THE colony which occupied the west bank of the Delaware at the final establishment of the English in possession consisted chiefly of Dutch and Swedish emigrants and their descendants. The latter were found situated along the trend of the river above Christina creek, and it was this people that first made their way above the Poquessing and planted their settlements in what is now Bucks county. Their number was small, however, and their plantations only recently settled when the "first adventurers" began to arrive. At this time the social elements here can scarcely be said to have crystallized into form, and Bucks county enjoys the unique distinction of exhibiting the social product of the "divine experiment" unmodified by early foreign influences. Nowhere else was loyalty to William Penn so marked, fidelity to the tenets of the Society of Friends so general, the simplicity of manners and sobriety of life, inculcated by its creed, so long preserved.

The settlers who first came to Bucks county after the granting of Penn’s charter were, with few exceptions, members of the Society of Friends. They were men and women of great earnestness of character, deeply imbued with the teachings of George Fox, and, while possessing little general culture, were characterized by rare natural abilities and sound judgment. They were a second colony of "Puritans," with different religious persuasions, and less aggressiveness. The latter exception was by no means an unqualified virtue; while it saved them "frae mony a blunder," it also robbed them of a certain vitality, and pre-ordained them to eventual extinction as a social factor. The transplanted Friends had little assimilating power. New adherents were gained here, but they were generally such as had formed the determination in England, and put it in execution after their arrival in the province. The dispassionate quality of their minds, the sobriety of their tastes, and the habitual providence manifested in all their actions, however, gave to their institutions a greater permanency. In all their relations to society they built for all men and all time, and "their works do follow them." And now, after the lapse of more than two centuries, when the membership of their society is gradually declining to the end, and when its authority at the very seat of its early power is ignored, the moulding influence of the past is still obviously effective. "As the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined." They formed the character of this great commonwealth in the period of its provincial plasticity, and the effect will be marked to all time.

The first settlers selected lands along the trend of the river as far up as the falls, but many of these people sold their improvements, and sought new homes in the interior. Later immigration followed in the same direction, and by 1687 was in general possession of Bensalem, Bristol, Middletown, Falls, and a large part of Lower Makefield. The land, to a considerable extent, was held in large blocks, and much of it was for sale, but at a somewhat higher price than that demanded by the proprietary. Immigration was accordingly diverted to the region west of the Neshaminy, and the lands of Southampton, Northampton, and the lower tart of Warminster were rapidly taken up about this time. In 1684 Chapman plunged into the woods and made a settlement in the lower part of Wrightstown, then on the extreme frontier. A few others ventured to join him at an early date, but it was not until about 1700 that the regular advance of civilization had passed over Newtown and Upper Makefield to this frontier colony. A year or two later Warwick, Buckingham, and Solebury were invaded, and in 1712 the advancing line had entered Plumstead. This marks the limit of the regular northward progress of the English Friend immigration. The Free Society of Traders located lands in Durham before 1700, and the manufacturing interests established there induced the founding of a settlement soon afterward, but the intervening region was unoccupied for years.

The Welsh Friends reached Richland in 1710, and first extended their settlements into Springfield and Durham, but about eight years later the same nationality, but of different religious persuasion, was found also in Hilltown and New Britain, giving name to the latter township. This current of immigration was distinct from that which peopled the lower portion of the county. In a company of these people purchased forty thousand acres of Penn in England, and before the arrival of the proprietor in the province had taken up land enough to form the townships of Upper and Lower Merion in Montgomery county, Haverford and Radnor in Delaware county, and subsequently the township of Newtown in Delaware, and Goshen and Uwchlan in Chester county. It is probable that they expected to have their tract erected into a distinct barony, but much to their dissatisfaction were set off to Chester county in 1689, in spite of their earnest protest. According to Proud, "Divers of these early Welsh settlers were persons of excellent and worthy character, and several of good education, family, and estate, chiefly Quakers: and many of them either eminent preachers in that society or otherwise well qualified and disposed to do good, in various capacities, both in religious and civil, in public and private life." These people were impelled to emigrate chiefly by the persecution in the old country. When this ceased the addition to their numbers ceased, and the colony planted in Bucks county has gradually been displaced until there are few remaining to indicate the character of the pioneers. The Welsh Baptists who subsequently entered Hilltown and New Britain followed in the course of their countrymen, but were little associated with them in other respects. They continued to receive accessions till about 1740, when this class of emigration ceased altogether. Their colony has suffered almost as much as the earlier settlement made by their countrymen, and few remain to perpetuate the memory of the pioneers.

Though later in their emigration to the province, the Dutch were earlier than the Welsh in their settlement in the county. In 1689 Nicholas, Leonard, Johannes, and Frederick Vandygrift purchased land of Joseph Growdon and settled in Bensalem township. The Vansants and Vanhorns closely followed from Long Island, the great distributing point for this nationality in the "new world." Few if any came directly from Holland. The colony increased very slowly and probably did not exceed a score of families. Some of the later accessions found homes in the lower part of Southampton prior to 1710, and others still later in Northampton. The original families have shown little disposition to seek homes elsewhere in the county. In the last two townships mentioned their descendants have gradually displaced other nationalities and now occupy Southampton almost exclusively and Northampton to a scarcely less extent. With the characteristic thrift and industry of their nation these people have developed into one of the most prosperous communities in the county.

The Scotch and Scotch-Irish portion of the early population of the province came subsequent to 1719, and constituted an important element of the hardy people who reclaimed the valleys of Pennsylvania. The persecutions of the Protestants in Ireland under Charles I., which resulted in the massacre of 1641, drove many who had originally emigrated from Scotland back to their native land. In 1662 the "act of uniformity" bore with equal oppression upon both Scotch and Irish, who promptly availed themselves of the asylum opened in the "new world," and prepared the way for many others in the subsequent "troublous time." The interval of toleration dating from 1691 was suspended in Queen Anne’s reign by the "schism bill," and many alarmed dissenters from Ireland and Scotland followed the path of those who had come earlier to America.

The representatives of this class of the population of Bucks county came here between 1720 and 1730, and generally landed at Newcastle or Philadelphia, from whence they made their way to the interior. With few exceptions the members of the early Presbyterian congregations were made up of these emigrants, and the spread of this church generally marks the development of their settlements. They were earliest found in the "Forks of the Neshaminy;" about 1726 on Deep run in Bedminster, in the north part of Plumstead, and in Tinicum; about 1730 in Newtown. In these sections they expanded but little, and in more recent years have gradually given place to the incoming German race. In Warwick they have increased and are represented by two vigorous church organizations.

The Irish have never formed a conspicuous element in the population of the county, though more numerous in other parts of the province. About 1730 to 1740 a noticeable colony gathered on the Haycock run, in the township of the same name, and in Nockamixon, but there are few descendants of these pioneers remaining, save the McCartys, whose progenitors came about 1737.

Next to the Quaker immigration, that of the Germans was most important in the early history of the province. They were a hardy, frugal, and industrious people, retaining their customs and language with such tenacity as to leave their impress upon society to the present, and spreading their influence over a wide scope of country through the emigration of their descendants. Some of these people were among the earliest arrivals, but their number was not marked until about 1725, when it became so great as to excite some alarm lest they should "produce a German colony here, and perhaps such an one as Britain once received from Saxony in the fifth century." They came principally from the Palatinate, whence they were driven by religious persecution. Many fled to England for protection, where Queen Anne supported them from the public treasury. Hundreds were transported by the royal command to Ireland and to the English colonies in America.

Many of these persons, as well as of the other nationalities represented in the province, came as "redemptioners"— persons unable to pay their own passage and sold to a term of service to defray this cost. The public alarm at the increasing number of Palatine and Irish caused the imposition of a tax on all such persons, and for a time the Germans were refused naturalization. The latter continued to come, notwithstanding these discouragements, and the great privations they suffered from the advantage taken of their simplicity and ignorance by unscrupulous ship-owners and agents. In 1755 their numbers were estimated at upwards of sixty thousand, of which some thirty thousand were of the German Reformed denomination. The rest were divided among the Lutheran, Mennonite, Dunkard, Moravian, Quaker, Catholic, and Schwenkenfeldter persuasions, the first named being rather more numerous than any of the others.

The earliest of this tide of immigration formed the settlement at Germantown. They were natives of Cresheim, a town near the city of Worms, who had been converted under the preaching of William Ames to the principles of the Friends. In 1709 the Germans had founded New Hanover and Pottsgrove, and in 1734 about one-half of the taxables of what is now Montgomery county were of this race. It was this current that, following the valley of the Perkiomen, reached Milford about 1780, and then turning southwardly began to occupy the whole of the upper part of the county. They rapidly spread over the unsettled portion of this region to the line of Plumstead and New Britain. When the lands in the manor of Perkasie were sold the Mennonites were almost the only purchasers, and the same is true of the lands in the society tract.

