Chapter I - The Place-The People
This is the story of a colonial homestead in Pennsylvania, and the people it sheltered within its walls who were nurtured by the fruit and grain of its fields for over two hundred years. Built in 1740, it stands today, its white walls strong and serene, a testament of industry, integrity, and ingenuity. It has weathered every storm and rejoiced in every triumph of a young country. A great Commonwealth has grown up around it.
For the first two centuries of its existence three successive families, all related by marriage, have called this site "home": Lukens, Jarrett, and Hallowell. The owners of recent years have been Hitner, Hause, and presently the family of Max and Janet Hankin, In terms of the twentieth century it is located at 1300 Easton Road in Horsham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A giant "Cucumber Tree" stands a proud sentinel on the front lawn. It is over 75 feet high and and is estimated to be 280 years old. The present owners are proud of this handsome tree.
The early years of the Seventeen hundreds mark the beginning of America domestic architecture. Though based on imported styles, it has become adapted to the American climate, tastes, and needs. In the selection of a homesite, the pioneer's essential and primitive choice was a protected slope or embankment near a stream. The slope was a shield against the winter snows and winds, and the stream of spring water was the assurance of a close supply in case of Indian attack, and the preservation of food and milk. The building material itself would necessarily be whatever was plentiful in the area. Stones from the fields for the foundation resulted in thick eighteen inch walls. The beams, planking, interior wood construction, as well as wainscotting and cabinet and fireplace woodwork were all local products of the forest, the giant oaks and hickories. All these variables were utilized in the building of The American Homestead.
In 1740 John Jarrett erected the stone structure that is now 1300 Easton Road. The house was situated on top of a steep embankment, with the eastern side sloping close to eighty degrees. At the bottom of this slope was a substantial pond fed by a cold water spring. On the bank of this pond and directly over the spring emptying into it John Jarrett also built himself a fieldstone springhouse that still stands.
Among the oldest and most widely known families in Montgomery County is that of the Lukens. They were among the earliest immigrants who settled the Province, coming very soon after the time that Penn landed on the shores of the Delaware and his followers began to erect their crude dwellings upon its wooded shores.
Since 1709 there have been homes on the original Lukens tract of 505 acres in Horsham township. The first owner to make improvements on the land and build a cabin of log-and-stone, probably of no larger proportion than to shelter his family, was Jan Lukens, a Dutchman who had first settled in Germantown. The land was in one tract, lying between Horsham Road and the Bucks County line. Its northwest boundary was the present Privet Road, while the opposite southeast line left Horsham Road a short distance above the Norristown Road, crossing Easton Road at the Davis Grove Road Intersection, and continued to the Bucks County line along the southeast boundary of The Horsham Homestead
. Jan Lukens divided the 505 acres of land among three of his sons. Two hundred acres at the Horsham Road end of the tract were given to William Lukens, the oldest son. In recent years this 200 acres included the Meredith place, Joseph Wood Jr's land on that side of Privet Road, and about 50 acres of the Pitcairn
property. William Lukens moved thereon shortly after 1709 and built his log-and-stone house along Privet Road
, later known as the Rush house, which was undoubtedly the oldest human habitation in the township. The greater part of William Luken's original acres was taken in 1942 by the Naval Air Base, and the log cabin was a casualty of a Navy bulldozer.
The other 305 acres were divided equally between Jan Lukens' two other sons, John and Peter Lukens. Peter then sold 100 acres of his share to his brother John, and John built his log cabin around 1719 on or near the site of the Arthur Jarrett homestead, now a part of the Navy base.
On May 28, 1726, John Lukens sold 250 acres of his land to his son-in-law, John Jarrett. Jarrett moved his family out of Germantown and at once began clearing his plantation.The first thing he did was to open Davis Grove Road
from his house to the Easton Road, then the only highway within several miles of his plantation. It was called "John Gerret's Lane" for many years. During his lifetime he not only developed his own farm, but bought over 600 acres more, part of it in Horsham and part in Bucks County. He replaced the log cabin of 1726 with the older stone part of the present Arthur Jarrett homestead on the Naval Air Base in 1755.
