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The Yenta


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 County.

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 both lived.

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, Isaac MeCarty.

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 admiration."

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 2,000 volumes.

'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 1886.

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 Esq,
"Member of H. Representatives
"Lancaster
"(By)

"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.

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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:

President

LEMUEL H. PARSONS

Vice Presidents

JAMES M. ROBINSON

MARTIN CORYELI

corresponding & recording Secretary

 JOHN A. ANDERSON

Treasurer

A. H. Holcombe

Curators

L. H. Parsons

L. S. CORYELL

J. H. WAKEFIELD

SAMUEL LILLY

Elly, Clerk."

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

MAHLON BRIGGS

DANIEL PARRY

REDWOOD FISHER

GEORGE MELDRUM.

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 river.

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

ELIAS ELY

SAMUEL STOCKTON

WILLIAM MARIS

DR. RICHARD C. CORSON

OLIVER PARRY.

From New Jersey:

JOHN LAMBERT

JACOB B. SMITH

JOHN CORYELL, Esq.

GERSHAM W. LAMBERT.

York Road

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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 Fort.

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 name.

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.