By 1750 the line of German population had reached the farthest advance of the Quaker settlements and their rapid spread was checked. Since then the expansion of the Germans has been slow, but each year has witnessed the extension of the line of their occupation and the growth of their influence. They are in the main a plain, plodding people, tenacious of customs and language, and yet yielding slowly to the influence of modern ideas of social advancement. They are model farmers, law-abiding citizens, conservative in all their views, and cherish a regard for the useful rather than the ornate things of life. Between this class and the successors of the early Quakers there is a natural hut friendly contest for supremacy in the public control, the issue of which is by no means certain. There is not a wide difference between the habits of thought in the two people here. Society as a whole is conservative rather than radical, and practical rather than experimental or inventive.

Pioneer life in Bucks county was in many respects different from that in other colonies and from that in many other parts of the province. The English settlers in the original counties found the way broken to some extent by the Swedes, and preparations for the new experience had been so intelligently and elaborately made that it was shorn of a large part of the privations which usually are the severest tax upon the endurance of the pioneer. A large number were in good financial circumstances, and the ready communication which existed with the "old world" gave them command of such resources as made life in this wilderness to a great degree only inconvenient. The large accession to the population within two or three years, however, notwithstanding the precautions which most of the adventurers adopted, was not unattended with difficulties and privations, especially among those who occupied the remoter settlements. The lodgings of some even on the site of Philadelphia were, at first, made in caves or under a chosen tree, which sometimes happened in the late fall and winter. Dwellings were subsequently constructed chiefly of logs. The mills that were early built in the older communities on both sides of the Delaware afforded the river settlements the lumber necessary for the comfortable arrangement of the interior, and many were early covered with clapboards. Bricks were imported and made in the province before the coming of Penn, and were generally used in the construction of chimneys, and occasionally in the construction of the whole dwelling. The tastes of the people and the abundance of building-stone led to its use in the various buildings of the farm and village, and some of these substantial structures remain to this day. While there was a general lack of all ostentation, there was still a touch of luxury in some of the more pretentious dwellings, as Penn’s "palace," the Growdon, Langhorne, and Parry mansions.

Many of the first purchasers in England sent their servants and agents to the province before them to prepare a dwelling-place and to clear and plant a crop for the support of the emigrant’s family. The larger number did not find the plan convenient or possible, and until they could reap the fruits of their own labors they were obliged to purchase of their neighbors in the older settlements. While the earlier settlers were liberal in rendering assistance, so large an addition suddenly made to the inhabitants exhausted the surplus crops in the country before all were supplied, and many suffered serious privations on this account. It is related of John Scarborough that in his brief stay he experienced the lack of necessary food, which was only supplied by what he deemed a providential provision of wild pigeons. They came in such large numbers as to darken the sky, and flew so low that many were knocked down with clubs and snared in great quantities. Those not immediately used were salted and subsequently served for both bread and meat. A similar provision in the capture of a fawn is related of Richard Townsend by Proud, and doubtless there were many other incidents which escaped record, sufficient to indicate that pioneer life when most ameliorated is still a serious experience.

As soon as cleared, the land was planted with Indian corn. A year or two later wheat was sown and became the staple article for food and income. The variety of crops was gradually increased until it included, beside these leading ones, rye, flax, buckwheat, and oats. Timothy grass, which is said to take its name from Timothy Hauser, of Maryland, was first cultivated in the county for hay about 1770, and clover was first sown some twenty years later. Before the introduction of these grasses the lowest lands were selected for meadows, and artificial means were employed to convey the water of the springs to them. No farm would readily sell without a fair proportion of this land, which was then the sole dependence for provender for stock. The value of Indian corn for this purpose does not appear to have been recognized. It was not an article of trade prior to 1750, and its cultivation in large quantities was not attempted for some years afterward.

In the cultivation of wheat open fallows were preferred, which were generally plowed three times in the summer. When wheat was the first crop on new ground thus prepared the grass generally sprang up with such vigor as to prove injurious to the crop, and this led to what was known as "double cropping." Corn or buckwheat was first grown and wheat sown in the fall. This practice effectually killed the grass, but tended also to impoverish the land, as large fields would be sown and only small portions dressed with manure. There were little barn-yard accumulations, plaster was unknown even at the close of the last century, and little lime was used. The latter was found to serve a valuable purpose, but the wheat crop gradually grew poorer. It was eaten by lice or small flies, was frozen out on wet lands, and mildew and rust sometimes destroyed it near the time of harvest. These difficulties led to the sowing of spring grain, but with the revolution came the Hessian fly, the depredations of which rendered the crop always uncertain, and during the period of 1830—6 almost destroyed it entirely. At this time the Mediterranean variety was introduced. This proved to be impregnable to the attack of the fly, and has restored this valuable cereal to its former place in the products of the farm.*

Stock was plentiful and cheap, but prior to the French and Indian war was not a source of great income to the farmer. The cultivated fields were alone fenced, and all stock ran at large, the horses generally "hoppled," and other kinds bearing "ear-marks" by which they were identified by their owners. Swine were easily bred and fed in the woods, and supplied the home table with substantial food and the market with a product generally in demand. Butter and cheese and poultry gradually became a source of revenue also, the growing city of Philadelphia affording a ready market for such surplus as the family could spare. It was a common thing before the revolution to see the farmers on horseback surrounded by huge sacks and wallets, or panniers, laden with "country produce," and even live calves and sheep. The farmers did not seem to understand the care of stock, however, and even up to the close of the last century it was not uncommon for more or less cattle in a neighborhood to die from want, or disease induced by improper food. In fact, up to this period all branches of farming were carried on in a careless fashion. Implements were few, often of wood, and generally rudely constructed. Farm carts were possessed by the best farmers, and a few especially well-equipped had wagons. About 1750 two-horse wagons and "light-tongue carts" were introduced. The latter was a vehicle especially designed for marketing and travelling purposes. It was provided with bows formed from hoop-poles, over which was stretched a coverlet of the usual variety of color. They are described as "poor makeshifts," however, easily overset, with easily broken "gears," and often the victims of a destructive runaway.

The era of necessity attending the first settlement closed about 1730. The very large proportion of the dwellings in the county at that time were, in most respects, typical frontier structures. One story high, with a loft above and a single room, or at most two below, rude in its construction within and without, it still afforded a homely cheer that has not always descended to its more pretentious successors. Its chief attraction was its wide fire-place, from which during the larger part of the year came the genial glow of the bright wood fire, which afforded the light as well as heat to the economical household. "The women," it is said, "were generally good housekeepers; or, at least, their industry and frugality made proper amends for whatever might be deficient, in respect to such improvements and refinements as were pot so well suited to their circumstances of mediocrity and equality." While a considerable number of households enjoyed many of the luxuries they had been accustomed to in their former homes, the most of the settlers were obliged to forego those commoner ones which are now reckoned among the necessities of life. Tea and coffee were at first used only on Sunday. Sage, thyme, and dittany, or mountain mint, were used as substitutes for the former, and rye afforded a not unpleasant drink which commonly took the place of coffee. "Doughnuts" were an especial luxury reserved for the Christmas cheer, and young and old commonly went barefooted during the milder seasons. To wear shoes the year round was to give evidence of remarkable affluence, and yet the people were generally well-clothed, fed, and lodged. While coarse, their fare was abundant and wholesome, and they doubtless enjoyed as restful sleep upon their beds of chaff, laid on the floor of the loft, as if surrounded by the elegancies and comforts of an older civilization.

