NEW HOPE on the Delaware
is the oldest town in Solebury township. A grant of land from William
Penn to Richard Heath in 1710 included the site of the borough.
There were two tracts of 500 acres each, known as the Mill Tract
and the Ferry Tract. The whole of the two tracts being 1,000 acres
"to hold to him the said Richard Heath, his heirs, and assigns,
forever under the yearly rent of one English silver shilling for
every 100 acres as on and by the said patent set forth bearing date,
the second day of eleventh month 1710, and recorded in Philadelphia
in Patent Book A, Volume 4."
The foregoing described tracts of
1,000 acres border on the river Delaware 824 perches being 4 perches
over a mile, and extending west to the Great Spring Tract nearly
three miles, embracing the whole of the present borough of New Hope,
and containing three of the five excellent mill sites which are
on the Great Spring stream. The Great Spring, also called by the
name of Logan and Ingham, three miles from New Hope, is one of the
most remarkable in the State. It pours a volume of cool pure water
from a ledge of limestone which bows down to the Delaware in a stream
that runs several mills. It was a favorite resort of the Indians
and is said to have been the birthplace of Teedyuscung. The water
privileges afforded by this stream made New Hope and its immediate
vicinity an important centre for mills and forges.
For the consideration of the sum
of £92 five hundred acres, being the north half of the 1,000 acres,
were conveyed to John Wells, carpenter, of Lower Dublin township,
by deed dated June 26, 1717, as recorded in the office of Bucks
It is related of John Wells that
he met one day by the road side a young man, named William Kitchen,
who was a weaver by trade, and in great distress of mind because
he could get no work. He took the young man home with him and said
to him, "If thou wilt stay with me, thou shalt never want."
This was the beginning of a life long friendship. William Kitchen
later married Rebecca Norton, a niece of John Wells, with whom they
In 1721 William Kitchen purchased
of John Wells a strip of land upon which he built a house on the
bank of the river, as marked on the map of New Hope dated 1798.
About 1719 the Pennsylvania Assembly passed an act granting John
Wells the ferry for seven years. This was one of the most important
ferries, being on the Lower York Road, a direct route of travel
to East Jersey and New York, sharing its importance with Mitchell's
Ferry, now Centre Bridge, on the Upper York Road. The Lieutenant
Governor renewed his license to keep the ferry for another seven
years. When this had expired John, Thomas and Richard Penn, Proprietaries
and Governors of the province, granted the ferry to Wells. To quote
this grant in part "Whereas John Wells of Solebury in the county
of Bucks, having at considerable charge and expense erected and
settled a ferry over the river Delaware, next above our Manor of
Highlands, for the ready accommodation and passage of persons traveling
from this province to the Jersies and New York." This was for
an additional seven years to him and his heirs excluding and prohibiting
all other ferries for four miles above or below. The yearly rent
being 40 shillings to be paid at Pennsbury on the first day of March.
In 1734 a license was granted John
Wells to keep a tavern called the Ferry Tavern, which was one of
the earliest, and was on the site of the present Logan Inn.
The ferry was owned by Benjamin
Canby in 1752. It was purchased by John Cornell in 1765 and sold
to John Beaumont, of Upper Makefield, in 1782 for £90.
The first settlers had to take all
their grain on horseback to Gwin's mill on the Pennypack, near to
the Billet until 1707, when Robert Heath father of Richard Heath
agreed to erect "a grist and corn support mill" on the
Cireat Spring stream. It was covenanted in the patent that if he
built the mill, according to agreement as long as he kept it in
repair, he should have the exclusive use of the water. Heath's mill
was on the site of the grist mill, not now in use, near Huffnagle's.
The settlers of Plumstead, coming by the Sugan Road, probably the
oldest road in Solebury township, brought their grain to this mill
which was the first built in this section of the country.
In 1712 Philip Williams had a mill
on this tract, the first saw mill was erected in 1740, and Benjamin
Canby built a forge on the stream in 1744. Ichabod Wilkinson came
from Providence, R. I. in 1758 and had a rolling and slitting mill.
He and his son Joseph built an iron foundry bringing the pig iron
from Durham furnace down the Delaware in Durham boats.
