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.”
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.
There is plenty of history behind what is now Hargrave House. And it began with William Penn, who asked England’s King Charles II for land in America as payment for a debt owed to his deceased father. The king granted him 40,000 acres in 1681, which eventually became known as Pennsylvania.
Eleven years later, Penn sailed to America and decided, as a way of enticing people to emigrate here, to offer land at a cheap price – 100 pounds ($166 in today’s U.S. dollars) would buy you 5,000 acres. During that trip, he established both Bucks and Philadelphia counties. He also made a treaty with the Lenni Lenape tribe of the Delaware Indians who are also native to our area.
Realizing the massive amount of land he owned was too large to manage alone, Penn sold about 20,000 acres to The Free Society of Traders, a wealthy group of Quaker merchants in England. The Society had offices in Philadelphia too, close to the Delaware River, in an area that later become known as Society Hill.
In 1724, The Society sold large tracts of land to Jeremiah Langhorne. Nearly half of his land was located in what is now Central Bucks County – Doylestown, New Britain and Warwick townships, to be exact. We’ll talk about that a little more in our next blog about Hargrave House’s history.