The domestic management that fell to the share of the women were generally well ordered. As soon as wool and flax were raised they manufactured good linen of different kinds and degrees of fineness, drugget, linsey, worsted, etc., sufficient to clothe themselves and families; were very industrious and frugal, contented to live on what their present means afforded, and were generally well qualified to make the most proper use of what they had. Notwithstanding the engagements at home and the difficulty of travelling in those early times, yet visits of friendship were frequent, not only to relations but others. On these occasions cider, methylin, or small beer, toast of light biscuit made of fine wheat flour, and milk, butter, cheese, custards, and pies made an afternoon’s repast. Chocolate was sometimes used, and in lack of other materials time toast was sometimes made with rum and water. For common living milk and bread and pie made the breakfast, the milk being boiled and sometimes thickened in winter; good pork or bacon, with plenty of sauce, a wheat flour pudding, or dumplings, with butter and molasses, for dinner, and mush or hominy with milk and butter and honey for supper. Pies of green or dried apples were the universal standard of good eating, especially with children. When milk was scarce small beer thickened with wheat flour and an egg or cider in that way made an agreeable breakfast.**

The circumstances of pioneer life are calculated to encourage hospitality and a community of interests. Common laborers were few, money was scarce, and the work of the frontier farm too exacting for the resources of a single family. Each felt the common need of assistance, and the exchange of labor became the imperative rule of every neighborhood. The people were thus frequently brought together to raise the framework of a neighbor’s buildings, and at the various "bees" for clearing, logging, and harvesting. Nor was this reciprocal assistance confined to the heavier work of the farm. The women also had their "bees" for spinning, wool-picking, and quilting, though probably moved to this expedient more by the pleasure of the occasion than necessity. In all these gatherings both sexes were brought together. The women were often dextrous in wielding the sickle and in binding the grain, and were no mean competitors in the harvest-field. Contests in this work were frequent and earnest, and Doctor Watson relates that "about 1741 twenty acres of wheat were cut and stacked in half a day in Solebury."

On most of these occasions the evening was given to merrymaking, when "a lively spirit of plain friendship, but rather rude manners, prevailed in the company." Weddings, after the custom which then was observed in England, were held as festivals. Relations, friends, and neighbors were generally invited, often to the number of one or two hundred. In polite circles punch was dealt out in profusion; gentlemen greeted the groom upon the first floor, and then ascended to the second floor where each one greeted the bride with a kiss, sometimes a hundred in a day. This continued for two days, and was observed by the Friends scarcely less than the less sober part of the community. In the country the observances were less formal, but the company frequently met on the second day and "practised social plays and sports, in which they often went to an extreme folly."***

At all these social gatherings, and in fact whenever the people came together, save at religious worship, alcoholic liquors were always used. In the harvest-field "rum was drunk in proportion to the hurry of the business;" at public sales "bottles were handed about" so generously, and so much to the disadvantage of the buyers, that an act of the assembly was passed prohibiting the practice, which was not abandoned, however, until after the revolution. At funerals "mixed and stewed spirits were repeatedly given to those who attended;"(4*) at births were "many good women" usually collected; "wine, or cordial waters, were esteemed suitable to the occasion for the guests; but besides these, rum, either buttered or made into a hot tiff, was believed to be essentially necessary for the lying-in woman. The tender infant must be straitly rolled round the waist with linen swathe, and loaded with clothes until it could scarcely breathe, and when unwell or fretful, was dosed with spirit and water stewed with spicery." In the treatment of most diseases it was a part of the nurse’s regular regimen. Chronic ailments were less frequent then than now, but acute disorders prevailed, which were generally known as "lung fevers, dumb-agues, fever-and-agues," etc. Throat diseases and pleurisy were common, and smallpox. The latter disease was little understood, was generally severe in its attacks, and often fatal. Its treatment generally involved a hot room, abundant bed covering, hot teas, and milk-punch or hot "tiff."(5*)

The imposing authority of necessity obliged the first settlers and their successors to wear a strong and coarse kind of dress; enduring buckskin was used for breeches and sometimes for jackets; oznabergs made of hemp tow, 1s. 6d. per yard, was much used for boys’ shirts; sometimes flax and flax and tow were used for that purpose; and coarse tow for trowsers; a wool hat, strong shoes and brass buckles, two linsey jackets, and a leathern apron made out the winter apparel. This kind of dress continued to be common for the laboring people until 1750. Yet a few, even in earlier times, somewhat to imitate the trim of their ancestors, laid out as much to buy one suit of fine clothes as would have purchased two hundred acres of pretty good land. The fine coat was made with three or four large plaits in the skirts—wadding almost like a coverlet to keep them smooth— cuffs vastly large up to the elbows, open below, and of round form. The hat of the beau was a good broad brim new beaver, with double loops, drawn nearly close behind and half raised on each side. The women, in full mode, wore stiff whalebone stays, worth eight or ten dollars. The silk gown much plaited in the back; the sleeves nearly twice as large as the arm, and reaching rather more than half way from the shoulder to the elbow, the interval covered with a fine Holland sleeve, nicely plaited, locket-buttons, and long-armed gloves. Invention had then reached no further than a bath bonnet with a cape.(6*) (Watson’s Annals, vol. ii. p. 525.)

From 1730 to 1750 the tokens of progress were visible on all sides. The lands did not yet show exhaustion, the extent of the clearings gradually increased, the seasons were generally favorable, and while low prices ruled, the abundant yield, a steady market demand, and the general economy practised led to the gradual improvement of the farmer’s surroundings. A better class of dwellings, though still plain, took the place of the original cabins, good barns were built, and numerous additions to the furniture contributed comfort and embellishment to the interior of the home. The war of 1754 gave a fresh impetus to the prosperity enjoyed in the country. Money became more abundant, produce rapidly increased in price— wheat rising from six shillings per bushel to one dollar, and all branches of trade similarly improved. The result was at once observed in all departments of life. Importations were greatly increased and less economical habits were indulged in by all. Bohea tea and coffee came into general use; the women began to reject all homespun goods and adorn themselves with "half silks," calicoes, silk bonnets, and silk and fine linen neck-wear; the men selected "Bengal," nankin, fustian, black "everlasting" and cotton velvet for their use; and grander furniture generally replaced what had been selected more for service than show.

In the meantime other changes had been silently effected. The large immigration of other nationalities and other sects had begun to exert an influence on public affairs, not altogether in harmony with the preferences of the Quaker element. The number of witnesses and jurors willing to take the oath had gradually increased; the Friends’ style of indicating the months and days of the week had been gradually abandoned in the public records, and the "heathen" method established by law; the association of citizens for warlike purposes had been sanctioned by the governor; and the hesitating assembly had been forced by the emergency of 1754 to grant money, certain to be applied to the purpose they religiously abhorred. But what was more dangerous to the solidity of their influence was the fact that conspicuous members of the Society became infected with the warlike fever, and not only contributed money, but voluntarily bore arms against the savages.

It was in the social circle, however, that their weakest point was assailed, and where their power was gradually being undermined.(7*) The young found the stern edicts of the sect unnatural, and while they did not break the bond which had strengthened with their growth at a bound, they were secretly aiding and abetting the opposing influence. The seductions of the dance were not tolerated in the social gatherings of the Friends, but among other sects dancing was not uncommon, and the young Friends could not resist the temptation to caper with the rest. The uncompromising character of their creed hastened the inevitable result. Constantly brought to face emergencies for which their faith made no practical provision, they were compelled to yield an unwilling obedience to the inexorable logic of events, and lost respect when they would have won it by making a virtue of necessity. Penn’s liberality was wide enough for all people, and his creed flexible enough for all actual necessities, but his followers were not all so liberally provided. "The Friends had suffered much under the Stuarts; and though promised much by the Oliverians and a republican equality, they experienced but little relief from either. They therefore equally disliked the Presbyterians and the Pretender; and were loyally attached to the Protestant succession in the house of Hanover."

It is unnecessary to go farther in search of an explanation of the situation in Bucks county at the opening of the revolutionary struggle. The determined sentiment of Patrick Henry, which went forth to the world in the words, "We must fight; I repeat it, we must fight!" awoke a responsive echo in every part of the country save among the tories, Friends, and their religious sympathizers, the Mennonites. The Friends as a rule were inclined to be loyal to the crown, but the persistent folly of George III. alienated a large proportion of these, and while they were firm in their determination not to engage in war on any account, viewed the general action of the colonies with approval. There were many, however, who did not waver in their loyalty to the crown, and while they refused to take up arms, in other ways favored the royal cause. A few, in the enthusiasm of the hour, laid aside the precepts of their creed and donned the full panoply of war. It was therefore not unnatural, in a period when passion largely usurped the prerogatives of reason, that such delicate distinctions should be overlooked. The general comprehension grasped the fact that a part of the sect were secretly aiding the enemy, and that another part was doing valiant service in the field, and the masses refused to recognize any other division. The Mennonites were not generally prepossessed toward the king, but they refused to do military duty on account of religious scruples, and were publicly classed with the adhering Quakers.

It is difficult to determine the exact extent of influence the Friends exerted in public affairs immediately before the disturbing questions that preceded the revolution entered into the calculation, but there was probably no great difference between their number and influence and those of their opponents, while the prestige of the former gave them the balance of power. The events which followed, however, wrought the immediate downfall of the Friends, and left them at the mercy of those whose natural antipathies were not moderated by the passions of the hour. That the non-resisting sects suffered grave injustice at the hands of the dominant influence is undisputed by the historical student, and nowhere did they suffer more than in Bucks county. The Society has not paraded its grievances in history to claim the crown of martyrdom, nor was the character of their wrongs such as to win especial consideration where all suffered so much, but they were none the less such as would raise a tempest of indignation in a more settled period.