He built the house known as the
Vansant farm house, the oldest house in New Hope, which is still
standing on Mechanic Street just west of Main Street. His daughter
married Joshua Vansant who resided there.
About 1767 Dr. Joseph Todd moved
from Montgomery County and owned the mill which in 1784 Benjamin
Parry purchased of his heirs, and established a flaxseed oil mill,
as well as flour, and extensive lumber mills. The mills and industries
of those days provided for the needs of the neighborhood. A grist
mill still stands on this site on the Great Spring stream where
it enters the Delaware. The fax mill, where twine was made from
fax and hemp, was operated by Sands Olcott, and later owned by Symington
Phillipe. In 1828 William Maris purchased the grist mill near New
Hope and built the large four story building for a cotton spinning
and weaving mill.
The Union Mills on the Delaware
just below the town, has retained its name since 1817, when Lewis
S. Coryell and Joseph D. Murray had a grist and saw mill.
Then followed the Ball Lock Company
and the Agricultural works conducted by William and Charles Crooks.
In 1875 James Patton used the Mill
for barytes and chemicals for coloring calicoes. Since 1880 the
Union Paper Mill has had a prosperous business there.
On a private map made for Benjamin
Parry in 1798, there are thirty four buildings, dwellings, stores,
shops, barns, tavern, stables and saw mills designated, and it may
be interesting to note some of the family names which are still
familiar -- Parry, Kitchen, Beaumont, and Paxson.
New Hope borough was incorporated
in 1837, John C. Parry was the first Burgess and the Councilmen
were Joseph D. Murray, Mordecai Thomas, D. K. Reeder, Sands Olcott,
The Post Ofhce was established in
1805, Charles Boss being the first Postmaster. A number of old houses
are still standing. Mention has been made of the "Vansant Farmhouse",
the oldest house in New Hope. As there was only the Ferry road until
the Delaware Bridge was built and Bridge Street opened most of the
oldest houses are on Ferry Street.
On the corner of Main Street is
the handsome stone mansion built by Benjamin Parry. Three years
were consumed in building it. The date plate is marked 1784. A hood
shelters the entrance, the door is of oak with transverse panels
and massive hinges, with handsome brass knocker. "This opens
into a wide hall, extending through the middle of the house, with
a long parlor on one side, dining room and drawing room on the other.
Upon the walls of the hall are family portraits and other heirlooms.
The upper floor is reached by a stairway of easy ascent; an old
eight day clock stands on the landing half way up. Five rooms communicate
with the upper hall. There is an attic overhead and far up among
the rafters a secret room, the receptacle of valuable papers in
the time of the original owner."
The house is a fine example of eighteenth
century architecture and is occupied by Mr. Richard Randolph Parry,
a grandson of the first owner. Nearer the canal stands a stone house
which was built by Garret Meldrum about 1808, where he kept a tavern.
On the north side of Ferry Street is a large yellow dashed house,
for three generations the home of the Foulke family, which was built
by their ancestor, Dr. Richard C. Corson, in 1828. The door ways
with their fan-lights and the massive chimneys make this house worthy
of note. A few doors west is a stone house, weather boarded on the
south side, which on the map of 1798, previously referred to, is
marked as the residence of A. Ely.
On the south side of the street
just east of the Presbyterian Church is an old stone house which
was owned by Major Edward Randolph, a patriot of 1776, and occupied
by his son Dr. Charles Randolph for some years.
A long avenue of alternate white
pines and maples leads to the Paxson Homestead, "Maple Grove",
which was left by the will of Thomas Paxson, dated 1775, to his
son Oliver Paxson and now belongs to the fifth generation of the
family. It was originally an old style double stone mansion, two
stories in height with an attic above, the front door opening into
a wide hall, with rooms on either side. Much of the original structure
still stands, although it was remodeled in 1857-8.
The old "Hip-roof House"
built by John Poore and later occupied by Joseph Updyke was torn
down in 1891. It stood on the site of Mr. P. R. Slack's house.
Soon after the War of 1812 William
Maris came to New Hope and about 1816 built "Cintra" a
yellow pebble-dashed house on the York road, which he occupied for
several years. His niece who was a frequent visitor at his home
in her girlhood wrote in 1895 "Cintra, built by my uncle, will
always hold a spot in my recollection. My father, my uncle and Pemberton
Hutchinson of Philadelphia, who was then consul at Lisbon, visited.
the castle of Cintra in 1814, and my uncle brought a plan of it
and built his home from a wing which particularly attracted his
The walls are very thick; the double
door, with massive lock opens into an octagonal hall, with large
rooms in the wings on either side of the hall.
