Read about other people linked to Graeme Park and the Penrose Strawbridge Farm:
Sir William Keith | Dr Thomas Graeme | Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson | Samuel & Sarah Penrose | William & Hannah Penrose.| Abel & Sarah Penrose | Morris Penrose | Welsh & Margaret Strawbridge
Abel married Sarah L. Beisel of Allentown on Christmas Day, 1856. He was 39 and she was 20. Sarah's father, Daniel Beisel, was a prominent farmer in the Lehigh Valley and a member of the Reformed Church. Sarah probably became a member of the Society of Friends since she is buried at the
The second half of the 19th century was a turbulent time in the US. Although the civil war was over, the Indian wars continued in the west with over 1000 battles being fought between 1865 and 1891. (
Sarah and Abel had 5 children. Hannah J was born on June 30, 1858. Her letters back and forth with her cousin, Sarah Hicks, have provided us a good view of what life was life in the late 19th century. She married Dr. Aurthur Donaldson of Hatboro on November 16, 1882 at the LaFayette Hotel in Philadelphia.
Reverend SF Hotchkin visited Graeme Park in 1885 and wrote an article about his visit that was published 20 years later in the Doylestown Democrat.
"In the beautifully undulating country which abounds in eastern Pennsylvania in the Township of Horsham, on the county line road, about three miles above Hatboro, lies Graeme Park, the ancient residence of Lieutenant Governor Keith. As I rode by the antique mansion with a friend on a dull cloudy day, it seemed to be mourning its former grandeur, and having been deprived of the outbuildings which formerly surrounded it, it naturally feels a little lonesome. Still the property has fallen into good hands, and Mr Abel Penrose, to whom it has descended through his father, has placed a new roof on the building and kept it in fair repair, so that this historical spirit has preserved one of the most interesting relics in this section of the country.
We are pleasantly welcomed at the modern farmhouse near by, and Mrs Penrose kindly and cheerfully displays the mementos of former days. Here is a fine oil painting of
We now proceed from the farm house to the old mansion with its hipped roof, which is close at hand. The fishpond is passed where Lady Fergusson used to feed the finny tribe. The fine chimneys of the house are worthy of notice, and they have been kept in repair. The long, narrow windows of the reddish stone building have an ancient look. Do they long after the beautiful faces who gazed out of them in the days long ago? The approach at present is to the rear of the building. As the remains of one side of the jail (
* The aged lady occupying the Keith House mentioned by Hotchkin was probably the wife of Joseph Kirkbride Craven. Joseph was a cabinet-maker/carpenter/coffin-maker by trade and was a tenant in the Keith House in the 1880s. Their grandson, William Craven, lived at the Keith House with his grandparents from 1883-86 and claimed to have written his name on one of the old nursery rooms. (
"Pap was in town with hay on 3rd day -- and coming up he got very cold - he was not very well either. He sprained his knee some time ago he stepped off the porch and went down full force - and I guess broke something. It did not hurt him much at the time but is very painful now. (
Other letters mention Hannah's mischievous 16 year old brother Morris, her 8 year old brother Willy taking sick, or her 10 month old sister Mary teething. One letter describes the death of 3 children of the Connards family of diptheria, two little ones and a 20 year old dying within 2 weeks.(
Jennie Davis, daughter of Tacy Penrose Davis, correspondent with Hannah Penrose, and author of "The Penrose Family - Written for First Reunion" which provided much of the source material for this article, became a teacher in Philadelphia and in 1890 was named Most Valuable Teacher in Philadelphia earning a trip to Europe, with a letter of introduction by then Philadelphia Mayor Edwin H Fittles (
Abel and Sarah Penrose were the 3rd generation of Penroses to live and work the farm at Graeme Park . They also continued the tradition of maintaining the Keith House as a historic site.
The settlement of
April 1865 marked the beginning of the end of one of the worst periods in American history with the surrender of General Robert E Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to General
Some Quakers, despite their tenet of non-violence, had fought in the Revolutionary War with little reprisal from the Society of Friends. This continued in the Civil War, with some members, including some from
Abel was described as someone
"...attending strictly to his own business, leaving the political affairs of the township to be looked after by those who have a taste in that direction, being content himself with the right of suffrage." (16p907 )
Keeping to his own business, however, didn't mean that he was insulated from the world, he had actually traveled extensively when he was younger.
"Mr. Penrose, unlike many farmers in our country, attended not only to the routine duties of the farm, but has found time to devote to seeking a knowledge of public men of all nations, and a personal inspection of not only his own country, but portions of Europe as well. He has visited Europe twice, and in 1844 he spent eight months in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, and is familiar with the everyday affairs of his own country to a degree beyond that of most men."