The supreme test of loyalty with the masses, and scarcely any other was accepted, was the bearing of arms. Refusal to do this brought upon the recalcitrant citizen the suspicion of hostility to the colonial cause, and an inexorable fine. Payment of this was, under a mistaken notion of fidelity to principle, generally refused, and the unyielding non-combatant’s goods and chattels were relentlessly seized. Such persistence on the part of Friends exasperated those who had to deal with them, and too little care was taken to exact only the "pound of flesh." This sentiment became widespread, and the property of adhering Friends, not less than those of tories, became the natural prey of the foragers of the American army. The Mennonites suffered scarcely less, and many of both sects in this county found themselves thus reduced to bare lands and sometimes to absolute poverty.(8*)

The Friends made little or no resistance, and with very rare exceptions made no attempt at reprisals. A conspicuous exception in Bucks county was the case of the Doans, whose exploits have furnished a slight foundation of truth for the most exaggerated tales of reckless villainy. John Doane, the founder of the family in America, was one of the pilgrim fathers, and a carpenter by trade. He came from England in 1630 and settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. The family appears to have remained in this region until 1630, when a grandson, Daniel, having joined the Quakers at a time when persecution was waxing hot against that sect, came to Middletown, in Bucks county. He appears at first to have been prominent in the society here, but three years later rumors that he meddled "in predictions by astrologie" brought him into trouble, and in 1711 was disowned by the meeting. Of his thirteen children Israel alone is necessary to connect the characters of this sketch with the founder. He lived at Middletown, Wrightstown, and finally squatted on public lands in Plumstead prior to 1726. He went out "from among the Friends to consummate his marriage," and was dropped from the membership of the society. Of his eight children Joseph and Israel, Jr., only are connected with this story. The latter was the father of five children, of whom Abraham was one of the noted characters of tile family in the time of the revolution. Joseph was a carpenter, had nine children, and five of his six sons became the most notorious of local desperadoes in the county. These were Joseph, Jr., Moses, Aaron, Levi, and Mahlon, Thomas being but a boy at this time.

Prior to the beginning of the hostilities of the revolutionary period the Doans appear to have been quiet, inoffensive citizens, the elder son, Joseph, teaching school in his native township. The boys were noted for their athletic powers, especially in wrestling and jumping, but there is little foundation for the vague traditions of their "pure cussedness" which delighted in malicious mischief for the sake of its "devilment." What the particular grievance was that turned them into their subsequent course is not clearly ascertained. As early as 1778 the name of Joseph Doan, "laborer," appeared in a published list of tories, and it is probable that they sympathized with the royal cause from the first. On June 15th, 1778, "sundry inhabitants of Bucks county" complained to the executive council that "the lower part of this county is greatly infested by a set of traitorous robbers" who pillaged houses and stole horses and cattle "to the very great distress of the well-affected citizens." It is not certain whether the Doans were among those thus complained of, but they very soon afterward became conspicuous in their ravages, and while they adopted little disguise became the object of much complaint levelled at "persons unknown." Public property at first constituted the chief object of their reprisals, though the "well-affected" suffered hardly less in the loss of horses. Complaints of "ruffians, armed banditti, and robbers," depositions and affidavits of robbed tax-collectors, at least four proclamations offering high rewards for the capture of these "persons unknown" appeared before any determined effort was made to apprehend them.

The most celebrated exploit of this gang was the robbery of the county treasury on October 22, 1781, at Newtown. It was one o’clock at night when, as John Hart, the treasurer, was eating a late supper on his return from a journey, a slight noise at the door of his residence was followed by the abrupt entrance of seven "brown figures, in linsey-woolsey coats, knee-breeches of sheepskin or plush, and small soft felt hats with round crowns. Some wore hunting-shirts bound in at the waist, with large handkerchiefs, and all carried weapons, cocked pistols, heavy clubs, swords, or army flint-lock muskets." The treasurer had with him only his housekeeper, and a neighbor, who had dropped in to hear the news, when his intrusive visitors arrived, and as they arose in alarm on the appearance of the marauders, their fears were in some degree quieted by the remarks of the leader, who turned to Mr. Hart with a cocked pistol and demanded his name.

This was Robert Johnston Steel, hanged in Philadelphia for this robbery in 1785. At the same moment a ruddy-faced, heavily-built man stepped up to Mr. Hart. His bearskin overcoat was closely buttoned, and a large black "scollop-rimmed hat" thrown back upon his head displayed a remarkably heavy jaw and large mouth, clean shaven in the fashion of the time. He wore blue yarn stockings, and the firelight flashed on the large French buckles of his shoes. He stood very straight; one hand was thrust into the pocket of his greatcoat, from which several pistol butts protruded, and a heavy club moved and twitched in the other, as in the grasp of a very strong man. This was Noses Doan. Like the rest of the band he was excited with drink, and it was many a year before Mr. Hart forgot the flush of Jamaica rum in his face, his fierce oaths, and the ring of his voice as he asked him his name, and shaking pistol and club in his face called for the key of the treasury. Mr. Hart may well have quailed; part of the money was in the house, and he admitted it. In a moment, having seized a spare candle on the table, one of the band, Woodward, and five others are ransacking the sitting-room, the upper rooms and the cellar, breaking the locks of chests, closets, and cupboards, searching under beds and sofas, and rattling and rummaging everywhere. Two men were left to guard the kitchen and its inmates. Up stairs, as the light and noise enter one of the bed-rooms, a frightened youthful voice makes itself heard, and the candle-light falls upon several childish forms, now wide awake, and huddled together in a small bed. "Don’t cry, there," said one of the men, as stooping down he dragged from under Mr. Hart’s bed a large package stuffed with packages of paper money.

In a moment the robbers were again down stairs and had surrounded Mr. Hart, who did not dare to deny that the "hard money" was in the treasury. Thither they started with a lantern and candle, leaving Mr. Hart and his companions still under guard. One Woodward carried the office key, and it is said wore the overcoat of Mr. hart, in hopes of passing for him if seen in the darkness by a neighbor. We may suppose that the robbers did not lose much time hurrying towards the treasury— the small prothonotary’s office, near the court-house. They were accompanied by Jesse Vickers, a neighbor ally of the Doans, from Plumstead, and his brother Solomon, who had not gone into the house. There was only one halt, and that near the jail wall, where they met a townsman on his way home. They stopped him; he had evidently suspected something, and Jesse Vickers waited to guard him. It was but a few steps to the treasury, anti unlocking the door and entering they found themselves in a small vaulted chamber, with little in it save a chair, a desk, and several boxes lying upon the floor and around the empty fire-place. In the desk, which they easily broke open, they found a quantity of paper and silver money, which they took; the gold, with a considerable sum of state money, as Mr. Hart is glad to say in his deposition, escaping their search. In all they carried off, Mr. Hart says, the precise sum of £735 17s. 9 1/2d. in silver, besides the paper money found in the house and office. "This being done," continues Mr. Hart in his statement, "and after having kept me and my associates under guard, as I think, upward of three hours, they left my house, but in so cautious a manner that I could not know the time of their final departure, as some of them were heard loitering out of doors, on both sides of the house, a considerable time after they had gone out of it. Further, I have reason to believe at the time of the robbery the perpetrators were between twelve and twenty in number, as I frequently saw five or six of them together, and at the same time heard others of them both in doors and without, who were not in sight."