This property was purchased by Richard
Randolph in 1830, who sold it to his brother-in-law, Elias Ely in
1884, and it is still owned by the family. A little distance from
the town was "Springdale", also built by William Maris,
which he sold to William K. Huffnagle. In 1847 it was deeded to
his brother, Dr. Charles Huffnagle, who was the first United States
Consul to India, with residence in Calcutta. He brought many interesting
objects to "Springdale", and weekly Tuesday receptions
were held in the handsome drawing room and library, which contained
'The house is now falling into ruin
but then was well fitted with stationary washstands in the bedrooms
with silver plated faucets, quite unusual in country houses of those
days. Water was brought from a distant reservoir on the hill. In
the attic of the house are five lead-lined water tanks, formerly
used to supply the bathrooms, chambers and kitchen with water.
There is a private grave yard on
the grounds where some of the Huffnagle family were buried.
On South Main Street stands a house,
the oldest part of which was built by Daniel Parry in 1828. Lewis
S. Coryell built the brick addition when he bought the property
In the centre of the town on "Front
Street" now Main Street there is a double frame house, which
was formerly used as a hall and was built by a man named Coolbaugh
about 1808, and later was the residence of Joseph D. Murray.
As long ago as 1771 records show
that Thomas Smith kept a store at or near New Hope on the "Forge
Tract." A salt store is marked on the map 1798, which belonged
to Oliver Paxson. The Ferry Tavern was kept by the owners of the
ferry passing from John Wells (1734) to Benjamin Canby in 1752,
then to John Beaumont in 1796, retaining the old name until it was
changed to Logan Inn in 1827.
The history of New Hope would hardly
be complete without referring to the Indian figure ten feet in height,
made of heavy sheet iron by Samuel Cooper and painted by Joseph
Moon. It was paid for by private subscriptions and was erected on
a pole February 22, 1828, in honor of the Indian Chief who according
to Indian custom exchanged names with James Logan, Secretary to
Penn. This pole with the Indian figure was a familiar landmark for
many years and stood by the Logan Inn. It was taken down in 1874
when the pole was considered unsafe.
When ever. Charles Crooks, then
91, was asked for his recollection of the Indian, he said when he
was a little boy of eight or nine, living by the cotton mill near
the toll gate, that his family, to prevent his running away to New
Hope, told him the Indian would shoot him and that it was dangerous
for boys to venture near him.
The Delaware House, a brick building
of four stories was built by William Maris about 1818, the bridge
across the Delaware having been opened in 1814. An interesting letter
has come to hand which through the courtesy of the owner is now
printed for the first time:
"GREAT SPRING March 6th, 1809
"Dr Sir: -- I beg leave to
introduce to your acquaintance my friend Mr. Benjamin Parry. He
is the bearer of Petitions from a number of reputable inhabitants
from this quarter for a Law to incorporate a company to erect a
toll Bridge across the Delaware at New Hope or Coryell's Ferry --
we are of opinion that a work of this kind may be effected without
any difficulty. The numerous mills in the vicinity of the place
will keep up a constant intercourse which in our opinion will amply
justify the undertaking -- there are no less than 8 run of grist
mill stones, 7 Sawmills, 2 oilmills, a papermill, a fulling mill
besides two pairs of wool carding machines and a woolen factory
now erecting all within 2 miles of the ferry and on or near the
road leading to it -- in addition to this are 2 nourishing villages
on the banks of the river and a daily stage passing between Philadaelphia
& New York. "You have no doubt observed a similar application
for Mitchells Ferry, which Petition I have signed; and we wish it
to be distinctly understood that this application is not in opposition
to that but entirely independent of it -- if the people interested
in that place and their friends are willing to build a Bridge, I
see no reason why they should not be permitted to do so, we therefore
do not ask the privilege to their exclusion, and should the law
be granted to both, we shall progress with the work whether they
do or not -- You will readily perceive the advantages to be derived
to the numerous establishments above mentioned and through them
to the public, by the erection of Bridge across the river at New
Hope, and the extensive aid which it would receive from the surplus
wealth of interested people near the place, besides that expected
from the stage proprietors, and others interested on the road from
Philadelphia to New York --If you should think well of our application,
your aid in passing the Law will be gratefully considered by your
friend I humble servant,
"Sam'l D. Ingham.
