Graeme Park Ownership Timeline
Information shown below from Title Search by Margaret Choate (5) except where otherwise noted.
1684 Graeme Park part of a parcel of 5,088 acres which Samuel Carpenter purchased from William Penn. Carpenter's widow Hannah Carpenter released 1200 acres to the Colony to settle a claim against the estate for £2000 in 1719 ()
1721 Sir William Keith the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania acquired Carpenter's 1200 acres from the Provincial Government, then purchased an additional 535 acres south of the 1st tract directly from the Carpenter Estate. Keith calls the property Fountain Low. What we know today as Graeme Park and the Penrose-Strawbridge Farm were on this 2nd tract. (41 p2.2)
1726.05.11 Before leaving for England in 1726 (never to return), Sir William Keith authorized two indentures for sale of all of his personal property, including his real estate in Horsham, to Dr Thomas Graeme and Thomas Sober for the consideration of £500. The second indenture was designed to protect Lady Ann Keith. It required Sir William to pay Lady Ann £200 a year for money he had taken from her at an earlier date. He was given seven months to repay this debt. Sir William did not repay the debt thus this indenture put all his personal property (including his land holdings) in trust for Lady Ann. This was done on April 23, 1731 per below
1731.04.21 This indenture vested all rights and title to Keith's Horsham property "Fountain Low" to a body of trustees made up of Alexander Keith (Sir William's eldest son), Dr. Thomas Graeme (Sir William's son-in-law), Patrick Graeme (Thomas's brother), and Thomas Sober (a merchant in Phila) for the benefit of Lady Ann Keith.
1727-1731 Lady Ann Keith sold over 900 acres of the estate to James Nash, Ludovic Christian Sprogel and Richard Shoemaker (4).
1737.08.16 Acquisition of 834 acres of Fountain Low by Joseph Turner
1739.12.22 Joseph Turner sells the 834 acre Fountain Low estate to Dr. Thomas Graeme
1740 Dr. Thomas Graeme sold 70 plus acres to Benjamin Armitage and Richard Shoemaker (4)
1772 Dr Graeme died and willed what was now known as Graeme Park to his daughter Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson. The inheritance required two payments of £200 to her brother-in-law James Young and an £800 payment to his children to settle a debt. Young insisted on immediate payment. Graeme Park did not produce enough income to make these payments so Graeme Park was advertised for sale in the fall of 1773 but with no results.
1775 Since Elizabeth was now married the estate was controlled by her husband Henry Hugh Fergusson and in 1775 he mortgaged 200 acres of Graeme Park to Governor John Penn to finance a trip to England
1776.08 Henry Hugh Fergusson, in England, signed a power-of-attorney allowing Elizabeth to sell parts of Graeme Park to ease some of her financial pressures. She sold 37 acres on the north side of County Line Road in Bucks County for £400 in August 1776
1776.11.26 Governor Penn decided to call the mortgage to Henry Fergusson. Fergusson had not returned to Graeme Park and Elizabeth was unable to satisfy the mortgage. Governor Penn was forced to hypothecate the mortgage to Colonel Isaac Melchior or the Pennsylvania Militia and this 200 acres was lost from the Graeme-Fergusson Estate.
1778 Henry Fergusson returned to America in 1777 and became Commissar of Prisoners for General Howe. Fergusson was labeled a traitor by the new United States and Graeme Park was seized by the new commonwealth. Elizabeth fought the new government and finally prevailed in 1781 (more on Elizabeth's Battle for Graeme Park).
1781.03.31 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania renounced their claim to Graeme Park and returned it to Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson.
1798.08.08 Elizabeth sells all of the remaining 555 acres of Graeme Park to her nephew Dr. William Smith of £3,500. Dr. Smith was the widow of Elizabeth's niece Ann Young. The deed is dated 1791.04.13 but was not recorded until 1798.
1798-1801 Dr Smith sold off all 555 acres of Graeme Park in several parcels. Buyers included Joseph Paul, Jabez White, William Jarrett, Seneca Lukens, Jesse Kirk, Jonathon Jarrett, Edward Malone, and Thomas White (4) .