Possessed of their booty the band hastened to a spot on the outskirts of the town, probably one of the thickets north of the village and near the turnpike leading to Wrightstown, and there finding their horses they rode rapidly to the old Wrightstown school-house, where being joined by several other allies and accomplices, all coming in for a share of the plunder, they divided the money. Jesse and Solomon Vickers were there, who were afterwards, when captured and promised pardon, induced to betray their confederates; John and Caleb Paul were there, sons of James Paul, of Warminster; Edward Connard, from Maryland, and two men named Woodward, from Crosswicks, in New Jersey; Robert Steel, a desperate character, whose case appears in volume 2 of Dallas’ Reports; George Burns and George Sinclair, and Moses and Aaron Doan; the notorious John Tomlinson and his son Joseph; Moses Winder, a tax-collector, who had played into their hands; and John Atkinson, a gunsmith, of Newtown. The latter had given information to the conspirators and mended several gun-locks for the expedition. That very night, when Moses Doan had ridden through Newtown to see if the coast was clear, he had called at Atkinson’s house, but the latter for some reason best known to himself had not been at home. The wily Jeremiah Cooper, too, was there, who afterwards, being suspected, was obliged to fly from home to escape justice. Also one Meyers, a German doctor, who, Vickers says, brought much information to Tomlinson, visiting his house on pretended medical visits, and often remaining there all night. Sixteen or seventeen shares were dealt out, of about $280 each, the minor accomplices like Winder, Atkinson, and Joseph Tomlinson receiving about forty dollars apiece. The expedition had been, as the proclamation of the following Thursday (October 25, 1i81), said, "but too successful.(9*)

With all their reckless boldness these freebooters continued to pursue their career of plunder unchecked. Several considerations doubtless contributed to secure them the immunity which they so long enjoyed. The community in which they took refuge was largely composed of Mennonites, peaceful in their habits and unaccustomed to bold enterprises. The fearlessness and success of the outlaws commanded a certain respect for their prowess, and many were silenced either by their threats or their many acts of personal kindness. The fact that the heaviest loss fell upon the public treasury also tended to quiet private concern, while the authorities fully occupied with larger affairs found no time to make a determined pursuit of the band. About 1782, however, they passed the limit which had hitherto been their safeguard. The stealing of a horse from Mr. Shaw, of Plumstead, was traced to the gang, and exasperated by the boldness of their neighbor after they had become accustomed to a general submission, the band visited the plucky farmer "at the dead of night," seized all his horses, plundered his house, and left him bruised and bleeding. The band then proceeded to the house of Joseph Grier, and robbed him; and going to the tavern kept by Robert Robinson, a very corpulent man, they dragged him from his bed, placed him naked in their midst, and then, after tying him in an excruciating position, whipped him until ferocity was satiated. Several others fell victims to their villainy before they retreated to Montgomery county.

A hue and cry was at once raised against the band, but such was the general timidity of the community that it was some time before a company of determined young men could be mustered for the pursuit. The avengers, however, made rapid progress when once on the way and overtook the band on Skippack creek, where the miscreants abandoned their horses and fled to the thickets. Joseph was shot through the cheek and captured. He afterward escaped from prison, and engaged in teaching school in New Jersey under an assumed name, but finding himself in danger of discovery fled to Canada. Moses, the leader of the gang, secreted himself with two brothers in a retired cabin near the mouth of Tohickon creek. Their retreat was discovered and a party under the command of John hart undertook their capture. The outlaws seized their arms at the first alarm and killed one of the party of citizens. Two escaped from a window that was insufficiently guarded and Moses surrendered, when he was shot and killed by a volunteer member of the party, who has been suspected of a guilty interest in the leader’s death. Levi was taken and subsequently hung; Mahlon was also captured, but made his escape from prison, and taking ship to England was never heard of more. Aaron was captured, but eventually released on condition of leaving the country. He went to Canada, where with his brother Joseph he entered the army against the United States in the war of 1812. Joseph was taken prisoner, but soon after was exchanged at New York.

The exploits of the Doans only constitute an episode in a period that was filled with thrilling events. Bucks county was situated at the center of revolutionary influences. Philadelphia, the focal point of colonial patriotism, was its market-town; the leaders in the movement for independence were familiar figures at the bar of its courts; and Independence Hall, the cradle of liberty, a familiar object to its people. On the one side lay the fields of Trenton, Princeton, Monmouth, and Red Bank; on the other lay the fields of Brandywine, Germantown, and the memorable camping-ground of Valley Forge. Three times the exigencies of the campaign brought the colonial army across its territory, while the enemy’s occupation of the capital city made the "wrinkled front" of war a familiar object even to the children.

The people of Bucks county were intelligent observers of the tendency of the events which were leading the American colonies into an open revolt, and reached the inevitable conclusion only after mature deliberation. The first public expression on the subject, which has found record, was made on the 9th of July, 1774, at Newtown. A committee for the city and county of Philadelphia had invited the different counties of the province to send deputies to that city on the 15th of July to confer upon the questions of the hour. A meeting was accordingly called to convene at the county-seat. Gilbert Hicks presided over its deliberations and William Walton recorded them. John Kidd, Joseph Kirkbride, Joseph Hart, James Wallace, Henry Wynkoop, Samuel Foulke, and John Wilkinson were appointed deputies to represent Bucks county, "after which, the sense of the inhabitants of the said county was recommended to them as general rules for their conduct at the same meeting, in the following resolves," viz:

Resolved, That the inhabitants of this county have the same opinion of the dangerous tendency of the claims of the British parliament to make laws, binding on the inhabitants of these colonies, in all cases whatsoever, without their consent, as other of our fellow American subjects have.

Resolved, That it is the duty of every American, when opprest by measures either of ministry, parliament, or any other power, to use every lawful endeavor to obtain relief, and to form and promote a plan of union, between the parent country and colonies, in which the claim of the parent country may be ascertained, and the liberties of the colonies defined and secured, that no cause of contention, in future, may arise to disturb that harmony, so necessary for time interest and happiness of both; and that this will be best done, in a general congress, to he composed of delegates, to be appointed either by the respective colonial assemblies, or by the members thereof, in convention.

The deputies, save Hart and Foulke, attended the Philadelphia meeting; the first continental congress, in which Joseph Galloway sat as a delegate from Pennsylvania, met in September; and on the 23d of January, 1775, a convention of the provincial deputies again met in Philadelphia. On the 15th of the preceding December, the people of the county had met at the suggestion of the city committee and elected a local committee of conference, and on January 16th this body convened at Newtown to consider the election of deputies to the convention to be held a week later. The action of the city committee calling a convention was duly considered, but from the information they possessed were unable to see "the necessity of such provincial convention, or that any good effects can be produced thereby toward carrying into execution the association so clearly pointed out to us by the continental congress," and so Bucks county was not represented in the convention. They found it useful to express their sentiments in the following resolutions, however, which were unanimously adopted:

1st. That we highly approve of the pacific measures recommended by the continental congress for redress of American grievances, and do hereby render our unfeigned thanks to the worthy gentlemen who composed that august assembly, for the faithful discharge of the trust reposed in them.

2d. That we hold ourselves bound in justice to ourselves, our posterity, our king and our country, strictly to observe and keep the association of said congress, especially as it is recommended to us by the united voice of our representatives in assembly, and as a committee, will use our utmost endeavors to have it carried into execution.

3d. That we hold it as our bounden duty, both as Christians and countrymen, to contribute towards the relief and support of the poor inhabitants of the town of Boston, now suffering in the general cause of all the colonies; and do hereby recommend time raising of a sum of money for that purpose, to every inhabitant or taxable in this county, as soon as possible.

After appointing Joseph hart, John Wilkinson, Henry Wynkoop, Joseph Watson, and John Chapman, "or any three of them," as a committee of correspondence, and Henry Wynkoop as treasurer, "to receive such charitable donations as may be collected in pursuance of the third resolve of this committee," that body adjourned. The committee collected £252 19s. l8d. for the "relief and support of the poor inhabitants of the town of Boston," and the Friends nobly responded to the committee’s recommendation, subsequently sending to various places what was for that time the munificent sum of three thousand nine hundred pounds, beside the aid given the distressed people of Philadelphia. Still there was a lack of enthusiasm in the county’s support of the American cause which evoked rather sharp criticism, and on the 8th of May the county committee again addressed the public in a set of resolutions:(10*)

"Resolved unanimously, That we do heartily approve of time resolves of the late Provincial Convention, held at Philadelphia, the 23d day of January last, and do earnestly recommend it to the observation of the inhabitants of this county.

"Resolved unanimously, That notwithstanding the disapprobation we have hitherto shown to the prosecution of any violent measures of opposition, arising from the hopes and expectations that the humanity, justice, and magnanimity of the British nation would not fail of affording us relief, being now convinced that all our most dutiful applications have hitherto been fruitless and vain, and that attempts are now making to carry the oppressive acts of Parliament into execution by military force; we do therefore earnestly recommend to the people of this county to form themselves into associations, in their respective townships, to improve themselves in the military art, that they may be rendered capable of affording their country that aid which its particular necessities may at any time require. JOSEPH HART, JOHN KIDD, JOSEPH KIRKBRIDE, JAMES WALLACE, and HENRY WYNKOOP, or any three of them, are appointed as delegates to meet in Provincial Convention, if any should be found necessary.

"The Committee request all persons who have taken subscriptions for the relief of the poor of Boston as soon as possible to collect and pay the same into the hands of the treasurer, HENRY WYNKOOP, that it speedily may be applied towards time benevolent purposes for which it was intended; and, at the same time, to give those who have not subscribed an opportunity to contribute also.