" (Addressed to) Joex Tooo
"Member of H. Representatives
"Sam'l. D. Ingham
"6th March 1809."
Benjamin Parry and Samuel Ingham
obtained an act of Legislature for building a bridge across the
Delaware between New Hope and Lambertville.
They were Joseph Lambert,
Cephas Ross and Jeremiah Kershaw were Committee of Ways and Means
to superintend its erection. Incorporated Dec. 28, 1812, the covered
wooden bridge of six spans was completed in 1814. The cost of building,
and purchase ferry rights, approaches and toll houses was $48,000.
A portion of the bridge was destroyed
by a freshet in 1841. It was purchased by Samuel Grant of Philadelphia
in 1853. A stock company was formed in 1887 when Charles S. Atkinson
was elected president John S. Williams was Secretary and Treasurer.
The directors were Richard Randolph Parry, Charles Crook, T. T.
Eastburn, Joseph P. Stockton,Watson P. Magill and James S. Studdiford.
Later Mr. Parry was president until the bridge was bought by Pennsylvania
and New Jersey and. made free of toll in 1919. The New Hope end
of the old wooden bridge had been carried away in a freshet on October
10, 1903, and was replaced by an iron bridge which was opened to
traffic in 1905. The New Hope Delaware Bridge Company, under its
first cheer had banking privileges and issued its own bank notes.
A brick house on Bridge Street was
used for the bank and the vaults still remain. The bank failed in
1826 and the bridge was sold to satisfy the creditors. Owing to
the number of persons who held the bank notes of the Company its
failure caused much excitement in this portion of the country. The
rivers of the State, its natural highways were early rendered navigable
for such crafts as the commerce of that time demanded. Above the
falls of Trenton, shoals, islands and rapids occur frequently and
no large ship could be used. Here a peculiar species of river craft,
the Durham boat, made its appearance and for years monopolized the
carrying trade of the river. These boats were propelled by sails
and setting poles, with a long steering oar at the helm. They were
about twenty feet in length and manned by five men. They carried
flour, grain, whiskey and other cargo, returning from Philadelphia
with consignments of such supplies as were needed at Durham furnace
and the farming country and towns by the river. Durham boats up
to 1834, when the canal was in use, did all the carrying trade of
the Delaware valley. Rafts were users for some cargo, but they were
sold for lumber and large quantities of lumber was then rafted down
the Delaware in the spring from the Lehigh and Upper Delaware. "Stone
coal" as it was then called was brought from the coal region
of the Lehigh in "Arks", there being no other means of
transportation at that time. It came in immense rocks, pieces being
chipped off for use by means of a large sledge hammer. The "Arks"
in which the coal was conveyed to market were never sent back, but
were sold for the lumber they contained.
Work on the canal was begun in 1828,
engineer William K. Huffnagle, contractors Joseph D. Murray and
Lewis S. Coryell. This Lehigh and Delaware Division was open from
Easton to Bristol, sixty miles, in 1882, the boats carried forty
to sixty tons. To quote from old family letters dated December 12,
1831 "Our Easton-Bristol canal has never been in operation
throughout. A Durham boat was changed into a canal boat, neat little
cabin and so on and made a few trips between New Hope and Bristol."
Under elate of November 26, 1882 "Canal in full operation,
a great deal of coal is coming down." About 1862 there were
2700 to 8000 canal boats carrying coal and lumber. In 1866-68 one
hundred boats daily passed through New Hope.
The Red Lion deck boats carried
freight of great variety, coal, lime, pig-iron, wood, baled hay
and even hogs which were shipped to Uhlerstown, there being a distillery
there. The "back-loads" consisted of Kaolin for the furnaces,
and the needed supplies for the stores and families along the canal.
The boats were then made with square bows and were smaller than
those now in use on the canal, which are round bows. Three of the
borough streets form a triangle, the base, Main Street extending
both north and south, with Ferry Street and Bridge Street joining
at the point of the triangle sometimes spoken of as "the flat-iron",
where they merge into the York Road.