From an old English Bible in possession of the family and printed in 1715, which John Jarrett presented in 1751 to his son John II "and the heirs of his body forever and ever," it was learned that the name was originally written Jerrett, and that he had emigrated from the highlands of Scotland. Although not originally of the Society of Friends, John Jarrett married into Quaker family. No account is given except of one child, John Jarrett II, born in 1719 and to whom the entire homestead was deeded in 1741. John Jarrett II married Alice Conard in 1740, and at this time built the old stone house, The Horsham Homestead
, more recently known as the Hankin Farm, east of Easton Road. The second John Jarrett was an energetic and progressive man like his father. He was one of the most active members of Horsham meeting, and one of the three original directors of the Union Library of Hatboro
From the Jarrett's twelve children are descended the numerous Jarretts scattered in various parts of the country. William Jarrett, the sixth child, of John and Alice (Canard) Jarrett was born September 23, 1748, and died September 13, 1827. He married Ann Lukens, daughter of John Lukens of Philadelphia, and came into possession of the homestead of 310 acres in 1774; John Jarrett, his father, having died in 1772. William and Ann (Lukens) Jarrett in turn had a family of children, of whom Ann, born November 26, 1787, married John R. Hallowell of Abington township. With this marriage the Hallowell family was introduced into Horsham township.
In 1827 William Jarrett met with a fatal accident. One morning, in his seventy/ninth year, he was out riding. His horse, scared by the sight of a snake sunning itself on the bank of the pond, reared, throwing him upon the stone dam. He died instantly. (note: William had loaned money to his son-in-law Wiliam Penrose and his death caused the deed for Graeme Park to be bequeathed to his daughters. Penrose's wife Hannah Jarrett Penrose purchased the deed from her sisters in 1832. Read more about the Penroses
Upon the death of William Jarrett, 146 acres of land was deeded to his. daughter Ann and her husband, John R. Hallowell. John purchased the remaining 78 acres of the homestead from the other heirs for $70.00 an acre, so that he and his wife became the possessors of the complete original tract. In his will of 1827 William Jarrett stated, “I devise to my daughter Ann the house where I now dwell and 146 acres to be taken from the westerly side of said farm, to be divided by a line drawn from Dyer‘s road to a line of William Parks, and nearly parallel with the Bucks county line.”
When John R. Hallowell succeeded his father-in-law on The Horsham Homestead
, the farm bordered the Bucks County line, its original western boundary being Easton Road, passing through Davis Grove Road. When the Doylestown and Grove Turnpike
was built in 1839, it followed the old Easton Road the greater part of its course, but in the neighborhood of the Hallowell farm the route was shortened by cutting diagonally through the farm, east of Davis Grove. Ever since the farm has been in two sections, with buildings on both sides of the turnpike.
John R. Hallowell who was born in 1785, died in 1865, and his wife Ann (Jarrett) Hallowell, born in 1787, died in 1867. During the retirement years of their life, they rented The Horsham Homestead, and lived until their death in Abington. During this period of about 15 years John Scott was the tenant farmer, paying $300 per year as rent.
The son of John R. and Ann (Jarrett) Hallowell was William Jarrett Hallowell, born in 1813. In 1845 he married Tacy Ann, daughter of Joshua Paul of Warminster, Bucks County. In 1844 he took occupancy of his father’s farm, The Horsham Homestead, and in 1863 he took title, paying $7800. This was the eastern tract adjacent to the county line. That portion belonging to his mother located on the west side and comprising 142 acres, came into his: possession by her will of 1863, at $110 per acre. This was formally conveyed to him in 1863 by the other heirs. These were Martha, wife of Edwin Satterthwaite of Abington; Joseph Hallowell and wife, and Penrose Hnllowell and Wife Elizabeth. Of these Edwin Satterthwaite is well remembered as the Democratic candidate for Congress for this district, and the York Road pioneer in the good roads movement.
During the years of William >. Hallowell, The Horsham Homestead was one of the largest in Horsham. The great farm was fertile and in an excellent state of cultivation. It had formerly been known as the “Jarrett Hallowell Homestead Farm," having remained in the same family since the days of William Penn.
In William >. Hallowell’s time (1860‘s) there were dwellings and farm buildings on both sides of the Easton Road, which was travelled by many teams and trolley cars. It was William >. Hallowell who had a water trough, hewn from a single block of stone, placed along the road in front of his property on the east side of Easton Road for the refreshment of “man and beast.” In 1889 this trough was given to the Society of Friends and placed in front of the Horsham Friends Meeting House
where it stands to this day.
On the west side of Easton Road stood a modern and handsome two-story dwelling of cut stone, surmounted by dormer windows. A fine lawn separated it from the turnpike. It was built in 1872. This was the Hallowell family’s residence in the later years when The Horsham Homestead was in a tenant’s hands. In the rear of the barn was a thrifty orchard. This newer residence was razed for the Naval Air Base.