"By order of the Committee. HENRY WYNKOOP,
Clerk pro tem.

Four days later appeared Galloway’s circular to the public in which he declared the reports that he had insulted the delegates of the present congress, at Bristol, and that he had written letters to the ministry inimical to America, "malicious and without the least foundation." His declaration obtained little credence, however, and certain hotheads made a descent upon Trevose, where he had retired, to seize him on suspicion of his recreancy to the American cause. He was not found, and in the heat of passion the mob broke open his vaults, in which, it is said, valuable papers of Benjamin Franklin were stored for safe-keeping, and these with many of the Galloway’s papers were taken away or strewn about and eventually lost. It is hardly probable that there were many of Bucks county citizens engaged in this affair, as the general sentiment was too much in favor of Galloway’s views. The opposition to the war, partly from conscientious scruples and partly from sympathy with the royal cause, was still very strong, and was led by persons whose families had been prominent in all the county’s history.

The recommendation of the first congress and the county committee that the people should associate "to improve themselves in the military art" was not received with general favor, and in September, 1775, Henry Wynkoop reported the number of associators at 1688, and the number of those refusing at 1613, notwithstanding the provincial authorities had adopted a resolution to consider such as public enemies. Bucks county was early represented at "the front," however. Early in 1776 John Lacey recruited a company of sixty-four men, with Samuel Smith as first lieutenant, Michael Ryan as second, and John Bartley and James Forbes as ensigns, for Anthony Wayne’s regiment. Robert Sample, of Buckingham, commanded a company in the Tenth Pennsylvania regiment; Augustus Willett was a captain in Colonel Bull’s regiment; Alexander Graydon, of Bristol, was a captain in Colonel Shea’s regiment, and Samuel Benezet was major in the Sixth Pennsylvania. Beside these regiments, that of Colonel McGaw drew many recruits from Bucks county.

Early in 1776 the central committee of safety set about preparing the province for the eventualities of war. On the first of January it sent out rules and regulations for the organization of associated companies. Forty-five of these printed in English and fifteen printed in German were sent to Bucks county, where there were three battalions in course of organization. Inquiries as to the resources of the county were sent out and in May Wynkoop reported that while no pork could be procured in the county, there was plenty of bacon. In March the local committee lent its aid in procuring arms, and again "resolved"

Resolved, That the Committee man in each township be appointed to purchase, as soon as possible, all the arms that he judges fit for service, that may be found in his township, that are not made use of by Associators; and the owners will sell and deliver the same to HENRY WYNKOOP, Esq., in the lower district; to JAMES WALLACE, middle district; and to SAMUEL SMITH, in the upper district; who are hereby appointed to receive the same, to pay for them, and to send them to Philadelphia, agreeable to time request of the Committee of Safety, contained in their letter of the 23d of March, 1776; and that information be given to the Colonels of the several Battalions of Associators in this county, of the present critical situation of our affairs, and that they may be requested to use their utmost abilities and diligence to put their several Battalions in the best order that the nature of the thing will admit of, to be ready to march immediately, if it should be thought necessary; and it is expected and required, that every township and committee man do everything in his power to assist the officers in carrying out the above resolve into execution. JOSEPH HART, Chairman.

A true copy from the Minutes.

JOHN Cox, Clerk pro temp.

On the eighteenth of June a meeting of delegates from all the county committees was held at Philadelphia, John Kidd, Henry Wynkoop, Benjamin Segle, James Wallace, and Joseph Hart being appointed on the part of Bucks county. On the organization of the conference Thomas McKean was made president and Joseph Hart vice-president. One of the earliest acts of the body was to approve the resolution of congress which sat in the previous May, recommending the total suppression of all authority under the king. This was done by the unanimous voice of the conference, when it turned its attention to providing for a provincial convention to form a new constitution. It was provided that delegates to the constitutional convention should first abjure their allegiance to the king, and that none should vote in their election that refused a similar test, and Henry Wynkoop, James Wallace, and Joseph Hart were appointed judges of the election in Bucks county. On the fourth of July the declaration of independence was adopted and on the 15th instant the convention for framing a constitution for the new state was assembled. John Wilkinson, Samuel Smith, John Keller, William Vanhorne, John Grier, Abraham Van Middlewarts, and Joseph Kirkbride were elected from Bucks county, and with their fellow-members not only undertook the task of forming the constitution, but assumed the legislative power of the new state.

On June 8, 1776, the continental congress had proposed the establishing of a "flying camp" of ten thousand men in the middle colonies, and had apportioned six thousand men to Pennsylvania. The "provincial conference" approved the action of the congress, and promptly took measures to carry it into effect. The province had fifteen hundred men in the service under Colonel Miles, and the remaining forty-five hundred were apportioned among the several counties, the quota of Bucks county being fixed at four hundred men. A committee, of which Joseph Hart was a member, was appointed to devise ways and means to raise this body of troops. The Bucks county contingent was organized into a battalion, the fourth in the county, and officered by Joseph Hart as colonel, John Johnson as adjutant, Joseph Fenton, Jr., surgeon, and Alexander Benstead quartermaster. The five companies of which the battalion was composed were led respectively by Captains John Folwell, William Roberts, William Hart, Valentine Opp, and John Jamison. The men procured their own rifles and accoutrements as far as possible, and the local committee furnished one camp-kettle for every six men, and advanced fifty shillings to each private, the amount of one month’s pay. Their term of enlistment expired on the first of December, but no account of their service has been preserved.

The war of the revolution was now completely inaugurated. The indecisive success of the colonies at Boston was followed by the discouraging defeat at New York, and the American army retreated across New Jersey to a new line of defence behind the Delaware river. Preparations for this movement were made in November, and on the first of December Washington announced to congress his purpose to retreat across the Delaware. On the 17th of December the "council of safety," which succeeded the "committee," on the 23d of July, by appointment of the constitutional convention, recommended to the commander-in-chief to issue orders for the immediate mobilization of the militia of Bucks and Northampton counties, and to send out parties to disarm every person who did not obey the summons, "and to seize and treat as enemies all such as shall attempt to oppose the execution of this measure, and likewise every person in the said counties who is known or suspected to be enemies of the United States." The summary measures suggested in regard to those who were unfriendly to the American cause, though not carried out at this time, were fully warranted by the condition of affairs in the county. In September Colonel Kichline of the third battalion had reported two or three companies of this command as determined not to march if called upon, and in October a "tory election" had been held at Newtown under the provincial charter in opposition to the new state constitution, to which the sheriff of the county lent his aid as well as others who had been conspicuously before the people for years.

Washington crossed with the rear-guard of his army on the 8th of December at Trenton, and establishing his headquarters at the Keith dwelling in Upper Makefield, stationed his forces so as to command the various points of crossing in the county. The enemy closely followed, but the precaution the American general had taken to remove all means of effecting a passage to the west side compelled him to halt at the east bank. Colonel Rawle with some twelve hundred Hessian troops took position at Trenton. Count Donop with another body of troops encamped at Mount holly, and for a little more than two weeks the hostile enemies observed each other across the river. In the meantime the ill-fed and poorly clothed American army suffered the rigors of the winter weather in such rude cantonments as could be hastily provided. The local committee exerted itself to collect old clothing and blankets for the troops, three hundred and thirteen of the latter being secured at a cost of more than six hundred and seventy-eight pounds.

The cessation of hostilities for the time gave Washington opportunity for the concentration of his forces. On the 20th of December, Generals Sullivan and Gates, with their commands, joined him on the Delaware, a reinforcement that, with the militia of Philadelphia and of the counties of Bucks and Northampton, increased the American army to six thousand men. Of these troops not more than twenty-four hundred were available for any aggressive movement, but inaction at this time was fraught with peril, and on the 23d of December Washington announced his determination to assail the over-confident commander at Trenton. Preparations for the proposed movement were made as secretly as possible; troops were selected; boats with which to effect the passage of the river were collected at Knowles’s cove, two miles above the present site of Taylorsville; and the chosen detachment, provided with three days’ rations and forty rounds of ammunition, set out from camp about three o’clock in the afternoon of Christmas. Such a movement on the part of the poorly equipped and half-demoralized army was not dreamed of by the enemy. The commandant at Princeton had been warned of the impending movement and had sent word to Rawle to be on his guard, but the Hessian commander refused to believe the information. In the night of the 25th, a tory of Bucks county made his way across the river to the enemy’s headquarters with a note informing the colonel of his danger, but he was engaged in an orgie which admitted of no interruption, and the note was found in his pocket after his death, where he placed it evidently unread.