The old frame Academy building,
now used as a dwelling, still stands on this section of the York
Road, where as late as 1820 Philip F. Fouchette, a Frenchman, and
his wife had a boarding and day school. In 1887 bliss Kitty Burroughs
had a class for little girls on the second floor. Other teachers
were Mr. William H. Hough, Mr. Foust and. Mr. Keyser. This building
was also used for a Presbyterian Sunday School about 1884. The first
teachers were Mrs. Samuel D. Ingham, Mrs. Richard C. Corson, Mrs.
Joseph D. Murray, the Misses Dunn, daughters of Rev. Mr. Dunn of
Solebury Church, and the Misses Poore.
A class for colored people was held
on the second floor. Before the Public School House was built on
the hill in 1851, school was held in Odd Fellow's Hall on Ferry
Street and the overflow in the Town Hall. For some years a Sunday
School was held in the Lyceum Building, which stood on the south
side of Bridge Street just at the end of the Delaware Bridge. From
a diary kept by Mr. J. A. Anderson, we learn that "about 1846
to 1849, a Lyceum existed, meeting alternately in Lambertville and
New Hope. These meetings were attended by people of all ages, and
were a favorite gathering place of the young ladies and gentlemen."
In the "Delaware Valley Diarist" of November 30, 1849
is this article of interest: "The Lyceum -- after an able and
interesting lecture of Mr. Parson's before the New Hope and Lambertville
Lyceum on last Monday evening, an election of officers for the ensuing
year was held and the following named gentlemen were elected:
LEMUEL H. PARSONS
JAMES M. ROBINSON
corresponding & recording Secretary
JOHN A. ANDERSON
A. H. Holcombe
L. H. Parsons
L. S. CORYELL
J. H. WAKEFIELD
In 1906 Dr. J. E. Scott and other
public spirited citizens gave their interest and support to The
Citizen's Literary Society which met bi-monthly, with native talent
participating, and was a strong force for good in the town. Since
1910 the Chautauqua has given annually a weeks entertainment in
a large tent erected on North Main Street.
There are three churches, the Methodist
being the oldest. The first services under the Bristol Circuit were
held in 1830 in the house of Samuel Sutton on South Main Street.
The old Methodist Church was built in 1887. The new building now
stands on Main Street, in the center of the town. The Presbyterian
Chapel was built in 1874; St. Martin's Catholic Church in 1885.
The 100th anniversary of the Eagle
Fire Company which was celebrated by New Hope and Lambertville June
21, 1922, when the names of the thirty-seven charter members were
printed, makes further details from old records interesting.
The citizens of New Hope called
a meeting June 21, 1828 at the house of George Meldrum, "The
Delaware House", previously mentioned, "for the purpose
of taking into consideration the propriety of adopting immediate
measures for procuring a fire engine and forming a Fire Company."
Redwood Fisher was called to the
chair and John C. Parry appointed Secretary. Lewis Coryell presented
resolutions which were in brief, that property should be assessed,
and contributions from any individuals should be received. That
the following committee should be appointed to attend to this business:
SAMUEL D. INGHAM
Also to proceed to a formation of a
Fire Company. A Committee of seven persons from Pennsylvania who
should solicit aid of five of the citizens of the other side the
The engine to be kept conveniently
near the Bridge so as to be of service to both sides. From Pennsylvania:
JOHN C. PERRY
JOSEPH D. MURRAY
DR. RICHARD C. CORSON
From New Jersey:
JACOB B. SMITH
JOHN CORYELL, Esq.
GERSHAM W. LAMBERT.
The history of Old York Road dates
back to 1711, when it was first laid out. It soon became the main
stage route to New York and appeared first on the map of Pennsylvania
in Nicholas Scull's Atlas, published in 1759. The map shows many
of the towns now along the road, which then consisted merely of
taverns and small groups of houses, stopping places, where a meal
could be had and jaded horses exchanged for fresh ones. In old family
letters of the forties mention is made of using the stage line,
the old post route, when not convenient to go in their own family
coaches. The "Swift Sure Line" started from the Old Bailey
Sheaf Tavern, Second Street near Race, Philadelphia, which was kept
by Marmaduke Watson of Bucks County.
