurements) to a man named William Scott. Later in the same year, 1753, Scott sold the parcel of land to Archibald Crawford of Warwick Township. The purchase price is not known. Hargrave House now stands on a portion of that land.
As an aside, other owners of large tracts of land around the crossroads that now make up the heart of Doylestown were Joseph Kirkbride, Robert Scott, Edward and William Doyle, Isabella Crawford, and the Flacks.
Like his father, Edward, William Doyle was a tavern keeper. At the time, he went to the county seat – then in Newtown – to petition for a license to allow him to keep a public house. Records indicate he had the recommendations of 14 of his neighbors and friends. The petition asked that no public house be located within 5 miles of where they lived. The Doyles built an inn at the crossroads in 1745. The crossroads were then named Dyer’s Mill Road (now Main Street), running north and south, and Swedesford-Coryell’s Ferry Road (now State Street), running east and west. The inn and tavern was known as Doyle’s Tavern and is where Starbucks is located today.
The family ran the tavern for 30 years before moving to New York state. The country crossroads was called Doylestown in honor of the early pioneer Doyle family.
It’s only a few weeks until summer vacation starts, and soon after, you may hear from your bored child, “There’s nothing to do.” Well, we happen to know that’s not true. We’ve got some very talented people in this town, and while work does keep our thriving merchants very busy, there’s always time for a little fun thrown in the mix.
A few of our neighboring business people are involved in Town & Country Players, a local theater troupe that’s been going strong for 60 years. Aside from their quality productions, the group also plays host to summer theater workshops for youth. Youngsters from ages 8 through 15 can participate in four weekly sessions from July 7 to Aug. 15. Your budding thespian will learn acting, voice, dance and makeup training, culminating in a production on stage. What fun!
Enrollment is open now. The theater is located along Route 263 in Buckingham. And check out the current offering at T&C – “The Girls in the Garden Club.” It looks like a rollicking, good time!
As we said in an earlier blog, William Scott became owner of the land on which Hargrave House was built after prominent legal professional and substantial landholder Jeremiah Langhorne died. As an interesting aside, Langhorne also bequeathed property, a portion of which now lies directly across Main Street from HH, to two slaves he freed, Cudjo and Jo.
Wilma Brown Rezar, noted Doylestown historian, pieced together some information about Cudjo and Jo in her book “Doylestown … and How it Came to Be.” In handwritten notes documenting research for her book, she surmised that Langhorne possibly tried to prepare Cudjo and Jo for their roles as landowners by having them remain on the Langhorne Park Plantation and share in its profits. Langhorne gave them 10 cows, eight horses, 20 sheep and all of his farming implements, with instructions to limit the amount of grain sowed, except in a tract of 10 acres. That could be used to plant buckwheat and Indian corn yearly. Out of the profits, they were to support the women and children of the plantation and pay 30 pounds annually in rent to the estate executors.
Life as free men and on their own lands began on March 25, 1751. It is not know where Cudjo lived, but, according to Rezar, it seems likely it would be near the crossings of “the two great roads.” Presently, that would be the four corners of State and Main streets in Doylestown. Some of Cudjo’s land bordered on what is now Green Street, as well as Court Street.
Rezar expected that the drastic change of living – spending most of his life on a well-established plantation with other like-families to suddenly becoming isolated in a vast, underdeveloped area – may have been too much for Cudjo to handle.
On Aug. 5, 1791, five months after leaving the plantation, Cudjo gave up the “lifetime rights” to his new land for a “consideration,” or “value received” to the Langhorne executors.
No other information had been uncovered about Cudjo’s whereabouts after that. “Perhaps he returned to the place he knew best – to help the now independent families on the plantation grounds – or possibly he lived with Jo,” she said in her notes.
“It would be nice to know what happened to Cudjo and Jo (and their descendants,” Rezar added in a footnote. “They played such an important part in our history.”
We’ve been fortunate to be part of a lively, cultural community here in Doylestown. There are so many creative, talented folks here – practicing their crafts and running businesses that are unique to the borough. You’ll get a chance to see some of their talents close up during Doylestown Art Days.
More than 60 merchants and organizations will be paired with a variety of artists to show off their skills in photography, painting, music, dance and more. In fact, Hargrave House will display a collection of works from the late noted Doylestown artist David Frame. To see a list of all the participants, visit the Doylestown Art Days website.
The event runs June 5 through June 8 from noon to 6 p.m. daily. It’s sponsored by Discover Doylestown. Some special events are planned, so check the website as the weekend progresses. Plan to stop by HH and see some of the artwork we’re so proud to display!
Jeremiah Langhorne (1680-1742) was one of the earliest settlers and largest landowners in Bucks County. He was a lawyer, or esquire, and held many legal positions in his life. He served as a justice of the peace from 1715-1719, president of the provincial council, and justice of the Supreme Court from 1726-1739. He served as chief justice from 1739 until his death.
As we said in an earlier entry on Hargrave House’s history, Langhorne was a major landholder in central Bucks County.
He also established a manor, or plantation, with many slaves in what is now Bensalem, lower Bucks County. Langhorne purchased two parcels of land totaling 7,200 acres – 5,200 acres sold for the equivalent of almost $4,700 and the remaining 2,000-acre parcel sold for $1,300. Portions of those two sites make up what is Doylestown Borough today.
William Scott became owner to land that Hargrave House sits on now, following Langhorne’s death. But land across the street from our house was bequeathed to two of Langhorne’s slaves, Cudjo and Jo. We’ll talk more about that unusual transaction at that time in history in an upcoming installment on our blog.