Washington had directed General Cadwallader to cross the river at Williamson’s ferry and attack the enemy at Mount holly, but the extreme coldness of the weather on the night appointed increased the ice in the river so that it was impossible for the troops to cross either in boats or on foot, and the attempt was reluctantly relinquished about four o’clock in the morning. General Irvine was also to take part in the movement, making his attack on the lower side of Trenton, but he met with the same insurmountable obstacle that prevented the crossing of the troops lower down. Owing to the peculiar nature of that part of the river selected by Washington for the crossing of his immediate command, no such serious obstacles were found, and the passage was safely effected. The next morning was cold and stormy, and the attacking force marched upon the enemy before he was well aware of his danger. A short contest decided the issue, and the Americans immediately recrossed the river, carrying more than a thousand prisoners, a thousand stand of arms, and several pieces of artillery. Washington returned to Newtown with his prisoners and trophies. This place had been his base of supplies, and he now established here his headquarters. The army was greatly in need of every sort of supplies, but especially in need of shoes and stockings. The quartermaster, therefore, sent urgent appeals to the council of safety for these articles, and requested the local committee to collect all that could be spared by the inhabitants, promising immediate payment for the same on delivery at headquarters. By such means the army was once more enabled to move, and after a few days’ rest again crossed the river and on the 3d of January, 1777, engaged the enemy at Princeton.

The state government went into operation in the latter part of September, 1776. On the 13th of March, 1777, the supreme council created the board of war, which took the place of the council of safety, and on the 17th instant the legislature passed a military law, by which the administration of the county was placed in the hands of a lieutenant and sub-lieutenants. These officers were authorized to hold courts, to classify and district the militia, to organize the same into regiments and companies, to hold elections for officers, to call out the classes, to find substitutes in place of delinquents collect fines and turn them into the state treasury, together with a thousand duties which the exigencies of the times rendered necessary. Under this act Joseph Kirkbride was appointed county lieutenant, and William Crawford, John Lacey, and Andrew Kichlein sub-lieutenants. A little later Samuel Smith and John Gill were also appointed sub-lieutenants.(11*) On the 13th of June an act was passed providing that all citizens should subscribe an oath of allegiance before the justices of the peace, and upwards of three thousand names are recorded to this oath in the county.

When Washington led his army to Princeton, he left Lord Sterling at Newtown to guard the ferries and the upper part of the country against any surprise or attempt of the enemy to pass above. He had but a small force under his command, and this was scattered along the river to guard the different ferries and crossings. On April 3d a guard was placed at "Dunk’s ferry," with orders to allow none to pass, and on June 10th two officers with twenty men and two pieces of artillery were dispatched to Coryell’s ferry. In the meantime Joseph Kirkbride was active in organizing the militia. The greatest reluctance was manifested in responding to the calls of the board of war, and as finally mustered the battalions consisted largely of substitutes, who demanded exorbitant bounties. In June the first class of the Bucks county militia was summoned into the field and stationed at Coryell’s ferry. In July the second class, consisting of some three hundred men, were mustered and sent to Billingsport; and in August the third class, mustering only about one hundred and fifty privates, were called into the service.

An attack on Philadelphia had long been expected, but from what direction it was to be looked for was uncertain. When the powerful army under the command of Sir William Howe embarked at New York in July, 1777, these doubts were largely dispelled, and the attack was looked for from below. Washington at once put his army in motion for the Delaware, and on the 29th crossed into Bucks county, and after a halt of one day proceeded toward Philadelphia. Still uncertain of the point of landing, the American army was delayed in the vicinity of Hartsvilie for thirteen days, and it was here that Lafayette first reported to the commander-in-chief for duty. On the 23d it proceeded on its march to the city, and thence across the Schuylkill to meet the enemy at time Brandywine. On the 29th of August the board of war sent word to the county committee that the enemy had landed at Elk river, and was undoubtedly aiming for Philadelphia, and advised the driving of all cattle beyond the reach of the enemy. This emergency had been provided for, and a committee of from two to four persons for each township was appointed to attend to this particular duty. On the 11th of September came the defeat of the American troops, and on the 26th Howe entered the city in triumph, while Washington encamped at Valley Forge.

The occupation of Philadelphia by the British brought the terrors of predatory warfare to the homes of Bucks county’s citizens. The region between the Schuylkill and Delaware above the city was contested territory, overrun by the partisans of both parties. In this district John Lacey, who had passed the successive grades from private to brigadier-general, was placed in command of a small force to restrain the activity of tories and guard against the ravages of the foraging parties which the enemy found it necessary to send out. The high price which they were willing to pay for all kinds of produce and the contrast between British gold and the depreciated continental currency stimulated the cupidity of all save the most determined patriots to undertake the most reckless adventures. On the 23d of January, 1778, Washington wrote Lacey, who had his headquarters in Warwick at Gilbert Rodman’s:

I must request that you will exert yourself to fulfill the intention of keeping a body of troops in the country where you are posted. Protecting the inhabitants is one of the ends designed, and preventing supplies and intercourse with the enemy and city the other. This perhaps with the utmost vigilance cannot be totally effected; but I must entreat you to take every step that may render it possible. As to the reduction of your numbers, I wish you to make timely application to the President of the State, to keep the necessary force under your command

I am well informed that many persons, under the pretense of furnishing the inhabitants of Germantown, and near the enemy’s lines, afford immense supplies to the Philadelphia markets— a conduct highly prejudicial to us, and contrary to every Order. It is therefore become proper to make an example of some guilty one; the rest may expect a like fate, should they persist. This I am determined to put in execution; and request you, when a suitable object lulls into your hands, that you will send him here with a witness, or let me know his name; when you shall have power to try, and (if guilty) to execute. This you will be pleased to make known to the people, that they may again have warning.

On the 8th of February the general again wrote to Lacey at what is now Hartsville, on the vexing topic.

The communication between time city and country, in spite of everything hitherto done, still continues, and threatens time most pernicious consequences; I am induced to beg you will exert every possible expedient to put a stop to it. In order to this, to excite the zeal of the militia under your command, and to make them more active in their duty, I would have you let everything actually taken from persons going into and coming out of the city, redound to the parties who take them. At the same time it will be necessary to use great precaution to prevent an abuse of this privilege; since it may otherwise be made a pretext for plundering the innocent inhabitants. One method to prevent this will be, to let no forfeitures take place, but under the eye, and with the concurrence, of some commissioned officer. Any horses captured in this manner, fit for the public service, either as light or draught horses, must be sent to camp, to the Quarter-master General, who will be directed to pay the value of them to the captors.

I cannot but think your present position is at too great a distance from the city, as it puts it in the power of the disaffected very easily to elude the guards, and carry on their injurious commerce at pleasure; I would therefore recommend to you to remove to some nearer post, and not to depend upon fixed guards; but to keep out continual scouts and patroles, as near the city as possible— to ramble through the woods and bye-ways, as well as the great road. The strictest orders should be given to the parties; even, when necessary, and the intention is evident, to fire upon those gangs of mercenary wretches who make a practice of resorting to the city with marketing.

In spite of all the precautions this illicit trade continued to thrive. The women were scarcely less active than the men, and carried butter, eggs, and poultry in baskets through by-ways, and across fields, to evade the guards set at the regular ways of travel. Many of both sexes were arrested, convicted, and publicly whipped; their goods forfeited, and their property levied upon by the foragers of the American army. The tories were not slow to make reprisals, either by themselves, or with the aid of the British soldiery. These persons kept the enemy well-informed as to the position of Lacey’s command, and piloted his foraging parties to the places of patriotic citizens. The raids thus made by the English forces were unusually successful, and infinitely distressing to both the private and public interests of the revolutionists. Early in 1778, a foraging party from Philadelphia made a descent upon Newtown, and captured Major Murray of the 13th Pennsylvania, and some two thousand yards of cloth which was intended to clothe a part of the suffering people at Valley Forge. In February, a sorely needed drove of cattle on its way to the American army was captured by these raiders, and carried into Philadelphia. At other times they dashed into Bristol, taking goods and prisoners, and into especially patriotic country neighborhoods, destroying houses, and foraging farms.