The coach and four left a.t 8 A.M.
and arrived at New Hope at 6 P.M., the horses being changed every
ten miles. "Yank" Sanford was the driver for many years
and is still remembered by one or two of the older generation, as
the stage line on the York Road was kept up until 1845. In the early
days of staging the route over the York Road, crossing the Delaware
at Coryell's Ferry, was advertised in the papers as "the safest
and most convenient." It was here; on the 8th of December,
1776, after an unsuccessful campaign in New Jersey, Washington with
his army crossed the Delaware. All boats along the river for many
miles were collected and removed to the west bank, so when the enemy
came to the river they could not cross. The Continental army lay
along the river from Dunk's Ferry to Coryell's, and all the ferries
were carefully guarded. The boats to be used for transporting troops
were secreted back of Malta Island, then heavily wooded, and coated
down by night to Knowles' Cove near Taylorsville, now called Washington's
Crossing, to be used in crossing the Delaware for the attack on
Trenton. The old chestnut tree which stood on the Paxson property
until November 28, 1898, when it was cut down, was the traditional
meeting place of the generals in command. General de Fermoy and
General Wm. Alexander (Lord Stirling) had their headquarters on
the York Road at the "Hip-roof" house, known as the Old
The Continental army was also in
Bucks County in July 1777 when they marched to the Delaware, Washington
with Greene's division reaching Cornell's ferry the night of the
29th, one brigade crossing before morning. In June the first class
of the Bucks County militia was summoned to the field and stationed
here. Again in June 1778 after six months at Valley Forge, Washington
led his army to the Delaware, crossing at Coryell's on the 22nd
and soon after met the enemy on the field at Monmouth. The grist
mill, then owned by Dr. Joseph Todd, was in the possession of the
government for about three years during the Revolution and was used
as a forage store house. His son Charles, who was home from boarding
school at Busleton for Christmas, saw the Continental troops march
through the settlement on their way to Trenton.
In regard to the name of our town,
we go back to the time when ferries were still used. There were
different names on either side of the river for the ferries. At
Lumberville Wall's -- Painter's, four miles below Mitchell's --Howell's
and Well's -- Coryell's at our ferry.
From 1765 to 1790 Coryell's, which
had been the name of the New Jersey ferry since 1733, was also used
for the Pennsylvania side. After this the ferry ceased to give its
name to the town and the result of a fire in 1790 gave it its present
Benjamin Parry, who owned mills
both on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania shore of the Delaware, had
the misfortune to have his Hope Mills in Pennsylvania burned down.
He rebuilt all but the linseed oil mill and named them the New Hope
Mills, commencing operations with new and fresh hopes for the future.
The importance of the ferries, the
use of the "Swift-Sure Stage" and in part the canal transportation
has passed, but our little town has gone quietly on through the
many changes. The Union Paper Mills and Universal Bag Mills, the
silk mill with the recent addition of a brick plant form its industries.
One of the noteworthy changes is the use of the old hotel, "The
Delaware House." Part of the first floor is used by the Solebury
National Bank, the upper as apartments, and the former large hotel
parlors for the Free Library of New Hope and Solebury, the first
free library in the county. The front room is also used for the
Public Health nurse. The chain of the Delaware Valley has brought
an appreciative group of artists to Phillip's Mill and the vicinity
of New Hope. The pioneer was the well known landscape painter, William
L. Lathrop. The old mill built about 1771, long in use for grinding
grain, has had new floors laid and is now the community center for
plays and informal dances.
The New Hope School, for girls,
brings a group of students to this locality for healthful country
life. Many beautiful objects of wrought iron and carved and painted
wood work attract visitors to the Gothic Art Shop. Along the tow-path
just above Rabbit Run Canal bridge, there are several homes of artists
and the "New Hope Hand Looms", well known for their rugs
of original design and other textiles. St. Philip's Chapel, of the
Bucks County Mission, is pleasantly located among fine oak trees.
A plastered stone building long known as Phillip' school House being
now used for the services. A trolley line which affords a picturesque
ride along the Delaware enters the town from the south. The Philadelphia
Reading Railway was extended from Ivyland, its former terminus,
to New Hope in 1891.