1801.08.12 Dr Smith and his wife Letitia sold 204 acres of Graeme Park to Samuel and Sarah Penrose. This was the largest of the parcels sold by the Smiths and included both the Keith House and the cabin that would become the Penrose Strawbridge House.
1821.01.02 William Penrose purchased the 204 acre Graeme Park from his parents Samuel and Sarah Penrose for $14,000.
1821-1827 William Penrose apparently acquired 15 additional acres during this period but we do not have records of these transactions
1827.09.19 Deed transfers title of 219 acres from William Penrose to his father-in-law William Jarrett. It is believed that this was collateral for a loan but William Jarrett died in 1828 before the loan could be repaid.
1832.04.16 represents the settlement of William Penrose's debt in the amount of $16,500 to the late William Jarrett and transfers the title from Jane Thompson et al to Hannah Penrose (not sure why it was transferred to Hannah and not to William or William and Hannah)
1865.04.29 Hannah Penrose died without a will in 1850 so the estate was assigned to her children. There was no transaction, however, until after the death of her husband William Penrose in 1863. A t this time William and Hannah's son Abel purchased 229 acres of Graeme Park from his siblings (See the indenture for this transaction.)
1892.03.12 Abel Penrose purchased 10 acres from John H and Mary Jarrett for $900.
1895.01.25 When Abel Penrose died on July 10, 1893 his will directed that the property could be purchased by his two sons, Morris B. or William Penrose, either jointly or individually, for the sum of $25,000. if neither son wanted to purchase the land, it remained in the control of Abel's wife Sarah, until their daughter Sarah reached the age of 21. At this point the executors were instructed to sell the farm at public sale to the highest bidder.
Apparently Abel's daughter Hannah had borrowed money from him and at the time of his death this debt was considered uncollectable. This fact, plus the effects of the farming depression in the late 19th century, left Abel's estate in arrears $5,025 at the time it was settled. Sarah B and Morris B Penrose petitioned the court to alter the will to allow them to remortgage Graeme Park. Perrmission was granted and Abel's sons Morris and William obtained a loan and cleared the debts of the estate. Morris then farmed the estate for the next 27 years.
1920.05.29 Welsh Strawbridge purchased 190 acres in two parcels from Morris B Penrose on the behalf of the estate of his father Abel, These parcels contain both the Keith House and the 1810 Penrose Strawbridge House.
1929.03.16 Welsh Strawbridge purchased for $2,422.80, 3 plus acres that had been part of Graeme Park prior to 1798 (sold by Dr Smith)
1934.05.31 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge purchased two parcels totaling 100 acres from John A and Teckle C Meyer for $6,000. This had been part of Graeme Park prior to being sold in 1802.
1952.06.26 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge purchased 4.435 acres which had been part of Graeme Park prior to being sold in 1802 from Mary Penrose Carruthers, the sister of Morris B Penrose for $2,217.50.
1952.03.21 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge sold 0.687 acres to Sarah Yerkes
1957.04.15 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge sold 42 acres of Graeme Park to the United States of America for the expansion of the Willow Grove Naval Air Station
1958.02.28 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge donated 42 acres to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is the parcel now known as Graeme Park which includes the Keith House (but not the Penrose Strawbridge House) for $1.
1966.02.12 Welsh and Margaret Strawbridge sold 78 acres on the other side of Keith Valley Road to RO-MYNALO Inc for $120,000. Part of this land was used by the township in the late 80s to build a road to the new sewage treatment plant,
1971.09.21 The title estate which now includes the Penrose Strawbridge House is assigned to Margaret Strawbridge following the death of Welsh Strawbridge in 1968. Value is $228,250.
1982.12.24 Deed grants the Natural Lands Trust "the undivided on-half interest ..." of Mrs. Strawbridge's Estate for $1.00.
1989.05.09 Correction to deed of 12.24.1982
1997.01.08 Horsham Township purchased the 102 acre Strawbridge property from the Natural Lands Trust for $175,000. The land to be used primarily for "passive recreation".
2003 Horsham Township enters into a lease with HPHA and HPPI for 10 acres of the farm including the buildings with the intention of restoring the buildings