In the latter part of April the English conceived and performed a bolder exploit. On the last day of the month a body of troops, estimated at about a thousand men, moved out of Philadelphia for the purpose of capturing Lacey, who, though not so effective as he wished, was still a great obstacle to the gathering of supplies for the British forces. Lacey’s command was then encamped near Hatboro. Some of his scouts discovered the advance of the enemy, but escaping in another direction, failed to alarm the camp, even by firing their pieces, and the enemy was within two hundred yards of the camp before the alarm was sounded. By this time the camp was nearly surrounded, and though the surprised troops made a creditable fight, they were eventually forced to give way before the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. It was daylight, on the morning of the 1st of May, and the Americans, breaking the inclosing lines, made their escape. The retreating troops were not persistently followed, or few could have escaped death or capture. As it was, Lacey’s command lost about thirty killed and seventeen wounded. Some of the former, while only wounded, were thrown upon a stack, which was consumed with its burden of helpless humanity. Others were found whose bodies showed they had been murdered while helpless with wounds. This discouraging defeat greatly depressed the supporters of the revolutionary cause; but in June, fearing the blockade of the Delaware by the newly arrived French fleet, the British evacuated the city. On the 18th the American army was in pursuit, marching by way of Doylestown to New Hope, and on the 28th engaged the enemy at Monmouth.

During the rest of the war Bucks county was relieved of the presence of the hostile army. General Lacey remained in command of the district, and the Doans and other active tories continued their depredations until dispersed at the close of the war. Apprehensions were entertained of another visit of the enemy from New York, and the militia was kept in readiness for such an emergency. In 1780 a body of militia, to which Bucks county contributed, assembled at Trenton to participate in a meditated attack on New York, but the project was abandoned. In 1781 a body of troops was concentrated at Newtown, where rumors of an attack on Philadelphia were rife, but they were not called into action. In the same year the allied American and French armies passed through the county on their way to Virginia. They crossed the Delaware on the 1st of September at Trenton, and on the same day passed the Neshaminy, encamping for the night near the Red Lion tavern in Bensalem. On the 12th of October the state authorities discharged the militia, and General Lacey, stationed at Newtown, was requested to issue an order thanking them for their fidelity to the cause they had served.


* From the account books of Richard Mitchel, who had a grist mill and store in Wrightstown from 1724 to 1735, the price of produce appears to have been, for wheat, from 3s. to 4s.; rye, 1s. less; Indian corn and buckwheat, 2s.; middling, fine, 7s. and 8s.; coarse, 4s. 6d.; bran, 1s.; salt, 4s.; beef, 2d.; bacon, 4d.;; pork was about 2d. Improved land sold at the price of twenty bushels of wheat to the acre, and varied with the price of that grain, from £2 l0s. to 10L.

** Account of Dr. John Watson in Watson’s Annals, vol. ii. p. 525. The sketch of early customs in these pages is largely indebted to the description from which the above extract is taken.

*** The usual forms observed by the Friends in marriage may be gathered from the certificate of Phineas Pemberton, which follows. The celebration, when held, occurred afterwards. "This is to certifie the truth to all people, that Phineas Pemberton, of Boulton in le Moors, in the county of Lanc’r, grocer, and Phebe Harrison, daughter of James Harrison, of Boulton aforesaid, having intentions of marriage, according to the ordinance of God, they did lay it before the monthly meeting, both of men and women (that do take care that such things be according to the order of the gospel) several times; and did also publish their said intentions in the particular meeting whereunto they did belong; and it appearing that both the said parties were clear and free from all others, and that all their friends and relations concerned therein were consenting, a meeting of ye people of God was appointed in the house of John Haydock, of Capull, where they tooke one an other in the presence of God, and in the presence of his people, ye first day of the eleventh month, called January, and in the year 1676, according to the law of God, and the presence of the holy men of God, in the scriptures of truth, promising to each to live faithfully together, man and wife, so long as they lived. In witness whereof, wee who were present have hereinto subscribed our names." Here follow the names of those present, those of the men and women in separate columns. The list occasionally reached to the number of one hundred and fifty.

(4*) An undertaker’s bill in 1719 is as follows: CR. on account of John Middleton’s funeral charge is:-

16th, 1719




To 6 1/2 gallons of wine, at 6s. 6d. per gallon 02 02 3
To 3 gallons of rum, at 4s. 6d. per gallon 00 13 6
To a quartier of a hundred of sugar an spice 00 15 0
To flouar 00 12 0
To a barrel of sider 00 12 0
To butter and ches 00 17 0
To a Holland sheet 01 00 0
To the cofing and digging the grafe 00 18 6


07 11 3
5th, 1 mo., 1719 paid to doctor grander with for 00 16 6


(5*) Such was the belief in the general necessity of rum that its use in the almshouse at public expense was not forbidden until October 24, 1844.

(6*) In an indictment for burglary in 1730 the following goods were found among the prisoner’s effects; a sagathy coat, drugitt coat, six yards of durry, four yards of streloon, three pairs buckskin breeches, a beaver hat, and a pair of new yarn stockings. From an inventory of the stock of William Large, a shopkeeper of Bristol, the following articles among others are mentioned: oznabergs, doulis, Russia duck, garlix, tandum, coarse rappering, coarse stannering, tannery, calimanco, cruell, nonsopriety, corking pins. Tobacco was sold by the yard, and was manufactured in rope form of about a quarter of an inch diameter. The proprietary medicines were Bateman’s drops, Godfrey’s cordial, Duffy’s elixir, and British oil.

(7*) It is said that bear-baiting was a frequent pastime in the county as late as 1815, or until a scarcity of bears put an end to the sport. On the 1st of January, 1807, John Worman had a great bear-bait at his hotel. This consisted simply in worrying and running down a bear with dogs. Bull-baiting succeeded, but did not continue long.

(8*) An illustration of the situation is afforded by the case of Thomas Watson, of Buckingham. In ordinary times hay was in good demand, but under the combined influences of the disturbed state of the country and the draft of the army it had risen in the winter of 1776-7 to a high price, and very little was to be had at that. A neighbor who needed hay, and who shared the too general antipathy to the Friends, sought to buy a stack Mr. Watson had left. The hay was not for sale, but the would-be purchaser persisted in his attempts to extort a price until he had gained some expression of its value from Mr. Watson, whereupon he offered the sum in continental currency. This had been made a legal tender under severe penalties for refusing it, but as the old gentleman related years afterward, "a conviction came over me that I ought to bear my testimony against such money. I turned and told him that as it was made for the express purpose of carrying on war, I had never been free to take it, and could not do so now; but if he would come when the stack was opened he should have a share of the hay without any money at all."

With a spirit too despicable for appropriate expression, the disappointed purchaser preferred a charge of refusing the currency against Watson. He was seized, convicted, stripped, placed in irons, and condemned to die. His relatives pleaded with Lord Stirling, the officer in command, in his behalf for sometime in vain. His wife, however, won the officer, it is said, through the seductions of a generous repast and the moving quality of her grief. On the 4th of January, 1777, he wrote the council of safety in a way that would seem to somewhat distract from the tragic character of the incident as commonly received, as follows "Thomas Watson, a man of very good character, has made my heart bleed for him; he has refused continental money for hay, necessary for the subsistence of our troops. I confined him; he is a good man by all accounts; I have released him; I have suffered him on his parole to go and abide with his family till your further order; I do not like to meddle with these civil matters, and for God’s sake take them off my shoulders."

(9*) From a paper read before the Bucks County Historical Society by Henry C. Mercer.

(10*) In regard to time situation in Bucks county a citizen wrote to a Philadelphia friend, on the 9th of May, 1775, as follows:
     "Our Committee met yesterday. From their resolves you will find they have adopted your plan, and recommend our associating into companies to learn the military exercises of arms. Some townships have already begun, and many others, animated with the same zeal for the welfare of their country, will, I trust, readily fall in with the plan, a knowledge of which, we have great reason to fear, we shall be soon called upon to give a proof of. The unanimity, prudence, spirit, and firmness which appeared in the deliberations of yesterday do honor to Bucks county, and will, I hope, in some measure, wipe off those aspersions we too deservedly lay under. A large number of the inhabitants being assembled, the resolves of the day were made public, who testified their highest approbation of conduct of the Committee, and unanimously voted them the thanks of the county. A disciple of those species of creatures, called Tories, being formally introduced to a tar barrel, of which he was repeatedly pressed to smell, thought prudent to take leave abruptly, lest a more intimate acquaintance with it should take place."

(11*) County lieutenants: Joseph Kirkbride, May 6, 1777; Joseph Hart, March 29, 1780; Francis Murray, November 17, 1783. Sub-lieutenants: William Crawford, John Lacey, Andrew Kichlein, March 12, 1777; Samuel Smith, John Gill, August 6, 1777; George Wall, April 1, 1775; George Wall, Jr., Joshua Anderson, March 29, 1780; William McHenry, (vice Kiehlein, deceased,) October 10, 1781; Joshua Anderson, August 7, 1797.



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